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  • Sargento Cheese Comparison

    Sometimes you just gotta love blogging!

    FoodBuzz Tastemakers and Sargento Cheese asked me to compare Sargento cheese to any processed cheese.

    First, contrary to popular belief, processed cheese is real cheese. It just has emulsifiers added to it so that it melts more uniformly. Also, the additives allow this cheese product to have a LONG, long, long shelf life!

    And another bit of misinformation, although Kraft was the first American company to introduce processed cheese it is actually a Swiss invention!

    Because of the additives and emulsifiers, tis cannot be sold as cheese but only as a cheese product.

    Now, on the other hand, Sargento is all natural cheese. No emulsifiers, no additives.

    The 2 cheese in that photo are both cheddar. The one on the left is a cheese product. The one on the right Sargento.  Sargento’s cheese saps when you bend it, te processed not so much. The color is more vibrant ont he Sargento. THe taste has a wonderful sharpness and dry quality.

    We had this taste comparison over the weekend – some crackers, grapes, dried cherries, caramelized onions. And trying each with a bit of each topping, even with eyes closed – well, there is no comparison –

    Sargento is a superior cheese. Great taste. Great value. Perfect for all our cheese needs!

    Edible Containers – Daring Cooks

    Really intriguing thought, don’t ya think? That’s what I thought when I saw this as a challenge over at Daring Cooks. Such a good idea that it’s a joint Daring Cooks/Daring Bakers challenge.

    Perhaps it’s the thought of not washing a dish that intrigues me. But, wait, that can’t be so. The edible container still has to sit on something, doesn’t it?

    So goes that theory.

    The question became … sweet … savory … sweet … savory?

    I thought perhaps a spun sugar bowl with beautiful strawberries … (stop laughing) … okay, I am laughing too. Who am I kidding?

    Savory? Looking through the mountainous recipes next to my bed I came across frico – crispy discs of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – which can be molded into shapes. I found my solution.

    I used Giada’s frico cup method –

    1 1/2 cups of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

    I didn’t use the smallest holes on my box grater. I didn’t use the largest. I used the ones in between. If I had any sense I would have taken a photos of the grater to show you, sense wasn’t something I was necessarily born with!

    Sadly, I wasn’t really holding out hope for this working.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

    Definitely use a silpat or parchment paper. Use 1/4 cup for each cup, flattening it out to a diameter of 4 1/2 to 5 inches.

    Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

    NOTE: My second batch I baked for less time, about 6 1/2 minutes, and had a better result.

    Working quickly and using a thin spatula, transfer the frico to a muffin tin and put a glass inside to shape.

    NOTE: ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME HERE OR WHAT? Totally didn’t work. I tried using the bottom of the muffin tin, but the muffin cups were not deep enough. I tried a juice glass. NOPE. The bottom of my cordial glasses were the perfect size.

    If you don’t have the frico molded before they start to stiffen, pop them back into the oven for 20 seconds or so – they become pliable again.

    Now that I had the edible container part sorted out, what to put in them?

    I was roasting a cut up chicken (surprise, surprise) for dinner with Mediterranean spices and thought I would serve a tomato, cucumber and parsley salad to go along. Usually I toasted pita bread and break it into shards to sprinkle over the top, but the penny dropped and I thought what a great way to use the salad AND my beautiful frico cups.

    I removed the seeds and pulp and then diced a couple of tomatoes. Then I peeled, removed the seeds from and diced a cucumber.  Chopped some parsley. A simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano and we were all set!

    The frico are terrific. A little bite of crispy cheese, some yummy salad. A lot of oooohing and aaahing and a lotta gone! Isn’t that the end result we all want?

    Tackling something I found a little intimidating is so empowering!

    Fresh Ricotta Cheese

    My pal Liz over at That Skinny Chick Can Bake made ricotta one day to put into a cheesecake. The only thing going through my head – over and over again, I might add – was ‘ I need to do this!’ Liz believes the original recipe came from Making Great Cheeses at Home. I am going to try and take it out from the library to see if that’s the book.

    I made this recipe specifically for a recipe I was dying to try – Stuffed Shells Bolognese – absolutely fantastic – and greedily ate the rest with fresh strawberries for breakfast.

    Truthfully, I may NEVER buy ricotta in a plastic tub again! 

    • 1/2 gallon whole milk
    • 1 C heavy cream
    • 7 T fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 t salt

    Combine ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat over a medium low flame for 45 to 50 minutes until it reaches 165-170º. Stir a couple of times during heating to avoid sticking.

    NOTE: I stirred every 15 minutes. With each stir the curds became bigger and thicker.

    Once it’s reached 165-170º, increase heat and cook until the temperature reaches 200-205 in the center and edges. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let rest 15 minutes.

    Line a colander with a double layer of damp cheesecloth. Pour into colander. Drain 20 minutes. Makes approximately 16 oz.

    NOTE: The freshness and taste of this is unequaled. It is really cool to watch the liquids turn into curds. I taped the cheesecloth to the outside of the colander so that it didn’t slide into the colander and make a mess. My end result was about 2 cups total, though you would be hard pressed to tell as my spoon kept going back for a taste, a taste a taste.