- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Chef Greggory Hill — he is the Greggory in Washington’s David Greggory Restau Lounge — likes food with a burst of flavors. And he likes Vermont butter — “it’s more like European butters,” he says.

So it was a natural for him to come up with four flavorful recipes using cheeses from the Cabot Creamery, the Vermont cooperative known for its butter and milk and prize-winning cheeses and other dairy products.

The four recipes are a mushroom and cheese risotto with Cabot Hunter’s Cheddar; shrimp and cheese quesadillas with Cabot Habanero Cheddar; fingerling potatoes stuffed with Cabot Horseradish Cheddar; and a Holiday Cabot Jalapeno Cheddar Firecracker, a dandy party presentation, holiday or not, of a block of cheese wrapped in phyllo dough, its two ends then twisted to resemble a firecracker.

The firecracker may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated, then baked to serve. Mr. Hill created a brandy-enhanced fall fruit compote to accompany his festive firecracker. This easy-to-prepare dish can make any host look like a professional; the quesadillas are not for the timid stomach, for the habanero chili is one of the hottest on the market. The risotto is a lusciously rich creation, and the small potatoes are enhanced with the horseradish cheese.

Mr. Hill is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg. In the early 1990s, he was chef of the New Heights restaurant in Washington’s Woodley Park, and from 1994 until last year, he was chef of the Gabriel restaurant in the Radisson Barcelo Hotel in Dupont Circle. He was named chef of the year in 2000 by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and the Washington Convention and Visitors Association.

In 1919, 94 Cabot farmers purchased the building that became the original Cabot Creamery plant. The price was $3,700: $5 per cow, plus a cord of wood each to fuel the boiler. In the past five years, Cabot has won top prizes at the Biennial World Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay, Wis., the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, the Fiery Food Show (for Habanero Cheddar) and the International Fancy Food Show.

Holiday jalapeno cheddar firecracker with fall fruit compote

4 large (14 by 18 inches) sheets phyllo (see note), thawed according to package directions

3 ounces salted butter, melted

Juice of 1 lemon

About 1 pound Cabot 50-percent Light Jalapeno Cheddar or Pepper Jack (not shredded)

1 egg, lightly beaten

COMPOTE:

2 medium pears, peeled, cored and diced

2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced

1 cup raisins

1 cup diced dried figs

1 cup diced dried apricots

½ cup brandy

2 cups orange juice

¼ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

To make firecracker: Spread phyllo dough out on a work surface. Stir together butter and lemon juice. Keeping remaining sheets of phyllo covered with plastic wrap, and brush one sheet of phyllo with lemon butter. Fold in half crosswise, and brush again. Repeat with 3 more sheets. Note: If using smaller sheets of phyllo, use 8 sheets and do not fold in half.

Place cheese lengthwise in center of phyllo. Brush the far long edge of phyllo with beaten egg to seal packet during baking. Roll cheese up in phyllo, pressing edge firmly in place. Twist ends tightly against cheese to make firecracker-shape package. Chill until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place firecracker-shaped cheese package seam-side-down on a baking sheet with sides and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.

To make compote (in advance): In a large saucepan, combine fresh and dried fruits. Place over medium heat, and stir for 2 minutes to warm fruit. Remove from heat, and stir in brandy.

Return to heat, being careful not to ignite brandy. Stir for several minutes, then stir in orange juice. Simmer mixture gently until fruits are tender. Remove from the heat, and stir in hazelnuts. Serve compote on platter with cheese firecracker.

Stuffed fingerling potatoes with horseradish cheddar

12 fingerling or new potatoes

About 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil (divided use)

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon salted butter

4 ounces horseradish cheddar, grated

4 tablespoons chopped cooked bacon

2 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet with sides, toss potatoes with about 1 tablespoon oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender when pierced with skewer or paring knife. Remove from oven, and let cool completely.

Split potatoes lengthwise. With small spoon, scoop out most of the flesh, leaving a sturdy shell; set shells aside.

In a saucepan, mash potato flesh thoroughly with fork; mix in cream and butter. Stir over medium heat until hot, then stir in grated cheddar and bacon. If not serving immediately, refrigerate shells and filling.

Reheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss potato shells with remaining tablespoon oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden.

With a pastry bag or spoon, fill shells with potato-cheddar mixture. Return to oven until heated through. Garnish tops with sour cream and chives.

Mushroom and white cheddar risotto

1 medium onion, sliced

2 teaspoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons salted butter

2 shallots, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup white wine

2 cups arborio rice

6 to 7 cups hot chicken stock

4 ounces aged white cheddar, grated

3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme and oregano

8 ounces grilled or sauteed chicken, cut into julienne

8 ounces fresh spinach, grilled or sauteed until wilted

In a medium skillet over medium heat, combine onion, olive oil and sugar. Cook, stirring often, and lowering heat as liquid cooks away, until onion is tender and caramelized to a deep golden brown; set aside.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallots and garlic, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Add rice, and stir for a minute or two until milky in appearance. Add wine, and stir until it has mostly cooked away.

Add 1 cup of hot stock, and cook, stirring often, until it is nearly all absorbed. Continue adding stock 1 cup at a time, letting it be absorbed each time and adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer.

When rice is creamy and tender but still slightly firm in center (this should take about 20 minutes), stir in cheese and herbs. Stir in chicken and reserved onions.

To serve, place spinach around edge of shallow bowls and spoon rice in center.

Shrimp and habanero cheddar quesadillas with slaw and salsa

6 small flour tortillas

6 ounces habanero cheddar, grated

4 green onions, chopped

12 ounces cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise or diced

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

SLAW:

1 small head green cabbage, shredded

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

1 tablespoon salt

1½ cups cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

SALSA:

3 medium tomatoes

1 small red onion, diced

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon salt or more to taste

Garnish: whole cilantro sprigs, lime wedges and sour cream

To make quesadillas: Lightly oil a small skillet, and place it over medium heat. Place a tortilla in skillet until heated through, about 30 seconds per side.

Top with 1/6 of grated cheese, followed by 1/6 of shrimp and green onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in half, pressing to seal. Cover to keep warm, and set aside. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

To make slaw: In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, jalapenos and salt.

In a saucepan, heat cider vinegar with sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar; pour cider mixture over slaw, and toss it to coat well. Add cilantro; toss again.

To make salsa: Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, and gently squeeze out and discard seeds. Chop coarsely, then combine in bowl with remaining ingredients; stir together gently.

To serve, mound slaw in center of a large platter, and arrange tortillas around outside. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Serve salsa and sour cream separately in small bowls.

More information is available on the Web: www.cabotcreamery.com and www.davidgreggory.com.

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