I was craving cheese. Yep, it does happen. Although I’m surrounded by cheese for work, It happens more than you would think! Delicious salty goodness, how could I not? I’m sure by now I have rennet in my DNA. So with cheese on mind plus a upcoming tasting event, it made for an easy excuse a stop at my local cheese shop. I picked out a few for tasting notes, aged cheddar, a washed rind, a blue…the usual suspects..but I wanted something a little special for me. After a quick glance around the store, I saw the La Tur and knew it was coming home with me. It’s one of those cheeses you really can’t stop eating, gone the next day. It’s soft, gooey natural wrinkled rind and creamy cake-like paste makes me weak in the knees. Produced in the Piedmont region of Italy by Caseificio Dell Alta Langa. Sourcing milk from local farmers, the creamery specializes in soft, mixed milk and robiola style Italian cheeses. La Tur is made from cow, sheep and goats milk and aged for only 10 days. It’s flavors are light and delicate, creme fraiche yet this wonderful mushroom, grassy, zesty zing. I let mine sit out for about 30 minutes before I dived in. Knife in one hand and a chunk of crusty bread in the other. It was all that I hoped it would be. La Tur is delicious by itself but best enjoyed with a friend and a glass of wine. Would pair wonderfully with fresh figs, dates or marmalade.
I’ve always been fascinated with vegetable ash. Who would have thought charring a vegetable to death, almost to the point were it’s unrecognizable, grinding it into a powder and the out come would be such wonderful complex layers of flavors. My first thought of course is it originated for food preservation and passed down through the centuries has taken on other uses. So after Googling I found lot’s of recipes and cheese pairings but I felt unsatisfied with finding any history about it. So I left it at that and sought after making my own variation on this caveman Mrs. Dash.
So I picked up some vegetables at my local farmers market. I end up choosing the classic combination of carrots, celery and leeks. After a light wash, I left them out to air dry and then cut my veg into uniform size pieces to cook evenly. Cookie sheet lined with foil, I laid everything out and tossed it in my broiler.
Being my first time and not really sure how fast it would char, I compulsively checked and took photos along the way. Note: This is the same reason why I’m terrible at making rice. No, I’m not taking photos of my rice but I take the lid off, I stir when your not supposed to..constantly questioning is it done yet, is it done yet.. I’m not always that patient.
After getting a nice char on my vegetables, it still wasn’t dry enough and was holding on to it’s natural moisture. So I turned my oven down to it’s lowest temperature and put them in over night to dry out.
Completely happy with my dried out vegetable jerky, I decided to grind it by hand with my mortar and pestle.
And my outcome? It was delicious! It tastes a bit like the yummy char bits on the edge of a steak but you really can taste this great caramelized flavor from the carrots, celery and leeks. That same week I end up making some fresh goat cheese so I used a good amount on them but the rest I horded for days. I lightly sprinkling some on mash potatoes and also was great on eggs. I’ve even seen some cocktail recipes that use a touch of veg ash. Sounds great. Sign me up!