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Recipes for appetizers, pasta and salad feature various types of cheese

04/21/2014 08:00 EDT | Updated 06/21/2014 05:59 EDT
A variety of cheeses is featured in the following recipes.

Bleu D'Elizabeth Cheese, Dark Chocolate and Date Bites

Bleu D'Elizabeth cheese is an award-winning, mellow, semi-soft blue cheese from Fromagerie du Presbytere in Sainte-Elisabeth-de-Warwick, Que. It was the 2013 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winner in the blue and organic cheese categories.

Bleu D'Elizabeth cheese is available at select outlets in Quebec, Ontario, B.C., Alberta and Nova Scotia. To find out where, search "Bleu Elizabeth" and click on "where to find." If it's not available, any semi-soft blue cheese can be substituted.

175 g (6 oz) dark chocolate

175 g (6 oz) pitted Medjool dates

90 g (3 oz) Bleu d'Elizabeth cheese, coarsely chopped

Cocoa, to taste

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool.

Process dates and cheese in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add melted chocolate and process until well combined.

Spoon mixture into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Sprinkle with cocoa and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada.

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Asparagus and Brie Wonton Tartlets

This simple but sophisticated appetizer is a great way to showcase spring asparagus.

Thaw the wonton wrappers overnight in the refrigerator. Camembert, havarti or Gouda may be substituted for the brie.

24 wonton wrappers, thawed

37 ml (2 1/2 tbsp) butter, divided

24 asparagus spears, cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) lengths

1 french shallot, chopped

50 ml (1/4 cup) white wine or low-sodium chicken broth

15 ml (1 tbsp) sherry vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

125 g (4 oz) brie, sliced

Heat oven to 190 C (375 F).

Melt 22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) of the butter and brush it over wonton wrappers. Press 2 wrappers into each mould of a muffin pan.

In a saucepan, melt remaining butter over medium heat and cook asparagus for 2 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.

In the same saucepan, cook shallot for 2 minutes.

Deglaze pan with white wine and reduce by half. Add vinegar and reduce once again by half. Pour over asparagus and season with salt and pepper.

Divide asparagus and brie among muffin moulds lined with wonton wrappers.

Bake on bottom oven rack for 15 minutes or until wonton wrappers are golden brown.

Makes 12 tartlets.

Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada.

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Cheddar Corn Fritters

These corn fritters are good with salsa or chili sauce, with bacon for brunch or as a side dish with roast chicken.

Mozzarella, colby or Gouda can be substituted for the cheddar.

250 ml (1 cup) fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 egg, separated

15 ml (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour

1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt

Pinch ground black pepper

250 ml (1 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Butter

In a small saucepan, cook corn in small amount of boiling salted water for 3 minutes or until tender-crisp; drain.

In a large bowl, combine corn, egg yolk, flour, salt and pepper. Add cheese and toss to combine.

In a mixer bowl, beat egg white until stiff; fold into corn mixture.

In a large frying pan, heat a small amount of butter over medium heat. Drop large spoonfuls of corn mixture into frying pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides, adding more butter to pan as needed. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 fritters.

Source: "Cooking Made Easy" (Brimar Publishing Inc., 1996).

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Mozzarella Skillet Spaghetti

Pasta and cheese are perfect partners, but it doesn't always have to be same old, same old. This main dish takes only about 15 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes to cook and will be a family pleaser.

500 g (1 lb) lean ground beef

1 garlic clove, minced

500 ml (2 cups) sliced mushrooms

250 ml (1 cup) chopped onion

250 ml (1 cup) chopped green bell pepper

7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) Italian seasoning

Pinch salt

1 can (796 ml/28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

250 ml (1 cup) water

375 g (12 oz) broken spaghetti

15 ml (1 tbsp) balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar

500 ml (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese

50 ml (1/4 cup) grated Parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh basil (optional)

In a large skillet, saute beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon; drain off any fat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, green pepper, Italian seasoning and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until vegetables have softened.

Stir in diced tomatoes, water and broken spaghetti; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir in balsamic vinegar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese; stir until cheese is melted.

Serve sprinkled with fresh basil, if using.

Makes 6 servings.

Variation: For Colby Macaroni Skillet, substitute 375 g (12 oz) uncooked elbow macaroni for broken spaghetti. Substitute 6 ml (1 1/4 tsp) Worcestershire sauce for the Italian seasoning. Substitute 500 ml (2 cups) colby cheese for mozzarella.

Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada.

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Halloumi and Asparagus Salad

Halloumi is a semi-soft, unripened brined cheese that originated in Cyprus. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. Ruth Klahsen of Monforte Dairy says it is available in many grocery stores and cheese shops.

This recipe can also be made in a hot pan on a stovetop.

1 bunch asparagus, cleaned and trimmed

250 g (1/2 lb) halloumi, cut in 1-cm (1/2-inch) slices

1 head Boston lettuce, torn

1 l (4 cups) torn romaine lettuce

30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

10 ml (2 tsp) red wine vinegar

Pinch each salt and pepper

175 ml (3/4 cup) cherry tomatoes

Place asparagus on a greased grill over medium-high heat. Close grill and turn asparagus every 3 minutes until tender.

Place halloumi slices on grill and close lid. When there are golden-brown grill marks on the cheese, turn over and grill until same effect is achieved.

In a salad bowl, combine Boston lettuce and romaine.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Toss with lettuce. Place cherry tomatoes, halloumi and asparagus on top of dressed lettuce and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Ruth Klahsen, Monforte Dairy, Stratford, Ont.

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