Monday, July 20, 2009

Say Cheese!

Have you ever been in a restaurant, eaten something so delicious you believed you’d faint, and then thought, “I could make that”???

I went to a fabulous restaurant in New York City called La Masseria on 48th. On the menu that day was an appetizer that made my mouth water: artichoke hearts baked with Taleggio. Taleggio is an Italian washed-rind, cow’s milk cheese. A washed-rind cheese is washed or “rubbed” by hand with a moist cloth soaked in a brine solution of rock salt and water to inhibit growth of mold and encourage the growth of bacteria. Taleggio has a strong aroma but a tangy, slightly salty flavor. It melts like a dream. Ripe Taleggio will be soft enough to cut with a dull butter knife. The reddish-brown crust should be uncracked.

Later that week, I tried to copy the recipe, and I have to say I got pretty darned close. I’m no chef. I’m an author and I write The Cheese Shop Mysteries that will be coming out from Berkley Prime Crime next July, but I’m always on the alert for a new cheese-based dish.

I’d like to share my version of the appetizer. Enjoy and remember when you’re done eating, remember to smile and “Say Cheese!”


Makes: 1 PORTION


1 tsp. olive oil
3 canned artichokes (in water), or 3 fresh small (2”) artichokes cooked tender, and halved
2 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 clove garlic, sliced
2 oz. white wine
2 oz. Taleggio, diced
Pinch salt
Pinch nutmeg


Saute olive oil, artichokes halved, mushrooms sliced, garlic sliced, white wine.
Put into casserole pan.
Top with Taleggio, diced, pinch salt, and pinch nutmeg

Bake 400 degrees, 6 minutes until cheese is bubbling.

Serve hot.
The Cheese Shop Mysteries, by Avery Aames, are coming out in July 2010 from Berkley Prime Crime.

Learn more about Avery at her website -- and sign up for her newsletter, a monthly event with tidbits, mini-histories of cheese, and future contests.


  1. Great post! This sounds delish - and timely - I just saw artichokes on sale at my local green grocer. One question - if I can't find Taleggio, do you think a soft (young?) Asiago would work? My local grocery always has Asiago.


  2. Sounds terrific, Avery. Congrats to you all. I'm looking forward to checking out your posts on a daily basis.

  3. Cleo, thanks. Asiago would melt differently and be a little grainier, but let's face it, Asiago is good on anything!


  4. Looks easy and sounds fabulous. Can't wait to try this one, Avery!

  5. I think I'm going to love this blog. The artichoke/cheese combination looks so good it's making my mouth water.