Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cheese. Simply put, it is the epicenter of my world these days. I consume it quite regularly. In some form, it happens into most things that I cook up. Take for instance the garlic lover's pasta that I just whipped up for the deli case. Noodles noshing with parmesan cheese, regional cherry tomatoes, and an herby, creamy dressing. Yum. Or the Warm pasta salad I made for my dear Addie, with sauted spinach, a heavy dose of garlic, canneli beans, lemon, thyme, and a dollop of chevre. It was a victory dish ( a victory dish is one that will be consumed by a 2 year old)! I should mention that I'm currently snacking on a crisp, organic pink lady apple that I've slathered with Fromager d' Affinois double cream cheese. It is blowing my mind!

So it seems that as I'm growing with my culinary creations, I am always turning to my trusty cheese sidekick for a little reassurance. I think of cheese as a staple. Something to always have on hand. An ingredient to add another level to a dish, or one to feature.

If I was to close my eyes and think about the staple cheeses that I've currently on hand in my fridge at home.....Widmer's aged cheddar, Eichten's smoked string cheese, Montchevre fresh goat cheese, and a chunk of a run of the mill parmesan. Nothing too extravagant. A working class cheese collection. I think you can do a lot with these cheeses. Smoked string cheese and a two year old, well that's a no brainer. Two year olds are completely satisfied by the task of 'stringing' cheese. Try it sometime. Plus it travels very well, so no hike is complete without a couple of pieces tossed into the bottom of your backpack! The chevre is awesome smeared on everything. It has made an appearance on sliced fruit, graham crackers, pancakes, frittatas, bison burgers, and warm pasta recently. Widmer's cheddar. It is my go to cheese when I need a companion for my glass of wine. Throw in a bowl of popcorn and we are now talking about my favorite dinner. Not only can this cheese be the star of a cheese plate, but it also melts well, and I love the way it works with dried fruits and spiced nuts. The parmesan is more of a flavor layering compound. I really enjoyed the spark of flavor it added along with lemon, to the roasted cauliflower soup I made. Throw a bit in broths to pick up the flavors for soups. Shave some on a salad. Think cheese.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Warm sunshine. Cool lake breeze. Grand Marais feels wonderful today! I just returned from a little trip to southern Wisconsin. I can't tell you how many absurdly large 'cheese' signs that I had passed along the roadside, but I must admit there were plenty! Of coarse my curiousity combined with my need for caffeine had me pulling into one such cheese haus somewhere along the way. I was instantly reminded that Wisconsin holds its reputation for cheese production/ consumption. There were so many cheeses, plenty of locally grown produce, and of coarse local brews! A little slice of heaven that little cheese haus was! I knew this when I saw a t-shirt in the corner for sale, that simply read, "Eat Cheese or Die." I was satisfied when I left, and I was comforted knowing that most of the featured cheeses at this little cheese joint, were ones we have in our cheese cooler. And most were produced on a small scale by regional craftsmen. It seems I cannot let go of my Wisconsin heritage, and couldn't help but dream up some thoughts on how one could devour more's one such thought.

It sounds a little weird, but grilling a wedge of Widmer's aged cheddar, along with some fresh outta the garden tomatoes would be super tasty! Serve it up with some grilled artisan bread, fresh herbs and greens, and a hefty drizzle of the ol' extra virgin, and I think it would be a great summer dinner. Of coarse add some bacon to this mix, and a fabulous B.L.T. would be in short order....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ah, ha! Travel to 2010, and the Cook County Whole Foods Coop Deli now has a blog!!! We'll keep you posted on all the happenings, such as:

Remember that Wednesdays are 'sushi day'!! Our wonderful volunteer/ rockstar Joyce Yamamoto rocks out delicious nori rolls for everyone to indulge in!! Hurray for Joyce!

The summer is upon us, as is the beautiful weather. We've stock piled fresh and tasty bites in our grab and go deli cooler for easy picnics on the beach! Paired with fresh organic produce and a plethera of snacks through out the store, your picnics will be posh! Belly up!!