You may remember May 12, 2009 as the day in history when I served cheese for dinner. I wrote a post about it called Cheese For Dinner and 47 of you left comments because you were so shocked and disturbed by the idea. Cheese for dinner? How can you eat cheese for dinner?
Actually, most of you had the opposite reaction. “I love cheese for dinner!” one of you wrote. So, last week, traipsing through Murray’s Cheese on my way back to the apartment I decided to revisit the concept. I picked up two kinds of cheese, a box of salad greens and a pear from the bodega close by and prepared myself for the return, the return of CHEESE FOR DINNER.
The thing about serving cheese for dinner is that you can’t really just serve cheese for dinner. That would be like serving yogurt for dinner or sour cream for dinner. It’s basically just a fermented dairy product and that’s not enough just by itself.
Which is why I decided to make the lovely-looking Oat Soda Bread that my friend Heidi wrote about on her famous blog, 101Cookbooks. [Click the words “Oat Soda Bread” in the previous sentence for the full recipe.]
Making Oat Soda Bread is remarkably easy. The fun part is that you get to put oats in the food processor:
There’s something very satisfying about that. What you end up with is oat flour which you mix with all-purpose flour some salt and other powdery things and then some buttermilk:
You work that together and then knead it on a board (this picture was taken after the kneading was over but that makes it that much more mysterious):
Into a parchment-lined pan it goes:
You sprinkle seeds on top (I sprinkled black and white sesame seeds):
And then you bake it until it’s done:
It may be one of the easiest breads to bake on the planet.
So there’s the bread component (and it’s worth making bread when you serve cheese for dinner; consider the no-knead if you know you’re going to do this the night before) and here’s the cheese component:
The folks at Murray’s Cheese were as helpful and solicitous as ever when it came to helping me choose my cheese. I told the cheesemonger (who happened to be wearing a clown nose) that I wanted a really good cheddar. I told him I liked a cheddar called Mrs. Quicke’s and he said “that’s a good one, but try this.” The one he let me try–Cabot Clothbound Cheddar–was insanely good:
It was nutty and had lots of shocking flavor–you know, the kind of flavor that makes your tongue light up? I asked for half a pound.
Then I mentioned I was making an oat soda bread to serve with my cheese and asked if he had any suggestions that might go well with that. He did, something “earthy”: a brie.
I tried the brie and it was good, very creamy but a bit mellow, and I asked for something more intense. Which is how we came to this beauty:
That’s Cambozola Black Label and it’s a funky, freaky piece of cheese. The cheesemonger (I don’t know his name) suggested I try it with sour cherry preserves and that was a wam-pow combination, so I bought a jar of the preserves along with half a pound of the cheese to take home. (He also had me try the cheese with chocolate and that totally worked too; would be an unexpected thing to serve for dessert on toasted bread.)
Not only did I buy those sour cherry preserves to go with the blue cheese, I also bought–based on something I saw on The Barefoot Contessa–Major Grey’s Mango Chutney to serve with the cheddar:
That combo–the chutney and the cheddar–was out-of-this-world. You get this savory sweetness from the chutney that works wonderfully with the tight nuttiness of the cheddar. (God, I hate writing like this.) Just trust me: it tastes good.
Finally, the salad I dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette (just mustard, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil whisked in):
And there you have it… the return of CHEESE FOR DINNER:
I know one cheese lover who was a very happy customer: