Festive Cheese Dishes Inspired by the Classic Poem
‘Twas weeks before Christmas, and all through the land
All the home cooks were stirring, wooden spoon in hand.
Dishes were set, on the buffet with care.
For ravenous guests, soon would be there…
Holiday menus are more enjoyable with a theme, so this is why four cheese-loving Canadian chefs, found inspiration in their favourite Christmastime story, The Night Before Christmas.
Each chef created an appetizer, entrée and dessert featuring their favourite ingredient – cheese. From feta dips, to paneer mains and mascarpone desserts, the options were limitless, because cooking with cheese is so easy!
The chefs chose their favourite cheeses from Tre Stelle because it’s Canadian, delivers on taste and quality – and it has a vast selection that’s widely available. All important elements for making delicious, simple dishes, fast.
First up was fourteen-year-old (and twice-published cookbook author) Inès Gauthier from Montreal. She created an easy and creative looking dessert inspired by the line, “As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they met with an obstacle, mount to the sky.”Her mini mascarpone graham cracker “trees” were a French-Canadian nod to Père Noel which she finished with a drizzle of sweet and tartly cranberry coulis.
Garrett Martin from Bridgette Bar in Calgary created an appetizer inspired by the infamous description of Santa: “His eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry, his cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry” – He created a caramelized crostini with mozzarella which represented Santa’s beard and black pepper cherry jam, for his nose.
Kendall Collingridge, executive chef of Founder in Toronto based his creation on one of the most famous lines from the poem: “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced through their heads.” His Sugarplum Ricotta is so good it will also dance through your head!
And from Vancouver’s Homer Street Café & Bar, chef Tristen Katcher, took his cue from the stanza “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below” and created a bitter greens beet salad with a snowy layer of crumbled feta. Light and flavourful.
For full recipes see below – or visit www.TreStelle.com for these recipes and eight more!
Cranberry Mascarpone “Trees” by Inès Gauthier (Montreal, QC)
As inspired by “As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky…”
3 Egg yolks
1 cup Icing sugar, divided
2/3 cup Whipping cream (35%)
1 (225 g tub) Tre Stelle ® Mascarpone
16 Grahams crackers
1 cup Frozen cranberries
¾ cup Water
In a bowl, using a whisk or electric handheld mixer, beat the egg yolks with ¾ cup of the icing sugar. Add mascarpone and continue to whisk in until incorporated. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream (again, using a whisk or handheld mixer) until you have a thick cream with soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until fully combined and transfer into a pastry bag (or ziplock bag, with a corner snipped off).
In a blender, add the frozen cranberries, water, and remaining icing sugar and blend of medium-high speed until you have a smooth coulis.
To serve, pipe a small dot of mascarpone cream on to the plate to act as a foundation for the first graham cracker. Then firmly place a graham cracker on top of the mascarpone cream and gently press. Alternate sandwich layers of mascarpone cream and graham crackers until you have a stack of four graham crackers. Finish with more mascarpone cream, drizzle with coulis and finish with a dusting of icing sugar.
Caramelized Mozzarella Crostinis With Cherry Black Pepper Jam by Garrett Martin (Bridgette Bar, Calgary)
For the Cherry Black Pepper Jam
½ cup Dried cherries (or substitute for raisins)
½ teaspoon Ground black pepper
½ cup Sugar
½ cup Red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
Add ingredients to small pot and reduce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once thickened and almost no liquid remains, remove from heat and place in a new container and chill in refrigerator.
For the assembly
2 slices Prosciutto, cut into 4 slices each
1 Small loaf of Focaccia
2 slices Tre Stelle ® Deluxe Mozzarella, ¾’’ Thick
Slice focaccia through the middle of the loaf, along the equator, and cut top and bottom halves into eight 1’’x 3’’ pieces. Add a small amount of canola oil to a non-stick pan, and heat the pan over medium heat. Toast the focaccia pieces face down in the hot oil until crispy. Remove from the pan and wipe pan clean. Add a drizzle more canola oil and turn heat to high. Season the mozzarella slices with a small amount of kosher salt. When the pan is very hot and the oil begins to shimmer, carefully add the mozzarella to the hot pan and cover immediately with a lid. The mozzarella will sizzle and look like it’s melting out the sides. Griddle for 10 seconds and then use a spatula to flip the mozzarella. Add the lid back on and cook for a further 10 seconds. Do not overcook or the mozzarella will melt.
Remove from the pan and set aside on a cutting board. Cut the mozzarella slices into four pieces each. Add one piece to each slice of toasted focaccia. Add a small spoonful of the cherry jam on top of each slice of cheese, and then nicely ruffle up the slices of prosciutto. Add one slice to each piece of toast to garnish and serve immediately.
Sugarplum Ricotta Cheesecake by Kendall Collingridge (Founder, Toronto)
As inspired by, “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads”
For the cheesecake
1 cup gingerbread cookie crumbs
3 tbsp melted butter
475g Tre Stelle® Extra Smooth Ricotta Cheese
½ cup Sour cream
1/2 cup Sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 tbsp Flour
1.5 tsp. grated lemon zest
in bowl, combine crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan; chill.
Place ricotta, sour cream, sugar, egg yolks, flour and lemon zest in processor bowl.
Process 15 seconds; scrape down sides of bowl with spatula, then process until smooth, about 60 seconds.
In large bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. With spatula push to one side, then pour cheese mixture down inside edge of bowl and fold
in beaten whites. Do not overmix, fold just until blended .Pour into prepared pan and bake at 325°F (160°C) for 50 to 60 minutes.
Until a tester inserted between edge and middle comes out clean. (The middle should still quiver). Remove from oven and
immediately run a long sharp knife all around the inside edge of pan. Let cool on rack. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
For the poached plums
500 g Plums, halved or quartered with stone removed
1 tsp Whole black peppercorns
1 stick Cinnamon
1 cup Red wine
1/3 cup Sugar
Wrap the cloves and peppercorns in a muslin bag or cheesecloth.
In a medium saucepan combine the muslin bag, cinnamon stick, red wine and sugar and bring to a simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Add the plums and cook on low heat until the plums are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
Remove the plums, and discard the cinnamon stick and muslin bag. Reheat the red wine syrup until reduced by half then add in the plums and keep warm until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, spoon over poached plums. Just before serving (or up to 2 hours before serving), sprinkle sugar evenly over surface of cheesecake. Using a mini torch, heat until sugar melts and caramelizes. Serve immediately with spiced plum syrup on plate.
Bitter Greens with Beets, Apple & Feta by Tristen Katcher (Homer Street Café & Bar, Vancouver)
As inspired by, “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below…”
For the beets
4 medium red beets
Apple Cider Vinegar
Preheat oven to 375F. Clean the beets, and put into a small oven-safe dish(a loaf pan works well), stem side down. Drizzle with some olive oil and salt, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Add just enough water to touch the bottom of the beets (1 inch or so). Cover with foil or a tight fitting lid, and bake in the oven at until tender when poked with a toothpick (30-90 minutes, depending on the beets). While still warm, use a towel to rub the skin off the beet. Slice the beets into nice rounds, season with red wine vinaigrette and reserve.
For the vinaigrette
½ cup Red wine vinegar
1 cup Olive oil
2 tablespoons Grainy Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Honey
Salt & Pepper to taste
Whisk Vinegar, Dijon, Honey, salt & pepper together.
Slowly drizzle olive oil, whisking vigorously into the vinegar to emulsify. Reserve until needed.
For the assembly
Mixed Bitter Greens (radicchio, frisee, endive, mustard greens, etc)
Green apple, sliced thin
Marinated Red Beets
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Feta Cheese, crumbled
Assemble a nice mix of bitter greens, slice up radicchio, tear some frisee, pull apart a bit of endive, and add some mustard greens for a bit of heat. Use whatever your favourites are, and play around with different ratios of each. Go for lots of color, and lots of flavor! Season your greens with a bit of salt, and then add red wine vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. Place a nice layer of the marinated beets on the bottom of your plate, and top with a big pile of the dressed bitter greens. Top with a generous portion of sliced apple, and a nice sprinkle of feta cheese.
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