Monthly Archives: April 2012

And They Called Them Stinky

Limburger bricks after salting, waiting to be washed

Limburger bricks after salting, waiting to be washed

And They Called Them Stinky,” {by me} originally published on the Menuism Cheese Blog.

The first time I heard someone call Comté “stinky,” my jaw dropped. Comté, a semi-hard lightly washed rind from France’s jura region, is a sultry, sweet wheel with flavors of butter, toasted walnuts, caramel, and from time to time, notes of caramel or beef. I would have sooner called a rose stinky than Comté. It wasn’t until that French friend told me that on one of the many gastronomic field trips that French children take during elementary school, she fainted in a Comté cave because the scent was so fierce, that I really thought about the term stinky.

Stinky is relative. My fainting friend — who admits the only cheese she’ll eat is fresh burrata or mozzarella and who made me keep all cheese I purchased while visiting her on the balcony where she couldn’t smell it — has a very low tolerance level for stinky cheese. Let’s classify it as zero on a scale of 1 to 10 (I still love her though; she sends me home with jars of her granmother’s quince jelly). My stinky tolerance level is 8. Another friend’s level is 13.

In honor of cheeses everywhere, I thought I’d take some time to mention some of my favorite stinkies, as in, they stink so good. Their scent comes from cheesemakers washing them in a brine of salt and water or a blend of water and alcohol that encourages growth of the sultry Brevibacterium linens bacteria. It’s a good bacteria that keeps the bad ones away.

Below are some of my favorite choices, in varying degrees of stinkiness. I rate the funkiness possibilities from 1-10. Taste at your local cheese shop if you want to rate your specific slice before taking home.

Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk
A beginner’s stinky. A triple-creme that tastes like butter with a kick. Serve young if you like it mild, let it mellow if you like it funky. I like this one with fruit and walnut crostinis. 3 to 8 (if you let it sit in your fridge for a week or more, it’s an 8, easy).
Laguiole
A semi-firm cheese from Auvergne, France, with a slight cheddary bite and a sharp/sweet finish. Good with sour cherry preserves. 3 to 5.
Twig Farm Washed Wheel
A full-bodied, yet sweet semi-firm goat’s milk cheese that occasionally has a little cow’s milk mixed in. Love it with fig jam. 2 to 5.
Torta la Serena
Set with thistle flower, this sheep’s milk wheel has a floral, slightly vegetal flavor. It gets so soft as it ages that its top can be cut off and its insides scooped straight from the cheese. Good with torn pieces of country bread. 4 to 10.
Limburger
This traditional softie ranges from mild to way, way strong. Comes with aging guidelines. Seek out the Chalet Cheese version if you can — it’s the only remaining producer of this famed cheese in the U.S. Chalet Cheesemaker Myron Olson likes it with strawberry jam, and so do I. 5 to 11.
A beginner’s stinky. A triple-creme that tastes like butter with a kick. Serve young if you like it mild, let it mellow if you like it funky. I like this one with fruit and walnut crostinis. 3 to 8 (if you let it sit in your fridge for a week or more, it’s an 8, easy).
A semi-firm cheese from Auvergne, France, with a slight cheddary bite and a sharp/sweet finish. Good with sour cherry preserves. 3 to 5.
A full-bodied, yet sweet semi-firm goat’s milk cheese that occasionally has a little cow’s milk mixed in. Love it with fig jam. 2 to 5.
Set with thistle flower, this sheep’s milk wheel has a floral, slightly vegetal flavor. It gets so soft as it ages that its top can be cut off and its insides scooped straight from the cheese. Good with torn pieces of country bread. 4 to 10.
This traditional softie ranges from mild to way, way strong. Comes with aging guidelines. Seek out the Chalet Cheese version if you can — it’s the only remaining producer of this famed cheese in the U.S. Chalet Cheesemaker Myron Olson likes it with strawberry jam, and so do I. 5 to 11.

Writing a Book: Proposal & Prepublishing

Tasting Charles Joguet

Sometimes I drink wine while writing.

Well, folks, my agent’s been urging me to post more about the process of writing this book and others are emailing me wondering how book’s are actually published, so I thought we’d take a brief trip into book publishing land. Feel free to let me know if you want more or less of these type of posts in the comments.

People ask all the time, “how does one write a book?” Well, to start, it’s correct to ask “how does one,” because one writes it- alone. Holy bejesuses it gets lonely writing a book. During the last two months while I was writing the first draft of my manuscript, I didn’t go out, I pretty much ate only the recipes I made for the book, and only saw people when they came over to test recipes. I squirreled away in front of my computer in my bedroom. I had to physically detach myself from the twitter platform because it so satisfied my need for people. My social time was going to yoga, and then pilates, where I could listen to others breathe in two different ways, which helped me feel like I was hanging out while I corrected my posture from writing curled over a keyboard. It’s slightly pathetic.

So that’s the actual writing part. Before that, I traveled and interviewed and got to hang out with baby animals and cheesemakers I respect. That was awesome. The research part was cool too. And when I was getting enough sleep, the writing was cool too.

But of course one must work up to that point. First things first- one must write a book proposal to write a non-fiction book. If you are seeking an agent (I was) and a publisher (yes), you’ll need one. A book proposal is anywhere from 15-60 pages long. Non-fiction writers write book proposals then their agent seeks a publisher to support the writing process and the book to come. Fiction writers write books, then submit a proposal to a publisher or agent to see if they want to see the book.

I took a class with the awesome Dianne Jacob to learn how to write a proposal. I’d suggest you seek out books to help you too (there’s no way I have it in me to explain the process in full in this tiny blog). I liked Writing a Book Proposal and The Essential Gudie to Getting Your Book Published. My agent recently made me buy the second because it also explains what an agent is supposed to do for a writer and I wasn’t asking her to do anything. Shame.

So that’s how one starts to write a book. I’d be happy to explore more or less of this here, just let me know what you’re curious about, and write little bits here and there as they come to mind.

Don’t Call it a Come Back: Cheesy Recipes Return

It’s been a while since I posted recipes on “It’s Not You, It’s Brie.” When I get busy, as freelancers often do, I fall out of the habit. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking or cooking with cheese, it’s just that sometimes when I’m absorbed in cooking, especially as a release, I forget to wipe off my cheesy kitchen fingers and record what I’m doing.
But now dear readers, things have changed. I am one of _____ bloggers to have been asked (hired) to create recipes involving my second dairy product ever after cheese- butter. We all know that cheese is #1 on this blog, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the main reason I include bread in my life is to serve as a vehicle for my butter.
Anyhow, I’ll be creating 2-4 new recipes for the Butter Blog every month, and I’ll share them all here. I’ll post the ones that include cheese on this blog and include links to the others that don’t so there won’t be too much non-cheese cross pollination. We’ll get your cheese recipe fix again. I’m actually pretty excited about this- I love creating recipes, and this gives me the perfect excuse to do more of it.
Hope you enjoy them.
PotatoMnCKJ2-325x325
It’s been a while since I posted recipes on “It’s Not You, It’s Brie.” When I get busy, as freelancers often do, I fall out of the habit. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking or cooking with cheese, it’s just that sometimes when I’m absorbed in cooking, especially as a release, I forget to wipe off my cheesy kitchen fingers and record what I’m doing.
But now dear readers, things have changed. It’s recipe time again. I am one of eight bloggers to have been asked (hired) to create recipes involving my second favorite dairy product ever after cheese- butter. We all know that cheese is #1 on this blog, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the main reason I include bread in my life is to serve as a vehicle for my butter. I am also a butter freak.
Anyhow, I’ll be creating 2-4 new recipes for the Go Bold with Butter blog every month, and I’ll share them here. Check out the rest of the blogger recipes too- there are some awesome ones. I’ll post the ones that include cheese on this blog and then link to others that don’t (so there won’t be too much non-cheese cross pollination). We’ll get you your cheese recipe fix again. I’m actually pretty excited about this- I love creating recipes, and this gives me the perfect opportunity to do more of it.

This is the ultimate wintery mac n’ cheese. With plenty of cozy carbs and soothing rosemary flavors, this cheesy dish will keep you warmer than a down coat in your grocery store’s freezer aisle. The Gouda cheese adds a sweet caramel flavor to this already comforting potato and pasta blend. Serve with a light salad made with bitter greens or kale to offset the richness, and you’ll have yourself a meal that both warms and nourishes.
Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
1 pound russet potato
5 tablespoons salted butter, divided
2 large yellow onions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons rosemary, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
12 ounces (about 3 cups) Gouda cheese, grated
8 ounces dry elbow pasta, cooked according to package directions
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut the unpeeled potato once lengthwise. Set the sliced side down on the cutting board, then slice again lengthwise. Cut those pieces into 1/3-inch slices.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onions and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally to lightly brown. Add potatoes and rosemary and cook for ten more minutes. If the potatoes start to stick to the bottom of the pan while cooking, add a tablespoon of water as needed to loosen. Set aside.
Cook the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and flour in a large heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat for five minutes, being careful to mix well, especially around the edges of the pan. Add 1/4 cup milk and whisk thoroughly so there are no lumps. Repeat. Add the remainder of the milk, mix well, bring to a low boil over medium heat, then lower to simmer. Add salt and pepper. Cook for seven minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add all but 3 tablespoons of the cheese to the milk and stir until almost melted. Add the onion and potato mixture to the milk and stir. Add the pasta and stir. Pour into a two-quart casserole dish, top with the remainder of the cheese.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sauce starts to firm and the top is golden brown and crusty. Remove from oven and wait to let cool for five minutes before serving.