Top Nine Varieties Of Cheese’s Enjoyed By Food Lovers

collage of various types of cheeseWho doesn’t enjoy cheese, either as snack, on a sandwich, or topped over leafy greens? There is many ways to include cheese in your culinary delights.

There are many different kinds of cheeses, and they each have their own flavor and best uses. Among the many cheeses throughout the world, the following are the top nine varieties enjoyed by food lovers.

Feta Cheese

Feta is a white cheese made in Greece from sheep’s milk, or from a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. The cheese is bathed in a brine, that is a 24% salt concentration. Salt is said to be important in cheese making as it keeps the fermented cheese from molding fast. Salt also helps to draw out the whey.

Read more here from the Curd Nerd on Using Brine In Cheese Making.

This is a common cheese in Greek dishes. Crumble it over salads, use it on sandwiches like Gyros, and broil it with olive oil. You can sprinkle it over the top of Greek pizza or pasta. It’s tangy and moist and can be crumbly or creamy. Try pairing it with fruit as well.

Mozzarella

college of Making homemade cheeseMozzarella  is a southern Italian cheese, and is traditionally made with milk from the from Italian water buffalo.

There are two basic ways to make mozzarella, there is the direct acidification of the milk to form the curds or the culture, also known as rennet method.

In both methods, raw milk is pasteurized and then coagulated to form curds.

This is most commonly used in Italian dishes, mozzarella being the number one go-to cheese for pizza. You can also eat it sprinkled with olive oil or have it with tomatoes and basil. This soft cheese has a mild, yet creamy taste with a great texture.

We tried our hand at making homemade Mozzarella (crumble style) with organic pasteurized non-homogenized milk and fresh lemon juice.

All you do is bring 2 to 3 cups of organic pasteurized milk to a soft boil, then add the juice of half a lemon. Stir and wait for the curds.

Once the process has stopped making curds, using a slotted spoon, remove the curds to cheese cloth placed over a bowl, so the whey can drain off.

We added lemon-garlic seasoning and Himalayan salt for flavor. Store cheese in a glass topped with a tight lid. Cheese is crumbly and can be used to top your favorite salads.

Listen to a NPR 2014 interview with Claudia Lucero, the author of, “One-Hour Cheese: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Chèvre, Paneer–Even Burrata. Fresh and Simple Cheeses You Can Make in an Hour or Less!”

Click the link (opens in new window) and listen to the 3 minute interview: How To Make A Faux Cheddar In One Hour.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/363349698/363842868

Monterey Jack

Monterey Jack is a semi-hard, cheese make from cow’s milk. It has a mild flavor and is gooey-when-melted. It is an excellent match for a deli or meat sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich, melted over casseroles and chili, and any Latin American dish that calls for cheese, like quesadillas, tacos, and enchiladas.

Parmigiano-Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on a table topThis cheese is a hard, granular cheese. In Italian the word “Grana” means “granular” and refers to a texture well-suited for grating.

The hard, granular cheese can be grated and sprinkled over pasta, soups and salads. It is used in most Italian dishes, as it adds flavor, even to Italian soups.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is aged up to 24 months, to give it that intense, complex flavors it boasts. Nutty, sweet, grassy, creamy, and fruity.

Do you know the difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano? Actually, they are the same. Parmesan is the English and American form of the Italian word Parmigiano-Reggiano.

There is also evidence that in the 17th to 19th centuries Parmigiano-Reggiano was called Parmesan in Italy and France (History of Parmesan Cheese).


Some Great Recipes Using Parmesan Or Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: National Spaghetti Day

Gouda

This cheese melts very  well when it’s a young cheese, but if it’s aged, it is best sprinkled over salads or used in casseroles. It can have a mild taste, or deep and flavorful.

Swiss Cheese

swiss cheese on a cutting board with a walnut Swiss cheese originated in Switzerland, and cow’s milk is used just about 99% of the time. There are 450 different kinds of Swiss cheeses, and are put into five categories, which are extra-hard, hard, semi-hard, semi-soft and soft.

The Swiss cheese you may be familiar with has holes, known as eyes. But not all Swiss cheese contains holes.

According to The Nibble, three types of bacteria are used in producing the types of Swiss that contain holes. The bacteria includes, Streptococcus thermophilis, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacter shermani.

In the later stages of cheese production, the bacteria will excrete the lactic acid called P. shermaniconsumes, which releases the gas, known as carbon dioxide, and in turn forms the bubbles that make the “holes” or “eyes.” The cheese industry refers to Swiss cheese without holes or eyes as “blind.”

Cheddar Cheese

cheddar cheese on a cutting board with a small ceramic bowl of jam  This cheese is hard and off-white in its natural color, and can be acidic-tasting. The orange cheddar that most of us are accustom too, is such because a spice called annatto among others is added.

Cheddar Cheese originated in the British village of Cheddar in Somerset, though this cheese is produced beyond this region today in several countries around the world.

Cheddar is great mixed in salads and eaten with crackers. It melts well and is often used in Mexican dishes like tacos and fajitas. It can be added to casseroles as well. The sharper the cheese the better the taste for your macaroni and cheese.

Blue Cheese

blue cheese on a cutting board with green grapesBlue cheese is a general made of cow’s milk, though goat’s milk can also be used. It is called Blue cheese as it has blue or blue-green mold throughout.  The blue mold in these cheeses is due to mold spores from Penicillium.

Most blue cheeses produced today are either injected with the mold or the mold is mixed right in with the curds to insure even distribution of the mold. Early blue cheese makers used bread to start the mold process and waited for the mold to spread naturally to the cheese curds (Food Reference).

This cheese has a strong effect. There’s a reason why spicy hot wings are served with blue cheese dressing. It cuts the heat well when eaten with spicy things. You can also crumble it on top of salad. It’s best used closest to its use by date because then it will be at its peak of flavor.

Pecorino

This Italian cheese is always made from sheep’s milk. The flavor is sharp, nutty and herbaceous. When using this cheese to prepare a meal, be careful about how much extra salt you add to what you’re cooking, as Pecorino can be quite salty.

A Great Recipe Using Pecorino CheeseGluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Perhaps you use these cheeses all the time, or maybe you have never given them a try. If not, purchase them and give them a flavor taste and see which ones may fancy you.

A few times a week, The Whole Foods Market (USA – U.K) will have cheese samples to try, as well as Trader Joe’s (USA) on Saturdays during there wine sample hour.

There are so many different cheeses, that there has too be one, two or more that could be your favorites.

Starting this month thru October, if your interested in World Cheese Tour classes by cheese authority Janet Fletcher, link here for more information: Napa Valley Register.

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Organic Coconut Popcorn

Organic non-gmo tri-colored corn kernelsDo you know what’s in that bag of popcorn you put in the microwave? Are you ready for the answer?

1. Diacetyl: It is used a s a flavoring in microwave popcorn. It can obliterate the airways, and lungs if exposed to too much. It was used in World War I, to do exactly that. Factory works who are exposed to the chemical have irreversible lung damage.

Brown University documented three cases of bronchiolitis obliterans (caused by diacetyl) in microwave popcorn lovers. One man, 47, ate three bags a day, and needed a lung transplant. A 56 year old coughed up blood one day, and he ate 3 bags of microwave popcorn a day.

The University of Minnesota reported that the chemical diacetyl, can pass the blood-brain barrier, and weaken the brain’s defenses against the formation of amyloid plaques, causing Alzheimer’s.

2. Perfluorooctanoic Acid: Most manufacturer’s  line the microwave popcorn bags with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to keep grease from leaking out. When the bags are heated, they leach the PFOA into the popcorn.

3. Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ): This chemical is made from butane, a known toxic gas. Medical studies have reported that just eating 1 gram could cause ADHD in children, asthma, allergies, dermatitis, and dizziness. It’s been associated with stomach cancer in laboratory animals.

Most of the corn in the U.S.A., about 86% is harvested from GMO seeds. We also noted, microwavable popcorn is not sold in health food stores. But you can buy lose non-gmo corn kernels, or in jars, and that brings us to our featured recipe: Organic Coconut Popcorn. Here is what you will need.

heating coconut oil

Heat 3 tablespoons of refined coconut oil in a 3 quart pan over medium heat. Let oil solids melt. From 1/3 cup of organic popcorn kernels, add 4 kernels to heated oil and cover pan with lid. When the kernels pop, remove pan from heat and add the 1/3 cup of kernels to pan in an even layer. Return lid to pan and count to 30. Return pan to heat and wait for kernels to start popping. Once they do, gently shake pan over heat. When you no longer hear any popping remove pan from heat and add popcorn to a serving bowl.

melting butterWith pan still hot, add organic pasture fed cows butter or organic virgin coconut oil, and melt. Next pour over popcorn and mix in. You can also add Himalayan salt, organic smoked paprika, or organic Parmesan cheese.

Organic Coconut Popcornpopcorn pan not burned using coconut oilFollow this method and ever kernel of popcorn will always pop evenly and not burn, not even the pan. You can never say that about those chemical filled microwave popcorn bags.

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Raspberry Tiramisu

Raspberry Tiramisu

If you like Tiramisu and raspberries even more, then you’re gong to like Raspberry Tiramisu.  This recipe is a twist on the Italian favorite. Ladyfingers are layered in the dish with a mascarpone, ricotta, raspberry mixed filling.

Others have also gotten away from the traditional cake with a Chocolate-Raspberry Tiramisu, and a Mango Tiramisu with Raspberry Sauce.

We used all organic dairy products. It is true that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States says there is no difference in the use of BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) in traditional dairy over non use in organic dairy. But we feel that statement is not really accurate, as the flavor is very different. The dairy products that come from cows that did not receive any BGH, is more creamier as well. How it always was and should be, before the use of BGH in the raising of cows.

The lady fingers in this recipe was purchased at the Whole Foods Market. They did have a gluten free lady fingers product, but we did not like the fact that it included mono-glycerides and diglycerides in it. What is our concern?

First, it is a food additive commonly used to combine ingredients containing fats with those containing water, two types of ingredients that don’t ordinarily combine well.

Made up in part of fatty acids, mono- and diglycerides may contain trans fats, either when manufactured in a lab or, if they come from an animal or vegetable source, when exposed to heat for processing into packaged and prepared foods.

Trans fats are associated with increased risk of numerous diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and also causes inflammation in the body raising LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and lowers the HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Now for our featured recipe: Raspberry Tiramisu, and here is what you will need.

2 lemons

Raspberry Tiramisu - in cake dish1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. granulated sugar

3 sprigs fresh mint

3/4 cup filtered water

8 oz. mascarpone

8 oz. whole-milk ricotta

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

4 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

2 packages lady fingers (each package contains 20 cookies)

lemon peel mint sugur waterWith a vegetable peeler, remove rind of one lemon in strips and place into a medium sauce pan. With the other peeled lemonlemon finely grate the zest and place aside.

Next add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, sugar, mint, and water into the sauce pan with the lemon rind. Bring pan to a boil, lower heat, simmer for 1 minute.

Set pan aside to let cool completely, then discard the lemon zest and mint. You should have 1 cup (8 ounces) of prepared lemon syrup.

mixing dairy products, zest and sugar - folding in raspberries for Raspberry TiramisuAdd mascarpone, ricotta, reserved zest and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar to a large bowl, and mix together with an electric beater on medium speed until smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the heavy cream, mixing to incorporate. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold in the raspberries with a large mixing spoon or spatula, gently mashing them against the sides of the bowl.

building the Raspberry TiramisuUsing a baking dish that will allow for a two layer cake, line a 9 X 9-inch baking dish with lady fingers, as shown in illustration. Drizzle half the lemon syrup over the lady fingers, then top with half the cream mixture (about 4 cups).

Repeat with the remaining fingers, syrup and raspberry cream. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. After one hour of refrigeration, cover the dish so cream doesn’t give you a dried out look.

Raspberry Tiramisu -LgPlate and serve. If you wish top each plated serving with mint and fresh raspberries.

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What Do You Really Know About GMO Foods

What Do You Really Know About GMO Foods

We found this article that is entitled – Does It Really Matter If You Eat GMO Foods? we think after you read this article, you will think twice about eating food supplies that have been harvest from gmo crops.

Does It Really Matter If You Eat GMO Foods?

The Denver Post LIFESTYLES posted in their paper on May. 26, 2015 that GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling is now part of a huge national conversation that started, ironically, after Dr. Oz was attacked as an enemy of genetically modified organisms (April 23, 2015 showing of “The Dr. Oz Show” – Denver Post)

Does it really matter if you eat GMO foods and should they be identified or labeled? If you have a concern about what you are eating, how it is grown, and where it comes from, then we would say YES.

Consider what is in genetically modified seeds, Round-up. Most of us are familiar with what Round-up is. It kills all plant life, weeds, grass, and eatable plants alike…Read 567 words more here

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The article also has a video of an interview with Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were in she states, that glyphosate (used in Round-up) is causing havoc on human health.

Read the article and consider this info-graphic as well on possible foods you may be purchasing that are GMO’s.

Stop GMO Foods

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Pickled Mini Sweet Peppers

Pickled Mini Sweet Peppers

February is National Canning Month in the United States. Why, you may ask in the middle of winter? I am not really sure why. It would seem that the mid summer months  on in to October would seem more appropriate, when most summer fruit and vegetables are at there peak and are being harvested.

To honor the occasion, Registrar Corp is presenting important information about U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registration regulations for Food Canning Establishments (FCE), according to PRWeb.

The process of canning food in the United States dates back to May of 1862 when Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Agricultural Act that established the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By 1901 the canning company who went by the name “Norton Brothers” joined with 60 other firms to form the American Can Company. Canning food back in the early 1900’s was fairly new, and food was canned in different containers, including glass jars and tin cans.

pickling  seasoning with salt and coconut sugarDuring the early years of commercial canning, there were numerous cases of botulism outbreaks. But the industry canned on, until they got it right.

Salt as well as sugar is the secret to canning. Salt flavors and preserves. It also creates a hostile environment for microorganisms that would otherwise spoil foods.

This is why the amount of salt you put in most brined pickle recipes is critical. It also applies to caning other food products.

Salt helps keep the brine and canned food at a balanced pH level that prevents bad bacteria from forming. Sugar can do the same thing, such as in canned jams and jellies.

Good bacteria also need nutrients to grow. In our canning we used Himalayan salt, which contains 72 trace minerals., minerals we thrive on for good health. We tried something a little different in our recipe, we used coconut sugar, in place of white refined sugar. Because of that our pickling brine is not clear, but it has good flavor.

Let’s get started with our feature canning recipe and here is what you will need:

10 ounces mini sweet peppers (yellow, red and orange), ends cut off and remove seeds

2 fresh Serrano peppers, seeded, and thinly sliced

1 cup water

mini sweet peppers marinating in brine1 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or granulated sugar)

2 tablespoons pickling spices

1 1/2 tablespoons Himalayan salt

Place peppers in a large heat-proof bowl and set aside.

In a medium stainless steel saucepan combine water, vinegar, sugar, pickling spices, and salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until sugar and salt has dissolved.

mini sweet peppers in jar waiting for brinePour hot vinegar mixture over peppers and cool, until brine temperature reaches about 75 to 80 degrees.

Transfer to two 4 cup glass containers with lids. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 month.

seeding and veining Serrano chiliesSerrano peppers can be hot, because of their volatile oil content. When seeding them as well as removing the veins, you need to be careful not to touch your eyes, as they will burn.

Avoid direct contact with chilies as much as possible. When working with chili peppers, use a spoon to remove the veins and seeds. First cut the stem, then cut in half from the top to the bottom of the pepper.

Grab the bottom tip of the chili with one hand and slide a spoon under the seeds and veins to completely remove them. Then cut into strips and cut in half each strip depending the length of the chili pepper.

Each jar has 8 servings each. Each serving is 1/4 of a cup.  Enjoy 3 sweet peppers per day, as they provide 200% of your daily need for vitamin-C, your epidermis (skin) will thank you.

 

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Slow Cooking, is it Safe?

crock-pot and recipe book

In early times past, food stuff such as roots, vegetables and meats were wrapped in leaves and placed on warm or hot rocks that made a ring around a fire. The wrapped food was left there for a long period of time. Early cooks discovered that cooking this way tenderized tough plants and meats, and released more flavor into the food. This concept or type of cooking was carried over into  pot-based cooking over fires and eventually to stoves.

This tradition of slow cooking was first commercialized by the Naxon Corporation with its electric slow cooker intended only for beans. Rival Corporation bought Naxon in 1971. Rival redesigned the slow cooker and branded the bean cooker as the crockpot. The original crockpot’s stoneware liner wasn’t removable. Than In 1974 the product was redesigned with a removable liner, for easy cleaning. Aside from cosmetic changes and the addition of larger sizes, crockpots remained virtually unchanged until the introduction of a programmable crockpot in 2001.

Some disadvantages to crockpot cooking are: vitamins and nutrients are lost because of enzyme action during cooking. Raw beans must be boiled before cooking to remove an enzyme that can cause food poisoning. Canned beans do not require boiling, as they are boiled in the canning process.

A slow cooker is certainly convenient, but if not used correctly there is the potential for food-safety hazards. Temperatures between 40° and 140°F fall into the so-called “Danger Zone,” since bacteria thrive in these temperatures. When using a slow cooker be sure to take precautions that keep food from being in the Danger Zone for too long. To avoid the Danger Zone, never add frozen ingredients to your cooker, refrigerate any ingredients you’ve prepped ahead in separate storage containers and bring liquids to a simmer if you’re cooking on Low before adding them to your cooker to give the heating process a jump-start. Never attempt to cook a whole chicken or roast in your slow cooker: large hunks of meat won’t cook thoroughly enough in the slow cooker. So when cooking with meat, make sure it’s cut into smaller pieces that will cook throughout.

The US Food and Drug Administration state that bacteria grow the fastest between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the meat, it needs to be cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill most bacteria (poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and ground meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit). Even if your food is eventually cooked to the proper temperature, if it stays too long in the 40-140 range, it will house much more bacteria than if cooked properly.

When possible, preheat the Crock-Pot before you add the food. This process will ensure the food is not kept at a temperature that allows bacteria to grow rapidly. In addition to preheating, setting the temperature to a high setting for the first hour before switching to the low setting will help to ensure the food reaches the correct, safe eating temperature.

It is recommended to never use a crockpot to reheat already cooked foods, but have been stored in the refrigerator. Also it is worthy to note, that crockpots bought with in the last 5 to 6 years do cook faster than the older models. Therefore, not leaving the raw foods to long in the temperature danger zone (40 and 140 degrees).

 

 

This was received in an e-mail from my former place of employment:

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Sources of information: 7 Tricks for Better Slow-Cooking in Your Crock Pot    Safety Tips Regarding Crock-Pots    Crockpot History

 

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