November was certainly a smokin’ month (arf!) for the Cheese, Please! Challenge, with a record number of entries. It was great to hear about people using smoked cheese who had never cooked with it before – or even eaten it – creating a variety of dishes which paired the cheese with meat, fish, fruit and vegetables in a veritable harvest festival of smoked cheese loveliness.
For once, I didn’t have to tap my fingers, wondering if anyone was going to turn up to the party as Cheese-Mistress Sally from British Cheese Emporium was quick off the mark with her Shiitake and Oyster Mushroom Risotto with Godminster Oak-smoked Cheddar. Not only did she use smoked cheese as an unusual addition to mushroom risotto but also presented it in posh little towers. Sally describes this as ‘woody…meaty…smoky’. Autumn perfection.
Sarah from The Garden Deli was along next with her Apple and Northumberland Smoked Cheese Pasties. Pairing oak-smoked cheese with apples and sage, all wrapped up in crispy pastry, these would make a great lunch or even a snack. And if you haven’t checked out Sarah’s beautiful nature photography yet, get yourself there forthwith.
Regular contributor and confessed blue-cheese hater Food Day-Dreaming (you know it’s only a matter of time on the blue cheese front, right?!) shared her Leek and Cheese -Stuffed Buckwheat Crepes. Crepes filled with smoked cheese, ricotta, herbs, leeks and peas sound perfect for a cold day when you’ve got your woolly gloves on.
Neil294 brought crustaceans to the table with his Crab Thermidor with Smoked Mozzarella. Now I often have my reservations about the old cheese and surf combo but somehow it does seem to work with shellfish. This is a rich dish, full of cream, crab and smoked stretchy mozzarella; perfect as a Saturday starter.
The Pink Rose Bakery made her debut to Cheese, Please! this month with Smoked Brie, Chorizo and Mushroom Choux Canapes. I didn’t manage to get my hands on any smoked brie this month so am especially impressed by this offering. Little choux buns are filled with tiny nuggets of cheese, spicy chorizo and mushrooms for a perfect mouth-sized party option.
What can I say about the dedication of our next contributor? Not only did Linda from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen home-smoke two different kinds of cheeses to make two recipes but she also rose admirably to the challenge of wearing seasonal knitwear. If you haven’t already checked out the jumper, I urge you to immediately. And of course, the food…first was Focaccia with Smoked White Lady, Red Onion and Herbs, a never-fail bread topped with the great combination of cheese, red onions, rosemary and thyme. Then came a Smoked Manchego and Chorizo Quiche; salty, smoky cheese with spicy, juicy chorizo. Gorgeous (and the sweater too, obviously).
After much dithering, I made a Roasted Chestnuts, Root Vegetables and Smoked Cheese Tart, using puff pastry. Lots of seasonal vegetables, roasted with chestnuts and garlic and mixed with smoked cheddar, this makes a lovely light supper dish. (I can also confirm that it’s quite nice cold with baked beans. Classy, I know.)
Another Cheese, Please! regular, Deon from Food Jam came up trumps with a Smoked Cheese and Chilli Bread. Great to pair with warming soups or just slathered with butter, smoked cheddar and chilli flakes give this bread just the kick needed as the nights (and days) start to get colder.
Dinner With Crayons shared a deceptively simple dish of Smokey Cheese and Parsnip Mash. It can be a challenge to know what to do with a parsnip glut and a bigger challenge to persuade small people to eat them and so this recipe which combines parsnips with smoked cheese sounds like a winning combination.
I managed to get my hands on some of the great-sounding smoked mozzarella that Neil294 had used above and, after much thought about what to do with it, I came to the table with a Smoked Mozzarella and Chipotle Cornbread. Made with cornmeal, sweetcorn kernels and a chipotle pepper with a fiery hit, the cheese oozes out splendidly to make a camp-fire hit.
To close a month of great recipes, Food Jam was back with a twist on a classic, Macaroni and Cheese with Smoked Cheese. With the addition of smoked cheese, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes and topped with crispy breadcrumbs, it sounds like excellent comfort food. Put your best slanket on, light the fire and settle down for happy cheesy goodness.
Thanks to everyone who shared their recipes this month. Tune in tomorrow to find out what December has in store for you…