Oregon and blue cheese

blogff0324.JPGI’m sick and tired of losing my teeth. I am already scotch taping my face up and shoving hair that’s trying to escape from my head, back in. Super gel helps, because everything just clumps together and has no life or will of its own. Trying to decide what to make for dinner is going to be easy; anything that will fit through a straw. Not a bad thing in the cold weather–I can make soup or mashed potatoes or chicken croquettes, but I need prevention. I need to A. stop shoving all the candy Ferdinand gets at birthday parties into my own mouth and B. I need to eat more cheese. You hear that? Cheese is good for your teeth. Apparently, when you eat say, a handful of skittles and with a chaser of butterscotch hard candy, the pH in your mouth goes way down, making it the perfect environment for cavities. If you eat a little cheese before your candy, the pH in your mouth goes up and stays up, even after eating the candy. I like that, and I’m going plan my dinner around it.

I tried two cheeses this week, both blue, and both made in Oregon, one called Oregonzola and the other Crater Lake. They are from a guy that buys his milk in small batches from small farms with big cows who are living a good cows life, eating what cows should eat (grass/hay) and doing what cows should do, which I imagine is chewing their cud in the pasture, and then coming home at night and sleeping in the barn. Whatever it is the cows are doing, they’re making good cheese. And you could use the crater lake to serve with string beans and roasted chicken one night with a roasted grape tart for dessert and the next night, orchiette with a oregonzola sauce (that’s right, not gorg, org), a side of pan roasted asparagus with shallot, and pear tart for dessert.

For the orchiette, reduce a pint of heavy (organic if you can find it) cream, which means just set it over a low flame with a wooden spoon resting on the top of the pan to keep the cream from overflowing as it heats. Throw in a whole clove of garlic, uncut, along with a sprig of thyme. Let it simmer gently until the garlic is soft, then sieve everything, pushing the softened garlic, right through the screen. Bring the pasta water to the boil and add salt. Cook about 9 ounces until al dente. Grate some parmesan to equal 1/2 a cup. Bring the cream back to a simmer, then turn off the heat and whisk in 1/4 pound of the blue, and your handful of parm. As soon as the pasta is ready, strain, and combine with enough of the hot cream to coat generously. Taste for salt and black pepper and garnish with torn fresh basil leaves.
For the asparagus, bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the asparagus and cook for 4 minutes. Remove immediately to an ice bath. Finely dice a shallot and soften in your best olive oil with a little unsalted butter and a whole uncut garlic clove. When the shallot tastes delicious, add the asparagus over medium heat, and toss it around. Serve hot or at room temp.

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