Tasty tips

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Freeze cheese?

Yes, cheese can be stored in the freezer for up to six months. Freeze cheese in 1/2 lb to 1 lb (250 to 500 g) portions that are at least 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick. If the cheese is grated or shredded, make sure it is tightly wrapped. Let cheese thaw in the refrigerator for a day or two before using.

Pesto first!

Whether you buy it already prepared or make it yourself (see recipe below), pesto is an ideal “flavour fixer.” It can be used on cooked vegetables or toast, and goes well in mashed potatoes, omelettes and vegetable melts (e.g., cheese-topped cauliflower with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes). You can also add a little oil to make it into a dressing, and it’s great with baked fish.

Spread pesto on crackers and top with smoked salmon, shrimp or a smoked oyster. You can also try it with sliced olives, capers or cheese.

CLASSIC PESTO
Ingredients
1 cup (250 mL) packed fresh basil
1 clove garlic, quartered
2 tbsp (30 mL) toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Canadian Parmesan
1 cup (250 mL) olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation
In a food processor or blender, blend basil, garlic, pine nuts and cheese until almost smooth. While blending, slowly add oil until pesto is thick and smooth. Add salt and pepper. Keep in refrigerator.

Round up your leftovers

Use your food processor to turn last night’s cheese-topped potato, cauliflower or zucchini dish into a delicious sauce, or add broth, milk or cream to make an appetizing soup. Add finely chopped fresh herbs, garlic, tomatoes or some curry.

Here’s another suggestion: Use Parmesan rinds to make cheese soup. Bring 6 cups (1.5 L) of chicken or vegetable broth to a boil and add about 1/3 lb (150 g) of cheese rinds and chopped vegetables (4 celery stalks or 2 leeks). Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove rinds, which will swell with cooking. Blend the soup in a food processor, add salt and pepper to taste and stir in 2 tbsp (30 mL) of crème fraîche (optional). Enjoy!

Plastic and cotton

Cheese is often sold packaged in plastic, and can be refrigerated in its packaging. But once you open it, it’s best to wrap it in an aluminum foil or a cheesecloth to keep it from sweating. If you’re worried about odours, store the wrapped cheese in a sealed container.

A quick meal

A perennial favourite, the classic tomato sandwich gets dressed up with the addition of your choice of cheese and some fragrant fresh basil. Drizzle a little olive oil on slices of ripe tomato, sprinkle with salt, pepper or garlic powder, and there you go—an easy way to savour the bounty of the season.

Plan ahead to eat well!

Always keep several types of cheese on hand: Canadian Mozzarella, Cheddar and Gouda are all great ingredients in sauces or as a final touch at the end of a meal. Take them out of the fridge at least an hour before serving so they can come to room temperature, to bring out the flavour.

Cold weather calls for hot soup

With the coming of fall, we crave hot, filling soups. Cheese can be used in a variety of soups and adds flavour to this universal favourite. Get your ladle ready!

1. To prepare a quick soup
With ingredients you have on hand, stir together some broth (chicken, beef or vegetable), vegetables (diced or cut in strips), and pasta, rice or barley. Season to taste. When cooked, top each bowl with your choice of shredded cheese or cheese croutons. To make croutons, butter slices of baguette bread on both sides, toast in the oven for 1 to 2 minutes per side, sprinkle top with shredded Canadian Cheddar, Mozzarella, Oka or Emmental cheese, and return to oven until cheese melts.

2. For a hearty meal
Add small pieces of cooked meat (chicken, beef, ham, etc.) or can-ned lentils or red kidney beans, etc. to your soup to make it heartier. Round out your meal with a slice of bread, cheese and a salad.

3. For a perfect French onion soup
Slice onions as thinly as possible, cook them slowly in butter over low heat without browning. Add stock and simmer. Shave cheese (instead of shredding) into individual bowls, and ladle in hot soup.