Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese Block
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Our Member's Mark two-pound block of extra sharp cheddar cheese is a kitchen essential. Extra sharp cheddar is the most forceful flavor of these categories, having a very pronounced, sharp flavor. Shred, cube and slice it into dishes to add a beautiful, yellow color and mild, savory flavor.
Daisy and the 200 other cows here provide milk to the Cabot Creamery Cooperative. The milk is used to make cheddar cheeses that are shipped all over the country. Cheesemakers like Cabot understand that the secret to making a good product lies in the details. From the pastures where the cows graze to the aging of the cheese - each step is important.
The environment in which the milk is produced is important in cheesemaking. Cabot attributes its award-winning flavors to the climate, soil, and grasses of northern Vermont. The quality of what the cows eat is reflected in a cheese's flavor. For instance, the strong, tangy bite of Cabot's \"seriously sharp\" Hunter's cheese may come from the wild onions or garlic that cows find in the pasture.
The cheddar cheese made by Cabot is similar to the hard, aged cheese first made in Cheddar Gorge, England, in the late 1500s. Cheese was a useful food before refrigerators were invented because it kept a long time without spoiling. The larger the cheese, the longer it kept.
The longer a cheese ages, the sharper its flavor. Mild cheddar is usually aged for a few months, while sharp cheddar can sit for up to four years. (Most soft, creamy cheeses follow a different path and are meant to be eaten fresh.)
They poke into each cheese block with a metal \"trier\" and pull out a long, thin sample. They smell it, bend it, and taste it to determine what type of cheddar it will become. Should it be taken off the shelves after six months and sold as a mild cheddar Or will the block make it to the level of a high-priced sharp \"vintage\" cheese
The next time you bite into a cheese - whether extra sharp or mild - you'll understand the steps that went into making it. Even the climate, soil, and pasture play a role in how good the cheese tastes.
The pimento cheese I\\u2019ve been making for years is based on a recipe by southern chef Sean Brock that I stumbled across in his cookbook, Heritage. Brock\\u2019s recipe is pretty traditional, calling for Duke\\u2019s mayonnaise, tabasco, and sharp cheddar. I appreciated his addition of pickled ramps, which is something I put up every spring, and which, when I was making pimento cheese more regularly, I began to can in \\u00BC pint jars, the perfect size for one batch of pimento cheese. Luckily, I still had one jar left in the cupboard. If you don\\u2019t have pickled ramps, you can used pickled anything, really, such as bread and butter pickles (see Issue #85) or relish. A sweet-brined pickle adds a traditional amount of acidity and sweetness, but really any pickle will work.
Brock also suggests roasting your own pimento peppers, which I\\u2019ve never seen fresh in the market. If I find them roasted and peeled in cans or jars, I buy them to have on hand. (A 7-ounce jar is enough for a batch of pimento cheese.) You can even buy them already chopped. Otherwise, just roast your own red bell pepper and use some sweet pickle brine to enhance the flavor, which is what I did this weekend. The fanciest, sweetest, most flavorful pimentos from Spain are denominated \\u201CPimientos del Piquillo de Losada.\\u201D These can be very pricey and are probably too fine to use in a cheese spread like this (same with cloth-bound cheddar, see below). Serve piquillo peppers on their own, dressed with a little olive oil, vinegar, and garlic.
For the grated cheese, I like to use a combination of sharp and less-sharp cheddars, which adds some variability of flavor and texture. Some Colby or Monterey Jack is good, too. I buy reasonably priced blocks of raw-milk cheddar from an Amish dairy in the Union Square Greenmarket, but you can use any ordinary cheese from the grocery store, too\\u2014it would be more traditional, in fact. As with the fancy Spanish peppers, I wouldn\\u2019t waste a cloth-bound cheddar on something like pimento cheese, as the nuances of flavor will be lost in combination with all the other ingredients. (Were we making \\u201Cpimiento cheese,\\u201D I might feel different.)
In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon to blend the cream cheese or goat cheese until soft. Add the mayonnaise and continue blending until combined. Add the diced roasted pepper along with all of the remaining ingredients\\u2014Tabasco, salt, paprika, chili powder, a generous amount of freshly ground white or black pepper, pickled ramps or other pickles, a tablespoon for two of pickle brine, and the sharp and mild cheese\\u2014and stir to combine well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. 59ce067264