blue cheese

Salad Frisée Lardons

by Anne Maxfield on November 29, 2012

Accidental Locavore FriseeThis is a classic bistro salad that is a particular favorite of the Accidental Locavore’s husband and her father. A poached egg is the traditional accompaniment. I usually eat mine without as I have an old abhorrence of runny egg yolks, but I’m told it adds that certain je ne sais quoi (f you need help poaching the eggs, click here).  It’s quick to make and is a good winter salad.

Salad Frisée Lardons

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes
Meal type Salad
Region French
The Accidental Locavore salad frisee lardon recipe. A classic bistro salad recipe with frisee, bacon and a poached egg with a vinaigrette dressing.

Ingredients

  • 1 head frisée, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch matchsticks (lardons)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled (use a good Roquefort)
  • 1 egg per person (optional)

Directions

Step 1
If you are poaching the eggs, start them first. Heat a small sauté pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is cooked but not crispy. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel. Reserve all the fat for the dressing. In a small bowl or 1-cup measuring cup, add the shallot, mustard, salt and pepper, herbs de Provence and red wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in the bacon fat until the dressing starts to emulsify. Taste and adjust olive oil and seasonings as desired.
Step 2
To construct the salad: Place the frisée and bacon in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine. On individual plates, put a mound of the dressed frisée. Top with the crumbled blue cheese and a poached egg if using. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Frisee LardonsMy verdict: This is a great salad that I don’t make enough! If you see frisée in the market, give this a try. Mushrooms or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped are also a nice touch. The frisée on its own is also a good side salad for rich foods like duck (confit) or fois gras.

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How Do You Make A Masterpiece? Point Reyes II

by Anne Maxfield on October 17, 2011

Accidental Locavore Point Reyes II

When humans want to make an offspring, it’s pretty simple; egg, sperm, nine month incubation. The Accidental Locavore was wondering while tasting the second piece of the new masterpiece from Point Reyes Farmstead, how exactly do you design a cheese? What’s the jumping-off point? Does it start with a cow, goat or sheep, or all of the above? Do you just have a flavor profile in your head and work towards making that real?

Once you have a starting point, how do you maneuver such fickle ingredients as milk, mold, temperature and time? In cooking, when you have an idea, you assemble ingredients, cook them and see how the results are to your vision… generally not too time consuming. If you screw up, it’s time for a quick re-do, or a call for Chinese delivery. With cheesemaking, I imagine there’s a lot less instant gratification. So, do you have several versions at various stages of aging? What about the variables in the milk? And how good is the local Chinese?

All this was bouncing through my brain as the Locavore was on my second day of tasting (what I’m calling PR II). My initial impressions: thank goodness it’s a bigger chunk (more to nibble on-get it?)! Seems to have less veining than the first sample, although the color seems similar.

The smell of it is making me crazy, a little pungent, yeasty and haunting, so I ate a sliver even though it’s still a little cool. Thanks to Dorie Accidental Locavore PRIIGreenspan, I’m conscious about how I cut it now; however, as Julia would say “if you’re alone in the kitchen…who’s going to know?” And anyway, it’s an American cheese, so does cheese protocol have to be followed as closely? It’s got a nice, yeasty scent that lingers. PR II seems to have been aged a little longer than the first piece, with a thicker, more pronounced rind. It’s a little salty and not quite as caramel-flavored as I remember the first piece being. It doesn’t have the little crunchy bits like the first sample, but since I can’t tell, I’ll just have to slink back into the kitchen and have another piece…

PR II: Day Two

Being just a little more patient, the Accidental Locavore let it get to room temperature before cutting thin wedges. The rind still tastes a little of ammonia and I’m more conscious of eating the rind. PR II seems stylistically to tread more familiar ground than the previous one. I miss the wonderful creamy, caramel paste with the little flacks of crunch. Maybe it wasn’t aged as long, so it’s missing the crystallization? There was also a slightly smoky taste in the first piece that isn’t present in this one.

Whichever way Point Reyes decides to go with this cheese, they’ve gotten really close to their goal of a masterpiece. You won’t be disappointed with the final product, actually you’ll be almost as happy as I was to be a part of this very cool adventure.

And if there are any other cheesemakers out there looking for a (now experienced) cheesetaster…Bring it on!

The name of this masterpiece? How about Second Coming?

 

 

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Accidental-Locavore Point Reyes Test One

Last week, the Accidental Locavore got a phone call naming me one of the select group to help Point Reyes Farmstead develop their next cheese masterpiece. Now a member of the “Birth of a Cheese” tasting panel, the Locavore will be able put her years of eating cheese to good use! The first sample was delicious. Praising it highly would be easy, however tricky,  because getting boxes of great cheese delivered to your doorstep is about as good as “work” can possibly get (I don’t want to cut my potential supply short). When the box was opened, the first thing I noticed was that the rind was a nice light golden tan, with a hint of bloom on the outside rind. The paste looked like some of the veins were more random and some injected. To compare, the Locavore happened to have a piece of Papillion Roquefort and noticed that there is no perceptible rind on it. The test cheese had smaller veins, spread out a bit more. The paste was also more golden than the Roquefort. Straight out of the box and cold, the cheese smelled like really good bread, possibly rye (that is what Roquefort comes from) or a whole wheat bread. As it got warmer, the bread smell remained, but a bit more subdued, with a sharp, almost ammonia-like cheese smell. Some people might find that a little strong, but to me, it’s just what some good cheese smells like. Accidental Locavore Point Reyes Test One 2

Although it was torturous waiting for it to warm up, when the Locavore finally got to taste it, the test cheese was smooth with a surprising taste of smoke and caramel. If I hadn’t seen it, I might not know it was a blue until I got close to the rind. It had a little bit of the crystallization that I love in Parmesan and Piave. As you got closer to the rind, it got sharper and saltier and became more of what would be considered a classic blue. All in all, awfully good, and the smoky aspect was particularly appealing.

With the second taste there was some of the nice bread taste that I had smelled earlier. While munching, the thought kept running through my head, this is way too much fun! The rind is totally edible although some crazy people, the ones who think it’s stinky, might mistakenly cut it off just because it’s rind…The transformation from the smoky, caramel center of the paste to slightly salty rind is so interesting. It really goes from being a mystery cheese to something much more identifiable as a blue. The only flaw? The rind might have a tiny bit too much of an ammonia taste.

If the Accidental Locavore was sharing this with my friends (who are big blue cheese fans) and serving it with a good salami or two and some olives, it would be gone instantly! As much as I’m not a fan of messing with a good steak, this would be lovely either melted on top, or as a sauce to serve with, or as I ended up making, a compound butter. We had a beautiful aged tri-tip, grilled to perfection. While that was working the Locavore made a compound butter with sweet butter, the cheese and some homemade crème fraiche and sliced it over the hot tri-tip. Simple and spectacular! Other things to try it with (although it wasn’t a big enough piece to last that long…): Cobb salad with one of my smoked chickens, or the classic French frisée salad with bacon and blue cheese. I’m not sure why but what I would really like to try with this is a cauliflower gratin. Of course that might lead to a potato gratin, maybe with a little bacon, and leeks?Accidental Locavore Tri-Tip With Compound Butter

The final verdict? Not quite a masterpiece yet, however it’s well on its way. The downside of all this? There’s only one small (and getting smaller) morsel of it left in the world. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone, and yearn for the next one. Hope it’s not too long between batches.

Will write for cheese…

 

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Accidental Locavore Tri-Tip With Compound ButterAs an official cheese taster for Point Reyes Farmstead, the Accidental Locavore was tasked to find food (and drink) pairings for the test cheese. We happened to be grilling a beautiful tri-tip that was aged for us by the local butcher; Quattros. While the meat was on the grill the locavore had the idea to try a compound butter with the blue cheese. It’s an easy thing to do and gives great flavor to meats and vegetables.

  • 1/2 stick sweet butter softened
  • about the same sized piece blue cheese, brought to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraiche (optional, but I had it on hand)

Using a hand mixer on low, combine all the ingredients until well mixed, about 1 minute (if the cheese and butter are really soft you can do this by hand). Place combined ingredients in the middle of a sheet of plastic wrap (waxed paper will work, but it’s not as flexible) in the shape of a log (you don’t have to be too neat). Take the bottom edge of the plastic wrap and place it over the mix. Starting at the bottom, roll up, tightly. Twist the ends, compressing the butter into a nice neat log. If you have time, chill in the refrigerator until firm, otherwise pop in the freezer for about 5 minutes. When you are ready to serve, unwrap the roll, slice into 1/8″ discs and top the meat. Serve and enjoy.

You can make all kinds of combinations. I’ve used butter with sage and garlic over pork, and cilantro butter with some hot sauce over corn on the cob.

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