cheese

Cheese Louise: Equal Opportunity Cheese Lovers

by Anne Maxfield on August 7, 2017

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Hard CheesesI love exploring markets and shops wherever I am and, especially, shops with a distinct point of view.

When I first went into Cheese Louise, I wasn’t expecting to find great cheeses in what I thought  was in the middle of nowhere.

Wrong on all counts.

The middle of nowhere turns out to be route 28 which gets about 23,000 cars a day.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Soft CheesesAnd the cheese is wonderful! When asked if she has any preferences to a cheese or region Sam says “As far as being partial to a region or a cheese, I have to say we are equal opportunity cheese lovers. There are so many fabulous cheeses from all over the world, including the United States, that it is impossible to choose. I also find that at times one cheese is ringing my bell for a few months and then it’s another cheese that captures my heart and palate.”

It’s a small store, with goodies tucked in every nook and corner. If want to cook, there are ingredients to make all sorts of dishes and as exotic as you’d like.

If you’d rather go the prepared route, there’s lots to choose from, including my new fave, their smoked trout salad (plated on your own china, no one will be the wiser).

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Prepared FoodsRick and Sam take good care of everyone, and if you’re one of their regulars, will greet you by name and reach for your favorites.

Along with the cheese, which takes up most of the room in three refrigerator cases, there is a nice selection of pâtes and charcuterie. A small selection of local meats (steaks and chops) are also available.

There are plenty of crackers to go with all the cheeses, and baguettes from a local bakery. I discovered Potter’s crackers on a previous visit and now they’ve become a favorite at my house.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Potter's CrackersThe cheese is all in lovely condition and if you tell Rick and Sam when or what you want it for, they’ll steer you in the right direction.

Something I almost always do in any good cheese store is to ask what I shouldn’t leave without. I figure the cheesemongers know what’s particularly good that day and I get a chance to try something new or remember one that might have fallen off my radar. Either way it’s win-win.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise My CheesesThat day Rick gave me Urgelia, a washed rind, cow’s milk cheese from Spain. I grabbed that and a new-to-me wheel of a triple crémé, Petit Exquis D’Argental, my crackers and a few other goodies, went home and had a feast!

Now that I know it’s only a short hop across the Kingston bridge, I’ll be a much more frequent customer!

 

 

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Brussels Sprouts Gratin

by Anne Maxfield on February 6, 2017

As much as the Accidental Locavore likes  Brussels sprouts any way, every now and then, you need to mix it up, dress them up.

Cheese is always good.

And knowing how to do a béchamel sauce (which technically becomes a mornay sauce with the addition of cheese) is handy for a lot of things—mac & cheese, croque monsieur, etc.

Serves 6

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

For the Mornay sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (warmed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese (2 ounces)

For the Brussels sprouts:

  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

For assembling the gratin:

  • 2/3 cup finely grated aged Gouda (2 ounces)
  • Smoked flaked sea salt, such as Maldon or regular sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°.

Make the sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture bubbles slightly but has not started to brown, about 2 minutes.

Gradually whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking often.

Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Blanch the brussels sprouts: Place in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of water and cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes until just tender.

Assemble the gratin: In a lightly greased gratin pan, add the Brussels sprouts.

Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and sprinkle with cheese and a pinch of smoked sea salt.

Bake until bubbling and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

 

My verdict: This is a great dish for those who may be on the fence about Brussels sprouts. Like bacon, cheese makes everything good.

Hmmm…speaking of bacon, a little cooked and crumbled would probably go really well in this.

We really liked this. It’s a great side dish to something simple like a steak. You can easily substitute almost any cheese for the smoked Gouda, or even a combination, if you’ve got stray scraps in the fridge.

Topping it with Parmesan and/or breadcrumbs would also be delicious. Just think of it as a Brussels sprouts version of mac & cheese (and it will seem almost healthy).

 

 

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Pumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

by Anne Maxfield on October 13, 2016

accidental-locavore-stuffed-pumpkinsThere are certain recipes you just don’t mess with.

Pumpkin stuffed with everything good is not one of them.

It actually begs to be messed with.

And is a great way to use up some of those bits of leftovers in the fridge.

It’s from Dorrie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (where you can find the original recipe) and this is the Accidental Locavore’s recent riff on it for 2 people:

accidental-locavore-pumpkin-stuffingPumpkin Stuffed With Everything Good

  • 2 small pumpkins
  • A handful of croutons
  • 2 cooked Italian sausage, sliced
  • 3 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ cup thinly sliced leeks (green tops fine)
  • ¼ pound any cheese cut into ¼” cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment and set aside

Carefully cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (like you were carving a Halloween pumpkin), clean off the bottom edge and set aside.

accidental-locavore-pumpkin-for-stuffingClean out the seeds and guts of the pumpkin. If you want to roast the pumpkin seeds just put all the stuff in a bowl for later. Salt and pepper the insides of the pumpkins.

Toss everything except the heavy cream and nutmeg in a bowl and toss.

Pack the mix into the pumpkins. They should be well filled because some of the stuffing will condense when it’s cooked.

Mix the cream and nutmeg together and pour into the pumpkins. You don’t want the stuffing to be drowned in cream, but you want it be moist.

Put the caps back on and bake for 90 minutes.

Remove the caps and back for an additional 20-30 minutes. The pumpkins should be tender and easily pierced by the tip of a knife.

Serve and enjoy!

accidental-locavore-finished-pumpkinMy verdict: This is a great way to use up leftovers and it tastes great! You can use a single (larger) pumpkin and either serve it in wedges or just bring the whole thing to the table and let everyone scoop out a serving (much more impressive). It takes time to cook and a little prep time to clean the pumpkin, but that can be done ahead of time.

Let me know if you try it and what you put into it.

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Fondue Chez Hubert

by Anne Maxfield on May 9, 2016

Accidental Locavore Fondue Fork and CheeseWhen was the last time you went to a fondue party? If you were around in the 70’s or maybe even the early 80’s it was almost de rigueur and everyone had a fondue pot. It died a sudden death shortly thereafter and wasn’t seen again until Artisanal made it chic when they opened.

The Accidental Locavore and Frank were invited for a fondue party at the home of one of our chef friends, who happens to hail from Alsace. Now, when you’re from Alsace, you take your fondue very seriously and Hubert was no exception. The invitations went out two months beforehand and when we arrived Chez Hubert, there were two giant tables put together to make seating for twelve. At each place was a bound folder “The Fondue Party” with the history of fondue, the evening’s recipes and wine pairings all in both German and English.

Accidental Locavore Fondue FolderAnd then there was Chef – Hubert, manning a flock of pots with masses of his special cheese blend, bottles of Pinot Gris and kirsh. While we tried not to nibble too much on pre-fondue cheese and other hors d’œuvres, glasses of Crémant d’Alsace were poured as we all watched Hubert going from pot to pot stirring, tasting, adding and tasting.

When everything was done to his satisfaction, three huge vessels were placed on the table along with baskets of various types of breads. If you think fondue is just gloppy cheese and soggy bread, you’ve never had it made by an obsessive Alsatian chef. Many miles were traveled in search of the right cheeses – a blend of Gruyere, Appenzeller and Emmental, perfect loaves of bread and complimentary bottles of wine (remember the pairing and tasting notes from the folders?).

Accidental Locavore Fondue Chez HubertWe were happily munching our way through hundreds of cubes of bread (2 cm by 2cm according to the recipe) and kilos of cheese, when Hubert switched into host mode and started pouring the wine selections. First up, an Alsatian Pinot Gris in small (almost) shot glasses. Then, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he whisked out a bottle of Kirsch (cherry eau de vie) from the freezer. Pouring shots for almost everyone, he proceeded to down his and insist everyone else did the same. After they finished the second bottle, they moved on to a bottle of Poire William. At this point almost everyone was fairly inebriated, the fondue pots were close to empty and we were all about to learn a very cool trick.

Accidental Locavore Scrambled Egg FondueHubert took the almost empty pots, beat a couple of eggs, added them to the pot, mixed them into the last of the fondue and handed Frank a spoon (possibly because a fork might have done damage in his state). After almost cleaning out the pot, he agreed to pass it around. The combination of scrambled eggs with the last of the fondue (including the browned bits) was incredible! Something to remember for the next fondue party.

Accidental Locavore Fondue DessertThere was dessert – a walnut tart. And with it? A couple of bottles of cognac, followed by two different bottles of Armagnac. Believe me when I say that I’m one of only a couple of people who even remembers what was served. The fondue was memorable and everyone had a great time (if they’re still not sure how the night ended)! Now we all have something to look forward to when the weather gets cold again.

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