Get Me Some Crackers: The Cheese Roundup

Another month done, can you believe it?

The April Resolution was to make fresh cheese, and it sure was delicious.  I still can’t believe how simple it was to throw together a batch of ricotta, and now that I’ve done that I’m definitely hoping to start tackling some slightly more complicated cheeses.  I suppose that holds true for all of the challenges we’ve been doing– during February, I managed to make a successful loaf of bread, but I’m still working on it and just got the Tartine Bread cookbook in the mail.  My kitchen is cluttered with big bags of beautiful local durum wheat, barley and whole wheat flour that I’ve been experimenting with for a fresh pasta blend.  I’m still trying to find that local source of milk for butter, and it still hasn’t happened, but I’ll keep up my search.

I hope you guys are all learning as much as I am, and having fun eating the projects too….

anyway, without further adieu, I give you: cheese!

Farmers Cheese Four Ways, from Homemade Trade: Aimee, that chive cheese sounds right up my alley…  and your second batch does look an awful lot like paneer. Do you think you could fry it up in cubes, or was it too creamy still?

Fresh Cheese from Grow and Resist: in which Meg faces her fear of cooking milk and successfully pulls off a batch of fresh cheese.  (also: I can’t wait to hear about those rhubarb cocktails… )

Homemade Ricotta and a Super Secret Family Recipe for New York Cheesecake: This cheesecake looks absolutely divine. Seriously.  Let’s all meet at Julianne’s house for dessert, I’ll go fuel up the jet and come get you guys.

(Have you started fermenting things yet for this month’s challenge? The topic is so broad, I’m curious to see what everyone comes up with.  Remember, posts are due by June 15th, and anyone that’s new to the party is free to join at anytime.  Just e-mail me a link to the url of your post by the due date.  My e-mail is

Polenta with Mascarpone and Roasted Winter Vegetables

While I on the east coast, I was able to spend the night in New Jersey and see a whole slew of relatives that I hadn’t visited in years.  We had a fantastic evening, with lots of laughter, wine, and tons good food.  The theme was some kind of vague California-Italian, but not really on purpose.


  • Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe and Lemon
  • Auntie’s Stuffed Manicotti
  • Creamy Polenta with Mascarpone
  • Roasted Mushrooms With Red Wine
  • Roasted Winter Vegetables
  • Baby Lettuces with Mustard Vinaigrette and Fennel
  • Chevre Cheesecake with Pear Sauce

I’ve adapted two of the recipes for a much smaller group, since they are delicious, easy, and shouldn’t just be for big dinner parties.

I often hear mixed opinions about polenta, with complaints about mushiness and texture. To those people, I say: Stop whining! Go get a spoon!

If you look at other polenta recipes, you will notice that there is an absurd amount of cheese in this one. A better name for this recipe might be “Giant Bowl O’Cheese.” Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.  You really have to try this though!


makes about 4 servings

cook time: 30 minutes

  • 1 cups cornmeal
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 3 tbs. mascarpone
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese plus 1/4 c. shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. dried onions (usually from McCormick)
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper
  1. Bring 1 c. of chicken stock to a boil in a large pot. Turn the heat to low, and gradually whisk in the cornmeal (Don’t just pour it all in at once!).
  2. When the mixture comes to a simmer, add in the other 2 cups of chicken broth.  Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried onions. Whisk the mixture  for 10-15 more minutes (this makes sure it cooks evenly, doesn’t get clumpy, and doesn’t stick to the bottom). The polenta should be fairly thick now, but if you like it thicker feel free to cook it another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Turn the flame to very very low (so you don’t burn the cheese), and stir in the mascarpone, parmesan, and cheddar cheese. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and top with shaved parmesan and cracked black pepper while it is still steaming hot.
winter greens from the garden.... into the oven with you!

This recipe is great because it’s so flexible. You can really pick whatever vegetables you like (my favorite combination is beets, sweet potatoes, and turnips).  This time I used buttercup squash from the pantry, rainbow carrots and winter greens from the garden, half a butternut squash I had sitting in the fridge, along with red onion, shallots, and garlic.


serves: as many as you want

cook time: 1.5 hrs.

  • an assortment of winter vegetables, whatever you like(carrots, beets, butternut squash, turnips, parsnips, cauliflower, beet greens, kale, etc.)
  • olive oil to coat liberally
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • chopped flat leaf parsley (probably about 1/4 c.) or other herbs you like (thyme,  rosemary, minced garlic or shallots, etc.)
  • shaved parmesan cheese for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash veggies thoroughly, and chop all of your vegetables into 1/2” cubes (roughly chop any greens into 1/2″ strips). I never peel beets, carrots or sweet potatoes, I like the texture of their skin when it roasts in olive oil.  Set aside greens to add in later.
  2. In a large bowl, toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped fresh herbs (about 2 tbs. of herbs from a large mixing bowl of veggies will do fine).  Spread veggies over a cookie sheet and roast for 45 minutes. If you want to add any greens, take out the cookie sheet and mix them with all the veggies now. Cover with tin foil, and roast for another 20 minutes or so, or until veggies are cooked and nicely golden brown around the edges.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serve these roasted vegetables over polenta or rice, tossed with pasta, in a green salad, or however else you can think of!