Tag Archives: Cowgirl Creamery

Good-bye 2012, Hello 2013!

At the beginning of this year, I listed off some 2012 goals for Fifth Floor Kitchen- and looking back I think we did pretty good!  I’m so humbled and proud of this little space we have created, and since I’m feeling a little nostalgic about 2012, I wanted to share a handful of favorite highlights from this past year.

2012 Top 3 Recipe Posts:
1. Indian Chicken Soup
Indian Chicken Soup

2. Vegetable Coq au Vin
Vegetables au Vin with Coq 2

3. Seasoned Popcorn 2 Ways
Popcorn 2 ways

2012 Top 3 Travel Posts:
1. Bonn, Germany
2. Boston: Sam Adams Brewery Tour
3. Warsaw, Poland

Other 2012 Highlights:
1. We got married!  We had a wonderful wedding near Charlottesville, VA (check out our posts about this great city here and here) and we spent an amazing honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand (blog posts: Pt 1, Pt 2)!

2. Where else did we travel? Boston (Posts: 1, 2, 3), Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

3. Food-wise some of our personal favorites were: Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Pairing, Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese, Birthday Fruit Tart, Crunchy Fish Tacos with Chimichurri Sauce, Brazilian Fish & Shrimp Stew, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, S’more Cookie, and Buckwheat Crêpes with Corn Salsa.  If you haven’t tried these, definitely add them to your “to-do” list for 2013!

3. Other fun stuff: Eat Write Retreat Blogger Conference, Slave-free Tomato Day, Holiday White House Tour, An Edible Mosaic Book Launch, and being part of the Food Matters Project.

4. We also started a series “Monthly Reviews”, a great way to see some of our iPhone photos and adventures we might not write about: May, June, July, August, and November.  A December one is coming up soon!

Over the course of 2012 we have had 116 posts- that’s a lot of words, photographs and recipes!

But I do love the feeling of a New Year- a fresh start, being able to look ahead towards all the new opportunities this year will bring.  We are looking forward to 2013 to continue sharing our culinary and travel adventures with you all- remember to keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!

We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!  Thank you so much for reading, commenting and being part of Fifth Floor Kitchen!

Warm wishes for a happy new year!

Many hugs,
Evi & Sam

Evi & Sam Wedding

*Our wedding photos were taken by our friend Meaghin Kennedy- check out some of her photos here, or her blog: These Salty Oats

Food Matters Project #29: Apples, Blue Cheese & Honey

It’s another great recipe idea from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook.  This weeks Food Matters Project was chosen by Jessica.  Jessica’s blog is Cheese Please, check out her version of today’s dish- Cheddar Cheese and Almond Nut Balls.  Also see what other cheese recipes everyone else made: Cheese-Nut Balls.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a little hectic and slightly stressful around here.  So upon reading Mr. Bittman’s recipe and seeing pear and blue cheese, I decided to take this in a completely different direction.  Yes, no cheese balls- more like a perfect cheese relaxation plate!

Sam stopped by our favorite cheese store- Cowgirl Creamery, and picked up a giant block of Colston Bassett Stilton.  We had some leftover apples from the Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market, as well as some local honey.

When was the last time you had bought yourself a nice block of cheese?  Not when guests come over to serve as an appetizer, but just for yourself to indulge and enjoy?  If you can’t remember the last time- then do this tomorrow.  You will not be disappointed.  This was a wonderful way to wind down after a hectic week.

I know there are some of you out there that don’t enjoy blue cheese.  If you’re one of them- definitely grab another type that you’d prefer.  Blue cheese does have specific taste- and this tangy flavor blended well with the sweet honey and crisp fall apples.

Apples, Blue Cheese & Honey
Inspired by: Cheese-Nut Balls from The Food Matters Cookbook (pg 56)

This is more of a suggestion, rather than a recipe.  The amount of apples, cheese, honey or walnuts are entirely up to you.  You can add/swap something else, just enjoy some amazing cheese (pears, crackers).

apples, cored & thinly sliced
Stilton or any variety of blue cheese
walnuts (optional)

Pour a drop or two of honey onto a slice of apple.  First sprinkle cheese onto the apple slice, then top it off with some chopped walnuts.

July Review

How time flies!  I can’t believe it’s August already!  If you’d like to catch up on monthly reviews, check out May and June!  So what photos did I capture on my iPhone this month?

We buy some fruits and veggies from the Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market every week.  This week we purchased: blueberry yogurt, watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, milk and eggs!  Check out the tomato tart and Lebanese salad with pita chips.

New this year is Gordy’s, they make small-batch artisanal pickles!

A fellow DC blogger, Thrifty DC Cook, introduced me to Saigon Cafe in Falls Church.  This was our 2nd visit in a month- the pho was that good!  So if any of my DC friends have a car, and have a craving for pho, I’ll be glad to introduce you to this new find!

Sam and I are always on the lookout for some great new beer.  I found this one at Cowgirl CreameryBaba black lager is from Uinta Brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Love the cute label!

Another week of great finds at the Penn Quarter Farmers Market!  This weeks deliciousness was: eggs, green beans, corn, tomatoes and sweet melon.  Check out the tomato tart and fresh corn salsa we made this month!

A friend, and fellow DC blogger, Emily of Em-i-lis held a canning workshop at the Bethesda Strosniders Hardware Store.  If you’d like to learn more about canning she’s teaching another class on August 25th at the Silver Spring location (it’s free, just sign up!).

Sam and I tried out a new pizza place in Columbia Heights- Red Rocks!  The pizza above is the Funghi (fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes), the other we tried was the Boar Sausage (smoked mozzarella, wild boar, scallions, grana, parsley).  Both delicious, we’ll definitely be back!

Our friends Brittany and Ben will be having a baby any day now, we’re all so excited!  To celebrate, Stephanie threw a wonderful baby shower!  These were on all of the tables, with some delicious popcorn in them!  How cute is that?!?

I visited my parents for a week in Chicago- great view of a wonderful city!

While I was in Chicago, Sam went to the Penn Quarter Farmers Market.  What did he buy? Eggs, tomatoes, bacon, butter, blackberries, okra, peaches and peppers.  Check out the tomato tart!

While visiting my parents, my Mom showed me how to improve on my pierogi-making techniques!  We made blueberry pierogi’s- and they were delicious!

I attended a workshop at the Common City Good Farm on composting.  I’ve been wanting to learn more about it, and how to start.  Once everything is in place, I hope to do a couple of blog posts about the process.

We spent a couple of hours at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and it had a great view from one of the terraces.  Definitely a museum all of you should check out while in DC!

More delicious food from the Penn Quarter Farmers Market!  This week we got: eggs, plums, peppers, tomatoes, cheese curds, peaches and peppers.  Check out the tomato tart!

Lastly, Sam and I began our scuba diving certification!  We got some log books to note all of our dives!  Cannot wait for Thailand to explore the underwater!

Living Social: Cowgirl Creamery’s Cheese & Beer Pairing Class

Living Social has opened up a live events venue in Washington DC- named 918 F Street– for businesses to provide yet another experience to its costumers.  It’s a beautiful space which has been renovated and updated, and is being used for a number of classes.  So far the events have ranged from pop-up restaurant dinners or tastings, to photography or yoga classes.  It’s a wide spectrum, and I’m sure it’ll continue to grow.

One event which caught my eye was the “Craft-Beer, Cheese and Charcuterie Pairing Class” which was led by Adam Smith, of Cowgirl Creamery.  By now, I’m sure you know that Sam and I are huge fans of Cowgirl Creamery (and cheese!) so we decided to see what this class had to offer.

Cowgirl Creamery, started just north of San Francisco, began making sustainable, artisan hand-crafted cheeses from organic milk in 1997.  Today the store has grown to 3 locations, providing customers with a variety of cheeses from around the world.  In addition, they do have a handful of their own seasonal cheese, all so good I can’t recommend just one.  About 80% of the cheeses at Cowgirl are made in the United States.

Some interesting facts about cheese and beer pairings:
• beer, like champaign, is effervescent; the carbonation cuts through the butterfat
• differently than wine, there are lots of ingredients in beer which can change tastes (hops, malts, yeasts)
• pairings can be done regionally (example below: Colston Basset Dairy Stilton & Crispin’s Browns Lane Cider- both from the UK)
• Proper cheese and beer tasting: 1) taste the cheese- with no bread, cracker or beer; 2) smell the beer; 3) take a small sip of beer; 4) lastly, take a small sip of beer and small bite of the cheese- allow the cheese to melt in your mouth, mixing with the beer

So what did we get to try?



I’ve added some information (and links) to all of the cheeses and beers.  From the pictures above, I started at the top, going clockwise when describing cheeses (although I included an additional picture of the cheese above the description).  For the beers, I began all the way to the left.  I’ve listed the cheese, and then the beer- those two were paired together for this class.

Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk: made in Pt. Reyes, CA; it’s a year-round cheese; triple-cream; it was washed with a brine solution that tints the rind pink (due to the wild bacteria); it was aged for 4 weeks

The Bruery’s Saison de Lente: brewed in Orange County, CA; this beer is seasonal- available from March to May, but made during the winter; it’s a light blonde; fresh hoppiness; lightly and flowery in flavor; made from Belgian-style yeast

Meadow Creek Dairy Mountaineer: made in Galax, VA; smooth texture; aged in cellars for a minimum of 6 months; the flavor is nutty and sweet, very similar to Gruyere; great cheese for mac ‘n cheese or with figs; it’s a European-style Alpine cheese (which is usually made in: France, Switzerland, or Northern Italy)

Schlafy’s Bierre de Garde: brewed in St. Louis, MO; it’s a traditional French ale; it’s brewed in the early spring, released throughout the summer months; made with Belgian-style yeast; rich, sweet and malty taste

Cabot Creamery’s Clothbound Cheddar: made in Greensboro, VT; made in partnership between Cabot Creamery and Cellar’s at Jasper Hill; traditional clothbound cheese; aged for 10-14 months; has a sweet and nutty flavor; once the cheeses are removed from their molds, they are bandaged with cloth and painted with lard; Cabot Creamery is one of the oldest farmer-owned cooperative creameries; the wheel above is made up of 480 servings

This specific wheel was made in December 2010.

Below is a piece of cloth which was wrapped around the cheese:

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA: brewed in Healdsburg, CA; IPA’s were brewed by the British while traveling to India in the 19th century, therefore to make the long journey the beers had lots of hops; light-bodied and floral in taste

Essex Street Cheese L’Amuse Signature Gouda: made in Beemster, Holland; the cheeses are aged for 18 months to 2 years; velvety texture with a hazelnut flavor

Founders Porterbrewed in Grand Rapids, MI; creamy with chocolate and coffee notes; malty

Colston Bassett Dairy Stilton: made in Nottinghamshire, UK; Colston Bassett is one of the smallest stilton dairies in the UK; mild and tangy flavor; the rind is dry and tough; after 4-6 weeks the cheese is pierced, air enters the holes and the Penicillium roquefortii begins to grow; a week after it is pierced again, then on sale 3 weeks later

Crispin’s Browns Lane Cider: brewed in Worcestershire, UK; made with traditional English bittersweet cider apples; soft and subtle apple flavors; lightly sparkling and crisp finish

Our last lesson of the class was on storing cheese:
• keep it well wrapped (parchment or wax paper are best)
• scrape mold off, or cut off the moldy piece
• to keep the cheese moist, store it in one of the following: wine cellar, produce drawer, or a cigar box (in the fridge)

If any of you are in the Washington DC area (or in San Francisco), and have a love for cheese, definitely check out Cowgirl Creamery.  The staff is very knowledgeable and helpful in finding pairings, snacks or new cheeses to try.

A Delicious Birthday Dinner

Over the weekend our friend B* had a birthday, and we decided to treat him to a delicious dinner.  I’ll give Sam all of the credit- this was all done by him! 

Filet Mignon with Bourbon Sauce, Cheesy Shrimp ‘n Grits, and Oven Roasted Broccolini

Oven Roasted Broccolini

This is definitely the easiest part of the meal, but delicious nonetheless.  Roasting (rather than steaming) maintains the crunch, while adding wonderful flavors of caramelization.  Incidentally, substituting with asparagus, brussel sprouts, or baby red potatoes is a scrumptious alternative.

2 bunches of broccolini (regular broccoli works fine too)
Extra virgin olive oil
Bacon Salt®

On a cookie sheet, coat the broccolini (use your hands here) in olive oil and season liberally with the bacon salt.  Add to a preheated, 400° oven for about 15-20 minutes.  Once the broccolini florets begin to brown, remove from the oven and set aside.

Shrimp ‘n Grits

A southern classic!  The deep flavor and richness of this one is certain to impress.

1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb smoked bacon (we bought ours at the Farmer’s Mkt)
½ lb shredded sharp cheddar (we recommend a higher-end cheese, not just the yellow block cheese; ours was from Cowgirl Creamery)
1 cup of dry grits  (instant grits are sacrilege)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, diced (don’t even think about discarding the seeds!)
1 quart whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large pot, bring the milk and butter to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pan cook the bacon until crispy, then set aside on a paper towel to dry.  Roughly chop once cool.  Leave the bacon fat in the pan.

Next, add the onion and peppers to the hot bacon fat and cook until the onions are translucent.  Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the milk.  Add the grits and chopped bacon to the simmering milk as well, whisking occasionally.

Coat the shrimp in salt and pepper and add to the bacon grease for about 4 minutes, or until pink.  Remove them from the grease and stir into the grit mixture.

Once the grits are thick, stir in the cheddar cheese, and season with salt and cracked black pepper.  You can also add more butter if you like.

Filet Mignon with Bourbon Sauce

Filet mignon; that heavenly cut of beef you’ve probably only eaten in restaurants.  Believe it or not, it is surprisingly easy to cook and will rival anything you can find at an expensive steakhouse.  One note: now is not the time to go cheap!  Splurge and get the best, grass-fed, organic meat you can find.  It really does matter.

1 filet per person
2 cups Bourbon
1/2 cup of half-and-half

A half-hour before you plan to cook, season the filets liberally with salt and pepper, and allow them to come to room temperature.

In a very hot skillet, cook the filets for 3 minutes on all sides.  Then add the skillet to a preheated 400° oven for about 6-10 minutes, depending on how rare you like it.  I like to put a slice of butter on top just before I add to the oven.  When done, remove the pan from the oven and set the filets aside on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to rest.

Bourbon Sauce

First off, let me state that this step involves igniting alcohol vapor and can thus be very dangerous.  Read and familiarize these steps before you begin.  If you’re uncomfortable with dealing with an open flame, substitute the bourbon with a dry, red wine (Chianti works well), which will not ignite.

After you’ve removed your now perfect filets, put your skillet on the cook top and turn your burner off.  Add 2 cups of good bourbon to the hot skillet.  Cover the skillet about ¾ of the way with a pan lid or cookie sheet.  Using a long match, set the alcohol vapor ablaze.  Adjust the pan lid or cookie sheet such that the flame is allowed to burn but that it is not too high.  Turn your burner back on to low.

After about 10 minutes, the alcohol will burn off and the fire will extinguish itself.  If you’re using wine instead, just allow it to reduce by about half, no ignition necessary.

Next, add half-and-half, 1 tablespoon of butter, and a little salt and pepper (about 1 tsp of each) to the bourbon.  Reduce the sauce by about half, whisking occasionally.  When done, plate your finished meal and coat each filet with the rich sauce.

Bon appétit!