Tag Archives: Cheese

It’s Chanukah…say cheese

Hanukkah

Image by Cayusa via Flickr

It’s often joked that Jewish holidays are comprised of three basic components: “We fought, we won, let’s eat.”  I won’t get into the inaccuracy of that, however it is true we have traditional foods for every event.  And of course, depending on the region of the world you and your ancestors come from, those traditional foods vary.

Chanukah has several traditional foods.  The best known of these is the Potato latke.  But what many people don’t realize is that the original latke commemorating Chanukah was a cheese latke.

A not often told part of the Chanukah story is the story of Judith, a heroine who saved her village from an invading Assyrian army. It is said that she seduced the General Holofernes and fed him salty cheese to make him drink copious quantities of wine. When he passed out in a drunken stupor, Judith beheaded him with his own sword.  Demoralized, the army fought badly and fled.  The Jews of the town were saved. In Judith’s honor, dairy foods, and in particular cheese dishes, are eaten during Chanukah.

Here is my favorite holiday cheese dish (or any time for brunch)!

Cheese Blintz Soufflé

Most of the recipes you will see for this begin with frozen cheese blintzes.  I prefer this one, and have been known to make trays of it for gatherings and once, for a college frat house.


BATTER:
1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

6 eggs

1-1/2 cups sour cream

1/2 cups orange juice

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

 

BLINTZ FILLING:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cubed

1 pint whole fat cottage cheese

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


TO PREPARE:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the batter:  In a food processor, combine all of the batter ingredients.  Pulse until combined.  Pour half of the batter into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  Set the rest aside for the moment.

 

Prepare the filling:  In a food processor or mixer, combine the filling ingredients until they are smooth and well mixed.

Using a large spoon (I use a serving spoon) drop the filling by heaping spoonfuls over batter in baking dish.  It will slightly sink into the batter, that’s fine.  With a knife, spread filling evenly.  Pour remaining batter over filling.

You can refrigerate the blintz soufflé at this point, if you plan to bake the next day.  Make sure it’s at room temperature before baking.
Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Serve as is, or with sour cream.

SERVES: 6 – 8

Today I made cheese…

Today I made cheese for the very first time.

The urge to make cheese came out of a conversation with my mom.  She was remembering the farmer’s cheese she used to buy, small bricks wrapped in paper.  It rang a bell, but I know I’ve not seen it in recent years, so I turned to the web to find out how to make it. Sure enough, there were dozens of recipes for farmers cheese using just two ingredients: Whole milk (not ultrapasteurized) and distilled vinegar.

It can’t be simpler:

1/2 gallon whole milk

1/4 cup distilled vinegar

Line a sieve with fine cheesecloth (some recipes say to wet the cheesecloth first…I did) and place over a large bowl.

Bring the whole milk to a slow boil (just bubbling around the edges) and then add the vinegar, stirring.  It will begin to curdle immediately. Continue stirring for 2 minutes and remove from heat.

Pour into the cheesecloth.  (I jiggled it a bit to speed up the process of the whey dripping into the bowl)

Some recipes said to refrigerate immediately, while other say let sit an hour.  I compromised and let it sit for a half hour.  The resulting farmer’s cheese was perfect.

And then there was all that whey liquid in the bowl.  I knew there had to be a use for it, so back to the internet I went and found a recipe for making Norwegian cheese.  Essentially you slowly simmer the whey (to which I added 1/4 heavy cream) until it’s reduced down, caramel in color, and the texture of fudge.  This took about two and a half hours, with me stirring about every 30 minutes.  When it reaches that stage, it said to whisk, but I stirred briskly with a wooden spoon and the resulting cheese with gorgeous, caramel color with a sweet and salty taste.  I scraped it into an oil lined plastic tub as it immediately began to harden.

I can’t wait to spread it on crackers!