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By Lucy M. Casale
| August 22, 2017
No food works more perfectly as a backyard barbecue snack, as an elegant dinner party app, or even as a special dessert, than cheese. It’s all about how you serve it. And now Cabot’s resident chef has you covered with smart tips and recipes.
Jimmy Kennedy is building a tiny village of houses crafted from cheese. His 6-year-old daughter hands him a roof piece: a Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese Cracker Cut. Biting into a wall—this one made of Seriously Sharp Cheddar—Kennedy makes a door.
“They’re very fun to work with!” Kennedy exclaims, pointing to the farmer owned cooperative’s latest product, Cabot Cracker Cuts. In six flavors, they come in handy resealable packages of 26 pre-cut slices, perfect, as Kennedy has learned, for cooking with — or even building with.
As Cabot’s resident chef, Kennedy travels the country with the Farmers’ Gratitude Grille to serve free meals to volunteers, like those at Boston Cares, who are giving their time to better their communities. It is part of the Cabot farmers’ commitment to thanking, recognizing, and rewarding volunteers through the cooperative’s Gratitude Department.
When Jimmy is off the road, his focus is on recipe development.
His family often serves as his test subjects and helpers, recently cooking them tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches using the cracker cuts. Kennedy has also been developing recipes for Cabot’s Legacy Collection, a series of four premium aged cheddars. The creative dad and chef has been dreaming up ways to use cheddar for years, from fun to fancy.
Every good party needs a good cheese board, but why should the host do all the work? Kennedy likes to stir up a little friendly competition, especially when guests may not know each other, and could use a little ice breaker. He recommends setting out small cheese boards, with assorted cheeses, crackers, and some good pepperoni. There is room to improvise here, so include whatever you enjoy on a cheese board. Then he starts a timer and has his guests race to build the best board. Naturally, the party host serves as judge.
LET KIDS THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
With two young daughters, Kennedy knows the kids need some entertainment at summer get-togethers. When setting up your kids table, he recommends laying out the cheese alongside apple slices, crackers and other healthy snacks. “I would build a little camping scene with the Cracker Cuts or a box or something like that,” he says. Encourage construction and see what the kids will come up with.
CHEESEBURGER? YES, PLEASE. WHAT KIND? ALL OF THEM!
The Cracker Cuts are the perfect size for topping your burgers, chicken, steak, or whatever else you’re grilling. Kennedy thinks two are the perfect amount, and he loves the Pepper Jack Cracker Cuts as a burger topping. But with six flavors, you can have fun mixing and matching to load on the cheese.
S’MORES. WITH A CHEESY TWIST.
No backyard bbq is complete without s’mores, but Kennedy swears by this creative s’mores twist he invented for Cabot a few years back: Yes, it’s cheese s’mores! Step 1: Replace the marshmallow with cheese. Step 2: Add Cracker Cuts to your graham cracker and chocolate. Step 3: Roast. Step: Eat. “It’s like eating a little cheesecake,” Kennedy says. “They’re really good!”Recipes to try: BBQ Pineapple Burgers with Pepper Jack Cracker Cuts; Bacon Burgers with Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cracker Cuts; Horseradish Burgers with Grilled Onion and Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cracker Cuts.
CHEESE LOVES WINE
Get the guests involved with a wine and cheese pairing game. Kennedy suggests having four bottles of wine on hand with all four of Cabot’s Legacy Collection cheeses. Give guests note pads and pens; have everyone sample the wines and cheeses, write their tasting notes, and then their preferred pairings. There is no right or wrong answer, and like the best games, everyone wins. Pairing suggestions: Try these wine and cheese combinations, or if you’re crowd is more into beer, these beer and cheese pairings.
FONDUE FOR ALL
The Legacy Collection is perfect for fondu, Kennedy says. “The Alpine cheddar would be especially good.” Fondu is a fun appetizer or dessert course. For appetizers pick up your favorite crusty baguette, plus veggies for dipping. For dessert pick up fruits—apples and pears are always delicious in cheese. Recipe to try: Cabot Sharp Cheddar Fondue
REAL MEN (AND WOMEN) REALLY DO EAT QUICHE
Popular Vermont chef and blogger, Katie Webster, has a simple and elegant hors d’oeuvre recipe for the Farmhouse Reserve Cheddar: Mini Filo Quiches. And who doesn’t love a bite-sized appetizer?
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS . . . CHEESECAKE!
Kennedy says any of the cheeses from the Legacy Collection work beautifully in an impressive cheesecake. “I mix half cheddar to half cream cheese,” he says. “The texture is so much better and you get the savory along with the sweetness.” Recipes to try: Maple Cheesecake; Vanilla Bean Cheesecake; Cheddar Cheesecake with Candied Apple Slices
Sponsored by Vermont Tourism and Cabot Cheese
Say cheese: Journey from farm to fridge
No matter how you slice it, Cabot Cheddar started its journey to your table at a local dairy farm. But exactly what goes into crafting award-winning aged cheddar may surprise you.
Exploring hidden Vermont
Eat, drink, swim, hike, and paddle your way through the state's scenic byways
Cheddar with a northeast bite, now ready when you’re short on time