WHILE Cheddar and Gouda are great cheese staples, it’s nice to try the different cheeses that are now freely available on our supermarket shelves and in local delis.
I visited Cheese Gourmet, a speciality cheese shop in Linden. Standing in front of a huge table groaning with wheels and wedges of a variety of hand-crafted cheeses, it was hard to know what to choose.
Very knowledgeable owner Jo Dick was happy to let me sample some of the local varieties, and recommended a few for me to take away to cook with.
I had a wedge of raclette cheese, which is a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese with a creamy, slightly nutty flavour. Also, a very interesting looking sheet of mozzarella cheese; fresh ricotta that had come from the farm that morning; and two types of goat cheese – a soft creamy chevin plus a harder, stronger tasting wedge.
MOZZARELLA ROLL WITH SALMON AND AVOCADO
1 mozzarella sheet
30g wild rocket
200g slices of smoked salmon or trout
30-40ml lemon juice
salt and black pepper
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Lay the mozzarella sheet on to a large board. Cover the surface with the rocket.
Lay the slices of salmon over the rocket to cover the surface. Sprinkle with lemon juice and season with a good grinding of black pepper.
Place the avocado slices at the long edge of the roll about 5cm from the edge. Season well and sprinkle with lemon juice. Lift the end of the roll, fold it over the avocado and then continue rolling it up like a Swiss roll.
Place it onto a serving plate and drizzle the surface with balsamic glaze.
Refrigerate until required.
To serve cut the roll into slices.
RICOTTA HOTCAKES WITH BACON AND MAPLE SYRUP
These were made famous by Australian chef Bill Granger who served them with honeycomb butter. We tried them with bacon and maple syrup, delicious!
300g ricotta cheese
4 eggs, separated
5ml baking powder
pinch of salt
olive oil for frying
cooked streaky bacon for serving
maple or golden syrup for serving
Combine the ricotta, milk and egg yolks and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the milk mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter.
Heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan and drop spoonfuls of batter into the pan. Cook over a medium heat until golden brown underneath the crumpets, then flip them over and cook for a few minutes on the other side.
Remove from the pan and keep the crumpets warm. Repeat until all the batter is finished. Serve them warm with bacon and syrup.
GOAT’S CHEESE AND RED ONION TART
10ml chopped rosemary
1 egg yolk, beaten
ice water to mix
30ml olive oil
2-3 red onions
125ml red wine
30ml orange marmalade
100g good quality hard goat’s cheese, shaved
PASTRY: Put the flour and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the rosemary and pulse to combine.
Add egg yolk and enough ice water to bring the mixture together. Remove and knead gently until smooth.
Roll out the pastry and line a 22cm quiche pan. Lightly prick the base and bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes until cooked through and crisp.
ONIONS: Put the oil in a frying pan. Add the onions and fry gently for 20-30 minutes. Add the red wine and simmer gently for another 10-15 minutes. Add the butter and marmalade.
Remove from the heat and cool. Spread the onion mixture on the pastry, top with goat’s cheese and then pop it under a hot grill until the cheese is melted and golden on top.
CREAMY CHICKEN AND APPLE WITH RACLETTE
800g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3
60ml seasoned flour
1 onion, cut into thin wedges
10ml chopped garlic
330ml dry cider
250ml chicken stock
1-2 sprigs of rosemary
salt and pepper
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into wedges
125g raclette cheese, cubed
Toss the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. Cook until nicely browned. Remove and set aside.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until soft. Return the chicken to the pan.
Add the cider, stock, rosemary and seasoning and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and apples and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the rosemary and stir in the cheese just before serving.
FIG AND GOAT’S CHEESE PHYLLO STACKS
4 sheets of phyllo pastry
100g butter, melted
12-14 ripe figs
2x 125g chevin goat’s cheese
Lay one sheet of pastry on your work surface and brush it with melted butter. Add another layer of pastry and brush with melted butter. Continue layering the pastry with butter until you have 4 sheets on top of each other.
Cut out 12 stacks of pastry each measuring approximately 8x13cm. Place the stacks on to a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper.
Slice each fig into 4 slices and place the figs on to the pastry stack. Cut the chevin roll into 12 slices and cut each slice in half. Put a piece of cheese on to each slice of fig.
Drizzle honey over each stack and bake at 180°C for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is light golden brown.
Allow to cool and put three layers on top of each other to make 4 stacks.
Are you in Cape TOWN at the end of APRIL? visit The South African Cheese Festival
If you’re looking for the hottest new trends in all things cheese, there is no better place to be than the SA Cheese Festival, taking place from 27 – 30 April 2012.
The event has settled in well at its new home, Sandringham (on the N1 halfway between Cape Town and Paarl). Buy your ticket at a Computicket outlet or Checkers store near you (no tickets at the gates) at R110. Senior citizens pay R90 and children 13 years and younger enter free. The festival runs from 10am to 6pm each day and 5pm on the last day.