Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Juustoleipä

Juustoleipä or leipäjuusto translates to "bread cheese" in Finnish and its signature browned exterior comes from being baked during the cheesemaking process!

You're unlikely to find the reindeer version of this cheese outside of Finland or Scandinavia (juustoleipä is traditionally made with reindeer milk), but you can probably find domestically produced cows milk 'bread cheese' from Wisconsin at your local supermarket.

I've been staring at the
Carr Valley Cheese version at my local Wegmans for months, and I finally brought some home with me after trying a sample during a cooking demonstration ("It's like grilled cheese without the bread!")

Relatively inexpensive at $11.49/lb, $8 bought me a fairly substantial slab of bread cheese.

With such a large piece of cheese we were able to try it in every way possible to find our favorite preparation.

Plain/ unheated - mild buttery flavor, similar to mozzarella but a bit saltier. There was a rich milky flavor present which reminded me of Indian
paneer cheese. Firm chewy texture, mild squeak when you bite into it:


Dipped in coffee - surprisingly good! The bread cheese takes on a sweet profile when dipped in coffee (with milk and sugar). And it hardly melted at all:


Soaked in coffee - took on more of the coffee flavor when soaked for 10 minutes in coffee. Delicious! Melted slightly and produced the squeakiest cheese:


The packaging recommended sautéing the bread cheese in a skillet and topping with jam, honey & walnuts, or syrup. I cut the breadcheese into 3/4 inch cubes and let them brown in a non-stick skillet, flipping them after a few minutes on each side. The outsides get crispy and while the insides don't completely melt, they start to ooze appealingly when warmed.


With
lingonberry jam - sweet and slightly tart, flavor reminded me of cranberry cocktail juice:

Cloudberry jam is the more traditional pairing but I couldn't find it so I used lingonberry. But Kenny from Chic Eats says you can probably find it at IKEA (thanks Kenny!)

With warmed honey and toasted walnuts (yum):


With warmed maple syrup (even yummier):


Out of the three sweet toppings, our favorite was the lingonberry jam - the tanginess was a perfect complement to the salty cheese. This trio would make a fun appetizer for company.


I also thought I should try a savory presentation, so I topped one of the pan-fried cubes with roasted
peppadew bruschetta topping (from the olive bar at Wegmans but you can substitute your favorite salsa or bruschetta topping). Tasty!


And finally, baked with cream, sugar and cinnamon (a
serving suggestion from Wikipedia). I cut the bread cheese into 1/3rd inch slices, layered them in a small casserole dish, drizzled liberally with heavy cream and sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on top. Baked till bubbly (about 15 minutes) at 400 degrees (F).


The easiest dessert ever. And also our favorite way to enjoy bread cheese:

Where to buy:
Outside of Wisconsin, you can probably find bread cheese (aka juusto, juustoleipä, leipäjuusto, fennuusto, brun-uusto, ostbrod, kaffeost) at your local
Wegmans.

Or purchase online from the following Wisconsin cheesemakers:

References:
Ehlers, Steve, and Jeanette Hurt. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cheeses of the World (Complete Idiot's Guide to). Indianapolis: Alpha, 2008
Weber, Katie. New Speciality "Bread Cheese" Unveiled At The University Of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences website.
"Leipäjuusto." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Jul 2009, 17:00 UTC. 5 Jul 2009 .



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26 comments:

KennyT said...

I'll look for this cheese after work today! You make me go shopping, AGAIN!

Hm, I guess I'll try it with maple syrup, hehehe. I still have half a bottle in my pantry.

Jenn said...

I can't even pronounce the name of it, but you've got me intrigued by this bread cheese. Funny how you wouldn't necessarily pair cheese and coffee together either. I think that's what piqued my interest.

Kris said...

Everyone must try this if you can find it by you. It's the best!!!!!

Phyllis said...

Kenny: Sorry dude, but this is revenge for your blog always making me hungry! I think you should try it with the cloudberry from IKEA 'sylt hjortron' - unless you've already finished it with the ice cream? :)

Jenn: HOO-stah-lee-pah! It was so weird to dip cheese in coffee but it was pretty darn good :)

Kris: Wow that's a lot of exclamation marks. We'll get some more bread cheese soon for you honey, I promise.

Justin said...

how weird that it's sold already browned like that... i was sure you were gonna say you cooked it yourself.

Phyllis said...

Justin: Even weirder how the baking process gives the cheese a crazy long shelf life - the expiry date on the package was November 2010!

Chow and Chatter said...

this is cool and you came up with so many uses for it

OysterCulture said...

Oh my goodness, you are on to something here. This cheese looks to be amazing and I love the dunking in coffee, in SA they dunk some of their cheese in chocolate and I bet the salty sweet combo would be good.

Heavenly Housewife said...

I have never tried, nor seen this. I love the way the cooked part on the top looks. That first picture looks like cheesecake (ahhh... cheesecake... drool... :)...) oops, almost lost my train of thought.
Have you ever tried haloumi? It seems very similar. I thought it was the only cheese that could be fried. Its awesome. HUbby and I love it on toasted bagels with tomatoe slices and fresh oregano.
Love the jam and the maple syrup idea, but where did you get the idea to dip it in coffee?

Phyllis said...

Chow and Chatter: Can't take any credit - found all the suggestions either online or on the packaging! Now that I'm familiar with the taste and consistency maybe I'll try something more creative next time.

OysterCulture: Cheese dipped in chocolate?! - what a GREAT idea! :)

Heavenly Housewife: The dipping the cheese in coffee is apparently a Swedish thing (kaffeost means 'coffee cheese')and the bread cheese packaging also recommended it. I tried halloumi in a Greek restaurant a long time ago, it was set on fire and I remember thinking how weird that it didn't melt, so I guess the consistency was similar to bread cheese. I'll have to try it again on bagels :)

5 Star Foodie said...

I'm getting this bread cheese tomorrow at Wegmans! Never tried it but I love all Carr Valley cheeses, so I know this will be wonderful!

Anonymous said...

I've only ever heard/seen this as "juustoleipä," not leipäjuusto or leipä (which just means 'bread'). As a Finn, I do appreciate that you tried this, as it is not well known outside of the Nordic countries. And my local IKEA does have cloudberry jam. You should try cake made with whipping cream and cloudberry jam...it's unbelievably good!
-Maria

Peggy said...

Just got an email from Trader Joe's introducing this cheese - their own brand apparently that they are calling Frying Cheese. For $7.99 a pound!! Recipes at http://www.traderjoes.com/attachments/Frying_Cheese_Recipes.pdf

Phyllis said...

5 Star Foodie: YAY! I hope you like it. Try it baked with cream/sugar/cinnamon :)

Maria: Thanks so much for your comment! And I will definitely try your yummy cake suggestion if I ever get my hands on some cloudberry jam :)

Peggy: Hi Peggy, thanks for the great tip on the frying cheese! I can't seem to access that link but I will certainly look out for it the next time I'm at Trader Joe's!

Sue said...

Dipping the bread cheese in coffee seems like a really wild idea. Would you ever dip a cheesecake slice in coffee, so who came up with this idea? Curr-razeee.

All those toppings look sooo good. I never noticed it before at Wegman's. I will definitely try it.

Teanna said...

That is the most versatile cheese I have EVER SEEN! It makes want to drive the 45 minutes to the Wegmans in Woodbridge to get some!!!

(( SKY )) said...

Almost thought that was tofu, but yea if I spot that, I would love to try some.

Peabody said...

I need to find this!

GarlicBOSS said...

looks good

Tangled Noodle said...

How convenient that I live right next to Wisconsin! If I can't find this cheese, would that make me pathetic? (Don't answer that)
True to your efficient self, you've covered all possible flavor iterations of this. Soaked in coffee is so crazy-good; that's how I'm going to have to try it!

theminx said...

Mmm...bread cheese! I usually nuke a few slices to get them melty and eat them with bread for a snack.

Phyllis said...

Sue: Dipping cheesecake in coffee sounds like a good idea to me :)

Teanna: It's like the chameleon of cheese! If you don't want to do the drive to NJ, maybe check Trader Joes in the city, Peggy left a comment saying they've just introduced a similar 'frying cheese'

(( SKY )): Definitely resembles tofu in appearance but more flavorful and much firmer in texture!

Peabody: I hope you get to try it :)

GarlicBOSS: It WAS good, we had so much fun experimenting with it.

Tangled Noodle: LOL TN, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to find it where you live! And the cheese soaked in coffee was so yummy and super squeaky, let me know if you ever try it!

theminx: I was gonna try nuking a couple pieces but I ended up pan frying the remainder because I loved the crispy exterior. Will have to try it in the microwave next time, thanks for the tip :)

CheapAppetite said...

Really interesting cheese. It's weird but yummy looking. Dipping in the coffee is funny. But i guess it works.:)

Betty said...

oh man this looks so good i wonder if i can find it in sydney...

LeslieMac said...

I grill peaches & throw the bread cheese block right on the grill. Together nothing tastier!

Anonymous said...

Oh man! I remember trying some of this when I was younger. It's really tasty, and hilariously squeaky. I've never had such squeaky food other than this.