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  • Staff Recipe: Game Day Dip!

    castelinhosYou love your friends enough to invite them over to watch football on Sunday, why serve them scary, shelf-stable cheese? We know how addicting those cheesy party dips can be, so we've fashioned our own version using delicious artisan cheese!

    Yes, you're friends will know the difference. It'll be the best hot cheese on a cracker they've ever had.

    Pastoral Cheesy Game Day Dip

    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 lb Italian sausage
    • 1 lb Castelinhos cheese
    • 8 oz condensed milk (not sweetened)
    • paprika to taste

    Step 1: In a skillet, brown the ground beef and Italian sausage until fully cooked and drain the fat.

    Step 2: Melt the cheese in a separate, nonstick saucepan and stir in condensed milk. Stir in drained, cooked meat and season with paprika to taste.

    Serve with Rustic Bakery Flatbread or any hearty cracker.

    Pair with beer (of course!), such as a classic Stiegl.

  • Merchant Park Community Garden Recipes: The Onion Principle

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomewhat belatedly, we find ourselves in the depths of winter, although I’m still not sure if we’re totally there yet. I’ve been anticipating blizzards and all the challenges they bring with them since, ooh, November, so I wasn’t disappointed when finally some snow arrived. It introduces another dimension to our day and instantly makes me think of steaming mugs of hot cocoa and scrumptious stove-top stews served bubbling from the pot. Our house is like an unending human flip-book of dressing indecision - layers on, layers off - but the Onion Principle is proven to be the best way of maintaining one’s core temperature.

    To celebrate the versatility of the onion, this triumphant alium, in all its glory, I have showcased it by baking it under a blanket of Italian Gorgonzola in an onion gratin. This dish will stick to your ribs, providing another layer of insulation against the cold. The gratin makes a rich and tantalizing side dish to accompany a steak or roast beef (I recently discovered tri-tip roast, a cheaper and very tasty cut), or as an entree served with warm crusty french bread and a spinach salad.

    Last year, I harvested shallots from the garden and these can be roasted whole for this recipe, but I have used sweet yellow onions here since they are more accessible. Onions can be stored perfectly well over the earlier winter months by initially air drying the tops then braiding them before hanging in a sheltered damp free location with air circulation. Some experimentation with homemade polytunnels at the garden this winter has provided a steady crop of spinach for a salad. Pair with a big, gutsy red wine or a dark beer.

    Onion and Gorgonzola Gratin

    Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a lunch entree.
    • 3 medium yellow onions, quartered and separated
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • seasoning
    • 2tbsp butter
    • 2tbsp flour
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • ¼ cup dry white wine
    • nutmeg
    • 4oz Gorgonzola

    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9" x 9" ovenproof dish toss onions in the olive oil and season. Bake for 45 minutes and flip the onions occasionally when required. Remove from the oven.

    2. Melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux, cook out for a minute before adding the cream, wine, nutmeg and seasoning. Cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.

    3. Pour the sauce over the cooked onions and sprinkle with the Gorgonzola. Grill until bubbling (approximately 2 minutes).


    Serve immediately.

  • Staff Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup with Marieke Smoked Cumin Gouda

    by Pastoral Monger David Buchanan

    I mean maybe you’ve seen my name on this blog before and well yes it probably was about a cheese from Wisconsin seeing as I do love my state so dearly and I figured why buck the trend I suppose right? It's winter and everyone is eating soup these days and we all know that soup is better with cheese, but lets stray away from the cheddars, the alpine cheeses and the parmesans of the world for a second and try something else, something new maybe. How about the Marieke Smoked Cumin Gouda from those lovely people at Holland’s Family Cheese in Thorp, Wisconsin.

    Holland’s Family is downright Dutch from everything from the imported equipment, spices and cultures to the authentic Old World Gouda recipe. Oh and did I mention the pine planks that this cheese ages on are imported from the motherland as well? Marieke Gouda is available in 13 different flavors but lets focus on the one at hand shall we? Cumin is a spice that is traditionally used in cheeses in the Netherlands and this is one of the best examples why that is. The spice provides a meaty aromatic flavor that contrasts nicely with the nutty flavor and creamy texture of this beautiful cheese. The natural wood smoke flavor gives this cheese a lingering note that leaves you wanting more and well surely you bought yourself a big enough piece so that your wish could come true.

    So, to the topic at hand, how Marieke Smoked Cumin Gouda made chicken tortilla soup the best it has ever been. You don’t really need to twist my arm to get me to eat chicken tortilla soup, especially if it has a good kick to it, but this cheese shredded on top took it to the next level. The soft creamy texture of Marieke lends itself to melt beautifully into the soup and together with avocado, sour cream and crunchy tortilla chips on top, this heartwarming bowl is like a southwestern Mexican flavor explosion in your mouth. As the cheese melts into the soup it thickens it up nicely and brings a nice smoky flavor to the party and after your 2nd, ok 3rd bowl you will be thankful you decided to mix it up a little bit for dinner and shred some gouda in your life.

    Here’s the recipe, don’t forget the cheese, especially that extra half pound, because be honest, you know you’ll snack on it!

    Chicken Tortilla Soup:

    2 whole chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
    Olive oil (maybe some Olave)
    Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
    2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
    1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
    2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
    4 garlic cloves chopped
    2 ½ quarts chicken stock (homemade is always better)
    1 can (28oz) crushed tomatoes
    2-4 jalapenos minced (depends how hot you want it)
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon coriander seed
    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
    6 fresh white corn tortillas
    shredded Marieke Smoked Cumin Gouda


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan and rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

    Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown.

    Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, salt for seasoning (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), cracked pepper, and the cilantro.

    Cut the tortillas into strips and add them to the soup.

    Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

    Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, crunched up tortilla chips and of course finish with the delicious, shredded Marieke Smoked Cumin Gouda.

    Enjoy and come see your fellow friendly cheese monger at Pastoral and tell them how it went!

    David Buchanan is the Assistant Manager at Pastoral’s French Market location. He loves the Packers, Badgers and Brewers and, well, pretty much anything and everything that is Wisconsin, like his camouflage crocs.
  • Merchant Park Community Garden Recipes: Good Things Come In Small Packages


    Growing up in England, our end of year excesses were confined to Christmas and the New Year.

    This year in Chicago, I find myself recovering from a 4 day weekend of lavishness, the crowning glory of which had to be the brined and roasted organic turkey, or was it the sage, sausagemeat and chestnut stuffing, but surely the pecan pie takes first place or perhaps it was the sneaky cheese course.....Regardless, the advent of my first Thanksgiving in Chicago has led me to rekindle some festive childhood memories from afar.

    There were always an array of salted and sweet snacks, from nuts to hand dipped chocolate gingers which I'd make with mum once school was over, and a centrepiece - a Stilton (with the requisite bottle of Port wine for the adults). Assuming you’ve decked the halls and made some headway into your yuletide preparations, you may be planning on welcoming friends into your home and sharing food and drink: what better way to elevate your spirits.

    As we creep towards the end of the year I'm surprised at the collection of treats I have to hand from the garden. As recently as early November I was harvesting tomatoes. Some of the ever abundant cherry variety made it into the oven to be dried and then neatly packed away in olive oil and herbs for later. Herbs reside in the freezer and will be used daily to flavour dishes. Chilli peppers, both red and green, made it into chilli jam perfectly flecked with the colors of Christmas, and make a gloriously spicy accompaniment to cheese. If you don’t have a glowing log fire to warm you from the outside, then the chilli will do the job from the inside.


    blue cheese tart

    The Blue and Gooey Affair

    Makes approx 24

    12 slices white bread
    Butter for spreading
    6 oz Stichelton
    1 cup sour cream
    ½ cup mayonnaise
    Worcestershire Sauce

    1. Using a rolling pin, flatten out the slices of bread, then butter on both sides. Using a 2 ½” cookie cutter cut out 2 pieces from each slice, and push into a muffin tray (i use individual silicon moulds).
    2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and spoon approx 1tspn of the mixture into the bread moulds.
    3. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
    4. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

    Cheese and Chilli

    The warm and spicy one - goats cheese warm from the oven drizzled with homemade jalapeno jelly. Scoop it up on pieces of artisan crackers which stand up to being dipped. You could give remaining jars of jelly as a Christmas gift (or keep it in the fridge all for yourself)

    Prairie Fruits Farm chevre frais 6 oz pot
    Jalapeno Jelly (see recipe below)

    Warm the goats cheese in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and spoon a generous helping of jelly over the top. Serve immediately with crackers for dipping.

    Jalapeno Jelly

    Makes approx 5 cups or 5 x ½lb jars

    ¾ lb jalapeno peppers
    2 cups cider vinegar, divided
    6 cups sugar
    2 (3 ounce) envelopes liquid pectin

    1. Remove stems and seeds from jalapenos, puree in food processor with half the cider vinegar
    2. Combine puree, remaining cider vinegar, and sugar in large saucepan. Bring
    to a boil; boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
    3. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute, stirring
    constantly. Remove from heat.
    4. Skim foam, if necessary, and stir in a few drops of food coloring, if desired.
    5. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust 2 piece caps.
    If you want to ensure preservation for more than 2 months then process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.


    Parmesan, walnut and rosemary crackers

    The nutty, salty one - a twist on an old favourite.
    Eat by themselves, any leftovers can be used in salads or as croutons in soups.

    Makes approx 50

    1 cup/4 oz all-purpose flour
    4 tbsp/2 oz chilled butter
    ½ cup/2 oz grated Parmesan (or Podda)
    1 cup/4oz toasted walnuts, finely chopped
    2 tspn dried rosemary (double the amount if using fresh)
    ½ teaspoon salt
    black pepper
    1 egg
    milk for brushing

    1. Toast the walnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
    2. Rub the butter into the flour in a bowl until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the cheese, walnuts, rosemary,salt and pepper and mix. Add the egg and bring the dough together. If it’s too dry add a tspn of cold water. Once the egg is absorbed, knead the dough lightly until it comes together and forms a ball. Shape into logs 1” across, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    3. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    4. Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into ¼ “ slices. Place on the baking sheet and brush with milk.
    5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.

    jamon and tarts

    A Mediterranean Mouthful

    The meaty, fruity choice - Oven dried cherry tomato and slivers of marinated garlic enveloped in Jamon Serrano.

    Makes approx 24

    8 slices of Jamon Serrano
    24 halves oven dried tomatoes (see below for recipe)
    3 cloves marinated garlic

    Lay out your slices of ham and tear 2” pieces, wrap around an oven dried cherry tomato and a sliver of marinated garlic (optional). Skewer with a small stick of rosemary.


    Oven dried tomatoes

    Makes one ½ lb jar

    Cherry tomatoes (1 small box)
    Whole gloves of garlic, unpeeled
    Olive oil
    Mediterranean herbs

    Preheat oven to 225°F. Halve each tomato crosswise and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with the cloves of garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
    Bake the tomatoes in the oven for about three hours. You want the tomatoes to be shriveled and dry, but with a little juice left inside–this could take more or less time depending on the size of your tomatoes.

    Use them straight away or pack in a jar with the garlic and herbs, cover with olive oil to jazz up pizza or sandwiches.

    Jane McKay is a member of the Merchant Park Community Garden - "a backyard for us all."

    Merchant Park Community Garden (MPCG) strives to provide an opportunity for neighbors and their children to work, play, learn and grow together. MPCG is not only for the benefit of our members, but also aims to benefit the community at large through outreach efforts such as donations to local food pantries. In short, MPCG is an oasis in the 30th ward - a backyard for us all.

    Everything we grow is within 8' x 8' raised beds, constructed by the members in May 2011. Each raised bed has a dedicated owner for a year and all of our produce is organically grown.

    Please visit our website or facebook page for more information or contact Jane McKay at

  • Have a Drink!

    We're in the throws of the holiday season and all the cooking, purchasing, entertaining, traveling, and celebrating that this fast-moving season entails. Pastoral carries a limited selection of spirits that can serve as great gifts, a fantastic way to get your guests out of the kitchen while you feverishly put the finishing touches on your culinary offerings, or just a means to wind down after a long evening of shopping.

    Wisconsin's Death's Door Distillery Gin offers a less bitter, less piney approach with beautiful juniper, coriander, and fennel notes that makes an easy cocktail that will impress your guests or help you unwind.

    Apple and Sage Daisy:

    2oz. Death's Door Gin
    .5oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
    1 oz. Applesauce
    4 Fresh Sage Leaves

    In a shaker, add apple sauce (the little cups of Mott's are just fine) and 3 sage leaves. Muddle for 30 seconds. Add ice, lemon juice, and gin. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a martini glass to remove solid particles from apple sauce. Garnsih with a fresh sage leaf. (Repeat as necessary)

    Serve and enjoy (responsibly, of course)!

  • Merchant Park Community Garden Recipes: A feast for a festival

    butternut squash lasagnaNovember is a month for remembrance, celebration, and all things orange. Orange is said to stimulate the appetite, somewhat indicative of the time of year with the onset of the colder weather. Socially, orange and black represent Halloween while orange and brown are synonymous with Thanksgiving.

    The origins of these prominent dates marked on our calendars at this time of year are arguably rooted in harvest time, among other things. So as we replace one set of decorations with another, it feels like a race to the “big event”, Christmas. Slow down.

    This is also a time for reflection. I’m doing some of my own now that our garden harvesting is mostly over for this year, although some winter spinach crops and parsnips remain in the ground for a while longer, I stop to consider what we have successfully grown.

    We need no excuse for a feast presently and my mind turns to Butternut Squash - the lovely orange, versatile, dense fleshy vegetable readily available to buy now but one which can be stored. A few from the garden made it into the pot this year, unlike some other unlucky squash varieties which fell victim to the squash bug who infected much of the crop.

    In a traditional marriage of flavors for this Butternut squash lasagna, I've included garlic and fresh sage (I’m still picking sage fresh from my plants but it can be chopped and frozen for future use). I’ve chosen to use fresh Mozzarella alongside Prairie Breeze Cheddar, which adds a saltiness to the dish which is otherwise sweet from the squash, and toasted hazelnuts add a luxurious crunch. The chunks of squash retain their shape in this dish, quickly giving way to an oozy, cheesy sauce.

    This makes a great dish for the Thanksgiving holiday and I’ve teamed it with an indulgent winter coleslaw.

    Butternut is also a gift for winter soups and purees.

    lasagna with greens

    Butternut Squash Lasagna

    Serves 4-6

    Squash filling

    1 large onion, chopped

    3 tbsp butter

    3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1inch cubes

    4 cloves garlic, minced

    2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

    2 tbsp chopped sage

    1 cup/4oz hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped

    1tsp salt

    freshly ground pepper

    white sauce:

    1 clove garlic, minced

    3 tbsp butter

    5 tbsp flour

    4½ cups/40 fl oz milk

    ½ cup/8 fl oz white wine

    1 bay leaf

    1 teaspoon salt

    freshly ground pepper

    cheese layer

    1/2 lb/2 cups fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated

    4 oz/1 cup Prairie Breeze cheddar, coarsely grated

    12 small sheets (1/2 lb) lasagna


    Soften the onion in the butter in a large pan, add the garlic and squash and cook on the hob for about 15 minutes (until the squash is just tender). Put a lid on the pan after the first 5 minutes as this allows the squash to steam after it’s initial coloring in the pan. Once cooked, stir in the parsley, sage, nuts and seasoning. Leave to one side.

    Roux Sauce

    Melt the butter and soften the garlic. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk and wine, stirring constantly. Add the bay leaf and seasoning. Leave to one side.

    lasagna layers


    Assemble in a rectangular dish 13” x 9”. Spread a spoonful of the sauce on the bottom of the dish, cover with 3 sheets of pasta, next 2/3 cup sauce and one third of the filling, then 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat twice more with pasta, sauce, filling and cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

    * the filling and roux can be made a day ahead and chilled.

    Winter coleslaw

    2 large carrots, finely grated

    2 cups red cabbage, shredded

    1 small red onion, finely sliced

    1tbsp capers, chopped

    4 tbsp mayonnaise

    2 tbsp sour cream

    1 tsp cider vinegar

    pinch of brown sugar

    ¼ tsp salt

    freshly ground black pepper

    Mix the carrots, cabbage, onion and capers in a serving bowl. Mix the remaining dressing ingredients in a bowl and stir into the vegetable mix.

    Jane McKay is a member of the Merchant Park Community Garden - "a backyard for us all."
    Merchant Park Community Garden (MPCG) strives to provide an opportunity for neighbors and their children to work, play, learn and grow together. MPCG is not only for the benefit of our members, but also aims to benefit the community at large through outreach efforts such as donations to local food pantries. In short, MPCG is an oasis in the 30th ward - a backyard for us all.
    Everything we grow is within 8' x 8' raised beds, constructed by the members in May 2011. Each raised bed has a dedicated owner for a year and all of our produce is organically grown.
    Please visit our website or facebook page for more information or contact Jane McKay at
  • Merchant Park Community Garden Recipes: A love affair with tomatoes

    We are excited to introduce a series of recipes from our friend and fellow cheese-lover Jane McKay at the Merchant Park Community Garden. Each month, we'll feature a delicious recipe that marries our artisan cheeses and the seasonal, local produce from our own backyard in Chicago. Keep up to date with happenings at the Garden on their facebook page and keep checking in here for more great recipes and pairings.

    Merchant Park Community Garden (MPCG) strives to provide an opportunity for neighbors and their children to work, play, learn and grow together. MPCG is not only for the benefit of our members, but also aims to benefit the community at large through outreach efforts such as donations to local food pantries. In short, MPCG is an oasis in the 30th ward - a backyard for us all.

    Kids love tomato tarts with cheeseThe garden at this time of year has been groaning with fruit, providing us with a bountiful supply of tomatoes. Our hot Chicago summer, peppered with big rain showers, has allowed the plants to fruit abundantly.

    With heirlooms such as Reis brought from Wisconsin, to Black Prince, green and red Tigrella and of course Cherries, one way or another, tomatoes make their way into our weekly menu and when the season is over then in come the tinned or store bought alternatives. Imagine a year round diet without tomatoes? This year I will say "imagine a year without homegrown tomatoes".

    The tomatoes coming from our vines are juicy, misshaped and tasty mouthwatering fruits. Aside from eating them straight from the vine, there are many ways to prepare tomatoes; from a simple salad of sliced fruit drizzled with olive oil and splashed with balsamic vinegar, (I recommend you use the best oil and vinegar that you can get. Try Frescobaldi Laudemio oil and La Vecchia balsamic, aged 10 years); to a fresh tomato sauce with such depth of flavor that all it requires is a bowl of spaghetti as a vehicle for eating.


    Tomato tart with Prairie Fruits Farm Fresh Chevre and MozzarellaTo pay homage to our ongoing first harvest, a Tarte fine aux tomates (Tomato Tart) is offered up. The tomatoes are sat on top of the tart which allows them to partially dry out during cooking, concentrating their already sweet and sharp flavors. Underneath, the tomatoes are cushioned by a delicious creamy, salty and fragrant mixture of grated Parmesan and soft goat cheese flecked with fresh basil. A fresh Aioli is the perfect addition. Eat the tart while it's still warm with a glass of crisp Rose wine such as Prestige Chateau Peuch Haut.

    Tarte fine aux tomates

    serves 4

    Preheat the oven to 390 degrees F.

    Roll the pastry to 12" and place on a baking sheet.

    In a bowl grate the parmesan, tear in the basil, mix in the goat cheese and season

    Spread the mixture onto the inner 8" circle of the pastry

    Slice the tomatoes and lay them in ever decreasing circles from the outside edge of the pastry inwards, and upwards over the cheese mixture, using the top and bottom slices to prop up each circle as you move towards the the center.

    Bake at 390 degrees F for 25 minutes, and then for a further 45 minutes at 340 degrees F.


    serves 4

    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 tsp water
    • 1 tsp dijon mustard
    • 12 ounces/350ml olive oil (or half the amount of olive to half vegetable oil)
    • 3 crushed cloves of garlic

    Put the egg yolks into a basin, add the water and mustard

    Start whisking a drizzle of olive oil until incorporated ensuring the mixture doesn't split. Add the oil in small amounts whisking continuously until the mixture becomes firm.

    Mix in the crushed garlic and season to taste

    Alternatively the aioli can be made in a small food processor by adding the oil slowly while blending

    Jane McKay is a member of the Merchant Park Community Garden - "a backyard for us all"

    Everything we grow is within 8' x 8' raised beds, constructed by the members in May 2011. Each raised bed has a dedicated owner for a year and all of our produce is organically grown.

    Please visit our website or facebook page for more information or contact Jane McKay at

  • It's easy to Fondue

    I'm going to let you in on a behind-the-scenes food extravaganza.  Every Sunday at our Broadway store the employees get together for what we affectionately call "Sunday Snack Day" where the employees either bring in treats, or make something at the store for everyone to nibble on.

    I really wanted to do fondue at the store, but wasn't sure how we were going to do this without a stove top.  Solution: microwave.

    I used one of our staff favorites, Contralto from Andante Dairy in California.  Contralto is a soft, delicate, sweet, slightly salty, creamy pasteurized goat's milk cheese with a washed rind.

    Necessity is the mother of invention (yes, sometimes I need fondue) and so the following recipe is a bit unorthodox. The result however is delicious!

    This yields enough fondue for 4 staff members who are also eating apple pancake, cardamom cookies and lunch from Crisp, or enough for two people as an appetizer or snack To make this you will need:

    • 1/2 # of Contralto
    • 2 balsamic cippolini onions
    • 1 clove pickled garlic

    1. First take your cheese and cube it up and let it get to room temperature
    2. Next, chop the onions into a small dice and set them aside
    3. Take your garlic clove, smash it with the widest part of your knife and rub the clove all over the fondue pot
    4. Put half of the onions at the bottom of the fondue pot, then a layer of cheese, then the rest of the onions and another layer of cheese
    5. Put the dish in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds-stir all the cheesy onion goodness together and then put back in the microwave for up to 10 seconds or until all the cheese melts. You've got to watch your cheese to make sure it doesn't get too hot; if it does you'll end up with a curdled mess of ick.

    Now you're ready to put your cheesy goo over the tealight flame and dip away! Some people prefered the cornichons, some the Effie's oatcake.  Me, I'm an old-fashioned girl and went straight for the bread.



  • Agela's Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

    The first real snow of the season showed up this weekend in Chicago. The high today is going to be 29F. It's cold out there.  That also means that it is  warm comfort food season. In my house, t's macaroni and cheese time. I'm sharing my personal macaroni and cheese recipe with you all to help you stay warm through the season.


    Panko breadcrumbs (4 oz.)

    3T dried parsley

    1T dried onion

    2t dried thyme

    2t dried oregano

    2t kosher salt

    2t dried minced garlic

    4T butter, melted

    You should make herbed breadcrumbs with the flavors you like, but they should be dried. I find that fresh herbs add too mush moisture to the breadcrumbs.

    I usually combine all of my herbs and breadcrumbs in a zip top baggie and toast what I think I'm goign to need at any one time. this way you always have a breadcrumb mix at the ready.

    In batches (unless you have a huge skillet) lightly toast the breadcrumbs in the melted butter. You don't want them completely brown, just less Casper the friendly ghost looking.

    Set them aside to cool


    I use a 16oz. box of whole grain rotini.

    The spiral shape holds onto that sauce like nobody's business. Whole grain pasta is better for you, and sturdier. You can boil it for a while and bake it and it doesn't get squishy and mushy. Don't forget to salt your water before cooking the pasta.

    Cheesy Goodness:

    4T salted butter

    1/2 head of roasted garlic

    4T AP flour

    4 c 2% milk

    1/3# Pleasant Ridge Reserve (rind removed, grated and at room temp)

    1/3# Taleggio (cut in small chunks-including the rind- and at room temp)

    2/3# Asiago Fresco (cut in small chunks and at room temp)

    Tip: I find that the biggest problem with mac n' cheese is that the sauce breaks. This happens because most of us use a super hot oven, and the mixture ends up boiling. That's when you end up with gritty, curdled cheese sauce. Not good. Never let the sauce boil. Not when it's on the stove top, not when it's in the oven.

    • melt the butter in your pot.
    • squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the butter
    • whisk to break up the garlic and incorporate it into the butter
    • next add your flour and whisk it into the butter
    • keep whisking for a few minutes making sure the butter, garlic and flour are all well incorporated
    • slowly add your milk to the roux-whisking constantly
    • keep whisking until the sauce starts to thicken
    • when it has started to thicken, take it off the heat immediately
    • while whisking add the grated Pleasant Ridge Reserve in small batches until it is incorporated
    • next, add your cubes of Taleggio and Asiago Fresco a little at a time, whisking like crazy and waiting for each batch to be completely melted before doing the next batch.
    • salt and pepper the sauce to your taste
    • add your cooked pasta
    • pour that into a casserole dish, add a generous heaping of breadcrumbs to the top and put into a 350F oven for 20 minutes
    • turn the oven off, and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to get those breadcrumbs really nice and toasty brown
    • Enjoy!

    -Agela assistant buyer/macaroni and cheese diva


  • Pastoral Cooks?

    Oh yes we do! Here at Pastoral we not only a highly knowledgeable team, but many of the employees are trained cooks and chefs who have worked at some of the best restaurants in the country.

    Often customers come in and ask us how to cook with a cheese. Starting this weekend, we're going to give you some suggestions. The staff was challenged to come up with some cheesy ideas using our fresh cheeses (Mozzarella, Feta, Tomini).

    This weekend we've got our first recipe. A great pasta salad using either the the Tomini with herbs, or with pepper flakes. Tomini are a soft fresh cheese with a bit of tang to them. Super creamy with just a hint of lemon zest. This cheese can be used on pizza, in pasta, and even egg dishes.

    Come in to either store this weekend, get a taste, pick up the recipe and try this recipe (or experiment on your own).


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