January 20th is National Cheese Lover’s Day and cheese and herbs are a classic and delectable combination. Cheese and herbs can be combined in a number of ways to form rich, tangy appetizers including blending herbs into the cheese, making a cheese with added herbs, layering in a mold to form a torta as a stunning centerpiece on an appetizer table or simply forming the softened cheese into a ball and rolling it in herbs or a rainbow of edible flower petals.
Boursin, an herbed cheese spread that originated in France, makes the best of the natural duo.
1c farmer's cheese
1c Asiago or Parmesan cheese, grated
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1tsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2c minced parsley
2Tbs minced chives
1tsp fresh minced marjoram
1tsp fresh minced thyme
Blend the cheeses and then blend in the butter and lemon juice. Add the garlic and herbs and mix well. Refrigerate to blend flavors.
Yogurt Cheese, an easy and delicious treat to make, can be enhanced by any individual herb or combination of fresh chives, basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, lemon thyme, or garlic chives.
32oz container of Greek yogurt
1Tbs minced garlic
1/4-1/2c herbs/blend of herbs
Combine all ingredients and place yogurt in cheese cloth or strainer. Refrigerate overnight to drain and thicken. Add a little salt and pepper. Use it as a dip with vegetables and crackers, or a spread on bagels.
Tortas, a layered combination of soft cheeses and herbs, can be molded into any shape by lining any kind of mold with cheesecloth so the torta may be flipped out onto a serving dish at serving time after a few hours for the mixture to firm up. Almost any combination of soft cheeses and herbs can be used: ricotta, cream cheese, mascarpone, feta, goat, and cottage cheeses are used for the base.
Italian Pesto Torta: Line a small bowl or mold with cheesecloth extended over the sides. Alternate layers of 8 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup prepared Pesto Sauce and 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, three times. Cover and refrigerate 24 hrs. Invert on plate and garnish.
Basic Basil Pesto Sauce: Place 2c basil leaves and 2 cloves crushed garlic in food processor or blender and process until leaves are finely chopped. Add 1/2c pine nuts and process until finely chopped. With the machine running, add 3/4c extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Remove to a bowl and add 3/4c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and salt and pepper to taste. If not using immediately, store in an air-tight container with a thin coating of olive oil on top to keep the sauce from turning dark. Pesto will keep well in the refrigerator for a few days.
"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God"
I Corinthians 10:31