Ask the Experts

Traditional blue recipe

Ask the Experts

Naomi Crisante is a food educator, television presenter and food writer with over 15 years experience in Australia’s cheese industry. She is an accredited cheese judge, judges at various specialist cheese shows and represented Australia as a judge at the 2006 World Cheese Championship Contest in Wisconsin, USA. Naomi also managed the Australian Grand Dairy Awards for nine years, since their inception in 1999.

Naomi Crisante Food Communications

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Looking for a simple tasty blue cheese salad dressing that is long keeping

Most blue cheese dressings contain some cream in them, which means they are not ideal for keeping long term, but a week or two in the fridge in a clean jar should be OK for this type of dressing:

75-100g blue cheese, crumbled  (use something robust, like King Island Dairy's Endeavour or Tasmanian Heritage Deep Blue)
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon each of mayonnaise, olive oil and white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons French or Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

If you want to add herbs, like fresh parsley, do so just before serving.

I love all types of cheese, but my favourites are Brie and Camembert. Could you suggest some other cheeses that I may like?

If you are fond of Brie and Camembert, you may also like to try Triple Cream &ndash ; another soft white cheese that is made with a little extra cream and is really buttery, like King Island Dairy’s Seal Bay Triple Cream.

Also give washed rind cheeses, like Tasmanian Heritage Red Square a go. The rind of these cheeses has been ‘washed’ with a brine solution during maturation and this encourages the flavour development and an orange bloom on the surface. They have a strong, pungent smell but a surprisingly sweet and creamy centre. Your flavour experience will depend on how ripe the cheese is (and they can be quite ‘wild’ when very ripe) but it is this surprise factor that is part of the enjoyment of the cheese.

 I’d also suggest a blue brie (King Island Dairy, South Cape and Australian Gold varieties are easy to find) – as they have all the creaminess of brie with a subtle bit of blue, which makes life interesting!

There are so many Brie cheeses! What's the difference between Brie, Double Brie, Triple Cream Brie, and Hand Washed Brie?

As one of the most popular specialty cheese varieties, there are many Brie and Brie-style cheeses available in Australia. The basic Brie recipe can be modified in many ways, including changing the type of milk used.

Double and Triple Cream Brie cheeses are usually made with a creamier milk as a base - that is, it contains a greater proportion of cream to milk than is normally used. In some cases, extra cream can be added directly to the milk. This can give a creamier cheese with a more buttery taste.

Hand Washed Brie or Scrubbed Brie is a Brie-style cheese, which is ‘washed ’ or ‘scrubbed’ with a brine-type solution as it matures. This changes the condition of the white mould and gives a distinct flavour and aroma to the cheese. As Hand Washed Brie cheeses mature, they develop a beautiful orange bloom on the white mould and their aroma is strong and earthy . Interestingly, the stronger the smell of the rind, the more mild and delicate the cheese!

Ashed Brie has been rolled in vine ash to give it an appealing fine, dark layer just under the surface.

What makes mild, medium and tasty Cheddars taste different?

The age of the cheese determines its strength, flavour and texture. Like good wine , cheese becomes fuller and more complex in flavour with age as the proteins in the cheese breakdown and it ripens.  

Mild Cheddars are aged for 3-6 months and have a subtle, buttery flavour. They have a supple body so will slice well for sandwich-making and grating.

Tasty Cheddars  are typically aged from 6–12 months and, at this stage, they have developed a definite tang and more textured body.

Vintage Cheddars are at least 12 months old and have a characteristic cheddar ‘bite’ and full-bodied flavour.

What's the difference between Brie and Camembert?

Brie and Camembert are both types of soft white cheese. Originally, Brie was made in an area south-east of Paris where the cattle grazed on stony river beds. Camembert was originally made a couple of hundred kilometers to the west, near the coast in Normandy, where a different breed of cattle grazed on lush green pastures. In addition, Brie and Camembert were made in different sizes : Brie a large flat wheel, Camembert a small round wheel. Both the raw ingredients and the differing surface areas resulted in the different tastes between the cheeses.

Modern-day Brie and Camembert varieties are produced in many places, in many ways, throughout the world. This variety means the original differences between Brie and Camembert are not so pronounced . Generally speaking, Brie is a smoother, creamier cheese with a subtle ‘mushroomy’ taste ; and Camembert has a slightly sweeter flavour.

What’s with the smelly cheeses?

The strong smell of some cheeses is greatly prized by connoisseurs, while others find it daunting. Strong-smelling cheeses take some getting used to but, in fact, some of the cheeses with the strongest aroma conceal the mildest, most delicate of tastes.

Washed Rind cheeses, usually the strongest smelling cheeses, are made by washing or scrubbing the outer rind of the cheese with a brine-type solution as it matures. The initial ‘wash’ or &lsquo ;smear’ includes a bacterium called Brevibacterium linens, which develops the flavour and unique smell of the cheese. As Washed Rind cheeses mature, they develop a beautiful orange bloom on the rind and their aroma is strong and earthy. If you find the aroma or flavour of a Washed Rind cheese too overpowering , peel the rind back and try some of the soft creamy cheese within. The delicate flavours contained inside are a surprising contrast to the ‘wildness’ of the rind.

Blue cheeses are another type of cheese that can intimidate the uninitiated. The characteristic aroma of Blue cheese is a much-appreciated feature amongst cheese lovers, and becomes stronger as the cheese ages. It comes from a combination of the fermentation process that occurs in all maturing cheeses, the rind which develops to protect the cheese, and the specific moulds used to produce the characteristic veins. Milder blue cheeses, such as those made in the Blue Brie style, are very mild in taste and aroma and therefore a good starting point for the blue cheese beginner.

Hard Grating cheeses such as Parmesan have a distinctive, robust aroma. Again, this is part of the character of the cheese and adds to the full flavour enjoyed when eating.

I'd like to try Brie or Camembert. What should I look for?

Brie and Camembert are two of the most well-known specialty cheese types, but many people are unsure of what to look for or how to eat them. Remember: enjoying good cheese is all about your personal tastes and preferences. There are a few simple guidelines, but remember:

  • When choosing Brie or Camembert, look for cheese that gives way under gentle thumb pressure &ndash ; much like testing for a ripe avocado. When ripe, the rind should look like it is changing from pure white to more mottled – this shows the rind is actively maturing the cheese. Do not be concerned if there is mould growing on the cut surface of the cheese as this is a sign that the cheese is alive and maturing well. These cheeses are best enjoyed when fully ripe, which is close to the Best Before date.
  • Eat Brie and Camembert close to their Best Before dates. Many people make the mistake of selecting soft cheeses with the longest Best Before date they can find, which means the cheese may be under-mature . Living cheeses mature and ripen as they age. A mature cheese will have a richer taste with a soft, creamy centre. Young cheeses often have a firm centre and undeveloped flavours. If you’ve eaten a Brie or Camembert and haven’t enjoyed it, you may have been served a young cheese. Try a mature cheese and taste the difference!
I’d like to try Blue cheese, but find some too overpowering. What should I try?

Blue cheeses come in varying strengths: some very strong and pungent, while others are milder with a less powerful aroma. The unique flavours and aromas of Blue cheeses are loved by cheese connoisseurs, however, the beginner may find that a Blue Brie style of cheese is best. Made with a creamy Brie-style cheese as a base and just a hint of blue, Blue Brie is a great way to start. Once hooked on the distinctive taste of blue cheese, you can then move up in strength towards the medium blue cheeses (like Tasmanian Heritage Traditional Blue) before savouring the full power of a rich, crumbly strong classic blues (such as Stilton or King Island Dairy Endeavour Blue).

What's soy cheese?

Soy 'cheese' is made from soy milk and is different in flavour and texture from cheese made from cow's milk.

Can I serve beer with cheese?

The varying flavour profiles of both cheese and beer create exciting taste sensations . The cleansing, effervescent properties of beer, combined with its yeasty aroma, flavour, texture and bitterness can provide the perfect accompaniment to any cheese. It’s simply a matter of experimentation ! See our Cheese and Wine Matching section for further tips and suggested matches.