Cooking With Cheese
Diets and Cheese
Table of Cheeses
Cooking With Cheese: When people think of cooking with cheese, the big four come to mind at once---cream, Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan. There is reason behind their popularity as they lend themselves to many roles because of their textures and appealing flavors.
For instance, even if Parmesan is not quite as versatile, there is more to do with it than sprinkle it on top of pasta. But what to do with Asiago, Brie, and all the others? Substitute them for Swiss, Cheddar, cream, or Parmesan. The job is easier if one member of a "family" is substituted for another, because in general, members of a "family" behave similarly. But crossing family lines only take a little extra thought. The cheeses that can go into hot soups must melt smoothly without becoming stringy. Swiss is about the limit---ask someone who has tried mozzarella in a hot broth!
More restrictions apply to cheeses that go into sweet desserts. Usually, only the mild-flavored fresh types will do. Most ripened cheeses are far from sweet, but they're desserts in themselves in European tradition, meaning you don't fold them into a berry pie! Take omelets, for example. Everyone has had Cheddar or Swiss in an omelet, but how about Brie, a blue cheese, or even limburger?
An untried cheese can stimulate new interest in an old dish. This can also be true of crepes, souffles, and pastas. Blending two, three, or even four cheeses within a single dish is also reqarding. The Italians are masters at this method for building new, interesting flavors into a much-used recipe. Also, this method can tone down flavors that may be a little too strong.
Storing Cheese: Every cheese benefits by being refrigerated, with the possible exception of a Brie or Camembert being hurried to ripeness for tomorrow's dinner. Only the hardest grating cheeses can be safely left out in a cool room, and then only if lightly wrapped in cheeseclcoth, NOT in wax paper or plastic wrap (they will grow moldy if surface moisture cannot escape).
Clear plastic wrap is suitable for refrigerated cheeses; however, some connoisseurs prefer lightly waxed paper---the cut squares like butchers use, NOT the heavily waxed type sold in rolls. Avoid wrapping cheeses in foil, even if you purchased it in a foil wrapper, since some kinds of foil interact with the acids in cheese which alter the flavor.
Store very strong cheeses, (Munster, Limburger, etc) in airtight plastic containers after wrapping them in wax paper or plastic wrap. This should prevent them from aromatizing everything in the refrigerator. Freezing is a less-than-perfect solution. Most cheeses lose flavor and change texture. But if necessary, warp cheese tightly in freezer paper and seal very tightly. The shorter the freeze, the better.
Diets and Cheese: The plain fact is, cream and salt give cheese its texture and its ability to develop flavor. The less cream and salt used, the less "cheesy" the final product. Most whole-milk cheese have 45%-55% butterfat, and 1%-2% sodium. The upper extreme for fat are the "triple-creams" which have a minimum of 75% butterfat and 9% salt. If you're looking for a cheese with butterfat content lower than 45%, here are some options:
Fresh Cheeses: Low-fat cottage cheese 1%-5% butterfat); farmers cheese (5%-45% butterfat)
Grating Cheese: Sap Sago (no butterfat):
Soft-Ripened Cheeses: St. Felice (5% butterfat); St. Ohio (9% butterfat).
Swiss Types: Low-fat Danbo (10% butterfat); Lorraine Swiss (18% butterfat); Montvalay (20% butterfat).
If you're trying to cut down on sodium, your best bet at 7 milligrams per ounce is low-sodium Gouda. Remember that American cheese contains 406 milligrams of sodium per ounce; natural Cheddar has 176 and cream cheese just 84.
|TYPE OF TEXTURE||VERY MILD||MILD||STRONG||VERY STRONG|
|LOOSE CURDS||Cottage Cheese|
|RUNS OR OOZES||---||Brie(fresh)||Brie(ripe)|
|READILY SPREAD||Cream cheese|
|CRUMBLES AS SPREAD||---||---||Danish Blue|
|CLINGS TO KNIFE||Munster(Amer.)||Bel Paese||Chevre|
Port du Salut
|CRUMBLES AS SLICED||---||Cougar Gold||Cheddar(sharp)||---|
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