Everything’s Better with Cheese

Who doesn’t love cheese? In my opinion, we Wisconsinites have a lot to be proud of. The variety of amazing artisan cheeses made in our backyard has got to be at the top of any amateur chef’s culinary list of awesomeness. Don’t take our access to amazing cheese for granted. We really have something here in the Dairy State:  never-ending variety, world-renowned quality and top-notch deliciousness.

Everything is better with cheese. When incorporating cheese into your favorite recipes slow down and do a little research – taste cheese (homework has never been more fun!) – and find out what works. Below you will find a couple of cheese-inspired recipes to enjoy. Bon appétit!

Warm Goat Cheese & Pear Spring Salad

Jim Lundstrom, salad

Photo by Jim Lundstrom.

(Makes two salads)

2 chèvre goat cheese medallions

½ cup pecans, ground to a fine powder and add a pinch of salt

olive oil for frying cheese medallions

arugula or other fresh greens (enough for two salads)

thin slices of red onion (enough for two salads)

1 pear, sliced

¼ cup candied pecans (see recipe this page)

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

The first step is to warm the cheese; to start slice ½-inch thick medallions from the tube of chèvre. Gently coat each piece by rolling each medallion in the pecan powder (pecans can be ground up in a food processor). Heat a cast iron pan and a bit of olive oil to medium high heat. When oil is heated, place the pecan-coated cheese medallions in the pan. Fry for approximately one minute per side to allow a crust to form on the outside of the cheese; be careful not to burn the coating. The cheese should be warmed through and will not melt.

In a mixing bowl gently mix the arugula and onion together. Toss the salad with the prepared dressing (see recipe this page), add a small amount of dressing at a time. You decide how wet you’d like your salad (oftentimes, less is more), extra dressing will store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Portion the dressed greens onto two separate plates. Place a cheese medallion on top of each salad. Add the sliced pear, finish with candied pecans and drizzle a bit more dressing over the top. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Candied Pecans

1 cup whole pecans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300˚ F. Toss the ingredients together in a bowl, make sure all nuts are lightly coated. Spread the coated nuts in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, checking often to ensure the sugar does not burn.

Honey Mustard Herb Dressing

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ teaspoon tarragon

salt and pepper

Pour all ingredients into a jar. Put the lid on the jar, shake vigorously and allow to sit for at least a half-hour to allow flavors to meld.

Cheddar and Apple Soup

Jim Lundstrom, soup

Photo by Jim Lundstrom.

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

¼ cup onion, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon thyme

pinch of salt

bottle of medium-body craft beer (Lakefront Brewery’s Riverwest Stein, New Glarus’s Fat Squirrel, etc.)

1 cup apple juice

4 cups chicken broth

4 cups grated cheddar cheese*

½ cup heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Heat the olive oil in a kettle and sauté the apples, potato, celery, onion, thyme and salt for 10 minutes.

Add half the bottle of beer and simmer for approximately two minutes. Then add the apple juice and chicken broth, simmer for approximately 45 minutes, until ingredients are fork tender. Puree soup mixture in a blender or food processor, and return to the kettle.

Over very low heat, stir in the cheese, heavy cream, nutmeg and white pepper. Cook until heated through, but be careful not to boil or the cheese will curdle.

Ladle soup into serving bowls and garnish with homemade croutons (see recipe at right) and fresh thyme.

* I recommend aged white cheddar for this soup. Feel free to try something different. For example, you could add part horseradish cheddar for extra zip or caraway cheddar for complex flavor.

Homemade Croutons

stale, day-old artisan bread

olive oil


Preheat oven to 300˚F. Cut the stale bread into one-inch chunks. In a mixing bowl, toss the bread with enough oil to coat. I start with approximately ¼ cup of oil, you may need to add more depending on how much bread you have. Add salt to taste.

Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, watch closely to not burn. Croutons are done when they are slightly toasted.

Article Comments