Archive for the 'Cheese' Category

BonBonBar 2010 Holiday Newsletter… Blogged

Saturday, February 6th, 2010
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Happy Holidays!  Even though I have been quiet on the newsletter front, it has been busy at BonBonBar.

The most exciting news is that I have been hard at work writing a cookbook! It is called Beautiful Candymaking, and it is due out in the Fall of 2011 through Sterling Publishing.  The book will feature my take on a wide range of candy recipes — from toffee to fudge to caramel corn — along with candymaking tips/techniques and gorgeous photography courtesy of The White on Rice Couple.

After developing so many recipes for the book, I thought that it would be a good idea to recharge and seek new inspiration for the company’s confections.  So, BonBonBar will be closed from December 23 to February 1 as I eat my way around France, Italy, Brazil, and California.  I am looking forward to returning with refreshed ideas for new products, but it most likely also means that, unfortunately, some candies will be rotated out in the new year.

As always, thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm.  Happy customers have always been my favorite part of this BonBonBar adventure, and you have given me the amazing opportunity to run a truly artisan food company that will be going into its fourth year. I am grateful, and lucky.

All the best for a happy and sweet holiday season, and I hope that BonBonBar treats will be a part of it!

Thank  you!


Founder & Chief Chocolatier,BonBonBar


So far, our candy bars are being featured in Fine Cooking, DailyCandy, and The Huffington Post’s 2010 holiday gift guides.

If you would like to place your holiday orders in advance of when you would like them to ship, please let us know in the comments of the order.

All orders placed during the break will ship after February 1.

ThinKrisps – Los Angeles

Thursday, August 21st, 2008


One of the best parts of selling BonBonBars at farmers markets is getting to know my fellow vendors. At the Thursday Century City Farmers Market at 1800 Avenue of the Stars, I’m next to Jim — owner, maker, and purveyor of ThinKrisps.

ThinKrisps are baked discs of either parmesan or cheddar cheeses, in flavors ranging from Original to Lemon Pepper to Savory Sage to many others besides. There’s no flour, no sugar, no gluten. They’re 1 point in Weight Watchers, and have a 1/2g of carbs each… (And I know their sales pitch almost as well as mine. :)) Each disc is made from a 1/4c of cheese.

I have to admit that when I first considered ThinKrisps, I was a little ambivalent because I figured I could make them myself. I’ve made parmesan cheese crisps as part of Thomas Keller’s Goat Cheese Mousse and then for part of his Caesar Salad — and I’d simply baked grated cheese in the oven. They only took a few minutes, and were lacy, delicate, delicious, and in the case of the mousses, molded into egg carton indentations.

But ThinKrisps take the crisply baked cheese idea to a different — and dare I say it — more delectable level. In addition their great flavor, the key for me is that they’re thicker, and that textural change makes a world of difference. By being more substantial, they’re almost like crackers — except that they’re made completely of cheese (and on occasion, seasonings), and so have a zillion times more flavor. Sure, I sometimes like to dip them in hummus and Jim tells me that the Savory Sage ThinKrisps dipped into salsa tastes like pepperoni pizza, but they’re quite delicious all on their own. The potato chip freak in me thinks of them as the ultimate non-potato potato chip — the crunch… the burst of flavor… the saltiness… the way that they quickly disappear. I buy them nearly every week, and they’ve yet to see the end of the weekend. I think my favorite is the Red Pepper Parmesan because I like spicy food (with cheese!), but I eat them all… And fast.

Jim has been in business for 5 years, and he sells at 3 LA farmers markets (Century City on Thursdays, Larchmont Village on Sundays, and Downtown LA at the Bank of America Plaza on Fridays) and through 19 retail outlets in the LA area. He almost always arrives at Century City after I’m set up, and I’m always a little relieved when he shows up — because I know that for the next few hours, customers may come and go (and buy or not buy), but Jim will be there, with groovy music subtly playing on his iPod, to chat with and to commiserate with — and perhaps to discuss sales strategies (inc display, pitch, specials), or the adorable things that customers say, or Disney (of which he is an evangalist), or any interesting, slightly random, thing (which, I guess, is my evangelism — have I mentioned the time that I called Chad in a flurry from the kitchen a few moths ago because I realized that Axl Rose is in Guns & Roses? And Chad found out that the original guitarist was named Guns! Slash replaced him. Were we the last to know?).

Or perhaps we’ll chime in on customer reactions or overhear them — my favorite so far being when I overheard “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!” followed by “YEAH!” and I later confirmed that that had indeed been two friends’ reactions to ThinKrisps samples. Well said.



Grilled Cheese Month Is Here!

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

We may not have the most dramatic changes of seasons in Los Angeles, but for the past two years, the month of April has become a season all of its own for me… One that is dramatic, beautiful, and full of glorious cheese.

It was two years ago that I first found out that Clementine, one of my favorite bakery/cafes in Los Angeles, makes at least one specialty grilled cheese sandwich every day during the month of April (closed Sundays). Their most standard version is an aged Vermont Cheddar on Country White Bread, with a choice of bacon and/or roasted cherry tomatoes, but looking at their brochure, it’s obvious that they are mining from a very deep knowledge and love for variations of melty cheese and toasty bread.

The theme of the names this year is based on the idea of a Cheesedance Festival, like a film festival. I went for the inaugural sandwich yesterday, Deconstructing Dagwood, which had cheddar, swiss, pastrami, salami, chopped olives, tomatoes, roasted peppers, pickles, mustard, “and whatever else we can find in the fridge” on a crusty roll. I forgot to take my camera along, but trust me, it was dramatic, beautiful, and full of glorious flavor. It will also be served again on April 24.

Chad and I actually sat down with the schedule to plan when we want to go… which was somewhat fruitless b/c I would have ended up putting a star next to every date if we’d seen that idea through. My waistline and wallet will probably determine my attendance.

So… if you’re in LA… some dates you may want to keep in mind… even though I doubt you could go on a “bad” day even if you tried…

  • April 4 (and 19) – Mediterraneo – Aged Provolone, Sauteed Spinach, Marinated Artichokes, Basil, Garlic, and Chili Flakes on crusty bread.
  • April 6 – Short Cuts (Small Sandwiches, Presented in Combination) – The Gouda, the Bread and the Buttery:
    • Goudafellas – Smoked Gouda with Meatballs (and Marinara Sauce for dipping)
    • As Gouda as it Gets – Aged Gouda with Young Garlic and Fried Capers
    • Gouda Night and Gouda Luck – Red Wax Gouda with Turkey, Wisconsin Bacon and Russian Dressing
  • April 11 – High Steaks: Panino Royale – Havarti, Gorgonzola, Grilled Steak, Bacon, and Balsamic-Roasted Onions on House-Made Panini
  • April 12 (and 25) – The Philadelphia Cheese Steak Story – White American, Provolone, Rib Eye Steak, Peppers, Onions, and Mayo on French Roll
  • April 16 – Basque in Glory – Etorki, Bayonne Ham, and Fig Preserves on Crusty Bread
  • April 30 – Medianoche in the Garden of Gouda and Edam – Gouda, Edam, Ham, Roast Pork, Pickles, Mayo, and Mustard on Pan Cubano.

I could go on… and on… Oh, one more, my favorite name – “Melt: Collateral Heatings of Sharp Cheddar and Crispy Bread For Make Benefit Glorious Sandwich of Tuna.” I think Borat would be pleased.

It may not be surprising that this grilled cheese has pedigree. Annie Miler, the owner and chef of Clementine has worked with Nancy Silverton, who among many other things, created Grilled Cheese Night at Campanile (which still happens every Thursday night). The Buffala 66 sandwich (on April 17) has mozzarella, pecorino, italian sausage, red onions, and fennel pollen on country white, and “clearly owes its inspiration to Nancy Silverton and the fennel sausage pizza at Mozza.” I’ve been dying to go to Mozza, and this is yet another reason to check it out… and see how the open-faced versions of melty cheese and toasty crust (aka pizzas) there compare.

And if you can’t make it to LA this month, Nancy Silverton has a rather wonderful Sandwich Book, that also includes sandwich cookies, such as versions of oreos and nutter butters to make at home, or in culinary school.

A Tart with St. Andre

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

In my mind, I have a conception of a tart with a cheese filling that would satisfy someone in the mood for a cheese plate garnished with fruit, nuts, and crackers. The texture of the filling of the tart would be in the ballpark of whipped brie (which is like whipped butter), and berries or pears on top or on the side would round it out with some fruity sweetness. I think that the crust probably shouldn’t be too sweet, veering more towards the backup support of a cracker or nut than that of an assertive sweet cookie. I could see brie, mascarpone, ricotta, goat cheese, or perhaps any soft cheese working in this way.

So, I was intrigued when I saw a Triple Creme Tart in The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern, a cookbook by Claudia Fleming. It calls for St. Andre cheese, which is a favorite of mine. Although similar to brie and other bloomed rind cheeses, it’s a bit more luscious than brie. In fact, it’s a triple cream cheese, and it has 75% milk fat; brie usually has about 45% (and up to 70%)… and butter in the US generally has about 80%.

I was even more intrigued by the technique. The recipe, available here, calls for making pastry cream and stirring in cubes of St. Andre so that they melt, and then grating in some nutmeg. That is set aside, and then you make an Italian Meringue by bringing water, sugar, and corn syrup up to 242 and then whipping that into frothy egg whites until they are just stiff. The Italian Meringue is then folded into the cheesy pastry cream and poured into a par-baked nutty pastry tart shell (the recipe calls for ground toasted hazelnuts and almond flour, but I used ground toasted walnut and almond instead because I don’t like hazelnuts) and baked until it is golden brown on top and puffy. In fact, she describes it as as a souffle anchored in a tart crust.

I have mixed feelings about the end result, though. It puffed up admirably like a souffle should in the oven, and it was supposed to be served shortly after taking it out of the oven — about 5 minutes. At that point, though, it was still quite warm, it tasted a lot like Italian Meringue, and the cheese was a note that came into play part way into the bite, and coated my mouth at the end. It seemed like the cheese and the meringue were battling each other for control of the tart, and the sweetness was winning. The texture was interesting, though — almost foamy. I added chopped cherries on top, but that fed into the sweetness and further obscured the cheese, even if they did add a welcoming density.

I decided to let it cool and chill it overnight. I hoped that the hot sugar would stabilize and mellow in sweetness, and the cheese would intermingle with the crust and the meringue.

It was better today, in increments. When I tasted it just out of the refrigerator, it had more of a muted sweetness and pronounced cheese flavor. When I waited for it to come to room temp, it had a wonderfully full cheese flavor with a just a bit of sweetness and a just foamy enough texture; and it was rather more dense in general.

If I want to serve it hot in the future, I’m considering halving the sugar and taking away an egg white– it was just that sweet and foamy. I think that would firm it up a bit and make it more cheesy straight away.

Also, I really like the appearance of it. When the tart is sliced, the wedges resemble wedges of cheese, but with different colors of rind for the top and bottom.

Cheese Day

Monday, June 19th, 2006
Cheese Table

As part of our curriculum, we had a wonderful one day Cheese Course last block. The day before, we researched cheeses, and our Chef went to buy what he could find at Dean & Deluca in St. Helena. On the day of, we got a Cheese Course binder all about cheese, and after a lecture and preparing some cheese accompaniments (toasted baguette slices, proscuitto, breadsticks, sliced fruit, reduced balsamic and port, armagnac-soaked cherries), we got down to tasting.

I like this kind of learning about products from the outside world in school, and since I love cheese, it was one of my favorite days at school so far. I want to try to incorporate cheeses into the way I think about desserts/late courses in the future, and if I can try a cheese a week, that’d be a good idea.

Here are a few things that I found interesting:

  • Cheese is curds (coagulated solids of milk) in whey (the liquid component of milk).
  • Guidelines for a cheese plate – serve at room temp (62F-75F) so take out of fridge a few hours before; start at 6 o’clock on the plate and go clockwise for placement, mild to complex cheeses, from diff’t animals or regions, if desired; cut cheeses as close to original shape as possible; the pointy end of a wedge should face outward; have complementing, contrasting, and/or regional garnishes on the plate.
  • The bloom for bloomy rind cheeses, like brie and camembert, are introduced by spraying mold spores onto the cheese and allowing it to grow under humid conditions in a ripening cave.
  • Washed rind cheeses are often especially stinky. They are washed with water, brine, wine, beer, or combo to stimulate growth of bacteria and molds
  • Ammonia is a by-product of the chemical reactions that occur during maturation. If a cheese smells like ammonia, unwrap it and let it breathe. If it doesn’t go away and is rancid/soapy/runny, it’s over-ripe.
  • Cheeses should be stored between 45F to 60F and with 80% relative humidity.
  • When they are lactating, cows produce 120 pounds of milk a day, while sheep produce 4.5#/day and goats produce 15#/day.

We tasted:

  • Fromage D’Affinoise
  • Abbaye de Citeaux
  • Montbriac
  • Comte Bodaz Tunnel Reserve
  • Sharp Manchego Aged 14 months
  • Montasio
  • Humboldt Fog
  • Goat’s Leap Goat Cheese
  • Cheshire Appleby Cheddar
  • Gorgonzola Fiore di Latte
  • Roquefort
  • Cabrales

I was only able to get pictures of them after we all had a go at them, so they’re not the prettiest pictures in the world and my apparently shaky hands have blurred a couple… but, since this blog serves as my culinary memory, I’m putting ind’l cheese pic’s after the jump. Look at them only if you dare.

Also, I was inspired by Cheese Day, so from something I read in The French Laundry Cookbook, I cut away the rind of a wheel of brie and mixed it in my mixer, as if I were creaming butter. After about 10 minutes on medium, it was white and light, just a bit denser than whipped butter. I liked having the taste of brie with such a light texture. It was great on toasted bread, with roasted garlic and black pepper.