Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Make Your Own Paneer

Adam Taylor has brought my attention to a couple of Indian chefs that offer free video cooking lessons online. Sanjay, who calls himself the 'vahchef,' offers a huge selection of video recipes at Here is Sanjay showing viewers how to make paneer, a homemade Indian cheese found in dishes like Saag Paneer and Palak Paneer:

Another Indian chef, named Manjula, offers video cooking lessons from her home. Here is Manjula showing viewers how to cook Palak Paneer, Chapati (or Paratha) and Naan. Adam says the dishes are easy to make and quite tasty. I'll have to try them myself sometime.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Carr Valley Benedictine

Benedictine is one of the many unique creations of Carr Valley Cheese. This washed rind cheese is made from the milk of sheep, goats and cows and is aged for twelve weeks. It is quite creamy and has a slightly robust, nutty flavor.

I have blogged and raved about Carr Valley cheeses before (cf. my posts on their Mobay and Billy Blue cheeses), but Benedictine is my least favorite of all of the Carr Valley products I have tried. According to the Carr Valley website, "The flavor [of this cheese] explodes with intensity." The cheese's flavor is certainly a bit stronger than one might expect, given its creamy, slightly soft texture. But I thought that its flavor was surprisingly bland and uninteresting, despite the various steps taken to provide it with flavor.

The blending of three types of milk seems to make the cheese taste like it is not from the milk of anything in particular. Instead of providing the cheese with a distinctive personality, the blending seemed to rob it of one.

Because of the somewhat high price of Benedictine, I had put off trying it for some time. Perhaps the fact that I like so many of Carr Valley's products and the expense of the cheese made me have higher than reasonable expectations. Benedictine is not a bad cheese, but given its price and somewhat disappointing personality, I would recommend buying other products from Carr Valley instead.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cypress Grove Mount McKinley

Cypress Grove Chevre may be the best cheesemakers in America. They're certainly one of the very best. If you want to know what extraordinarily high quality American cheese tastes like, sample any of their products.

I recently tried Cypress Grove's triangle-shaped Mount McKinley cheese. This unique shepherd-style goat cheese is aged 18 months and is covered in vegetable ash. On top of the ash sits a thin, bloomy layer of white peniclium molds. The cheese has a sharp, robust, earthy flavor and a hard, somewhat dry texture.

Many foodies recommend grating hard, dry cheeses like this over pasta or other dishes. In my mind, that's like cooking with a $150 bottle of wine. You should cook with a $5-$10 wine and drink the $150 bottle. Similarly, I recommend enjoying Mount McKinley by itself on a warm slice of bread.

Mount McKinley has garnered a variety of awards from the American Cheese Society, the London International Cheese Competition, and the National Cheese Competition. Curiously, it is not currently listed on Cypress Grove's website as one of their current products.

Some consumers pass over Cypress Grove cheeses in the cheese aisle because of their slightly higher prices. Cypress Grove cheeses, however, are among the best in America. Your taste buds will thank you for spending a little extra.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Update: Saenkanter and Buffalo Mozzarella

In earlier posts I wrote about Saenkanter, a unique butterscotch-flavored aged Gouda, and Buffalo Mozzarella (mozzarella made from water buffalo milk). Buffalo readers might be interested to know that both of these items are now available at Premier Gourmet in Kenmore. They were not available at the time my earlier posts were published. I highly recommend trying them both.