There’s nothing quite like being stuck in the house to inspire creativity in the kitchen. Whether you’re hoping to add skills to your culinary repertoire, try out some tasty new recipes, or find fun (and educational!) activities to do with your kids, there’s a whole world of cheese you can explore without leaving your kitchen.
Here are some of our favorite ways to explore, play, and cook with cheese. All you need are a few great wedges—or a few basic ingredients and some quality milk to make your own.
Make Your Own Cheese at Home
You probably have the things you need to become an amateur cheesemaker right in your own kitchen. If you have a big pot, a wooden spoon, a strainer, a jug of good milk, and some vinegar or lemon juice, you’re on your way to making cheese!
Start with our Cheesemaking 101 guide to get an introduction to this delicious craft, then try your hand at our beginner-level recipes for homemade queso blanco to crumble over tacos or enchiladas, rich buttermilk ricotta for stuffing pasta, or lush, spreadable mascarpone for dessert.
When you’ve mastered the basics, level up with some recipes for brined aged cheeses like feta and ricotta salata. Since these easy-to-follow recipes involve a few simple tasks followed by periods of inactivity for coagulation and culturing, they’re great to try while you’re working from home with your kids in the house.
If you’re ready to dive into the home cheesemaking lifestyle, pick up some rennet, cultures, and good milk and check out our free French cheesemaking course. It’s perfect for the stay-at-home lifestyle. Our tutorial has all the instructions you need to make fresh goat cheese, crème fraîche, and cultured butter right in your own kitchen, with a video demonstrating each step.
As a bonus, you can use that excess whey in your bread baking. It’s great fuel for your sourdough starter and can be used to add flavor in place of milk or water in your favorite no-knead bread recipe.
Turn Your Kitchen Into a Cheese Cave
It’s one thing to whip up fresh cheeses in your own home, but aging them is something else entirely. The fascinating process of affinage is part science, part art, and part culinary adventure, and you can see it happen up close in your own kitchen.
This makes home cheesemaking a great activity to do with kids for fun or as part of a home-schooling routine: a wheel of ripening cheese is the jumping-off point for lessons on everything from animals to cooking to microbiology. Plus, you get to eat the experiment afterwards!
If you’re not ready to try your hand at home cheesemaking, you can age a bloomy rind cheese purchased from one of our great makers—like My Artisano’s Sharon Creek Brie or Lively Run’s Sheldrake Moon. Just pop it in your Cheese Grotto and track how it evolves in texture and aroma over the course of a few weeks. The Grotto’s front window lets you watch this process in real time, and the high humidity and breathable environment mean you’ll be digging into a luscious, perfectly aged wheel after a few weeks.
Love goat cheese? Use the Grotto to take a fresh goat crottin from spreadable and lactic to grateable and complex with our easy-to-follow guide to ripening fresh goat cheese. Or you can make your own chevre or fromage blanc from scratch, shape it into a button or round, stash it in the Grotto, and watch the rind bloom on your very own cheese. Shave your aged crottin over a crisp green salad or serve it with some seasonal fruit to complete the process from cave to table.
Get Out of Your Dinnertime Rut
If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a new recipe to add to your weeknight meal roster. With such a variety of flavor profiles, textures, and aromas, cheese is the perfect way to shake things up in your dinner routine.
Switch up pizza night with our recipe for the perfect cast-iron pan pizza topped with spring veggies and creamy, pillowy burrata and shavings of savory parm, or bust out your favorite melting cheese to make our Turkish cheese and pepper pide—two simple, crowd-pleasing recipes that are easy to make on your own or with your kids.
With spring weather arriving, now is also a great time to fire up your backyard grill. This super simple recipe for grilled bell peppers stuffed with baked eggs, goat cheese, and hot sauce is a great way to spend a relaxing weekend brunch in the backyard—just add some of that fresh-baked sourdough you’ve been baking up lately.
Speaking of baking, don’t forget that cheese and pastry are a match made in heaven. Dollop a Camembert-style wheel with your favorite fruit preserves, bundle it in puff pastry or homemade pie crust, and bake for an extra-special dessert. Or mix up a batch of our simple yet decadent mascarpone custard ice cream flavored with spring rhubarb and orange zest—no churning required.
Turn a Fridge Cleanout Into a New Favorite Recipe
When you take stock of what you’ve got in your kitchen, you never know just what you’ll find. Maybe a hunk of cheese got lost in the back of your refrigerator when you last stocked up on groceries—and you’ve only now rediscovered it. Since cheese has such a great shelf life, you can raid your pantry and turn that forgotten wedge into a simple, delicious meal while saving money and minimizing food waste.
If you’re stocked up on spuds, whip up this potato tart with goat cheese and Pecorino or other hard grating cheese you can rustle up from the fridge. Transform an extra-funky bloomy or washed-rind wheel by turning it into a pan of luxurious mac ‘n’ cheese. Or mix up your weekend breakfast routine and whip up a savory Dutch baby. Top it with whatever roasted or sauteed vegetables you have in the fridge, then crumble or grate cheese over everything and dig in—anything from chevre to feta to blue to Parmigiano-Reggiano will do.
How are you having fun with cheese in your kitchen these days?
Let us know about your cheesemaking experiments, affinage adventures, and favorite new ways to use cheese at home in the comments!