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Travel Photo of the Day: Stilton Cheese

Travel Photo of the Day: Stilton Cheese


This cheese is a matter of national pride in England

More than 1 million Stilton cheese wheels are made annually.

If forced to choose a classic English cheese, there’s a good chance that many folks would pick Stilton: a blue cheese only (officially) made in the counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire in England.

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According to European Union law, in addition to being produced within these three counties, must be "made from locally produced milk that has been pasteurized before use, be made in a cylindrical shape, be allowed to age and form its own coat or crust, must never be pressed, and must have blue veins radiating from the center of the cheese."

In other words, Stilton isn’t considered to be just any other blue cheese. It’s an English culinary icon.

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Where to buy the best Stilton this Christmas

The king of every Christmas cheeseboard, Stilton pairs well with a fruity chutney, oat crackers and, for the more daring, even a mince pie!

From cheese mongers, such as Paxton and Whitfield, to supermarkets, we tried a wide range of festive cheeses, looking for the very best Stilton to serve up to our guests this Christmas.

And, out of 14 tested, our best Stilton may just surprise you.

This huge wheel of cheese goes down well on Christmas Day but, with so much of it, leftovers are inevitable. Make sure you get your money's worth by storing your Stilton correctly so that by the time the sell-by date rolls around it's still as fresh as the day you bought it. To achieve this, ensure that the Stilton is wrapped loosely in waxed paper and covered with cling film before refrigerating. Remember, Stilton can be frozen but may lose some of its strong flavour when thawed, becoming more ideal for sauces. If freezing, cut into small pieces and place in a freezer bag.

All prices are subject to change.

Overall Score: 86/100

Our best Stilton is an excellent choice for your festive cheeseboard. This rich, mature blue is incredibly smooth and creamy, so that it melts in your mouth. Gentle but complex in aroma, we loved the complimentary creaminess with tart and yeasty notes. It has a balanced, zingy taste and musty earthiness, while our panel enjoyed the salty, bitter hit, as well as its milk quality.

This Stilton cheese came first in our best Stilton taste test.

Lidl, £2.99 for 220g

Overall Score: 84/100

A mouth-watering aroma with gentle-yet-deep savoury notes. Creamy with a rich umami scent and a woody rind, which was just as impressive in taste. Tangy and bitter in flavour, most of our testers enjoyed its punchiness. The smooth cheese has a standout creaminess, but was a little too salty for some.

This cheese came joint second in our best Stilton taste test.

M&S, £8.00 for 500g

Overall Score: 84/100

Plenty of appetising blue veining runs through this soft and creamy cheese. We loved the rustic, crinkled look to the ash-brown rind as well as its yeasty taste. A sophisticated aroma, notes of tangy blue jump out and are pleasing against its mellow creaminess. The rind has a hay-like taste that pairs well with the complex blue zing and rich milkiness. However, the bold flavour of this cheese and pronounced salt might be a bit too strong for some.

This cheese came joint second in our best Stilton taste test.

BUY NOW The Fine Cheese Co, £6.25 for 250g

Overall Score: 83/100

This Stilton has a fantastic depth of flavour. It's a creamy cheese with a well-rounded aroma, and has farmy notes of hay and grass that come through followed by a wonderful, fruity and sweet aftertaste. Fresh with an enjoyable tanginess from its mottled blue veining, the rind has a straw taste that is delicious. Though slightly gritty from the veining, its overall smooth texture went down well with our panel. However, its taste was overwhelming for some.

This cheese came fourth in our best Stilton taste test.

BUY NOW Riverford, £3.95 for 200g

Overall Score: 82/100

Plenty of blue is evenly specked throughout this crumbly cheese. Appetisingly rich yet gentle in aroma, its slight umami notes compliment its subtle, sweet creaminess and light tang. Unbalanced saltiness aside, we enjoyed its creamy taste and texture, as well as its mellow tang.

This cheese came fifth in our best Stilton taste test.

Overall Score: 79/100

Our panel was enticed by the pungent and complex aroma of this cheese. Oaky, farmy notes give it a beautiful umami aroma that is made richer by its creaminess. It has a woody taste, a delicious tang and a lovely milkiness for balance, however this couldn&rsquot cut through the salt, which some found too strong. The cheese melts in the mouth initially but leaves a subtle graininess towards the end.

This cheese came sixth in our best Stilton taste test.

BUY NOW Waitrose & Partners, £15 for 1.1kg

Overall Score: 77/100

Smooth and irresistibly creamy, though quite mellow in aroma, this cheese has subtle earthy notes and a tempting sea salt hit. Wonderfully deep tasting, testers praised the sharpness of the blue veins, which are spotted throughout, and the subtle fruity undertones that are backed-up by its creaminess. Deliciously salty but its overly tangy taste didn&rsquot appeal to all.

This cheese came seventh in our best Stilton taste test.

Co-op, £3 for 200g

Overall Score: 76/100

Despite its firm and dense-looking appearance, this cheese yields into a crumbly, smooth offering that is pleasant with a very simple and mellow tangy aroma. It is delicious with an enjoyable creaminess, but was likened more to a mature cheddar. Testers did pick out some zingy, bitter notes but found them on the tamer side. Pleasant for those looking for a gentler Stilton, but will disappoint those who prefer a more robust taste.

This cheese came eighth in our best Stilton taste test.

Overall Score: 72/100

A mellow, yellow cheese with a white, ashy rind and plenty of delicious-looking blue veining. Its crumby, smooth and creamy texture was a win with our panel. Despite its mild, cheddar-like aroma, the cheese has a strong Stilton flavour. Its balanced tanginess marries wonderfully with the salty, yeasty flavour and the subtle, sweet undertones add depth. Sadly, it finishes on a strong bitter note.

This cheese came joint ninth in our best Stilton taste test.

Tesco, £2.50 for 400g

Overall Score: 72/100

A mild yellow Stilton with a lovely brown rind and green-y-blue veining. Its buttery, creamy texture went down well with our panel. Though it has a lovely salty aroma, it lacks the distinct tangy, earthy Stilton traits. Quite a subtle cheese, we loved the slightly bitter tang and the creaminess of flavour, which is bolstered by a balanced saltiness, but the cheese doesn&rsquot quite have the mature taste we craved.

This cheese came joint ninth in our best Stilton taste test.

Aldi, £2.99 for 454g

ASDA Extra Special Blue Stilton 71/100, £2 for 220g

Paxton & Whitfield Stilton 70/100, £27 per kg

Cropwell Bishop Creamery Mature Blue Stilton 67/100, Ocado, 4.95 for 300g


Crush the oatcakes with a rolling pin or in a food processor. Melt the butter, stir it into the oatcakes then press into the base of the tin. Add slices or teaspoons of membrillo over the base. Keep in the fridge while you make the filling.

Heat the oven to 150C fan, gas 3. Whisk together the cream cheese, ricotta and egg yolks, stir through the Stilton then spoon onto the oatcake base. Bake for around1 hour or until just set. It will still be slightly wobbly but it sets as it cools.

Run a knife around the edge (to prevent cracking) then let it cool before leaving in the fridge overnight. Serve at room temperature with the pecans toasted in a little olive oil.


  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled Stilton cheese
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 8 peeled Bartlett pears (about 3 3/4 pounds)
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 1 tablespoon port

Combine sugar and butter in a small bowl, and stir until well blended. Add cheese, cranberries, and pecans stir well.

Cut 1 inch off stem end of each pear reserve top. Remove core from stem end, and scoop out about 2 tablespoons pulp from each pear half to form a cup, using a melon baller or spoon. If necessary, cut about 1/4 inch from base of pears so they will sit flat. Place the pears in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Fill each pear with about 2 tablespoons sugar mixture, and replace top on each.

Combine juice and port in a small bowl pour into baking dish. Bake pears at 375° for 30 minutes or until tender. Serve warm.


How Cheese Works

Cheese is everywhere. There's a theory that it can make just about anything -- from sandwiches and hamburgers to pasta and salads -- taste better. It's a classic topping for crackers, and it's hard to imagine pizza without warm, gooey mozzarella. When something is kitschy, we might refer to it as "cheesy." When you get your photo taken, you "say cheese." Fans of the Green Bay Packers football team wear foam cheese wedges on their heads.


Cate Gillon/Getty Images
A worker at a cheese shop in London cuts a round of Brie.
See more pictures of classic snacks.

Americans love their cheese: In 2005, Americans consumed an average of 31.4 pounds of cheese per person. The Greeks consume the most per person per year -- 58.7 pounds [source: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board] -- but the United States is the world leader in cheese production, with 4.3 million metric tons in 2005 [source: U.S. Dairy Export Council]. There are several laws governing cheese sale and production in the United States. For example, many cheeses can't be sold in the United States because the FDA requires all raw-milk cheeses (cheese made with unpasteurized milk) to be aged at least 60 days [source: FDA]. Raw milk can contain bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. Aged cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano are too salty, acidic and dry to hold bacteria.

Visit the cheese section of any grocery store and you'll notice a dizzying variety of shapes, sizes, textures, flavors and styles of cheese. All of it has a few things in common, though. Cheese is basically an easily transportable and preservable form of milk (usually from cows, but also from goats, sheep and other animals). Milk, in its natural state, is more than 80 percent water. Once you remove the water and compress the remaining solids, you have cheese [source: Jenkins]. Along the way, there are lots of different things that cheesemakers can do to alter the flavor and appearance of the cheese.

But exactly how does this happen? Why do we make (and eat) cheese that's stinky and moldy? Are Velveeta and Cheez Whiz real cheese? And why are those Packers fans called "cheeseheads," anyway? In this article, we'll learn all about the different types of cheese, how cheese is made, and about its place in our history and culture.

There are lots of different types of cheese and no standard way of classifying them. Some cheeses also fall into more than one category. They can be classified by age, country of origin, fat content, dairy content, manufacturing methods, texture and special characteristics. Steven Jenkins, a renowned American cheese expert and member of the Confrérie des chevaliers du Taste Fromage (an elite society of cheese connoisseurs), suggests the following categories [source: Jenkins]:

  • Fresh
  • Soft-ripened
  • Washed-rind
  • Natural-rind
  • Blue-veined
  • Uncooked, pressed
  • Cooked, pressed
  • Processed

Fresh cheeses are the most basic. They're uncooked, unaged and sometimes still contain whey (the liquid part of milk). They don't keep very long and therefore need to be eaten soon after they're made. This cheese category includes mozzarella, cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, farmer cheese, mascarpone and queso fresco. Fresh cheese is characterized by its soft, creamy texture and mild taste.


Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images
Parmesan cheese

Soft-ripened cheeses are semisoft in texture and sometimes have a white, or "bloomy," rind. This is created with the application of molds (more on this later). Soft-ripened cheeses are usually a little more flavorful and buttery than fresh cheeses, but they're still very mild. Camembert and Brie are examples of this type of cheese.

Most varieties of "stinky" cheese, like Limburger, are washed-rind, or monastery cheese. These cheeses have reddish-orange rinds. The "stink" comes from being washed in a liquid, such as salted water, wine or beer, during the ripening phase. The washing encourages the growth of bacteria and mold, which gives the cheese a very strong smell and taste.

Some cheeses have rinds that form naturally, without the introduction of molds or bacteria. These natural-rind cheeses are usually aged and are heavier than other types of cheeses. Many of them are made from raw milk, and they include English Stilton and the French fromage de chèvre.

English Stilton is a blue-veined cheese. These cheeses resemble marble, with bluish-green veins crossing through the pale cheese. The veins are mold cultures, introduced during the cheesemaking process. Depending on the type of cheese, the mold may give it a very strong flavor. Maytag Blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort are other examples of blue-veined cheese.

Cheddar, one of the most well-known cheeses, is an uncooked, pressed cheese. This means that the curds have not been heated and the cheese has been pressed to give it a very compact, dense texture. Cooked, pressed cheese has its curds heated before being pressed. Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gruyère and Emmental are all cooked, pressed cheeses. Within this category are pasta filata, cheeses like provolone in which the curds are stretched.

­"Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider, who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away."

Many children are familiar with this nursery rhyme, which first appeared in print in the early 1800s. Miss Muffet's "curds and whey" were probably either cottage cheese or junket, a dessert made with milk, sugar and rennet. As for the tuffet, it was likely a diminutive form of the word "tuft" and came to mean "a low stool."

Processed cheese isn't technically a cheese but a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. It may be made with scraps of cheese, but processed cheese can also include whey, cream, water, dyes, gums and other ingredients. It has a long shelf life, melts easily and can be made in spreadable varieties. This type of cheese includes American cheese (although this name is also used for some American-made cheddars) as well as products like Cheez Whiz, Velveeta and spray cheese. However, not all processed cheese is American-made -- the French La Vache Qui Rit (Laughing Cow) is also processed.

Cheese (with the exception of processed cheese) can be made with milk from mammals other than cows. Roquefort, a blue-veined cheese, and Pecorino Romano, a cooked, pressed cheese, are both made with sheep's milk. Many varieties of cheese, including soft-ripened and blue-veined, can be made with goat's milk.

Regardless of the source, milk is the main component in cheesemaking. In the next section, we'll look at how all of these cheeses are made.


Quick Quiche Poll

Line a baking dish with the pastry


Our Best Blue Cheese Recipes

Nicole Franzen

Blue cheese is pretty polarizing: Most people either love it or hate it, and we can see why. With such a strong smell and taste, it can be overpowering at times. But fortunately, for those who want a little extra funk in their cheese, we’ve got plenty of ideas to help you maximize your blue cheese intake. You can’t go wrong with a salad try one with gem lettuce and grapes or French lentils. And, of course, there’s always the classic Cobb salad (one of our personal favorites). Or make it melty with creamed swiss chard. You can even whisk it into a cream sauce! We’re behind your blue cheese cravings 100%, no matter what it does to your breath.

Blue Cheese, Grape, and Gem Lettuce Salad

Blue Cheese, Grape, and Gem Lettuce Salad

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

These vibrant, mildly sweet gnocchi were developed by stylist Judy Haubert as a gluten-free option to accompany Portland chef Jenn Louis’ rich Gorgonzola cream sauce. Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce »

French Lentil Salad with Blue Cheese

A neutral base of lentil salad lets the pleasant sharpness of the Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, which is aged in sweet wine at La Fromagerie du Comtat, take center stage in this salad. Get the recipe for French Lentil Salad with Blue Cheese »

Apple and Stilton Welsh Rarebit Bites

Piquant Stilton replaces the more traditional cheddar in this bite-sized twist on the classic British dish. Get the recipe for Apple and Stilton Welsh Rarebit Bites »

Cobb Salad

Beef Cheek and Stout Pie with Stilton Pastry

“If making a pie, one should make it indulgent,” says chef Daniel Doherty of London and New York’s Duck & Waffle. He follows his own advice for this meat-stuffed pie with a pungent crust. Get the recipe for Beef Cheek and Stout Pie with Stilton Pastry »

Endive and Roquefort Salad with Smoked Pepper Jelly and Hazelnuts

Green beans, herbs, endives, and pears are dressed in a sherry vinaigrette, sprinkled with Roquefort and toasted nuts, and drizzled with piquant pepper jelly in this salad from The Grain Store in London. Get the recipe for Endive and Roquefort Salad with Smoked Pepper Jelly and Hazelnuts »

Creamed Swiss Chard with Gorgonzola, Rye Bread Crumbs, and Walnuts

In this bulked-up version of the classic side dish, chard replaces spinach, and Gorgonzola adds depth and a creamier texture. Get the recipe for Creamed Swiss Chard with Gorgonzola, Rye Bread Crumbs, and Walnuts »

Stuffed Leeks with Blue Cheese, Raisins, and Almonds

Gorgonzola-Arugula Pasta Sauce

The signature sauce of Cantina Pierino in Buenos Aires, this creamy sauce is fragrant and makes for a rich and decadent pasta. Get the recipe for Gorgonzola-Arugula Pasta Sauce »

Blue Cheese Wedge Salad

Both blue cheese and Italian dressings adorn the classic iceberg wedge salad. Get the recipe for Blue Cheese Wedge Salad »

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Burgers

Quick-pickled cremini mushrooms and red onions are a zesty foil for juicy blue cheese-stuffed burgers. Get recipe for Blue Cheese-Stuffed Burgers »

Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Fresh heads of romaine lettuce are split down the middle, grilled until charred and smoky, and then topped with blue cheese and bacon for this satisfying salad. Get the recipe for Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese and Bacon »

Treviso and Gorgonzola Tart

Delicately flavored treviso is combined with pungent gorgonzola and baked atop pillowy puff pastry. Get the recipe for Treviso and Gorgonzola Tart »

Blue Cheese Dip

This tart, cooling dip is a classic for good reason—it’s a perfect match for fiery Buffalo wings. Get the recipe for Blue Cheese Dip »

Creamed Onion Gratin

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British Meat Pies

Todd Coleman

From traditional dishes like mincemeat pies to modern takes on old classics, these savory pies are a British delight.

Stargazy Pie (English Sardine Pie)

In this whimsical Cornish dish, whole sardines poke their heads through the crust of a savory pie filled with bacon, hard-boiled eggs, and a mustard-laced custard. Get the recipe for Stargazy Pie (English Sardine Pie) »

Steak and Stilton Pies

Pungent Stilton cheese and malty stout beer enrich the filling in these classic Lancashire meat pies. See the Recipe for Steak and Stilton Pies » This traditional Lancashire pork pie recipe is typically served cold, often with a dollop of English mustard. See the recipe for English Pork Pie

Modern Mincemeat Pie

Currants, raisins, nuts, and spices sweeten up this traditional chopped beef pie. See the recipe for Modern Mincemeat Pie

Traditional Mincemeat Pie

A version of mincemeat pie featured in the classic 1861 volume of _[Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management](/ Shepherd’s pie gets its name from the romantic notion that it was eaten by shepherds in the north of England long ago! We decided to make ours with lamb, keeping the spirit of the idea. See the recipe for Shepherd’s Pie

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Taste of the South: Pimiento Cheese

Mix up cheese, mayonnaise, and pimientos as the base for a delicious Southern spread&mdashpimiento cheese.

Pimiento Cheese Recipes

Pimiento Cheese, barbecue, catfish, and grits— all examples of true Southern culinary icons. Yet despite their humble beginnings, the dixie-born gems have become popular across the country. Enter pimiento cheese. A cookbook containing one true pimiento cheese recipe, let alone the many regional variations such as adding paprika or jalapeño peppers, is almost impossible to find favorite recipes survive by way of oral tradition. Therefore, the popularity of this unique spread remains largely confined to states below the Mason-Dixon line, where it assumes its place as a Southern delicacy.

"I&aposve seldom met a non-Southerner who knew what it was," says novelist and north Carolina native Reynolds Price. But once the unfamiliar have a chance to sample pimiento cheese, Reynolds adds, "They take to it on contact."

What is Pimiento Cheese?
To the uninitiated, it&aposs little more than grated cheese, chopped pimiento peppers, and a little mayonnaise. However, to those fans who rank pimiento cheese right next to cold fried chicken and deviled eggs as essentials at any proper country picnic, it&aposs much more. To devotees, pimiento cheese becomes a must-have𠅎levating an ordinary grilled cheese to something heavenly and dramatically raising the bar on cheeseburgers and omelets.

What Cheese is Best for Pimiento Cheese?
Admirers agree that sharp Cheddar cheese is pimiento cheese&aposs backbone. High-quality mayonnaise, such as Hellmann&aposs or Duke&aposs, is also a given. But here&aposs where the opinions begin to fork off. On the issue of texture, Southern cookbook author James Villas shares common questions such as should the cheese be grated or mashed? If grated, coarse or fine? If mashed, is the fork or the modern food processor the best tool?

In our search for the definitive blend, we asked Senior Food Editor Mary Allen Perry for her secret pimiento cheese recipe. She agreed, but admitted, "My recipe was originally that of my great grandmother Kersh, who lived until she was 98 years old—slim, trim, and fearless of fat content."

Mary Allen drew upon childhood memories to record this fabulous formula. So, whether you use pimiento cheese to fill celery sticks or to spread on crackers or a slice of your favorite bread, you should feel confident with this terrific version and its variations.

Basic Pimiento Cheese Recipe
Ingredients

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. finely grated onion
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (8-oz.) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl stir in cheese. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.


10 Greatest Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month. That's right: Someone (somewhere) has proclaimed this popular comfort food worthy of a monthlong celebration. Beloved and reinvented by even the most celebrated chefs, the grilled cheese has long-since outgrown its white bread and processed cheese days. Below, find a roundup of the best tributes to this American staple. From Tom Colicchio's french onion soup&ndashthemed masterpiece to a fried-egg-finished fantasy, the following are definitely feta-than-life sandwiches.

This stacked creation was born out of Ontario-based chef Randy Feltis's adoration for exotic cheeses and thick-cut bread. Melted in between the garlic-, parsley- and butter-seasoned loaf lies a brilliant blend of brie, aged Cheddar, Italian Asiago and Havarti cheeses. Photographer: Douglas Bradshaw Food Stylist: Claire Stubbs Prop Stylist: Janet Walkinshaw

A delectable grilled cheese sandwich coupled with cured meats and topped with a fried egg is one of the many appetizing creations on the menu at Campanile in Los Angeles as part of its weekly Grilled Cheese Night.

This salad-turned-sandwich is inspired by Insalata Caprese, a dish consisting of mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil from the Campania region in southwestern Italy. To this we say, "Buon appetito!" Photo credit: Shiv Harris/bellwetherstudio.com

The Oregon Grille in Cockeysville, Maryland&mdasha quaint eatery surrounded by horse country&mdashis responsible for this rustic white bread explosion, topped with Boursin and provolone cheeses as well as roasted tomato and portobello mushrooms.

You can get six of these stuffed-to-perfection soft pretzels for $28, which sounds expensive, but we say go for it (after all, they're handmade). Oozing from the plump curves of this toasted treat is real Cheddar cheese, which is also sprinkled on top.

This simple creation is one of several hot-sandwich options in celebrity chef Tom Colicchio's book 'Wichcraft. It's inspired by french onion soup and contains Gruyère cheese with roasted onions on sliced rye bread. Reprinted from the book 'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio. Copyright © 2009 by Tom Colicchio. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

This twist on a Southern classic creates a grilled cheese out of a gourmet version of pimento cheese&mdashmade with Gruyère, provolone and piquillo peppers&mdashand is served with a shot of tomato soup at Max's Wine Dive in Houston.

"The Inner Workings of a College Graduate" blogger, Meghann, decided to overhaul the tasteless grilled cheese sandwiches she ate as a kid. The result? Between two slices of Jenna's Oatmeal Bread she layers Swiss cheese, goat cheese, apples and spinach&mdashgrilled to perfection on a George Foreman Grill.

Another delicious delight from the 'Wichcraft cookbook, this pizza-inspired creation combines mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, niçoise olives, oregano and aged provolone on country bread. Though traditionally cooked in a sandwich press, it can also be grilled in a pan with olive oil or heated open-face in an oven. Reprinted from the book 'wichcraft by Tom Colicchio. Copyright © 2009 by Tom Colicchio. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.


Watch the video: Cheesemaking - visiting a Swiss dairyman