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Winning Dishes From World-Class Cheeses

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Wisconsin Polenta Fontina "Paninis" With Mushroom Sauce
Smoked Salmon Salad With Wisconsin Dill Havarti Popovers
Wisconsin Gruyère and Onion Tart

(Family Features) - This winter the world's elite athletes won't be the only ones showing off their medals. European-style cheeses from America's Dairyland, which have won international acclaim, will continue to take the prize for great taste in households across the country.

Plan to host a viewing of the ski jumping or ice skating competitions, and consider tying in your menu offerings with the culinary history of the European countries competing in the Alpine sports. A Gruyère and onion tart makes a terrific hearthside snack worthy of a perfect "10." The nutty depth of this full-bodied, Swiss-style cheese stands up to the blend of sautéed onions and spices in the tart.

For casual dining, take a basic grilled cheese sandwich from good to "gold" when you make it a polenta and fontina panini topped with mushroom sauce. The earthy, buttery flavor of Italian-style Wisconsin fontina mixed with the zing of sun-dried tomatoes adds a dramatic "wow" factor to the polenta.

Add style points to light and airy popovers by using a dill-flavored Wisconsin Havarti accompanied by a fresh-tasting smoked salmon salad. Steeped in Danish heritage, Havarti is a rich and buttery cheese with a surprising intensity that makes it a favorite melted in dishes or topped on salads and breads.

Learning from their European ancestors, Wisconsin cheese makers are passionate about incorporating Old World methods into their award-winning varieties. Today, many third- and fourth-generation cheese makers carry on the tradition of passing their artistic skills and knowledge to the next generation - taking no shortcuts and accepting nothing less than excellence.

Wisconsin Polenta Fontina "Paninis" With Mushroom Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots or onion
  • 2 (4-ounce) packages sliced mixed exotic mushrooms or 1 (8-ounce)package sliced crimini or button mushrooms (4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded
  • Wisconsin fontina cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped well-drained sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 (16-ounce) tube polenta or flavored polenta, cut into 16 slices

    1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook and stir 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper; cook and stir 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
    2. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup cheese and tomatoes. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon butter on large nonstick griddle or in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until melted and bubbly. Arrange 8 slices polenta on griddle; top with cheese mixture and remaining 8 slices polenta. Cook 3 minutes. Carefully turn over; continue cooking 3 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted.
    3. Transfer paninis to 4 serving plates; top with mushroom sauce and remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
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Makes 4 servings
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Smoked Salmon Salad With Wisconsin Dill Havarti Popovers

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Wisconsin Dill Havarti cheese (or regular Wisconsin Havarti tossed with 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or 1/4 teaspoon dried )
  • 1 (5-ounce) package spring greens or mixed salad greens (8 cups packed greens)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Wisconsin Dill Havarti cheese
  • 1/4 cup bottled vinaigrette or Italian salad dressing
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut crosswise into strips
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)

    1. Heat oven to 450°F. Whisk eggs in medium bowl; whisk in milk. Add flour and salt; whisk well. (Some small lumps of flour will remain.) Whisk in butter.
    2. Coat eight 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins with cooking spray; dust lightly with flour. (Note: Popovers may be made in muffin tins with 4-ounce cups. Coat 10 of the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Fill and bake as directed with custard cups.) Pour batter into cups filling 1/3 full. Divide cheese evenly over batter. Pour remaining batter over cheese filling cups 2/3 full. Place cups on baking sheet; bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; continue baking 20 to 25 minutes longer until puffed and deep golden brown (do not open oven during baking time). Immediately remove popovers from baking cups to serving plates.
    3. While popovers are baking, combine greens, cucumber, cheese and dressing in large bowl. Toss well and transfer to 4 serving plates. Top salads with salmon and dill. Serve with warm popovers.

Makes 4 servings

Wisconsin Gruyère and Onion Tart

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
  • 1 refrigerated unbaked pie crust
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated Wisconsin Gruyère cheese
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
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    1. Heat oven to 425°F. In large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until very soft and golden.
    2. Meanwhile, prepare pie crust according to package directions. Gently press crust into bottom and up sides of 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Combine cheese, flour, thyme, salt, nutmeg and pepper in separate bowl, then sprinkle mixture over crust. Transfer cooked onions to tart pan; arrange to make an even layer on top of cheese mixture. In small bowl, whisk together eggs and half-and-half; pour evenly over mixture.
    3. Place tart on cookie sheet, and bake at 425°F 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F; bake 30 minutes longer, or until filling puffs and is just set. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Makes 10 servings

SOURCE: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

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