Our Grilled Cheese Secrets (sshhh, don’t tell anyone)

From Steve Millard, Master Melter / Bleecker Store Director

Bread: Use either really good thick cut bread, like sourdough Pullman cut ½” thick.  Or go the other end with really cheap sandwich bread.

Butter: Butter is paramount to a superb grilled cheese sandwich.  I recommend Vermont Butter and Cheese sea salt butter.  Let the butter sit at room temperature for at least an hour to soften.  Spread an even coat of butter on the bread — not too much to make it greasy, and not too little to not even matter.

Cheese: Any cheese will melt, but not every cheese will make a delicious grilled cheese.  Look for alpine-style, melting, cheddar styles – here are a few great ones.  Generally speaking, blue cheeses do not make for good grilled cheese sandwiches.  Hard, Grana-style cheeses will work as an added flavor, but should not be the main cheese.  If you’re in  a hurry, soft cheeses like Brie and any cheese that you first shred will take less time to melt.

Think in terms of flavor combinations and what sort of grilled cheese sandwich you want to make.  You can add meats, vegetables, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, jams, relish, pickles, etc. to any grilled cheese.

Method: Cook on a flat surface. A panini press works the best at about 400 degrees.  A flat surface griddle will also work – just use some weight (such as another pan) to press the sandwich on the griddle.  Whether you’re using a press or a griddle, flip the sandwich half way to ensure even toasting.  The bread should be adequately toasty and not greasy.  Don’t rush the sandwich: 4-5 minutes will make for a sublime grilled cheese that will have wonderfully melted cheese and perfectly toasty bread.

Add-ons: Chips, tomato soup and a crisp, bubbly beverage.  I love GuS Dry Soda — soda helps cleanse the pallet and make each bite the more enjoyable.   Of course, beer is a perfect combination, I like a Pale Ale with a nice hoppy kick.

Staff Picks: Valentine’s Day Edition

Love is in the air! At Murray’s we get a lot of requests for cheese that will help make the night extra special, and we always know just what to recommend. Here are our staff picks for the sexiest cheese around – Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Robin:  A ripe Époisses is beautiful, and its silky texture just makes you go “Mmmm….”

James:  Monte Enebro is luscious, thick, and velvety in texture. Plus it has the best rind in the world. Peppery and saucy, like any good woman should be.

Carlos:  Podda Classico is sharp and has great curves.

Cielo:  Humboldt Fog. It’s made by ladies and it’s SO GOOD.

Elizabeth:  Brebisrousse d’Argental is bursting out of its bold red rind. Oozy, mild and unexpected.

Andrew:  Winnimere! Because it’s creamy, oozy, and complex.

Deena:  Zimbro is nice and plump, plus it’s wrapped in cloth so you get to undress it.

Beth:  Burrata is the oyster in cheese form, except it tastes like gorgeous mild milky goodness instead of the sea.

Dips to fill your SUPER bowl

Quick, cheesy, yummy.  What else can make your Super Bowl Sunday this delicious?

BLACK & BLUES DIP

This is the quickest blue cheese dip ever — great for wings and crudité.

1 lb. blue cheese, crumbled – use the Black River Blue from our new Super Bowl Shuffle package or order an extra pound.

1/2 Cup mayonnaise

1/2 Cup sour cream

2 TBS. apple cider vinegar

Dash of Worchestire sauce

Dash of Piri Piri sauce

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Optional: minced baby chives

Place all ingredients with half of the crumbled blue in a mixing bowl or use your mixer if you would like it ultra-smooth. Whisk vigorously or pulse in mixer until blended. Add in the remaining crumbles for the chunky factor; salt & pepper to taste. Want it more savory with a hint of heat?  Double dash with Piri Piri for that extra kick.

SPINACH FETA DIP

1 lb. pack frozen chopped spinach

1/2 Cup sour cream

1/2 Cup mayonnaise

1/2 Cup Crumbled Feta – either Bulgarian or French

2 TBS. dried oregano

Zest & juice of one lemon

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Optional: 2 TBS. Walnut oil (adds great flavor!)

Optional: Toasted Walnuts  (adds great flavor!)

Steam the frozen spinach and thoroughly drain the liquid. Place the spinach in a fine mesh strainer and press all of the liquid out of it.  Chop the drained spinach on a cutting board.

Place the chopped spinach in a bowl and add all of your other ingredients and stir.  Save a little feta to sprinkle on the top as well as the nuts.

Refrigerate in an air tight container, overnight is just fine.  When ready to serve, you can mix in more lemon, salt, feta to flavor it, and top with feta and walnuts.  Serve with endive, tortilla chips, flatbreads or crusty bread.

PIMENTO CHEDDAR DIP

1 lb. cheddar: our favorite is Tickler

1/3 lb.  cream cheese

1/2 Cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. cayenne

8 oz. jar roasted red peppers

1 tsp. sugar

Dash Worchestire sauce

Optional: pickled jalapenos (if you like it spicy)

Use a grater or a food processor to shred the cheddar.  Pulse the red peppers in the food processor.  Add spices and cream cheese and pulse until mixed.  Then just add in cheddar and pulse until mixed – go for a textured (not smooth) finish.  Serve with celery, apples and bread.

Reinventing the Wheel: American Mountain Cheeses

The mountains of the Northeast may not approach the altitudes of the Alps or Pyrenees, but cheeses crafted in the nooks, crannies, and foothills of the Green Mountains and Adirondacks stand tall next to their European forebears.  American cheesemakers are in many ways still blazing a trail for hand-crafted cheese, free from many of the same constraints that shaped European cheese tradition.   Today the peaks and valleys of the American countryside yield some of our favorite farmstead cheeses– traditional Alpine wheels made from raw Jersey cow’s milk, terroir driven goat tommes, and luscious mixed-milk triple creams.

Spring Brook Farm—Reading, VT

While Alpine agrarians cooked and pressed the curd for their hefty wheels of Gruyere out of necessity (who wants to schlep a hundred balls of soft burrata down a mountain slope instead?), today you’ll find Alpine-style Tarentaise from Spring Brook Farm made an expansive Vermont meadow, where a herd of 100 doe-eyed Jerseys (prized in the cheesemaking community for their rich milk) get their fill of lush grass in fields surrounding the cheese house.  The terrain might not be Alpine, the process certainly is: cheesemaker Jeremy Stephenson heats curds in traditional copper kettles, and finished wheels are washed and turned for months, all the while developing the characteristic Alpine flavors- a kick of pineapple, followed by a savory nuttiness akin to hazelnut butter.

Twig Farm—West Cornwall, VT

If meaty washed rinds like  Forsterkase and Vacherin Mont d’Or are more your speed, trek 60 miles across the Green Mountains to Twig Farm in West Cornwall, Vermont, where Michael Lee and Emily Sunderman milk a small herd of Alpine goats for their raw milk cheeses.   Twig’s Soft Wheel peaks in these mid-winter months, the buttery late-season milk redolent of wild grasses and wilder flowers, with a characteristic brightness.   Soft Wheel, aptly named, is washed in whey brine, which encourages its healthy pink rind and enhances its depth of flavor.

Nettle Meadow Farm—Warrensburg, NY

At Nettle Meadow Farm in the southern Adirondacks, cheesemakers Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanigan have embraced their rich, expressive milk and fashioned Kunik, a triple cream dream worthy of a picnic at any elevation. Though bloomy rinds reign the coastal regions of France, we think New York’s Kunik fits right in nestled in wooded, sloping terrain.  Made from the milk of Nettle Meadow’s herd of browsing goats, with an added dollop of cream from neighboring Jersey cows, Kunik is an unmistakably peanutty butter bomb, an edible testament to a balance of traditional skill and American ingenuity.

This month try all three in our American Mountain Trio – click here to learn more.

By Sascha Anderson

Three Ways to Do the ‘Due

Who isn’t a fan of fondue? On a cold winter night there are few things more comforting than melted cheese, especially when friends and family are gathered around to share in the experience.

And we’ll let you in on a little secret: Fondue is the perfect storm of minimal effort and maximum rewards. A true cornerstone of entertaining for lazy people. It’s so easy that we made three batches in an just under an hour to try out some new recipes, which you’ll find below. What are you waiting for? Get melting!

RECIPE #1 : Basic Fondue

This is the “classic” recipe most people think of when thinking of fondue. Want to add a little flair to your fondue? Substitute 1/4 lb of any cheese below with a more flavorful Alpine style cheese like Scharfe Maxx, Etivaz, or Vacherin Friborgeois.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 Cup Chardonnay

½# Gruyere, shredded

½# Emmenthaler, shredded

¼# Appenzeller, shredded

2 Tbsp Cornstarch

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp Kirsch (if desired)

Pinch of salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic

Method:

  1.  Take garlic glove and cut in half.  Rub the garlic clove halves all over the inside of your fondue pot or thick bottomed pot on your stove.
  2. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a simmer.
  3. In a large bowl combine all cheeses and the cornstarch tossing the cheese several times until all cornstarch has evenly coated the cheese.
  4. Add cheese to the liquid in the pot over low heat.
  5. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon.  Approximately 7-10 minutes until all cheese has been fully melted and your fondue has a smooth consistency.
  6. Add nutmeg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve it up!  Keep over low flame to keep fondue melted.

Accompaniments of apples, ham, crusty bread, and cornichons will complete your meal.

RECIPE #2: Steve’s Fondue

A funky twist on a classic. The combination of Etivaz, nutmeg and Piri Piri makes this fondue especially rich, flavorful and nuanced in a way that will make people say, “Do I detect a hint of…?” Yes. Yes you do.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 cup Samuel Adams Boston Lager or other Lager

½# Gruyere, shredded

½# Emmenthaler, shredded

¼# Etivaz, shredded

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 teaspoons Piri Piri

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Method:

Follow method for basic fondue. Add Piri Piri at the end, seasoning to taste.

Serve with accompaniments of your choice. We like it with roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes, chorizo, tasso ham, and crusty bread.

Recipe #3: Matt’s Fondue

If you’re ready to take your fondue to the next level, also known as “The Maxx,” this is the ‘due for you. Bold flavor, silky smooth texture and unmistakable nuttiness.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 cup Samuel Adams Boston Lager or other Lager

½# Scharfe Maxx, shredded

½# Gruyere, shredded

¼# Appenzeller, shredded

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp lemon Juice

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Method:

Follow method for Basic Fondue.

Serve with accompaniments of your choice. We like apples, saucisson sec, potatoes, roasted fennel or pearl onions, crusty bread, and cornichons.