5 of the Best Varieties of French Cheese

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France is famous for many things including its wine production, the Eiffel tower and its beautiful countryside.  However, it is also famous for its diverse production of cheeses.  In fact, France produces over four hundred different cheeses which are generally categorised into eight different groups.  To review all the cheeses that are produced in France would require extensive knowledge, research and time.  However, here is a summary of five of the most famous and delicious varieties of cheese that are produced in France and enjoyed around the world.

Brie

brie

This is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk that is generally produced in the Île-de-France region, specifically Brie after which it is named.  The cheese is encased in a soft dough crust and has a creamy and smooth consistency and flavour.  Variations of this cheese are Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.  Brie is made in large, round discs and the buyer will normally purchase just a slice of this.

Camembert

camembert

Another soft cheese that is most associated with the Normandy region of France, also from cow’s milk.  Similarly to Brie, the cheese is encased in a soft, edible crust and has a smooth and creamy taste and texture.  In contrast to Brie, Camembert is ripened in smaller cases which give it a slightly different flavour and it is often sold still in its small, wooden casings.

Munster

munster

This is a strong flavoured soft cheese that was named after the town in which it was originally produced.  This cheese was also originally conserved and preserved in monk’s cellars.  There are also several different variations of this cheese which are produced industrially oversees, some of which have a milder flavour.

Roquefort

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The thing that makes this cheese unique is that it is produced from sheep’s milk and is linked to the Midi-Pyrenees region of France.  This is one of the world’s best known blue cheeses, alongside stilton and Gorgonzola.  Although it is referred to as a blue cheese, the veins of mould which run through it are actually green.  Roquefort can be described as being crumbly and moist, with a slightly tangy and salty flavour.  In English, this cheese is sometimes spelled as Rochefort.

Langres 

langres

Langres is a cheese made from cow’s milk in the Champagne region of France. It is a brine-coated cheese that is creamy and oozing in the centre. This makes it perfect for mopping up with chunks of fresh bread. It has quite a strong aroma but is certainly not in the league of ‘smelly feet’ cheese. 

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Cooking Tips for Students on a Budget

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When people leave home to become a student, it is the start of a new chapter of their lives. Along with the freedom and independence come additional responsibilities which require the development of new life skills. Two such skills are cooking and budgeting. The majority of students will have limited funds and will need to cover bills in their new accommodation as well as making sure they eat a healthy and nutritious diet. To achieve this on such limited funds can be tricky, but it is manageable with a little thought and planning into shopping and the preparation of food. Here are some ideas of some staple foods that every student should buy and some ideas for student meals on a budget.

Pulses

These are a much cheaper source of protein than meat. They can be used to make vegetarian alternatives to meals or to bulk up a meal if only a small amount of meat can be afforded. Chilli con Carne is one such meal where meat can be entirely replaced, or kidney beans and haricot (or baked) beans can be used to bulk up the meal using only a small amount of minced meat.  Beans on toast are also a really quick snack or meal to eat that is cheap and packed with nutrients. Opt for tins with low salt and sugar content.

Rice

Rice is usually really cheap to buy and you can buy it in large bags to store for long periods of time, thus avoiding wasting money and food. You can use rice as a side dish to accompany another item, such as a curry, or to create a dish on its own. Adding spices, small amounts of meat or fish and as many vegetables as you like are quick, easy, cheap and tasty ways to use rice. Rice is also an ingredient that you can experiment with a little as it will absorb the flavors of the other ingredients with which it is served.

Pasta

Similarly, pasta is inexpensive and you can but it in large quantities that store for long periods of time. There are countless ways of serving pasta.  One really easy and cheap option is to simply add a tomato sauce to the pasta.  You can do this either by using a jar of pasta sauce or making a homemade sauce using fresh tomatoes and some herbs. A simple ratatouille added to the pasta is another option for a cheap, tasty and nutritious dish. There are many variations of this but frying courgette, tomatoes and peppers together is really easy even for an amateur cook. Other options with pasta include tuna pasta bake, pasta carbonara (adding cheese, ham and mushrooms) or spaghetti bolognese. 

Experiment

Finally, the best advice that can be given to a student is to experiment with the food you create. Buy lots of things that store well and try out different combinations of ingredients together. Keep a stock of dried herbs and spices in the cupboard so you can get experimental with flavours in your cooking.

My Favorite Programs on the Food Network

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Two of my favorite hobbies are cooking and watching the television. Therefore, it is no surprise that in the evenings I enjoy watching programs on the ‘Food Network’ as it combines two of my passions. There is a great array of programs to watch on this network and here are some of my favourites. 

Chopped

I love cooking competitions and this is one with a difference. The four contestants must prepare a dish using a set of specific ingredients. These are unusual combinations that you wouldn’t usually put together. The judges then eat the dishes made before leaving just three contestants to compete in the main course/ entree round of the contest. Again, someone is eliminated until there are just two contestants remaining to fight it out in the dessert round. The winner takes home a big money prize.

Iron Chef

Seven professional chefs compete in this televised cooking competition and it is currently one of my favourite shows on the Food Network. The chefs are given a specific theme or ingredient to use when preparing their dishes. The host then announces the winner of the challenge and names the chef who created the dishes he liked the least. The winner can choose one other competitor to battle it out with the losing chef in an extra challenge. The dishes these chefs then produce using the chosen ingredient is judged by the host and a guest judge. The chef who produces the best dish stays in the competition and the other goes home. 

Mystery Diners

This is one of those programs that has you shouting a the screen in disbelief. Restaurant owners contact the Mystery Diners team when they have concerns about their business or particular members of staff. The team sets up cameras around the restaurant to watch the staff during a typical service in an attempt to identify the problem. They also have an undercover server under the pretense of them undergoing training and mystery diners who eat in the restaurants. During the show, there are many shocking moments when restaurant owners see their staff stealing, not doing their work, stealing their customers and many other appalling acts. 

Restaurant Stakeout

Restaurant Stakeout is a very similar type of show to Mystery Diners in the sense that there are hidden cameras to identify the problems in a business. However, the focus is much more on identifying problems so that restaurant owners can make changes than on filming shocking behaviour and sacking staff. 

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

Also known as ‘Triple D’, this show features just one man on a mission to find the best places to eat in the United States. He visits a variety of venues across America that offer a wide range of cuisines. The owners of the establishment then prepare the host one or two of their specialties. This show gives me inspiration for new dishes, combinations, and flavours. 

Eating Out on a Diet

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Dining out while dieting is where many people hit a stumbling block in their diet. The temptation to opt for a dish that is high in fat and served with a rich, creamy sauce can spoil the effort that you have made to lose weight for the rest of the week.  However, it is not necessary to avoid dining out altogether.  Here are some tips for dining out whilst dieting.

A Glass of Water

Taking the simple step of drinking a glass of water before you leave home can reduce your appetite making you less likely to overeat while you are dining out.  Similarly, drinking water with your meal will help to prevent you from overindulging.

Choose Your Venue Carefully

There are some cuisines that are more likely to offer a menu with lots of high fat and high-calorie meals. For example, fast food restaurants and fish and chip shops are places that are best avoided whilst you are on a diet.

Choose Meals Wisely

Take your time to read the menu and choose a meal that you will enjoy but that is also a good option for while you maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  If you are unsure of whether a meal contains ingredients that are high in fat and calories, then ask your server for advice.  Try to select a venue where there is a wide choice of food available on the menu or one that offers a salad bar.

Avoid the Sauce

The majority of sauces are high in calories and fat, so avoid these if possible. If the sauce is optional, then don’t order one.  If you find food too dry without a sauce then choose one that is vegetable based, such as a tomato sauce, rather than sauces that are cream based, such as peppercorn or brandy sauce. Similarly, ask for salads without the sauce. 

Side Orders

The accompaniments served with the main part of your meal can make a big difference.  If your meal comes with a choice of potatoes, then avoid fries and opt for boiled potatoes or a jacket.  A salad is also a good dieting choice as an accompaniment to your food.  Other additional items to avoid include side orders of garlic bread or onion rings.

Desserts

It is probably best to avoid desserts while trying to lose weight.  However, if you have a sweet tooth and can’t resist, then opt for a fruit salad, meringue or ice-cream.  Do not order extra cream or custard to accompany your dessert as this will only increase your overall fat and calorie intake.

Drinks

The drinks you choose can also make a significant impact on your calorie intake when eating out. Although most drinks are low in fat or fat-free, they are often high in sugar and calories. If you are drinking soft drinks, then opt for the diet options. In terms of alcoholic drinks, spirits are the best choice. Drink these either straight, with soda water or with low-calorie sodas. This is great news for G&T lovers!