5 of the Best Varieties of French Cheese

Image result for french cheese

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

Roquefort_Cheese_Grenoble

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. 

Advertisements

RECIPE: Creamy Chicken, Chorizo, and Tomato Pasta Bake

423517445_9266e2083b_z

Pasta dishes are some of the simplest and quickest to make. That makes them perfect for busy families who want something delicious and nutritious for their tea but don’t have hours to spare for food preparation. This creamy chicken, chorizo and tomato pasta bake is really tasty and very simple to make. Here is how to make creamy chicken, chorizo, and tomato pasta bake.

Ingredients for Creamy Chicken, Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Bake

  • 10oz/ 300g dried penne pasta
  • 3 diced chicken breasts
  • 3 1/2oz/ 100 g chorizo, chopped
  • 400g chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 5oz/ 150 g chopped mozzarella cheese
  • 3oz/ 75g soft cheese
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 oz/ 30g torn fresh basil
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Creamy Chicken, Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Bake

  1. Prepare all your ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220 C/ Gas mark 8.
  3. In accordance with the instructions on the packet, cook your pasta in salted boiling water.
  4. In a large frying pan, cook the chorizo for 3-4 minutes over a high heat until the oils from the chorizo are released.
  5. Next, add both the chicken and the crushed garlic to the pan. Cook for a further five minutes.
  6. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes and tip in the can of chopped tomatoes. Bring the mixture to simmering point.
  7. Add the soft cheese and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce and has a creamy consistency and appearance.
  8. Add half the oregano and three-quarters of the fresh basil.
  9. Drain the cooked penne pasta and transfer to the mixture.
  10. Stir well to make sure the pasta is thoroughly coated in the sauce and the chicken and chorizo are evenly distributed.
  11. Season with black pepper and stir through.
  12. Transfer everything from the frying pan to an oven-proof dish.
  13. Sprinkle over the chopped mozzarella, the parmesan and the remaining oregano.
  14. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the mozzarella and parmesan topping is bubbling and golden.
  15. Serve onto plates or into pasta bowls and sprinkle over the remaining basil to garnish.  

TIPS

  • Switch the meat– this dish works just as well with diced turkey if you prefer this to chicken.
  • Pasta alternatives– this recipe uses penne pasta, but most other varieties of pasta will work just as well.
  • Fresh pasta– If you prefer, you can make fresh pasta. However, you will need to adapt the cooking time as this cooks in just minutes.
  • Serving suggestion– This is fantastic with a tossed side salad and crunchy garlic bread.

8 Ways to Use Blue Cheese

blue cheese

Blue cheese is one of those ingredients that some people love and other people hate. I am certainly in the category of people who love blue cheese. While it is often eaten alone, I think this is an extremely versatile ingredient that you can use in many different ways. Depending on the variety you choose, it can add many different flavours, from creamy to tangy. Here are some of my favourite ways to use blue cheese.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken– Similar to a Kiev, stuffing a chicken breast with blue cheese before baking it in the oven means you add a delicious and creamy flavour to what is sometimes a rather bland meat. When you cut into the breast, the melted blue cheese oozes out onto the plate.

Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Walnuts– This may seem an unusual combination but it absolutely delicious. Poach halved and cored pears in a poaching liquor of your choice and then place on a baking tray. Add chopped walnuts and crumbled blue cheese to the top before baking in the oven.

Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce– A combination of two of my favourite things, steak with blue cheese sauce is a classic. I make it in the pan I have cooked the steak in while the meat is resting using the steak juices, double cream, crumbled blue cheese, and ground black pepper.

Blue Cheese Soufflé– If you are a fan of cheese soufflé, then you probably love a blue cheese soufflé. It has a deeper flavour and you simply switch the regular cheese you use for blue cheese.

Blue Cheese and Crackers– Cheese with crackers is the perfect snacks when you are in the house alone and haven’t got the time to make a large meal. This is also delicious with a glass of red wine in the evenings.

Blue Cheese Dip– A perfect addition to a simple lunch and great to use on a buffet. Blending some blue cheese into mayonnaise with a little black pepper is delicious. Serve it with breadsticks, crudités or any other dipping foods. This is also good for serving with a salad.

Potato Leek and Blue Cheese Soup– A soup is a warming dish that is perfect for the colder months. Potato and leek is one of the simplest soups to make and adding blue cheese gives it an extra depth of flavour. Add either croutons, cream or crispy bacon to the top.

Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad– Crumbling blue cheese and walnuts over a basic salad makes an otherwise boring dish more interesting. The cheese adds a creamy texture and flavour to complement the crisp textures and flavours of the salad ingredients. The walnuts add crunch and a flavour that works well with the cheese. You can use any salad ingredients you like. I usually use salad leaves, chopped cucumber, sliced red onion, and cherry tomatoes.

Do you have any favourite dishes that use blue cheese?

How to Eat Healthily On a Budget

fruit and veg

One excuse that people often make for being overweight or unhealthy is that they cannot afford to eat well. They believe that eating convenience foods is cheaper than eating fresh foods. This doesn’t have to be the case. As a mum of four, I know how the groceries bill can soon add up but I still like to give my children a varied and balanced diet. Here are some ideas on how to eat healthily even when you are on a budget. 

Stock Up Your Cupboards

Buying lots of items that can be kept in the store cupboard is a good idea as these items will keep well. This will avoid the costs created when food is bought and then not used before its sell-by date. Items like pasta and rice are really cheap and are an excellent source of carbohydrates which are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. They also provide a lot of different options with regards to meal choice as you can serve them as part of many meals. Similarly, pulses are a really cheap option and are high in protein.  This includes tins of baked beans, although look at the salt content on the labels as this can sometimes be quite high. Tinned fruit and vegetables are also good to keep in your cupboards as they are inexpensive, store for longer and are usually prepared so you will save time as well as money.

Shop Frequently, Buy Less

One of the main reasons why people believe that buying fresh and healthy food is more expensive is because they have a big shop and then throw lots of food away as it has gone off or is past its use by date.  However, if you made the simple change of shopping more frequently and only buying items of food that you are going to use over using for the next few days, then this can be easily avoided.

Grow Your Own Vegetables

This is the ultimate way to save money and eat fresh, healthy foods. To grow a few simple items will not require you to have a large garden or to be particularly green-fingered. If you have a windowsill or a balcony, then you can grow a few vegetables- not enough to feed your family for the next year, but it’s a start.  Packets of seeds cost pence to buy.  Some of the simplest fruit and vegetables to grow yourself are tomatoes and courgettes.  Of course, if you are green-fingered and you have a large garden then you can plant fruit trees, potatoes and any vegetables that your family enjoy. 

Cheaper Cuts of Meat

People often dismiss the cheaper cuts of meat, but these are often the tastiest cuts. They are usually particularly well-suited to longer cooking methods, such as stewing or braising. Therefore, they are ideal for throwing into a slow-cooker with some water and vegetables before you leave for work and you will have a delicious and healthy casserole to come home to at the end of the day. Remember, to remove the fat before cooking!

Offers and Vouchers

Look out for any foods that are on offer or that you have collected vouchers for.  Many supermarkets have offers on healthier items such as fruit and vegetables as they are trying to promote healthier living.