By Cindy Della Monica, Cheesemonger and Owner, Cheese Central
As I gently protest, the heated end of summer drags me into the warm autumn months that will prepare me for my winter “hibernation.” The garden ignores my pleading for 50 more pounds of tomatoes, “please.” While the basil flowers are trying hard to set seeds. They are just too pretty to let them do their job—so I cut the long stems to encourage more basil leaves, and add the long stem, fragrant flowers to my living room rose bouquet. Farmers Market has come to a close, our shop customers have changed their routine visit times with us because the new school year and kids’ sports occupy their time during the week. The shift in season shows up in many ways, boo-hoo.
My “hibernation” plans (I don’t do cold weather well) include finishing the baby quilt (for the now 3 year old!), completing the poolside reading I started on vacation, and pruning the roses for winter at the RIGHT time… instead of too late. Cooking some new things to fill the freezer for the cold winter months to come—should start now. Old favorites cannot be left out, so well-loved soups, yeast breads and scones for setting aside for winter dining go on the list. Real English gingerbread, Great-Grandma’s poppy seed cake, and my favorite cheesecake cookies are topping the list. I put up small tubs of Fromage Fort into the freezer for better-than-average cheesy bread spread for soup sides, or an elegant bite with drinks for parties or hostess gifts. My mind is slowly shifting into the flavor-filled joys of the new season.
Excitement will eventually set in, and the autumn cleaning chores include rummaging through the freezer for the odds and ends that were left behind since last winter. I come up with a couple of half-empty ice cream cartons…you know the ones! Ice-capped? You bet! Two of my favorite ways to use these—no, no, don’t throw them out!—is to make Ice Cream Bread, and French toast. The Ice Cream Bread is quick and easy, making a simple loaf for toasting at breakfast (maybe with a slather of fresh chevre and honey). Think Banana, Coffee, Strawberry or Pumpkin ice cream, or..? My guilty pleasure is Rum Raisin ice cream for dessert, but I don’t always have dessert, so it might go unfinished buried behind the bag of frozen chili or pasta sauce. When I find it, though, it is the perfect opportunity to set it on the counter to melt, whisk in an egg or two, and drench stale bread in the mix. The soaked bread gets a quick sauté in butter, and golden brown Rum Raisin French Toast with my coffee on Sunday morning feels decadent, brightening my mood!
Holidays start with Halloween, don’t they? Flavoring a simple cheese ball to serve with crackers or bread helps counter-act the sugar rush of the kids’ candy bounty. (recipes on page 28) Check out Pinterest for ideas on how to make a “spider” or other fun presentations to lure the kids to the protein BEFORE the sugar! After Halloween, the new cheese balls can be shaped into pretty “apples” rolled in finely chopped nuts and garnished with stems and leaves (from the garden) to start the Thanksgiving feast, or into small individual balls to decorate like ornaments strung on pretty ribbon for a Christmas gathering.
Okay. I am officially over summer, and excited by autumn. Let’s fill the freezer with seasonal treats to look forward to enjoying with friends and family! Now is the time to begin, as there are just weeks left until Halloween! Happy cooking!
As always, our staff at CHEESE CENTRAL is ready to help you with samples of our 100+ cheeses at the counter. Visit us at 11 N School St, Lodi, CA 95240 or visit our website at www.cheesecentrallodi.com
ICE CREAM BREAD
1 pint ice cream (banana, coffee, strawberry, pumpkin or desired flavor)
2 1/2 C self-rising flour
1/4 t salt
Heat oven to 400*. Grease an 8x4” loaf pan and set aside. Melt ice cream in microwave safe bowl for 1 minute on HI. Stir and warm for 30 seconds more. Mixture should be very warm to the touch. Pour the mixture over the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Stir just to combine, mixture might have a few little lumps, and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, place in preheated oven, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool, slice and serve!
Holidays start with Halloween, don’t they? Flavoring a simple cheese ball to serve with crackers or bread helps counter-act the sugar rush of the kids’ candy bounty.
BASIC CHEESE BALL
1 lb. cream cheese, softened
1 C grated parmigiana-reggiano
2 garlic cloves, minced
Mix well with electric mixer. Add desired flavorings,
below, and form into desired size of cheese ball:
For Pesto Ball
¼ C prepared pesto
¼ C minced fresh basil
1 C toasted pine nuts
For Horseradish Ball
¼ C prepared horseradish,
or more to taste
1 C crumbled cooked bacon
2 green onions, finely chopped
For Mexi-Cali Ball
4 T tomato paste
¼ t salt
¼ t minced fresh cilantro
2 T finely chopped yellow onion
2 T minced seeded jalapeno pepper,
or more to taste
Cindy Della Monica is a Cheesemonger and Owner of Cheese Central in Lodi, Ca.
This story first appeared in the Ardent
for Life Autumn 2019 issue.