cooking with cheese
So I was scrolling through the Culture blog roll and came across a post by Eilis that I must have 'hopped' over: http://www.culturecheesemag.com/blog/eilis_restaurant_week
'Welsh Rarebit' or 'Welsh Rabbit' happens to be scrumptious, if done right. A beer, cheese, mustard and spice 'mess' melted on top of bread and broiled to impart a crispy caramelized crust. We came up with an idea for a panini at rubi's cafe (where I am the manager/monger/chef) and it was an instant hit and is currently a standing menu item. It took a little bit of tweaking to get the flavor down. A British gentleman protested, "It has to have more mustard! It has to burn your nostrils when you eat it! And you must only use Coleman's!" I didn't get that carried away with the mustard but I dusted some more Coleman's in.
I've been thinking about pizza lately. We don't give it a lot of coverage in the magazine, which is strange as it's one of the three great American cheese-foods. Along with grilled cheese and mac 'n whatever, it demonstrates a very simple formula: starch + salt + fat = dinner.
Because pizza is ubiquitous (especially as children's fare), everyone has their own opinion on what makes a good slice. Preferences are typically formed early and harden into obstinacy during the college years, when exposure to out-of-state pizza combines with economic necessity to make students into connoisseurs. This is a good thing, in my opinion. Although everyone else is wrong, especially New Yorkers, it's our differences that create the rich tomato-and-cheese tapestry that is America.
I just started eating Crescenza, in a serious way. It's actually called Crescenza Stracchino (or just Stracchino), and it's a soft-ripened cow's milk cheese without a rind that's bright, clean and quite undiscovered as a cheese. It originated in northern Italy and was named Stracchino because it was made from the milk of the "stracca" (tired) cows making their way up the mountains. Oddly, the resulting milk from this hard work is very rich. Domestic versions use whole, pasteurized milk that resemble this.
What's it like? It's halfway between cream cheese and fresh mozzarella in taste and consistency. It's simple and young, and it comes in sealed plastic because the whey hasn't been drained out completely (which is why it's so soft and runny).
How to eat it? On toast, with honey or jam. On pizza (put it on at the very end, like ricotta). Best of all, stir it into polenta, or put a dollop into tomato soup or on top of pasta. It melts beautifully, making everything it melds with extra creamy and luscious. Comfort food in all kinds of weather.
Who makes it in the U.S.? Belgioioso Cheese, from Wisconsin, and Bellwether Farms, California. Look for it!