Updated: Feb 15, 2021
I know you’ve experienced it: the crushing feeling of disappointment during your most recent trip to the grocery store. It undoubtedly came when you approached the cheese department looking for a nice chunk of feta, only to find the shelf barren. For those without social media, let me explain why this tragedy is occurring: videos have been surfacing all over the damn place of an appealingly easy recipe involving a block of feta, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, basil, some chopped garlic and other spices being baked until soft and then mixed with pasta. The dish has gained so much popularity that even The Washington Post has an article reflecting on the trend. While it still has a bit further to go before my parents are reading about it (which will happen as soon as it makes it to The New York Times), it’s still pretty impressive.
I too felt this devastating blow at the sight of a bare feta shelf. Knowing that I couldn’t immediately participate in this trend myself and having a hard time containing those emotions, I posted on Instagram about the famed dish and ended up talking to a number of people who have tried it. I found out that not only was this recipe certifiably delicious and easy peasy, but that it’s old news to many fellow cheese professionals who have been cooking up something similar on busy weeknights for ages.
It got me thinking, first about how cool cheese people are and how we are always ahead of the curve in terms of cheese trends. Second, I started thinking about what other cheesy dishes and treats are dear to my dairy-drenched heart which I’d love to see go viral next, enriching everyone’s lives with cheesy goodness like this feta-y tomato pasta.
Here’s a few ideas:
Photo Credit: Stranded in Cleveland Blog
Baked Brie Art
Who doesn’t love a baked brie? Covering it in dough and drenching it in jam or honey is a festive way to dress up even the most basic wheel of cheap brie. This past Christmas after carefully encircling a wheel of honey-covered grocery store-bought brie in puff pastry, I couldn’t bring myself to throw out all the extra bits of dough I had left. With some time to spare before my oven was up to temp, I cut the remaining dough into hearts and letters and used the rest of my egg wash to affix them to the top of my brie, spelling out the pet name I call my girlfriend by. Surprisingly, even after baking it looked really good! The smooches I got when I served it to my boo were well worth the extra time it took to create the design, and made me wonder why this isn’t more of “a thing”.
I highly recommend you save those little dough scraps the next time you bake a brie and use them to get goofy and creative. Better yet: film or photograph whatever you create and share it with the world! This cheesy trick was so fun and simple that I know the internet would eat it up.
Photo Credit: Local Crate
Weird name, I know. But Americans find Bread Cheese a little easier to pronounce than the original word for this Finnish cheese, Juustoleipä. This stuff is absolutely magical and my heart breaks a little bit every time someone tells me they haven’t heard of it. The basic idea is that Bread Cheese doesn’t melt. You can fry it, grill it or heat it however you want and it will still maintain most of its shape but get a little more melty and crispy on the edges. It’s sort of like Halloumi but the flavor is a bit more creamy and rich.
It works kind of like grilled cheese or mozzarella sticks without the bread/ing, making it excellent for anyone trying to avoid carbs or gluten. My favorite versions of this cheese are made by Carr Valley and Brunkow Cheese, both in Wisconsin. I like to cube it up and throw it in a hot pan until it’s crispy on the outside, then dunk the ooey gooey little morsels into tomato soup. Try it out and you’ll be just as baffled as I am to see so few people talking about this easy cheesy treat.
Fish & Cheese Pairings
#FishandCheeseFriday, anyone? While this combo may sound insane to many people, most cheese pros would agree that it’s much more sacri-delicious than sacrilegious. The key, of course, is to pair carefully. Fish’s salty notes can actually play really well with the right cheeses, especially when they have some more age on them and a drier texture.
Sardinien cheeses often make tasty pairings for tinned fish like sardines, anchovies or even fresh oysters. The seaside vibes of this Italian island tend to show up in the cheeses made there as briney, lemony notes, which pair naturally with fish. Pantaleo is an example of a goat’s milk cheese from this region with a peppery bite that goes great with seafood. Try it grated on a shrimp pasta, or grilled snapper. Then make a Tiktok video about it and send it my way.
How embarrassing is it that I have worked in cheese for almost 7 years, and only tried making it at home within the last few months? When the shame finally overcame me I wanted to try something simple, so I began with ricotta. Within minutes of starting the recipe I had fresh, fluffy warm ricotta just begging to be smeared on a piece of toast with some honey. The process was shockingly easy and tasted way better than most store-bought versions. I only needed a few ingredients: lemon, salt and hella milk. The cheese cloth was the hardest thing to figure out, but I was able to snag some online.
Wouldn’t you love to see a social media trend of everyone flexing their homemade ricotta skills? Let’s make it happen.