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Recipe Rescue: July 2014

There are very few ingredients in the cooking world that offer such pure pleasure and are as diverse and complex as cheese.

July 3, 2014 
By Patrick Mathieu

There are very few ingredients in the cooking world that offer such pure pleasure and are as diverse and complex as cheese.

From enjoying the endless varieties on their own to the excitement of discovering new dishes to cook, cheese is an ingredient to savor.  

It is not uncommon these days to peer into the cheese case at the local supermarket and see hundreds of different shapes, sizes, colours, moulds and smells. How do you even begin to decide what to choose to enjoy or experiment with, especially if the only cheese you grew up with came in a yellow and blue box of macaroni? 

By learning about and focusing on the basic styles of cheese, the type of milk used (cow, sheep or goat), the country of origin, and the aging process, you will be able to discover the world of cheese, learn which types you enjoy or can’t bear to smell, and understand which cheese is best suited
for what. 


With thousands of varieties of cheese, it is next to impossible to compile a list of favorites. I enjoy the classics such as a stretchy fresh mozzarella, creamy Brie or melty Monterrey Jack. Below are some of my preferred cheeses and the suggested uses, which I believe everyone should at least know about and hopefully taste and experience. 

Cheese, like so many ingredients, is subject to each person’s senses, but as was the case when I converted my brothers to blue-cheese lovers from skeptics through a chimmichurri flank steak and blue cheese flatbread – you’ll never know how delicious it is until you try it. Let’s get something straight: there are absolutely no bad cheeses. Limburger – which has a strong and rather unpleasant odour – is close, but even it’s delicious!

Cheeses you should get to know:
Roquefort – A sheep’s milk blue cheese from Roquefort, France, that uses the mould from its caves to produce this amazing, very sharp and nutty cheese. I enjoy it as is but it pairs very well with nuts and honey, so check out my recipe for seared scallop and endive salad with Roquefort, toasted walnuts and honey lime vinaigrette.

Smoked or aged cheddar – The best brands come from Canada (I love Cow’s brand from Prince Edward Island) or England. Usually made from cow’s milk, the better ones are aged at least one year. The colour can range from ivory white to straw to a deep caramel colour. Often sharp and crumbly, I love my cheddar added to soups, grilled cheese or other sandwiches and casseroles.

Parmigiano-Reggiano – Real parmesan cheese does not come in a shakable container; believe me, you will discover the difference! This dry, hard, crumbly cheese from Italy is well aged and has a great crunch and a deep nutty flavor.  Don’t be afraid to try it on its own but of course it is perfect grated on salads and pastas. Don’t forget to save your rinds for adding flavor to soups.

Manchego – What Parmigianno is to Italy, Manchego is to Spain. It is made with sheep’s milk and has a rich buttery and deep salty flavor. Enjoy as is or check out my recipe in which it is breaded and fried!

Queso fresco – This is a soft, Mexican, fresh cheese, meaning it hasn’t been aged. It is usually made from a combination of cow and goat milk. It is very light with a salty sour kick and is one of the best cheeses to have on hand to sprinkle over salads, grilled vegetable, and, of course, Mexican dishes such as tacos and enchiladas. 

Emmental – This cheese is what many people think of when they hear “Swiss cheese;” it has the holes and everything. It is a firm cow’s milk cheese from the mountains of Switzerland. It is a great melter and is perfectly suited for fondue, grilled cheeses, or grated over casseroles and soups

Chèvre – The French word chèvre translates to “goat,” and is used to refer to any cheese made from goat’s milk. Bright and briny with a lemony flavor, chèvre is sold in vacuum-sealed logs, sometimes flavored with herbs, spices, or garlic. Chèvre is great crumbled in salads, breaded and fried, or served in sandwiches. And it makes the best macaroni and cheese.

Halloumi – This semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made of sheep and goat milk has a very high melting point so it can be fried or, even better, grilled. Halloumi is a great addition to grilled vegetable kebobs.

Honorable mention: Gouda, Gruyere, Camembert, Provolone, Cojita, and Marscarpone (for dessert)

My dilemma is that my list of favourites, which I intended to cap at five, continues to grow. Hopefully, with this bit of insight and, perhaps, with the help of your local cheesemonger, you can navigate the world of cheese. Allow your taste and senses to guide you and don’t be afraid to try something new, because in the world of cheese, there is only best and a little less than best.

lettuce wraps  

Warm almond-encrusted lettuce wraps


  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 (8-ounce) slice manchego cheese
  • about 1-inch thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
  • 2 leaves Boston leaf lettuce


  1. Set up 3 bowls: 1 with flour seasoned with salt and pepper, 1 with egg and 1 tbsp of water and seasoned with salt and pepper, and 1 with the bread crumbs and ground almonds.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  3. Cut cheese into 2 equal pieces. Dredge the cheese first in the flour, then in the egg wash, and finally in the bread crumbs.
  4. Place the cheese on a cooking tray, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and the cheese is soft. Place manchego on a Boston lettuce leaf and immediately drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil or your favorite flavored oil (chili infused is a perfect pairing), and sprinkle with slivered almonds and parsley. Enjoy together!

Grilled Halloumi  

Grilled Halloumi kabob with olive salad


  • 1/2 pound chunk Halloumi
  • 2 tbsp picked oregano leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 grilled lemon, juiced


  1. Brush the cheese with olive oil and place onto a medium hot grill for 2 minutes on each side, or until marked.
  2. Remove and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Sprinkle with oregano. Drizzle the olive oil on top and squeeze the lemon juice over the cheese.
  3. Serve with the olive salad.

Olive Salad – ingredients

  • 1/2 cup jumbo black olives, such as Nicoise, sliced
  • 1/2 cup large green olives, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped celery
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp minced fresh basil
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Endive salad  

Endive salad with honey-lime vinaigrette and seared scallops


  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

For the Salad:

  • 3 tangerines
  • 1 small fennel bulb with fronds
  • 2 Belgian endive
  • 2 heads Boston lettuce, torn
  • 8 ounces Roquefort, crumbled
  • ¼ cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 8 large sea scallops
  • 1 tblp clarified butter
  • 1 tblsp vegetable oil
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon


  1. In a bowl. Whisk together everything except the 2 oils. Continue whisking while adding the oils in a thin stream. Keep whisking until well combined.
  2. Cut off peel and outer membrane of tangerines and cut out segments. Save the juice for a nice shot of vitamin C.
  3. Core and thinly slice fennel lengthwise placing in a serving bowl. Separate endive leaves and cut into thirds; add to bowl. Add lettuce and oranges. Pour dressing over top and toss to coat. Top with Roquefort and walnuts and set aside.
  4. Heat butter and oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper and lay them clockwise, so you can remember which ones to flip first.
  5. Flip scallops when they turn golden brown on the bottom. When both sides are a nice golden brown colour, add lemon juice to pan, making sure to coat the scallops with the lemon juice. Top endive salad with seared scallops and enjoy!

Patrick Mathieu is a 13-year veteran of Waterloo Fire Rescue, where he is acting captain. He has won several cooking competitions and has helped raise thousands of dollars for charities by auctioning gourmet dinners at the fire hall. Contact him at

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