‘Try a new New Zealand cheese’ is the catchcry for October – NZ Cheese Month. This annual event helps support local cheesemakers and introduces new taste temptations to Kiwis.
Many of our fabulous cheeses have been created by immigrants from Europe. For example, the Rosevear family from Holland have been cheesemaking in Northland for 35 years. They’ve won a multitude of awards and this year their Mahoe Very Old Edam won a supreme award in the NZ Champions of Cheese competition. The cheese has a firm, crunchy texture with sweet floral notes and a nutty aftertaste.
Since 1983 the Meyer family — also from Holland — have been specialising in producing Dutch-style cheeses on their 155-hectare farm in the Waikato. It is a pasture to plate operation as they have their own cows and cheese plant on the property. Also multi-award winners, this year their Meyer Smoked Gouda was a NZ Champion.
However, there are also many New Zealand-born cheesemakers. The Whitestone Cheese Company in Oamaru was started in 1987 by Bob and Sue Berry “when the bottom fell out of farming.” The company has won awards for a variety of cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses. This year it was their moreish Whitestone Oamaru Blue that grabbed a trophy at the NZ Champions of Cheese.
A SHARE PLATTER
Blue cheeses combine well with numerous foods to make up the perfect platter. This Whitestone Oamaru Blue is soft, moreish and not too strong.
300-400g thick cut sirloin steak
2 teaspoons Moroccan spice
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 asparagus spears, trimmed
4-6 cooked baby beetroot
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium bunch seedless grapes
1 pear, quartered, thinly sliced lengthwise
200g edge Whitestone Oamaru Blue
1-2 tamarillos, halved lengthwise
Canterbury linseed, pumpkin seed and rosemary crackers or similar
120g Rutherford & Meyer Quince paste
3/4 cup walnut halves
Season the steak on both sides with Moroccan spice. Brush a ridged frying pan with olive oil. Heat on medium high. Pan-fry the steak for about 3 minutes each side for medium rare. Remove and allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Heat a little more oil and pan-fry the asparagus for about 4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove.
Pan-fry the beetroot until warmed through. Season with black pepper.
Divide the bunch of grapes into small clusters.
Place the blue cheese on a platter together with all the other foods. Serves 6 as a starter or 2-3 as a main.
EDAM TOPPED PASTA BAKE
Edam cheese provides a nutty-flavoured topping. Broccoli florets could replace the peas.
300g pack fresh ravioli or tortellini
3/4 cup frozen peas, cooked
400g can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon each: dried oregano, basil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch chilli flakes, optional
3/4 cup shredded tasty cheddar
1 cup grated Mahoe Very Old Edam cheese
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain well.
Combine with the peas, tomatoes, herbs, garlic and chilli flakes if using. Pour into a 20cm baking dish and top with the cheddar then the edam. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot. Serves 4.
GOUDA CROSTINI WITH APPLE
Store crostini in an airtight container in a cool place or freezer. Use what is required and return the rest to the container.
Crostini: 1 French stick, cut into 1.5cm slices
1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Topping: Meyer Smoked Gouda
crisp apple, cored and thinly sliced
microgreens to garnish
To make the crostini preheat the oven to 170°C.
Lightly brush both sides of the bread slices with the olive oil. Place on a baking tray. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the slices over. Bake for a further 2 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool on a wire rack.
To make the topping, slice the gouda into 1cm-thick pieces to fit the crostini. Top each with an apple slice, a small dash of honey then garnish with micro greens. Serve within 30 minutes to prevent the crostini going soggy.