Say cheese and you may think of wedges on a plate to be served before (or after) a meal, but in truth cheese belongs at every meal. Consider breakfast. In Norway, I was introduced to the idea of “in and out foods.” A concept to greet a busy family’s day without the bowls, pans, and excessive cleanup of say, pancakes & bacon, but with cheese as an easy way to get the family going.
Literally, a cheese plate was kept in the refrigerator ready to meet the breakfast rush. The grab-and-go solution offered multiple easy solutions for a hearty breakfast. Options like melted cheese on toast, pate, and sliced vegetables, or pepper salami with cream cheese. All of the parts of the meal were on a plate ready to be assembled. The preparation was easy and the cleanup was fast. Just cover and return to the fridge.
Admittedly, it took some getting used to, having cheese and charcuterie for breakfast. But there was no turning back once I realized how much easier the morning could be.
A cheese-centric lunch, beyond grilled cheese, is another matter. Sure, cheese can easily top a burger, be it tofu, turkey, beef, or lamb, but it has a better role in the center of the plate. Consider Burrata. This almost evil creation combines two to three cheese types into one. For the uninitiated, think of Burrata as the poached egg of cheese. On the outside, tje firm skin of mozzarella, and on the inside, cool gooey goodness. Prick that stretched mozzarella skin and, oh my: Inside is a combination of cheese curds, ricotta, and cream. Like the yolk of an egg, it will seep out, literally begging to be sopped up with a toasted baguette.
Used in the center of the plate, this brilliant white orb of cheese can be festooned with lettuce, bombarded with strawberries, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I have enjoyed introducing this delight to people. Conversations have been known to stop so that first-timers can fully comprehend the taste and textural experience. Cheese for lunch – oh yes, indeed.
For working folks, dinner often comes late and with the need for physical (and emotional) satisfaction at its greatest.
Can a cheese rise to the occasion? Surely garlic and cheddar mashed potatoes can complement a meal. So, too, can scalloped potatoes with goat cheese, herbs, and roasted red pepper. But can cheese steal the dinner table?
In a word, yes. Consider having breakfast for dinner by adding Cotswold, a double Gloucester cheese with garlic chives to scrambled eggs and toast. Cotswold cheese was “designed” as a pub cheese – one that’s almost spreadable at room temperature. When heated, it quickly melts and becomes at once rich, herbaceous, and delightful. Added to eggs, this simple treat has been dubbed, “Omelet express,” by one of our cheese-mongers and makes a quick and satisfying meal. The classic Indian dish Paneer Saag or the creamy goodness of Lobster Mac & Cheese are other dinner options with cheese at the heart of the meal.
No matter how you slice it, changing how you look at cheese can expand your enjoyment beyond a traditional cheese plate. That’s something to smile about and say yes to cheese at every meal.