Recipe: Rhubarb marmalade (for your spring cheese plate)

Photo Credit: Grow It Can It Cook It

For many cheesemakers, the arrival of spring means the return of fresh cheeses like chevre, ricotta and surface-ripened styles. Even if they’ve been making cheese throughout the winter (due to a staggered breeding schedule, which is what Haystack Mountain relies on for its milk sourcing), kidding, calving and lambing season peaks this time of year and with that comes a surplus of milk.

Our cheesemaker Jackie Chang, is busier than ever, starting new batches of washed rind cheeses (which sold out over the winter). What we’re really psyched about now, however, is using our chevre and bloomy-rind cheeses such as Cashmere and Snowdrop in simple dishes that sing of spring.

One of my favorite ingredients is rhubarb. It grows abundantly in the wild in Colorado, and has greener stalks than cultivated varieties, which makes the latter more popular for use in desserts. A relative of buckwheat and sorrel, rhubarb is best-known as a pie ingredient paired with strawberries, but its appeal extends far beyond pastry (note that it should always be cooked; the leaves contain toxic amounts of oxalic acid, although the stalks only have trace amounts).

Haystack Mountain Cashmere

I love rhubarb prepared as a savory or sweet quick-marmalade, which makes for a beautiful- and unusual- condiment for pairing with fresh or bloomy-rind cheeses or a topping chevre or ricotta cheesecake or ice cream. You can also poach the stalks until tender in a simple syrup and use them in a salad paired with aforementioned cheeses (alternatively, try them with a mild, creamy blue) and toasted hazelnuts.

 

Photo credit: The Pioneer Woman

Recipe: Rhubarb Marmalade

Serves 4

¾ cup water

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated, peeled ginger

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out

1 pound rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

Pinch of kosher salt

>In a saucepan, combine with water, sugar, ginger, allspice, and vanilla bean and seeds.  Add rhubarb; bring to a boil.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce is jam-like, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with a pinch of salt, discard vanilla bean.

Rhubarb & Chevre Parfait makes an elegant brunch dish. Photo credit: What’s for lunch, honey?

Recipe: Grapefruit & Avocado Salad with Haystack Mountain Peak

Ruby Star grapefruit: in season now. Photo credit: Backyard Fruit

As a child of California, I grew up immersed in a culture awash with citrus and avocados. I recall plucking tangerines from orchards and eating the sun-warmed fruit as a snack, and marveling over the many varieties of avocado at our county fair. Years later, as a farmers market vendor in the rain-drenched Bay Area, I overcame the winter doldrums by admiring (and eating) the vibrant array of citrus fruits sold by my colleagues.

One of my favorite ways to use citrus is to combine it with goat cheese. The acidity and residual sweetness in the fruit compliment the tang of the cheese, making them the ideal companions for a winter salad. Balance things out with a bitter or spicy component (think kumquats, dates and watercress, or orange and endive).

The following recipe celebrates one of my favorite things from Texas: Ruby Red grapefruit, now at its peak. Combined with the nutty, creamy avocado and the piquant, earthy notes of Haystack Peak, it’s a simple, grounded dish that speaks of sunny days to come.

Serves 4

Vinaigrette

½ small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

 

Salad

2 pink grapefruit such as Ruby Red, peel and pith removed and sliced crosswise into ¼-inch thickness, or cut into supremes

2 ripe avocados, sliced ¼-inch thick

4 ounces Haystack Mountain Peak, sliced lengthwise to ¼-inch thickness

Flaked sea salt, to taste

Daikon radish sprouts or microgreens, for garnish (optional)

 

Arrange grapefruit and avocado on a serving platter. Rewhisk vinaigrette and drizzle atop fruit, and season with salt. Add slices of Haystack Mountain Peak and finish with a scattering of radish sprouts.

How to section citrus fruit. Photo credit: Patricia Salzman

 

©The Sustainable Kitchen®, 2017

Curd(s) is the word: Five ways to use our squeaky cheese

Just add beer. Photo credit: Golden Age Cheese

They’re a Midwestern staple, and an integral part of poutine, Canada’s national dish- but for the rest of us, if we think about cheese curds at all, they’re merely a novelty snack food. Curds (also known as squeaky cheese, for the sound they make when they rub against the teeth) are made from the curdled milk solids formed in the early stages of the cheesemaking process. The resulting mild, slightly rubbery, strangely addictive nuggets are usually consumed fresh or battered and fried (curds don’t melt completely, but rather, achieve a pleasing, gooey consistency).

Domestic cheddar curds are the most popular type found on the market, produced by small artisan cheesemakers as well as nationally-recognized brands. Haystack Mountain began making curds from pasteurized cow’s milk to meet consumer and wholesale demand. Breweries, in particular, clamored for us to make curds, as they’re a popular bar snack.

Photo credit: Visit Malone

Ask, and you shall receive. Our cheddar-style curds are made milk sourced from family-owned Longmont Dairy, and made by head cheesemaker Jackie Chang and her crew. Currently, we offer plain curds, but Jackie has almost perfected her Bloody Mary Cheddar Curd and Green Chile and Lime Curd recipes, so look for them at your local grocery, cheese shop or farmers market soon.

Speaking of Bloody Mary’s, we have some uses for cheese curds that go beyond the expected (we’re not dissing deep-frying; we just love to play around in the kitchen and behind the bar).

The next time you’re confronted with a bag of curds, resist the urge to scarf them all, and try the following:

Make Bloody Mary’s and martinis more special

We’re semi-purists when it comes to cocktail garnishes- pass on the Bloody Mary’s bristling with a refrigerator’s-worth of ingredients. But a few skewered curds interspersed with spicy green olives or pickled red chilies? Yes, please. You can also stuff olives with curds for a vamped-up version of the Dirty Martini (we recommend pairing with a whey-based vodka like Black Cow).

Amp up your eggs

Add to scrambles just before they set for extra creaminess, or fold into omelets.

Give grits a little more love

Stir until semi-melted, and add a dash or three of hot sauce (we love the ones from Boulder’s own Motherlode Provisions). Psst- they also make a righteous Bloody Mary mix.

Separating curds. Photo credit: Scientific American blog

Make grain-based dishes pop

Toss with farro and roasted root vegetables or other seasonal ingredients (cherry tomatoes, corn and fresh herbs, grilled asparagus and prosciutto, caramelized mushrooms and leeks, kale and bacon…). Curds also play well with barley, bulgur, quinoa, Israeli couscous and orzo pasta. Use as you would feta or mozzarella.

Farro with cheese curds, cucumbers and mint. Photo credit: The Bonjon Gourmet

Marinate in aromatics

Combine with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, fresh red chilies or chile flakes and fresh herbs or citrus peel; seal in a sterilized canning or Mason jar, and keep for up to one week in the refrigerator. Use in green, pasta or grain salads, heap on crostini or serve with roasted or grilled vegetables.

Photo credit: Lottie and Doof