Sunday, September 6, 2009

By "Cheese" We Mean "Tillamook": Cheddar Cheese Puffs With A Surprise

The Clackamas County Fair is my fair, as I've already waxed quasi-lyrically about, and so you might think that I'd logically take the Clackamas County Fair recipe from The County Fair Cookbook to cap off a week of fair recipes. Well... I would...but...

I'll just say it. I'm sure Mabel Johnson is a lovely woman, but her recipe for sweet and sour kidney beans just doesn't float my blogging boat. It's not even a vegetarian recipe, so I can't be guilted into putting it up to balance out the ham and Spam. I love you Clackamas County, but a little bird tells me the Extension volunteers might put together a cookbook for a fundraiser at some point, and so I'll wait until then to do my proper homegirl salute. But, there should be something from Oregon...

The Tillamook County Fair is held in Tillamook, Oregon, the second week of August -- Wednesday through Saturday. They are home to the only Pig-N-Ford races in the nation, and if you don't know what those are, hop on over to that link and check 'em out. Tillamook, it seems, is more than just beautiful sea views and the world's best darned cheese.

The cheese really is amazing, and now you can get it in the grocery store nearly anywhere in the States, so there's no reason to use anything other than proper Tillamook when you make this recipe:
Cheddar Cheese Puffs With A Surprise
Mildred Davy's late husband, John, worked for many years at the Tillamook County creamery. Their excellent cheddar appeared frequently on the Davy family table. If you can't get Tillamook cheese, use any fine cheddar.

Makes 48 puffs

2 cups grated sharp Tillamook, or other cheddar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
48 small green stuffed olives, well drained

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
1. Blend the grated cheese and butter. Stir in the flour, salt and paprika. (This can all be done in a food processor equipped with the metal blade.)
2. Mold 1 teaspoon of the mixture around each olive. Chill the puffs until firm, about 30 minutes. Arrange the puffs on ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned. (You can also freeze the puffs, well wrapped, for about 10 days. Bake them, still frozen, until browned.)
Aaaah, cheesy olivey salty goodness. I'd say that 48 puffs serve 4 rabid happy hour folks. I know that a proper cocktail party guide might suggest that each person will have 2-4 olives, but c'mon. There's Tillamook. There's olives. There's heat, blending them together. You're going to eat more than 4.

These go particularly well in the time before the turkey is done on Thanksgiving. You can heat them in small batches in your toaster oven, so that you're not disturbing the rolls, yams, Brussels sprouts, or bird.

You can choose what kind of stuffing you want in your olives. The classic pimento is fine, but if you want to grab the garlic- or almond- or even blue-cheese-stuffed ones from the fancy cocktail section of your favorite store, I won't say no.

Do get Tillamook, though. Chefly Husband came up with a great metaphor for why he, the Wisconsin Boy, could still eat Tillamook without the cheese police coming after him. See, evidently, the Wisconsin cheese is like the very best blended whiskey. Tillamook? Well, Tillamook is single malt Scotch. It's similar in composition, but a completely different beast. Get the single malt of cheese; get Tillamook.

And that's it for The County Fair Cookbook. Next up, perhaps an older book, or perhaps something focusing on a particular country's cuisine...


  1. Tillamook is a must. No question about it.

    But does it need to be sharp, or does medium work? Of course, by the time you come out here next time, the medium Tillamook in my fridge may be well on it's way to sharp. ;)

  2. It's RennFaire season. I say venture forth into Medieval Cookery! ;)