Quick & Easy|
By Beverly Barbour
HOT IDEAS FOR CHEESE
All during my childhood my Dad and I had breakfast together while mom slept in. Our breakfast consisted of toast spread thinly with braunschwager (which at that time still came in a natural casing, sewn by hand) and some kind of cheese. Lots of calories, lots of fat, lots of cholesterol. But neither he nor myself have ever had a high cholesterol count and neither of us were ever overweight. It must have to do with genes. So thank you, Mom and Dad.
Maybe as a result of that childhood introduction to the world of cheeses, I have never found a cheese that I didn't like, and I have never found a dish made with cheese that I didn't like. Cheese is incredibly nourishing and it makes almost any dish you add it to taste better than it would without it.
The dry cheeses like parmesan, asiago and dry Jack keep for as long as a year. It takes about 100 pounds of milk to make an 8-pound wheel of dry jack cheese and dry jack is the least expensive of the three. Dry jack reminds me of an old cheddar. We all grew up with cheese sandwiches but no one does it better than the French with their Croque Monsieur.
The translation is "crunch sir," but to the French it is a hot ham and cheese sandwich. You can put a few asparagus spears atop each sandwich before pouring on the cheese sauce and you have a meal.
2 tablespoons minced shallots, scallions or mild onions
Saute shallots in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, until golden. Remove from heat and stir in flour until blended. Slowly whisk in broth and milk; blend well and work out any lumps. Return to heat and whisk until mixture is boiling hard. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and nutmeg; stir until cheese is melted. Lightly butter one side of each bread slice and lay buttered side down on board. Divide half of the cheese sauce equally among 4 slices; spread sauce to edges. Lay ham equally over sauce. Spread mustard equally on buttered sides of remaining 4 bread slices; invert each onto ham. Brown the sandwiches on both sides in a frying pan. Transfer to an ovenproof pan and keep warm, uncovered in a 200°F. oven. Spoon remaining cheese sauce equally over sandwiches; spreading to edges. Broil sandwiches until sauce is bubbling and lightly browned, takes 1 to 2 minutes.
WELSH RAREBIT (Pronounced rabbit)
Welsh folklore says the name is the result of a bad day of hunting, when no rabbit was in the pot for dinner and the family had to make do with this satisfying dish.
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) flavorful beer
Combine beer and onion in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cook until the volume has been reduced by about a third. Add the Worcestershire and the dry mustard. Stir the cheddar and the flour together and then add to the beer, stirring with a wooden spoon until the cheese forms a thick slightly sauce-like mixture. Stir in the Parmesan and the cayenne. Meanwhile, toast the bread. Spoon the cheese sauce onto the toast and either serve right away or place under the broiler to lightly brown and sizzle on top. Makes 4 servings.
FRIED ALMOND-CRUSTED JACK CHEESE
These nut-crusted slices of cheese can be served as a first course, but with a green salad, they make a main dish for lunch or dinner.
1 baguette (French bread), 8 oz.
Cut the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices and lay in a sing layer in a 10- by 15-inch pan. Bake in a 350°F. oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut off and discard dark coating on cheese. Set cheese wedge on a flat side and cut 6 to 8 triangles of equal thickness. Beat egg and leave in bowl. Arrange flour, egg and then almonds in a row. Coat each cheese slice with flour, then egg, then almonds. Lay slices in a single layer. Heat a frying pan; add salad oil and olive oil. Lay the cheese slices in pan without crowding, and brown on each side. Serve with toast slices, spreading cheese on the toast. Makes 6 to 8 servings. * This is a good way to use cheese that has gotten a bit long in the tooth.
CHEESE TRULY IS A WONDEROUS FOOD