When approached by Earth Fare to write a few blogs for them I was super excited but slightly stumped! I have so many ideas of things that I could make that would be awesome and was unsure what direction to take. I talked to quite a few friends and family members about what recipe would be the best to represent my blog. I do not specialize in vegan foods or gluten free meals. I am purely a cook that makes things that she loves; incorporating all types of foods into my repertoire. So after some thought I decided that is exactly what I should write about.... a food that I love and that drew me to Earth Fare.
What made me first LOVE Earth Fare?? Mmmm..... Cheese!!!!
Around 2002, I began to shop at Earth Fare in Greenville, SC for their healthy outlook on eating and all things food. Earth Fare was one of the first "whole food" stores in my area and it was like a new world to me. I loved going in every week and trying something new, discovering a new local producer in my area or gaining knowledge from one of their educated employees. I enjoyed all parts of the store, but I especially came to love their wonderful world of different cheeses! Over the years, I have frequented the cheese counter almost weekly; so much so that the employees that works in that area usually knows my name (ugggg.... the beer guy does too. But that is a different post!)
Through these visits, I have found my love for all types of cheeses, but one thing I always purchase are different spreadable cheeses. Some days, I buy a great triple brie and on others a creamy, herbed chevre log. I love to have these on hand for entertaining or just for a snack with a glass of wine after a long day at work. So after some thought, I decided I would challenge myself to make a spreadable cheese in an "Earth Fare" style just like the cheese I buy from them that I love so much. Of course, part of this challenge was using all Earth Fare ingredients, but that was not hard for me!! I always invite a chance to fill up my cart at their store.
Herb de Provence Soft Cheese
This is a great recipe to make to impress your friends or just have around for a special occasion. It is surprisingly simple and diverse! I can not wait till summer when my herb garden is in season and I can play with different herb combinations. Stay tuned for updates!!
1 quart whole milk (I have to give a shout out to our local creamery Happy Cow Creamery)
1 cup heavy cream (I used Organic Valley. I love a lot of their products.)
4 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. Herb de Provence (found in the Earth Fare bulk herb packets.)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine milk and cream and cook about 10 minutes or just until steam begins to rise from the mixture and bubbles from around the edge of the pot. Do not boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly stir in the vinegar. Let this sit for 20 minutes. The mixture will separate into curds and whey (remember Little Miss Muffet?) Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth, and set over a bowl. Pour the mixture into the strainer slowly. The curds will stay in the strainer and the whey will collect in the bowl; the whey can be disposed of. Wrap the cheesecloth over the top of the cheese and place the strainer (with cheese) and the bowl in the refrigerator to chill. You will need the bowl under the strainer because whey will continue to drain from the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.
After adequate chilling, remove the cheese from the refrigerator and peel off the cheesecloth. Break the cheese up in a small bowl and add the Herb de Provence, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix the herbs into the cheese until evenly distributed. At this time, you can place the cheese spread into a ramekin or you can place it in a decorative mold.
Additional note: You can make so many varieties of this cheese! For a more simple recipe, make this cheese with no herbs mixed in. Just add a little salt and pepper! It is also excellent with almost any herb mixture you can come up with or find in the Earth Fare bulk herb bin. Make up a unique herb mixture of your own and give this recipe a try!!