If you're a cheese lover (and really, who isn't?) you'll be falling over in your haste to make these delicious recipes, full of cheese and marvellous flavour, from Laura Herring's new book, The Little Cheese Cookbook. And be sure to check out Good Food's best-ever cheese recipes in the gallery above.
Warm cheese and caramelised onion dip
This creamy, sweet and tangy dip is perfect with breadsticks, crackers, hunks of lightly toasted bread, and crunchy vegetables such as broccoli stalks and celery sticks — or try dolloping it over nachos.
2 tbsp butter
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
145g grated gruyere
80g sour cream
Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium–low heat. Cook the onion with the thyme and a good grind of black pepper for 20–30 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is soft, sweet and slightly sticky.
Turn the heat up to medium, then stir in the vinegar. Allow to bubble and become even stickier for a couple of minutes, stirring often so the mixture doesn't burn, and scraping up any delicious sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C (fan-forced).
Place most of the gruyere in a bowl, reserving about 25 grams for sprinkling over the dip. Add the mascarpone and sour cream and mix together. Season with black pepper, then stir the caramelised onion through.
Spoon the cheesy onion mixture into a 500ml (2 cup) capacity ovenproof dish (or four small ramekins) and sprinkle with the reserved gruyère. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbling and lightly golden on top.
Serve hot, with your choice of dipping ingredients.
So cheesy mashed potatoes from the why-didn't-I-think-of-this-before files. Photo: Billy Law
Three-cheese creamy mashed potatoes
Mmm, creamy cheesy hot mashed potatoes. this mash is finished off under the grill, adding an extra layer of crispy cheese goodness on top. Life doesn't get much better.
Serves 4–6 as a side
1kg mashing potatoes, such as russet, maris piper or coliban
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
butter, for greasing
handful of breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1 tbsp thyme leaves
40g grated cheddar (or red leicester)
4 tbsp mascarpone
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
35g grated mozzarella
Peel the potatoes, cut them in half and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, season with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 15–20 minutes, or until tender when poked with the tip of a sharp knife.
Meanwhile, butter a baking dish, measuring about 18cm x 23cm, and about 6cm deep. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan, thyme and half the cheddar.
Preheat the grill to high.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and return to the hot pan. Let them steam for a few seconds — soggy potatoes are no one's friend.
Mash the potatoes using a fork or potato masher. Mash in the mascarpone until smooth. Season with pepper — no salt — then stir in the mustard, mozzarella and remaining cheddar. Make sure the mash is very smooth and the cheese is well mixed through.
Spoon the mash into the baking dish. Scatter the breadcrumb mixture over and grill for five minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.
It's the ultimate finger food: Just break off a chunk and eat. Photo: Billy Law
Pull-apart cheesy garlic loaf
Garlic bread will never be the same again. this one is so irresistible it may result in an injury because you'll want to eat it so quickly. Remember, molten cheese is as hot as the sun.
750g loaf of sourdough bread
140g red leicester
140g fontina or emmental
150g block of mozzarella
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C (fan-forced).
Using a sharp knife, cut the loaf of bread in criss-cross fashion (like a hedgehog), making the incisions about 1.5cm apart, almost down to the bottom, leaving about 2cm intact at the base.
Wrap the bread in foil and bake for about five minutes, just while you grate the red leicester, and slice the fontina and mozzarella.
Remove the bread from the oven and unwrap it. Set aside a generous handful of grated cheese, then randomly push all the rest of the cheese into the gaps in the bread, alternating them so you'll end up with a cheesy lucky dip, and leaving some bits of cheese poking out the top.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat and mix in the garlic and parsley. Season with black pepper and chilli flakes, if using. Brush some of the garlic butter over the top of the loaf, then drizzle the rest into the cheese-filled pockets. Scatter the reserved grated cheese over the loaf.
Place on a baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is so melty and a bit crispy on top that you can't wait a moment longer.
Enjoy the stretchy cheese as you pull chunks of bread out. Maybe make a video of it and post it on Instagram #cheesepull #cheeselove #almostburntmyfingersIcantgetatitfastenough …
Pass the haloumi chips please. Photo: Billy Law
Fried cheese: surely what the gods snack on every day? Lemon thyme settles in well with the Greek feel, but you can just use regular thyme.
Serves 2–3 as a side or snack
160g block of haloumi
50g plain flour
1 tsp lemon
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Heavenly dipping sauce
75g sour cream
1 tsp hot sauce
Cut the haloumi into chips about 1cm thick. Don't make them too thick as they won't warm through properly as they cook, but don't make them too thin or they'll melt away into a gooey mess.
Season the flour with the thyme leaves and black pepper, then use it to coat the haloumi logs all over.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the haloumi chips for 4–5 minutes, turning them often, until browned and crispy all over. You may need to do this in a few batches, depending on the size of your pan.
Mix together the dipping sauce ingredients and serve with the haloumi chips, hot from the pan.
This is an edited extract from The Little Cheese Cookbook: From Snacks to Sweets by Laura Herring, published by Smith Street Books, RRP $29.99