When we think about Danish cheeses, we often think about Danish Blue, Esrom, Danbo… but, by far the most popular cheese that is exported from Denmark is Havarti.
Havarti is a semi-soft cheese, which has a creamy buttery flavor. It goes great on the cheese board with figs and sliced bread, or melted atop a sandwich. But, what else do we know about this cheese?
The Origins of Havarti
As noted above, Havarti is a Danish cheese; but the inspiration of this delicious treat comes from one woman’s travels around Europe during the mid 1800s. The commonly accepted story is that Hanne Nielsen was the wife of a New Zealand farmer that was extremely interested in learning about cheesemaking; and, in addition to traveling around Europe, learning different techniques, she set up a farm where she perfected her craft. The town where she set up her experimental farm, called Havarthigaard, is located north of Copenhagen; and, during the mid 1900s, became the source of Havarti’s name. (Source: Havarti Cheese Production and Uses)
What is Creamy Havarti?
Creamy Havarti (flødehavarti) is different from what would be considered the “original” Havarti, in that it is made with highly pasteurized milk, such that the whey proteins are not separated from the cheese curds; so, the end product is a lot richer and creamier.
The “original” Havarti is very similar to Swiss cheese in flavor and texture–but also, in that it is typically aged around 3 months. Creamy Havarti cannot be ripened for very long because the whey protein doesn’t age very well.
The Havarti Experience
If you go to the supermarket, you will often find that there are many different kinds of Havarti. Much like chevre, this cheese is sold in varieties with fruits and/or herbs and spices, as well as original flavor. Some of the varieties you may find include cranberry, garlic, caraway, basil, coconut, and sour cream & chives; but, by far the most popular ones are dill, red pepper, and jalapeño.
Havarti is truly versatile. It is an excellent table cheese and is great on sandwiches and salads. It is a great melting cheese so, fondue and paninis should not be overlooked.
Looking for a great wine to pair with Havarti? It goes really well with just about any wine, but goes particularly well with sweet wines like Beaujolais and Riesling. If you’re going pick a red wine, try to keep with lighter-bodied wines.
Havarti is certainly one of my favorite cheeses–and, I think it was one of the very first cheeses I tried when I started John Eats Cheese. If you’re looking to learn more about cheese or are looking for unintimidating cheese to start with on your journey of fromage exploration pick up some crackers and Creamy Havarti, and go to town.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good Alfredo. It’s rich, it’s oh so yummy. And why shouldn’t we love it? It has all the goodness of butter, cream and Parmesan. Creamy. Cheesy. Yummy. So today we’re taking good old Alfredo sauce and making a chicken pasta bake. And we’ll add more cheese plus other stuff to make a great summer pasta casserole.
So if you’re wanting cheese, this is your dish! This makes a huge serving to go around and it heats up well. It’ll make that wet squishy sound when you mix it all up, a sign of tons of creamy cheesy power. It’ll give you long strands of cheese when you dish a serving. The kind that you’ll want to run your finger along to break. And it’ll more than satisfy your cheese craving.
The great thing about this is how you can customize it to save you time. The best Alfredo sauce from scratch but you can use store-bought sauce. If you don’t like poached chicken, grill it. Or buy some rotisserie chicken and chop it up. And you can practically use any kind of pasta you want. Generally, penne is deal for bakes but there’s ziti and rigatoni.
Make sure to cook the pasta until the point just before it turns al dente. Then rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process. Because if it continues cooking in the cheese sauce in the oven, it’ll get slightly mushy and mushy pasta is no fun…. to avoid this, finish off the al dente process in the oven. However, if you don’t mind or even like mushy pasta, then keep on cooking that pasta until it’s al dente, your choice…
There’s a lot of ricotta to go around, as you can see. So if you’re not big on it, you can halve the ricotta and egg portion before mixing it in with everything. Some people like it, some people don’t, again, your choice…
So really, if you’re looking for a fairly quick, but delicious meal idea for lunch or dinner, this one’s for you, as the amount of time it takes from start to eat is just under and hour…. not bad at all… Or if you’re a family of four and you want something for two days, here you go. And if you have a huge family, have at it. This can serve up to ten servings. The cheese is not stingy!
- 16 oz. penne/ziti/rigatoni pasta
- 2 cups Alfredo sauce
- 8 oz. sour cream
- 3 cups poached/grilled/rotisserie chicken, cubed
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Cook the pasta till just before al dente
- Drain and rinse pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process
- If you’re making Alfredo sauce from scratch, see notes
- Mix pasta with the Alfredo sauce, sour cream and chicken
- Combine ricotta, garlic, eggs, Parmesan and parsley and mix throughly
- Season the pasta mix with salt and pepper to taste
- Add the ricotta mixture to the pasta and stir to combine
- Top with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese
- Bake in a 9×13 casserole dish at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until bubbly
- Broil at 450 degrees F for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown
- Serve hot
Gouda, or “How-da” as the locals say, is a Dutch cheese named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands. If truth be told, it is one of the most popular cheeses in the world, accounting for 50 to 60 percent of the world’s cheese consumption. It is a semi-hard cheese celebrated for its rich, unique flavour and smooth texture. The original cheese markets in Gouda is one of the last standing commercial cheese markets in the Netherlands. Since the name is not protected, it has become a generic classification for all cheeses produced and sold under the name Gouda.
Gouda is typically made from pasteurised cow’s milk although some artisan varieties use sheep’s or goat’s milk to produce cheeses that are going to be aged for a long time. Boerenkaas is a typical variety of unpasteurised Gouda cheese produced by the farmers from milk of cow’s grazing on the natural, low pastures of Netherlands. There are seven different types of Gouda cheese, categorized depending on age. Graskaas is young Gouda ready to be consumed within weeks of production. On the other hand, is the extra aged, Overjarig cheese which has a full-flavoured, hard, golden interior and salty flavour reminiscent of a toffee. Between the spectrums is a variety of Dutch Gouda’s classified as per the texture and age – Jong, Jong belegen, Belegen, Extra belegen, and Oud. Each cheese gets increasingly firmer in texture and richer in flavour than earlier classification. The waxed rind of the cheese also changes by the age as soft, younger Dutch Gouda cheese are identified by yellow, orange, or red wax rinds white mature cheese have black wax coverings.
In America, smoother and less flavorful commercial Gouda is popular than Dutch Gouda. Artisans in Netherlands may produce Dutch Gouda using raw milk as well as pasteurized. To enhance the flavor of the cheese, herbs, seasonings, and nuts may be blended. In Netherlands, aged Gouda is commonly used to richen soups, sauces.
Young Goudas are best paired with beer while medium cheeses taste best when paired with a fruity Riesling or Chenin Blanc. A well aged Gouda complements wines that are deeply flavored such as a rich Merlot or Shiraz. Gouda cheese may be grated, sliced, cubed or melted. It may be used as a table cheese or dessert cheese.
SMOKED GOUDA MASHED POTATOES
Fancying up mashed potatoes can take a plain Jane dish and make it a stand out yummy. Sorry if your name is Jane. What better to make something stand out than smoked gouda? Oh baby. It’s yummy. Add 1 cup for a hint of smokey goodness, and 2 cups for a heavier handed approach. Or maybe your tastes will fall somewhere in between. This is a fabulous twist on your standard taters. Live a little, right?
Time to Make It: about 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
6 large russet potatoes
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 to 2 cups shredded smoked Gouda Cheese
1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large stockpot. (If you need more liquid to cover your potatoes, you can add in water.)
2. Meanwhile, peel and rinse the potatoes. Cut them into bite-size pieces. Pace them in the chicken broth. Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of pieces.
3. Drain the liquid from the potatoes. Add in butter, cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Use a hand mixer to whip until smooth, or mash together with a potato masher until cheese and butter are melted.
4. Mix in the Smoked Gouda until cheese is melted. Serve hot.
INSALATA CAPRESE: THE ENDURING STYLE OF ITALIAN CUISINE
No one can quite say when or where the most famously simple of all salads — the insalata caprese — first appeared on the scene, or the exact origin of when it was named after that beautiful sun-soaked isle of Capri, part of very historic Campania region. But one thing we do know is that it is absolutely one of the most enduring of all Italian antipasti and so evocative of those heady days of fun, vino and romance along the Mediterranean coast. (Speaking of fabulous Italian things, be sure to check out the recent post Studio of Style did on Campari.) Of course, the famed tricolor look of the dish which, like the equally famed Margherita pizza of Napoli, depict the colors of the Italian flag. But let’s dig a little bit deeper into history, okay? (We know how you regular readers of Studio of Style just love a little bit more of everything, right?) First of all, so much of the world associates Italian cuisine with that wonderful deep red tomato sauce found on many dishes — but wait! The word “pomodoro” from the words “pomo d’oro” or “golden apple” doesn’t quite match up with the color red, now does it? That’s because the first tomatoes brought to Europe from the New World (i.e. The Americas) were actually more likely to have been yellow than red! More on that in a moment. But some say that “pomo d’oro” might also be a mistranslation of the phrase “pomo di moro” or “fruit of the Moors” who had introduced so many exotic foods to Italy. You see, it was Italian physician and botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli who wrote in 1544 that a new type of eggplant had been brought to Italy which was blood red or golden in color that could be eaten like an eggplant — and 10 years later Mattioli used the words “pomo d’oro” in print. The yellow variety of the tomato definitely made landfall in Europe sometime after 1521 when Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés captured the Aztec capital of Tenochtítlan in Mexico — though Christopher Columbus of Genoa (who was also working on behalf of the Spanish monarchy) might very well have brought some back around 1493! And did you know that the earliest known Italian cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples (naturally!) around 1692 — most likely the recipes were translated from Spanish sources. Thus, by a slight twist of history the famed marinara sauces became red and not yellow (but the name “golden apple” still stuck!). But the bigger question is: who put together that amazing combination of basil, mozzarella di bufala, tomatoes and olive oil — crowned with a light sprinkling of salt and black pepper — a combo that epicureans have been raving about ever since? To enjoy this antipasto to the fullest, try to find the freshest handmade mozzarella, the ripest seasonal tomatoes, absolutely fresh basil, the best extra virgin olive oil and high quality salt and freshly ground black pepper (and please, novinegar of any kind!!). Said perhaps one of the most famous Italians of all history, Leonardo da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” And how right he was…and still is! The simple yet profound pleasures found in insalata caprese transcend time itself! And in the words of so many Italians throughout the ages: Mangia bene, vivi felice!
Once again, you can see the colors of the italian flag in this dish. Insalata Caprese is one of my all time favorite salads. I like to serve it over a bed of fresh spinach. Refreshing and light!
The word mozzarella comes from the italian verb “mozzare” which means to cut. Mozzarella di bufala is made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo, a bovine which has it origins in Asia but is now found in southern Europe, South America, Northern Africa and India among others. Mozzarella di bufala is a bit saltier and softer than regular cow’s milk mozzarella. The best quality is considered by many Mozzarella di Bufala di Campania made in the geographical areas of Lazio (near Rome) and Campania (Naples, Salerno, Paestum, Pompeii, including Capri) Regions which became protected by the European Union under Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC like in wines) in the 1990’s. It literally melts in your mouth! In short, mozzarella is made by heating the milk (to separate the whey form the curds), resting, spinning and pulling the cheese curds to shape into balls. The cheese maker will knead the curds like bread by hand, pull-out and cut the mozzarella balls once the cheese curds have reached the desired consistency. This is a semisoft cheese and has a high moisture content. That is why it is sold in specialty food shops in brine and vacuum sealed. On the other hand, good quality mozzarella di bufala is made in many other countries in Europe and the Americas.
Insalata Caprese (salad made in the style of Capri) can also be called Tricolore Salad which also includes avocado. If you want to splurge (it is more expensive than regular mozzarella) and the best flavor and quality, use mozzarella di bufala when you make homemade pizza. Use it as a topping or make Insalata Caprese Pizza. It is amazing!
Instructions on making Insalata Caprese…
2 7 ounce mozzarella di bufala balls
2-3 Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pepper to taste
Drizzle of good quality aged balsamic vinegar (optional)
1. Slice mozzarella and tomatoes. In a plate, alternate placing one slice of tomato over each slice of mozzarella.
2. In a small bowl, place the chopped basil with olive oil, salt and pepper and stir with a spoon.
3. Spoon mixture over mozzarella and tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.
4. Enjoy this delicious and healthy dish!