What do I do with cheese?

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Cheese is one of those really amazing and super versatile ingredients you don’t come across often (like bread and potatoes) where you can do almost anything with them. There are so many types of cheese available on the market, which means there is a lot of variety available to you and your needs (and tastes!). Cheese really is an ingredient that keeps on giving, as there is just so much you can do with it – plus it tastes amazing!

There is bound to be a cheese out there for you (there are even dairy free cheeses these days). There are different types of cheeses, used for different purposes, but to us home cooks cheese can be classified in a few different ways:

  • Hard cheeses vs soft cheeses.
  • Mild cheeses vs mature cheeses.
  • White cheeses vs yellow cheeses.
  • Cheeses that crumble vs cheeses that melt.
  • Smelly cheeses vs non-smelly cheeses, etc.

While these are not the official cheese categories, they are the categories of cheese that you and I might know as we peruse the shelves at the supermarket. And knowing at least this much about cheese means that we have a few clues about what to do with the cheese we’ve decided to buy today. But if you’re not sure, keep reading as I give you suggestions for the soft white cheeses vs the hard yellow ones.


Soft White Cheeses

Some typical soft white cheeses available at the supermarket are:
  • Feta – used in savoury dishes (like tarts and quiches) and salads.
  • Ricotta – used in many baked dishes (like a baked ricotta loaf or spinach and       ricotta cannelloni).
  • Mascarpone – is often used in desserts.
  • Cottage Cheese – a soft plain cheese can be used in sandwiches or in other meals.
  • Sheep’s cheese – has a mild flavour and can be baked or added to salads.
  • Goats cheese – has a strong flavour and is often eaten in salads and tarts.
  • Cream cheese – can be used in desserts (like cheesecakes) or on toast.
  • Haloumi – is a firm white cheese that can be served sliced and grilled on the BBQ.
  • Brie/Camembert – often eaten with crackers, they are white on the outside but really a soft gooey yellow on the inside.
  • Mozzarella – some mozzarellas are soft white balls of cheese (often sold in a tub with brine to keep them fresh), others are firmer and yellower and are used grated on pizza.

There is a split between the white cheeses in terms of cooking styles – some of them are added to baking, while others are crumbled over salads and other dishes. When used in baking white cheeses are added to tarts, quiches and cheesecakes (among other things). Most white cheeses have a mild flavour so that’s why they’re often added with eggs and baked in the oven like in a tart, or they can be added to salads and other desserts.

If you want to try some recipes for soft white cheeses, try these:

Zucchini and feta quiche


Hard Yellow Cheeses

By hard yellow cheeses I mean all the cheeses that are aged for longer and are not soft and white like those cheese listed in the above section, so they can be sliced whereas white cheeses can’t be sliced. These cheeses can be milder when aged for shorter periods or stronger in flavour when aged for a long time. Your typical block of family cheese is usually a block of tasty or cheddar cheese that has a milder flavour.
Some typical hard yellow cheeses are:
  • Tasty/Cheddar – your usual family block of cheese, used for everything.
  • Vintage – a really strong cheese that works well with cheese platters.
  • Colby – a mild cheese great for melting and just for snacking.
  • Gorgonzola – is one of the blue cheese varieties so has a strong flavour and smell.
  • Parmesan – is a hard cheese with a strong flavour, often used over pasta.
  • Gruyere – great for melting into meals like lasagnas, frittatas and toasted sandwiches.
  • Swiss cheese – can be used in sandwiches and cheese platters.
  • Hvarti – melts well into toasted sandwiches.
  • Edam – a Dutch cheese, great sliced and eaten on toast
  • Emmental – is a milder cheese that works in quiches and tarts as well as sandwiches.
  • Pecorino – used similarly to parmesan.
Because these types of cheeses are harder they can be eaten by themselves (such as a chunk you might nibble on) or can be eaten with crackers, dried fruit and fruit pastes as in a cheese platter. Often too these cheeses are used in toasted sandwiches and over pizza as they will melt when heated, leaving that gooey texture that we love so much. Some hard yellow cheeses are used in cooking too.
If you want to try some recipes for hard yellow cheeses try these:
Parmesan crumbed fish

Question: How do you enjoy your favourite cheese?


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