Category Archives: Cheese

Prepare to Drool Over Food 52’s Cream Cheese Cookies

Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, these cookies are deceptively rich and chewy.

Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee, these cookies are deceptively rich and chewy.


Cream cheese.

Just say those two words and I immediately perk up.

So creamy, thick, and oh-so-spreadable. It’s tangy, yet still mild enough to smear on just about anything in need of a little decadence.

So, when I spied the recipe for “Cream Cheese Cookies,” it gave me the perfect excuse to buy a brick.

It’s one of 60 recipes you’ll find in the new “Food52 Baking” (Ten Speed Press). It’s, of course, by the editors of Food52, the online cooking resource, and kitchen and home shop, founded by Amanda Hesser, formerly of the New York Times, and Merrill Stubbs in 2009.


All the recipes have been curated by Hesser and Stubbs, who have culled home-spun favorites, the types of baked goods that don’t require special equipment or days to make. They are the types of treats you don’t have to talk yourself into making, and ones that you are sure to make again and again. Think “Yogurt Biscuits,” “Honey Pecan Cake,” and “Nectarine Slump.” For good measure, there are a couple of savories, too, such as “Black Pepper Popovers with Chives and Parmesan” and “Basil Onion Cornbread.”

Stubbs writes in the book that her mother got this cookie recipe at a Tupperware party in the 1970s.

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LV Mar — A Latin Party in Downtown Redwood City

A party on the plate -- and in the dining room -- at LV Mar.

A party on the plate — and in the dining room — at LV Mar.


Most nights, LV Mar in downtown Redwood City, offers up a taste of modern pan-Latin cuisine in small and large plates.

But once a month, Chef Manuel Martinez throws a veritable party — offering a prix fixe dinner themed to a different Latin cuisine, complete with a band, dancers and singers.

A couple weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to experience October’s showcase on the Caribbean.

Martinez, who has cooked at Left Bank and One Market restaurants, also owns the more casual La Viga in Redwood City. LV Mar is his newer restaurant, which opened in November 2013. He’s been throwing these themed-dinners almost from the get-go.

Chef Manuel Martinez adorned for the occasion.

Chef Manuel Martinez adorned for the occasion.

When you check in at the hostess stand, you’re welcomed with Mardi Gras-like beaded necklaces to wear. All the tables are strewn with colorful star confetti to put you even more in the mood.

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A Different Kind of California Start-Up: Ewetopia

Sirene (front) and Philosopher (back) feta-style cheese from Ewetopia.

Sirene (front) and Philosopher (back) feta-style cheese from Ewetopia.


Ewetopia is a start-up. Not in computers or chips. But cheese.

Made with sheep’s milk, of course.

Hence the cute name.

Andrea Mongini and husband Craig Meadows own a veterinary practice. If that didn’t keep them plenty busy already, they also own a sheep dairy farm in Denair, CA.

They just embarked on creating their first cheeses in partnership with one of my favorite producers, Fiscalini Cheese Company of Modesto, maker of the award-winning bandage wrapped cheddar.

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Cowgirl Creamery’s Famed Red Hawk Potato Gratin

A luxurious potato gratin made with an award-winning cheese.

A luxurious potato gratin made with an award-winning cheese.

To know California cheese is to know Cowgirl Creamery.

Pioneer cheesemakers, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, started Cowgirl Creamery in the early 1990s in a dilapidated barn in Point Reyes.

Conley, an alum of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and Smith, who helped found the iconic Bette’s Diner in Berkeley, got the notion to make cheese after working on their days off at Straus Family Dairy, where they fell in love with the lush organic milk and its distinct nuances from season to season.

Wanting to help local dairy farms that were going broke, the two set about to create a way to showcase that wonderful milk in value-added products.

Today, Cowgirl Creamery crafts some of the state’s most extraordinary cheeses. It boasts a cheese shop and restaurant, Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar, both in the San Francisco Ferry Plaza. It sells at five farmers markets in the Bay Area.  And its original creamery and cheese shop, Tomales Bay Foods at Point Reyes Station, still remains a must-stop for any visitor to West Marin County.


Now comes their first cookbook, “Cowgirl Creamery Cooks” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

There are recipes galore for everything from their beloved grilled cheese sandwich to making your own fromage blanc at home. Moreover, the book is imbued with delightful stories about how their business came to be. Additionally, there are  tips on creating a balanced cheese course, how to properly store cheese at home, and answers to whether you are supposed to eat the rind on cheeses (the French don’t for the most part, but Conley and Smith do).

With holiday entertaining on the minds of all of us, I couldn’t resist trying the recipe for Red Hawk Potato Gratin.

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Enchanting Endive

Endive salad with creamy Maytag blue cheese.

Endive salad with creamy Maytag blue cheese.

When it comes to bitter, its best buddy is something equally aggressive.

Oh, don’t worry. This isn’t a case of butting heads.

In fact, it’s a recipe for perfect harmony, as one assertive taste needs another, lest one overtake the other completely.

That’s why when it comes to endive, its pleasant bitterness practically begs for something sharp like mustard or vinegar or a piquant cheese.

“Tangle of Radicchio and Endive with Chives and Maytag Blue” proves just that.

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