A request to review a food product has definitely got to be the best perk of being a food blogger. Canadian cheese maker Castello sent an e-mail few weeks back.To be honest, I was moderately flattered by the mention of praise for my blog from their Social Media Communicator. I’m a sucker, I know. I was sold right there. Luckily, it was cheese. And luckily it wasn’t Castello’s blue cheese. Prior to this I had only known Castello to be making blue cheese. I would have been so badly torn if I had to review blue cheese. But from the blue cheese lovers (of which I am not one), I hear Castello Rosenborg is delicious.
But this post is about the Alps and I’m happy to say that the Alps Selection is more my kind of cheese. The kind that allows me to be creative … and creative is where I thrive best.
The Alps Selection is a range of cheeses unique to the Bavarian Alps. These cheeses are original and authentic recipes of the Bavarian Alpine farmers, made from cows’ milk infused with herbs before being turned into cheese. They consist of : the Classic, Hirten, Chiantino and Weissbier
Our grocer, Domnion, could only provide three out of the four from the selection: the Classic, Hirten and Chiantino (the Weissbier will have to wait for another time, perhaps).
So here is what I thought about the three available from the Alps selection.
- Texture: dry and crumbly
- Taste: mild with a strong finish, slight lingering bitterness and a definite taste of pine but no caramel as mentioned.
- Versatility: not a melting cheese but when melted it tastes equally great. I wouldn’t choose this to snack on
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5. This cheese may be a developed taste if served for snacking. I will definitely use this cheese to make more of my own recipe (Hirten Apple Tartlet) and use the rest on salads or over pasta.
- Texture: Smooth. Not as dark in colour as advertised.
- Taste: Smoky hint, not too poignant, smooth and a well balanced creamy finish. Could not taste herbs. It took a while before I could get the smoky hint.
- Versatility: Good snacking cheese. Moderate melting capacity.
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5. I prefer a more robust smoky flavour. I want to try make cheese crackers with these.
- Texture: Smooth and creamy
- Taste: Mild sweetness. Hint of wine on the rind. Was hoping for a chocolate like flavour on the rind but disappointed.
- Versatility: Great versatility. Alone or melted – both great. Good cheese to snack on, in a sandwich, or melted.
- Rating: 4 out of 5. My favourite of the three. Will definitely buy this again.
All that cheese tasting got me thinking about ways to cook with them. So I came up with two recipes using two out of the three cheeses I tasted. The first one is an apple tartlet with a twist. I call it the Hirten Apple Tartlette. It was my intention to create a tartlet that can be picked up and eaten out of a cocktail napkin – no forks needed. After trying two different ways I succumbed to the definite robustness of an overfilled tarlette that needs more care in eating than with nimble fingers. The size of the tartlet and the amount of filling made a huge difference. I admit I have never come up with a tart filling combination better than this. The apples are slightly undercooked, sweet, tart, with the woody fragrance of rosemary and the mild creamy saltiness of Hirten layered in and topped with more cheese and pine nuts. I cannot wait to make a larger version of this deliciousness for the holidays!
The creaminess of the Chiantino and the cranberry red rind inspired me to make little puff pastry stars that are topped with sweet strawberries and mildly spicy pepper jelly – and the much missed chocolate … perfect for holiday entertaining.
Here are the two recipes. Hope you like them as much as I did. Product reviewing is absolutely fun!
Hirten Apple Tartlete
- Apples: 6 small diced
- Castello’s Hirten Cheese: 1 cup shaved
- Pre made tart shells: 12
- Butter: 2 tbsp
- Brown sugar:6 tbsp
- Lemon juice: 2 tbsp
- Rosemary: 1/2 tsp finely chopped
- Cranberry: 1 tbsp chopped
- Pine nuts: 1/4 cup
- Pre heat one to 350 degrees F.
- Pre cook the tart shells according to package instructions.
- Heat butter, add apples, brown sugar and rosemary and cook on medium heat by stirring now and then. Let the apples partially cook in the butter and brown sugar about 10-12 minutes.
- Take of heat and add the lemon juice and cranberries. Mix well and set aside to cool.
- When mixture is cooled add half cup of shaved Hirten cheese.
- Fill the tart shells with the apples, slightly overfilling them. Top with a few blades of shaved cheese and pine nuts.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes till the cheese is melted and pine nuts have turned colour.
Chocolate, Chili, Cheese Stars
- Puff Pastry: 1 sheet
- Castello’s Chiantino Cheese: sliced or shredded 1/2 cup
- Strawberry: 1 cup very small diced
- Red Pepper Jelly: 4 tsp
- Cadury Flake: 1 bar ( gently broken to keep the flakes intact) or shaved chocolate
- Pre heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Cut stars out of the puff pastry with a cookie cutter or any shape of your choice.
- Mix strawberries with the red pepper jelly and set aside.
- Arrange the pastry cut outs on a parchment on a baking tray and bake for 8 mins. Remove from oven and assemble cheese in the centre topped with 1/2 tsp strawberry and jelly mixture.
- Return the pastry back in the one and cook for another 5 mins or until the cheese is melted.
- Take out of oven and when slightly cooled top the stars with a little bit of cheese and the flakes of chocolate.