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Cooking with Cheese? Learn from my Tragedy.

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Cooking with Cheese? Learn from my Tragedy.

Niki Rothman | Jun 16, 2006 11:03 AM

I had about a pound of excellent leftover steamed salmon. What to do? What to do? Thought I'd make a stovetop egg noodle, saute-ed in butter trinity, peas, melted cheese, salmon thingie. Sort of a more sophisticated version of tuna noodle casserole. Had some excellent (expensive) extra sharp cheddar, excellent fresh-grated parmesan, and I thought: what the heck - add just a little bit of that Trader Joe's low-fat meunster (which my husband likes for grilled cheese sandwiches). Here's where the alarm bells and flashing red lights should have started going off.

After all, I've advised people here to avoid cooking with low-fat cheeses a number of times. I knew very well that when low-fat cheese heats up it doesn't really melt as much as turn into soft rubber. But somehow I thought if I just added a little bitty bit everything would be fine. Oh, no. Everything was NOT fine. I used about a pound of full fat cheese and maybe 4 ounces of low-fat cheese. And it wasn't that I heated it up too hot - because that will also cause even full fat cheese to rubberize sometimes. I had it on a very low flame ever so briefly, at the last moment, just to melt the cheese.

But as soon as I stirred the pot, something horrible happened. Instead of getting all melty and wonderful, the hot cheeses started to coalesce into something evil. The now rubbery, cheesy mess started to cling to the chopped vegetables and the salmon, forming large, firm, rubbery lumps from hell. The result was cooked noodles, a watery, salty white liquid, and the big lumps from hell. The 4 ounces of low-fat meunster somehow negated the positive effects of the pound of full fat cheese - infecting it like some deadly virus, or that 50's movie "The Blob" where that blob from space just absorbs everything in its path turning it into more blob.

Learn from my tragedy, chowhound chefs, and please, promise me you will never, ever, cook with low-fat cheese again.

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