Consider the Sheep: La Serena

Cheeses at their best:  What we’re especially loving right now

by Grace Mitchell

La Serena

Should you find yourself in search of an oozing, sheepy, expand-across-your-plate wedge of cheese, do take pause!  You needn’t look any further, for La Serena, a raw sheep’s milk cheese from Spain, quite nicely fits the bill.  Deep in the hinterlands of the southwestern province of Extremadura, a man and his son craft from the milk of their 2,000 Merino sheep these unusual wheels of cheese.  As are many traditional Iberian cheeses, La Serena is coagulated by enzymes found in the thistle plant, which lends a tangy, floral character to the goat and sheep milk cheeses made in this manner (most cheesemaking involves coagulation by enzymes derived from the stomach lining of unweaned cows, sheep, or goats).

This floral morsel doesn’t get any better than it tastes right now.  The confluence of Spain’s humidity this time of year and the fatty winter sheep milk yields wheels of La Serena that are at once perfectly voluptuous, delicate, tangy, and vegetal.  These days, the contents of these three-pound lace-bound wheels cavalierly slides like creamy lava within the rind, begging you to—please!—do as the Spanish do:  gently slice off the top of the wheel, and dive in with pieces crusty bread and chunks of chorizo in fondue-like fashion.

We can’t resist sharing our excitement over this sheepy goodness!  To round out your cheese plate with wedges of wheels that we’re also finding especially superlative in this moment, we recommend you to have a taste of the spicy, cakey, goaty Spanish Monte Enebro, and the milky, creamy, subtle Bavarian Blue.

Murray’s Ultimate Super Bowl Nachos

Make ‘em.  Eat ‘em.  Love ‘em.  Our ultimate nacho recipe for the big game.

Serves 4.

INGREDIENTS

1 bag tortilla chips

Cheese: 1 LB total, mix your favorites:
Make it spicy with Pepperjack
Make it nice with Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Make it gooey with Asiago Fresco
Make it smoky with Smoked Gouda

Toppings:

1/2 jar Spicy McClure’s Pickles, sliced
1/2 jar Rick’s Picks Smokra, chopped
Handful of pitted kalamata olives, chopped
Handful of peppadews, chopped
Creme Fraiche or your favorite sour cream
Queso blanco from Mozzarella Company

Meat:

1/4 LB Nduja, cut in pieces
1/4 LB Chorizo, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Shred your cheese and gently toss in a bowl.

On a cookie sheet, glass or metal pie pan layer spread an even layer of tortilla chips, approximately 1/3 of bag.  We’re going to make 3 even layers.

Layer on 1/3rd of toppings and meat and top with 1/3rd of shredded cheese.

Add a 2nd layer of tortilla chips (1/3rd of bag) and top with 2nd layer of toppings, cheese and meat.

Finish with a 3rd layer of tortilla chips and top with 3rd layer of toppings and remaining cheese and meat.

Bake in oven until cheese layers are melted, 10-12 minutes

Top with creme fraiche, queso blanco and/or sour cream.

Serve with plenty of napkins, cold beer or a fruity red wine.

Double or triple the recipe to feed the whole team!

Leave a comment below and tell us how you made the recipe…

Super Bowl Recipe: Cielo’s Favorite Super Cheddar Soup

Cielo has been the main man of Bleecker Street for 16 years now, so when he says something is good, you KNOW it is.  Right now he’s loving the cheddar ale soup we’re dishing out to our lunch crowd.   Try it at home with our super-simple recipe.

Cheddar Ale Soup

2 medium leeks (white/pale green parts only), cut into ¼-inch dice (2 cups)

2 medium carrots cut into ¼ -inch dice (1 cup)

2 celery ribs, cut into ¼-inch dice (1 cup)

2 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 bay leaf

½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

14oz. low sodium chicken broth

1 (12oz.) bottle ale such as Bass

½ TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 lb Hennings Cheddar Cheese, grated (4 cups)

4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, letting sand/dirt fall to the bottom and skimming the leeks off of the top. Drain in a colander.

Cook leeks, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaf in butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and sprinkle flour over vegetable, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes.

Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. (For a smoother soup discard bay leaf, then puree in a blender, or use an immersion blender at this point).

Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add cheese by handfuls, stirring occasionally, and cook until cheese is melted, 3-4 minutes (do not boil). Adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve sprinkled with bacon.

Super Bowl Recipe: Smokey Blue Cheese Dip

Nobody is more patriotic than Murray’s Field Merchandising Specialist Nathan Aldridge (see photographic evidence). As such, one of Nathan’s favorite holidays is coming up soon: Super Bowl Sunday! This year, make Nathan’s blue cheese dip the highlight of your viewing party.

As a cheesemonger I’ve been asked many times for my suggestions for parties, gatherings, weddings, birthdays, you name it.  This time of year however, I do not wait to be asked for my educated opinion.  I yell it from the mountain tops! You can’t watch the Super Bowl without eating chicken wings, and you can’t eat chicken wings with out blue cheese dressing!  That would be like watching the Super Bowl and skipping the commercials.

My favorite Super Bowl Blue Cheese is Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue.  For the last 5 years, this dip has been the highlight of every ceremonial chicken wing eating event I have hosted(aka the Super Bowl). The smokiness of this particular blue cheese adds a rustic, woodsy flavor to the dip.  It’s also delightful with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery (for those of you who like to nibble on the lighter side).

Smokey Blue Cheese Dressing

1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
dash black pepper
1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/4 c milk
2 tbsp. vinegar
2c  mayonnaise
3/4c crumbled Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue

Directions:
Blend together dry spices then add the Worscestershire sauce. Add the milk then let sit for a few minutes, to dissolve the spices.  Have the mayonnaise measured out as well as the smokey blue cheese crumbles before you add the vinegar to the milk mixture.

Add the vinegar to the milk mixture. It will start to curdle: this is normal.

Add the mayonnaise and whisk together well.  When blended, add the Smokey Blue crumbles.

The longer you let the dressing refrigerate, the better the flavor will be. I suggest preparing 2 days before chow time.

Yield: 3 cups (if you need to make more, make 2 batches, DO NOT double the recipe, the flavors will not blend as well.)

Enjoy!  You can thank me later.

Thanksgiving Recipe: Thanksgrilled Cheese



Featuring Spring Brook Tarentaise & Fresh Ricotta

From Chef & Fromager Tia Keenan

You know you’re going to have some serious leftovers after your Thanksgiving feast. We all make sandwiches, but why stick with the predictable? This is the most delicious and decadent Thanksgiving leftover sandwich we’ve ever heard of….don’t worry, we’ll understand if you skip the meal and go straight to the leftover phase.

For the bread:
4 slices of Brioche or whatever bread or rolls you have around.
1 pint Half & Half
3 eggs
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
Zest of one lemon
Non-stick spray

1.Whisk half & half and eggs until thoroughly blended. Add Pumpkin Pie Spice and lemon zest and blend thoroughly.
2. Place bread in a shallow dish and pour liquid over bread. Turn the bread once to coat with liquid, cover, and refrigerate for at least two hours.

For the filling:
Leftover: Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Yams or Sweet Potato (pureed)
4 ounces fresh cheese, such as ricotta or chevre
4 ounces Spring Brook Tarentaise, grated

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Remove the bread from the refrigerator.
3. Spray a skillet with non-stick spray and place over medium heat. Cook the bread on each side until crisp and dark brown. Be patient, bread should cook for about 15 minutes on each side.
4. When bread is done, assemble the sandwich. Begin with a generous smear of Yam puree, then fresh cheese, turkey, Tarentaise and cranberry sauce.
5. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, approximately 15 minutes.
6. Slice the sandwiches into halves and serve with a side of gravy.