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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Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasThe first time we used pasta Orecchiette was around 2009. We had seen a recipe in a food magazine using the pasta, so to the store we went. We had a hard time finding it, but our local co-op (sell’s all natural – organic foods) had the pasta. When we described the pasta (as we had forgotten the name) the sales lady new right away what we wanted. She referred to the pasta as little pope hats. Ever since Orechiette has become a staple in our pantry.

About.com talks on Italian food and describes Orechiette as a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, as orecchio in Italian means eat, and Orecchiette means little ears. The pasta is roughly 3/4 of an inch across, slightly domed, and the centers are thinner than the rim of the pasta. The pastas texture is soft in the middle and more chewy along the rim or outside of the pasta.

Barilla (store brand that sells Italian products) says that Orecchiette is the signature pasta of Puglia, describing Puglia as a humble farming land situated along the southeastern coast of Italy.

Here is a video posted to You-Tube of Italian women in Italy making fresh Orechiette pasta.
Now for our featured recipe: Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small shallots, chopped

3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed

12 ounces Orecchiette

Garnishes:

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest

cooking Mexican chorizoHeat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute, stirring often, until beginning to brown and smell fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo to pan and break up with a spoon, and cook meat until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

adding chickpeas to meat sauceNext add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to meat mixture and mix in. Next add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Next add the can of chickpeas, and mix in, cooking 2 minutes more to heat the chickpeas through.

adding orechiette to meat sauceMeanwhile, cook pasta according to packaged instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Next add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to meat sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta liquid as needed. You might use the whole cup, and possibly less.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas in the panServe pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasWe have had this for left overs a few times, and each time we add cilantro, cheese, and lemon zest. The zest adds great flavor to this dish. Be sure to use it.

For the side salad using candy cane beets, see our recipe here: Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.

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