Tag Archives: Wisconsin Gourmet Foods

Nikki’s Key Lime & Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies

DSC01527 We found these neat 2-cookie packs at Central Market and loved the rich, buttery cookies with a just-right citrus tang. Nikki Taylor uses all-natural ingredients and family recipes in these delicious treats. A must-try, for sure!

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Fried Cheese Curds

Now we know the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will be playing in the Super Bowl, so we can get started on answering the really important question – what will we eat while we watch the game?  Maybe football game snacks take on more significance when your team hasn’t been in the Super Bowl in like, forever.  But enough about the Dallas Cowboys!

For the next couple of weeks, there will be no shortage of great ideas for game time food.  Allen usually makes his signature smoked sausage in red currant mustard sauce, and something cheesy is normally on the menu, too.  Cheese curds have been very high on our snack food list recently.  When we found Henning’s Cave Aged Peppercorn Cheddar Cheese at Central Market last fall displayed next to Henning’s Cheddar Cheese Curds, we had just tasted fried cheese curds at the State Fair of Texas.  I bought a carton of cheese curds to try recreating the recipe we had enjoyed at the fair.  There was one problem with my plan – the cheese curds were so delicious we ate them before I could get them into the fryer!  Cheese curds are bits of cheese separated from the whey before they are pressed together.  They have a very mild taste, creamy texture and they squeak when you eat them.  We managed to restrain ourselves on the second carton we bought, I found a recipe on allrecipes.com that seemed pretty close to what we had eaten at the fair, so we were in business.

Real Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds

Heat oil in a deep-fryer, or large, deep pot to 375°.  Whisk together milk, flour, beer, salt, and eggs to form a smooth, thin batter.  Place about 6 or 8 cheese curds into the batter at one time, stir to coat, and remove with wire strainer.  Shake the curds a couple of times to remove excess batter.  Deep fry the curds until golden brown, 1 or 2 minutes.  Drain on paper towels, then serve hot.


These cheesy little gems will start a party in your mouth!  They are wonderful solo, but add ranch dip (or maybe a dill dip), and you have a snack with a significant wow factor.  I’ve only seen Henning’s cheddar cheese curds in Dallas markets, but their website offers white cheddar, cajun cheese, garlic and dill (be still my heart!), ranch cheddar, pepper cheese, and two tone yellow and white cheddar curds.  You could experiment with different flavored cheese curds and dips for weeks.

I haven’t decided yet which Super Bowl team I’ll be rooting for, but there will be cheers for fried cheese curds!


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Henning’s Natural Chipotle Cheddar Cheese

Henning's ChipotleWisconsin is home to some really great cheeses, as practically everyone knows.  Our latest tasting included Henning’s Natural Chipotle Cheddar Cheese.  This visually appealing white cheddar is laced with spicy roasted jalapeño peppers.    It looks beautiful on a cheese tray, which is how we enjoyed it recently. Have you ever wondered about the difference between white and yellow cheddar?  It simply boils down to color.  Cheddar cheese is naturally white, and the familiar yellow color of many cheddar cheeses results from adding a plant-based extract called annatto.  Henning’s white cheddar is aged over a month and we thought it fell into the “mild” category, with less tang than an sharp cheddar which has been aged for a longer period.  Chipotle peppers are simply smoked jalapeños, but that process yields a very complex flavor that is popular in Texas and the Southwest.  White cheddar and chipotle peppers combined?  Completely addictive!  Henning’s Chipotle Cheddar has won awards in U.S. and world cheese competitions, and it definitely will win over your taste buds.

Our tasting combined Henning’s Natural Chipotle Cheddar with crisp, unflavored crackers and some smoked sausage, and it was superb.  The potential uses for it in recipes seems endless.  Nachos and Mexican casseroles immediately came to mind, but Allen thought it would be fantastic atop a juicy grilled burger, and everyone agreed.  That will be on the menu on the next warm weekend, which in Texas could be at any time!

Chipotle Cheese

We introduced you to the Henning Family’s cheese business and Kerry Henning, the “Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker”, when we tasted his award-winning aged peppercorn cheddar.  The family is committed to local dairy farmers who pasture-feed their cows and supplement their diets with a balance of natural grains.  The Hennings have almost 100 years in the cheese making business, and have won numerous national and international awards.  Their website offers easy ordering for their great cheese products.

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Henning’s Cave Aged Peppercorn Cheddar Cheese

This gorgeous chunk of cheese is from Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese.  Put this 2012 World Cheese Contest winning peppercorn cheddar on your “must-try” list.  Fine cheese should not be eaten straight from the refrigerator, but first brought to room temperature.  The peppercorn cheddar took almost two hours to warm, but it was definitely worth the wait.  The aging process creates a cheese that is firmer and dryer than fresh cheese, and develops more complex flavors.  The generous sprinkling of cracked peppercorns adds a nice spicy bite to the cheese.  Although I’m certainly no tasting expert, it seemed there was a hint of parmesan flavor in the cheese, and Henning’s website suggests adding the cheese to Italian pasta or salads.  That idea is worth exploring.

Kerry Henning is the third-generation cheesemaker in this family business established in 1914.  He has earned the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker designation, which is a complicated process of being licensed for at least ten years and having at least five years of experience in making the cheese one is “mastering” in.  Kerry has mastered in Cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack and his cheeses have won numerous awards.

Kerry’s father, Everett, remains involved in the business, and was the driving force behind the family’s cheese museum and store.  It has a display of vintage cheesemaking equipment, offers large viewing windows onto the factory floor to see the cheesemaking process, and of course, has Henning’s cheeses for sale.  Oh, and fresh, warm cheese curds are available every weekday!

This successful family business is approaching the century mark.  Their website has a list of retailers where you can find their cheeses, and there is also an online store that offers cheese, sausage, candy, and other products.

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