Tag Archives: cheese

Crimson Cove opens Poulsbo storefront to sell smoked goods

People who walked around downtown Poulsbo during Viking Fest last weekend may have noticed a new store on Front Street. Crimson Cove, which has been selling smoked salmon, smoked cheeses, nuts and other goods at area farmers markets during the past few years has opened a storefront.

Mark and Jody DeSalvo began selling smoked goods in 2007. They use alder and apple woods to smoke their goods from a building in Kingston.

The store, next to Sluy’s Bakery, has the same salmon and the variety of cheeses from blue to swiss that they’ve sold at farmers and other area markets as well as smoked salts, nuts, dips, crackers and salsas so boaters at Poulsbo marina can take back enough snacks for a day on the water. Plus, they have samples.

Who has the best grilled cheese sandwich in Kitsap?

This is a $10 Grilled Cheese Sandwich #Grahamwich
Flickr photo by BrentDPayne

Today, April 12, is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. Yes, there’s a day to celebrate practically any kind of food, but today’s — actually a book with 50 grilled cheese recipes and a food truck in Portland dedicated to it. Beacher’s in Pike Place Market hosted the author of aforementioned book Monday afternoon

On Thursday, Poulsbo’s Central Market will host a cooking demonstration titled, “Grilled Cheese á la Pain du George (bread)”

Need I make any further case for waxing on about grilled cheese?

Admittedly, one of the additional reasons this food holiday piqued my interest enough to write about it is my recent pining for some downtown Bremerton grilled cheese offerings. Two Blocks Up on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton has an “ultimate grilled cheese” sandwich, with cream cheese, cheddar, well-buttered bread and more is a regular Monday special, and tomato soup always is on the menu then. The Coffee Club Diner on Park Avenue also serves up a “Grown-up” version with three cheeses and onions. They haven’t stopped serving it, I’ve just stopped working downtown, and making it from my home office just isn’t the same.

This all brings me, though, to the questions (this is the interactive part of the blog, folks):

What are your criteria for a good grilled cheese sandwich? Should it purely be cheese or contain extras? And where is your favorite place to have one and what makes it so good?

I’ll try to kick off a discussion by answering the first two: It has to have a lot of cheese all gooey and melting out the sides between two thick slices of white bread buttered and crisped to a light brown, not too hard toast. I’m a big fan of ones containing cream cheese and cheddar, but once you put anything non-cheese on it, it ceases to be a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s just a grilled sandwich; the world must have rules. Except if it has bacon, because everything is better with bacon.

As for the last, my grilled cheese ordering experience has been pretty limited to Bremerton. I’ve heard tale of offerings elsewhere, such as a grilled cheese and panini sandwich with Fontina at MorMor in Poulsbo.

Quick Fix: Crispy Cheese Wafer Snack with One Ingredient

I made these little cheese snacks this weekend, and the friends I shared them with seemed to enjoy them.

I’m not kidding about the one ingredient, though you can spiff it up with herbs, spices and/or a mix of cheeses.

Done right, they can be an airy, crispy snack that happens to be low-carb (though perhaps high-fat) .

So here’s how you do it. Shred some parmesan cheese, sprinkle it in circles on parchment paper or a lightly oiled baking pan, bake at 350-degrees for about 7 minutes, remove immediately from the pan to cool, and you’re done. If you want, you can shape them immediately out of the oven by draping them over something or forming little cups.

You can play around with it by mixing in pepper, cayenne pepper or other herbs and spices with them. I added finely chopped rosemary to one batch, but the herbs burned before the wafers were done. Tossing in a little oil beforehand may have helped.

There were a few lessons I learned while making them:

Watch them while baking:
The cheese can scorch and taste burnt pretty fast. Pull them out when they start to just become golden.

Grate your own: I tried it at first with some pre-shredded parmesan from the grocery store, but preferred the cheese I shredded myself using the tiny shredding part of the grater. The store-bought had too much powdery grated cheese, which melts together in a clump and ends up being either chewy or thickens into something that’s hard.

Keep it thin: When sprinkling, just put a thin layer for each chip, leave a lot of holes. Most of it will melt a little together. I preferred something a little more delicate, so this colors my judgement. I think it’s something that you just have to play around with.

Not all cheeses mix: Mixing parmesan and swiss seemed to work well and parmesan with Asiago or other similarly hard cheese came out great. Cheddar, however, at least the sharp Tillamook I tried was not a good choice. They don’t melt at the same rate, so the cheddar ends up being just a burned mess. I didn’t try it, but mozerella or other cheese with a higher fat content is probably more likely to melt.

Port Townsend Cheese Maker Gets National Nod

Kitsap Sun file photo
Kitsap Sun file photo

One of my favorite local cheesemakers recently was awarded best of class in the semi-soft cheese category at the 2009 United States Championship Cheese Contest.

Mt. Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend, who has gotten a few nods from Seattle foodies and chefs, won for their Trailhead variety.

I’ve been a fan since I wrote a story in 2006 (before I was a web geek, I was a staff writer) and got a taste test —  research, simply research.

Their cheese is sold at Central Market, and possibly other places.

If you want to wait to get a taste of a variety of cheesemakers, they’ll also be at the Seattle Cheese Festival in May. Many, like Mt. Townsend, come from the Northwest. We’re giving Wisconsin a run for its money.

Since we’re on the subject, who are some of your favorite Northwest cheese experts?

Holy Macaroni! That Was Some Cheesy Goodness

Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese
Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese

After breaking the cardinal shopping rule of not buying something unless you know what you’re going to do with it, namely the truffle oil I purchased at Pike Place Market, I found myself going on a long hunt for recipes that included truffle oil.

The lux item is new to me, and I tried a little in a couple standard things, such as with a bread dip with balsamic vinegar, as well as a quick linguine with mussels.

But I happened upon a recipe this week and made it last night.

Hands down, it was, The Best. Mac and Cheese. Ever.

The truffle oil and chevre makes it a little pretentious, so it’s not your boxed-mac for kids fare. This is some adult stuff, earthy, rich and delicious.

I made it mostly as I saw it in the What We’re Eating blog. (They went so far as to call it “orgasmic”. ) But I used 2-percent milk (because that’s what I had), and I used dried shitake mushrooms, but fresh would probably make it better. I used two tablespoons of truffle oil and might actually go with a half tablespoon less since it ended up being so strong. I used white cheddar, which made it look really fancy. I also ended up adding extra sage because I cut too much. But still heavenly.

Here is the recipe in all its glory:

Wild Mushroom Macaroni and Three Cheeses with Truffle Oil

1 1/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1 1/2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms
2 tbsp oil or bacon fat
1 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 cup whole milk, warmed
4 oz herb chevre (goat cheese), crumbled
4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
4 oz parmigiano reggiano, separated in 2 2oz piles
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fresh sage, minced
2-3 tbsp white truffle oil, depending on how strong you like it (yes, this is some rich mac-n-cheese)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup panko
10 oz elbow pasta
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a large pot of water over high heat and cover. Place a large saute pan with 2 tbsp oil or lard over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mushrooms to the pan and saute for 7-10 minutes or until the mushrooms are fully cooked and slightly caramelized. Toss or stir occasionally. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper then deglaze the pan with sherry vinegar. Allow all of the vinegar to cook out, then remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

Begin the cheese sauce. Add 4 tbsp butter to a medium-sized sauce pan and place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Once all the butter is melted and hot, whisk in 4 tbsp flour. Cook the flour, whisking, for about 30 seconds , just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste, but not long enough for the flour to start caramelizing. Add the thyme, rosemary, sage, and red pepper flakes. Continue stirring and allow the herbs to saute for about another 30 secpnds. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking continuously, so the roux and milk incorporate smoothly and there are no lumps. Allow the bechamel to come to a simmer (it won’t gain it’s full thickness until it does), stirring occassionally.

While waiting for the sauce to come to a simmer start the pasta. Liberally salt the pot of boiling water, almost to the point it tastes like sea water. This may take a few handfuls of salt . Add the pasta to the water and cook the pasta for a minute or two less than the suggested time on the box.

Once the bechamel has reached a simmer, stir in the chevre, cheddar, 2oz of parmigiano, and truffle oil until all the cheese has melted. Turn off the heat and and taste the sauce for seasoning levels. Season with salt and pepper as necessary. In small mixing bowl, mix together the panko and remaining 2oz of parmigiano reggiano.

Strain the pasta immediately once finished cooking. In a mixing bowl, toss the pasta, cheese sauce, and mushrooms together. Pour the macaroni and cheese into a deep glass or ceramic loaf pan and sprinkle the panko/parmigiano mixture evenly across the top. Bake the mac-n-cheese in the upper part of the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is golden and the cheese sauce is bubbly. Serve hot. Enjoy!