Cave to Co-op

Special Artisan Cheese for December, 2015


Each month, your Neighboring Food Co-ops feature our region's artisan cheesemakers by offering a specially selected cheese at great price. Look for the "Cave to Co-op" sign in the cheese section at your local food co-op. To find one near you, visit www.nfca.coop/members.

This month's special cheese is WEST WEST BLUE from Parish Hill Creamery, Westminster West, VT.

Parish Hill Creamery produces seasonal, hand made, raw milk cheeses inspired by the traditional cheeses of Italy. Peter Dixon brings over 30 years of cheesemaking experience and he is joined by his wife Rachel Schaal and sister Alex Schall. The creamery is the culmination of Peter’s years making cheese, teaching classes, solving problems, and imagining possibilities. Peter, Rachel and Alex love making cheese. They make cheese traditionally, simply, as near to home as possible, and with the highest quality ingredients and results as can be had.

Parish Hill gets beautiful milk from Elm Lea Farm at the Putney School, just up the road from the creamery, and the milk is the result of healthy animals grazing lush pastures.  Protein and fat are balanced ideally for the cheeses produced, and the cheese changes subtly throughout the season,  reflecting the growth and maturation of various pasture plants.

Their starter cultures are made from the milk of 4 individual cows. Helga, Abigail, Clothilda, and Sonia were chosen for their health, their components, and their disposition.  As a result Parish Hill makes mother cultures that are truly an articulation of their milk and the resulting cheese is a revelation of that milk, the cows, the pastures, the water and the land.

West West Blue is a traditional, two-curd Gorgonzola, made with whole, raw milk from Elm Lea Farm.  The cheese is made in a multi-stage process, with curds held overnight mixed with warm, fresh curds the next day. The colder curds have a higher acidity, which is a very attractive space for the blue mold to grow. The edible rind surrounds a dense paste with streaks of blue mold, a creamy texture and a spicy, earthy flavor. 

West West Blue is of course, delicious on its own, with perhaps a perfectly ripe pear, some serious bread and a smackerel of honey. But here are some seasonal recipes that highlight its gorgeous flavor.

RECIPES

Sophia Loren’s Pasta
Fancy or simple, depending on your mood
Serves 6

  • generous 1/2 pound West West Blue
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 small stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • ½  onion, roughly chopped
  • sea  salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • ½  cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 hard-boiled egg yolk (optional)
  • handful of finely minced Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 ½  pounds dry pasta of your choice

Place cheese, butter, celery, onion, garlic and a pinch of pepper in a blender or the work bowl of a food processor. Process to a smooth paste; when the mixture is well blended, add the cream, milk and egg yolk; add the parsley and salt to taste. Blend until the sauce is very smooth. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente, then toss it with the sauce.


Creamed Swiss Chard w/West West Blue, Rye Bread and Walnuts
Hearty, creamy, deep and delicious
Serves 6

  • 3 bunches Swiss chard, trimmed, leaves halved lengthwise, and cut into 2" pieces
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. West West Blue, rind removed
  • 1 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 ½ oz. (about 3 slices) pumpernickel bread, torn into small pieces
  • ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts

Cook chard in salted boiling water until wilted, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer chard to a bowl of ice water until cold; drain and squeeze completely dry; set aside. Heat oven to 400°. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter; set aside. Heat 6 tbsp. butter in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high; cook garlic and onion until golden, 6–8 minutes. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream; cook until sauce is thickened, 4–6 minutes. Remove from heat; crumble half the West West Blue into pan. Stir in reserved chard, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper; pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Toss remaining butter, the pumpernickel, and walnuts in a bowl; sprinkle mixture over chard. Crumble remaining cheese over top; bake until chard mixture is bubbly and pumpernickel is crisp, about 30 minutes.


Blue Cheese Sauce
Unbelievably delicious, good on everything from toast to chicken to pasta or eggs, to baked potatoes, and let’s try it on turkey!
Makes 3 cups

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 oz. West West Blue, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Bring the heavy cream to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then continue to boil rapidly for 45 to 50 minutes, until thickened like a white sauce, stirring occasionally.

Off the heat, add the West West Blue, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk rapidly until the cheeses melt and serve warm. If you must reheat, warm the sauce over low heat until melted, then whisk vigorously until the sauce comes together.

 

Marsala Pears w/West West Blue
A spectacular dessert – easy yet delicious
Serves 4-6

  • 2 pears each cut into eighths (unpeeled and uncored)
  • 2 T olive oil (regular, not extra-virgin)
  • 3 T Marsala dessert wine or sweet Sherry
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup walnut or pecan halves, toasted
  • 1 pound West West Blue at room temperature, divided into 6 pieces

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet over medium high heat. Fry the pears for 3 minutes a side, and while they are frying whisk the Marsala and honey together in a cup. When the pears are beginning to caramelize, add the Marsala-honey mixture and let it bubble up around the pears, and then transfer them a plate.
Add the walnuts or pecans to the dark juices left in the pan and stir-fry them for about a minute until they are themselves darkened in part and sticky all over. Pour this on the pears and top with the slices of West West Blue.
 


Cave to Co-op is a partnership between Provisions International and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support local, artisanal cheese producers in our region and make their products more easily available to co-op shoppers.  The NFCA is a network of more than 30 food co-ops in New England, locally owned by more than 90,000 people like you.  For more information, please visit www.nfca.coop.