Virtual CheeseSkool for Air Cook for You

We had an absolutely fantastic time hosting the first virtual CheeseSkool for Air Cook for You last Friday night. It was wonderful to see so many of you there and, rather unbelievably, we’ve been invited back to repeat the whole thing again on Wednesday 24th February at 19h30 GMT.

CheeseSkool was originally created to support my own personal cheese habit. That, and to justify the purchase of a dedicated cheese fridge in an otherwise average home kitchen. It started out as a live, face to face event (remember those?), involving several hours of tasting cheese, paring drinks and watching the sun go down behind the cow speckled Auvergne mountains. Now evolving by necessity into online virtual events, we’re endeavouring to share the love of cheese to an even wider audience. CheeseSkool has lead us to meet so many amazingly interesting and diverse people, all brought together by the common enjoyment of an ancient solidified milk product.

Cheese is, as far as ingredients go, dead simple. Like bread, beer, and wine, you can count the ingredients on one hand and yet the variations in looks, texture, smell and taste are infinite. Again, like bread, beer and wine, it’s been about for thousands of years and eaten by our ancestors in almost all parts of the world. Cramming all the possibilities, regional variations, and recipes into an hour of zoom time is tricky, but where there’s a cheese, there is a whey.

We had to settle on just 5 out of the 7 cheese types categorised by their common texture and rind. To be fair, this isn’t the only cheese grading system in the world – wars have broken out over less than a wrongly categorised cheese – but it’s a good a place as any to start.

Our chosen cheeses are –

  1. Soft white cow’s milk cheese with a white penicillium rind, almost furry to the touch – think Brie, Camembert, Tunworth.
  2. A semi-soft cheese – Saint Nectaire,
  3. Hard cow’s milk cheese – Farmhouse cheddar (Such as Isle of Mull, Montgomery’s) Cantal, Salers, Parmigiano-Reggiano
  4. Washed-rind cheese – Epoisses, Fournols, Stinking Bishop, Milleens
  5. Blue – Stilton, Stichelton, Fourme d’Amert Gorgonzola

Those of you that joined us on Friday now know some of the mysteries, myths and mixing partners to these cheese types, plus the differences between raw and treated milk, the importance of terroir and how to cut like a cheese ninja. Those of you who missed out on the event, don’t worry, we won’t spoil the surprise for when you can catch up with us on Wednesday 24th February at 19h30 GMT.

In the meantime, I had promised to share ideas in the unlikely event of any leftover cheese but we just ran out of time.  So I’ll leave you with this tantalizing treat to tide you over until our next cheese adventure.  

Cheats 3 Cheese Flammekueche

This is a really quick supper dish loosely based on the baked tart from the Alsace. While you can use puff pastry or even shortcrust, large tortilla wraps are a super speedy shortcut and taste just as good. If you cook the bacon and the onions in advance, each flammekueche will take less than 5 minutes from pan to plate!

4 bacon rashers (you can also use ham), fried until just coloured and then chopped into bit sized pieces.

1 onion, cut in half, then thinly sliced. Fry in a little oil until soft and just coloured.

Grated leftover pieces of cheese – a mix of blue, hard cheese and soft goat’s cheese is really good but experiment with what you have. You can use just one cheese or five, just remember to change the recipe title accordingly.

A large tortilla per person (you can find these in the Mexican meal section of a market or possibly as wraps in the bakery section)

2 Tablespoons of Creme Fraiche per tortilla (add more depending on size of tortilla)

Set your grill to its highest setting. Place the tortilla on a pizza or baking tray. Spread the tortilla with the creme fraiche as you would a pizza base with tomato sauce. Sprinkle over some of the onions and bacon and finally your cheese. Pop under the grill and watch like a hawk until the cheese has melted and the bacon is sizzling. Eat and repeat.

Take care and hope to see you on Wednesday 24th February 19h30 GMT live from the French mountains on www.aircookforyou.com.

By Chef Sam Wydymus of CheeseSkool

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