We love cheese.

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Cheese is serious comfort food, and all the staff at Sarah Raven are loving it as the weather gets a little colder. There's something so wonderful about it's creamy richness, and it's depth of flavour... I remember the first visit I took to Perch Hill, I ate a scrumptious Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (recipe link below) - it was in the summer, and it was served with one of Sarah's divine salads picked fresh from the garden that morning with edible flowers and herbs, that resulted in the most beautiful and flavourful salad I've ever tasted.

It confirmed my love of creamy cheeses - the salty sweetness of ricotta works perfectly in a simple cannelloni dish, and is absolutely perfect topped off with a grating of top quality strong English cheddar. As it turns out, most of us in the office are cheese-lovers, and when asked 'what is your favourite cheese? and what is the best way to eat it?', the immediate response was a variety of excited 'yummy noises', combined with sighs of adoration. The response was varied, each given with great enthusiasm:

  • Debbie loves Shropshire Blue on a poppyseed or Hovis digestive cracker, with a little caramelized red onion chutney and slices of Cox apple
  • Kathryn loves a hot Aubergine Parmigiana made with Swiss Raclette cheese and served with a salad
  • Annabel is a huge fan of Wensleydale with Cranberries on Melba toast, or of any Goat's cheese with caramelized onions
  • Both Steph and Gemma adore cheese on toast - slices of mature cheddar melted on top of slices of tomato on granary bread
  • Harriet is crazy about her mother's cauliflower and leek cheese, in which she uses both cheddar and mozzarella in the white sauce to make it really stringy
  • Alison prefers Halloumi, grilled or browned simply in a frying pan, either all by itself on a plate, or with couscous and butternut squash in a wintry Moroccan dish, or kebab-style in the summer
  • Sian has sincere affection for Cabécou, a French goat's cheese, that she heats up in a hot pan, making the rind crispy and the inside all gooey, delicious served with simple green leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar
  • Sally is fond of Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton, served simply on a digestive (sometimes she indulges with a little butter, but not most of the time)
  • Abigail is a baked Camembert fan - simply take off the plastic covering, put the Camembert back in the box, score the skin, sprinkle with fresh thyme & salt and drizzle with olive oil, and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes - enjoy with crusty French bread and a glass of Chablis
  • As previously mentioned, I love soft cheeses, but I particularly love them in pancake mixes, like lemon and ricotta buckwheat pancakes, or polish cottage cheese pancakes, or as a topping, like vanilla mascarpone with roast plums on spelt crepes - delish!

Of course, Sarah loves cheese too - you'll know if you've ever visited Perch Hill, or if you've picked up a copy of one of her cookbooks.

Try out some of these tasty cheese recipes from our website:

Stuffed Courgette Flowers with Honey & Goat's Cheese

Halloumi, Mint, Coriander and Dill Pittas

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Asparagus and Gruyère Tart

Winter Greens Crostini with Mascarpone

We recently filmed a video where she made one of her favourite snacks - Saganaki - which is Cretan baked feta, tomatoes, olives and capers. The flavours are very Mediterranean, and we enjoyed eating this up after filming finished... [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG7KmeSlamE]

It's often been said by travellers to our country, that the minute you step out into the fresh air at Heathrow airport you can smell dairy. Each country has it's own smell, and ours is cheese and milk (from my  experience, I would actually say that this myth is rather true). Us Brits are addicted - it's part of our heritage and tradition, and although the science of cheesemaking is rather complex when you get into the nitty-gritty detail, there are some simple cheese recipes that you can make at home (like yogurt cheese - super easy, or curd cheese - still quite easy).

There are cheesemaking traditions that go back many centuries, and every cheesemaker has their own method to make their cheese have a different flavour and texture to any other. Our country even has it's own Cheese Awards, and a National Cheese Week in September. So, for those of you that adore cheese, or know someone who worships the stuff, here are a few cheese related things, that we sourced specifically for our Christmas catalogue to offer you, because Sarah uses and loves them...

1. Laguiole Cheese Knives £26.50   2. Fern Truckle Cover £149   3. Parmesan Grater £22.50   4. Cheese Safe + Cover £99

So, over to you, do you like cheese? What is your favourite type and way to eat it?

Thanks for reading!