Some of you may not know this, but I actually used to be a cashier at Bottle King before I began working in the Vineyard Market. And let me tell you, before I had any firsthand experience with the gourmet food world, the only time I ate cheese was when it was melted on top of my pizza. Now? I couldn’t imagine a day where I’m not snacking on cubes or shmears of cheese!
So as you can imagine, I knew nothing of the world of accompaniments. For example, fig spread.
Three years ago if you said anything about fig spread, I probably would have looked at you like you had four heads and made a weird face at the thought of such a thing. But now? Come on people, FIG SPREAD. Do I really need to say more?
Anyways, I’m getting a bit off topic, but one of the first items I tried when I started working in the Vineyard Market was Dalmatia Fig Spread–and I was in love. A dollop on some goat cheese, spread on a cracker with some Brie, atop some blue cheese–don’t get me started.
So when I found out that this same company made far more than just fig spread, I was ecstatic. They’ve got olive tapenades, sour cherry spread, tangerine spread–and the latest additions to the Vineyard Markets: Fig Cocoa and Red Pepper spreads.
Both complete opposites on the flavor spectrum. But both SO good.
First I tried the Fig Cocoa (of course). Honestly it tastes exactly like I thought it would: figs and cocoa. It has a nice sweetness without being too overly sweet, followed by a richness from the cocoa, and then the finish is almost slightly earthy from the flavor of the figs. I could see this doing well in a number of dessert recipes, as part of a mole sauce, or as a nice accompaniment for your cheese platter; try it with some Brie or even a slice of Manchego!
Once I had my fill of the Fig Cocoa, I moved on to the Red Pepper Spread. Let me just start by saying:
this stuff is good.
Right off the bat I looked at the color of this spread and knew I would be in love. It has a slightly creamy and very spreadable consistency, and it’s packed with flavor. Seriously, I think I could eat an entire jar of this stuff with some crostini and be good to go. My first idea for this item is to use it instead of traditional tomato sauce on a personal pizza, but this item is actually super versatile. It would be great spread on some toasted baguette and topped with thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, as a sauce or topping for Mahi Mahi, or even mixed into your favorite creamy cheese to make a killer dip.
Sometimes I think it’s easy to just stick to what we’re used to when it comes to food, but these spreads from Dalmatia are definitely worth a try.
Check with your local Bottle King Vineyard Market for availability!
Ya know, I was thinking the other night…
There are so many cheeses out there in the world. And I just feel like…
…are so underrated.
Like our February Cheese of the Month for example: Wyke Smoked Cheddar! You may recall last summer when we featured Wyke’s Ivy Vintage Reserve Cheddar, which is among my favorite cheddars. Wyke Farms has been producing cheese for a long time and has certainly paved their own way in the industry through their delicious and high-quality products.
Wyke Farms has a long history of cheesemaking for over 150 years. Family owned and operated, they’ve been producing cheeses using traditional methods and the family’s original recipe from their grandmother Ivy for generations.
The newest addition for us at the Vineyard Market’s is Wyke’s Smoked Cheddar. This baby is aged for about 12 months (OK maybe not such a baby…) before then being smoked for a solid 16 hours to really develop that rich flavor throughout.
Personally, smoked cheeses can be hit and miss with me and I really think it’s tough to find a really nice one; however, I think Wyke Farms has hit the nail on the head with this one. If you’ve ever tried their Ivy Vintage Reserve Cheddar, this Smoked Cheddar is reminiscent of that, with the same rich creaminess and fairly mild base flavor, but boldened by the smoking process. The smokiness is prominent but not overpowering, and you don’t get that over-the-top ham sort of flavor that you get with a lot of smoked goudas. It’s really just a nicely well-balanced creation.
With this, I think a good medium- to full-bodied California Cabernet Sauvignon would work nicely, or if you’re a white wine drinker a slightly oaky Chardonnay would also do well. As for all my beer drinkers out there, give this Smoked Cheddar a go with an Amber or Brown Ale, or even an IPA for some contrast. And what the heck, if you want to make a party out of it, serve this cheese on a board alongside some salted peanuts, hearty rye bread, and your favorite mustard.
What’d you think of this month’s Cheese of the Month?
Be sure to stop in this weekend at your local Bottle King Vineyard Market and ask your cheesemonger for a taste!
Did anyone else not really believe the weatherman when he said we were going to be snowed in yesterday morning? I mean really, they’re only right about 40% of the time…
So anyway, as you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly ready for the plethora of fluffy, white snowfall that I woke up to. Whilst everyone else’s fridges were packed to the brim with milk and bread, mine was seriously lacking.
But I’ll tell you what was in my fridge: cheese.
And so, this has inspired me to create this lovely little post for you on (drumroll please….) cheese fondue.
Now, let me start by saying that in my opinion, cheese fondue is one of the most highly overlooked foods. It’s such a simple concept: just melt some cheese! But I’ve certainly found myself trying to figure out the right basic ingredients to make the perfect fondue.
In the past when I’ve tried looking into this topic, I’ve always just found various recipes for different fondues, and most of them required an exorbitant number of ingredients–not what I was looking for.
But alas! I’ve finally found the secret to the perfect cheese fondue, thanks to the site Serious Eats. Basically your fondue requires 5(ish) ingredients:
- Lemon Juice
- Salt & Pepper
I know, that’s technically 6 ingredients, but salt and pepper is really like one thing anyway.
Now, I could already tell you off the bat that a great fondue starts with a great melting cheese; my go-to favorite is the classic Gruyere. I also know that a light white wine is ideal; however, last time I made fondue I ran into some issues because I think that
A. I used too much wine and
B. my cheese and wine would not combine together, so I ended up with this weird wine-soaked cheesy blob (gross).
SO. What I’ve learned from reading is the following:
- Keep it simple; pick 1 or 2 cheeses and make sure one of them is super melt-able
- Use about 1 cup of wine for every 1 pound of cheese
- Heat your wine/cheese on a very low heat setting or flame
- Shred the cheese and then toss it with some cornstarch before trying to melt it into the wine, otherwise it probably will not incorporate nicely (and you’ll end up with a weird wine-soaked cheesy blob)
- Use lemon juice for some added acidity & also to help stabilize your cheese fondue
- Being “stable” means that your cheese mixture will remain smooth and mixed together. When cheese sauces are heated too much or don’t have enough of certain ingredients to help stabilize them, they “break”, meaning that the cheese solids separate from the liquids and the sauce becomes clumpy.
- Salt and pepper are very basic but key ingredients in enhancing the flavors in your fondue
All right, so now that we have some basic tips, let’s get into a quick and easy recipe that you can make with items from our Vineyard Market the next time you’re snowed in!
Super Simple Cheese Fondue
Too many cheese fondue recipes are super complicated and ask you to throw in too many ingredients (for my preference). This recipe is nice and easy and only requires 5 ingredients (give or take). Remember, we’re cooking here, so everything doesn’t have to be perfectly exact. If you wanna throw in a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan, do it. If you have some chives on hand that you want to add in, by all means. Experiment a little bit and have fun with it!
What you’ll need:
- about 8oz. Gruyere, shredded
- about 8oz. French Emmental, shredded
- 1 cup Santa Silvana Pinot Grigio (or any dry, white wine)
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 medium-sized lemon, juiced
- salt & pepper
- optional: 1 fresh garlic clove, halved
- Your choice of dippables:
- cubes of bread, chunks of fresh apple, baby carrots or broccoli
How to do it:
- Pro-tip from Serious Eats: use the halved garlic clove to rub down the inside of your fondue pot before you start heating the wine to impart a nice garlicky flavor.
- Put wine in your fondue pot (or over a very low flame or double-boiler) and begin heating it up.
- Combine your shredded cheeses in a bowl and toss with cornstarch.
- Little by little, begin adding the cheese mixture to your wine, stirring carefully with each addition to make sure it’s fully incorporating.
- Once you’ve added and mixed in all the cheese and your fondue is smooth, add and mix in the lemon juice.
- Next add salt and pepper to taste.
- Bon appetit!
LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Oh wait… wrong sport.
Oh well; It’s game day, everybody! And I’ve got one more amazing new recipe to share with you guys, plus a few more from previous blogposts that I’ll link down below for you.
This last recipe is one that I recall seeing floating around on Facebook for a while. It’s super simple, can be customized in so many ways, and is perfect for parties.
Cheesy Pull-apart Bread
This snack is a sure crowd pleaser. Grab a loaf of bread and a couple of your favorite cheeses, and you’re good to go. Want to use a different cheese? Just swap it out. Care for some garlicky bread? Slice up some garlic and add it on. And if you really wanna go crazy, warm up some marinara sauce to serve alongside. You seriously cannot go wrong here.
What you’ll need:
- 1 loaf crusty bread, try Il Forno Pane di Puglia
- 4oz. Gruyere, shredded (or sub another melty Swiss-style cheese)
- 4oz. Barber’s Cheddar, shredded (or any other flavorful cheese)
- 1-2 tbsp. butter, for baking
- optional: 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
How to do it:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Using a knife, carefully score the top half of the loaf of bread into a checker pattern, almost making cubes of bread
- Mix your shredded cheese together in a bowl, then generously tuck the cheese in between where you made the cuts into the bread
- If desired, tuck in slices of garlic along with the cheese
- Place the loaf of bread on a large sheet of tin foil and drizzle melted butter on top to cover the bread
- Close the foil over the bread so it’s sealed and put in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes
- Open the foil to expose the top of the loaf and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and melted
- Remove from oven and serve immediately
Alright, gang. We’re really getting down to the wire now! Over the past few days, I’ve shared some super simple and quick recipes that you can whip up for the big game day. Now I think it’s time that we kick it up a notch, wouldn’t you agree? It’s time for some hot apps!
The last couple of recipes I have for you do involve a little bit more effort, but trust me when I tell you it is well worth it.
This next one is going to blow your guests out of the water. It’s like homemade mozzarella sticks.
The first time I ever tried anything like this recipe was at a restaurant at the Palisades Park Mall, and they were SO GOOD that I just had to recreate them at home, especially when we got some Ellsworth Cheddar Cheese Curds in at my store!
Fried Cheese Curds
with Spicy Creme Fraiche Dip
These fried cheese curds are like the next level of fried cheesy goodness. They’re rich, crispy, cheesy, and irresistible. Pair them with my spicy creme fraiche for a refreshing and not-too-spicy bite.
What you’ll need for the cheese curds:
- 3 bags Ellsworth Cheddar Cheese Curds
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups Lager beer
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
What you’ll need for the sauce:
- 1 container Vermont Creme Fraiche
- Sriracha, to taste (or your preferred chili sauce)
How to do it:
- Place cheese curds in mesh strainer.
- In large, deep bowl, combine buttermilk and beer.
- Submerge curds in mixture by placing strainer in bowl. Set aside.
- In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In large Dutch oven or deep-fryer, heat oil to 375°F.
- When oil is ready, remove curds from buttermilk beer mixture. Strain well.
- Toss curds in flour mixture, shaking to remove excess flour.
- In 3 to 4 batches, fry curds 2 minutes, or until curds begin to turn golden brown. Do not crowd.
- Remove curds and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
- For the sauce, simply mix Sriracha into Vermont Creme Fraiche to your desired spiciness and serve alongside cheese curds.
* Original recipe from here. Please check with your local Bottle King Vineyard Market for ingredient availability.
2 days left until the Super Bowl!!!
Anyone else as excited as I am?
I’m just such a sucker for all the game time snacks, as if you couldn’t already tell. The next snack idea I’ve got lined up is another that’s super easy, only requires 3 ingredients, and requires no cooking at all. And another perk? Following the same theme, all the ingredients you need can be picked up at your local Bottle King Vineyard Market!
Creamy Bruschetta Bites
This snack is easy to prepare and packs a punch of flavor in each bite. A unique twist on the classic mozz and tomato combination, these Creamy Bruschetta Bites have some richness from the burrata, followed by big flavor and some nice acidity from the bruschetta, all wrapped up and ready to eat on a crunchy piece of bruschettini.
What you’ll need:
- 2 bags Asturi Bruschettini (we used the Rosemary flavor, but any variety works)
- 1 container Santa Barbara Bruschetta
- 1 container Bel Gioioso Burrata
- optional: Balsamic Vinegar for drizzling
How to do it:
- Lay out your bruchettini on a serving dish
- Drain burrata from its container. Using a spreader or small spoon, scoop a dollop of burrata onto each bruschettini
- Layer a scoop of bruschetta on top of the burrata and bruschettini
- Optional but delicious, drizzle with a little bit of balsamic
* Recipe idea from the Vineyard Market’s very own Donna.
And we’re back for another round!
Hope you all got the opportunity to test out yesterday’s quick and easy recipe and, even more importantly, I hope you loved it just as much as I do!
As I promised you, I’m not stopping there. I’ve got a few more fun and delicious snack ideas lined up for the next few days leading up to the Super Bowl. So let’s jump right in to the next one!
Stuffed Peppadew Bites
These little gems right here are an absolute classic at my store. Every time I whip these up for sampling, people LOVE them. We used two different cheeses this time around: a goat cheese for a rich creamy feel, and a blue cheese for a slightly more piquant taste–plus, And the best part is they only require a couple of ingredients and they’re so easy to prepare.
* If you already have the ingredients from yesterday’s dip recipe, you might even have some leftover goat cheese to use for these Peppadew Bites!
What you’ll need:
- 1 jar Peppadew Peppers (mild or hot, to preference)
- about 8oz. softened goat cheese
- about 8oz. creamy blue cheese (try Cambozola)
How to do it:
- Take cheeses out of the fridge about 30 minutes ahead of time to let them soften
- Drain Peppadew Peppers from jar & pat off with paper towels
- One by one, begin taking a chunk of either cheese and stuffing it into each pepper
- When you’ve gone through all the peppers, place on a serving dish and you’re done!
- If you want to add a little extra oomph, drizzle with some balsamic vinegar