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Cheese: The glue that holds Jewish relationships together

Congratulations!  You’ve finally found your bashert.  You are so in love and a perfect match in every way – except that he’s shomer Shabbat and you can’t wake up without Saturday morning cartoons.  Or you don’t eat at non-kosher restaurants, … Read More

By / September 17, 2007

Congratulations!  You’ve finally found your bashert.  You are so in love and a perfect match in every way – except that he’s shomer Shabbat and you can’t wake up without Saturday morning cartoons.  Or you don’t eat at non-kosher restaurants, while she routinely heads to Burger King to soothe her cheeseburger fix.  Welcome to the strange world of Jewish dating – a land where two people of the same faith can be religiously miles apart.  Luckily, there’s one thing that all Jews can agree on – food…or so I thought.

In my own pluralistic Jewish relationship, the subject of cheese has become a surprisingly contentious topic.   In one corner we have a farmers’ market shopping, microwave shunning, organic loving food snob (me).  In the other corner we have my kosher-keeping, bachelor-kitchen owning boyfriend.  Like any good foodie, I’m rather obsessed with good cheese – the stinky, artisanal stuff that evokes that elusive food sense, umamiMy boyfriend also likes good cheese, but if confronted with the choice between the non-kosher aged cheddar and a slice of highly processed kosher cheese from Miller’s, he’ll invariably pick door number two.

The problem is, Miller Cheese makes me want to start throwing things.  Honestly, if you have to dig through three layers of plastic to unearth a flavorless orange brick, why bother with cheese at all?  Our disagreement certainly isn’t the stuff of breakups, but soon after we started dating, finding a happy cheese medium with my boyfriend became a high priority on my list.   

Enter 5-Spoke Creamery According to their website (and also to owners Barbara and Alan, whom I met recently at their vendor booth at Jewzapalooza), all of their cheeses are made by hand from the raw milk [swoon] of grass-fed [double swoon] Holstein cows, are pesticide and hormone free,” and (and!!) “are kosher certified Kof-K.”

Too good to be true?  After trying their Redmond Cheddar and Herbal Jack (a mix of chives and garlic), I’m a believer.  It had the "real cheese" flavor that I love and the legit certification that my boyfriend needs.  I like it so much, I decided to create a celebratory dish to honor the company that brought cheesy harmony to my pluralistic relationship. 

5-Spoke Pasta with Cheese with Arugula Pesto Serves 4

*Serve this dish with a green salad and, if you're trying to woo someone, a bottle of dry red wine (see The Jew & The Carrot's wine list for delicious, kosher, organic suggestions.)

Pasta 1 package of dry or fresh pasta (macaroni, spirals, shells, penne etc.)

Cheese sauce 1 1/2 cups shredded (or cubed) Redmond Cheddar from 5-Spoke Creamery 1/3-2/3 cup milk 2 Tbs unsalted butter ½ tsp mustard powder pinch of nutmeg

Pesto 1 large bunch fresh basil 1 bunch fresh arugula (fresh spinach works too, and will yield a more subtle pesto) 2-3 garlic cloves, with skins removed and roughly chopped ½ cup toasted pine nuts  http://www.fitnessandfreebies.com/food/cooking/pine_nuts.html Olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste

Directions Start with the pesto.  Thoroughly wash the argula and basil, removing all grit and sand.  Remove basil leaves from stems.  Roughly chop together with the arugula on a cutting board.  Add all the greens to a food processor (a blender works too, but not as well).  Add the garlic cloves and toasted pine nuts and pulse in food processor until roughly combined.  Add in olive oil, about 4 tablespoons at a time, continuing to pulse the food processor between each addition until the mixture turns into a paste.  Add salt and pepper and blend once more.  Scoop 2/3 cup into a bowl and set aside.  Put the remaining pesto into a Tupperware and freeze it for an easy pasta sauce or sandwich spread later.

Make the pasta.  Fill a quart-sized pot with water.  Add a shake of salt and a drop of oil to the water and set to boil.  Once boiled, cook pasta according to directions on box.  Drain, set aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low-med heat.  As soon as it melts (before it gets brown and bubbly!) add the milk and stir to combine.  Add ½ the cheese and stir frequently, until melted.  Add the rest of the cheese, the nutmeg and the mustard powder and continue stirring, adjusting the sauce with more milk or cheese, if necessary, until you get the desired thickness.

Pour hot cheese sauce and pesto over the pasta and stir to coat.    

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