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.
James—head chef and founder of minimal waste, Michelin-starred restaurant Lyle's and restaurant and bakery Flor—has worked closely with Neal’s Yard Dairy for many years and regularly incorporates our cheeses into his cooking. Here, he shares his favourite ways to use Rollright, Sparkenhoe Blue and Berkswell.
Rollright | Pasteurised cow’s milk made by David Jowett in Gloucestershire
Rollright is a cheese that you should eat with something: it’s a great one for grilled bread, crushed walnuts and honey drizzled over the top. It’s not as funky as Reblochon (which it’s inspired by) and the rind isn’t going to offend anyone. You can use the scraps—those bits that have melted onto the plate that no one is going to eat and the rind—like you would a parmesan rind in a vegetable stew, like a ribollita. Cook chopped asparagus, peas, broad beans and some small courgettes and maybe some dried beans like coco beans, then throw the cheese rinds and ends in when you are five minutes off them being ready. They work like an infusion, bringing a bit of body and depth and background funk to the mix. You can leave them in or take them out, before serving dressed with olive oil and lemon zest.
Sparkenhoe Blue | Raw cow’s milk cheese made by Will Clarke in Warwickshire
A few months before we closed Lyle’s, we served chargrilled broccoli with a blue cheese dressing that is similar to mayonnaise, in that it is an emulsion of egg yolk—but you don’t heat it. The egg yolk is the base and then you blend in water, oil and cheese. The egg and fat holds itself in an emulsion and doesn’t split, then some salt, lemon juice and red wine vinegar brings the cheese flavour back into focus. You could serve this with any kind of seasonal chargrilled green vegetables.
When putting blue cheese in a salad, pair it with strong leaves: radicchio, or rocket and watercress. People get afraid of strong tastes in salads, but if both your dairy element and your leaves have a big flavour they stand up to each other and make everything more harmonious.
Berkswell | Raw sheep’s milk cheese made by Julie Hay and the Fletcher family in the West Midlands
This is a hard cheese, quite dry and therefore quite salty, making it a good foil for the sweetness of vegetables in salads or gratins. A really easy side dish would be shavings of Berkswell with raw, fresh peas, broad beans, some herbs like chervil and mint and just a simple dressing like olive oil and salt. It’s the equivalent of Pecorino in Italy; Manchego in Spain—it’s very reminiscent of those sorts of cheeses from Mediterranean climes, so it works well in those dishes.
Photo by Per-Anders Jorgensen