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.
The chef and proprietor of Soho institution Quo Vadis divulges his tips for serving and cooking Baron Bigod, Kirkham’s Lancashire and Stichelton
Baron Bigod | A raw cow's milk cheese made by Jonny Crickmore and team in Suffolk
Baron Bigod melts beautifully—it’s ideal for throwing over those random bits of leftover veg to make a gratin. On its own, I like it with apple and oatcakes. Folks have gone on a bit of a bread binge but oatcakes and bannocks are so easy and cheap to make, and they keep brilliantly. This is a brie-like cheese with which I would pair a great claret or a burgundy, delightful French classics to which I remain assiduously devoted.
Kirkham’s Lancashire | A raw cow's milk cheese made by Graham Kirkham in Lancashire
Finding Kirkham’s in my box was a very jolly surprise. I love cooking with the Dairy’s hard and semi-hard cheeses. Kirkham’s Lancashire is a fabulous eating cheese for lunch, elevenses—even breakfast, I’d say—but it also melts brilliantly. It’s an ideal cheese for Welsh rarebit. The buttery flavour makes it good for cheese biscuits, or pastry. Pies and tarts are just brilliant for bringing together a big clod of cheese with some spinach, herbs and onions, say. I am thinking of returning to a Quo Vadis pesto dish with mine: blended walnuts, wild rocket, and garlic, with a square of Kirkham’s whizzed roughly in at the last second. It’s such a buttery cheese, it creates a gorgeous texture. Grill and lightly butter some bread, copiously spoon on this pesto and pop it back under the grill for just a few minutes, until the cheese has melted slightly but hasn’t lost its structure. You can make pesto for stirring into risotto and pasta with all manner of different nuts and leaves and cheeses, it doesn’t always have to be Parmesan.
Stichelton | A raw cow's milk cheese made by Joe Schneider in Nottinghamshire
Of course, we all think of Christmas with this raw milk blue cheese from Joe Schneider, but it is made all year round and is consistently of excellent quality. Pop it on a cheeseboard with some dried figs, or a damson cheese which has a nice zip and a zing, or have it in a warm salad with walnut and pear. Blue cheese is interesting when it comes to wine. I always prefer a good Madeira, or a delicious Sauternes: the slight sweetness of the cheese makes port or pudding wines great companions. What’s wonderful about the Stichelton, and about most of the cheeses at the Dairy, is that it is uniquely itself—a masterpiece of its kind.