New Zealand cheeses are overwhelmingly tops. And the variety is such that you could savour a different delight almost every day of the year. Cheese is the perfect after school snack and the ideal nibble with drinks. Many of our cheeses have their origins in Europe.
Gruyère originated in Switzerland. With its nutty, fruity flavour and smooth creamy consistency, gruyère is a great melting cheese and is used traditionally in fondues, sauces and hot dishes. Several Kiwi cheesemakers have taken their inspiration from Europe including Oamaru’s Whitestone.
Cheddar is a relatively hard, off-white, sometimes sharp-tasting cheese that originated in the English village of Cheddar in Somerset. The carotene in grass gives New Zealand cheddar depth of colour.
Halloumi hails from Cyprus. This brined cheese prepared from sheep or goat’s milk and sometimes cow’s milk, has a high melting point and can be grilled or fried — ideal for vegetarian main meals.
Gouda accounts for 60 per cent of the cheese produced in Holland. The history of this distinctive Dutch classic dates from the sixth century when it was made on small farms around the village of Gouda. It’s a great melting cheese with a nutty moreish flavour. There are many variations made by New Zealand cheesemakers mainly those of Dutch heritage.
BAKED GOUDA DIP
Serve hot with crackers and/or crisp vegetables as dippers.
250g cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
250g tasty gouda cheese, grated
3 spring onions
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the cream cheese in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Beat until smooth. Add the sour cream and mayo and mix well.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the cheese and add the remainder to the cream cheese mixture. Finely chop the green ends of the spring onions. Add 2/3 to the mixture. Spread in a shallow 20cm x 14cm baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Bake the cheese mixture for about 25 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Garnish with the remaining chopped spring onion. Serves 6-8.
TOASTED CHEESE & WATERCRESS CROISSANTS
Great for lunch or cut into quarters to make nibbles with drinks.
2 large croissants
4 generous slices gruyère, colby, gouda or easy-to-melt cheese
4 slices shaved ham
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/2 cup watercress leaves
Halve the croissants, crosswise. Sandwich the cheese, ham, mustard and watercress between the halves.
Place in a sandwich toaster and cook until golden and bubbling. Enjoy immediately. Serves 2.