You are probably quite familiar with being offered a grating of parmesan over your pasta or pizza, but today we thought we would tell you a little more about this very popular cheese. Read on to find out everything you might want to know!
What is Parmesan?
Parmesan Cheese is a hard, dry cheese, which has a complex, sharp, nutty flavor and a somewhat grainy texture. It is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. Starter whey, containing thermophilic lactic acid bacteria, and rennet is added to separate the curds. These are then compacted and placed into molds. The wheels are placed into brine baths for up to 25 days where they absorb the salt. After brining, each cheese is aged for 12 months.
The history of Parmesan Cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese gets its name from the Italian regions of production: Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, and Mantova. It originated in the Middle Ages, at least 700 years ago. It was first made by monks in Reggio Emilia, with production spreading to the Parma and Modena regions. With the exception of new production equipment and technology, the basic process to make the cheese has changed very little in the hundreds of years since.
A Parmesan Consortium was created in 1934 which regulates the production of authentic Parmesan Cheese and inspects all of the cheese produced by nearly 800 cheese producers. Parmigiano Reggiano is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese in the European Union, which legally requires the cheese to be produced in certain regions of northern Italy in order to be labeled as Parmigiano Reggiano. Outside of Europe, the phrase “Parmesan Cheese” may be used to refer to any hard grating cheese.
How should I eat it?
As you know, Parmesan Cheese is wonderful grated. It is ideal for adding flavor to pasta or risotto It can be sprinkled into soup, shredded over a green salad, mixed into in pesto or Alfredo sauce, or served with meats such as veal and chicken.
Chunks of the rind may also be simmered into soups or sauces to add flavor. Try this the next time you make a marinara sauce or a minestrone soup and you’re sure to be surprised by the difference it makes. The rinds can also be roasted as an unusual cheesy snack.
You can even try Parmesan Cheese on its own as a table cheese and you will discover that it is rich and full of flavor. Try it cut into chunks and drizzled with thick balsamic vinegar for a really special treat.
What should I drink with it?
Parmesan is an ideal cheese for enjoying with a glass of red wine because it has a strong flavor and dry texture. We would particularly recommend it with Sangiovese, Syrah or Merlot. An Italian wine is nearly always a good choice to pair with Italian cheese.
You will also find it in our Scotch Collection, as the salty cheese stands up well next to the smokey flavors of whisky.
How do you like to eat Parmesan? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to really wow your guests?
We know that you love to pair wine with our cheeses, and we’ve explored how you might try them with beer, but have you ever thought to pair cheese with scotch?
Read on to find out all about our Scotch Collection and why we think this should be the centerpiece of your next party!
You might not have thought to pair scotch with cheese, but rest assured that it’s a great choice. You’re going to be looking for bolder cheeses with a lot of flavors because these will stand up to the strong flavor of the whisky.
Danish Blue Cheese
Our Danish Blue Cheese has a moderate sharpness and a creamy flavor. Blue cheeses have penicillium cultures added, which create the blue veins that you will see running through the cheese. It is then aged in a temperature and moisture controlled environment like a cave. The unique flavors are best enjoyed at room temperature with fruit and crackers, alongside your scotch.
Gruyere is one of our favorite imported cheeses, originating in the Alpine region between Switzerland and France. It has a sweet, nutty flavor with a slight saltiness. It ages into an earthy, complex cheese. It’s great for baking and melting, as well as served with crackers. If you’re looking to serve something more substantial with your scotch, consider serving a quiche using gruyere, a fondue, or even a French onion soup topped with gruyere croutons.
Cheddar was first produced in England as early as 1170 and originated in the village of Cheddar in Somerset. It would be aged in the nearby caves of Cheddar Gorge. It has a sharp, pungent flavor with a firm, slightly crumbly texture. It’s versatile enough to be enjoyed with a huge variety of drinks, including Scotch.
Parmesan is an Italian cheese with a complex, sharp, and nutty flavor. It has a slightly grainy texture and works well with pasta, risotto, or soup when grated. You may not have included it in your cheese boards before, but you can be confident that it’s a great choice. Because of its strong flavor, it pairs extremely well with the strength and smokiness of a good whisky.
Choosing your whisky
To pair with this cheese collection, you are looking to get a scotch whisky, rather than a bourbon. If you have a favorite, then select that or one from the same region as you’re likely to find a similar flavor. If your friends are whisky connoisseurs too, why not ask them to bring a bottle and then you can compare flavors?
If you’re entertaining, this collection should serve up to 20 guests. If you have guests who do not drink whisky, grab some craft beers. The barley flavors of both drinks will work well with the cheeses from the Scotch Collection so no-one will be disappointed. You could also pick up some salty snacks such as nuts, hot mix or chips, and some dark chocolate as a sweet treat. These will pair well with the scotch and give you even more flavors to explore.
Now that you know all about the cheeses, don’t delay. Order our Scotch Collection today.
Who doesn’t like eating cheese? As a culture with a strong, burning passion for food, at or near the top of this list, we often find cheese. Cheese is an overlooked, and often underappreciated food. In can be integrated into countless dishes, or it can be used as a topper for so many more dishes, salads and even desserts. We, as a civilization, never seem to run out of ideas for our uses of cheese. Every day, it seems that culinary experts and chefs around the world are experimenting with different cheeses and dishes in their efforts to create new dishes whose main attraction is cheese, in some way, shape or form.
Let’s taker a gander at some of the more ingenious creations in which cheese is used, or hidden, for that matter. Now, keep in mind, some of these dishes or cheese concealments require a “think outside of the box” approach…
When making meatballs, add some “umpf” to it by integrated some of your favorite cheese when rolling the meat to form meatballs. As the cheese meets the heat when cooking, the cheese will expand and will add an extraordinary flavor to an already delicious meatball.
Ham, Egg and Cheese Crepe
- Make your pancake, as you normally would… the thinner, the better in the case of this recipe.
- When the underside is nearly cooked, place a slice of ham on top, topped off with some of your favorite cheese.
- Fold the sides into to make a square, or as close as you can get to one.
- Break your egg into the space left… leave sunny-side up.
- Squish the sides down with your spatula to seal as the cheese melts.
- Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the egg is turning white.
- Pop under the grill for a further 2 or 3 minutes until the yolk is just starting to cook, or however you like it. (Although, if you like it any way other than runny you’re way crazy.)
A Cheesy Pie Crust… literally
Making a pie crust with cheddar cheese baked directly into the crust gives it an entirely new dimension of flavor. Try baking an Apple Pie with a cheddar cheese infused crust. Goodness, that sounds absolutely amazing just thinking about it.
For the Gluten-Free
For those who are in search of gluten-free foods, try using cheese as bread crumbs over zucchini. If this peaks your interest, try this recipe for starters… Parmesan Baked Zucchini.
- 4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
- 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh Parsley leaves
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a cooling rack with a nonstick spray such as Crisco and place on a baking sheet.
- In a bowl, combine the following: Parmesan, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, salt and pepper. Taste to determine if this meets desired taste.
- Place the quartered zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle olive oil and as well as Parmesan mixture.
- Place into oven and bake until tender. This usually takes ~ 15 minutes. Then broil for around 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
- Serve immediately. Garnished if that is your thing…
Cheese-Infused Loaf of Bread
This is quite the old-fashioned move, but as they say, “an oldie but goodie” and this no doubt falls in this league. When baking a loaf of bread, step up your culinary game and inject a concoction into the center of the bread; a concoction of your favorite cheese, spices, herbs, etc. Bake and enjoy!
More Cheese… More Bread
With the Cheese-Infused Bread in the back of your mind, try this cheese creation on for size. The Bread Bowl of Cheese is another cheese creation, or should I say, masterpiece, that is in yet another league of its own. Try this recipe…
- 4 bread rolls (soft or crusty)
- 4 small slices of ham, or 2 big ones cut in half
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut tops off the bread rolls.
- Scoop out the center of each bread roll and reserve. Although this can be quite an intricate step in the overall recipe, try to keep your cuts and scoops nice and neat.
- Line the bread bowl with a layer of ham, using a single slice or multiple slices as needed.
- Crack in an egg. This is the part of the recipe where Humpty Dumpty came to mind with me.
- Top each with 2 tablespoons of Mozzarella and a sprinkle of parsley, if desired.
- Put the tops back on each roll. Wrap with foil and place in oven to bake for ~10 to 15 minutes, making certain to check periodically, ideally, in 10 minute intervals.
- 10 minutes = very runny yolks. 15 minutes = firm just cooked yolks. 15 minutes + = very cooked yolks.
- Remove from oven, unwrap, serve immediately and enjoy heaven in a bowl.
Cheese gets a might bad rap for clogging arteries and packing on the pounds. But just because you shouldn’t eat an entire platter of Paula Deen’s cheese balls doesn’t mean you have to avoid cheese altogether.
Cheese can be both delicious and a great source of lean protein, calcium, phosphorus, and other health benefits — if you choose the right varieties. Here are five cheeses that belong on any shopping list.
A key component of Greek cuisine, feta is lower in fat and calories than most cheeses, says Natalie Caine-Bish, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Kent State University. A one-ounce serving — enough to make a Greek salad lover happy — has 4 grams of protein and only 74 calories.
Caine-Bish says feta’s characteristic strong flavor means you can get away with using less cheese without feeling cheated. Feta’s salty flavor makes it a good choice to crumble on salads and soups. It also pairs well with sweeter produce, like watermelon or sweet potatoes.
Tip: Although domestic feta is often made with cow’s milk, Greek feta is made from sheep or goat’s milk, which makes it a good choice for someone with problems digesting bovine dairy products. Keep in mind, though, that unpasteurized feta and other soft cheeses have a higher risk of containing the Listeria bacteria than other cheeses — so be sure to buy pasteurized feta if you’ll be serving it to a pregnant woman or someone with a compromised immune system.
2. String cheese
Seriously. String cheese, that favorite kid snack, is a great choice for adults too.
For starters, if you choose string cheese made of part-skim mozzarella, it’s low in calories and high in protein (a one-ounce serving has 71 calories and 7 grams of protein).
What’s more, string cheese isn’t actually a processed cheese — mozzarella naturally behaves in that stringy way, so it counts as a whole food. (Just make sure to buy string cheese that’s 100 percent mozzarella.)
Tip: String cheese is “quick and easy — grab and go, and already portioned out for you,” says Silvia Veri, the nutrition supervisor at Beaumont Health System’s Weight Control Center in Royal Oak, Michigan. The fact that it’s prepackaged makes it handy for healthy snacks at work, between errands, or at home.
Like feta, Parmesan is a great choice because just a little packs a potent, nutty punch.
Parmigiano-Reggiano comes from the Parma area of Italy, and its strong flavor has inspired a lot of buzz throughout history: Samuel Pepys famously buried his Parmesan cheese to keep it safe during the Great Fire of London, and Boccacio, in The Decameron, imagines a mountain of Parmesan inhabited by macaroni and ravioli makers.
Parmesan is relatively low in calories (110 in a one-ounce serving), but it’s high in sodium (449 milligrams for the same serving size), so be sure to use it in moderation.
Tip: Try shaving pieces onto a salad or eating small slices with ripe apples or pears, in addition to grating it over pasta and pizza.
Swiss is another strong cheese that’s good for you. What we call Swiss cheese is often Swiss Emmentaler (or Emmental), though other cheeses with a similar taste and hole-studded texture are sometimes lumped in as well.
Swiss is a popular cheese, and Caine-Bish likes it specifically for that reason. Since it comes in a number of varieties, including low-sodium or low-fat, it’s easy to find a version that fits your dietary needs.
As a hard cheese, Swiss is also richer in phosphorus than nearly all soft cheeses. According to Caine-Bish, “Calcium and phosphorus are key to bone formation and to maintaining bone density” — important for women of any age.
Tip: Try adding a slice to your sandwich or grating a few ounces into scrambled or baked eggs. Small slices or cubes make a great snack, especially with fruit instead of crackers.
5. Cottage cheese
There’s a reason dieters love cottage cheese: It’s high in protein, low in fat (if you buy a low-fat variety), and versatile enough to add to most any meal or snack.
“You can eat it with almost anything,” says Veri. “You can eat it with veggies and make it savory, or add fruit and cinnamon and make it sweet.”
A one-ounce serving of low-fat cottage cheese has 3 grams of protein and only 20 calories. Like all cheeses, it’s also high in calcium.
Indian paneer, Mexican queso fresco, and other types of farmer’s cheese are simply pressed versions of cottage cheese. If you are the DIY-type, this cheese and its firmer derivatives are some of the easiest cheeses to make at home.
Tip: Cottage cheese can have a lot of sodium, especially when it’s low-fat or nonfat. Be sure to check the nutrition label on the container before buying it. Some companies, such as Lucerne and Friendship Dairy, make no-salt-added versions.
Though high in saturated fats, it provides many essential nutrients including protein, vitamin D and zinc as well as calcium.
Here’s a round-up of your favourite cheeses and how healthy they are. All figures are based on a healthy portion size of 30 grams (a matchbox-size chunk).
120 calories, 9 g fat, 290 mg calciumVery high protein, with a matching high-mineral content. A 30g portion of Emmenthal provides more than a third of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of calcium and nearly a tenth of the RDA for zinc – essential for healthy skin, reproductive health and the immune system.
Health score: 8/10
96 calories, 8 g fat, 162 mg calcium
Most people assume it is one of the fattiest cheeses, but it has lower levels than cheddar or stilton and a good quantity of calcium. It is also a reasonable source of zinc and the rind is rich in vitamin B1 – essential for cells to release energy.
Health score: 6/10
89 calories, 7 g fat, 105 mg calcium
Camembert has a third less fat and a quarter fewer calories than hard cheeses. It is high in folic acid which the body needs to make red blood cells, though pregnant women (who need a higher intake of folic acid) should avoid Camembert.
Health score: 5/10
136 calories, 9.8 g fat, 360 mg calcium
Extremely high in calcium, just a tablespoon of Parmesan grated over pasta supplies 15 per cent of the RDA. It is also the best cheese for zinc, although it is high in salt.
Health score: 9/10
29 calories, 1.2 g fat, 22 mg calcium
This is the only truly low-fat cheese, making it ideal for slimmers. But the downside is a low calcium content, which reduces its nutritional rating compared with other cheeses.
Health score: 5/10
124 calories, 10.3 g fat, 216 mg calcium
One of the highest-fat cheeses, but it’s also a good source of calcium and zinc. A national favourite, nonetheless.
Health score: 6/10
78 calories, 4.5 g fat, 252 mg calcium
Also higher in protein, calcium and zinc than normal cheddar. But on the downside, it’s a bit lower in vitamins A and D.
Health score: 9/10
132 calories, 14.2 g fat, 29 mg calcium
The unhealthiest cheese as it is close to 50 per cent pure fat and has only a fraction of the calcium content of many hard cheeses.
Health score: 2/10
100 calories, 7.6 g fat, 231 mg calcium
Contains a medium amount of fat, is rich in calcium, but high in salt so is not advisable for high blood pressure sufferers.
Health score: 8/10
59 calories, 4.7 g fat, 57 mg calcium
Low in calories and richer in vitamin D (an important bone-strengthener) compared with cow’s milk cheeses, although it is not a great source of calcium or zinc.
Health score: 6/10
Processed cheese slices
78 calories, 5.6 g fat, 213 mg calcium
Rich in calcium and lower in unhealthy saturated fats than unprocessed cheese. Gets its dubious ‘plastic appeal’ from added milk proteins, modified starch, preservatives and emulsifiers.
Health score: 6/10
75 calories, 6 g fat, 108 mg calcium
Made with sheep’s milk, it has a moderate amount of calcium and fewer calories than half-fat cheddar. Feta is also a better source of vitamin D than cow’s milk cheese, but is also the saltiest variety – a 30g portion has a fifth of the daily guideline intake for women.
Health score: 7/10
90 calories, 7.5 g fat, 155 mg calcium
A medium-fat cheese which can be disproportionately high in unhealthy saturates. However, it has a good calcium content.
Health score: 7/10
56 calories, 4.4 g fat, 63 mg calcium
Fairly low in fat and salt, and contains low to medium amounts of calcium.
Health score: 7/10
123 calories, 10.7 g fat, 96 mg calcium
Similar to cheddar in fat and calories, but has a much lower calcium content. It is high in folic acid, though, like all blue-veined cheese, it is not suitable for pregnant women as it carries a listeria risk.
Health score: 4/10