Set your slow cooker on "low" for three - four hours. First, add about three cups of half and a half stick of butter. Sprinkle in some salt, ground pepper, and paprika. Allow the butter to melt completely. Then, grate and add in the cheeses. Allow to cook on low for about two hours. Finally, add a half pound of the pasta of your choice.
The shape and consistency of the pasta will dictate the length of time to leave it in the slow cooker. The pasta can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to soften to your desired point. I prefer the pasta to be al dente. The final result will be a hearty Mac & Cheese that there is no need to bake. Simply, scoop into a bowl and eat. This recipe will be about four servings.
Need a quick, easy meal? You can prepare and make a pizza in your toaster oven in less than 15 minutes. I like to use Naan or a pocketless pita as the crust and brush the crust with olive oil. Then add the cheese(s) and other ingredients of your choice. Be creative and use what you have.
For the pizza photographed, I sliced Maplebrook Farm Mozzarella and a Roma tomato, then sprinkled with sea salt and ground pepper, and topped with Quince & Apple Fig and Black Tea Preserves. Cook in the toaster oven at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. After removing from the toaster oven, drizzle on some balsamic glaze. The mozzarella and fig and black tea preserves are available at Follow me Cheese.
Pair with wine and you have created a beautiful gourmet meal in minutes.
Having a party? Bringing a cheese plate to a party? How much cheese is the right amount? The general guideline is 1 - 2 ounces of each cheese per person. There are 16 ounces in a pound. Therefore, if you are having or going to an event and there will be 10 people and other hors d'oeuvres, a safe amount of cheese to have/bring is 10 x 1.5 oz. which roughly equals about a pound of each cheese. If the cheese will be post-dinner then about one ounce of each cheese per person should be plenty. If cheese is going to be the main course, then about 2 ounces of each cheese per person should be sufficient.
It never hurts to have leftovers. When you wrap up leftover cheese, wrap it in fresh cheese paper. Follow me Cheese carries Formaticum cheese bags which are great for wrapping leftovers. Wrapping cheese in plastic wrap can actually allow mold to grow, so it is important to use clean quality cheese paper or wax paper to wrap your leftover cheese.
Enjoy the party!
Most people don't realize that many cheese have seasons.
Cows are milked year round. However, cheese made from cow milk varies in flavor based on their diet. After several months of being grass fed (late summer), the milk that cows produce imparts extraordinary flavors. Food affects milk, which in turn, affects the flavor and texture of cheese. When cows are feeding on newly grown grass, the cheese made from the cows will be more complex and lively than it is when they are feeding on grass that is parched and brown. Try cheeses like Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese which sits on Pleasant Ridge in the Driftless region of southwest Wisconsin. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made only from May through October when the cows are eating fresh pasture.
Generally speaking, cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk will taste better between March and October when the animals are lactating. Try Snow Camp from Goat Lady Dairy in North Carolina which is a bloomy rind cheese made with a mix of goat and cow milk released at only two weeks.
Enjoy the long days of summer with great summer cheeses.
Making a beautiful, well balanced, quality cheese plate can be simple. Use what you have and be creative. We like to include three-four cheeses (a soft, medium, and hard or a cow, sheep, goat), a couple of cracker or bread options, and some spreadables (i.e. mustard, honey, jam). Add in some nuts, dried fruit, olives, or pickled items. Dried meats can also be a nice bonus.
There are no rules. Just remember to use a beautiful cheese board and incorporate color. The options are limitless. You can slice, cube, or plane your cheese. If you have limited time, you can just add the entire wedge/loaf. Just remember to have spreaders/knives for your guests to use to serve themselves.
Danielle Deak worked in gourmet restaurants throughout high school and college. She is an attorney, published author, and connoisseur of wine and specialty and artisan cheese.