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Around the Cheese Board with Kelsey, Sara and Ashley

April 9th, 2012

by Wisconsin Cheese

Our beautiful, mouthwatering Grilled Cheese Academy recipe videos were created by three of our favorites food enthusiasts, Sara of SproutedKitchen.com, Kelsey of Happyolks.com and Ashley of NotWithoutSalt.com. We had the pleasure of chatting with these talented women about their grilled cheese creations, writing about food and eating Wisconsin Cheese.

Grilled cheese recipe inspiration:

HY: I’m a carrot-top monger. At the farmers’ market I see shoppers ask the farmers to remove the stems and I want to rush over and tell them what they’re missing. They’re such a great source of vitamins and minerals and make a great pesto for pasta, dipping and grilled cheese sandwiches.

NWS: Wisconsin Mascarpone inspired my sandwich. I remember the first time I tasted it and was completely blown away – similar to the texture of cream cheese without too much tang, soft in flavor, like whipped cream, with a heartier texture. Served alongside a slice of pie or cake, I find it to be the perfect tastes of whipped cream and ice cream. It makes pasta sauces richer, and on a simple piece of toasted bread with strawberry jam – it makes a mighty fine breakfast.

Favorite Wisconsin Cheese:

SK: I am proponent of pairing Manchego-style cheeses (like Wisconsin’s GranQueso) or any nutty, semi-firm cheese and apricot jam. I often make mini grilled cheese sandwiches out of those two things as appetizers for friends. It’s a wonderful combination.

HY: In spring I love Wisconsin Parmesan and arugula.

NWS: Spring calls for fresh Wisconsin cheeses. One of my favorite ways to serve is mixed with a hearty handful of fresh, chopped herbs. Or I simply open up a jar of pickled peppers and pour over the cheese and then serve with crackers – incredibly quick and easy. In the winter I reach for hearty aged Goudas and complex Blues. But the cheese that is never out of stock in our home is nutty Parmesan – the perfect finish for many of the dishes made in my kitchen.

On serving Wisconsin Cheese:

NWS: I like my cheese boards simple so as not to overwhelm my tasters. I usually will have a Blue with a few walnuts or figs (when in season) and a drizzle of honey. There is also often something aged – Cheddar, Gouda or Gruyère, and then something creamy and light – any fresh Wisconsin Cheese. My cheese board pet peeve is when there is not a separate knife for each cheese. I don’t like smearing Blue on my Brie – although it all still tastes pretty darn good.

On writing about food:

SK:I think I ended up writing about food because I am truly interested in it. I didn’t grow up in a cooking household, so when I learned (by way of working on a farm), I became pretty passionate about cooking and eating seasonally, and I wanted to talk about it and share with whomever cared to listen. Our site is a place for me to just be real, talk about life and the simple whole-foods focused recipes that pass through our kitchen.

HY: The love and energy we spend creating a meal elevates our awareness to the interconnectedness of all living things; cooking and writing is my expression of gratitude for my communities and the planet. I write about food to help people connect with the process of creating something that will nourish their whole person.

NWS: I love learning about people through the food they eat. And as much as I’m inspired by new flavors and new combinations, it’s what happens around the table that inspires me the most. Relationships are deepened, conversations abound and joy almost always accompanies.

In your fridge now:

SK: Oh man, lots of leftovers from recipe testing – and without question, I always have eggs and lots of green vegetables.

HY: Ginger root, Swiss chard, walnut oil.

NWS: Last week I pickled zucchini with jalapenos and fennel. A large jar is in the fridge right now making for a quick snack throughout the day. I always have Greek-style yogurt on hand.

Favorite cooking music:

HY: I listen to Bon Iver and softer, acoustic music throughout the day when I’m working on various odds and ends, so weekend cooking projects usually call for some Neil Young, Elton John, Joni Mitchell or Carole King to liven things up.

NWS: With three kids running around while I cook, I often am listening to either the sounds of the games they are playing or the Disney Pandora station. If I find myself alone, I turn on the Foster the People station or my guilty pleasure – musicals. Please don’t tell anyone.

Photos from SproutedKitchen.com, Happyolks.com and NotWithoutSalt.com.

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