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Calling all cheese experts...

Moimoi Apr 3, 2012 03:37 PM

I have six cheeses leftover from a cocktail party. I don't remember what they are... one is a beautiful, soft, stinky cheese, the others are semi-hard to hard cheddar-ish cheese from mild to old... oh yeah, and there's one semi-hard goat cheese - sort of yellowish...

In total, probably around 1 lb (454 grams). I want to make this insanely delicious potato gratin recipe (which I've made before) for Easter. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

Gruyére is the perfect cheese; HOWEVER, I'd love to utilize my leftover cheeses. Could the cheese experts out there tell me if this would be a disaster by throwing in this medley of cheeses? What about a fondue??? Thanking you in advance....

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    cheesymama RE: Moimoi Apr 3, 2012 03:50 PM

    If you have enough of the goat cheese for the gratin I would do that and use the rest for a fondue with the soft one mixed in right at the end. Taste before adding it and decide if you think it belongs.
    If you don't have enough of the goat I would use the semi-hard to hard cheddar styles grated and tossed together for your gratin.

    1. Dr. John RE: Moimoi Apr 3, 2012 03:58 PM

      Not all cheeses blend well together. What about making the potato recipe and simple sprinkle each cheese into a section of the overall gratin? As you eat your way through the dish, you will experience different flavours in different sections.

      -John

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        cheesemonger RE: Moimoi Apr 3, 2012 04:16 PM

        DO IT! Any of it. I always advise my customers to make "100 cheese fondue" with leftover bits. ALL of them- brie, blue, goat, cheddar, gouda- it really doesn't matter.

        I've made gratins with a mix, and everyone clamored for the recipe- guess what? I have no proportions, just a mix of bits. Cut off the rinds or any icky parts, grate them, toss them together, and enjoy. I promise it will be the best gratin that you will never be able to replicate!

        added: I'd turn down the heat a bit to 350, to keep the cheeses from breaking into a curdy mess + oil.

        13 Replies
        1. re: cheesemonger
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          sueatmo RE: cheesemonger Apr 3, 2012 04:26 PM

          Hey CM, you're my kind of cook.

          1. re: sueatmo
            tim irvine RE: sueatmo Apr 3, 2012 04:32 PM

            And save the rinds to toss in the soup!

            1. re: sueatmo
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              cheesemonger RE: sueatmo Apr 3, 2012 08:38 PM

              thanks! Sometimes experiments work, sometimes they don't, but the cheesyblend, to me, always works if you keep in mind the differences in water content and meltability. As for the experiments that don't work...... better kept to myself. :)

              1. re: cheesemonger
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                foreverhungry RE: cheesemonger Apr 9, 2012 09:36 AM

                But the key is, as you said, meltability of the cheese. Even within some "cheese families", cheddar for example, some melt great, while other break down into fat and protein. Without knowing what the cheeses are, I think there's a good risk that that you end up with a gratin that broke. It's one thing to experiment at home, cooking for yourself (and family), but quite another to serve to guests. As a cheesemonger, you have a familiarity with cheese characteristics that most folks don't.

                Then again, when it comes to gratin, I'm a purist, and only make gratin dauphinois using gruyere. With fondue, there's more room for variety because many regions in Italy, France, and Italy have their own interpretations, but most still have Emmental and/or gruyere in common (with the exception of the Italian Valdostana or Piedmontese, which use Fontina).

                Melting random cheeses together isn't a fondu, just like (to borrow an example from another thread) pan frying a ribeye, topping with canned mushrooms, and eating it with a slice of white bread isn't a Beef Wellington. But then again, I can be overly picky about these things.

            2. re: cheesemonger
              Moimoi RE: cheesemonger Apr 3, 2012 04:57 PM

              I'm scared...

              1. re: Moimoi
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                cheesemonger RE: Moimoi Apr 3, 2012 08:34 PM

                Don't be scared! It really does work fine- use the same amount of cheese, just use the mix instead of the just gruyere, and since the meltability of the various cheeses differs, that's why you want to lower the temp. Gruyere can take a higher temp, your other cheeses might need a little more gentle heat.

                I really can't tell you how many times I've done this. BUT- if you're nervous, toss all this in the freezer- yes, the freezer. Because if you're going to cook with it eventually you're going to "ruin" the texture of the cheese, so freezing accomplishes the same thing. Make the gratin that you know, and then make 100 cheese fondue when you feel more experimental.

              2. re: cheesemonger
                Moimoi RE: cheesemonger Apr 3, 2012 05:01 PM

                Hey Cheesemonger, any wine recos with this?

                1. re: Moimoi
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                  cheesemonger RE: Moimoi Apr 3, 2012 08:39 PM

                  Sure- it's easter, so any lighter red that'll go with ham. A younger Bordeaux, Loire Valley wine. (sorry, my francophile is showing)

                  1. re: cheesemonger
                    Moimoi RE: cheesemonger Apr 5, 2012 05:41 PM

                    One more thing cheesemonger... The conservative side of me sided with Dr. John, but I decided to be practical and didn't chicken out by buying the gruyere, so I'm going to take the plunge. Some comments on Epicurious talked about the cheese separating/curdling in the gratin. Any advice???? Should I make a bechamel/cheese sauce before and add it to the potato mix? I'm not sure if that would result in the same rustic-y experience. I await your feedback oh great cheese one.....

                    1. re: Moimoi
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                      cheesemonger RE: Moimoi Apr 6, 2012 12:14 PM

                      Hi- that's why I recommended turning down the heat- but you can certainly make a bechamel, just keep you heat low, and add the cheeses a handful at a time, stirring them in, and use that sauce between layers of taters. add the harder cheeses first, then the softer ones. You'll be fine!

                      Report back, please!

                      1. re: cheesemonger
                        Moimoi RE: cheesemonger Apr 7, 2012 07:50 PM

                        Well... don't want to be a party pooper but the cheese curdled. I lowered the temperature, but turned it up around the end because I sliced the potatoes thicker than usual and they weren't cooking fast enough to time with the rest of the dinner. The cheese grated beautifully though... and while In the end, the combination of cheeses did taste wonderful, the curdling was a bit of a visual disappointment for me. I will heed your advice next time. Thanks for the lesson and thanks to all of the other posters for your support :)

                        1. re: Moimoi
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                          cheesemonger RE: Moimoi Apr 8, 2012 10:00 AM

                          HI- thanks for reporting back- I'm sorry it curdled- was it curdled before you raised the temp?

                          Anyway- it tasted good, and that's important because you now know that you can pull this off, with some modifications, and it will at least taste good. Gratins seem to work out best if cooked a little early and rested, I've found.

                          Do also keep in mind the fondue and fromage fort (below) ideas.

                          Just as a thought of FF: I make 2 kinds, a mild cheese one with white wine and herbs and sometimes garlic (ends up kindof like Boursin), and a more pungent one with stronger cheeses, sherry or port. This is great on brown bread.

                          1. re: Moimoi
                            Das Ubergeek RE: Moimoi Apr 9, 2012 09:42 AM

                            This has happened to me before—and I do cheesemonger's thing of "cheese drawer magnet gratin". When it breaks, sometimes I deliberately break the potatoes down on the stovetop, mix in just a little cornstarch, and stir it into this stringy goo that looks like but does not taste like aligot. (Aligot is a specific dish, which is why I'm not calling it this.)

                            There are several of these, um, "recipes" that I make, such as poaching fish in broken all i oli (the kind with just garlic and oil that's just about impossible to make consistently well).

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                  sandylc RE: Moimoi Apr 3, 2012 08:58 PM

                  I remember reading about someone famous (was it Julia?) who, after a party, always ground up leftovers cheese bits with some cream cheese, herbs, onions, garlic, whatever.....to make a cheese spread.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: sandylc
                    biondanonima RE: sandylc Apr 4, 2012 01:01 AM

                    What you're talking about is called fromage fort. I believe it's a traditional French way of using up leftover cheeses. Julia Child didn't invent it but I've no doubt that she would approve!

                    1. re: biondanonima
                      DuchessNukem RE: biondanonima Apr 4, 2012 01:53 AM

                      I can't tell you how much I like fromage fort, no matter what cheeses I use it's always great:

                      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                      1. re: biondanonima
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                        cheesemaestro RE: biondanonima Apr 4, 2012 07:47 AM

                        Fromage fort needs one more ingredient: white wine or some alcoholic spirit. Without it, what you get is just what sandylc says, a plain cheese spread. "Fort" means strong and refers to the addition of something with alcohol.

                        1. re: cheesemaestro
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                          sandylc RE: cheesemaestro Apr 4, 2012 01:35 PM

                          Thanks!! I forgot about the "leftover" (huh?) wine part!

                          1. re: cheesemaestro
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                            Jzone RE: cheesemaestro Apr 6, 2012 07:02 PM

                            Agreed, I find sherry or port works best for me, but anything you would be happy to drink would work fine.

                            Another +1 on your recommendation above. Always been a firm believer in many cheeses together are greater than the sum of their parts. Making a beer and 3 cheese soup as I type actually. :)

                        2. re: sandylc
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                          Harters RE: sandylc Apr 6, 2012 03:28 PM

                          In the UK, leftover cheese is one of the things often "potted" . This recipe only uses the cheese from my county but pretty much any mix can be used. http://www.greatbritishkitchen.co.uk/...

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