Skagit Food Co-op blog:

the Cheese Whisperer

The Cheese Whisperer: Fresh & Organic Cheese from Samish Bay

Samish Bay Cheese is one of the closest dairy farms to the Skagit Valley Food Co-op. Nestled in the scenic town of Bow, near Blanchard Mountain and the Chuckanut foothills, Samish Bay is a 200-acre farm owned by Suzanne and Roger Wechsler.

Operations at Samish Bay Cheese are certified organic by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. The dairy’s mixed herd is mostly Milking Shorthorns, with some crossed with Jersey, Holstein, or Dutch Belted. The animals are raised on the green, grassy fields of the Skagit Valley, and have access to pasture most of the year. Cheesemakers use only the dairy’s organic milk to make a range of cheese and yogurt-based dairy products. The Co-op carries Samish Bay Cheese yogurt, as well as a number of their farmstead artisan aged cheese on our Specialty Cheese Island. We’re happy to introduce you to a few new products from this small, local dairy:

New Organic & Fresh Cheese from Samish Bay

  • Organic Kefir Cheese – Authentic kefir (kəfír) is a fermented milk product that originated in the Caucasian mountains thousands of years ago. It is made by inoculating milk with kefir grains, a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter. Often kefir grains are strained from previous production of kefir. Unlike yogurt and some products on the market called “kefir”, true kefir is a symbiotic combination of bacteria and yeasts. Rich in diverse populations of beneficial bacteria and yeasts, it is long thought to have health benefits.
  • Organic Vache – creamy and versatile, this new cheese from Samish Bay is made in a similar style to goat chèvre, but with cow’s milk instead. It’s made from fresh, low heat pasteurized organic cow milk. The result is velvety and spreadable, ideal for topping toast, bagels, potatoes, soups, risotto and more.

In addition to using as a substitute for yogurt in salad dressings and marinades, there are plenty of ways to enjoy these fresh cheeses. Read on for a few of our favorite recipes to showcase these local standouts:

Photo: Samish Bay Cheese

Duchess Potatoes

Recipe & photo from Samish Bay Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Boiled Until Fork Tender
  • 8 whole Egg Yolks
  • 1 stick Butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons Salt, more or less to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup Samish Bay Cheese Vache
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Lay boiled potatoes on a baking sheet and place into the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly dried on the surface.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and process potatoes through a ricer or food mill. Allow to cool in a bowl for about 5 minutes. Add egg yolks, butter, a couple of generous pinches of salt, a generous pinch of pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and 1/4 cup Vache. Stir with a rubber spatula to combine. Taste and make sure the potatoes have been adequately salted.

Transfer to a large pastry bag and pipe through a large star tip in a circular/upward spiral motion. Bake at 375 °F until golden brown around the edges. Tip: If needed, make the potatoes ahead of time and store in the fridge, then bake at the last minute.

 

Garlic Dill Kefir Dip

A zesty and healthful dip for fresh or roasted vegetables, crackers, falafel, and more!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Samish Bay Organic Kefir cheese
  • 2 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (1 tbsp. dried dill)
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, mashed with a pinch of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to develop the dip flavors. Drizzle with olive oil prior to serving.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.