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Recipes by Courtney Contos, Culinary Consultant
Lamb Stifado with Feta Cheese
Holiday Blue Cheese Thumbprints
Winter Squash and Vermont Goat Cheese Gratin
Vermont Cheddar Ale Soup
Savory Harvest Tarts with Tomatoes and Blue Cheese
Beef Brochettes with Cheese Aoli
Baked Camembert with Walnut Pesto

Recipes by our cheese making and associate members
Chili Cheese Soup
Macaroni and Smoked Cheese
Four Cheese Spinach Dip
Cheese Ball
Pepper Jack Quesadilla
Vermont Cheese Soufflé
Fresh Chevre Cheesecake
Caramelized Apple Tart with Cheddar Crust
Quark Ice Cream
Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes
Brandied Blue Cheese Compound Butter

Lamb Stifado with Feta Cheese by Courtney Contos
Serves 6-8

4 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch chucks
2-3 tablespoons canola
1-1/4  pounds, pearl onions or shallots, peeled
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 3/4 cups red wine
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1/2  teaspoon ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup currants
7 ounces Vermont feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Sea salt to taste

  1. Heat a large flameproof dutch-oven over medium high heat. When hot add oil and brown the lamb in batches adding more oil as needed. Transfer to a sheet tray.
  2. In the same pot over medium heat brown the onions 3-4 minutes then add garlic. Cook 2 minutes.
  3. Deglaze with wine. Add bay leaves, pepper, cinnamon stick, cumin, allspice, cloves, vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, and currants. Add 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and lower to a low simmer. After ½ hour add onions. Occasionally give the stifado a stir, cook covered 1 ½  hours or until meat is tender and sauce is thick. Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.
  4. Season to taste. Spoon stew into warmed bowls and top with feta and parsley.

Serve with crusty bread and rosemary potatoes or rice.

Holiday Blue Cheese Thumbprints by Courtney Contos
Makes about 30

8-ounces crumbled blue cheese 
Recommended Vermont Blues
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon honey
1-1/3  cups  all-purpose flour
1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
1/3  cup  cranberry, cherry, or apricot preserves
Parsley leaves

Beat blue cheese, butter, and honey at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and red pepper, beating just until combined. Roll dough into 3/4-inch round balls; cover and chill 15 minutes.

Arrange balls on ungreased baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and press thumb into each ball of dough, leaving an indentation.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Place about 1/4 teaspoon preserves in each indentation. Garnish with parsley.

Winter Squash and Vermont Goat Cheese Gratin by Courtney Contos
Serves 6-8


2-1/2pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium, peeled, seeded, cut into 2 inch cubes (8 cups)
1-1/2tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups leeks (white and pale green part only), sliced thin
2 cups trimmed and quartered Brussels sprouts
1 large clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, rosemary, sage or parsley
5.5 ounces fresh Vermont goat cheese
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup walnuts and hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place butternut squash cubes and olive oil in large bowl; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and ground pepper and toss to coat. Spread out squash cubes on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until just tender and beginning to brown, stirring once, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped herbs; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes then add brussel sprouts. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 10 minutes, add garlic stir in well and turn off heat. Coat 9x9-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).

Vermont Cheddar Ale Soup by Courtney Contos

Serves 6

1 large onion (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)
1 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 (12-oz) bottle ale such as Bass
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb extra-sharp Cheddar (grated (4 cups)
*Find a list of Vermont cheddars
4 bacon slices (3 1/2 oz total), cooked and crumbled

Heat a medium heavy pot over moderate heat. Add butter. When butter is melted and hot add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to moderately low and sprinkle flour over vegetables, then cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add milk, broth, and beer in a stream, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Then lower heat.

Add cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly, and cook until cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes (do not boil). Discard bay leaf.

Serve sprinkled with bacon and serve hot.

Savory Harvest Tarts with Tomatoes and Blue Cheese by Courtney Contos
Makes two tarts

1 sheet (about 1/2 pound ) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1-1/2 cups Blue Cheese (crumbled)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 pounds (about 2 large tomatoes) vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced thin
1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 425F.
On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin roll out pastry into a rectangle roughly 15 by 13 inches. Halve pastry lengthwise, forming two 15- by 7-inch rectangles.

Brush edges with water and fold in edges to form a 1/2-inch wide border on each rectangle. With tines of a fork, press border to seal. Transfer rectangles to a large baking sheet.

Sprinkle each tart evenly with Parmesan. Arrange tomato slices in one layer on cheese. Scatter onion slices and herbs over tomatoes and sprinkle with blue cheese. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste.

Bake tarts in upper third of oven 14 to 16 minutes, or until crust is golden. Tarts may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered loosely. Reheat tarts before serving. Serve tarts warm or at room temperature.

*Serve as hors d'œuvre’s, as a garnish to your favorite salad, or along side grilled steak or roasted chicken. Delicious as they are,-hard not to eat the tarts right out of the oven!

Grilled Beef Brochettes with Grapes and Blue Cheese Aioli by Courtney Contos

For the beef:
1 pound beef such as tenderloin, flank steak, or strip steak, cut into 1inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons smoky paprika
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt to taste
One small bunch red grapes
2 tablespoons capers

Marinate the slices of beef with the oil, paprika, and lime juice for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour. Slide the beef and the grapes onto soaked wooden skewers and season with the salt. Preheat either an indoor or outdoor grill over medium high heat. Grill the beef about 1-2 minutes per side or until done. Serve with the aioli and garnish with fried capers. 

For the aioli:
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¾ cup grapeseed oil
¼ cup Spanish olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup crumbled blue cheese

In a bowl or food processor, whisk together the yolk, mustard, garlic, and vinegar. Then add the oils in a thin steady stream until emulsified and thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the blue cheese.

Baked Camembert with Walnut Pesto by Courtney Contos
Serves 8-10

4 garlic cloves, peeled
½ cup walnuts
2 cups cleaned fresh basil
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 Camembert cheeses (8 ounces each)

Grilled bread and cooked asparagus for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400º.

  2. Place Camembert rounds into the freezer for 15 minutes. Then carefully cut the rind off the top of each cheese and discard it. Place onto a parchment lined sheet tray or into two smaller baking dishes used for serving. Set aside.

  3. For the pesto place the garlic, nuts, basil, honey, and Romano cheese in a food processor and process to a course paste. Add the lemon zest, juice, and just enough olive oil to create a thick paste. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Spread half of the pesto over each cheese, mounding it in the center.

  5. Place into middle of oven and cook the cheeses until the sides are lightly browned, the cheese starts to melt, and the top is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Transfer Camembert carefully to a platter (unless you baked in a presentation dish) and serve at once with grilled bread and asparagus.

Courtney Contos, sole proprietor of 

octCourtney Contos' love affair with all things culinary began at a young age and since then nothing has stopped her from exploring all the facets of the culinary world!

Contos, now traveling to private homes and business', offers a number of culinary services as a culinary coach and spokesperson. She finds teaching people how to cook very fulfilling. Her excitement in the kitchen is contagious and this is one of the ways her passion sparkles. 

She received a degree in hospitality and culinary arts. After school she worked for Charlie Trotter, tested recipes for Martha Stewart and studied New Mexican and Indian cuisines. Then, Contos opened her own business traveling through out the United States preparing lavish gourmet parties for upscale well-known clients. Contos has been teaching cooking and spreading her enthusiasm to the public since 2000. Recipe writing and developing fun seasonal and International cooking classes is an art she has mastered. Contos fulfilled her long time dream of living in Vermont and accepted a position as executive chef for Cook Academy, at The Essex Resort & Spa in Vermont, 2006-2010. Now The Essex uses Chef Contos' services as "celebrity chef" to the resort.

Learn more about Chef Contos at

Chili Cheese Soup by Jericho Hill Farm

2-3 slices bacon, diced
1 C, chopped onion
½ C. chopped celery
2 T. flour
1 ¼ t. chili powder
¼ t cumin
¼ t cumin¼ t. pepper
1 t. salt
5-6 C milk
1 ¾ C Jericho Hill Cheddar Cheese

Cook bacon, until crisp and chop.  Add onions, celery, cooking until tender.  Stir in the flour and spices.  Slowly, while stirring, add the milk.  Cook over low heat until mixture becomes smooth and thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Keep warm until ready to serve.

Macaroni and Smoked Cheese by Jericho Hill Farm

1 to 1 ½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
¼ cup margarine
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup flour
1 ¾ cup milk
6 oz Colby Cheddar cheese
2 oz Smoked Colby Cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni.  Cook and stir margarine, onion, salt and pepper until onion is slightly tender.  Blend in flour.  Cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat.  Stir in milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir one minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until melted.  Mix with macaroni into a 1 ½ quart casserole dish.  Cook uncovered in 375 degree oven, for 30 minutes.

Four Cheese Spinach Dip by Jericho Hill Farm

1 pkg (16 oz) Lite Cream Cheese
½ pkg frozen spinach, cooked & drained
2 Scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
½ cup Jericho Jack Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Jericho Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Soften cream cheese then add scallion and garlic, Parmesan cheese and spinach.  Mix well.  Top with Jack and Pepper Jack cheeses.  Sprinkle with cayenne pepper.  Bake until cooked and cheese is melted on top and sides brown, about 20 min.  Serve with pita chips or other chips/crackers.

Optional:  sprinkle diced red or green peppers on top.

Cheese Ball by Jericho Hill Farm

2 pks of Neufchatel Cream Cheese
8oz. shredded Jericho Jack Cheddar Cheese
1 pkg. dry Onion soup mix
Chopped almonds

Soften the Neufchatel.  Mix this together with the shredded cheddar cheese and the onion soup mix.  It’s ok to use your hands to do this.  Combine the almonds and the paprika in a bowl.  Roll the cheese ball in the almond/paprika mixture.  Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate to firm the ball.  Serve with favorite crackers or bread.

Pepper Jack Quesadilla by Jericho Hill Farm

Flour tortillas
Jericho Hill Pepper Jack cheese
Jericho Hill Colby Cheddar cheese
Black beans
Red pepper, minced
Jalapeno Pepper, minced
Cilantro, chopped
Sour cream, optional

Spray one tortilla with PAM or use olive oil and place on George Foreman Grill or in cast iron skillet.  Spread minced peppers and cilantro on top.  Then place layer of thinly sliced Pepper Jack cheese and Colby Cheddar cheese.  Place another tortilla on top.  Spray the top tortilla with PAM or you can brush with olive oil.  If using a Foreman Grill, close cover and cook.  If using a skillet, cook to heat and melt cheese and then flip, carefully, to brown the second tortilla.
Vermont Cheese Soufflé by Ariel's' Restaurant, Brookfield, VT

1/2 lb. Vermont Cheese, grated if hard (use Alpine Cheese, such as Spring Brook Tarentais, or Blue Cheese or aged cheddar, or fresh Goat Cheese)
4 lg. eggs
3 1./2 T. unsalted butter
1/3 C. all purpose flour
1 1/3 C. milk(whole or 2%)
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. finely chopped herbs, eg: thyme, tarragon, basil
approx. 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper

Preheat oven to 375 and butter 6 3/4 C. ramekins. Separate eggs. In a med. sized saucepan melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook approx. 2-3 minutes over low heat, whisking. Add milk, slowly, whisking in, bring to simmer and cook 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add egg yolks, mustard, thyme, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. In a mixer beat whites with a pinch of salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Fold in 1/3 of whites to lighten, then gently fold in rest of whites. Divide into the buttered ramekins. Arrange in a baking pan and pour hot water 1/2 way up the sides. Bake until slightly puffed and light golden brown. Cool and Turn upside down onto a buttered cookie sheet. Can be refrigerated overnight. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 375. Place soufflés in oven. Bake until heated through and slightly puffed. Turn over onto plate to serve.

Fresh Chevre Cheesecake by Ariel's' Restaurant, Brookfield, VT

1 ½ C. Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 ½ oz. sweet butter
¼ C. brown sugar

Cheesecake batter
1 lb. Cream Cheese
1 lb. fresh Fat Toad Farm Goat Cheese
8 oz. Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery Fromage Blanc
1 C. sugar
zest of 2 Meyer(or regular) lemons, finely grated
3 eggs
1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix Graham cracker crumbs well with melted butter and brown sugar. Press mixture into a well buttered(or pan sprayed) 10 inch round pan with 1 ½ -2 inch sides. Bake crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees then let cool.

Into Stand mixer place cream cheese and fresh goat cheese. Mix on low speed with paddle for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and mix until well combined (about 1 minute), scraping mixture down from sides once or twice. Add sugar and mix well. Add fromage blanc(or sour cream) and lemon zest and mix until combined. Continue to mix at med. speed, adding one egg at a time until each is combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Add salt and mix on low to combine. Scrape batter into prepared crust and put cake into a larger cake pan, or a roasting pan that can easily fit the cake with room to spare. Pour hot water into larger pan to 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan. Put in oven and bake approx. 1 ½ hours, or until the top of the cake is firm to the touch. Remove from oven, then let cool in the water bath. Remove from water bath and refrigerate overnight.

To remove from pan: Put pan on stovetop over low heat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Shake pan to loosen. Place plastic wrap over top of cake, then turn cake over onto a baking sheet or flat, large plate. Remove pan, then place serving plate over bottom of cake and flip over. Remove plastic wrap.

You may bake this cake in a 10” springform pan, but you must wrap the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil before immersing in the water bath.

Caramelized Apple Tart with Cheddar Crust by Ariel's' Restaurant, Brookfield, VT

Tart Dough
Makes 12 lg. tarts with leftover dough
5 C. All Purpose flour
1 T. salt
1 lb. cold, unsalted butter (4 sticks) cut into ½ inch cubes
5 oz. grated sharp Vt. cheddar (Grafton, Cabot, Shelburne Farms, etc.)
1 lg. egg
1 T. champagne or white wine vinegar
about ¾ c. very cold water
¼ C. heavy cream
¼ C. sugar

Put flour and salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with small (pea sized) butter lumps. Add grated Cheddar and toss well to mix.

Beat egg with vinegar in a 1 c. measuring cup, using a fork. Add enough cold water to measure 1 c. total. Add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until incorporated.

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently with heel of hand just enough to bring dough together. Roll out or pat into a 15 by 9-inch (approx.) rectangle. Arrange dough with short side nearest you, and then fold into thirds like a letter, to form a smaller rectangle. Roll out again and letter-fold one more time. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour and up to 6, or freeze until ready to use and defrost overnight in refrigerator.

Apple Filling
For each tart: Peel and core 1 med. apple (Fuji, Granny Smith, any good baking apple). Cut apple into 12 thin wedges. Put sauté pan on med heat and get hot. Add 2 T. sugar per apple to hot pan and stir until sugar melts and begins to brown around the edges. Add apple wedges and 1 t. butter per apple to pan. Stir apples and let cook over med. heat, stirring occasionally until apples are caramelized and just tender. Remove from heat and let cool.

To form Tarts:
Cut off 1/3 of dough and roll into a rectangle, approx. 7” wide by 28 “ long. Using a paper plate or plastic lid as a guide, cut out 4 circles, each approx. 7” in diameter. Remove excess dough and chill for future use.

Refrigerate circles until ready to fill and bake.

For each tart arrange 12 slices of apple around circle of dough, starting ¾ inch in from edge and filling the middle attractively. Bring up edges of dough to cover the outside edges of the apple slices, leaving most of apples exposed. Brush edges of crust with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees approx. 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. Top of apples can be brushed with cider jelly to finish.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Quark Ice Cream by Ariel's' Restaurant, Brookfield, VT

2 C. heavy cream
1 C. whole milk
8 oz. Vermont Quark
1 t. salt
1 vanilla bean or 2 t. good vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
1 C. sugar, divided

In a heavy bottomed 1 ½ qt. saucepan whisk together cream, milk, quark, salt, ½ C. sugar and split vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Heat until mixture bubbles around the edges. Turn off heat and let sit ½ hour.

Whisk together egg yolks and rest of sugar in a med. stainless steel bowl until frothy and slightly thickened. Slowly whisk in cream mixture. Place ice cream base in the stainless steel bowl over a pot of boiling water(make sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water). Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thick enough to just coat a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and strain mixture into a clean bowl or container. Chill overnight. Freeze in ice cream freezer, according to directions. Makes approx. 1 ½ qts. ice cream.

For herb flavors: When heating the cream mixture add approx ¼ C. chopped herbs, eg: tarragon, basil, lavender buds, lemon thyme. Let herbs infuse for 1 hour, strain before adding cream mixture to yolks.
Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes by Ariel's' Restaurant, Brookfield, VT

3 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 ½ C. heavy cream
1 C. whole milk
3 T. flour
5 oz. crumbled Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese(can be made with other Vermont cheeses)
2 t. salt
½ T. ground black pepper

Butter bottom of baking dish (approx. 12”X16” brownie or lasagne pan, pref.ceramic or stainless steel). Mix all ingredients except potatoes in large bowl. Add potato slices, mix well and let soak 10-15 minutes. Layer potato slices in casserole, making sure to place some cheese crumbles in between the layers. Pour cream mixture over potatoes and push potatoes down so that they are well covered. Place a layer of plastic wrap tighly over potatoes, then cover with aluminum foil. Place in oven and bake, covered, approx. 1 hour or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Uncover potatoes and allow to brown, approx. 15 minutes more. Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting in squares . Reheat before serving.
Brandied Blue Cheese Compound Butte by Ariel's' Restaurant, Brookfield, VTr

8 serviings

6 oz. sweet butter, at room temp
2 oz. Blue cheese, grated or crumbled
1 T. chopped parsley
2 T. good brandy or cognac
2 t. Malden salt

Mash butter in a small bowl. Add rest of ingredients and mash together with a spoon until well combined. Roll into a cylinder in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour. Slice and place on meat, heat briefly to serve.
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