The cooler weather is here, and most of us get inspired at this time of year to whip out our casseroles, and prepare all those rich, gooey, comforting dishes that help warm our stomachs and our hearts, and put the chill at bay. The all-important question arises of, “Which cheese should I use?” Often the simplest solution may not always be the most interesting. Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Colby, and mild Cheddar are the usual go-to cheeses, and for the most part, they do their jobs adequately and reliably. However, we carry an impressively expansive range of delicious, semi-soft cheeses that are absolutely perfect for melting over or into any variety of tasty baked dishes you may be creating this fall. Sometimes trying a new cheese is exactly what you need to make an old familiar meal a bit more exciting.

Maple Leaf Yogurt Cheese
At the beginning of this month we are featuring our lovely Maple Leaf Yogurt cheese, from the Maple Leaf Cheese Cooperative in Monroe, Wisconsin. The Maple Leaf Cheese Cooperative has been a farmer-owned co-op since 1910, and they continue to this day to have close relationships with the small family farms who supply their milk, often second- and even third-generation connections. Certified Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Paul Reigle specializes in crafting his uniquely delicious yogurt cheese. It has a wonderful bright creamy taste with a touch of tartness, and a perfect tender texture that makes it an excellent cheese for grating and melting over any number of baked dishes. Enchiladas, lasagnas, all varieties of layered, baked casseroles will be just that much more special with its unique character added. And Maple Leaf Yogurt cheese has other benefits as well. The acidophilus bifidus cultures added to the cheese are not only healthful for digestion, they also consume the lactose, making it a younger, more moist cheese that is lactose-free for those with lactose intolerance issues.

Cheesy substitutions
Beside the superb Maple Leaf Yogurt cheese, we encourage you to explore our shelves—with the help of one of our capable cheese department employees if needed—for the many other unique semi-soft melting cheeses that we carry.

Remember, most recipes are much more flexible, in terms of the cheeses called for in them, than they might at first seem. You can easily substitute Emmi Roth’s Sole Queso Quesadilla for Monterey Jack, and the difference in flavor will surprise and delight you. Try our terrific Emmi Roth Havartis, our Billi Farmer Cheese, Felix Thalhammer’s Moo Bear Muenster, Pastureland’s delicious Peace of Pasture graziered Gouda, or perhaps Renard’s Morel and Leek Jack for a really interesting variation on the Monterey Jack theme.

Widmer’s Lagerkase
And if you are adventuresome, and seek depth and complexity, as well as a little more pungency, explore the world of semi-soft washed-rind cheeses. Joe Widmer’s incomparable aged, surface-ripened Lagerkase just won a prestigious award at the American Cheese Society Competition this year. And there is always Chalet Cheese Cooperative’s wonderfully rich, complex Limburger. If you haven’t been to Baumgartner’s in Monroe, Wisconsin for one of their famous signature Limbuger sandwiches, you can make one right here in your own kitchen! Your creativity is bound only by your own imagination and the choices available to you, and we in the cheese department can supply you with choices aplenty!

FAQ additions
In perusing our FAQ printed in last month’s Reader, we noticed a few imprecisions that we’d like to clarify. First, and most important, the FAQ could not have been created without the substantial research and writing done by Patrick Schroeder, our Willy West cheesemonger. Second, in the answer to the question about Gorgonzola, we failed to mention the importance of the mold, penicillium Glaucum as a culture added to traditionally prepared Italian Gorgonzolas. While penicillium Roqueforti is quite often used as well or instead, p. Glaucum is part of what gives many traditional Gorgonzolas their unique character. In the answer to the question about Camemberts and Bries, we similarly erred in not recognizing the importance of the mold, penicillium Camemberti, which gives many traditional French Camemberts their character, often coloring their surface mold a pale gray. As always, learning is an on-going affair, and we continue to learn so that we may better help you.

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