Mon Chéri, Dairy

    America is involved in a love affair worthy of People magazine. The lovers’ identities? Just peruse the dairy section in Whole Foods to see a small sample. The average American eats 31.4 pounds of cheese every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Clearly we love our cheese, but who are our lovers?

    Illustration by Sarah Lowe / North by Northwestern

    Gorgonzola's bold smell and flavor earn it the title of “Most Passionate Lover.” At times bordering on overwhelming, Gorgonzola is a cheese that titillates the palate. This risotto recipe showcases the passionate side of Gorgonzola by pairing it with the subtler flavor of cucumber.

    Gorgonzola and Cucumber Risotto
    1/3 cup Gorgonzola

    1/3 cup heavy cream
    1 cup risotto rice
    Vegetable or chicken stock
    10 finely chopped cucumbers
    1/4 cup milk
    1 tbsp pepper

    Blend together Gorgonzola and heavy cream; set aside. In large pot, toast risotto rice until warm to the touch. Add 1 cup boiling liquid at a time, alternating between vegetable or chicken stock and cucumber soup (puree of chopped cucumbers, milk and pepper). Keep rice fully covered by liquid, stirring constantly, until rice is almost fully cooked, then remove from heat. Add cheese mixture to taste, stirring vigorously to transform the rice's texture. Serve immediately.

    Illustration by Sarah Lowe / North by Northwestern

    A surprisingly versatile cheese, ricotta is the "Most Adventurous Lover." Ricotta can be used in a wide range of dishes, from standard lasana to Easter grain pies. Venturing on the sweeter side, it can help keep cookies moist for up to a week. Lemon ricotta cookies are perfect for that mid-week theatre bake sale.

    Lemon Ricotta Cookies
    2 1/4 cups flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    4 oz. softened unsalted butter
    2 cups sugar
    2 eggs
    15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
    3 tbsp lemon juice
    1 lemon

    Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix unsalted butter and sugar. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add whole milk ricotta cheese, lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon. Beat to combine. Stir in dry ingredients.

    Spoon 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake for 15 minutes at 375°, or until slightly golden on the edges. Remove from oven. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for 20 minutes.

    For glaze, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon in small bowl. Stir until smooth. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and use back of spoon to spread gently. Let glaze harden for about 2 hours.

    Illustration by Sarah Lowe / North by Northwestern

    Feta is "The Cougar" in this complicated love triangle. First produced around 5,000 years ago, feta is one of the world's oldest cheeses, and it continues to seduce generation after generation with its salty taste and crumbly texture. This watermelon and feta salad is a fantastic Mediterranean-inspired side dish.

    Refreshing Watermelon Salad
    3 cups chopped watermelon
    1 cup chopped cucumbers
    1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
    2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
    2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

    Combine ingredients in large bowl. Serve immediately. 


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