Recipe: Winter Squash Soup with Applewood Smoked Chevre

Photo credit: Bourbon and Brown Sugar

Photo credit: Bourbon and Brown Sugar

Baby, it’s cold outside. Snuggle up with a bowl of this rich, sweet, filling soup, heaped with smoky chevre. Mmmmm.

serves 6Smoked Chevre Soup

1 large kabocha or medium butternut squash, about 4 lbs.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 slices bacon, diced

1 large yellow onion, chopped

6 cups chicken stock

1/2 cups heavy cream

juice of one orange

salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

extra virgin olive oil, for garnish

fried sage leaves, for garnish*

4 ounces Haystack Mountain Applewood Smoked Chevre, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise, and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet.  Bake until  squash can be easily skewered with tip of a paring knife, about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  With a spoon, remove seeds and discard.  Scrape the pulp and reserve in a bowl.  Discard the skin.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add the bacon and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the bacon is just turning golden, about 7 minutes.  Add the squash and chicken stock, and simmer until the squash falls apart, about 30 minutes.  Let cool for about 20 minutes.

Working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender (don’t fill it more than half-way, or the hot soup can explode from the container) until very smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer or chinois into a clean stockpot, and add the cream and orange juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  If the soup is too thick, thin it with a bit of stock or water, and reheat if necessary

Ladle the soup into hot bowls, and garnish with a drizzle of the olive oil. Crumble a bit of chevre over each bowl, garnish with *two sage leaves (fry them lightly in olive oil until crisp), and serve immediately.

©Laurel Miller, The Sustainable Kitchen ®, 1999.

Knifestyles of the rich and buttery

Photo credit: Design Mom

Photo credit: Design Mom

We’re big believers in doing things old-school: making and packaging our cheese by hand, rather than machine, and steering clear of processed ingredients or preservatives.

So, when it comes to casually serving cheese, we’ve also been known to use whatever type of knife is handy. With this admission out of the way, we’d like to confess that there are four main styles of cheese knives, and each has a specific purpose.

We promise the Cheese Police won’t beat down your door if you continue to cut and serve cheese with your trusty paring knife. But if you’re a true caseophile or entertain frequently, we suggest you invest in some nice cheese knives. You can find beautifully-crafted ones for under $20, as well as more spendy, hand-forged versions.
Know what makes a great host(ess) gift? A set of cheese knives. So much more on-trend than a bottle of (yawn) wine. We asked Will Frishkorn, co-owner/cheese-slinger at Boulder’s Cured, what his favorite cheese knife is among their inventory.

Says Will, “While the Swissmar knives run the entire range, their soft cheese knife is one that we use more than any other at home.  Slim, with the ability to cleanly work on almost any delicate cheese, it’s the one specialized cheese knife you shouldn’t be without.”

      To find out more about this soft  knives and other cheese implements, read on:
  • Cheese cleaver: This mini-version of a meat cleaver may have a pointed or flat head. It’s used for slicing or breaking off shards from dense cheeses such as our Queso de Mano, aged Cheddars, or Gouda.
  • Cheese plane (planer): This tool is a flat, stainless-steel triangle with a sharp-edged slot in its center. You drag the plane across the top of the cheese, and it shaves off thin, even slices. A thinner slice exposes a greater amount of surface area to the air; the result is more flavor from the cheese. A cheese plane is used for harder cheeses such as our limited-release Wallstreet Gold, Gruyère, and Grana Padano.
  • Soft-cheese knife: Also known as a skeleton knife, this offset knife has a curved tip that often has a forked tip. A soft-cheese knife has holes punched in its blade, which minimizes the surface area that makes contact with the cheese. This prevents cheese from sticking to the knife as its cut and served, making for a cleaner, more attractive slice with less waste left on the blade. Ideal for soft, creamy cheeses such as our Snowdrop, Haystack Peak, or Camembert, or soft blues.
  • Spreader: Ideal for fresh chevre, ricotta, and other soft, rindless cheeses with a spreadable consistency—as well as for butter.

 

Holiday cheese pairing tips: Beer rules!

Photo credit: Drunk Sunshine

Photo credit: Drunk Sunshine

Perhaps one of the most intimidating aspects of cheese is how and what to pair it with. Allow us to reassure you of two important points:

  • Cheese is easier to pair with beer than wine. The tannins, acids, and oak (when used for aging) in wine can be problematic when pairing with cheese, whereas beer and cheese have similar production methods (they’re both grain-based, fermented products, and tend to have similar flavor profiles).
  • While there are some key tips to follow with regard to pairing, there are  exceptions to every rule. The bottom line, in our opinion, is to eat and drink what you enjoy, and dissenters and haters be damned!

Still, we think it’s helpful to provide pairing rules of thumb, because a good match is, in the words of a cheesemonger we know, like a good marriage. Both parties should have their own, distinct, positive qualities, but when combined, magic happens.

Plays well with others. Photo credit: Healthy Recipe Ecstasy

Plays well with others. Photo credit: Healthy Recipe Ecstasy

Read on for what we feel are the most crucial points to remember in pairing cheese, be it with wine, beer, spirits, or “dry” or other specialty sodas.

  • Match intensities. For example, a big, bold, young Cabernet Sauvignon or chocolatey Stout will completely overpower many cheeses. Conversely, a soft, delicate varietal will be lost when paired with a super funky or sharp cheese.
  • Bear in mind terroir. Don’t just assume “this grape varietal will go with this cheese,” because variations in climate, geography, vintage, and production method vary greatly. The same is true of cheese. Ultimately, tasting before you buy or serve is the best way to determine if you have a match; barring that, talk to your cheesemonger, or refer to this handy post!
  • Aim for similarties or contrasts. A rich, buttery cheese such as a triple crème or brie will go well with a wine or beer with similar qualities. That said, too much butteriness is overkill. You want your palate to be refreshed and cleansed by the beverage. Strive for balance, and when in doubt, bubbles go with every style of cheese.
  • Think about what you’re trying to achieve. If you have a super bomb, special cheese, talk to your local wine shop about what to serve with it.  Conversely, if you have a rare, 1959 Chateau Lafite, you want to make sure you find a cheese that does it justice.

Some of our favorite pairings for Haystack cheeses follow. Use them as a guideline for pairing similar styles:

Camembert or othery earthy, mushroomy bloomy-rinds: Beaujolais or other soft, fruity-driven red wines.

Snowdrop or other floral, grassy bloomy rinds: Sauvignon Blanc, Lambic, or Belgian Ales.

Haystack Peak or other grassy, slighty salty/ash-coated bloomy-rinds: Fruit-driven white wines like Pinots Gris, lambics, or Pilsner.

Queso de Mano or other nutty cheeses: Hefeweizen or light-to-full-bodied red wines.

Sunlight or Red Cloud or other stinky/washed rind cheeses: Bring on the beer, baby! Belgians, ales, hard cider, lambic, or floral IPA’s. Wine? Try fruit-driven whites like a dry Riesling.

From pilsners to porters, all beers pair well with cheese. Photo credit: Vine Pair

From pilsners to porters, all beers pair well with cheese. Photo credit: Vine Pair

 

 

 

 

Milk does a body really, really good.

Taking a dip in dairy is hardly new; no less than Cleopatra was said to have bathed in asses’ milk. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which have been scientifically proven to improve the look and feel of human skin. Whether it’s derived from cow, sheep, or goat (speaking from a strictly practical–and not too gross–perspective), all milk contains lactic acid. Yet the caprine variety appears to reign superior when it comes to skin soothing.

Don’t believe us? Stop by our creamery to check out our cheesemaker Jackie Chang’s arms, which spend their days immersed in creamy goat’s milk. Her skin is freakishly soft and youthful-looking.

Photo credit: Montello Rotary Club

Photo credit: Montello Rotary Club

Over the last few years, goat milk-infused beauty products have reached, er, saturation point, but we’re not complaining. We love our goat milk soap (handcrafted by Haystack founder Jim Schott’s wife, Carol), which are so delicious-smelling and pure, we’re tempted to snack on them (at least, the Rosemary-Lemon-Mint, and Coffee varieties).

Goat milk, due to its chemical composition, is especially gentle and nourishing for those with sensitive or otherwise reactive skin (aka everyone in Colorado). Here are some of our other favorite, goaty beautifying products…although we can’t guarantee how good they’ll taste.

 Goat Milk Stuff: These no-frills farmstead products–liquid and bar soaps, lotion, lip balm, and laundry soap–are produced on a family farm and free of unecessary additives and stuff you can’t pronounce.

Second Bloom Farm: Perhaps the most luscious array of goat milk products ever, made on a New Mexican goat dairy. We discovered these over a decade ago at the Santa Fe farmers market, and still long for their discontinued liquid laundry soap (the smell was downright intoxicating). Soaps, balms, and lotions in scents from Almond and Spanish anise to Lemon Verbena and Coconut Dream.

Kate Somerville: While the price isn’t as nice, this is an amazing product line. Try the rich Goat Milk Cream for irritated facial skin, or the absorbent Goat Milk Body Lotion.

Most local drugstores carry goat milk beauty products (Canus is a pretty ubiquitous brand), but we find farmers markets, specialty food stores, co-ops, and skincare shops all great places to find locally-made products. Wishing you soft skin this winter!

 

Recipe: Grilled Sausage with Grapes, Wilted Bitter Greens, and Queso de Mano

Photo credit: BBC Good Food

Photo credit: BBC Good Food

In honor of American Cheese Month and this weekend’s Great American Beer Festival, we came up with a recipe that celebrates both:

GRILLED SAUSAGE WITH GRAPES, WILTED GREENS, AND QUESO DE MANO

This rustic, hearty dish is ideal for chilly nights. Serve with crusty bread for sopping up the juices, and a great lager.

Serves four

8 good-quality pork sausages, such as sweet or hot Italian

1/2 bunch seedless purple table grapes, washed, and stemmed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Extra virgin olive oil, (approximately 2-3 tablespoons)

Two sprigs thyme

1 medium shallot, finely minced

1/8 to 1/4 cup red wine

5  handfuls young arugula or other baby bitter greens

1/4 pound Queso de Mano, shaved with a vegetable peeler

 

Preheat the grill until coals are white hot, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On an unlined baking sheet,  toss the grapes with just enough olive oil to lightly coat them; then season with salt and pepper, add the thyme, and toss once again to distribute seasoning.

Roast for 15 minutes, checking grapes every 5 minutes and using a spatula to move them around. The grapes are done when they’re slightly golden and a bit shriveled, and have released some of their juices.

Remove the pan of grapes from the oven; the juices should have caramelized somewhat. Pour the red wine into the hot pan, and use a spatula to scrape up the caramelized bits, being careful not to squash the grapes. Allow the residual heat from the pan to evaporate most of the wine so that you’re left with a thin glaze. Scrape the contents of baking sheet into a small frying pan and set aside.

While grapes are roasting, add the sausages to grill.Cookuntil done, place on a clean plate, and cover with foil to retain heat.

Reheat the grapes and glaze in the frying pan over medium-high heat, adding a bit more wine if necessary. Check seasoning, and remove from heat.

Divide the arugula amongst four dinner plates, making a mound of it in the center of each. Add two sausages to each plate, and then top with the grape/glaze mixture. Garnish the top of each with shaved Queso de Mano (use a vegetable peeler).

©The Sustainable Kitchen ®

Original Haystack Mountain Goat Cheesecake

Photo credit: Food Network

Crust:
A traditional graham cracker crust. Combine these ingredients and press into 9″ springform pan:
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. melted butter
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until crust sets up.

Filling:
Cream in mixer until fluffy:
12 oz Haystack Goat Cheese (Chèvre Spread or Boulder Chèvre)
12 oz Cream Cheese
3 cups dairy sour cream
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
zest of 2 lemons, minced
juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 orange, minced
juice of 1 orange

Pour gently into pre-baked crust and bake at 275 degrees for 2 hours until puffed and cooked in center. Let cool entirely before removing from pan. Refrigerate prior to serving. Can be served plain or with fresh berries or fruit.

Fried Squash Blossoms with Goat Cheese

Photo credit: Gouramanda

Photo credit: Gouramanda

12 squash blossoms
8 ounces Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese
Assorted chopped fresh herbs (such as chive, garlic chive, basil, thyme, oregano, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp. water
Flour for dipping
Olive oil for sautéing

Mix herbs and cheese. Thin with a little milk if necessary to make a spreadable consistency. Wash the blossoms and tear them in half lengthwise. Carefully, spread the blossoms with the cheese mixture and fold back over to seal the blossom. Dip in egg, and then flour. Drop into hot oil and sauté for 3 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

Baked Goat Cheese with Young Lettuces & Orange Vinaigrette

Photo credit: Celebrated Memoir Ghostwriter

Photo credit: Celebrated Memoir Ghostwriter

from Jason McHugh, Cooking School of the Rockies

For the Goat Cheese:
4 or 6 Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese rounds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, stemmed and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, stemmed and chopped
freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad:
3/4 lb. young local lettuces, washed and spun dry
4 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 – 1/2 cup orange vinaigrette (recipe follows)
optional: orange sections

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the oil in a small bowl and coat each cheese round with oil. Place the herbs in another bowl and toss the rounds with the herbs to coat. Place the goat cheese on a small sheet pan and season with a few grinds of black pepper. Bake the goat cheese for 10 minutes.

As the cheese bakes, prepare the salads. Toss the lettuce with the vinaigrette just to coat and arrange on individual plates. Garnish with the hazelnuts and the orange sections if desired. Serve.

Orange Vinaigrette:
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 small shallot, peeled and minced fine
1 tablespoon honey
2 – 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil
1-2 teaspoons orange oil
salt and white pepper

Place the orange juice and shallot in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the juice to 2 tablespoons and add the honey to dissolve.

Cool.

Combine the reduced juice and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and some salt. Taste the combination and decide if more vinegar is necessary. Whisk in the canola oil or add in a blender. Add the orange oil and correct the seasoning with salt and white pepper.

Spiced Goat Cheese & Pecan Spread

Photo credit: Olive This

Photo credit: Olive This

Makes 1-1/2 cups

2 Tbsp. pecans, finely chopped
12 oz. soft Haystack Applewood Smoked Chèvre, room temperature
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Add the pecans in a food processor and chop fine. Add goat cheese, olive oil, paprika, cumin, cayenne and black pepper. Process until completely blended. Transfer to a crock and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature with toasted baguette slices or crackers.

Haystack Mountain Chèvre & Leek Bread Pudding

Photo credit: Feasting at Home

Photo credit: Feasting at Home

from Chef Matthew Jansen, Mateo Restaurant, Boulder, Colorado

Serves 12

1 loaf Pullman bread, cubed
8 tablespoons butter
2 large leeks, sliced thinly and washed
1 large garlic clove or small handful garlic scapes, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
pinch black pepper
6 large eggs
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ tablespoons chopped tarragon
2 cups crumbled Haystack Mountain Boulder Chèvre
In a 400 degree oven, toast bread cubes for 10 minutes on a half sheet pan.

Sweat the leeks in butter. Add garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cream, and sour cream. Fold in bread cubes, leeks, tarragon and goat cheese. Let stand for 10-15 minutes.

Spray 12 coffee cups or deep ramekins with cooking spray. Fill each one with mixture. Set in a roasting pan and fill with hot water to reach halfway up sides of the ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degree in convection oven with low fan. Rotate pan and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool for 10 minutes, then release from ramekins and serve.

www.mateorestaurant.com

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