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More Diners Are Now Saying Cheese It

September 12, 1996|ABBY MANDEL

There was a time when a well-rounded dining experience included cheese, more often than not as a French-inspired cheese course. An American selection, if you could have thought of such a thing, would have been limited to the usual supermarket choices.

That's no longer true. Americans are making some extremely good cheeses. And they're certainly not limited to the well-known likes of Cheddar, Muenster, Monterey Jack, blue, Havarti and Swiss. There is also a wide variety of American farmhouse cheeses being made today. These small producers turn out high-quality fresh and aged goat's and cow's milk cheeses, often organically produced.

There is, of course, no end to the many preparations where cheese plays a key role. In the following recipes, there's Muenster in the stuffed antipasto loaf and Cheddar in the dill biscuits--just enough cheese in each to make a delicious difference.


1 (1-pound) loaf Italian bread

1 tablespoon warm Garlic Oil

1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped

1/4 pound Muenster cheese, thinly sliced

4 paper-thin slices sweet onion

1 Roma tomato, thinly sliced


Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound soppressata or other Italian salami, sliced paper-thin

4 pickled pepperoncini peppers, drained, thinly sliced

4 roasted red bell peppers

Basil leaves

Cut 3/4-inch thick horizontal slice from top of bread loaf, reserving top. Remove inside of loaf, leaving about 3/4-inch shell. Lightly brush inside of shell with Garlic Oil to cover.

Layer ingredients evenly inside loaf: artichoke hearts, cheese, onion, tomato, sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste, then more cheese, salami, pepperoncini, red bell peppers, more cheese, basil leaves, final sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste. Replace loaf top. Brush outside of loaf with remaining Garlic Oil. Wrap in foil. Can be set up several hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before removing foil and slicing. Cut into 2-inch thick slices. Serve warm.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Each of 6 servings contains about:

460 calories; 962 mg sodium; 34 mg cholesterol; 23 grams fat; 50 grams carbohydrates; 17 grams protein; 0.70 gram fiber.


1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Gently heat garlic in oil on top of stove or in microwave (20 seconds on HIGH) until warm and fragrant. Strain mixture through fine sieve; discard garlic.

Makes 1/4 cup.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

122 calories; 0 sodium; 0 cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.01 gram fiber.


Just a small amount of cheese--finely diced, not grated--gives these biscuits a deep flavor. Serve these easy biscuits with soup meals, main dish salads and at barbecues.

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried dill

5 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup finely diced Cheddar cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and dill in food processor or in small bowl. Work butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal, either with food processor on/off pulse motion or with pastry blender. Add buttermilk and cheese. Mix only until ingredients clump together; do not over-mix. Dough will be very moist.

Transfer dough to well-floured board. Knead by folding and pressing it onto itself until it holds together and is smooth, about 30 seconds. Roll dough until uniformly 1/2-inch thick. Use round cutter to make 13 (2 3/4-inch) biscuits (gather dough scraps, knead and reroll). Grease baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with water to keep cheese from sticking. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet, spacing them 1-inch apart.

Use fork to froth egg and salt in small dish. Brush glaze over biscuits. Bake at 400 degrees until golden, about 15 minutes.

Can be served immediately or kept at room temperature for several hours. Gently reheat in 300-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes 13 servings.

Each serving contains about:

141 calories; 385 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.06 gram fiber.

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