Archive for the ‘cheese’ Category

Kids & Kids: Vermont Creamery and Zutano Giveaway!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

It’s time to come clean, dear readers. When they’re not nibbling their way through farmers markets or attending new store openings, the foodie tots have another secret identity: curd kids. One of the hazards of also authoring a cheese blog is that I often have a surplus of cheeses in the refrigerator. Really good cheeses. And I have made it a point to introduce those cheeses to the foodie tots from a really young age. Before birth, in fact — as children begin to develop taste preferences even in utero. So it should come as no surprise that a steady diet of decadent goat cheeses, stinky blues and Vermont cheddars while I was pregnant and nursing has left me attempting in vain to fend off the kids’ attempts to snatch a nibble when I’m photographing cheese for the blog.

foodietots love chevre

And it’s also no surprise that when Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery reached out to me about their “Kids & Kids” campaign, I jumped at the chance to share it with you here. Raising kids on real food extends to the dairy case, after all. And goats milk is fantastic for little stomachs — easier to digest than cows milk and less allergenic. Plus, the cheeses made by Vermont Creamery come from happy goats like these:

goats at ayers dairy farm

What’s not to love?

Vermont Creamery sent their fresh chevre logs and their creamy goat cheese tubs for us to play with. The first one we opened, roasted red pepper, was immediately devoured as a dip for pita chips. The second, olive and herb, was used to replace mayo for a super fresh and light-tasting tuna salad. The youngest tot’s only complaint was that there weren’t enough olives!

tuna salad with chevre recipe

Recipe: Tuna Salad with Chevre
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 5-ounce can tuna
  • 1 4-ounce tub olive and herb creamy goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • salt & pepper
  • optional: additional olives for garnish

Instructions:
1. Use a fork to gently combine tuna and creamy goat cheese.
2. Fold in green onions/chives, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and serve, as a dip for crackers, or use to make sandwiches.

Some other ways we’ve incorporated chèvre into our meals include:

  • Spreading it on toast and topping with a touch of honey or maple syrup; Spreading the plain creamy goat cheese on toasted bagels (and topping it with farm fresh tomatoes;*
  • On top of salads (especially the herbed chèvre log);
  • Folding it into scrambled eggs;
  • Making labneh (a Middle Eastern dish typically made with strained yogurt) by drizzling room-temperature chèvre with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and thyme, giving it a quick mash with a fork, and serving with pita bread slices and fresh tomatoes and cucumber.

*Unlike the conventional cream cheese brands, full of additives, VBC’s creamy goat cheese is simply pasteurized goats milk, culture, enzymes and salt. Gotta love that.

foodietot wears zutano

GIVEAWAY! One lucky reader will win their own shipment of goat cheese from Vermont Creamery AND a $75 gift certificate to Zutano, makers of colorful and durable kids clothing that we’ve loved for years. Like Vermont Creamery, Zutano is a Vermont-based company dedicated to quality.

the foodietots love vermont creamery and zutano

HOW TO ENTER: Leave a comment below with your kid(s)’ favorite way to eat goat cheese — or, how you plan to introduce it to them if they haven’t yet tried it.

For an additional entry, “Like” FoodieTots, Vermont Creamery and Zutano on Facebook and leave an additional comment below letting us know you have.

And be sure to visit the “Kids & Kids” Pinterest board for more ideas on how to share goat cheese with your kids.

A winner (US entries only, please) will be chosen at random after 11:59pm, Eastern time, on Sunday, August 11, 2013.

Update: Congratulations to Shandra! I’ve contacted you via email. And thanks to everyone else for entering and reading FoodieTots!

Disclosure: I have a relationship with Vermont Creamery through my cheese blog and they and Zutano provided product samples and the giveaway prize. No other compensation was received for this post and all words and opinions are, as always, my own.

At Market: How to Fry Squash Blossoms

Monday, June 11th, 2012

This past weekend, the husband and tot hit up the new Westover Farmers Market in Arlington. It was near the end of the market so I didn’t have high hopes for too many goodies, but was pleasantly surprised when they brought home a basket of squash blossoms and sour cherries. Edible flowers are always fun to share with kids, but flowers that you stuff with cheese and fry? Talk about hitting the jackpot. The foodie tot had a lot of fun “helping” me prep them for frying. Of course, she was booted from the kitchen for the actual cooking.

foodie tot loves squash blossoms

Squash blossoms are best eaten the day you buy them. After your toddler holds up each one for its photo opp (or maybe that’s just mine…), gently pry open the petals, check for intruders,* and reach inside and pinch the base of the stamen to remove it. (*I’m no fan of insects on my supper, but this is a good time to mention to the kids that we buy organic foods that aren’t sprayed with bug-killing chemicals. You can’t blame a bug for being drawn to the same pretty, fragrant flowers that we are!)

how to fry squash blossoms

I mixed fresh Blue Ridge Dairy ricotta with a little nutmeg, salt and black pepper. You can use some finely chopped fresh herbs, like parsley or oregano, if you have them but I like to keep it simple. The batter is simply flour, milk and another pinch of salt. After gently spooning the filling into each flower, give the end a gentle twist to hold in the good stuff.

Frying them takes just a few minutes — then let them cool a little on a paper-towel lined plate to absorb the excess oil. Be sure to eat while still warm!

fried ricotta squash blossoms

Recipe: Fried Squash Blossoms
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 12 squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • kosher salt
  • pepper

Instructions:

  1. Fill high-walled frying pan with 1/4-inch of oil. Heat over medium high heat (to 350 degrees if you have a thermometer).
  2. Pick over and remove stamens from blossoms. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, nutmeg, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.
  4. In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, milk and another pinch of salt until smooth.
  5. Holding blossom by the stem end, gently fill with a teaspoon full of ricotta mixture. Give the petal ends a gentle twist to hold in the filling. Repeat until all are filled.
  6. Quickly swirl the stuffed blossoms through the batter and gently transfer to pan. Fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown — about 3-5 minutes, total. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool slightly before serving.

~

What’d the kids think? The boy took a bite, then paused to ask, “Did this use to be a plant?” The tot ate the middle section of hers. Have you ever eaten squash blossoms with your kids?

Aside from frying, you can also use squash blossoms in soup or my squash blossom succotash, or bake them for a healthier take. And if you’re in the Northeast, check out Narrangasett Creamery ricottas, reviewed over on Cheese and Champagne today.

Eat Your Greens on St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

The boy is having a St. Patrick’s Day party at Pre-K today, and of course everyone was asked to bring in something green. We were brainstorming ideas and the first thing that he came up with was peas. I have to say I was more than a little proud that he thought of naturally green things first, and vegetables at that — though it didn’t take long before he was asking for green cupcakes.

green veggies for st. patrick's day

We celebrated St. Patrick’s at home a little early with an “Irish” fondue party last weekend. I boiled potatoes, blanched broccoli and sliced raw green peppers. I was hoping that the cheese sauce would entice the boy to try the peppers, but no such luck. At any rate, if you’re struggling with green veggies in your house, sometimes a simple dip (hummus or homemade ranch) can make all the difference. And fondue — a warm, cheesy dip — is fun for the whole family.

Irish fondue

Recipe: Irish Fondue

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound Landaff or Caerphilly cheese*
  • 1/4 pound Gruyere
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Irish ale (like Harp)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 clove garlic

Serve with: vegetables, raw or blanched, boiled potatoes, sliced apples or pears, and cubes of bread.

Instructions: Set up your fondue pot. If you have the kind with a glass pot that sits inside a larger metal pot, add boiling water to the larger pot and light the flame to keep it warm. (If you have an electric fondue pot, you can cook the cheese right in the pot. I don’t, so I started it on the stove.)

Cut your garlic clove in half and rub down the inside of a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Pour 1 cup beer into pan and heat over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk flour into 2 tablespoons beer to make a smooth slurry.

When beer is warm, add shredded cheese, whisking until melted. Slowly whisk in flour/beer slurry, then let cook, stirring frequently, for a couple minutes, until thickened.  Pour into the fondue pot (the inner glass pot, in my case) and set over the flame to keep warm. You’ll want to stir the cheese periodically as you eat to keep it from hardening on the bottom.

*About the cheese: Landaff is a wonderful cheese made in New Hampshire that you may be able to find in Whole Foods. It’s an American version of the traditional Irish Caerphilly. If you can’t find either of those cheeses, try a mild cheddar (Dubliner of course is always good for St. Patrick’s Day).

Tips for Fondue with Kids:

  • Obviously this recipe does have alcohol — most cooks off while cooking. I haven’t tried this yet, but I suspect you may be able to make this recipe with sparkling apple cider if you prefer.
  • It may be easier to spoon some fondue into a small bowl for dipping — to avoid messes and burnt tongues!
  • Ask your kids for suggestions of what to dip — the boy asked for peanuts, so I added a small bowl of them to the spread. (And no, I don’t believe he actually dipped them, he’s just been on a peanut kick lately.)

Pear Ricotta Sausage Pizza (and Curious Chef product review)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I’ve written a lot about apples this fall, but I’d be remiss not to mention that other star of late autumn fruit stands: the pear. From crisp Asian pears, perfect for salads, to sweet Bartlett pears, poached for dessert, and the boy’s favorite, toddler-hand-sized Seckels, we’d be hard pressed to take sides in a pear-apple face-off. We always enjoy the samples offered by Papa’s Orchard at the West End Alexandria farmers market, and the boy has been known to devour a Seckel (or two) before finishing our stroll through the market.

These sweet and savory pizzas also feature two other of my local farmers market favorites, grassfed lamb sausage from Valentine’s Country Meats and fresh ricotta from Keswick Creamery. The pizza crust was made from frozen dough I picked up from the Italian Store for pizza-making emergencies. Of course you could make your own, if you prefer. There are few better ways to get kids into the kitchen than with make-your-own-pizza night. Thanks to the kid-sized tools from Curious Chef (see below), the boy was able to help with rolling out the dough, slicing the pears, and of course, decorating the pies.

Recipe: Pear Ricotta Sausage Pizza

Ingredients:

  • pizza crust for 2 pizzas
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lamb sausage
  • 8 ounces fresh ricotta
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet pears, thinly sliced
  • several fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • sea salt and black pepper

Instructions: In a skillet, crumble the sausage and cook over medium heat until browned. Drain excess drippings and set aside. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out pizza crusts and place on baking sheet or pizza peel, if you have one. Spread several tablespoons of ricotta over the crusts, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, each. (If your ricotta is particularly moist, use less oil.) Spread pears and onions around, sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper, and scatter sausage over the top. Drop a few more spoonfuls of ricotta over the pears. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake 15-20 minutes, until crust is lightly browned. Makes 2 pizzas. Enjoy!

curious chef pizza kitCurious Chef Product Review: We received the Curious Chef pizza kit to try out, as seen in the photos above. The boy was beyond trilled to have “my very own!” knife and rolling pin. The knife is made of sturdy plastic that actually can cut through an apple or pear, without fear of slicing off finger tips. Ever since our pizza making fun, when he sees me slicing something he gets out his own knife from his kitchen drawer and demands to help. The easy-grip handles make the tools perfect for small hands, and it’s nice to be able to set him up with his own cutting board and knife to keep him busy while I’m prepping the rest of the meal. Needless to say, Curious Chef gets a big thumbs up from the Foodie Tot. (My only complaint is that the white plastic isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but it’s more kid-appropriate than stocking up on fancier, and more breakable, items from somewhere like Williams-Sonoma.) View the full product line (and safety information) at CuriousChef.com.

*Disclaimer: all reviews are the opinion solely of myself and my son, and are not financially compensated in any way.*

Recycled Recipes, Asparagus-Chive Quiche

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Asparagus may be a few weeks away still here in the DC/NoVA area, but Diane’s new “Friday Foodie Fix” event with the secret ingredient eggs seemed like the perfect reason to pull this recipe out of the archives. Perfect for a spring Sunday morning…

Recipe: Spring Asparagus-Chive Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust 
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk (next time I may use half cream as my quiche was a little softer than should be)
  • 1 cup crumbled Keswick* Wallaby cheese, or other Monterey Jack or similar white cheese (goat cheese would also be fabulous)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-2? pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • salt + pepper

Instructions:

Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch asparagus for 2 minutes; drain and rinse in cold water. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk/cream, cheese, and a dash of salt and pepper. Spread asparagus and chives in pie shell, and pour egg mixture over. Bake at 425* for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 300* and bake additional 30-35 minutes or until firm. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

The toddler devoured this (”cheese egg? more!”) but still ate around the asparagus, so the quest goes on for a kid-friendly asparagus dish. (Maybe I’ll just puree it next time!)

* Farm Source(s): Keswick Creamery’s Wallaby cheese is available at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market and the new La Fromagerie in Old Town Alexandria.

(Originally published May 27, 2008.)