Festive Makeovers: Say Cheese!

December 22, 2020

Holiday vacation is officially here!  If you’ve already had enough eggnog and gingerbread, but still want to celebrate with some festive eats, here are a few classic dishes that have received a holiday makeover courtesy of Canada’s top chefs and home cooks. From Sugar Plum Turnovers to Feta-La-La Spreads and Stuffing Spiced Mac and Cheese, these favourites all have one thing in common—cheese! 

If you’re cheese obsessed like most, or need a last-minute gift for a fellow cheese lover, Canada’s Tre Stelle Cheese created an all-cheese cookbook with these recipes and more—and the best part, it’s absolutely free! Details at the end of this post … but now for the recipes!

Hack Your Mack

Chef Jason Rees has taken the beloved cheesy favourite and given it a holiday makeover with the addition of sage, onions and spices.  Feel free to eat it directly from the pot while watching your favourite holiday movie.

Stuffing Spiced Merry Mac N Cheese (4-6 Servings)

1 medium onion finely diced
1 stick celery finely diced 
1-941ml / 1 litre container chicken or vegetable stock (reduced sodium is ideal or homemade turkey stock would be wonderful here too)
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon dried sage – plus 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped sage for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup diced sundried tomato
1-200g package Tre Stelle Shredded cheddar mozzarella blend
1 cup finely grated Tre Stelle Parmigiano Reggiano
½ cup roughly chopped green onions
1lb /454g pasta

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large pot and, over medium heat, sauté diced onion and celery for 5-7 minutes until transparent, avoid any browning. Add uncooked pasta to the onion and celery mixture and cover with stock. Bring to a Boil, and reduce to simmer. Stir constantly for about 8 minutes until nearly all the stock has evaporated, and the pasta is almost cooked ‘al dente’. If the pasta is firm before most of the stock evaporates add ½ cup more water and continue simmering and stirring. When desired tenderness is reached, do NOT drain the pasta. The leftover starchy water will help to emulsify making a nice, creamy sauce. Tip the pasta back into the pot and pour in the can of evaporated milk and return to a near-boil. Add the sage and sundried tomato and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Continue stirring until everything is combined. Scatter the top with grated Parmigiano put the pan under the broiler for 5 minutes to melt the cheese to a golden brown. Remove, scatter with finely chopped green onions and remaining chopped fresh sage leaves (if using) and serve right from the pan.

Feta-La-La Spread

Home-chef Nancy Bordeleau created this winter wonderland of cheesiness which is the perfect holiday snack hack!

1 ½ cup Tre Stelle feta cheese
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup of natural greek yogurt
2 tablespoon of rosemary, chopped finely
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chive, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt

Whisk all ingredients together. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate—the leftovers will also be delicious with crudités, grilled pitas

Sugarplum Turnovers

For dessert, try this classic inspired by The Night Before Christmas to give you pastries a true holiday makeover.

475g pkg Tre Stelle Mascarpone
¼ cup icing sugar divided
½ tsp cinnamon, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2-3 cups stone fruits (plums, peaches, or nectarines), pits removed and sliced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 sheets store-bought puff pastry

Preheat your oven to 400°F.  In a small bowl, stir together the mascarpone with ¼ tsp of the cinnamon and about half the icing sugar and set aside.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully tip the fruit into the hot skillet. Cook and stir for about 2 min. Add brown sugar, and remaining cinnamon, and cook, stirring, for 2 more min. Stir together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Pour into the skillet, and mix well. Cook for another minute, or until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat to cool slightly.  Unfold puff pastry sheets, and repair any cracks by pressing them back together. Trim each sheet into a square. Then cut each larger square into 4 smaller squares. Dollop a spoonful of the cooled fruit onto the center of each square, then add a spoonful of the mascarpone mixture on top of the fruit. Fold over from corner to corner into a triangle shape, and press edges together to seal. Place turnovers on a baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.  Brush the tops of each turnover with milk and bake for 25 mins until they are puffed and golden. Cool completely before dusting with remaining icing sugar.

Delicious? Check. Easy? Double-check. How much? That’s the best part! Tre Stelle’s all-cheese cookbook celebrates the 60th anniversary of Canada’s cheese—and to support Canadians cooking from home (now, more than ever), Tre Stelle released Say Cheese! as a free downloadable eBook. There’s a limited-edition print version, too, which makes a gouda gift for cheese lovers and home cooks alike for those who prefer a hard copy. And Vita Daily readers get a delicious discount with free shipping, so you can save some cheddar, which is always a good thing this time of year.

You can download your free copy of the book here or order a copy for $39.95 (plus tax) with all profits donated to Canada’s front-line workers in the fight against COVID-19—and use promo code VITAFREESHIP for free standard shipping. —Vita Daily



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