Moreish ideas for Cheese Month
Cheese storing tips
- White moulds (eg brie, camembert and washed rind): Wrap it back in its original paper, which has tiny holes to let it breathe. Hard: Use cling film to keep out the air. Wrap blue cheeses in foil. Then put them in a snaplock box in the fridge to stop them drying out too much. “The French have the best system — buy the cheeses when you need to eat them and don’t keep them too long!” Sue Arthur, Over the Moon
- Although they do keep for ages in the fridge, it’s useful freezing ends of cheddar and other hard cheeses like parmesan that could otherwise be overlooked. Pop them into a sealed bag and afterwards defrost in the fridge. It is recommended you use frozen cheese within three months and it is best in cooked dishes. See Ray McVinnie’s video on how to store parmesan in the fridge.
Make a cheeseboard
World-renowned cheese expert Juliet Harbutt says you should opt for either one fabulous cheese or a selection of generous chunks. Avoid too many small pieces or too-similar types. Serve with bread and plain crackers, just not so many that you can’t see the cheese, and maybe with a little quince paste to cleanse the palate. See Juliet’s guide to the 7 main types of cheese.
Create your own cheesecake at whitestonecheese.com. Have a play on the website, building layers of your favourite Whitestone cheese to suit the number of guests. For the photo below, shot by Rachael Hale McKenna, we chose Lindis Pass Brie, Farmhouse (semi-soft with a sea breeze freshness and a nutty edge) and Shenley Station Blue (Whitestone’s latest Gold Label cheese using the unique 45 South Blue Mould strain). Whitestone will ship the cheeses to your door ready for you to decorate. Find out more at whitestonecheese.com or phone 0800 892 433.
Make your own crackers
These seed crackers are gluten- and dairy-free and a bit of fun to make.
Alternatively, try Allyson Gofton’s chia seed, honey and pistachio nut crackers.
Uh-Oh … the crackers are no longer crisp
If you are serving cheese and you suddenly realise your crackers have lost their bite, they can be revived in a hot oven for five or so minutes (the exact timing will depend upon their size). Place on a baking sheet without overlapping and turn them after a couple of minutes. Alternatively, they can be microwaved for 30-40 seconds on medium. They will crispen as they cool.
Everyone loves gratin
There is nothing better than a simple French style potato and cheese gratin. Make layers in a shallow gratin dish with thinly sliced, peeled agria potatoes and grated gruyere, a little chopped garlic and plenty of pepper and salt. Pour in enough cream, milk or both to just cover, top with more cheese, cover and place in a 200C oven for about an hour or until bubbling and golden and until the liquid has been absorbed by the potatoes. Serve with a salad for a vegetarian meal or with steak or roast chicken for carnivores.
We love feta
Plain feta is New Zealand’s favourite specialty cheese, according to just-released figures to coincide with Cheese Month. It’s followed by camembert, brie, parmesan, blue vein, haloumi, other blue cheeses, flavoured feta, gouda and havarti. Haloumi, though, is the fastest growing NZ-made specialty cheese.
A creamy blue cheese is lovely in place of dessert served with gingerbread and a bowl of drizzly honey or honeycomb. Bake a loaf or two using Kathy Paterson’s recipe here.
With 40 recipes from pizza to sauces to salads, these cheese dishes really have the family covered.
Make your own ricotta
As well as tasting pretty scrummy on toast with honey or drizzled with a fruit curd, ricotta has lots of vitamin A (four times more than cottage cheese, with twice the amount of calcium). It’s so easy. See below for how to make it yourself.
- Put 2 litres whole milk and 1 cup cream in a heavy-based saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
- Once the mixture begins to boil, add 3 Tbsp lemon juice and ½ tsp salt then reduce to a low simmer. The curds will now be separating from the whey.
- Line a sieve with muslin or a fine teatowel. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, gently ladle the curds into the lined sieve.
- Discard the whey (or use for extra protein in drinks), gather up the sides of the cloth and tie. Drain for 15 minutes then remove from cloth and transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Use within 3 days.
Layer the flavour
When making cheese sauce, layer the flavour with a mix of aged cheddar and parmesan. Mild flavoured cheeses are good if you like less intensity but you will likely need to use more cheese. And remember to remove the pan from the heat when you add the grated cheese to prevent your sauce from splitting.
Our most popular cheese scone recipes on bite.co.nz
1 Annabel Langbein’s three-ingredient cheese scones
2 Geoff Scott’s cheese, ham and rosemary pinwheel scones
3 Peter Gordon’s cheese scones
And more ...
Sabato has a great range of cheese and accompaniments — buy from their Mt Eden, Auckland, store or online shop. Try their new Rich Onion Relish and Pons Apple Condiment. Serve this sweet and savoury relish on a cheeseboard or a cheese sandwich. Drizzle over the apple syrup, its sweet and intense caramelised apple flavour is magic with cheese, particularly the blues. Available from sabato.co.nz
Head to the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association's website for a list of NZ Cheese Month events and tastings across the country.
Learn how to pair cheese with tea. Dilmah's Tea Geek Jon Houldsworth explains all here.