The Cheesiest Cheese Post

If you don't like cheese or are on a diet, then please look away now.

Cathedral City set me a challenge to try their new Cathedral City Mature Lighter and compare it with their regular Mature Cheddar.

Cathedral City Mature Lighter has 30% less fat than their regular mature cheddar, so I was interested to see if it would melt as well as their regular cheese.

It didn't take me long to decide that macaroni cheese would be a good taste test to compare the two cheeses. I made the cheese sauce the same way I always do. A simple recipe my mum taught me.

I made my white sauce, then poured it into two pans, one for each of the Cheddars. I mixed macaroni though each of the sauces, poured them into ovenproof dishes and topped with a sprinkling of cheddar before cooking in the oven until golden and bubbling.

The lighter cheddar melted beautifully, as did the full fat cheese. You really couldn't tell the difference at this point.

Once they were cool enough to try, we dipped in. They were both good, and the texture was the same, but the full fat version had a more mature flavour. Graham did a blind test and was able to pick out the full fat cheese although he enjoyed both versions.

If I was on a diet, I would definitely use this cheese, but until they do a lighter version of their extra mature or vintage, then I will be sticking with the full fat cheddar. I like my cheddar to pack a punch and this is too mellow for me.

vive le cheese

And now on to my cheese and wine tasting at Peckhams in Glasgow.

The theme was French cheese as you can probably guess from the title. We tasted 10 different cheeses and enjoyed some rather fine chardonnay and merlot.

The cheeses were not marked as vegetarian, but I am not overly upset about that. When I buy cheese for myself, I always buy vegetarian, but when I am out in restaurants, I do not quiz them on their cheeses, so there seemed little point in making an issue of it. I know for some other people this would be unacceptable, but we all have to make our own choices. Anyway, back to the tasting.

The tasting was led by Roving Fromagière and general cheese whiz Phoebe Weller. They really couldn't have chosen anyone better to lead us through the cheeses. Phoebe has a real love affair with cheese and is so animated and excited about cheese that she had us enthralled and equally excited as we tasted them. Here are a few photos from the event before I show you the cheeses we tasted.

You may notice in some of the photos it looks like we were snorting the cheese. Well, you are close. The cheese had been out for a few hours to warm to room temperature, but Pheobe had us warm them further by rolling and squidging each cheese in our hands. This was also so we could become familiar with the texture before smelling each cheese. We chatted about the scents of the cheese in much the same way you would with a wine.

The girl in pink is my good friend Hilary, who is a real foodie and was already familiar with a lot of the cheeses on offer and the last photo is one of myself and Chele from Chocolate Teapot. It was lovely meeting Chele at last and she is as nice in person as she is on her blog.

Looking at myself in that photo, I am thinking a diet may be a good thing for me, to lose all those pounds I gained when I was pregnant and haven't shifted over a year later. I am hovering over the delete button as we speak!

Now, do remember I am no expert, I am just adding the notes I scribbled down at the time. Use the links for a more accurate description of each cheese.

vive le cheese

10 French Cows Cheeses

1. Tomme de Savoie

This was our first and mildest cheese. My notes say "oily, well-matured, mild and buttery.

2. Emmental

We are all familiar with this holey cheese. Another mild one. I wrote "rubbery, sweaty with bite/tang. Temperature is increased week after week. High heat and low humidity. Oxygen and carbon dioxide explode, causing the holes and salt encourages a rind to develop".

3. Saint Nectaire

A washed rind cheese. Young, 2-6 weeks old. This one can't have over excited me as I didn't write anything else, although I remember not thinking much of the first and last cheeses and loving the rest. Maybe I was too busy munching and slurping to write more.

4. Camembert

This Camembert from Normandy is made from unpasteurised milk. It has mould around the outside rather than a rind and is also quite young. From 4-6 weeks old. It smells like cauliflower or broccoli. This Camembert is wetter than a standard Camembert.

5. Brie

This Brie has a drier and crisper mould than the Camembert and is creamy and soft.

6. Comté

I am in love with this cheese and apparently the French are too. It is one of the most popular cheese over the channel. I wouldn't even bother having anything with this cheese, it would just spoil the experience. To be nibbled and savoured! Comté is a sweet, firm cheese and almost honey-scented. It comes in 45 kilo wheels which is made from the milk of 45 cows. This is a co-op cheese from the Eastern mountains of France. The curds are cooked and milked and it is brine washed in chardonnay to make the distinctive rind. Notice how I really paid attention to the details on this one. you can tell it made an impression on me.

7. Petit Langres

This 3 week old cheese was originally made by 12th century monks, who would eat this on days when they weren't allowed to eat meat. It was originally washed in champagne, but is now brine washed. Salty, full flavour.

8. Epoisses

Invented at the beginning of the 16th century by Cistercian monks, died out in 1900 and was brought back after the Second World War by Robert Berthaut. A young washed rind cheese.

9. Bleu de Causses

This cheese is AMAZING! I feel I should shout that. It is a 10-12 week old blue. It is wrapped in foil to encourage the blue to form faster. This one is tangy and salty and melts very well.

10. Bleu d'Auvergne

This blue is so blue it is almost grey. It is spicier than the Bleu de Causses and not so good to melt. It is salty and brine washed. I wasn't so keen on this one.

So there we go. I don't know about you, but I am all cheesed out! I hope you enjoyed that and picked up some ideas. My two top picks have to be the Comté and the Bleu de Causses, but I will leave you to make up your own mind. Do let me know if you try any of these cheeses.

I almost forgot to tell you that Hilary and I had a wonderful day in Glasgow before we went to the tasting. We meet up with my friends David and Tanita in Tapela, where we were treated royally. you may remember I posted about Tapela. Well, this time I was disappointed that they didn't still have their Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Pizza which was utterly amazing. On voicing my disappointment, the waiter had a chat with the chef, who especially made us a full size pizza.

It was really, really good. I will be making more return visits. I must apologise for our paltry tip. I realised after we left that we hadn't calculated very well. Whoops. Here's hoping this mention will go some way to making up for it.

Blueberry Crumble Cake

For the June edition of the Random Recipes challenge, Dom has asked us to choose a recipe from the last book that was gifted to us. The last book that was gifted to me was a promotional copy of The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein.

Up until this point I hadn't heard of Annabel Langbein or her TV Series - The Free Range Cook, but I was very pleased to receive the book, especially once I had a chance to have a good browse through it. Mmmmmmmmm, what a lot of lovely recipes!

Annabel believes in cooking good simple food for her friends and family using locally sourced products and those foraged from her gardens and farm, taking advantage of seasonal produce at it's freshest and best.

The TV series is set in and around her cabin on the shores of Lake Wanaka in the Southern Alps of New Zealand and there are lots of truly beautiful scenic photos as well as mouth-watering shots of food in the book. I only wish I had a chance to watch the series.

For Dom's challenge I randomly open the book near the back (on purpose, is that random?) in hope of hitting a dessert and my dastardly scheming paid off. Blueberry Crumble Cake! Result!!!! Wow, you should see the photo in the cookbook. I immediately started to drool just looking at it.

As I am reviewing the book, I can post the recipe. As usual I have figured out the cup measures and added them.

print recipe
Blueberry Crumble Cake
It's a cake, it has blueberries and it's a crumble. What more can you ask for? This cake is from a review copy of The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein. I have added cup measurements.
  • 140g / 2⁄3 cup butter, softened
  • 250g / 1¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175ml / ¾ cup plain yoghurt
  • 250g / 2 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 225g fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 375ml / 1½ cups crumble topping
1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease the sides of a 25cm spring-form or loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking paper

2. Beat the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Beat in the yoghurt, then add the sifted flour, baking powder and baking soda and stir gently until just combined. (The mixture will be a very thick consistency.) Spread into the prepared tin, sprinkle with the blueberries and then sprinkle the crumble topping over the top.

3. Bake for about 50-60 minutes until the cake is golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Stand for 15 minutes before turning out of the tin, then allow to cool before cutting. Store in an airtight container.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time:
Yield: 1 cake


* I only had a 20cm cake tin, so I only used ¾ of the cake batter. I was worried it would come up over the sides, but actually, I think it may have been ok. With the rest of the batter I made five glorious, crumble-topped muffins and I have to say this recipe makes wonderful muffins too.

* I wasn't paying attention and made the whole crumble mix and I really didn't need much of it. I would urge you to do the same as I had plenty left over for a couple of fruit crumbles. I just popped the rest in the fridge and made them another day, although you could freeze the rest of your crumble mix.

print recipe
Almond Crumble Mixture
This crumble mix is fabulous on a blueberry crumble cake, but is also great sprinkled on top of muffins before they are baked and as a topping for a traditional fruit crumble.

This crumble mix is from a review copy of The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein. I have added cup measurements.
  • 250g / 2 cups plain flour
  • 375g / 1 ¾ cups brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 200g / 2 1⁄3 cups rolled oats
  • 100g aalmonds, chooped or flaked
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 250g 2 sticks butter, melted
Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Add the melted butter with a wooden spoon until evenly combined.
Total time: Yield: several servings

After we had enjoyed a piece, I decided to take the rest of the cake into work as I knew I had crumbles to make too, so I decided to share the joy. It recieved rave reviews and was nearly all gone after morning break. Quite a few people hoped to try a piece in the afternoon, but they were doomed to disappointment. Cooper took a muffin in his packed lunch when he went to his childminder and Graham took the rest to his work. They all loved them.

I am also submitting this recipe to this month's Breakfast Club. This month's topic is berries and I know cake isn't a traditional breakfast, but this on is full of lovely berries and oats, so I think I can get away with it. I would happily grab a slice of this before work. So, let's just say this is a very occasional breakfast.

And........ I am submitting it to Simple and in Season as local blueberries are beginning to appear in the shops, must be that great weather we had in April.

Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Planting Basil

I finally got around to planting some basil a couple of weeks ago whilst my father-in law was here. The weather is a bit unreliable just now, so I decided to plant indoors and thought it would be nice to get Cooper involved. I let him plant two pots of basil with the help of his Dede (Grandfather in Turkish).

He has been really interested in his plants. Checking them every day and watering them with his wee watering can. Inevitably the floor gets a good watering too, but that doesn't matter. He is very good and puts his watering can away once he has finished with it.

I'm looking forward to lots of lovely basil to cook with.

Hope you enjoy the photos.

I forgot I was going to look for some basil related recipes to put up with this post. A bit late, but here they are:

1. Garlic Basil Knots from For the Love of Cooking
2. Strawberry, Balsamic, Mint & Basil Jam from Belleicious
3. Basil & Mint Lemonade from Taste & Tell
4. Basil Ice Cream from I Flip for Food
5. Basil-Tomato Cauliflower Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen
6. Tomato & Zucchini Tart with Garlic & Basil from The Flour Sack
7. Lemon Herb Pasta with Capers from The Ordinary Vegetarian
8. Basil & Mint Infused Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream from Yummy Mummy
9. Hearty Wholegrain Basil Bread from The Diva-Dish
10. Spring Pizza with Argula & Basil Pesto from Heather Christo Cooks

from Tinned Tomatoes:

* Sweet Basil & Lemon Shortbread
* Herby Quinoa Salad with Mushrooms
* Spinach, Pea & Basil Pesto
* Mango, Basil & Balsamic Dressing
* Raspberry, Carrot & Basil Smoothie

and some tips ....

Growing Basil from Gardener's World
How to Freeze Fresh Basil from Kalyn's Kitchen
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