Say Cheese (and Win!)

To say that we like our dairy products here in the Kitchen is a bit of an understatement.  With almost a year of blog recipes under (or over?) my belt, I took a look back and found that all but a handful called for some sort of dairy product(s). It seems Julia Child, most chefs everywhere and I are all in agreement: everything tastes better with butter (or cream or cheese).

That said, I saw no conflict of interest whatsoever when the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council invited me up to the Finger Lakes region of New York to learn about modern dairy farming and (of course!) taste a few products.

So this past Friday, my friend Amy and I set out for Canandaigua, NY– about a 5-hour drive from where we live. With the alternative weekend plans being 5 hours standing around on a soccer field, this was an easy decision. (Did I mention the product tasting?)

Canandaigua Lake, NY

The fall leaf color was mostly past prime (with a few exceptions like the red shocker above), but it was still a nice time of year to visit this picturesque region.

I love these old barns and silos!

On Saturday, a small group of bloggers and their guests were treated to a hayride and comprehensive tour of Noblehurst Farms – a seventh-generation, family-owned dairy operation.

Yikes – looks like I could’ve used some more coffee.

We learned about sileage (chopped and lightly fermented hay and corn stalks) and dairy cow diets, and then watched the cows go on a10-minute milking merry-go-round (which they seemed to enjoy, by the way).

Milking Merry-Go-Round

At the end of the tour we met this hours-old calf with its mother. The intimacy of this moment actually choked me up a little! I know I’m a city-slicker sap, but surely other mothers out there can relate? Maybe I was just missing my two calves at home, who were by now just finishing with their Halloween soccer tournaments.

After a wine and cheese-filled evening, we hit the road for home on Sunday. Along the way we made stops for coffee, antiquing, and fresh-off-the-farm produce: cabbages, cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli (green pointy tips) and butternut squash.

Amy with her wagon of produce from Smith Farm in Stanley, NY.

Immediately I had visions of a gooey, nutty cauliflower gratin – loaded with cream and gruyère cheese and cooked until bubbly and golden brown. (Would I have had the same thought had I not spent the previous day on a dairy farm? Very likely.  I start dreaming of gratins and casseroles the minute the temperatures start to drop.)

I’m planning to make the cauliflower gratin tonight, so I’ll post the recipe soon. In the meantime, how about a Giveaway?? (Yes – my first!)  Simply leave a reply to this post (in the box below), telling other readers and me about your favorite thing to cook with cheese; with that you’ll be entered to win this dairy-lover’s dream bag of goodies. Included in the bovine bounty: an insulated lunch box, an apron and oven mitt, a bottle stopper, a set of cheese or butter spreaders, a Taste of New York cookbook, and a sturdy wooden cheese board. One winner will be selected at random on Sunday, October 28, 2012 (6 p.m. EST) Good luck! (One entry per person, please; I know these cow spreaders are cute, but we need to give everyone a fair chance.) (Also, U.S. mailing addresses only.)

Win this bag of dairy-themed goodies!

If I’ve got you craving creamy cheesiness and you need some ideas for dinner or dessert tonight, here are links to 10 of my favorite dairy-inclusive recipes from previous posts:

  1. Baked Butternut Squash Rigatoni
  2. Corn & Leek Chowder with Cheesy Drop Biscuits
  3. Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Lime Sauce
  4. Baked Campanelli with Mushrooms
  5. Tomato Fennel Soup with Gruyère Dippers
  6. Chicken Pot Pie
  7. French Toast with Butter/Brown Sugar Sauce
  8. Almond Toffee
  9. Chocolate Pudding
  10. Chocolate Toffee Chip Cookies

31 thoughts on “Say Cheese (and Win!)

  1. What a great trip….How about just a simple Baked Zita……the more cheese the better….

      • Personally, I am a huge grilled cheese fan – and there is almost no going wrong with a grilled cheese – unless it’s a dry one. So I’m going to just throw my two cents in and say skillet (and butter) for best results !! What do you think, Susan ? (Subee, this cheese contest was a very good idea !!)

  2. Well not quite a recipe, we have been enjoying our local farm share pears with a “schmear” of soft blue cheese. Does that count? 🙂

  3. I love anything with cheese. Goat cheese is my favorite. I crumble in a salad, stuff. His ken with it (and spinach), eat as a snack, top a grilled pizza with some and arugula too!
    I could live on cheese!!!

  4. Macaroni and cheese is a favorite at our house – one version from Myrtle Langlow, one version from Jane Heimerdinger – both old fashioned but soothing in the way old fashioned comfort food can be. I’m eager to see your receipe for cauliflower gratin….sounds great, as does your weekend in the country!

  5. Sue, you’re inspiring me. Might have to break out an old recipe for Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce. Although, the fondue sounds good too!

  6. I hope you got to sample local wine. Dr. Konstantin Frank’s winery is one of my favorites. My Inlaws used to buy it by the case! My favorite cheese dish is one I make only on Thanksgiving for some reason. Spinach Madeline , a spicy cheese filled creamed spinach.

  7. My friend, Karen, makes these cheese puff appetizers that are to die for. Two kinds of cheese and lots of butter. They melt in your mouth!

  8. twice-baked goat cheese soufflé. it’s like eating a dreamy, cheesy cloud on a fork. and is totally do-ahead, so takes all the knee-knocking terror out of the word “soufflé.” (or maybe it’s just me who generally cowers like a pansy from them??) plus, not to forget that goat cheese is pretty much like crack. just, you know, without the lindsay lohan side-effects.

  9. Being a lacto-ovo vegetarian….cheese is big in my recipe file. An old favorite of mine is artichoke quiche squares…very tasty and easty to take to parties to share! Will try your
    Butternut/Cheese/Rigatoni recipe, Sue! Thanks.

  10. My favorite cheese treat (in the early summer) is homemade pizza with beet greens, garlic and mozzarella. Healthy as well as delicious!
    I hope I win!

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