Saturday, January 14, 2012

Get Your Freak On with Cheddar Blue Fricos


Behold the Cheddar Blue Frico, a crisp wafer of cheesy bliss. It’s difficult to eat just one. Try them with a Manhattan Cocktail, an ideal partner.

The other day we attended a potluck at the offices of Gojee, a Web site devoted to amassing its editors’ favorite recipes from their favorite food and cocktail Web sites. Thrilled to have several of our cocktail recipes selected for their site, we decided to shake things up a bit and bring one of our party-food favorites to add to the array of offerings at the potluck: Cheddar Blue Fricos. For those unfamiliar with the term frico, it is an Italian parmesan crisp, made by baking or frying the cheese, mixed with a little flour, so that it forms into a lacy wafer as it melts and hardens. We came up with a Cheddar and Blue Cheese frico a few years back that pairs magically with whiskey cocktails, and decided to share these with the other bloggers and the Gojee team. Veronica Chan, one of the masterminds behind this uniquely curated site, informed us that there would be a bottle of bourbon awaiting us if we decided to come up with a cocktail to pair with the Cheddar blue fricos. Of course we had to come up with something. Why not our favorite cocktail, the Manhattan.

So we came prepared, armed with fricos on one hand, and a bottle of Cinzano sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters in the other. Paul mixed up a few cocktails for those whose curiosities were piqued while Steve offered up some fricos. Everyone asked, “What are these?” So we explained the origin of this species of Italian snack and how we altered it to suit our love of pairing whiskey cocktails with cheesy hors d’oeuvres.

If you are a true gourmand, you are not finished with your French onion soup until the last bits of hardened Swiss are peeled off the rim of the crock and popped in your mouth. Or the glob of Cheddar that has dripped from your pub burger, lying congealed on the cardboard container, is scooped up for the last moments of savory bliss. Eating a Cheddar blue frico is like having lots of these last bits all amassed and all to yourself. We think that’s why they bring so much pleasure.

After a few bites, and a lot of mms and rounds of “I love this,” we felt good. Maybe it was the Manhattans, or perhaps the good cheer and camaraderie everyone oozed. Regardless of the source, we all shared the in knowledge that good food and good drinks, all prepared with love and the intent to please, are what makes us human and happy.

Side Bar:
The night before the Gojee potluck, Steve whipped himself up a Manhattan, made with some Canadian Club whisky and Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, that tasted silky smooth after taking a bite of one of the fricos. Making a Manhattan with Canadian whiskey may seem like anathema to the most die-hard cocktail aficionados, but fuck it. If it tastes like the heavens opening up with cherubim singing the most dulcet tunes, then all sanctimonious rules of shaking and stirring be damned.

You should know that Cheddar Blue Fricos are super easy to make if you own a Silpat or another nonstick mat, and they pair exquisitely with a variety of whiskey cocktails, such as the Oh Pear, The Fascist, and Paddy. Choose your poison and start preheating your oven. You’re going to bring love and happiness to your party guests tonight.


Cheddar Blue Fricos
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
4 cups grated sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated blue cheese
spiced flour (see recipe below)

Method
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine cheeses in bowl and mix with a fork. Add spiced flour and continue mixing until incorporated. Scoop tablespoons of the mixture and place on nonstick liner on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake about 10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and place entire cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool for several minutes. After cooling, use a metal spatula and carefully remove the fricos, placing them on the wire rack to cool completely. Once they have cooled completely, place them on a paper towel to absorb some of the grease.

May be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep in an airtight container with layers separated by wax paper.

Spiced Flour:
2 tbsp flour (1 tbsp for chewier fricos)
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/8 teaspoon hot pimentón
1/2 teaspoon dried chervil or parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Canadian Manhattan
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
2 ounces Canadian Club whisky
1 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
maraschino, brandied, or marascha cherry, for garnish

Method
Stir in ice for 15–30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add cherry.


The Manhattan Cocktail. So Perfect with Cheddar Blue Fricos.

Manhattan
(Cocktail Buzz’s preferred ratio)

Ingredients
2 ounces rye whiskey (or bourbon)
1 ounce sweet vermouth (we like Carpano Antica)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
maraschino, brandied, or marascha cherry, for garnish

Method
Stir in ice for 15-30 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add cherry.

Extras:
To watch our video pairing the Oh Pear cocktail with Cheddar-Blue Fricos, click here.

Starting on Thursday, January 26, check out other potluck dishes fellow gojee contributors shared. Go to gojee.com and enter “gojeepotluck” into I Crave. You can also follow #gojeepotluck on Twitter.

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz

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