Cooking with Saxon Creamery Cheeses – Marcella The Cheesemonger International Guilde des Fromagers
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Cooking with Saxon Creamery Cheeses

Anatomy of a Saxon Creamery Mac n CheeseI have long been a fan of Saxon Creamery. I first met Jerry Heimerl in Wisconsin at a Trade Show hosted by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, which also sponsored this particular junket. It was my second WMMB junket and it satisfied all of my cheese geek fantasies. (The WMMB is a terrific advocacy group for the dairy farmers and cheesemakers of Wisconsin.) The August following that trip, Saxon won several awards at the ACS Conference in Seattle and I had a chance to congratulate Jerry. He was amazed and humbled by the wins. What a great guy!! Reason enough to buy his cheeses. Of course, the fact that they’re delish just adds to the reasons…

A few weeks back, Lisa Hall with Saxon Creamery sent me a few wedges of their cheeses, some I knew well, and a couple of new ones to taste and use in cooking. In addition to savoring the flavors of each cheese (please check out my previous reviews: August 2010 reviews and December 2010 reviews), I used them in the following two recipes which made The Man swoon… twice… (Reviews of the previously not reviewed cheeses will follow soon…)

Saxon Creamery Mac n Cheese:

Mac n Cheese is my favorite comfort food and why not; it covers two basic food groups: mac and cheese. I “go to” Kurt Dammeier‘s Cheese Sauce Recipe in his Pure Flavor Cookbook** and adapt it to fit the cheeses and other ingredients I choose to include.

I love to combine cheeses and for this mac n cheese, I chose three Saxon cheeses: Pastures, a cheddar; Saxony, an Alpine cheese and Big Ed’s, their Gouda named after Jerry’s father-in-law. This blend brought together the boldness of the cheddar, the nuttiness of the Alpine and the buttery flavor of the gouda. The combination also melts well together and created a perfect creamy sauce.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

saxon cheeses for mac n cheese8 oz. Whole Wheat Pasta – cooked and drained, but not rinsed (I use whatever is handy that will “hold” the cheese well in its nooks and crannies.)

6 oz. Each – Saxon Pastures, Saxony and Big Ed’s – shredded and tossed together. Divided; 4 ounces to be used for topping. These cheeses go into the cheese sauce below.

1 Recipe Portion of Kurt Dammeier’s Cheese Sauce from Pure Flavor – it may seem like a lot; but you want your mac n cheese to be ooey and gooey. (It will keep in the fridge for a few days in case it is more than you want to use) which included the Saxon Cheeses above, flour, butter, milk and spices.

1 Cup Cooked Chicken Meat – diced or cubed. I use thighs which have more flavors.

1 Cup Panko

2-4 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Preparation:

Prepare pasta, al dente. As mentioned above, I do not rinse after cooking. The cheese sticks better to unrinsed pasta. Set aside.

roux for mac n cheese saxonPrepare cheese sauce. If you don’t have Kurt’s Pure Flavor (you should!!), you can use your own recipe or find a good one on several internet sites. When I’m looking for a recipe, I use Google and read several; adapting parts from several to create my own. My favorite recipe sites include allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com, epicurious.com and Martha Stewart (of course). There are thousands of recipe sights to explore. I look for fewer ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. I’m not into tricky recipes with a gazillion ingredients. Use the best quality and keep it simple…

Combine Panko with melted butter. Toss with the 4 ounce reserved, shredded cheese for topping.

Assemble dish.

  • Butter or spray your baking dish.
  • Combine pasta, chicken and cheese sauce and pour into baking dish.
  • Top with buttered-panko and cheese.

saxon mac n cheese now thats mac n cheeseBake for 20-30 minutes at 350° F until bubbly and topping is turning a golden brown. You can also put under broiler for a minute or two to make the topping a little crispier.

Let stand for a few minutes.

Take pictures and post to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Much better than posting a selfie…

Serve.

Clean up the kitchen. Or, if you’re lucky, get someone else to clean up your mess…

 

Dauphinois Gratin
cooking in franceRecently I bought a digital copy of Country Cooking of FranceI’m still “old school” when it comes to cookbooks; I prefer to touch them, write in them and cherish them. I have shelves of hard copy cookbooks to prove this. However, I am slowly building a digital cookbook library (15 and counting; plus another half-dozen books about cheese). I subscribe to a daily email from bookbub which ferrets out “deals” at amazon for digital books in categories of your choice. Country Cooking in France retails on amazon.com for about $28.00 (digital) and I snagged it on a one-day offer for $2.99… but I digress…

While perusing this new cookbook, I discovered that the French purists call Scalloped Potatoes “Gratin Dauphinios”. After reading the recipe, I got a hankering to make this dish… bet you never thought you’d see “Gratin Dauphinois” and “hankering” in the same post… but I digress…again…

I decided recipe due diligence was necessary and Googled “Gratin Dauphinios”. I clicked and read several versions, including Julia Childs’ from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I found the recipe on a charming recipe blog titled Gratinee. As is customary, I let the various recipes “marinate” in my brain for awhile and then I adapted according to the tastes of The Man and me.

I decided to slightly adapt the Julia Childs’ version. Here’s what I did:

gratin 2Ingredients:

6 Yukon Gold Potatoes – Sliced thin and placed in a bowl of water. (Ms. Childs’ recipe calls for “starchy” potatoes. When I drained the potatoes, I was careful to save the starch that accumulated in the bottom of the bowl and added it to the milk. (She also peels her potatoes… I’m too lazy…)

1 Clove garlic

1 Tablespoon Butter –  Room temperature

Salt and Pepper to taste

6 Ounces Saxon Snowfields (A Butterkase-style cheese, which means it’s a great melter and made this dish ooey and gooey… The way The Man and I like our Gratin Dauphinios) – Shredded

1 Cup boiling Half and Half (Ms. Child’s recipe calls for Milk or Cream)

3 Tablespoons Butter – Room temperature

2 Ounces BelGioioso’s American Grana – Grated

1 cup Panko

1 Tablespoon Butter – Melted

20141207_142313Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Slice potatoes thin and place in bowl of cold water.

Rub baking dish with garlic clove. Coat dish with 1 Tablespoon Butter.

Drain potatoes and dry on a paper towel. Reserve starchy liquid in bottom (about 1 Tablespoon) and add to your Half and Half.

Stir the melted butter and Panko together.

Mix the American Grana into the Panko/Butter mixture and sprinkle evenly over the top. (This is my added step to make the top crispier.)

Assemble the dish:

  • Arrange half of the potatoes in the baking dish. Top with half of the Snowfields, 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Repeat with remainder of potatoes, cheese and 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter.
  • Pour the boiling half and half on top of the potatoes.

20141207_170316Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and the liquid has been absorbed.

Let stand for a few minutes.

Take pictures and post to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Much better than posting a selfie…

Serve.

Clean up the kitchen. Or, if you’re lucky, get someone else to clean up your mess…

(Because I didn’t stay true to Ms. Childs’ recipe for Gratin Dauphinios and added a crunchy top, I suppose in all fairness, I should call this dish Scalloped Potatoes… Call it any name you wish… The Man swooned and that was all I was going for… mission accomplished…) 

** Marin Guillet, a huge fan of Pure Flavor, is cooking his way through Kurt’s Cookbook, creating each recipe (ala Julie and Julia). You can follow his progress via MG’s twitter feed or Kurt’s Facebook page. It’s fun to watch MG’s journey…

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