Entertaining, Holidays, Recipes

Nothing says Canada Day like fried cheese and ketchup chips, eh?

O, Canada Day. Is there anything better than your nation’s holiday marking the unofficial start to day-drinking and carnival-food season — I mean, summer?

Caesars set glorious and free from their boxes to preside over camp chairs; dog-traumatizing fireworks for at least three nights straight; “best country in the world” overheard at least once, or every 45 minutes if you’re in my ultra-patriotic dad’s vicinity.

And, of course, enough ketchup chips for stained fingers that rival a community-theatre Lady MacBeth’s.

Or enough ketchup chips to smother on hunks of smoked cheddar cheese, then fried in butter.

Yeah, you read that right.

Smoked cheddar — Provincial Smoke, to be exact 😍 — coated in ketchup chips and fried. In butter.

If the thought of crispy, ketchupy cheese nuggets makes you grimace, turn back now. (Lily-liver.) And don’t ever come to any BBQ of mine with that good sense.

Ketchup chips are a national treasure, but they’re only half the goods here. Provincial Smoke is a ridiculously rich smoked cheddar. Creamy, tart, with an earthy, acidic bite.

If you’re a fan of smoked cheeses, this Ontario raw milk cheddar is your new best friend — it could give your good ol’ grandpappy’s pipe a run for its money, that show-off.

And crispy-coated with a hint of sweet & salty ketchup, well, it would be borderline blasphemous not to serve these smokey little bundles around a campfire.

Ingredients: makes 12

  • 1 cup Provincial Smoke cheddar, cubed (about 1-inch)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour, or enough to coat
  • 2 tsp Caesar rim spice or celery salt
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 2 cups ketchup chips (PC brand is my fave)
  • 2 tbsp butter

Directions

Place ketchup chips in sealed plastic zipper bag and let loose any residual anger toward that guy that cut you off in traffic. I.e. Pound them until they’re crumbs.

Combine flour, Caesar rim spice (for an extra Canuck boost), salt and pepper in a shallow layer on plate. Arrange alongside beaten egg and ketchup crunch.

Coat each cube of cheese in flour mixture, then egg. Roll in ketchup chips and try not to lick them off immediately like the sodium-crazed animal you are. Wrap in tinfoil or wax paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a frying pan. In groups of 4, fry frozen cheese cubes in butter.

Timing is the only tricky part: my first attempt, I didn’t fry them long enough and they were still cold in the middle. My second attempt, I left them too long and the cheese melted out.

The sweet spot is about 8-10 minutes total, 1-2 minutes per side to get a good crisp. But the best gauge is good ol’ eyeballing. You want a golden brown crisp on all or most sides.

I’d recommend a nibble to check when they’re done (#yum) but you can also do a poke test with a skewer, if you’re a proper Penny. 💁

Then throw that propriety out the window, ’cause these are muck-directly-from-the-pan worthy. Ketchup-stained fingers are totally patriotic.

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Entertaining, Profiles

Tasting notes: The “vintage” brigade and whiskey cheddar

The air quotes come from my sideye at referring to cheese as “vintage” (see here). But don’t get me started on that again. I want to share the tasting notes I typed furiously into my phone before devouring the spread I got at St. Lawrence Market. I served some of these (plus herbed goat cheese and Le Rang Des Iles, which sadly didn’t make it to my notes) at my housewarming along with olives, jam, marinated portobello mushroom, artichoke and cherry peppers.

Cheese board

Highland Chief with Single Malt Whiskey

  • First impression: Dry, liquor taste
  • Sour like aged cheddar in the cheeks
  • Development of whiskey flavour is reminiscent of mould at first, but becomes sweet
  • Strong liquorice notes in whiskey flavour
  • Subtle caramel in the background
  • Slightly smoky, mellow finish
  • Clean with little bitterness
  • Incredibly creamy, like buttercream

Uniekaas Vintage 3 Year Old Gouda

  • First impression: Sweet like liqueur
  • Like a great fondue with beer or wine already added
  • Bitter like stout, slightly salty
  • Sweetness shines through, a little grassy
  • Similar to Beemster but stronger flavour
  • Creamy-firm texture with slight crystallization
  • Would be fantastic with something tart-sweet like currants (post-note: Had raspberry jam with it = perfect)

Oak Manor Vintage Cheddar
(You won’t see this one in the picture above, the cheese boards I served at my housewarming, because my boyfriend devoured it in almost one sitting. It’s a snacking cheese for sure.)

  • First impression: Smoked hay or grass
  • Sweet like an aged cheddar, then smoky
  • Progresses to deep caramel
  • Slight bitterness like coffee or hops
  • More lightly acidic than creamy
  • Not crumbly like traditional old cheddar, more dense and chewy

If you read the previous post, you’ll see that Le Rang Des Iles is missing from my tasting notes. Sorry about that. I saved it for my housewarming and thought I’d have a scrap left to study. Wrong-o. I remember it was stronger than a light bloomy rind like Camembert, but not as intense as a Sauvagine or a similar smelly slice. Creamy. Crumbly rind when chewed. Also, your friends won’t hesitate to eat it all.

The Grinch

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