Conversation With a Cheesemonger

A conversation with Derrick Sanders, Cheesemonger at the Nob Hill La Montanita Co-op.

Derrick Sanders, Cheesemonger @ La Montanita Co-op | mjskitchen.com

The other day I was perusing the cheese section at the Nob Hill La Montanita Co-op looking for a particular cheese. When I couldn’t find it I asked Derrick, the cheese clerk for help.  You know what it’s like having a sommelier help you select a wine to go with your meal?  Well, that’s how I felt with Derrick helping me select a cheese.  This guy knows his cheese!  So rather than keep Derrick’s knowledge of cheese to myself, I thought I would share some of it with you.

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Black Bean Mole’

Black beans cooked with a deconstructed black mole | mjskitchen.com

 

The first time I tasted Oaxacan Black Molé (Molé Negro) was about 30 years ago when I had the privilege of eating Molé Negro Chicken made by a Oaxacan immigrant. Each bite produced a flavor sensation that I still relish to this day.  Years later I found a recipe for Oaxacan Black Molé in Diana Kennedy’s Book, The Art of Mexican Cooking and decided to give it a try. The result was heavenly but it took many hours of work and 2 days.  So when I decided that I wanted to make this Black Bean Molé dish I chose to make a deconstructed molé instead of making the sauce separately.  It saved quite a bit of time and simplified the process tremendously.

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Refrigerator Chicken and Vegetable Soup

How to make Chicken and Vegetable Soup from what you have in the refrigerator |mjskitchen.com

 

Do you ever find a refrigerator full of a little of this and a little of that?  Well, this happens to me 2 to 3 times a month.  Once the refrigerator gets to this point, it’s time to make a pasta or soup.  This week the ingredients screamed SOUP.  This Chicken and Vegetable Soup was made using the last of a roasted chicken from which we had already had two meals, some leftover green beans, and fingerling potatoes, and few other fresh vegetables I had in the fridge.

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A Collection of Kabocha Squash Recipes

A Collection of Kabocha Squash Recipes | mjskitchen.com

Kabocha Squash, also referred to as Japanese squash, is my favorite winter squash.  It is a touch sweeter than most winter squash, and to me, has a creamier texture, making it the perfect squash for a creamy winter soup.  It roasts beautifully, using the same method as you would a pumpkin or butternut squash, but it does have a couple of differences. First of all, it’s one hard squash to cut open.  You need a big knife and a strong arm.  Secondly, the peel is edible which, for some recipes, is a good thing since this a very difficult squash to peel.

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Tarragon Lemon Quick Bread

A slightly sweet quick bread flavored with lemon and tarragon | mjskitchen.com

 

The first time I made this Tarragon Lemon Quick Bread was out of curiosity.  I saw it over at From My Sweet Heart, and after reading the list of ingredients I just couldn’t imagine how a bread with tarragon, lemon and black pepper would taste, so I had to make it.  Well…it was love at first bite!  Over the past year or so, I’ve made this bread several times, with a couple of minor changes to the original recipe, but nothing that affects the final flavor of the bread. The changes are noted in the Kitchen Notes.

If you love tarragon like I do, then you are going to love this bread. Not only does it just taste good, it’s so easy to make. You can have it in the oven within 20 minutes from the start, and, even with an ingredient change now and then, it never fails. It always comes out perfect and delicious.  It’s not a tall quick bread, but it’s not dense either.  It’s light and moist with a touch of sweetness, making it a wonderful breakfast bread as well as a nice complement for your afternoon tea.

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Roasted Red Chile Spread

Roasted red chile spread - use as a sandwich spread, for pasta, seasoning for soups and other dishes | mjskitchen.com #redchile

 

It’s October which brings about the last of the green chile season but the beginning of the short, and oh so sweet, fresh red chile season.  Toward the end of chile season, farmers let some of the green chile stay on the bushes allowing them to turn red.  When the red chile is picked, it is either strung into ristras or sold just like green chile. Here in my area of New Mexico, the amount of fresh red chile sold at the market is limited, so one needs to keep a careful eye out for its arrival and buy it quickly. It will be gone within a couple of weeks.  Normally, mild, medium, and hot chile are all available, but this year I could only find hot and mild. The mild was quite mild, but was still meaty with that amazing roasted red chile flavor; and the hot…same sweet flavor, but HOT.  If you haven’t tried roasted red chile, then it’s something you need to try.  There’s really nothing like it.

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Posole’ with Italian Sausage and Kale

Posole' with an Italian twist - Fresh posole', Italian sausage, tomatoes, and Kale | mjskitchen.com #posole #kale #recipe

 

Accepting the end of summer is very hard for me, but last week when the night time temperatures dropped into the 40s, I had to relent. Visions of soup started popping into my head and pictures of posole’ started popping up on the internet.  With every picture my craving for posole’ increased and finally increased to the point where I succumbed to the craving.  I knew I had some posole’ in the freezer, so using other ingredients on hand, I threw together this soup which we’ll call a Mexican-Italian fusion of posole’, Italian sausage and kale.  I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to work, but it did.  Bobby, who is as picky about his posole’ as I am, loved it! The depth of flavor in this soup keeps going and going and going, and the richness of the soup stock … well, just look at it.  I could drink the stock and make a meal out it.

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Pico de Gallo with Pickled Peppers and Chipotle

 with pickled peppers and chipotle flakes | mjskitchen.com #salsa

 

Last week I showed you how to make Quick and Easy Pickled Peppers.  This week a few of those pickled peppers came together with some fresh garden tomatoes and chipotle flakes to make a delightfully tasty pico de gallo.  Bobby and I have eaten three batches of this in the past few days because it’s so addicting and we wanted to get the seasoning just right.  Lucky us. :)

Pico de Gallo with Pickled Peppers can be used as a dip or a topping for tacos, tostadas, burritos or a nice bowl of pinto beans.

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Quick and Easy Pickled Peppers

Guero and red cherry chile peppers | mjskitchen.com

 

After the pesky racoons ravaged my chile plants back in June, I did manage to find a few lonely plants tucked away in the sale section of the nursery.  Even though it was late in the season, I still planted them and now, in September, I’m getting some peppers.  YAY!  My first picking yielded a few guero chiles (yellow hot or caribe) and three red cherry chiles. It wasn’t much, but it’s something.  So what did I do with these beauties?  I made some pickled peppers!

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