Cheese Characteristics and Uses, page 4


Liederkranz - Strong cheese, soft and creamy. From the U.S. Similar to Limburger.

Good on dark bread, with beer or wine.

Limburger - Very strong cheese from Belgium. Semi-soft with a smooth, creamy ivory body is covered in a brownish exterior that melts quickly under direct heat when it is sliced. Strong, robust and highly-aromatic.

Pumpernickel and other whole-grain, dark breads and crackers, pretzels and onions. Serve with beer, full-bodied red wine, cranberry juice, cran-grape juice and tomato or vegetable juice.

Livarot (LEE-vah-roe) - One of France's oldest, a wonderful cheese named after a village in Normandy and whose nickname is the Colonel because it is bound with five strips of paper that look like a Colonel's stripes. Originally, the stripes were made of natural rush harvested from the edge of ponds. This is a strong cheese with lots of flavor (beefy, nutty) and a pungent aroma. (If it has a smell of ammonia, it is past its prime) Livarot is made from cow's milk but has only a 40% fat content. It is naturally white but colored orange-red with a tincture from a South American tree called the roucou. It has a soft washed rind, is round with a 12 cm diameter and is 5 cm thick.

Livarot goes great with a big red wine as well as with apple cider. Try it with bread and/or fruit, especially apples and pears.

Mascarpone (mas-cahr-POHN-ay) - Made in Italy from cow's cream, mascarpone is a buttery double to triple cream cheese. It has an ivory color, smooth texture and cream-like flavor. It is sold in 8 ounce and 1 pound containers. Hard to find in this country, you may have to look in a good cheese shop or specialty market. Creamy, thick and smooth, it melts well in sauces. Full-flavored, semisweet and butter-like.

It is indispensable for cannoli fillings as well as the classic dessert, Tiramisu, and is the foundation for Torta. It may be used as the primary ingredient of a "killer" cheesecake. Fresh fruits, berries, fresh figs, shortbread and ladyfingers; serve with sparkling, light, fruity wines and coffee or liqueurs.

Monterey Jack - Semi-soft, creamy white with tiny cracks, Monterey jack melts best when it is shredded or sliced. Mild to mellow. Created by Spanish monks in early California, Monterey jack is a light-colored, creamy-textured relative of Cheddar noted for its mild flavor. It is because of that mildness that Monterey jack is so often flavored with Jalapeno Jack being the most famous of this type. All jack cheeses melt beautifully.

Especially good on broiled, open-face sandwiches. Jack's meltability has made it indispensable for Southwestern and "Tex-Mex" dishes, shredded over tacos, stuffed into enchiladas or melted over refried beans. Serve jack cheeses with beer and fruity wines.

Morbier (MORE-bee-yay) - Named for a little farm town in France, this semisoft cow's cheese was originally made with left over cheese for personal consumption by the cheesemakers. At the end of the day the cheesemaker would take leftover curd from making Gruyere de Comte and press it into a mold. To keep it from drying out and to keep the insects away, he would top it off with a little ash. In the morning he would add any additional curd on top of the ash and you had Morbier. Today it is made from a single batch of mild and add a harmless vegetable product to give it the same appearance. It measures 15 - 18 inches in diameter, about 3 inches in height, weighs about 20 pounds, and has a minimum fat content of 45%.

Mozzarella (maht-suh-REHL-lah) - A semi-soft creamy white, malleable cheese with a mild flavor typically made from cow's milk. It melts best when it is sliced or shredded. Often known as "The Pizza Cheese," mozzarella is mild and delicate and is often molded into shapes. It came from southern Italy where it was originally made from buffalo milk. If you are lucky enough to find real buffalo mozzarella in your local market, try it. Although expensive, it's like eating ice cream compared to frozen yogurt. Mozzarella is packaged in a variety of sizes and is produced in whole-milk, part-skim and skim varieties. The higher the fat content, the richer and more tender the cheese.

Besides pizza, Mozzarella may be used to top any baked Italian dish, including ziti casseroles, lasagna, and veal, chicken or eggplant "parmesan". It may be marinated in good olive oil and herbs as an antipasto. Bread and pan (or deep) fry mozzarella "cutlets" and serve on a pool of marinara sauce. Good with mushrooms, plum tomatoes, sweet crackers and pumpernickel bread. Serve with light red wine or a white zinfandel, soda, beer and juice.

Muenster - Semi-soft yellow, orange or white surface with a creamy white, smooth interior, it melts quickly when shredded. Mild to mellow. A surface ripened cheese, is a mild cheese that has a resilient, open texture with just a hint of salt. One of Muenster's trademarks is a dark orange coloring applied to the outside of the cheese. This is a natural coloring called annatto, which is tasteless.

Shredded for sandwiches and pizza toppings. Tomatoes, baby carrots, zucchini, rye and whole-grain breads, crackers and mustard. Serve with fruity wine like a white zinfandel, beer, juice and soda.

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