Saint Albray – Cheese of the Month

Mélange de Haricots
Toasted Walnuts
Walnut Dijon Vinaigrette
 Saint Albray Cheese

Made with pasteurized cow’s milk from the Jurançon in the Pyrénées- Atlantiques, ripened for two weeks and formed into a shape similar to that of a flower with each “petal” forming a half pound of cheese. The six “petals” are centered around a disk which, when removed, creates a hollow center resembling the center of the flower. For more information about St. Albray, and some excellent recipes, please visit Ile de France.
Saint Albray has a distinctive taste. During the aging process, St. Albray develops the hearty, robust flavor of a traditional washed-rind cheese. It has a rich aroma and a creamy flavor that can be enhanced by eating it with its ginger/reddish-white rind. I especially like the intriguing aroma, and highly-recommend eating that rind!

Warm Leek and Saint Albray Salad
Walnut Dijon Vinaigrette
Candied Walnuts
Basil Garnish

Leeks are tied together to keep their shape, then cooked in boiling water about 15 minutes until tender. Drain and slice, arrange on plate. Drizzle walnut dijon vinaigrette over warm leeks. Add slices of St. Albray and candied walnuts, basil chiffonade as garnish. This recipe was inspired by a terrific cookbook: Bistro Laurent Tourondel, New American Bistro Cooking. 
Walnut Dijon Vinaigrette: Minced Shallot and Garlic, Dijon Mustard, Sherry Vinegar, Walnut Oil, Salt and Pepper.
Rosé made a nice summer pairing with this leek salad.
Artisan Lettuces

Petite Oak – Tender and mellow
Petite Tango – Curly leaf similar to mild arugula or endive
(Green is slightly sweet, red is slightly bitter)
Petite Gem – firm and crunchy with mild sweet flavor
(more on Artisan Lettuce here)
St. Albray on Warm Baguette 
Artisan Lettuce Salad

Next time you are looking for an esoteric cheese for your cheese platter, as an alternative to the ubiquitous Brie, give St. Albray a try!

Brie – Cheese of the Month

Baked Brie in Fillo Dough with Assorted Preserves
Serve with Fresh Fruit 

Brush ramekins with melted butter. Cut thawed fillo into strips, brush lightly with butter. Place in ramekins in a star pattern. 

Crafted in Normandy, Ile de France Brie is made from the fresh pasteurized milk of grass fed cows. 
Fill the bottom of the ramekin with this delicious cheese, some fruit preserves of your choice, and more cheese on top.

Here we used homemade pomegranate jelly compliments of my dear neighbor, Grace. Other flavors in this batch included apricot jam, fig jam, and mixed berry jam.

Manufactured since the 8th century, it is often referred to as the King of Cheese. Brie was popular among French royals, one of whom – King Louis XVI – allegedly requested it as his last meal. In 1936, Ile de France Brie was brought to the United States aboard the first refrigerated ocean liner.

We used all purpose pastry dough sheets made from organic white wheat flour.
These days, many varieties of Brie are produced all over the world. The rich, creamy Ile de France imported Brie from the Normandy region which is handily available here in the US, should not be confused with cheese of AOC designation from the Brie region, Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun which are not legally available in the US as they peak before the 6o day aging requirement for raw milk cheese. Next visit to France, “True Brie” will be atop the tasting list! 
Cut off extra long ends of the dough, draw up over the top to make a loose flaky cap. Brush top of dough with a little more melted butter.

Bake until the fillo is golden brown.

Gently remove baked brie from the ramekin, serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar with assorted fresh fruit on the side. 

Suprême – Cheese of the Month

Purple Asparagus with Suprême Sauce

  • French 
  • Cow’s milk 
  • Soft ripened 
  • White rind 
Sounds really good, like Brie, right? Not exactly. Suprême is enriched with crème fraîche. Produced in Burgundy since 1926, it was introduced in the 1930’s under the name “Les Ducs” then by 1968 Suprême des Ducs was distributed internationally. If you are interested in wine pairing, by all means try a Red Burgundy! 

Not to take anything away from Brie, Le Brie is King and one of my favorites, in fact, it will be Cheese of the Month in July, so please stop by then for some new Brie recipes. But here we are featuring the esoteric Suprême. Flavors that pair well with this cheese include hazelnut and roasted garlic. Please be sure to visit the Ile de France website for more recipes and information about Suprême.
Purple Asparagus with Suprême Sauce

Simmer the asparagus in boiling water with lemon juice.

Eighteen seconds later  (thanks to digital camera information) you can already see the purple is fading away. If you have your heart set on preserving the original purple color, I am afraid that you have to serve it raw. Which would of course be delicious, as noted in an earlier post, Grilled Purple Asparagus and Tofu, this variety is sweeter and less stringy than green asparagus.

Regular readers of Taste With The Eyes may have noticed that I am a crème fraîche aficionado, and since Suprême is made with it, I thought I would melt the cheese after removing the rind, and add a little crème fraîche to make a sauce. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice (and salt if desired) on the asparagus and ladle the Suprême sauce over. Voilà! Easy and elegant!
More Cheese of the Month!

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Escarole Stuffed with Suprême

Quarter a head of escarole keeping the bottom stem intact. Drizzle with your favorite (or mine, see below) Dijon Vinaigrette. Place a slice of Suprême in the center of the escarole. Wrap with prosciutto.
Jacques Pepin’s Vinaigrette in a Jar

  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbs Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 c red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 c extra virgin olive oil

Put all ingredients in a jar, screw on the lid, and shake very well.

Grill over medium high heat, turning, until the prosciutto gets crispy, the cheese starts to melt, and the escarole begins to char and wilt. Serve with extra vinaigrette on the side.

Great starter for an alfresco grilling party!

Suprême, Roasted Garlic, 
Grilled Escarole and Japanese Eggplant Sandwich

The ultimate veggie sandwich! There is so much going on here you won’t miss the meat. It is smokey and garlicky, rich and creamy, slightly bitter (in a good way) from the escarole, and silky and toasty…

Lightly brush the escarole with olive oil. Grill over medium high heat, turning until slightly charred and slightly wilted.

Grilling Japanese Eggplant. 

The long slender shape makes it perfect to fit the rolls.
More about eggplant here.

Brush a halved roll with hazelnut oil and grill until toasty. Spread warm roasted garlic cloves on one half, sliced Suprême on the other half. The warm bread will start to melt the cheese.

Top each side with grilled Japanese eggplant and grilled escarole respectively. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

A Supremely Flavorful Sandwich.
Thank you to Ile de France for introducing us to Suprême!

French Goat Cheese – Cheese of the Month

Goat Cheese Katsu Salad
Soba Noodle, Edamame, Spring Greens 
Creamy Sesame & Sweet Soy Dressing

Goat Cheese Katsu:

Dip chilled goat cheese medallion in egg white, then in panko breadcrumb/black sesame seed mixture. Fry in hot peanut oil until golden, transfer to paper towel. Season with sea salt.

Soba Noodles with Edamame:

Toss cooked chilled soba (buckwheat) noodles, edamame (shelled boiled green soy bean) and sliced scallions with dressing.

Creamy Sesame & Sweet Soy Dressing:

Heat ½ c. each low-sodium soy sauce and mirin (rice wine) in a sauce pan, with 1 t. each minced garlic and ginger. Reduce by half. Add honey to taste. Let cool then mix with 1/4 c. tahini (sesame seed paste).

Assemble Goat Cheese Katsu Salad:

Place baby leaf spring greens on a platter, drizzle with dressing. Place soba noodles alongside the spring greens, top with warm Goat Cheese Katsu medallion.

I used the delicious Ile de France Goat Cheese. It is an indulgent, fresh, tangy, snowy white rich cheese made from milk of goats grazing in the French Alps. Looking for ideas for the next time you serve goat cheese? There are many creative cheese recipes in the Ile de France Spring Follies here.

The inspiration for this cheese served with an Asian-style twist came from my favorite local restaurant, Gina Lee’s Bistro, owned by my dear friends Scott & Gina Lee. They serve a delicious Chicken Katsu over Soba Noodles with Asian Vegetables. And if you are a fan of chèvre chaud you might enjoy this pumpkin seed crusted version as well.

Saint André – Cheese of the Month

Saint André on Puff Pastry
Pear Balsamic Reduction
Rare Hawaiian White Honey
Fried Leek with Muscat Grape

Slice of Saint André
Sautéed Pear
Fresh Muscat Seedless Grapes
Pear Balsamic Reduction
Rare Hawaiian White Honey
Toasted Baguette

We are cheese lovers over here. If you are too, you just might be interested in these previous posts:
Today, however, we have fallen head-over-heels for the cow’s milk, soft-ripened, triple cream cheese from the Normandy region of France called Saint André. They say, “Imagine the satiny paste of a perfect Brie mixed with equal parts of whipped sweet cream and heavy sour cream.” Oy. Oy. Oy. 
Many of the lovely flavors of Brie are there, and they are so right-on with sweet cream and sour cream notes, but my other favorite attributes of this cheese are the texture and the rind. The texture is drier than Brie yet still creamy. Extraordinary really. And the bloomy rind is creamy, white and soft, slightly fuzzy. Mold spores help transform the curds, then the cheese is allowed to ripen in a humidified room. During this affinage the mold grows, or blooms, to form the rind. Are you fond of the rind? Go here to read more.
Saint André Cheese Course:
So, I wanted to create a cheese course where the texture and rind of this rich heavenly cheese could be appreciated. Due to the richness of this course, I am serving a fresh and forceful Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label to be exact). What would you serve?
Teaser: A warm small round of puff pastry is topped with a slice of Saint André, drizzled with pear balsamic reduction and a touch of rare Hawaiian white honey, finished with fried leek with muscat grape. 
Platter: Sautéed pears are served over pear balsamic reduction, with a drizzle of rare Hawaiian white honey and fresh muscat grapes with a generous slice of Saint André, toasted baguette on the side.
To My Fellow Cheese Aficionados 
Please visit Ile de France’s Portal of the French Cheese Community informative site, especially the Saint André page to learn more about this enchanting cheese and other marvelous French cheeses.

Soufflés au Comté

Hello cheese lover! Comté. Soufflé. We are in heaven.
A bit about this cheese: First of all, Comté (pronounced con-tay) is produced in France in the Jura mountains bordering Switzerland.
The farmers raise Montbéliarde cows (95% of the herds) or French Simmental (5%), and feed them a natural diet based on fresh grass during the summer months and hay during the winter.
The flora in the Jura Massif is very diverse and, depending on where they are located, cows may graze on different plants. This is reflected in the milk and, ultimately, in the varying flavours of the cheese.
Each day the farmers deliver their milk to their local fruitière (cheesemaking house). Each fruitière has its own distinct profile related to the aromatic characteristics of the Comté that it produces. These aromatic characteristics reflect the terroir (or soil, climate, flora, etc.) of where the cheese is produced.
One fruitière is characterized by aromas of melted butter, milk chocolate, hazelnuts and fudge. When the cheeses are aged beyond 15 months, aromas of toast, plum compote, leather, pepper and dark chocolate are apparent.

Another produces Comté that is dominated by butterscotch aromas with a hint of toast, followed by fruity aromas such as hazelnut, roasted nuts, sweet orange juice and ripe apricot. With longer aging, the aromas of hazelnut and orange become more pronounced.

I cannot read these descriptors and not pine for this cheese. For more information please visit It’s a very informative site (and you’ll get a kick out of the picture of the cows)!
Overview of Steps to Make a Soufflé

Melt butter, add flour whisking for 2 minutes, 
then whisk in milk. 
Let cool slightly, add egg yolks.

Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Fold in grated Comté
(I spy Tomato Tarte Tatin waiting in the background).

Beat egg whites with a bit of salt until stiff.

Gently fold egg whites into the béchamel mixture.

Fill ramekins (buttered, chilled, with grated cheese on bottom) with soufflé batter. Sprinkle more grated cheese on top and bake at 400°F until golden. Resist temptation to open the oven door while they cook. When they are done, serve immediately!
I hope Fr. Adam and I are able to convey here how easily done, fun, and satisfying it is to make cheese soufflés. We thoroughly enjoyed the process. Perhaps you’ll find this overview inspiring? The recipe we used comes from the engaging Chocolate & Zucchini Cookbook. We’d love to hear about your favorite soufflés too, as there are definitely more soufflés in our future!

Tomato Tarte Tatin

Brunch Menu
Tomato Goat Cheese Basil Tarte Tatin
Red Leaf Green Leaf Salad, Dijon Vinaigrette
Comté Cheese Soufflés
Handcut Bacon
Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc

Oh, we had such a delightful brunch! I hope I am able convey the light lovely delicious flavor combinations served here. The menu is straight-forward and uncomplicated, but this brunch menu is a winner by all accounts!

Father Adam is my longtime dear dear friend. He was going to be in town at the same time as my family visiting from Chicago. We determined he had not seen my brother in over 20 years (and therefore had not met my sister-in-law, nor their sons). Father Adam and I cook together often. He is a terrific cook. You may recall reading about some of our dishes, including the one we made for Julia Child’s birthday event, Coq Au Vin.

We thought it would be neat to cook brunch and for everyone to get (re) acquinted. Father Adam arrived around 9 AM and we began prepping the meal. We took a break to shoot some hoops with Stone, and a few hours later the adults were ready to sit down to a very memorable meal with the light streaming in, with the food, family, and friends, what could be better?

We served dry, crisp, complex Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc California Sparkling Wine, a great complement to the meal and how apropos to serve a “local” wine to out-of-town guests here in California.

Tomato Tarte Tatin: Slice Roma tomatoes lengthwise. Squeeze the seeds and juice out of tomatoes and place in baking pan drizzled with olive oil, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence. Cook at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Pour out any juices left in the pan.

Top the tomatoes with crumbled goat cheese then cover with puff pastry dough. This is my cherished Le Creuset Tarte Tatin Pan. Handcrafted of porcelain enamel cast iron, it is designed for recipes that are started on top of the stove and are finished in the oven. The curved side handles make it easy to flip foods over onto a plate. This is a great pan for making quiche too, if you are a quiche lover, you might enjoy visiting here and here.

Tuck the dough under the edges of the tomatoes. Make holes in the dough to let steam escape and bake in the 350°F oven until the dough is golden. Remove from oven and let rest until ready to serve. Then…

Father Adam demonstrates the Tarte Tatin Flip Over.
Place platter over the pan.


Slowly remove pan.

Top with shredded basil. Serve.
Recipe inspired by the charming Chocolate & Zucchini Cookbook. Please stay tuned for the Soufflés post from this special brunch.