Monthly Archives: November 2010

River Cottage Apple Sage Jelly: Cheese and its Circle of Friends

Apples and sage ready to be jellied.

Apples and sage ready to be jellied.

As mentioned previously  on “It’s Not You, it’s Brie,” cheese has a wide circle of friends. It’s a social animal. Circulating only amongst its own kind has no appeal to cheese; it knows that it is only as well-rounded and nuanced as those it keeps in its company and that discriminating against non milk-based products would ultimately make life less tasty.

Although not always mentioned in polite circles and dinner parties, certain types of cheese have a passion for jellies. The sticky sweet taste and seedless texture begs for younger tart goaty flavors, chevre, and lightly aged goat’s milk cheeses like Tumalo Tomme or Garrotxa. In particular, these milky genres love herbal jellies like the sage one proposed in the below River Cottage Preserves Handbook recipe.

The following recipe was the first preserves I ever made. Because blogs are short on space, I’m not including canning or sterilization techniques. You’d want to learn these from someone much more exact than a girl who thinks baking is more exciting when guessing how much flour is in a cup anyhow. The handbook has fantastic guidelines, as do many other online guides. Canning terms are italicized below.

I hope you try this recipe- it’s amazingly easy- see how you don’t have to peel or core, the apples, see? See! Enjoy with your favorite lightly aged goat cheese.

Apple and sage jelly

Apple and sage jelly

River Cottage Apple Sage Jelly

Makes four to five 8 ounce jars

3 pounds, 6 ounces cooking apples

1 medium bunch of sage, rosemary, mint, etc..

7 tablespoons cider vinegar

Granulated sugar

Coarsely chop the apples, discarding any bad parts, but don’t peel or core them. Place in a preserving pan with the herbs, reserving half a dozen small sprigs to put into the jars. Barely cover the apples with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the fruit is very soft. Pour the contents of the pan into a jelly strainer bag or piece of cheesecloth suspended over a bowl and leave to drip for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Measure the strained juice. For every cup of juice, measure out 1 cup of sugar. Return the juice to the cleaned-out pan and add the vinegar. Heat to a boil, then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 10 to 12 minutes, until the setting point is reached. Remove from the heat and skim with a slotted spoon to remove any scum.

Pour into small, warm, sterilized jars, adding an herb sprig to each. Cover and seal. Use within a year.


For stronger-flavored jellies [I did this], you can add 3 to 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped herbs after removing the jelly from the heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before potting. For exquisite rose-petal or dandelion jelly, add 1 ounce of scented petals instead of herbs. The above method can also be used to make quince jelly, replacing the apples with quince and leaving out the herbs.

Do you have a favorite herb jelly recipe?

Links des Fromages: Sharing the Love

American Frontier Cheeseboard, by Madame Fromage

American Frontier Cheeseboard, by Madame Fromage

Because the world of cheese is wide and vast and I can’t possibly meet all your dairy needs, here are some of my favorite Links du Fromage this month. Feel free to leave links to your own favorites that I missed in this post’s comment section. I’m writing this on very little caffeine.

If you need even more reading, check out Sasha Davies’s new book called The Guide to West Coast Cheese: More than 300 Cheeses Handcrafted in California, Oregon, and Washington. I highly recommend it. Davies is a cheesemonger and a very active board member on the American Cheese Society. She knows west coast cheese like Ruth Reichel knows food adjectives.


Coverage on the Estrella-FDA recall and controversy:

Recall News Roundup and Fundraising Update for Estrella Family Creamery. Thank you, Tami Parr for your excellent coverage on this topic.

Cheesemakers React to Recent Safety News. Tami Parr, once again, asks cheesemakers how the recent raw-milk raids have affected their craft and life. Essential reading.


Lebanese Breakfast Cheese, by the Cheese Lover

Two Thanksgiving Cheese Boards, Madame Fromage

Jersey Blue, on Covering the Rind

Cutting the Curd, The State of Cheese Radio Show: Utah, by Anne Saxelby, Heritage Radio

Urban Cheese: Warehouses in Wisconsin, by Cheese Underground

Brie de Meaux, David Lebovitz


Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese, Smitten Kitchen

Kiwi-Lemon Jam, with Delice de Bourgogne, Vanilla & Garlic

Drunken Pumpkin Bourbon Tart With Mascarpone Cream, Tartlettle

What did I miss? Add a link in the comment section below!

A Plea for Winnimere Parties

Jasper Hill's Winnimere

Jasper Hill's Winnimere

As surely as I can smell the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving or the half-pound of melted butter in the pile of mashed potatoes, I can smell the onset of Winnimere season. It smells like falling leaves, flames crackling to roast chestnuts, and yes, like pine.

A seasonal cheese that often makes more appearances on people’s blogs than in shops, Winnimere sells out more quickly than Alaskan wild-caught salmon at a substaniable seafood shop, and just happens to making its way to cheese counters soon.

Winnimere is one of my favorite soft and gooey cheeses in the world. Wrapped with pine bark from the Jasper Hill Farm and washed with lambic beer from a nearby brewery, Winni is only made with raw winter cow’s milk and tastes faintly of the woods, fresh butter, and bacon.

Managing to be simultaneously rich and fresh and lively at the same time, this cheese has the power to please numerous palates. And if your friends don’t like it, well, I’m not saying that it’s okay to judge people, but at least give them one really insulting look while shaking your head back and forth. Then apologize, smile, and eat their portion.

This blog post is a complimentary heads-up and plea. If you see it within the next couple of months, get it.

But for the love of all things all things right and cheesy, bring your Winnimere to a party. If you don’t have a party to go to, throw one for Winnimere. This wheel needs to be shared.

Stuffed Squash with Blue Cheese and Quinoa

Stuffed Squash with raw-milk blue and quinoa

Stuffed Squash with raw-milk blue and quinoa

There’s been a bit of fuss about cheese in the news lately. The FDA and raw-milk vigilantes have been making headlines due to a couple cases of possible listeria. Next, a recent article in the New York Times accused cheese of making Americans who eat at fast food restaurants fat. Because people eating neon “cheese food” squirted from a cheese pump between a flour tortilla and fried corn taco shell stuffed with ground beef are surprised when their dinner isn’t low fat or healthy.

Despite the headlines, I have faith in our cheesemakers and the power of cheese eaten in nutritious quantities. With this in mind, I want to share with you one of my favorite fall dishes with raw-milk American blue cheese. Made with seasonal squash, quinoa and herbs, it’s a light, lively starter to a meal or, served with a side salad, a flown-blown, healthy lunch for one. It’s also gluten-free and vegetarian. Eat this while laughing at fingers pointing to cheese as the culprit for obesity.

Stuffed sweet dumpling squash

Stuffed sweet dumpling squash

Stuffed Winter Squash with Blue Cheese and Quinoa

Any winter squash will work, but I choose  a sweet dumpling squash because I like to mix it up with this gourd’s sweet zucchini flavors when I’m tiring of the standard butternut squash soup making its fall rounds. Use any squash you’d like though- it would go smashingly with any stuffable squash- just alter the recipe to fit the vegetable’s size. To add a little seasonal crunch, I used pumpkin seeds, but crushed pecans would work just as well.

Serves 1 to 2

1 sweet dumpling or carnival squash

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 celery rib

1/2 clove garlic, minced

2 sprigs parsley, chopped

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked

1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds

squeeze of lemon

1 1/2 ounces raw-milk blue like Jasper Hill’s Bayley Hazen, Big Woods Blue, or Buttermilk Bleu Affinee

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut squash in half from the center of the stem down and scoop out the seeds. Rub the flesh with one tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place face down on a sheet tray lined with parchiment paper and cook for 20 minutes or until a fork slips into the flesh easily. Set aside.

Cut the celery rib once lengthwise, then into small diced pieces.

Add one teaspoon of olive oil to a pan that has been warmed to medium-heat. Add the celery and cook until just al dente, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 2 more minutes. Add the quinoa, parsley and lemon juice and cook until warm. Season with salt and better. Set aside to cool, and add pumpkin seeds.

Raise the oven heat to 425 degrees.

When cool, stuff the squash with the quinoa. Crumble and divide the blue cheese over the top of the two squash.

Put the squash in the oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the squash is warm and the cheese is bubbly and browned.

Drink with Pinot Blanc, a white Alsatian blend, or a Belgian wit beer.