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.

What Others Are Reading:

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

This really isn’t a Mexican dish, but a recipe invention out of New Mexico. New Mexico uses a lot of traditional Mexican ingredients, but they make their own culinary inventions. Review an article that we posted with a blog guest who explained the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex food, the information could also apply to Mexican Food verses New Mexico style Mexican Food…link here.

There are other similar recipes of Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie, but they use ground beef and bake it in a cast iron skillet. For more on cooking with cast iron skillets view our articles here.

Now for our featured recipe Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie, and here is what you will need.

ingredients for Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

2 tablespoons avocado oil

1 medium yellow or white onion, finely diced

5 mini-sweet peppers, different colors, thinly diced

1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

11 ounces frozen whole kernel corn

2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning

2 cups shredded Rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped

3/4 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

You can also use BBQ chicken breast shredded. I used BBQ seasoning in place of  Taco seasoning as they both use similar herbs.

sauteeing, mixing and simmering vegetable bean mix for Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sweet peppers and saute, stirring until they are tender. Then add the diced tomato, black beans, corn, and seasoning and mix together until well incorporated.

simmering vegetable bean mix for Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

Let simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes.

cutting cilantro with kitchen shears

We use kitchen shears to cut the cilantro, making it easy and convenient. It is cut up just before use, never before. The oils that flow from the cut leaves start deteriorating after cutting into the leaves. For maximum flavor, prepare the herb just before you need it.

adding shredded chicken and cilantro to vegetable mix for Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

Now that the mixture has simmered for 10 minutes, add the shredded chicken and cut cilantro, and stir in and cook until hot.

lining sprin form pan and layering tortillas and meat mixture for Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

Now to prepare the pie, line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch spring-form pan. Position one tortilla on the bottom of the lined pan and spoon on mixture until if spreads even over the surface of the tortilla. Repeat this three more times, using the other three tortillas. After placing the last tortilla on the top, spread the cheese out over it.

Place into the heated oven and bake for 20 minutes or until browned lightly. Remove and let stand 5 minutes.

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

Remove the ring from the spring-form panas well as the paper around the pie, and slide pie onto a platter and serve.

slice of Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie

It may not be a Mexican original culinary dish, but for the sack of argument, let’s say it is. Enjoy your slice of Mexican Chicken Tortilla Pie.

What Others are Saying About Mexican Food with Chicken:

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Chicken Quesadillas

Chicken Quesadillas

Our blog guest is Norma and she is speaking to us on The Tastes of Mexico. This is her third appearance here on Splendid Recipes and More (SRandM). Link here to view the other blog posts with Norma and scroll to bottom of the page.

SRandM: So Norma, what do you have for us today?

Norma: I am going to show you how to make a really great Chicken Quesadilla.

SRandM: Awesome, let’s get started.

Norma: First of all, I would like to mention that wheat flour was brought here to the New World by Spain. From there the flour tortilla was made a new novelty in Mexico. Though, flour tortillas are only popular in Mexican dishes in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. Also you can see these recipes in Tijuana and Rosarito.

Corn tortillas are commonly prepared with meat to make dishes such as tacos and enchiladas. Burritos on the other hand are made with flour tortillas as well quesadillas. These two latter dishes originated in northern Mexico, as I said before the flour tortilla is most popular there.

So now for the Chicken Quesadilla, here is what we will need.

2 tablespoons avocado oil

1 small or ½ medium onion, finely minced

2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

½ cup chicken broth or water

2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning mix*

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons butter

8 10” flour tortillas

2 cups pre-cooked chicken, shredded (rotisserie works great)

2 cup shredded white cheese (Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack)

1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed and finely chopped.

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced – optional

 

With these ingredients you will have enough to makes 4 Quesadillas. Also at the end of the post I have included the recipe for the seasoning mix.

 

Add the avocado oil and onion to a  large cold skillet.  Heat over medium-high heat until onion becomes translucent, about 6 – 8 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 – 2 minutes or until it starts to turn brown. Add the chicken broth, taco seasoning and stir until dry ingredients are completely dissolved.

combine seasonings

Add shredded chicken to the pan and toss to coat in the seasonings. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer until any excess moisture is absorbed.

seasoning chicken

Remove from heat and keep warm.

 

Place butter in a clean skillet and heat over medium-high heat until melted. Swirl until bottom of pan is thoroughly covered. Place one tortilla in pan. Top with ½ cup seasoned shredded chicken mixture and ½ cup shredded cheese. Add fresh cilantro and diced jalapeno peppers, if desired.

tortilla topped with chicken and cheese

Distribute ingredients evenly and place second tortilla on top. Carefully flip once the bottom tortilla turns golden brown.

Once both sides are browned and cheese is melted, remove from heat and slice into 8 wedges. Serve immediate with fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream or pico de gallo. You can even have them with a side of refried beans.

Plated Chicken Quesadillas

 

SRandM: Wow this looks delectable Norma. I am really hungry now, should we have some.

Norma: sure, why not.

SRandM: So what do you have for us next time Norma.

Norma: How about Classic Margaritas on the Rocks, and since watermelon seasoning is coming, I will make some Watermelon Aqua Fresca.

SRandM: How do you say Aqua Fresca in English Norma?

Norma: Oh yes, Aqua Fresca is fresh water.

SRandM: Great we look forward to that. To all our readers, we hope you return here tomorrow May. 7,2014  to see how Norma will prepare beverages from the Tastes of Mexico.

Link Here: Wonderful Beverages From Mexico

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

This recipe only takes a couple minutes to put together and costs less than buying pre-packaged taco seasoning. It also has less salt and no artificial additives or preservatives.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and shake well to combine. Use 2 – 3 tablespoons per pound of ground beef (use more or less according to individual taste preferences).

This recipe can also be made in larger batches. Store unused amounts in an air tight container for up to 6 months.

Link Here for next post with Norma: Wonderful Beverages From Mexico

 

What Others are saying About Quesadillas and Mexican Food:

Capirotada – Mexican Bread Pudding

Capirotada Mexican Bread Pudding close up

Most Mexican desserts are not extremely sweet. Capirotada is a traditional and popular Latin dessert, but it can be served any time, especially when you have some nice crusty bread that needs to be used.

The following recipe is my wife’s way of making Capirotada, and yes she was born and raised in Mexico. So this is an authentic recipe. I don’t have any step by step images to show, as I was not at home when she made this. So all I have is the finished product or food creation.

Capirotada

1 quart whole milk
3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 whole clove
3 or 4 large piloncillos *
1 loaf french bread, hard/stale, torn or cut  into 1-inch cubes**
3 bananas, sliced***
1 cup cranberries^
1/2 cup chopped dates

1 cup whole dried prunes, preferable small prunes
1 cup mixed or your choice: peanuts, pine nuts, cashews, pecans, chopped almonds
1/2 pound cubed or shredded cheese, Monterrey Jack

* Piloncillos are cone shaped pieces of raw cane sugar. You can find them at your local market in the produce section or Latin foods section

** In Mexico the traditional bread to use is called bolillo rolls, which can be found at your local Latin market or in your local bakeries

*** optional to use 3 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced) in place of bananas. The preferred apples to use are ones you bake with. Reference our post In the Kitchen 101 to see which apples are used for baking.

^ option to use raisins

Instructions for preparing the Capirotada

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a medium-size baking dish.

Boil the milk, cinnamon sticks, clove, and piloncillo together until a syrup forms; set aside.

In the prepared baking dish, place a layer of cubed bread pieces. Cover with a layer of the banana and prunes. Sprinkle some of the cranberries, chopped dates, nuts, and some shredded cheese over the top. Repeat layers until all the ingredients (except the syrup) are used.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and clove from syrup and pour the syrup over the top of the dry ingredients. Bake for about 30 minutes; remove from oven.

Cool slightly, then spoon onto plates and serve warm. Some people also like it cold. Store left overs, if any in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Enjoy!!

Capirotada Mexican Bread Pudding in baking dish

Capirotada – Mexican Bread Pudding 

Capirotada Mexican Bread Pudding served

Try our other bread pudding from Splendid Recipes: Blueberry Pear and White Chocolate Bread Pudding

How Other are Preparing Bread Pudding

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