Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beautiful Blue Tasting

A few months ago, I taught a Dessert Wine Class with a Cheese Tasting. It was so much fun, and everyone was very interested in how to put together a cheese plate and conduct a tasting. So, I thought I would share this tasting sheet from one of my sister's parties.  This was the prelude to a delicious dinner. I love the inclusion of the sonnet! Doesn't the tasting look like fun? Feel free to borrow the sheet and conduct your own Beautiful Blue Tasting.


Sonnet To A Stilton Cheese
G.K. Chesterton

There … I got a Stilton cheese. I was so much moved by my memories that I wrote a sonnet to the cheese.

Stilton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
And so thou art. Nor losest grace thereby;
England has need of thee, and so have I—
She is a Fen. Far as the eye can scour,
League after grassy league from Lincoln tower
To Stilton in the fields, she is a Fen.
Yet this high cheese, by choice of fenland men,
Like a tall green volcano rose in power.
Plain living and long drinking are no more,
And pure religion reading “Household Worlds”,
And sturdy manhood sitting still all day
Shrink, like this cheese that crumbles to its core;
While my digestion, like the House of Lords,
The heaviest burdens on herself doth lay.


Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Oregon, U.S.A.

Raw cow’s milk (Holsteins and Brown Swiss): cheese is called firm, moist, complex, robust, sweet: aged 3+ months: fromagerie opened by Italian immigrants in 1935.


Farmstead Cheese, Point Reyes, Tomales Bay, California, U.S.A.

Raw cow’s milk (Holsteins): flavors in the cheese – sea salt and lemongrass – said to reflect California coastal fog and salty Pacific breezes: aged 6+ months: farm established by immigrant Italian dairymen, who began to make cheese in 1999.


Maytag Dairy Farms, Newton, Iowa, U.S.A.

Raw cow’s milk (Holsteins): characterized by its moist crumbly texture and lemony finish: Cheese originated by two Iowa State Universitymicrobiologists in the 1930s, from 1941 until today cheese is made on Maytag farm by the Maytag family.


Derbyshire, Leicestershire, or Nottinghamshire, England, U.K.

Pasteurized cow’s milk: eight dairies licensed to make Stilton cheese which has been granted the status of protected designation of origin by the EC: first made soon after 1730 by Cooper Thornhill, owner of the Bell Inn on the Great North Road in the village of Stilton: flavor called “honeyed” and “cheddary”: the British Cheese Board reported in 2005, that 75%of men and 85% of women experienced bizarre and vivid dreams after eating the cheese half an hour before going to sleep.


Les Departments de Aveyron, Aude, Lozère, Gard, Hérault and Tarn, Mid Pyrenees, France

Raw ewe’s milk (Lacaune, Manech, and Basco-Bérnaise): seven Roquefort producers who are required by law to age their cheese in the caves of Mont Combalou in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, and to cut, package, and refrigerate their cheese solely and completely in the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, share the protected designation of origin “Roquefort”: after Comté, Roquefort is France’s second most popular cheese (18,830 tons made in 2005): Roquefort or something like it is mentioned in literature by Pliny the Elder in AD79: in 1411, Charles VI granted a monopoly for the ripening of the blue cheese to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon: in 1925, the cheese received France’s first Appellation d’Origine Controlée.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Everyday with Marcus and Lisa

I've been sending out information about my appearances on Everyday with Marcus and Lisa, but thought I would include a couple of pictures so you can see the beautiful set.  From the producers to the directors to the friendly and helpful talent coordinator to the excellent camera crew and production assistants, the staff is wonderful! And show hosts Marcus and Lisa are down to earth, genuinely likable people who would make great next door neighbors. I enjoy listening to their interesting and entertaining monologue as I prepare the food for my segment. I am planning on posting my episodes to the website, so you can them here as well. Check out the pictures: I'm in the kitchen preparing Pine Nut and Pecorino Chicken, and with my fellow guest, author Kathy Pride. You can learn all about Kathy at You can check out Everyday with Marcus and Lisa at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kitchen Tools

After reading my blog on the julienne grater, a friend sent me her favorites! Tina is a talented food stylist in Kansas City, you may have seen her work in the Hallmark magazine recently. Here is her first pick - I think you will you enjoy reading what helps her in the kitchen!

1. Russell Hobbs Hand Blender

Pros: This tool has changed my life in the kitchen. It’s versatile, easy to use and cleans up in moments. If I did not have such nostalgia for many of my older kitchen tools, this would replace the majority of them. Since receiving it as a wedding gift in 2005, it is the only thing I puree sauces and soups with. I use it to whip up cream for 2 person desserts or mix up an afternoon orange Julius. My mini Cuisinart is collecting dust in the back of appliance row because the Chopper Container makes pesto and salsa lickity split.

The appliance itself has a good weight and feels solid in your hand. All the mixing mechanisms are metal and are simple construction. The Russell Hobbs blender does not require hours of instruction reading to figure out because all the attachments go on basically the same way – put the attachment in the Electronic Control hole and twist until you hear and feel a reassuring click. The top is equipped with a timer, which lets you keep a watchful eye on the journey from soft to stiff peaks.

You plug it in and puree in the pot. It purees smoothly and evenly with little splashing so you and your walls are safe. Common sense safety says to wait until things have cooled slightly to puree, but if you’ve got a deep stockpot with 3 inches of separation between the food and top of the pot, why bother.

It’s fun to use. I think it’s similar to getting to use a robotic arm in a lab.

It’s the easiest clean up…ever.

Cons: It does not grind cement or anything that is not soft. This is my second Russell Hobbs hand blender. I blew out the first ones motor while trying to hurry some carrots that were on their way to becoming curried. Russell Hobbs said no with smoke and a sad sound. William Sonoma immediately replaced it and I have respected its motor size and functions since. If Bambi could not gently nibble the veggies in your pot – keep cooking or dust off the Cuisinart.

It’s not good for large portions of food – if you are making refried beans for a crowd, get out the big commercial wand. This guy will fizzle. It does have an automatic shut down after 90 seconds to prevent overheating, but I’ve never pureed or chopped consistently for that long so it has not been an issue for me. I would not use the Russell Hobbs in a commercial kitchen.

This brand has become difficult to find and it’s expensive – around $100.