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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 2, 2001

Cheese key ingredient in recipes

Arizona Republic

Macaroni and Cheese

1/2 pound dried elbow macaroni, large size
4 tablespoons (half a stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 cups whole or low-fat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 and 1/4 cups)
4 to 5 ounces Swiss-style gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
2 ounces dry jack cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish or other straight-sided casserole. Set aside.

Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook 2 to 3 minutes less than the package's directions suggest. You want the pasta to be underdone. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, drain, and rinse with cold water. Shake off as much excess water as possible and set aside.

In a large saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the bread crumbs and stir until thoroughly coated. Put the crumbs on a small plate and set aside. Wipe the pan with a paper towel and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until very hot but not scalded.

In the saute pan you used for the bread crumbs, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add the flour and stir until cooked, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the hot milk and whisk continuously until all the milk is incorporated and the sauce has begun to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt, black pepper, cayenne, 11/2 cups of the cheddar, fl cup of the gruyere, and all the dry jack. Mix well until all the cheese has melted.

Add the cooled macaroni to the cheese sauce and pour the mixture into the prepared dish or casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar and gruyere, and top with the bread crumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the casserole is bubbling (or until you no longer can resist the aroma of melting cheese permeating your home).

Let sit 5 minutes, then serve.

Serves 4.

Cheddar Goulash

2 tablespoons butter (divided use)
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, sliced and divided
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, cubed in 1-inch pieces
1 pound pork tenderloin, cubed into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 cup red wine (optional)
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups medium cheddar, shredded

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan. Add onion and half of garlic to the pan, and saute until translucent. Trim any excess fat from chuck roast and pork tenderloin. Brown meat in butter with onion and garlic. Do not crowd the meat in the bottom of the pan. If necessary, brown meat in batches. When meat is cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

Add second tablespoon of butter to pan and saute tomatoes and remaining garlic. Cook tomatoes until soft. Add tomato paste, carrots, zucchini, meat, red wine (if desired), water, cinnamon, allspice, coriander and salt. Cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until meat is tender. Stir in shredded cheese just before serving.

Serves 6.

Apple and Cheddar Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups peeled, cored and chopped Granny Smith apples (about 3 large)
1 cup peeled and diced russet potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (about 3/4 pound)
Salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Saute apples, potatoes, celery, onion and thyme until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add white wine to deglaze the pan. Cook about 1 minute.

Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

Over medium heat, reheat the soup and slowly add cheese, salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste, and cream.

Cook until cheese is melted and soup is hot, but do not boil. Garnish as desired.

Serves 4.

Cheese Enchiladas with Lime-Tomatillo Sauce

For the sauce:

1 pound tomatillos, husks and stems removed
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 serrano chiles (depending on desired spiciness)
1/4 cup white onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the tomatillos, garlic and chiles, and cook for 7 minutes. Remove one-half cup of the cooking water and drain the rest.

In a blender or food processor, combine the boiled ingredients and the reserved cooking water. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and blend until mixed but still slightly chunky. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Set aside.

For the enchiladas:

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
About 1/4 cup vegetable oil
12 ounces Monterey jack cheese, coarsely grated
6 ounces colby-style cheese, such as Crowley, coarsely grated (or use a mild cheddar)
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
Slivered zest of 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon), for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the stack of tortillas next to the stove. Next to those, put 1 cup of the sauce in a shallow bowl, and next to that, a large plate or platter.

In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. The oil should be 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep. When the oil is hot but not smoking (about 325 degrees), put in one tortilla (tongs work well for this) and cook for about 10 seconds.

You want the tortilla to become limp but not brown, so that you'll be able to roll it. Using the same tongs, run the tortilla through the bowl of sauce to give it a thin coating. Place it on the platter. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding more oil to the pan if necessary.

Working with one tortilla at a time, spoon about one-fourth cup of the jack cheese down the center of the tortilla and roll it up.

Place it in a baking pan that is large enough to hold all of the enchiladas, preferably in one layer. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, and scatter the colby or cheddar cheese over the sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes.

Drizzle with a little creme fraiche or sour cream and top with the lime zest.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Tips on caring for cheese include cutting off mold

Arizona Republic

Natural cheese is a living food that changes with time. Careful storage and handling help preserve its flavor and shelf life. The following tips help take the guesswork out of cheese care and preparation:

  • Cheese continues to ripen no matter how carefully it is stored. Hard cheeses generally will keep for several months, but softer cheeses keep only for one to three weeks after opening, and only if stored in an airtight container.
  • Inspect the package before buying cheese. Check freshness dating on the package.
  • Don't purchase if there is visible moisture or shrinkage of the cheese on the rind.
  • Cheese should be stored at temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees in the original container, waxed paper, transparent wrap, foil, plastic bags or tightly covered containers. This protects the cheese from drying.
  • Cheeses with strong smells, such as limburger, should be kept in separate containers to prevent other foods in the refrigerator from absorbing the odors.
  • Most hard cheeses can be frozen, but expect a change in texture. Thawed cheese is best used shredded, crumbled and in cold dishes.
  • What do you do when mold appears on cheese? Although most molds are harmless, to be on the safe side cut away one-half inch of cheese on all sides of the mold. Use remaining cheese as quickly as possible.
  • Prolonged exposure to air dries out cheese, so cut only what you need from a piece and return the rest immediately to the refrigerator.
  • Don't cut cheese into small pieces until you are ready to use.
  • Shredded cheeses will not keep long because there is too much surface exposed to air, so eat as soon as possible.