Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Recipe: 1970s Cheese-y Ideas

I'm feeling a little bit like a fraud calling these recipes when they are more like construction details.  The following serving ideas were used at the 1960s/70s bash held earlier this year.  The three remaining cheese dishes were: parmesan tuiles with honey and truffle oil, aged gouda with pineapple and grapefruit gel, and manchego with guava cheese and quince paste.

The parmesan, honey and truffle combination were a riff on Bob Blumer's Bee Stings.  To make a tuile, grate parmesan onto a baking sheet.  Make piles of circles.  Remember that the cheese will spread a little as it cooks.  You can use a silicon mat for easier removal.  Put it in the oven at 400 until it is all bubbly.  Most recipes recommend 12 minutes but I have never needed to wait that long.  When they are cool enough to work with, remove the circles from the pan.  If they are warm enough, you can shape them.  For the honey truffle mixture, take honey and truffle oil and mix.  Only a drop or two of truffle oil for 1/2 cup or so of honey.  Just drizzle it on before serving.

Pineapple gel was made using agar agar.  This is a seaweed extract that is often used in Asian cooking or for creating gelatin out of things that don't set with animal gelatin -- pineapple.  The idea for this came from the half grapefruit skewered with cheese and pineapple making it look vaguely like a food hedgehog.  But I thought that the presentation could use an update, hedgehogs no longer being the culinary touchstone it once was. Make one of each pineapple and pink grapefruit jelly using concentrated juice warmed up.  Add the agar agar per instructions on the package.  Add a little more if you think that a firmer consistency is needed or wanted.  Place the jelly in a shallow container for easier removal.  Cut the cheese. (snicker) I used small rectangles and cut the jellies at about the same height and stacked them. 

I used the same presentation with the guava, quince and manchego.  The only difference is that I bought the quince and guava pastes.  The idea came from a friend who, as a child of Guyanese parents, had guava cheese and cheese and remembered it fondly.  Guava cheese isn't cheese but a really thick brick of guava parts crushed together like in an auto wrecking yard.  It slices like cheese and it is moderately sticky but intensely flavoured.  Also, I had wanted to use quince paste (membrillo) for a long time.  I love the delicate sweet rose like flavour and wanted to share it with people.  I was disonsolate thinking that I would have to drop one or the other flavour. but then...

I got the idea that they would pair together well from The Flavor Bible, a book that has lists of ingredients and pairings.  The entries for quince and guava showed that they did not have each other as complementary entries.  However, there was an overlap and the bite with the cheese would have sweet, sour, salty, and savoury (umami). Almost a perfect bite.

The first course stole the show.  We have one more entry into this course and then I will post the mains.

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