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How to use up old cheese?

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I have tons of old cheese-ends in my fridge, including feta, smoked gouda, gruyere, etc. Some are just "aged" and some have one foot in the grave. I want to use them up by making macaroni and cheese, since I also have extra milk. I'll add chives and parsley from the garden, and will freeze the finished product for baking in the future. I may pop in some dried tomatoes. I also have swiss chard I'm trying to use up; shall I include it?

Any thoughts about how to improve or at least not go wrong?

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  1. I really like the mac & cheese I've been making lately with feta, dill, spinach, arugula. Sometimes I add other greens, mushroom and peppers. Didn't grow swiss chard this year, but I'd use it in this dish, if it was on hand.

    Have also had an amazing mac & cheese with ham, using gruyere.

    Wouldn't mix the smoked gouda with the other cheeses, if you're making a mac & cheese.

    2 Replies
    1. re: prima

      What do you do to the spinach so it doesn't leak all over?

      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

        Depends on how many dishes I want to wash ;-)

        I usually wash, drain and spin the spinach, and chop coarsely. Then I either sautee in evoo with a clove of minced garlic, while I'm parboiling the mac. If I'm also using mushrooms, I sautee the mushrooms with the spinach until they give off their liquid. Once the spinach and mushrooms are cooked, I drain them in the colander, combine with the cooked mac, fresh chopped dill/chives/parsley and or basil, white sauce (if I'm using one) and crumbled feta (sometimes I just add crumbled feta instead of making a white sauce), and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so.

        If I'm trying to wash less dishes, I preheat the oven to 375 or 400 degrees, and add a tablespoon of evoo, minced garlic, the washed, drained & spun spinach (and sliced mushrooms if I'm using them) to the pyrex dish/casserole in which I'll eventually bake the mac & cheese. Once the spinach is wilted and the mushrooms have given off their liquid, I'll drain the spinach mixture, then return it to the same pyrex dish/casserole, and add the mac, white sauce, crumbled feta and herbs to the dish, reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes or so.

        I use the same "pre-roasting the veg while I get everything else ready" method for my spinach/feta frittatas and stratas.

        PS If your feta has gotten to the stinky stage (if the brine wasn't changed frequently enough, or if it wasn't kept in brine after you bought it), you might want to soak it in water or milk to try to remove some of the stinkiness, then taste it before using, before adding to this type of dish.

    2. I say throw most of it mac and cheese and add a touch of dijon, which will play nicely with all the flavors and help bring them together.
      My favorite way to use us cheese bits (which happens often) is to make a frittata.

      2 Replies
      1. re: monavano

        You'r right -- mustard will go a long way!

        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

          Which makes me think of Welsh Rarebit-- great for all the "melty" cheeses you have.

      2. Potted cheese - classic "use up " recipe.

        http://www.greatbritishkitchen.co.uk/...

        1. Shave some truffle into your mac 'n multi-cheese. It's a phenomenally good addition.
          If you don't have truffles and you're not adverse to a bit of man-made technology, drizzle in some white truffle oil just after the dish is cooked (just be sure Gordon Ramsey isn't looking. LOL)

          1. The best mac and cheese I ever had was one my mom made from odds and ends of French cheeses I had bought for a swish dinner party (my first ever, in high school, duck a l'orange and all). Cream-sauce based. I like mine just cheese with crumbs on top, or maybe sliced summer tomatoes on top with crumbs on top of them.

            There's also fromage fort - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRUDPA...

            6 Replies
            1. re: buttertart

              Love the idea of fromage fort. Has anyone had experience with making this? I'm wondering if it gets better over time?

              1. re: buttertart

                I wish I was your friend in high school!

                1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                  Same here, darlin'!

                2. re: buttertart

                  I was also thinking fromage fort. Been wanting to make it since seeing it on Good Eats, but haven't gotten around to it.
                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                  1. re: gmm

                    The video of the recipe and its amazing.

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNv7OQ...

                    From about 7:15+

                    1. re: gmm

                      I've made a version of Fromage Fort several times without a recipe and it's turned out great each time. Make sure you're using a good variety of cheeses (I always make sure a blue is in there); grate or finely chop them before adding to your food processor; add seasonings gradually and taste as you go. I use a dry white wine, garlic (though not too much), a little kosher salt and I always add smoked paprika - it adds beautiful color and a spark of flavor. I've gotten a couple of weeks out of the batches I've made. Great as a dip, sandwich spread (try broiling it briefly on bread and using as a base for a roast beef sandwich) or celery topper for a retro snack!

                  2. I promise you that you and your friends will go crazy over this cheese straws recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... It is so amazing, and completely versital for whatever spices and cheese you have on hand. Yuuuummmm!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Tehama

                      Along similar lines, I make cheese pennies.

                      2 cups grated hard cheese - I use whatever's ready to be transformed/used up
                      1/2 cup unsalted butter
                      1 1/2 cups Flour
                      3/4 teaspoon salt
                      1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
                      1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but adds some zing)

                      Combine the above in the food processor or mixer, press/roll into logs about 1 1/2" in diameter and chill in the refrigerator or store in the freezer until ready to use. Slice into 1/4 " thick rounds and bake at 400 degrees until beginning to brown.

                    2. I think you'll have better results baking the mac and cheese BEFORE freezing it (divided into portions if you wish). If you freeze it unbaked, the pasta won't be able to absorb much of the sauce once you do bake it. Be sure to use a roux, or evaporated milk, or velveeta. Any of those three will prevent the cheese from clumping.

                      I like "canned" fried onions as a topping. Trader Joe's has its own version, superior to French or Durkee, but only in the holiday season. However, Asian markets sell them in clear plastic jars, for a very low price.

                      Freeze some of the ends. When you make soup, toss a frozen piece into the pot. It may melt completely. If not, fish out what remains once the soup is done cooking.

                      1. So many great ideas! Thanks, 'hounds!