Underrated Cheese

By: Lauren McDowell


Many people visit the world famous Murray’s cheese counter to taste something they’ve never tasted before, or to pick up something undiscovered by most. Here are a few of our favorite selections that are often overlooked.

Salva Cremasco – This Italian cow may be the absolute best value in our cheese case. As a cheese lover (and starving student) it’s hard for me to contain my giddy-ness over a supremely and lacticly delicious cheese that doesn’t obliterate my food budget for the week! The rainbow hued rind gives this cube a funkiness that belies its smooth, mild interior.

Cashel Blue – Time and again, we all look to the classic French blues when perusing the blue-molded section of Murray’s cheeses. I’m guilty of it as well, but when I fondly recall a short-lived and glorious semester spent abroad in Galway, Ireland, I reach for the oft-forgotten Cashel Blue. Excellent with a juicy pear or ripe red apple, the creamy and pleasantly mild blue sings with cucumber slices on dark toast, paired with a roasty Guinness, or an Irish whiskey.

Pecorino Foglie de Noce- A rustic cheese from the capital of food in Italy, Emilia-Romagna, these small wheels are covered in walnut leaves and aged in barrels, imparting milky, nutty flavors.

Sheep’s milk cheeses frequently leave you wanting in flavor, but not so with this crumbly wheel, at home both on a cheese board or grated over your pasta instead of the ubiquitous Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino romano.

Pata Cabra – Mild-mannered and semi-firm, this Spanish goat’s milk cheese will surprise you every time. Aged in Murray’s caves, each log is unique with varied levels of tang and pungency, but always anchored by the bright white interior and citrus essence characteristic of goat’s milk cheese. Especially for those who shy away from the more intense washed rinds (think Alsatian Munster), this totally snackable and always underrated selection challenges the palate in the most delightful of ways.

Chevre Noir – A goat cheddar, you ask incredulously? Never. Oh yes, a goat cheddar from Quebec, this bright white block all dressed up in black defies expectations. Grassy and fruity, use it as you would any cheddar for an elevated and creamy experience that even the most ardent of vegetarians can love (the fromagerie up in Canada uses microbial rennet!).

Gorgonzola Cremificato—A question for all my blue cheese-loving friends: if you could eat blue cheese ice cream, would you? If the answer is yes-of-course-no-duh-where-can-I-get-that, you’ve probably been overlooking the luscious, creamy, just-right sweetness of this spoonable cow’s milk Italian blue.  Not to be confused with its more piquant relative Mountain Gorgonzola or less sweet but mighty strong Gorgonzola dolce Artigianale, this is a classic you need to get to know or re-visit.

Brebirousse d’Argental—We get a lot of customers in the Bleecker St. store who come in looking for a spreadable cheese they can nosh on with a bit of baguette.

It seems that everyone knows about creamy cow’s milk favorites, but there are less who are acquainted with this equally wonderful French sheep cheese. This gooey, complex darling boasts a grassy, tangy meaty flavor as unique as its lovely bright orange rind. This is a great pick for cheese plates when you want a cheese to taste as good as it looks!

Brunet—Beneath the unassuming white rind on each round of Brunet one discovers an opus of rich, tangy and woodsy flavored perfection—an accomplishment courtesy of the tender-lovin’ care it was given as it aged in Murray’s Caves.  The interior cake-like texture even comes with its own icing in the creamline. Two textures+many flavors=one great cheese.

Tomme du Bosquet—For the cheese lover who wants a goat that packs a punch without the stinkiness of a washed-rind, here’s your new favorite! This semi-soft raw goat’s milk cheese recalls a strong, earthy pungency reminiscent of a walk through the woods on a cool autumn evening. If that analogy sounds a tad over-the-top romantic, it’s because you haven’t tried this cheese yet!

Pawlet—While washed-rind cheeses traditionally come from Western Europe, rich Jersey cow milk makes American-made Pawlet (from Vermont’s Consider Bardwell Farms) a standout in its own right.  The bright flavor and creamy texture will appeal to many palates, and the extra aging in Murray’s caves brings a buttery funk to the table you won’t find anywhere else.

Murray’s Better than Basic Mac & Cheese

 

Béchamel

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in flour. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until mixture gets slightly darker in color. Add milk to the butter and flour mixture and stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Once the Béchamel boils, it will start to thicken. Once thick whisk in the cheeses, stirring until melted.
  2. Stir in the cooked pasta until well combined.
  3. Pour into a large baking dish, Dutch oven or cast iron pan and Bake at 375 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes until lightly browned on top.

Serves: 6-8 people.

Superbowl Recipe: Chorizo Chili!

How do you make a classic winter chili even more warming and delicious? Throw in some chorizo for a subtly smoky, spicy twist on this one pot meal. This recipe comes from our own restaurant, Murray’s Cheese Bar. Makes enough to feed a crowd, so it’s perfect for game day! Make sure to have the recipe handy… they’re gonna ask for it.

 

Murray’s Cheese Bar Chorizo Chili

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Olive oil

2 strips bacon, cut in ¼ inch strips

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 ea green bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced

1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

1/4 lb chorizo (if using fully cooked or cured, chop into ½ inch or smaller pieces; if using raw, remove casing before cooking)

28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes, chopped

28 oz can black beans

1.5 cups beef broth

1.5 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

2 Tbsp paprika

1/2  cup cilantro, chopped

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

Instructions:

  1. Heat Oil in large pot over medium high heat. Add bacon, cook until slightly crisp
  2. Add Onion, Green Pepper, and Garlic to pot and sauté till aromatic. Add Beef and Pork to pot and cook until browned
  3. Add remaining items to pan. Once boiling, lower heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  4. Season with Salt and Pepper
  5. Top with Sour Cream, Cilantro, and Cheddar Cheese. Serve with Tortilla Chips.

Serves: 10

Total Time:2.5

Prairie Breeze Mac and Cheese

Prairie Breeze Macaroni and Cheese   Serves 12

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe)

It’s often said that a dish is only as good as its ingredients, and that’s never more true than when you’re making something simple like mac and cheese.

Our newest cheddar, Prairie Breeze, is loaded with flavor, hitting just the right balance of sweet & sharp. It also melts like a dream, which makes it a great choice for cooking. This recipe makes enough to serve a crowd and calls for a hefty helping of cheese – we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ingredients

  • 6 generous slices rustic white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, additional for greasing baking dish
  • 5 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best, if available)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated Prairie Breeze cheddar
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (or other pasta shape like Rustichella Trenne)

Method

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.

2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, mustard, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere. Set cheese sauce aside.

4. Cook macaroni following manufacturer’s instructions, but cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than instructions on box, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone as it will continue to cook in the oven. Transfer the macaroni to colander and rinse under cold water, making sure to drain well to avoid watery mac and cheese! Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. If you like, top with a sprinkle of additional cayenne, black pepper or sweet paprika for an extra kick. Bake until bubbling and browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Bon Appetit!

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.