Friday, May 16, 2014

Herb-Marinated Cheeses

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

It's starting to heat up again around these parts, and by that I mean it was already 95 degrees by 9:30 am yesterday morning and I wanted to throw myself in a freezer. Yes, the Los Angeles summer is already beginning to pour its treacherous sun rays over the roof of my little abode, turning it into a large and impractical oven. To keep myself from using my actual oven thus making the internal temperature of my bungalow even more terribly unpleasant, I decided to try a little no-heat-required experiment I've been wanting to attempt for a long time now, and that meant marinating some cheese.

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

Traditionally, to marinate a cheese you place it in a jar, add herbs and spices, cover it with oil, and give it a bit of a gentle shake. You can let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or pop it in the refrigerator and let it marinate like that for up to 1 week. I decided to go halfway between the two and left mine in the fridge for 3 days, which ended up being the perfect amount of time to infuse a strong but not overpowering amount of the herbal flavor into the cheeses.

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

When you break it down, there's three essentially flavor components to this recipe: 1. Cheese 2. Oil and 3. Spices-Herbs. For the cheese, I decided to do 1 log of goat cheese, 1 brick of feta, and 1 chunk of manchego. For the oil, I paired the goat cheese and feta with olive oil since they go so well with its fruity and slightly acidic flavor profile. But for the manchego, I used Mountain Rose Herbs' macadamia oil, since manchego is a firmer, more supple cheese with a much milder flavor and the macadamia oil has a buttery and almost sweet flavor to it. That way, the macadamia oil wouldn't be overpowered by the manchego the way it would with a strong cheese like feta, and the manchego wouldn't be overpowered by the macadamia oil the way it would with olive oil.

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

For the herbs & spices, I used Mountain Rose Herbs again because they sell in bulk so everything is much more affordable, and the vast majority of their products are organic, too, so that no chemical flavors are imparted onto the marinating cheese. For the goat cheese, I used their thyme, rubbed sage, celery salt, and peppercorns to give a lightly spiced but fresh and herbal flavor to the cheese. For the feta, I used their shiitake mushroom powder, dill, and their kiawe smoked sea salt, which gave the feta a realllly delicious smokey, earthy, warm flavor. Something about the almost meaty taste of mushrooms paired with feta cheese and a smokey salt creates a pretty magical flavor combination, one that I plan on recreating with some feta & mushroom filo pockets on another summer day.

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

For the manchego, I kept it simple and just used dried bay leaves as the herb since again, manchego is pretty mild, and I didn't want to mask the flavor of it too much. That and the fact that the slightly sweet bay leaves paired wonderfully with the subtle sweet butteriness of the macadamia oil. Although truth be told, I'd be hard-pressed to find something that didn't taste good with the macadamia oil, since it's pretty much macadamia nuts in liquid form. I am sensing a delicious salad dressing in my near future...

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

Also, just a reminder that registration for my Summer 2014 Online Food Styling & Photography Course will be open until May 31st. I'd love to have you join me as we go through DSLR photography, food styling, and post-processing in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at the address in the right sidebar. In the meantime, you should definitely get started on making these little cheeses! They require very minimal hands-on time to make and the presentation and flavor is amazing...Sneakily elegant appetizers are kind of the best.

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

Note: When refrigerated, olive oil will turn into a thick gel-like state, so if you are refrigerating it allow yourself a few hours for the refrigerated cheese marinade to become liquid again at room temperature before serving.

Thyme, Sage, & Peppercorn Goat Cheese


10.5 oz log of goat cheese, cut into 1" thick slices
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon rainbow peppercorns
olive oil (enough to cover)

Smoked Mushroom & Dill Feta


1/2 lb feta, cut into 2" x 1" x 1" rectangles
1/2 teaspoon shiitake mushroom powder
1/4 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
olive oil (enough to cover)

Bay & Macadamia Nut Manchego


1/3 lb manchego cheese, cut into wedges roughly 3" across at the widest part
8 bay leaves
macadamia nut oil (enough to cover)


Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

To prepare the marinated cheese, place the cheese slices or wedges in a roughly 16-ounce mason jar, arranging them so that there is room for the oil and herbs to flow around them. Add the herbs and spices to the jar, then pour in the oil until the cheese is just covered completely. Screw on the cap of the jar and shake it gently from side to side a couple times to help spread the herbs, spices, and oil around the cheese slices. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour for a mild infusion, or allow to sit in the refrigerator for up to 1 week for a strong infusion. Remove from oil and serve alongside bread or crackers, the leftover oil can also be served alongside the bread with some balsamic vinegar.




Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

Herb Marinated Cheeses | Adventures in Cooking

27 comments:

  1. i happen to have two random bricks of feta in my fridge and i was just wondering what to do with them.... this is *perfect*

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    1. Oooooh have fun!! These are reallllly delicious :)

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  2. I am a cheese junkie and I will definitely be doing this in the near future.

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  3. Hi Eva, this is just so lovely... And these cheeses sound amazing. I actually just made some ricotta cheese and would love to infuse it with herbs this way! If you haven't made your own ricotta before, it's crazy easy -- just posted a recipe on my blog. I'm also very intrigued by your photography course -- I'm in dire need of one. I will definitely check it out.

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    1. Thank you so much! I've made ricotta once before and it was really tasty, I should definitely get around to making it again. Plus I've heard that if you keep the whey that's left from the ricotta-making process and use it instead of water to make bread it bakes up wonderfully!

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  4. How beautiful and delicious! It's been crazy hot here too. I hate it because it zaps me of energy. Portland is betraying me!

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    1. Boooooo!!! Make the heat stop!!! I really prefer very cold weather over very hot. You can always put on layers, but there's only so little clothing you can wear outside your home...

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  5. I want them allllllll!!! More cheese please!

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  6. This looks so delicious! I'm looking forward to make something with my favorite goat cheese now

    http://foreverornot.blogspot.com

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    1. I hope you enjoy it! There's a lot of room to explore with different herbs and oils here, too :)

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  7. I can't get over you photos-they are so gorgeous! And I did not know there was a way to make cheese more delicious, but I guess there is! My mouth is watering from the photos.
    I would love to come to your workshop, unfortunately, am not able to take the time off of work. plus, I live in Canada, so the commute would be long. Perhaps you should write a book on food photography!

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    1. Thank you so very much, Kristie!! It's going to be an online-only course so you can participate wherever you are located :)

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  8. I'm so interested in the marinated manchego! How did it taste? Did marinating it in oil affect it's texture? I love that you kept the marinade simple to keep the flavor of the cheese intact. I've not tried manchego (I'll be real, it's a bank-breaker!), but one of these days I'll make the splurge!

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    1. It was delicious!!! The oil made it a little softer, and more liquify/slippery since it was covered in oil, but the flavor of the two went reallllly well together. Highly recommend it!!!!

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  9. These photos are just gorgeous! I could pretty much live off cheese. Thanks for the beautiful recipes - they all sound incredible.

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    1. Awww thank you Alanna!!! Cheese is my absolute favorite snack, which is a blessing and a curse haha. There are just so many varieties with so many different flavors....I love trying them all :)

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  10. Hi Eva,

    Are there any drawbacks for leaving the cheese in the oil longer than a week? I'm thinking these would be great holiday gifts, but most people probably wouldn't eat them immediately.

    Also, I signed up for your class. SO EXCITED!

    Lillian-Marie

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    1. Ahhhhh so excited to work with you this summer, Lillian!!! We are going to have so much fun!!

      You know, I bet they would fe fine for a few weeks in the oil in the refrigerator as long as it was air-tight. Especially with the olive oil, since it solidifies a bit when refrigerated. The flavor will definitely intensify the longer its allowed to sit though, so if you expect it to be sitting for a bit in the fridge then I might go lighter with the amount of dried herbs and spices you put in it :)

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  11. Fantastic recipes. I promise that I will make with the milk of my sheep. the photos.... gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you so very much Ana!! That is so wonderful that you have access to fresh sheep's milk, I love sheep and goat cheeses but finding raw sheep's milk is very tricky in the US. I'm hoping that when I move to a more rural area next month I'll be able to find some to try my hand at cheese-making, its something I've wanted to do for a long time now.

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  12. I have been wanting to make my own herb marinated cheese for quite a while now and this post came just at the right time!

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  13. I like your post very much i had nice time while reading your post

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  14. Me encanta conservar y dar sabor al queso en un buen aceite de oliva...
    Preciosas fotos.

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