Cheese Please

During the quiet, gray afternoons of winter, another area of the farm bustles with life: the farmstead creamery. Tucked in its own charming little building next to the stone barn and replete with two 26-gallon Van Riet cheese vats, commercial equipment and a cheese cave, our beloved fromagerie is a quiet and tranquil spot to experiment with new cheesemaking recipes and techniques.

We make a wide variety of fresh and aged cheeses in-house—from the hand-dipped ricotta cheeses crafted from leftover whey to the rich and creamy Tomme, Vecchio and Grana styles that are brined and aged in the cave. Other fromagerie-made favorites also include fresh chevre crafted from goat’s milk, fromage blanc and silky crème fraîche. This year we have been busy developing several new cheeses as well, working with new recipes and techniques to expand on the skills originally gleaned during our training at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese and with cheesemakers Enrique Canut, Marc Druart, Peter Dixon and Gianaclis Caldwell.

We look forward to sharing delicious new cheeses, plus tried-and-true favorites from both our creamery and other local fromageries, in your weekly boxes all year long!

Spinach & Gruyère Cheese Bread Strata

Put this week’s cheesy bread loaf to good use with this spinach-kissed breakfast strata.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces spinach, washed
3 cups Gruyère cheese bread, cubed*
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
½ cup shredded white cheddar or Gruyère cheese
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander and drain, pressing with a rubber spatula to release as much liquid as possible. Scatter spinach and bread cubes in a buttered baking dish.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pour mixture over bread and spinach and then top with ½ cup cheese. Place dish in oven and bake until set in middle and golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

*The strata will turn out much better if the bread is slightly stale, so leave the loaf out on the counter overnight before preparing this recipe.

Baked Orzo with Smoked Pork Stock

Flavorful and filling, this satisfying baked dish is wonderful served with this week’s grilled halloumi kabobs.

Ingredients:
2 cups orzo pasta
4 tablespoons butter
4 white spring onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups smoked pork stock
½ cup water
1 cup Grana-style cheese, grated
½ cup freshly-chopped parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic and sauté for about 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened.

2. Add in the orzo, and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Add in broth and then salt and pepper to taste and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle in the cheese, mixing well.

3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 2-quart baking dish. Add the orzo mixture and bake for 35-40 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from oven and garnish with the chopped parsley before serving.

Potato Gratin with Cheddar Cheese Curds

Dotted with fresh Cheddar curds, this decadent gratin makes for an excellent side dish to this week’s bratwurst.

Ingredients:
6 Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced about 1/8-inch-thick (approximately 4-5 cups)
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese curds
2 cups whole milk
1 shallot, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons butter
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 375º.

2. Mix potato slices, diced shallot, and salt and pepper in a bowl.

3. Arrange potato slice mixture in layers in a greased casserole dish. Pour milk over top until you can see it around the edges and dot with butter, then sprinkle the Cheddar cheese curds over top before putting into the oven to bake.

4. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the curds melt down over the top and brown into a crust and the potatoes are tender. Remove from the oven and let gratin set before serving.

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