Photography: Hirsheimer & Hamilton/Courtesy Postcard Communications

You’ll find these dishes from Cowgirl Creamery are meltingly good.

Cowgirl Creamery’s Peggy Smith and Sue Conley had considered writing a cookbook for years. However, the duo first wanted to be sure their company would be around for a while. “Until we could really prove to ourselves that it was a viable business, we didn’t think it was a good idea to write about it,” Conley says. Chronicle Books’ former editorial director Bill LeBlond, however, knew they were going to be a hit before they did.

“Chronicle Books has always wanted to do [a cookbook with us]. They’ve been asking us to do one for the last 10 years,” says Conley. “Bill LeBlond took us out to lunch once a year to try to convince us. He finally talked us into it.”

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks charts the cowgirls’ journey from their greenhorn days and highlights the folks who have made it all possible. In chapters divided by cheese types, you’ll find cultured delights that showcase cheeses in entrees, side dishes, and for a dinner party cheese course. Particularly compelling are recipes for cloud-weight cottage cheese pancakes topped with crème fraîche and strawberries as well as the cowgirls’ take on classic mac and cheese, both of which are featured here.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Crème Fraîche and Strawberries

(Serves 4, makes 16 – 20 3-inch pancakes)

1 pint strawberries, halved
½ cup sugar
6 eggs, separated
½ cup whole milk
1½ cups cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Vegetable oil for the griddle
Crème fraîche for accompaniment

In a medium pan, toss the berries and sugar over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick. Add the milk and beat for another 30 seconds. Gently fold in the cottage cheese.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and sugar, and pour into the cheese mixture, stirring lightly.

With an electric mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they are stiff but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the batter, just until combined.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Ladle ¼ cup of the batter onto the hot griddle for each pancake, leaving space between pancakes. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes, and then flip.

When done, spoon on berries and crème fraîche and serve.

Photography: Hirsheimer & Hamilton/Courtesy Postcard Communications
Photography: Hirsheimer & Hamilton/Courtesy Postcard Communications

Classic Mac and Cheese

(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2½ cups whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
12 ounces pasta (elbow or corkscrew)
1½ cups panko or fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or other cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and butter a 3-quart baking dish. Set a large pot of unsalted water over high heat.

While the water heats, melt the butter in a large saucepan. When the butter has finished foaming, stir in the flour, whisking until the flour takes on a little color, about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the milk slowly, while whisking continuously. Return the pan to medium heat. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken (about 5 minutes) and then take the pan off the heat again; stir in the cream, mustard, and ¾ of the cheese. Stir in the salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the hot sauce. Set the sauce aside.

Cook the pasta just until al dente. Drain (don’t rinse) and quickly stir the pasta into the cheese sauce, and then pour into the prepared pan, scraping all the cheese sauce into the dish. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the pasta. Sprinkle the panko over the cheese, and sprinkle the Parmesan on top of that.

Bake until the mixture is bubbling on the edges and showing some golden brown color on top, 25 – 35 minutes. Let the dish cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Recipes excerpted from Cowgirl Creamery Cooks (Chronicle Books, 2013), and adapted from the March 2014 issue. Read more about Cowgirl Creamery here.


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