New Cheese! Bossa from Green Dirt Farm

By James Fairbrother

James is a summer intern at Murray’s who’ll be regularly entertaining you with cheesy tidbits all summer long. When he’s not tasting new cheeses, he is getting ready for his senior year at Cornell, where he is studying Food Science and Italian.

Having just started working at Murray’s, I couldn’t believe that on my first day I already had the chance to taste one of our newest cheeses. What was even more exciting was finding out that this particular cheese, Bossa, happens to be a rare all-sheep’s milk cheese produced within the United States at the women-owned Green Dirt Farm in Weston, Missouri. The farm prides itself on its sustainable and humane practices, allowing the sheep to roam and pasture freely in the hilly area above the Missouri River Valley, and has earned the distinction as an Animal Welfare Approved organization. This pasteurized cheese is produced in limited quantities, and we are ecstatic to be the first to introduce it to New York City.

I took a small piece home with me on Wednesday, eager to taste my first cheese from Murray’s. Unwrapping the piece of the small wheel I had procured, the first aspect that struck me was the vibrant orange color that results from the brine-washed rind during the 6-week aging process. The inside is milky-white and slightly springy, but still soft, with a funky aroma to match its taste. Cutting a small piece to finally taste it, I immediately noticed the creamy texture. The mouth feel was incredibly smooth, covering the entire palate, and so rich that I don’t think it would have been possible to eat the entire sample. Good thing I have a family that loves cheese. Bossa is funky, strong, and a little bit nutty, with a slightly smoky aftertaste.

I thought it would go well with a firm, sweet fruit, so I cut up an apple and tasted the Bossa again on top of a thin slice. If you manage to get your hands on a wheel or two, serve it this way. The light fruity flavor perfectly contrasted with the cream of the cheese, and would certainly allow you to eat even more of it! The two friends I was with loved it (and my new job, considering how much they’re going to be fed). It could be compared to Tomme du Berger, which means it would pair well with a slightly sweeter wine, such as an off-dry Reisling. Bossa is proof that happy sheep means better cheese, and a happy cheese eater.

Murray’s Cheese currently has Bossa in limited quantities in our New York City stores, check back soon to find it online.

Nettle Meadow Chevre Recipes

Sheila Flanagan, Cheesemaker and Owner at Nettle Meadow Farm, was kind enough to share some of her favorite uses for their delightful fresh chevre spreads. Perfect for everything from a casual nosh to a fancy cocktail party, these recipes will help you make the most of one of our favorite springtime products!

Order any flavor individually, or buy all four and save!

Stuffed Mushrooms with Garlic & Olive Oil Chevre

20 Large White Mushrooms
1 ½ cups dried stuffing mix
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup dry white wine
3 shallots
1 five ounce cup garlic & oil chevre
1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Heat shallots in butter and oil.  Pull stems off mushroom caps and heat in oven for ten minutes, stem side down.  Add chopped mushroom stems and wine to shallot mixture.    Add stuffing and chevre to shallot mixture.  Heat on low heat till soft.  Add Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Place mixture into mushroom caps and baked for another 20 minutes.

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Pumpernickel Squares with Horseradish Chevre, Fresh Dill and Grape Tomatoes

A sleeve of pumpernickel squares, or pumpernickel bread cut into 1″ squares
One cup horseradish  chevre
Grape tomatoes cut in half
Fresh dill

Spread horseradish chevre on each pumpernickel square and top with two halves of a grape tomato and fresh dill.  Serve immediately so bread does not get soggy.

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Chevre Salad with Bacon, Dried Cherry, and Port Dressing

1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries
½ cup tawny port
5 ounces bacon, chopped
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
5 to 8 ounces chevre
5 ounce bag of salad greens
½ cup toasted pine nuts

Combine cherries and port in heavy small saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and let stand till cherries swell, about 15 minutes.  Sauté chopped bacon in skillet over medium low heat until crisp.  Add shallots and garlic and cook 2 minutes.  Add oil, then vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves.  Stir in cherry mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat over to 350 degrees and place spoonfuls of chevre on rimmed baking sheet and warm for 10 minutes.  Combine salad greens and toasted pine nuts in a bowl.  Re-warm dressing and pour over salad.  Toss to blend.  Top with warm goat cheese and serve.

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Baked Apples with Raisins and Maple Walnut Chevre

6 apples
10 ounces Nettle Meadow Maple Walnut Chevre
½ cup raisins

Core apples and spoon out circular cavity in center.  Combine goat cheese and raisins.  Spoon into hollowed apples.  Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Kidding Season: Why now is the time for fresh goat cheese

by Grace Mitchell

We all know it because of our own human experience:  animals only produce milk after they give birth to their young.  It’s easy, however, to forget this plain fact of nature when we have a constant supply of fresh milk, cheese, and other dairy products.  Thanks to modern technologies and human manipulation of animals’ natural cycles, we can conveniently partake in dairy year-round.

But just like those out of season vegetables that we buy at the supermarket, this consistent supply of dairy is sometimes lackluster when it comes to taste.  While the majority of dairying in this country occurs without consideration for the natural cycles of animals, there are a few dairies and cheesemakers who understand that making cheese in accordance with the seasons will yield the best product.

In seasonal dairying, animals give birth to their young in spring and begin producing milk to feed them.  This resurgence in milk production comes after a dry period in which the animals do not produce milk.  Goats, for example, have a ten-month lactation cycle, and milk production that begins in spring thus ceases in late fall or early winter.  At this time, the goats also must move off pasture with the arrival of cold weather, and their milk quality changes with quality of their feed.

Now that it’s spring again, the goats have given birth and are once again making milk.  This recommencement of milk production also corresponds to moving the goats to pasture.  No longer wintering indoors dining upon stored winter feed, these goats are now grazing on lush spring pastures and woodland browse which endow their milk with an array of vitamins, minerals, and other flavor compounds, thus yielding especially complex cheeses.

Some of the cheeses made from this milk are intended to age for several months, such as Consider Bardewell’s Manchester.  But for those of us in desperate need of instant gratification, there is fresh chevre for us to enjoy right now.

I attribute my most memorable and extended encounter with fresh chevre to my stint working on a goat cheese farm, at which I arrived in late spring.  There was an abundance of baby goats, and a corresponding abundance of fresh chevre, present three meals a day.  Luckily, my springtime chevre habit need not desist now that I live in the city, as Murray’s has made great friends with Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan, owners and operators of Nettle Meadow Farm in the Adirondacks.  From the milk of their 300 goats, they make some of our favorite cheeses, including Kunik.  In the spring they handcraft fresh chevres, some of which are so lovingly flavored, and all of which are pillowy, milky, tangy, lemony, and absolutely dreamy in your mouth.  It’s best right now–so quick!  Get yourself some fresh chevre while it’s delicate, complex, and benefitting from the newness of spring growth.

Joan Nathan’s Cheesy Passover Dishes

We’re pretty excited to welcome Joan Nathan to Murray’s on May 10 for an evening of cheese and chatting.  As the author of ten cookbooks, and a James Beard awardwinner to boot, Joan knows a thing (or three) about cooking with cheese.  In May we’ll be tasting cheese, sipping wine and trying a few recipes from her latest cookbook.  And this month, with Passover right around the corner, we asked Joan to share a few of her favorite cheese-filled recipes that she uses at her own Seder.  

FARFEL AND CHEESE – From Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook

About four days into Passover when my daughter, Daniela, was young she commented that, “We look forward to the Seder for so long that we forget after a few days, matzah gets old!”  I adapted this farfel and cheese recipe precisely for that reason.  No one can get sick of mac and cheese!  Especially when it’s full of cheddar AND sour cream. 

4 large eggs

3 cups matzah farfel

½ lb cheddar cheese (so many options here!  Try Tickler, Cabot Clothbound, or Montgomery’s – or a mixture of many)

1 ½ cups sour cream

6 tablespoons butter or pareve margarine

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

     Beat 3 of the eggs and pour over the farfel.  Mix well.

     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole.  Pour the farfel mixture into the casserole.

     Cut the cheddar cheese into a small dice.  Add the cheese to the farfel.  Using a spoon add the sour cream in dollops and dot with the butter or margarine.  Mix together the milk, remaining egg, salt, and pepper, and pour it over the casserole.

     Bake covered, for 30 minutes.  Uncover and let brown for 10 to 15 minutes more.  Scoop out onto plates.

Serves 8.

PAPETON D’AUBERGINES (EGGPLANT GRATIN) – From Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous

Eggplant is a favorite of mine and I never need an excuse to make it.  In this recipe, roasting the eggplant makes it nice and smoky and with all the cheese, no one feels the least bit deprived.  I like to serve it alongside a simple green salad and use whatever cheeses I have on hand.  You should feel free to experiment.

1/4 cup olive oil

3 large eggplants, about 4 pounds

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup grated Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese

1 sprig thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 sprig oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano

4 tablespoons matzo meal

Freshly grated pepper to taste

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 6-cup gratin dish with some of the oil.

If grilling the eggplants over a gas stove, make small slits all over the outside.  Using tongs, hold them over the open flame, rotating them every few minutes until they are soft and collapsed. If roasting them in the oven, cut them in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with olive oil, and place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes or until very soft.

Place the cooked eggplant in a sieve over a large bowl, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt, and let cool and drain for about 15 minutes.  Peel, discarding the skin and any liquid that has accumulated, and, using 2 knives, chop the eggplant in a sieve over a bowl. 

Stir the feta and gruyere cheeses, the thyme, the oregano, 3 tablespoons of the matzo meal, a few sprinklings of pepper and all but a tablespoon of the remaining oil. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and stir into the eggplant mixture. Then pour everything into the gratin dish. Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the remaining matzo meal. Bake for an hour or until golden on top.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

The Brie Syndrome

by Rob Kaufelt

Brie is in the air, or at least in the news – see The New York Times.  What is old is new again this spring, in cheese as in all things.  Brie has always been popular at Murray’s, it is a staple of our business, ever since the early importers first brought it from France to America in quantity without ruining it along the way, and Murray Greenberg brought it into his little shop on Cornelia St.

For the fact is, Brie is a delicate cheese.  A bloomy rind cheese, a soft ripened treasure. If too young it lacks that luscious creaminess; if too old, it has that ammoniated taste and smell that put us off. Once upon a time, as Brie became more popular, it became less likely to come from France, and more likely to come from factories in Wisconsin and Canada. Somehow, these were never as good.

Worse, Brie is meant to be double creme, 60% butterfat, and more brie began to be sold that was only single creme, or 50%, which just doesn’t make it in the taste and mouthfeel department. (triple cremes, at 70%, are something else altogether).

But worst of all, we began to see it cut and cryovac’ed, with a long shelf life, suffocating in plastic, and so fewer Americans were having a real French brie moment anymore.

But Brie is back, and the real thing is finally becoming available in ever more locations. In our shops at Kroger markets in Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Texas, you can get the real thing, freshly cut from its large 2 or 3 kilo wheels, the large white discs sitting freshly unwrapped from their special paper ready for the monger’s wire.

Brie is meant to be eaten a point, at the point of perfection, perfectly creamy yet not over the top. We achieve this by storing the cheese we import in our French design caves beneath the streets of Greenwich Village.

Along with Brie, the comeback trail might include Brie’s infamous spinoffs, perhaps ready for respectability denied it in food and cheese circles. I’m speaking of baked brie, of course, Brie en Croute, which has given us a few laughs at Murray’s over the years. But now I’m not so sure.

Last year, while visiting a Kroger store in Ohio with Liz Thorpe, our Vice President who’s in charge of that program, a young chef in the store brought us her version of baked Brie: a little aluminum foil cup, filled with Brie, wrapped in an all-butter puff pastry.  Needless to say, it was delicious, and the shops carried it for the holidays and it sold like crazy.

It was delicious: the melted brie oozing flavor with its salt mingling with the sweet fruit preserves, then baked with a golden brown crust.  Could it be that a young midwestern chef discovered what an old New York cheesemonger (or the French themselves for that matter) would never admit: this was Brie at its best!