A good cheese enjoyed on its own or as part of a board is a glorious thing – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cook with them. In fact, when it comes to those recipes where cheese is a key ingredient, the finer the cheese, the finer the finished dish will be. We sent cheese boxes to three chefs who regularly serve and cook with Neal’s Yard Dairy cheeses for the best recipes and tips to get the most out of your deliveries.
Anna worked with Jeremy Lee at the Blueprint Café, Margot Henderson at Rochelle Canteen and Ruth Rogers at the River Café, and was about to debut her own restaurant in collaboration with 40 Maltby Street when Covid-19 hit. She reveals how she plans on using Pitchfork Cheddar, Ogleshield and Colston Bassett Stilton in the kitchen.
Pitchfork Cheddar | Raw cow’s milk cheese made by Todd and Maugan Threthowan in Somerset
People might say it’s a bit of a waste to cook with artisan Cheddar, but if you’re interested in the sustainable side of produce—in buying in a way that supports the environment and the farmers—then it makes sense to use artisan cheese when cheese is required. Anything involving a white sauce really lends itself to Cheddar. One of my most repeated dishes throughout the year is root vegetable and cheese pie—shortcrust pastry, layers of cheese sauce, root vegetables and onions, whatever is in the fridge really—and I would say Cheddar and Lancashire are top picks for that. It can transition quite well into a summer pie too. Serve it at room temperature and you can pass it off as a quiche.
Ogleshield | Pasteurised cow’s milk cheese made by Jamie Montgomery and Tim Griffey in Somerset
This might sound strange, but Ogleshield makes a really good breakfast cheese: the taste is nice and round and not overpowering, so you can eat it first thing in the morning with a slice of tomato and ham and not be assaulted. Mainly though, it is just such a great melter: I usually use it for raclette and tartiflette—any melted cheese on potato situation—and there’s an Italian dish called pizzoccheri alla Valtellina which I really want to make with it, where you boil buckwheat pasta with cubed potatoes and savoy cabbage. When it’s drained, you toss the pasta with butter and sage and cubes of cheese. The heat melts the cheese, so it becomes a lovely gooey mess. Ogleshield is an Alpine-style cheese, so my number one pairing would be a wine from Savoie or Jura—perhaps a good vin jaune.
Colston Bassett Stilton | Pasteurised cow’s milk cheese made by Billy Kevan and team in Nottinghamshire
I don’t cook with blue cheese that much, though you can make delicious sauces with it. Now that I have a massive lump of Stilton sitting in my fridge though, I think I am going to make gnocchi, melt some Stilton very gently with a bit of cream, then cover the gnocchi with a blanket of velvety cheese sauce. I think Stilton would also work well over some slow roasted onions with some crusty breadcrumbs, it would be really delicious. Another plan I have for it is a crêpe, with some cream, shallot and peas mixed in too. Matching wines is slightly tricky if you’re having it for dinner—you don’t want a sweet wine at that point, and that is my go-to for Stilton—but a good option would be unfortified sherry wine, if you can find it.