Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recipes with Mascarpone

In 2011, we posted -  Mascarpone: How to Make It & Recipe Suggestions.  Here are a few more fabulous recipes:

Spaghetti with Mascarpone, Meyer Lemon, Spinach, and Hazelnut
From: The Kitchn

Serves two as a main course


1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced (about 3 tablespoons juice)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 pound spaghetti
5 cups (loosely packed) fresh spinach, washed, spun dry, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts

Combine the zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

1.  Bring a pot of water to boil and salt generously.
2.  Cook the pasta until al dente, taking it off the heat about 1 to 2 minutes before you would normally remove it.
3.  Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
4.  Return the pasta to the pot, and set over low heat.
5.  Stir in the mascarpone sauce.
6.  Add the spinach and toss so that the spinach begins to wilt.
7.  Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water (more if necessary) to keep the sauce fluid but not too watery.
8.  Continue to cook and toss until the spinach is cooked.
9.  Add the hazelnuts and stir to combine.

Serve immediately.

Chicken in Mascarpone & Sun-dried Tomato Sauce With Pasta
From: Evin's Cooking Peas and Qs


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons black pepper
Olive oil
1 cup whole milk or cream
2 cups mascarpone cheese
½ cup semi- or full sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
4 cups dry penne pasta

1. Heat a large pot of water over high heat to bring to a boil for the pasta. Do not add the pasta until you have completed step 3 of the recipe.
2. Warm a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Mix the garlic salt, dried basil, and black pepper together in a shallow bowl. Lightly coat each chunk of raw chicken in the mixture then place in the warm olive oil. Do this until all chicken is in the pan or the pan is getting full. Cover for four to five minutes then shift the chicken chunks to cook the other side. Let cook until the other elements are ready to serve, but continue to shift and stir every few minutes and keep the temperature at medium.
3. Bring the milk (or cream) to boil then remove from heat. Turn the heat down to low. Keeping the milk off the heat, whisk in the mascarpone. Put the pot back on the heat but stir frequently.
4. Put the pasta in the boiling water and let cook for recommended time for al denté. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and basil to the chicken while the pasta is cooking. Once the pasta is cooked, strain it and add the cooked pasta to the mascarpone and milk sauce.
5. Using a solid serving spoon or ladle, serve the pasta in sauce and top with the chicken. Sprinkle extra chopped basil or parmesan on top for garnish. Serve!

Warm Spinach Mascarpone Dip Recipe
From: Steamy Kitchen

Yields 2 cups


16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 small onion minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated if you have)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Take a handful of the defrosted spinach and squeeze and discard the water from the spinach. Squeeze as much of the water out as you can, you should get about a little less than a cup of spinach water.
3. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes (take your time, if you do this over high heat, the onions will burn and become bitter). Add the spinach and saute until the spinach is warm, but still bright green about 30 seconds.
4. Season and toss with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone cheese and the grated parmesan.
5. Pour into 2 small ramekins (or other oven-safe dish) and bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm with pita chips, bread or celery sticks.

Choco-Mascarpone Pie
From: Dairy Goodness


6 oz (180 g) white chocolate, in pieces
1 lb (450 g) mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup (60 mL) sugar
2 cups (500 mL) nonfat plain yogurt
1 pouch (1/4 oz/7g) unflavoured gelatin
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 orange, peeled and cut into suprêmes
1 pink grapefruit, peeled and cut into suprêmes

Graham crust:
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
2.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Add cracker crumbs and sugar and mix thoroughly. Press mix into an 8-inch (20 cm) round, hinged mould and cook 10 minutes. Set to cool.
3.  Meanwhile, melt chocolate in bain-marie (double boiler) and reserve. Prepare gelatin and reserve.
4.  Whisk mascarpone with sugar. Add lukewarm white chocolate and prepared gelatin. Incorporate yogurt and whisk 2 minutes. Pour preparation over the crust and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours before serving.
5.  Garnish with citrus suprêmes (sections).

Strawberry Mascarpone Cheesecake with Shortbread Cookie Crust
From:  Yummy Eats
By: Andrej Wisniewski


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup shortbread cookies, finely ground
2 pounds (4 bars) cream cheese, softened
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup strawberry jelly
16 to 20 fresh strawberries, stems removed

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.
2.  Make the crust: Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on high speed, about 3 minutes. Add flour and ground shortbread cookies—blend for 5 to 10 seconds until incorporated. Press the mixture evenly on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
3.  Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely.
4.  Make the cheesecake: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the mascarpone cheese and sugar, and continue to beat on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, then the lemon zest and juice.
5.  Pour the mixture into the crust. Place the cheesecake pan in a larger roasting pan; pour enough water into the roasting pan to cover half the cheesecake pan. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 60 to 65 minutes.
6.  Transfer the cheesecake pan to a cooling rack. Cool slightly, then refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
7.  Make the topping: In a small saucepan, whisk strawberry jelly over medium-high heat until melted. Cool.
8.  Arrange strawberries upside down on the cheesecake. Pour melted jelly over the cheesecake to glaze the berries.

Substitution tip:  In place of shortbread, you can use graham crackers for the crust. Add as many fruits on top as you like—the sloppier, the better.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Volunteer at the American Cheese Society Conference 2014!

It's time to enlist!  The Cheese Guard needs you!  If you're going to the American Cheese Society Conference in Sacramento, California from July 23rd - August 2nd, or if you just want to volunteer there, now is the time to sign up.

(If you love cheese, there are perks!!!)  This is the official notice from the ACS:


Join the "Cheese Guard" & Volunteer with ACS in Sacramento!

The ACS Conference & Competition in Sacramento is just around the corner, and we still need your help! Join hundreds of fellow cheese professionals and enthusiasts who are lending their time and talents to make the Conference a success.

ACS is seeking volunteers to assist with shifts from Wednesday, July 23 through Saturday, August 2. Opportunities include helping with the movement of cheeses pre- and post-judging; the prep of cheeses for sessions and events; assistance with on-site registration; and more!

Individuals with cheese experience are encouraged to assist with the Official Conference Cheesemonger team, helping to create cheese platters for special events and educational sessions. If you're an ACS Certified Cheese Professional™ (or if you're building your cheese resume in order to take the exam), remember that volunteering during the Conference provides you with industry hours that are valid for certification or re-certification.

ACS volunteers generously share their time and talents. In return, they receive great rewards:

  • Official "Cheese Guard" volunteer t-shirt available only to volunteers!
  • Complimentary ticket to the Festival of Cheese on the evening of Friday, August 1
  • Complimentary meal whenever your shift coincides with an ACS Conference scheduled meal time.
  • For volunteers assisting with the Judging & Competition during an 8+ hour shift, an additional benefit -- one complimentary ticket to the Awards Ceremony & Reception on the evening of Thursday, July 31 ($55 value) -- is also available.  
Register to volunteer via the link below, and find the opportunity that's right for you:*


If you need assistance with the volunteer registration process, contact Jana Hemphill at 720-328-2788.

We hope you'll spend some time volunteering with us in sunny Sacramento!

*Note: if you volunteered for the 2012 or 2013 ACS Conference & Competition using the Shiftboard site, you will need to re-register via this system for 2014.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FDA vs Artisan Cheese Makers - Wooden Shelves Issue

As you may have heard, the FDA recently cited cheese makers in New York State for violating their "Good Manufacturing Practices." because they were aging their cheeses on wooden shelves. They issued a position statement proclaiming that wooden shelves are unsanitary for aging cheese.*

We, at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company are opposed to the FDA's position.  The main reason:  It is illegal.  

The FDA is required by law to follow certain basic practices.  Here is the ruling:

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals:  Once an agency gives its regulation an interpretation, it can only change that interpretation as it would formally modify the regulation itself: through the process of notice and comment rulemaking…’Rule making,’ as defined in the APA, includes not only the agency’s process of formulating a rule, but also the agency’s process of modifying a rule.

The FDA's position statement* is a new interpretation of an old regulation.  ("Adequately cleanable" and "properly maintained" have allowed wooden shelving for decades in this country.)  When a regulation is reinterpreted, the agency, by law, has to announce the change to the public and the public has to be given the opportunity to comment.

The FDA is claiming this is not a new interpretation.  So, now, after artisan cheese makers all over the country have made huge investments in aging rooms with state of the art equipment, including wooden shelves, the FDA is just going ahead and changing the rules.  No notice to anyone!  It is incredible that they can say this is not a re-interpretation when they themselves have issued warnings (in writing!) for years to cheese makers for not adequately cleaning their wooden shelves.

Here are the rest of the reasons we are opposed to this new interpretation of the rules:

1.  They claim they are doing this to protect us from Listeria.  However, there are hardly any cases of Listeria caused by cheese in this country.  It is not a problem.

2.  Artisan cheese makers all over the world have been aging their cheeses on wood for centuries because wood is the best surface to encourage the growth of good bacteria.  Wood is one of the reasons artisan cheeses taste better than "manufactured" cheeses.

3.  Many artisan cheese makers will go out of business if their cheese does not taste good enough to command the prices they need to survive.

4.  Many artisan cheese makers will go out of business if they have to completely re-build their aging rooms.

5.  Most European imported cheese is aged on wood.  (In fact, many protected cheese are required by law to be aged on wood.  (Examples:  Comte, Beaufort and Reblochon)  Will all of these fabulous cheeses now be banned from the US?  What about wine barrels and wooden pizza paddles?

There is a petition you can sign if you feel as we do about this issue - click here

*FDA Official Statement
Composed by Monica Metz, Branch Chief for FDA’s Center for Food Safety.  She is, incidentally, a former quality control manager for Leprino Foods (which calls itself the “world’s largest mozzarella cheese manufacturer”).

Use of wooden shelves for cheese aging

Microbial pathogens can be controlled if food facilities engage in good manufacturing practice.  Proper cleaning and sanitation of equipment and facilities are absolutely necessary to ensure that pathogens do not find niches to reside and proliferate.  Adequate cleaning and sanitation procedures are particularly important in facilities where persistent strains of pathogenic microorganisms like Listeria monocytogenes could be found.  The use of wooden shelves, rough or otherwise, for cheese ripening does not conform to cGMP requirements, which require that “all plant equipment and utensils shall be so designed and of such material and workmanship as to be adequately cleanable, and shall be properly maintained.” 21 CFR 110. 40(a).  Wooden shelves or boards cannot be adequately cleaned and sanitized.  The porous structure of wood enables it to absorb and retain bacteria, therefore bacteria generally colonize not only the surface but also the inside layers of wood. The shelves or boards used for aging make direct contact with finished products;  hence they could be a potential source of pathogenic microorganisms in the finished products.

Recent publications by Zangerl et al. in 2010 showed that L. monocytogenes survived cleaning and sanitation on wooden shelves used for cheese ripening. [Zangerl, P., Matlschweiger, C., Dillinger, K.,& Eliskases - Lechner, F. (2010). Survival of Listeria monocytogenes after cleaning and sanitation of wooden shelves used for cheese ripening.  European Journal of Wood and Wood Products, 68(4), 415-419].  Another scientific paper by Mariana et al., 2011, does not suffice to overcome the cGMP violation.  Mariani, C., Oulahal, N., Chamba, J.F., Dubois-Brissonnet, F., Notz, E., Briandet, R. (2011).  Inhibition of Listeria monocytogenes by resident biofilms present on wooden shelves used for cheese ripening.  Food Control 22, 1357–1362].  More importantly, the data in the Mariani, et al., study showed that despite the use of unclean and clean native woods, L. monocytogenes strains were not completely inactivated or eradicated on the woods.  The mere fact that L. monocytogenes survived in any wood sample studied should be of concern. A single surviving L. monocytogenes cell may grow and multiply and thus serve to contaminate cheese.  Noteworthy is the fact that the authors suggested that further studies are required in order to establish the mechanism of inhibition by the bacteria described in the paper, which,for now, is only speculative. Thus the paper does not support the proposition for which it was offered, viz. that wooden shelves prevent contamination of cheeses with L. monocytogenes.

The primary concern for cheeses manufacturers should be prevention of cheese contamination with pathogens. Pathogenic microorganisms are not inherent natural contaminants of cheeses, therefore the sanitation of a cheese processing plant’s equipment and environment play an important role in preventing pathogen contamination.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tina Tilley in Newburgh, Maine

Tina Tilley

Tina was a contestant in our 35th Anniversary Essay Contest last year.  After you've read her essay (below) you will see why we wanted an update on her busy life.  

Many folks wish they could leave the big city and start a simpler life in a small, rural town, but few actually do it.  It takes a lot of courage and determination.  Tina apparently has all of that and now she's "living the dream!"

Of course, it isn't easy.  As she told us, "After a full day of hobbying, I go to my full-time job at the lab. My husband feeds and then chauffeurs our two teenagers around to their after school events.  
We sleep very well."

Tina's Essay

Five years ago, if someone met me and asked me what I did, I'd say that I worked in the Molecular Microbiology lab at Johns Hopkins hospital. I loved my job in the city.

What I didn't like was the near-death commute every day to work, and I didn't like the disconnected environment in which my children were growing.

We no longer live in Baltimore, MD, population 621,000; we live in Newburgh, ME, population 1,400. I still work in a laboratory at night, but when people ask me what I do, I tell them that I have a small goat farm to provide milk for my family for drinking and eating (as cheese).

The red dot is Newburgh
In 2009, my husband and I attended Goat School in St. Albans, Maine and purchased two does. I started making chevre. My family loved it and so did my neighbor down the street.

In 2010, only one of my goats kidded, so I had very little milk with which to work. I tried yogurt. It was too runny, but I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong (Jim's advice in the Moosletter this month would have been EXTREMELY helpful). My son and I settled for a delicious and refreshing concoction that we drank.

I became very brave in 2011. I obviously couldn't count on just those two does, so I bought two more and tried mozzarella. To summarize: I struggled. I could appreciate the science behind it, but I was getting very strong messages about my poor technique. I have since worked through that and my family is delighted to have their pizza topping again.

In 2012 I bought another goat and some lipase, and tried feta. Wow, that was a fantastic idea! Why did I wait so long? What was so intimidating about adding that enzyme? My daughter and I now enjoy eating salads, and what an easy cheese to preserve and enjoy during the winter.

It is currently 2013, and I'm ready to try cheddar. I've researched cheese presses. I've researched waxes and wraps and I just bought two more does to kid this spring. It's time.

How has making cheese changed my life? Well, I now raise goats, and I refer to my husband as 'farm boy.'  I can milk four does in less than a half an hour and I can do the math for a goat's gestational period in my head. 

I have traded my cheese with my neighbors for bread, crackers, seedlings, bunny cages, bunnies, jelly, canning lessons, horse lessons, tractor usage, a wood stove, veggies, egg cartons, barn sitting, mittens, firewood, pig food, and fencing. 

I enjoy the conversations with those that live within my small community and treat my family and me as if we have lived here forever. It feels good to be connected and part of something bigger. I truly believe that it all comes back to that deliciously unique, unpresuming cheese.

Cutest labels ever!

What kind of cheese are you making now?

I only make feta (salad, wraps), mozzarella (pizza), and chevre (mac+cheese, lasagna, dip), but I eagerly read about the cheese of the month in the newsletters.  I have no experience with the aged cheeses, but it's on my list. The last few years we have used all the milk by drinking it, turning it into those quick cheeses, yogurt, soap, or swapping it out for something cool from one of our buddies. :)

We are currently gathering sap (finally) and boiling it down and hope to have that wrapped up before the kids, piglets, chicks and turkeys arrive. I've got seedlings started inside and have a small greenhouse to move them to when the weather starts to even out a little more. 

Update a few weeks later:  We made about a 1/2 gallon of maple syrup, which by some standards is pathetic, but we LOVE it (we froze some) and we will definitely be doing it next year. It's always feels good to eat/drink something you've made yourself.

Maple syrup boiling

How many goats do you have this season?

Final count was seven baby goats, five boys and two girls. I'm currently looking to re-home them so I can get started making cheese again. They are adorable - but ALWAYS hungry!

How did you learn to raise goats?

I learned most of what I know about goats from the Goat School that is offered twice a year in St. Albans, Maine. I volunteered there last weekend.  I do this every year because they are pretty cool people and they got me started with goats. Even though I'm not actually attending the lectures, I always learn something new and make some new friends. 

On Sunday, before I left to go help out, I started my first batch of feta for the season. On Tuesday I made my first batch of mozzarella (I'm out of practice), and I'm seasoning my first batch of chevre this morning while I start another round of feta. We are completely out of cheese, so I have some catching up to do.

What else are you up to?

I just got a call that someone wants to buy 20 bars of my soap. Yippee! That will help toward the enormous amounts of grain that the does are eating right now!!!  I use 5 cups of milk for one batch (plus lye and lard)....it makes between 20 and 30 bars of soap.

Where do you sell it?

Oh, well mostly co-workers, or from my driveway, but there is a new store '101 Miles of Maine' in the town next to mine that is selling it. We do this for fun. It's not really a business. :)

Homemade ingredients make a particularly delicious pizza!