Cooking with soft cheeses?
I just picked up a few new soft cheeses and am quite excited to explore. I am new to soft cheese, but cheese is a part of many of my meals so I thought it'd be nice to try to incorporate as I do other harder cheeses. While they are delicious eaten out of hand at room temperature, I'd love to use them in baked dishes or as a spread for cooked meats or vegetables. It might sound silly, but any tips on cooking with these cheeses? Is it OK to do, should I add it near the end or can it withstand some time in the oven?
I use ricotta as a base for spinach casserole. It bakes up like a firm quiche. You can also use soft cheese in an actual quiche.
I like goat cheese best in a Caprese salad. Fresh basil and good olive oil and ripe tomatoes make it wonderful You have just enough time to get one in before fresh tomatoes are totally gone.
Float a goat cheese log in a bath of your very best tomato sauce and bake it until gooey and bubbly-serve with warm bread.
Better yet, do this with a few cracked eggs around the dish and the goat cheese in the middle, floating in tomato sauce and baked until the eggs are perfect and the cheese is melty-serve with bread or over farro.
Brie wrapped in pastry is pretty standard but tuck some fresh sliced fruit, dried apricots or a good quality chutney under the pastry before you seal and bake is even better.
Any soft cheese spread on pizza or flatbread once out of the oven and then topped with ribbons of asparagus and nova lox is really tasty.
Broccoli & cauliflower pair well with melted soft cheese. I usually steam the veg and then let the soft cheese melt on the hot vegetables, toss and few times and serve.
Something like a brie or triple cream is great to toss with hot pasta just before serving.
Some of the soft fresh cheeses have a very delicate flavor that may be lost if used in a long baked dish like a gratin. However, a stronger flavor like a blue cheese can be a great addition to simple biscuits or even savory corn pancakes.
If you do have something with a very strong flavour, it's delicious to blend it with some cream cheese and a splash of milk or cream to loosen up the texture and then toss it with hot pasta and green vegetables (i.e. asparagus, broad beans, broccoli, fresh peas) plus toasted walnuts.
If you have one of those herby garlicky cheeses like a French Roulé, you can make incredible baked salmon by dolloping a scoop on top of each fillet and spreading it over the fish, then baking uncovered for 25mins - sounds weird but it's incredible!
One final thing you might try is mixing a soft cheese with sliced leeks, salt, pepper and garlic, and stuffing the mixture into the middle of small hollowed-out squashes such as baby acorn squashes. Roast for 45 minutes and they make a beautiful starter!
When I try a new cheese and don't like it, it goes into the next gratin or mac&cheese.
Pound skin-on chicken breasts skin side down. Spread/dollop with soft cheese and any soft or shredded vegetable that strikes your fancy, roll up, drape a half slice of bacon over the skin, and bake at 400 for 45 minutes or so, until the bacon and skin are crisp and the meat is 160F. The cheese that runs out will get golden-brown at the edges and mix with the drippings to form a yummy sauce. Serve over rice.