Results tagged dairy from David Lebovitz

Le cottage

cottage cheese

If you live in the United States, you probably are going to want to scratch your head at this one. Because it’s about something very common back there, otherwise known as le cottage here in France. Yes, it’s true. I used to take cottage cheese for granted. You could pick up a large tub of it in any grocery store, because somehow, it’s become a fixture in American dairy aisles along with fresh milk (sold by the gallon jugs with handles, which after living with slender liter bottles of milk for so long, seem absolutely gargantuan), yogurt, sour cream, and other creamy goodies.

I used to eat cottage cheese fairly regularly and fell into the ‘large curd’ camp. As some of you might know, there’s the small-curd and the large-curd people, and I like the bigger soft, pillowy blobs of cheese, which rest in their milky liquid, waiting for my spoon to plow into the container and spoon them out. Then there’s the full-fat, low-fat, and non-fat people, but at this point in my life, it’s all moot due to where I live.

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What is half-and-half?

half-and-half

Readers who are unfamiliar with the product, when they find it listed as an ingredient in a recipe, often ask: What is half-and-half?

Half-and-half is a product that is composed of one-half cream and one-half whole milk. In the United States, the fat percentages of those products are 30 to 36%, and 3.25%, respectively. Store-bought half-and-half can be anywhere in the range of 10.5% to 18% butterfat. (Fat-free and lowfat half-and-half items are available, but I don’t use them.) Half-and-half was likely conceived as something to be added to coffee, and was meant to be an item of convenience. It’s a common item in grocery stores in the United States, sold in pints and quarts alongside the milk, cream, and other fresh dairy products.

I use half-and-half in recipes where I want some richness, but not the same richness if full-fat cream was used. In some instances, I’ll offer an option to use either cream or half-and-half, to satisfy those looking for richness versus those looking to be a little more prudent. Like most recipes, always use what is indicated in the list of ingredients.

You can make half-and-half by mixing both whole milk and whipping cream or heavy cream, in equal proportions.



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Making Irish Butter

butter balls

Who knew there was a museum of butter? Well, there is, and it’s in Cork, Ireland. Of course, the country has a rich history making dairy products, but considering how supportive I’ve been of butter worldwide, it was somewhat of a pilgrimage for me to get to where it probably originated.

cork butter museum

Throughout history, butter was considered extremely valuable as it was a source of fat and nourishment. Meat and other forms of protein were, and still are, considered items of luxury in most of the world. Im ur is sweet butter, in Irish (gruiten is salted butter), and no matter where it’s made, butter not only takes quite some skill to produce, but historically has been women’s work.

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Le Petit Suisse

If you live in the US and shop in supermarkets, usually there are just a few choices of yogurt, ranging from lots of mass-produced store brands to a few upscale organic selections. But visiting the yogurt aisle at the grocery store in France is always an exciting event for me.

The choices just go on and on and on and on and on and on and….

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There’s plain yogurts made from cow, sheep, and goat milk.

There’s reduced-fat.

There’s soy yogurt (à la vache! in this land where cows are sacred…)

There’s names like Fjord and Jockey.

There’s off-beat flavors like fig, kiwi, prune, and wheat (yes, wheat.)

Small fromageries sell dainty glass jars filled with tangy, farm-fresh yogurt. Enormous hypermarches like Auchan boast multiple refrigerated aisles stocked with nothing but yogurt and fromage blanc, a cousin to yogurt (fromage blanc and fromage frais are soft, fresh cheeses, eaten with a spoon.)

When yogurt is sweetened, the labeled usually proclaims avec sucre de canne, with cane sugar, which is highly regarded here as a sweetener, in spite of the many sugar-beets harvested in France. In the US, high-fructose corn syrup is used, which is much cheaper than sugar but has an icky syrup-y aftertaste that I don’t like. If you’ve ever compared a American Coke with a Coke from Mexico or Europe, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’ve always been tantalized by le Petit Suisse since stories of French people descending on a San Francisco supplier during their
Open Warehouse
events which are legendary.

Le Petit Suisse is not yogurt, but a very rich little pot of fresh, sweet fromage frais. The first thing you notice is it’s about half the size of the standard (4 oz) French yogurt (left, which is about half the size of a standard American yogurt (8 oz).

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Le Petit Suisse is made from skim milk, cream, and ferments lactiques. It was developed by a Swiss dairy worker, Monsieur Gervais, whose name is still emblazoned across the packaging. He’s credited for developing it over 150 years ago in Normandy, a region justly famous for it’s smooth, creamy, and unctuous cheeses like Camembert de Normandie, Epoisses and Pont L’Evêque.

Being France, naturally there are lots of rules involved if you want to enjoy it properly.

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Overturn the little pot and squeeze it slightly to release the cylinder. Tip le petit Suisse on its side, then unroll it while peeling off the paper. Then you sprinkle a generous amount of turbinado sugar (called cassonade, or unrefined cane sugar) over the top, or serve it with a spoonful of jam. And dig in. It’s tangy-sweet taste lends itself to being served with a fruit compote as well, although I prefer it as shown. And I like to savor it with a tiny spoon; its richness is best enjoyed in small doses.

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