Welcome to our series: One ingredient, three ways
Each month we'll be taking a bestseller from our shop and sharing tips on how to get the best flavour, and most versatility. This month it's our Westcombe cheddar cheese.
About cheddar cheese
Cheddar cheese, originating from the English village of Cheddar in the 12th century, is known for its firm texture and distinctive taste. Aged to develop a rich and tangy flavour profile, cheddar can range in taste from mild to sharp, with variations in colour depending on the specific process. It has widespread appeal because of its suitability for cooking, baking, and snacking.
At the Farm Shop, we have Westcombe cheddar, which comes in three variations; classic cheddar, which has subtle notes of notes of hazelnut, caramel and citrus; a smoked cheddar, smoked over beech wood for 48 hours; and red cheddar, with more of a mellow flavour and semi-hard texture.
How to store cheese
If your cheese comes wrapped in wax paper, continue using this and re-wrap any leftover cheese after use. Otherwise, you can wrap up your cheddar in parchment paper and gently tape it closed. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly and avoid using cling film, as this can be too humid and suffocate the cheese.
The vegetable compartment of your fridge is a good place to keep your cheddar cheese. It's a bit darker, and the cool airiness of the compartment makes for the perfect storing environment.
Don't buy too much at once. While cheddar can typically be stored for three to four weeks, the flavours are better when it's fresh. Aim to use your cheddar around a week after purchasing. You can always buy more!
Recipe 1: The perfect cheese sauce
Cheese sauce is a great way to really highlight the richness of a classic cheddar, and the velvety goodness makes for a great comfort meal. It's a versatile base for so many dishes, such as macaroni cheese or in a lasagne.
- To start the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and whisk continuously for about 1-2 minutes to create a thick paste-like texture.
- Gradually add the milk while whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and comes to a gentle simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the grated cheese, stirring until it's fully melted and the sauce is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- For a special touch, add a pinch of nutmeg or a little bit of Dijon mustard with the cheese for extra flavour.
To use the sauce for a creamy macaroni cheese, add in cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer to an oven-safe dish, grate some extra cheddar on top and put under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese starts to brown.
Recipe 2: Cheddar cheese and ham pinwheels
Cheese pinwheels are quick and easy to whip up, and no doubt a crowd pleaser. Swap out the ham for chopped chorizo, a few dollops of pesto, or even a smear of marmite for something different!
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
Cheddar cheese, grated (around 100g)
Ham, roughly chopped
1 egg, beaten
- Lay the thawed pastry on a clean bench. Evenly spread the cheese all over, then sprinkle over the ham on top.
- Starting at one of the longer edges, carefully roll the pastry sheet into a tight log. Use a little bit of the egg to help seal the edge.
- Place the log in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Wrap it in cling film to help keep it's shape. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 190˚C fanbake.
- Remove the log from the fridge and carefully slice into 2cm thick slices. Place on a lined baking tray and brush with the rest of the beaten egg.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes and enjoy!
Recipe 3: A classic cheese toastie
Creating the perfect cheese toastie is an art that balances gooey melted cheese and crispy bread, plus your favourite condiment for extra flavour and texture. Here are some tips to help you achieve that delightful balance:
- Pick a sturdy bread that can hold up to the melting cheese and won't become soggy. Sourdough, ciabatta, or a rustic country loaf are great choices. Slicing the bread to a medium thickness ensures a nice crunch without taking away from the gooey filling.
- The star of the show is, of course, the cheese. Cheddar melts well, making it the perfect choice for a toasted sandwich. Go for a classic cheddar, or opt for a smoked cheddar for unique, rich flavour. For some extra cheesy goodness, add a little bit of mozzarella with your cheddar of choice.
- Grating the cheese is the best way to allow it to melt without over-doing the crispiness of the bread. It also lets the cheese blend in with any other ingredients you might add.
- While a simple cheese toastie is a classic favourite, don't be afriad to get creative with your fillings. Add caramelized onions, pesto, or your favourite relish for added flavour and variety. We love a few dill pickled cucumbers or a spoonful of piccalilli inside.
- Butter the outside of the bread and pop it in a sandwich press for a few minutes until the bread is golden and the cheese is oozing. Let it cool for a few minutes before tucking in!