At-Home Cheese Storage

At-Home Cheese Storage

One of the most common cheese questions people ask me is: how do you store cheese at home?

My answer: I don’t.

I try to buy only what I’m going to be able to use immediately. Dave and I can easily put down 1/4 lb to 1/2 lb in a single sitting, so I don’t often have leftovers. However, I know that most people practice something called moderation, which we still haven’t gotten the hang of. So, if you want to keep leftover cheese fresh at home, here are my tips:

Don’t wrap it directly in plastic

Cheese is a living thing; it needs air. You wouldn’t want to be smothered in Saran-Wrap, would you? While you’ll often see large hunks wrapped in plastic in cheese shops, those cheeses are unbundled multiple times per day, giving the cheese a chance to breathe. If you aren’t doing the same at home (and who is?), avoid the plastic as a first barrier.

Instead, use wax paper

First wrap your cheese in wax paper, which is more permeable. Secure with scotch or masking tape, if necessary. Then wrap the package in a loose outer layer of plastic or put it in a Ziploc bag so that it doesn’t dry out.

Keep in the vegetable drawer or a lidded container

The vegetable drawer is usually slightly more moist than the rest of the refrigerator, creating a happy home for most cheeses. If you don’t have space for cheese here, you can also keep it in a lidded container, which protects your precious cargo from taking on weird flavors from the rest of your fridge. You can keep different types of cheese together but you might want to consider isolating really stinky cheeses or blues.

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

A Gift For Tiny Cheese Lovers

Buying gifts for kids when you don’t have one the same age is really hard. I never know what toys are age-appropriate or what’s so popular that the kid will already own it. (And probably have already gotten bored of it.)

But books always seem like a safe bet. I’m thrilled when someone gives me a new book for Elle, especially if there’s a personal inscription inside. If you happen to be shopping for a book for a miniature cheese lover, I would highly suggest “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.”

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales

The book is an off-beat spoof of children’s fairy tales that’s just silly and gross enough to actually capture their attention. The ugly duckling grows up to be an ugly duck and the princess who kisses a frog doesn’t get a prince, just slime on her face. Of course, my favorite story is about the stinky cheese man. He’s got olives for eyes and bacon for a mouth and smells so bad that no one wants to even try to eat him. I think he’s pretty cute:

The Stinky Cheese Man

The book sells for $9.94 on Amazon.

Ivan Ramen Four Cheese Mazemen

Ivan Ramen’s Four Cheese Mazemen

One of the most surprising aspects of my pregnancy was how anti-climactic my due date was. I spent nine months in excited anticipation of May 9th, never imagining that after so much waiting, my daughter wouldn’t magically appear that day. Well, she didn’t. I was enormous, exhausted and more uncomfortable than I’ve ever been. The only thing that made the day bearable was the opening of Ivan Ramen.

It is a well-documented fact that my sister and I love ramen. And by well-documented, I mean that it was printed in The New York Times. Alex and I had been eagerly looking forward to the debut of Ivan Ramen for more than a year.

She got into line on Clinton Street at 4 p.m., preparing for the 5:30 p.m. opening of the doors. Noodle maestro Ivan Orkin himself greeted the ramen lovers as we queued up, commenting on my expansive girth as I promised to try not to go into labor in his brand-new restaurant (while also not-so-secretly hoping the spicy noodles would help speed nature along.)

After so much anticipation, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Alex and I weren’t just a little let down. It is just a bowl of noodle soup after all. Yet, we weren’t the least disappointed.

The pork meatballs are some of the best I’ve ever had — light and airy, with tofu providing a silken texture. And the ramen — absolute perfection. Thin rye noodles in steaming rich tonkotsu broth, topped with a tender slab of slow-cooked chashu.

I enjoyed the meal so much that when I still hadn’t gone into labor the next day, Dave and I went back for dinner. As evidenced by the photos on this blog, I did eventually have the baby. And Ivan Ramen, of course, was the first place we took her for dinner.

I’ve been at least five or six times by now, slowly working my way through the entire menu. My most recent order was the four-cheese mazemen. I know it seems shocking that it would take several trips before I tried the menu’s sole cheese-laden dish, but I’m more a fan of ramen than mazemen (which essentially consists of wet noodles rather than a soup.) Still, I love a good mac and cheese, and this Japanese version is just delicious.

Ivan Ramen Four Cheese Mazemen

The whole-wheat noodles are cloaked in a velvety mix of parmesan, asiago, pecorino, and cream cheese and topped with pickled bean sprouts and pork chashu. The acidity of the bean sprouts perfectly cuts the richness of the cheesy sauce. Still, this isn’t a dish for the faint of heart. I finished every single morsel but I also had to wear elastic-waist pants for the rest of the evening.

I’m planning to wait until the dead of winter or until I run a marathon before ordering this one again. While I could take down a bowl of shio ramen once a day, I’m saving the four-cheese mazemen for an occasional treat.

Ivan Ramen, 25 Clinton Street, 646-678-3859

Ewephoria

Ewephoria

  • Milk type: Pasteurized sheep
  • Style: Gouda
  • Made in: Holland
  • Purchased at: Murray’s
  • Price: $19.99/lb
  • Try pairing with: Cabernet or Porter

When I purchased Ewephoria, the cheesemonger told me she thinks the flavor includes a hint of marshmallow. As bizarre as that sounds, I have to agree.

Ewephoria, as the punny name suggests, is made from pasteurized sheep’s milk in Holland. The distributor claims that it comes from a small sheep farm where the animals get plenty of sunshine, fresh grass and clean air. The local soil is reclaimed mineral rich ocean clay, which allegedly provides for an exceptionally creamy milk.

I’ve never heard a cheese maker say that its milk comes from extremely pissed-off animals who would rather be frolicking in the wilderness, but I will concede that this cheese is sweet and pretty creamy.

The piece in the photo above was aged for four months, giving the cheese a rubbery texture with a mellow sweetness that gets a bit more nutty closer to the rind.

However, there’s also a version that’s aged between six and nine months. The longer maturation time results in a crunchier texture and a nuttier, more butterscotch taste.

I’m normally in the cheese-as-appetizer camp, but Ewephoria’s sweetness would also make it work well as a dessert. (Try serving it with some grapes.) And if you’re a post-dinner aperitif kind of person, Murray’s suggests pairing it with a glass of sherry. 

4C Recalls Grated Parmesan Over Salmonella Risk

4C Grated Parmesan Recall

In between setting my fantasy football roster and purchasing baby moccasins online this morning, I came across a recall announcement from 4C Foods Corp. Since this is a brand that I’ve bought before and because it affects consumers in the Midwest — where many of my friends and family reside — I figured I should post it.

4C is recalling its 6-oz. glass jars of “Grated Cheese HomeStyle Parmesan” with best by dates of July 21, 2016 and July 22, 2016 due to possible contamination with salmonella, the Food and Drug Administration said. The product was distributed in late July in stores in Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Luckily, no illnesses have been reported to date. Still, better to err on the side of caution. If you have one of these jars, throw it away and call 4C at 1-718-272-7800 ext. 176 for a refund. 

4C’s recall comes hot on the heels of one last week by Kraft. The cheese giant voluntarily recalled 7,691 cases of Kraft American Singles Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product, blaming a supplier for failing to store an ingredient at the correct temperature, possibly leading to premature spoilage and/or food borne illness. Click here for more info on the varieties of Singles and package codes involved in that recall.

 

Italian parmesan popcorn

Italian Parmesan Popcorn

I worked in an open newsroom for eight years. In the movies, it’s really glamorous. There are reporters running around waving sheafs of paper and yelling about scoops as phones ring off the hook. Yes, that does occasionally happen — the 2010 Flash Crash was pretty darn exciting , as are election nights — but for the most part, there are dozens of reporters simply typing away in silence.

Until, that is, someone microwaves fish. Then there’s a ripple effect of complaining about quick-cooking smelly foods in a communal space.  (You’d be amazed by how far the odor of reheated salmon or popcorn can travel.) Yet, I love popcorn so deeply that getting a late afternoon fix sometimes actually seemed worth braving the dirty looks/comments of my co-workers.

Yet, while satisfying in a pinch, a bag of microwaved kernels just can’t hold a candle to the Italian parmesan popcorn I make in the privacy of my own home (where there’s no one to complain about the smell except for Dave.) And his only objection is when I’ve made a batch and didn’t save any for him.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a bowl for two using a popcorn maker:

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels

Popcorn kernels

(I’m partial to Urban Accents Premium White Gold Popcorn. I’ve probably tried a dozen different brands and have found that this one results in the biggest and fluffiest kernels.)

Urban Accents popcorn kernels

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

Melted Butter

  • 1 heaping tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon dry Italian salad dressing mix

Italian seasoning

(Note: This is not for people who are trying to limit their sodium intake. It’s crazy salty. But also soooooo good.)

Now you’re about three minutes away from snack nirvana.

Popcorn popper

Once the kernels have popped, drizzle them with the melted butter, Parmesan and Italian seasoning. Toss a few times and try not to slap everyone else’s hands away from the bowl.

Italian parmesan popcorn bowl

That’s So Cheddar Returns

 

Say Cheese

After a three-month hiatus, I’m pleased to announce That’s So Cheddar is back in business.

What was intended to be a short maternity leave quickly turned into months of cheese-writing inactivity.  In retrospect, I seriously underestimated how time-consuming a newborn is … and how little I was able to accomplish on two hours of sleep per night.

Since the little one pictured above is still quite a handful, for now, I’ll be posting only once a week.