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Meet Nicole Skinner. Passionate about everything cheese, she is your Willamette Cheese Shop tour guide. When you feel lost among a sea of cheese, she will guide you to the perfect pairing.

Try this easy recipe using the Indian-style cheese paneer. It makes a nice appetizer served with sweet chili or plum sauce; also works as an addition to curries!

CheesePaneer4Pan Fried Paneer

2 T plain yogurt
2 t chili powder
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t powdered cardamom
1 T minced garlic
1 pinch turmeric
1/4 t salt
6-8 oz of paneer cheese
1 T butter

In a small bowl, mix yogurt and spices. Slice the paneer into 1"-squares and prick all over with a toothpick. Put cheese in bowl, coat with yogurt mixture and let marinate 30 min to overnight. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the cheese. Cook cheese on each side until brown (approx. 2-3 min) and serve.

I recently attended the 11th Annual Cheesemaker Education Day, put on by the Oregon Cheese Guild. It was a busy and fun-filled day, attended by 60 people who learned what a business would need to know to run a successful artisan cheese business.

I was surprised by the amount of paperwork and regulations that mom-and-pop operations are expected to maintain. The first half of the day was awash with legalities, from passing a third-party audit, to the newest and upcoming regulatory updates, to preparing for the FDA Food and Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FSMA was signed into law by President Obama in 2011, primarily to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. I’m all for prevention.

After sitting through an overview of the red tape and paperwork that goes along with it, I’m amazed we still have small, family farms willing to make cheese. Finding time to care for the farm and all the animals, milking, making cheese, packaging, marketing, getting to the farmers market, making deliveries, plus basic bookkeeping and bill paying (these people have a full day!), add to that business plans, and what seems like having to document every move you make in the correct binder. It all gave me a greater appreciation for every bite of small-farm cheese I enjoy.

I’ve noticed a few places turning to Kickstarter for a little help – it’s the world's largest online funding platform for creative projects. The owners of Full Circle Creamery, Kate and Brian Humiston, currently have a Kickstarter going with plans to build Independence Creamery in Independence, Oregon. Kate attended the Cheesemaker Education Day and was recently at our Corvallis store demoing their cheese and talking with people about their plans. They look forward to people visiting them at their new place.

Many cheese factories and farms are open to visitors, so you can watch how the cheese is made, see the animals and, of course, taste the cheese. These visits are well worth the trip. One of the nice things about visiting these places is that you really feel like you can “taste” the environment (OK, try not to think about inhaling in the barn at this moment).

An Oregon State University study on the terroir of Oregon milk and its impact on cheese flavor were also touched on and discussed. A lot of science was spoken, but what it boils down to is this: We now have scientific proof that you can taste differences in cheese, depending on where the milk comes from. So taste, enjoy, and be thankful. There’s a farmer and cheesemaker out there who’s gone through a lot to make that delicious cheese.
My fellow cheese steward Tristem Laux created this beautiful cheese tray for a customer's recent event. Our change in weather has reminded me that the season for celebrations, such as Mother's Day, spring weddings and anniversaries, is upon us. Let the cheese stewards at your Market of Choice cheese shop create a stunning cheese tray or gift box for your special day!
IMG 0059IMG 0031

ricottaberriesOur recent run of nice weather has me longing for spring. This light and tasty dessert brings it a few steps closer!

Honey Vanilla Ricotta With Berries
Serves 4-6

16 oz fresh ricotta cheese
1 t vanilla extract
2 T honey
1/3 confectioners' sugar
1 pt of berries of your choice

Put all ingredients except berries into a food processor or mixer and blend until smooth. Place in the refrigerator until needed. To serve, scoop ricotta into bowls, drizzle with more honey, if desired, and top with berries. 

St. Agur is a blue cheese made with pasteurized cows’ milk from the Auvergne region of France. It has a bold and tangy flavor and a creamy, spreadable texture. Since it’s one of my all-time favorite blues, I’m thrilled to announce a St. Agur in-store super sale! Regularly priced at $23.99 per pound, all Market of Choice cheese shops that carry it are offering this stupendous cheese at a reduced price of $10.99 per pound, through Feb. 6th or until we run out. This is an excellent time to try this amazing French blue!
Tips for how to serve and enjoy St. Agur:
• As a dip with vegetables
• Paired with fresh fruit, such as apples, pears or grapes
• Topped with fig or sour cherry preserves
• Drizzled with honey
• Served with Chardonnay, Port or Syrah wines
Bon appétit!
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Willamette Cheese Blog List