Saturday, March 10, 2012

cheese and pie

Today was pretty eventful for david and myself, not just because we traipsed around the LA fabric and flower district but because we brought dairy back into our diet. We've been on a pretty restrictive allergy-reducing diet for the past month or so and we finally got to eat cheese again! A little cheese to start, but any at all was good enough for me.

We had a livingsocial deal for Vin Goat that we had to use by March 1st which was a week or two away from when we were allowed dairy again so we made the trip in and crossed our fingers that it would keep. I love Vin Goat. Their staff is friendly and helpful and while they have a good selection of cheeses to choose from it isn't overwhelmingly large. Plus if you don't know what you're looking for you can just ask and someone will recommend something. I think we usually get the owner when we go in, or at least he is the head cheese guy there. If you have never had Cowgirl Creamery's fresh cottage cheese then i suggest heading in here and getting about a quarter-pound which will only set you back about $3 and it is very very good.

I wanted to try something very different than what i probably would have picked for myself so i asked the gentleman helping us if he could get me a small slab of three cheeses of his choice: one creamy, one salty, one tangy, and i was up for anything so long as it wasn't blue/bleu cheese. He asked if i minded smelly cheese or not and i said i didn't have a preference, but i was suddenly worried just how smelly the cheese might be and if it would contaminate my nice, pretty, nonsmelly fridge. Thankfully none of the cheeses were so strongly scented that they permeated the special cheese paper they use to wrap your picks in, which actually does a very nice job of keeping everything fresh, in my opinion! I must buy some for when i make my own cheeses.

The long-awaited tasting began at breakfast, which is another amazing creation i will show you:

These eggs are from the SoCo Farmer's market and they have the richest, orangest yolks ever. They are really good. On the right is a piece of peppered turkey bacon from Trader Joes that i am reheating.

Then I added a piece of the Black Pig Meat Co. pieces of bacon to reheat. I just wanted variety.
This is the resulting orangey goodness from those farm fresh free range eggs.

Below are the cheeses. I have no idea what was written on the top package but the other ones are Humboldt Fog and Landaff.
My breakfast plate. The cheese from top to bottomish is the Unknown one right below the eggs, then the wedge is the Landaff, and the crumbly white pile below it is the Humboldt Fog.
First i tasted the Landaff. It was ... interesting. A firm, slightly crumbly dry cheese like a manchego, and kind of dull green-yellow in color. It wasn't a cheese i'd had before and it had a flavor i couldn't quite put my finger on, despite it feeling like a very familiar flavor--one i'd tasted but not in cheese form. It was kind of earthy, and at one point i thought maybe a hint of celery came through? But overall i think the best thing i could liken it to was raw potato with skins attached. I even had david try it and he said similar: that it was earthy, maybe herby, and it was sort of like a root vegetable, with a familiar but can't-quite-discern taste. I will have to try this melted and see if the taste alters at all. Maybe it's really good in a frittata, but it's not something i'd snack on by itself again. Lucky me i have half a pound of it still. When I compare this to the other cheeses and my list of desires, i think this was supposed to be the salty cheese but it wasn't hardly salty at all in my opinion. ETA: the cheese definitely loses some of its earthiness while it is melted, but it comes back immediately upon hardening again. i actually really enjoyed it melted on the pork tenderloin!

Next I tried the Unknown one. It had a rind and gooeyness like Brie does (i don't eat the rinds of cheeses if i can help it). If you tried to chew it it sort of balled up in your mouth so i kind of sucked on it to get the flavor out instead. It was extremely mild--very faintly like brie, milky and buttery. Close to the rind was a more firm cheese compared to the middle, but not totally firm, so i ate it off the rind like watermelon because my fork had trouble cutting it without also catching the rind pieces. This for sure was the creamy cheese. Because the flavor was so delicate i had a hard time imagining what to eat it with/on instead of just by itself, so that it wouldn't be lost entirely.

Humboldt Fog. How I dream of thee. By far my favorite out of the three. This was the tangy cheese, i think it's goat's milk. It was not like regular thick chevre, it was downright silky and decadent and it just melted away in my mouth. There was a little bit of rind on either end with a tiny blue-grey vein just underneath as well as through the middle of the slice, horizontally. I peeled off the rind of course and most of that blue-grey stuff went with it. I thought it was maybe ash and i didn't taste anything different when i ate the slim little vein of blue-grey in the middle. But one end, unfortunately the very last bite end for me, had quite a bit of blue-grey under the rind and when i put it in my mouth i had to spit it out. It is blue cheese mold. Ugh, i was so enjoying it and then wham! i was assaulted with terrible, gross, moldy blue cheese flavor and even in its small amount just overwhelmed my tastebuds. I had to eat another nibble of the Landaff to rid my tongue of the taste. So now, i make sure the blue on both ends is cut off, even though the vein in the middle is alright. I will certainly buy again though.

Later in the day, after dinner, I was craving sweet, marzipany goodness. So i figured why not make a frangipane, something i'd never made before, but in my head had looked like a marzipan pie. I made it low carb too, since we're doing that as well. Normally it looks like it's made with a regular pastry crust but i really don't like those so i think the almond crust is better anyway. The recipe i used is adapted from theurbanpocketknife

Low carb sugar free Frangipane Tart - servings vary, if you are me it makes only one serving.

Almond Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups almond meal/flour
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar or substitute
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup almond meal/flour
1/2 cup sugar or substitue
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 egg white
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp room temp butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease your pie/tart/cake dish. Mix the dry ingredients for the crust and then add the extract and cut in the shortening. If it's too dry to decently stick together you can add a teaspoon or two of water but it will appear more crumbly than it actually is so i'd test it by pinching some together and see if it at least just barely holds. Pat into the greased pan and bake 15-20 minutes or until just starting to get golden brown. (Splenda browns things pretty fast and plus the edges are going to be cooked yet again after you add the filling so depending on how dark you like crusts i'd keep this in mind) Cool pretty much completely.

For the filling, mix all the dry ingredients and then mix in the butter completely. Add the egg and egg white and the extracts and mix until totally incorporated. Pour into crust and then spread out evenly. Pop it into the oven for 25-35 mins or until set (doesn't jiggle) and lightly browned. Let cool and serve with whipped cream or whatever you want.

If you like fruit with almonds/marzipan then by all means top it with that. The original recipe adds pears before you bake it, but i just love almond paste/marzipan so much i didn't feel like adding anything today and just topped with some nonfat sugar-free whipped cream i get in a can from Whole Foods. It is nice when i am too lazy to whip up whipping cream each and every time i want some, which is sometimes several nights in a row and my homemade whipped cream doesn't stay whipped more than a couple of days.

I calculated the stats for mine but i don't count splenda cals or carbs so if you do just factor that in. Mine might vary from yours since my shortening said 110 per Tblsp (8 in half a cup) and i used Trader Joes almond meal for the crust and Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour for the filling, just to mix things up, and they have different stats from each other. If I cut this into 10 slices, each slice would have 385 calories and 3 net carbs. That is what you get for eating a big pile of nuts and fats but boy is it delicious and worth it. I think next time i could even make less crust and underbake the center just a tad to keep it gooey.

In our greedy gluttonous desire for dessert I didn't let it cool entirely and i think that contributed to the crust sort of falling apart as i took the slice from the pan. It was still fabulous and the cinnamon in the crust plus the texture difference totally made the dish.

David didn't want any tart, just whipped cream lol.

ETA yes the crust stayed together better after it was cooled completely. i mean it's held together with just shortening so what did i expect? and the center was a little gooeier the next day too which was awesome. i have just kept it on the counter in the pan, covered with foil.

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