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Abrazos! xox Penny

Monday, June 21, 2010

A cheesy moment

Actually, I could use "baked and fried" to describe how I feel on this first "official" day of summer. Just opening the kitchen door takes my breath away. It is hot out there and supposed to reach 108 heat index again today. Summers where I grew up called for a little sweater in the evening. One of my friends here informed me that it was still 94 degrees at 1 a.m. and definitely not sweater weather! Oh well, despite the heat...Happy Summer!

I have made a fun veggie discovery...zucchini fries that are baked and they are a perfectly delicious addition to a Meatless Monday meal. But, before sharing that recipe, here is what caught my eye on a grocery store run this weekend...a sign prominently displayed among wheels of cheese that read "Lactose-Free Cheese". Stopped me in my tracks. There are a lot of people who cheese it up on Meatless Monday and a lot of people who have problems with cheese who can't. So, what's the scoop?

Lactose is the carbohydrate sugar found in all dairy milk, cow's, sheep's and goat's, and it is usually the culprit. Many people are lactose intolerant. And so, the "lactose-free" sign is a tricky enticement. Eater, be smart!! All milks have roughly the same amount of lactose, but goat's and sheep's milks are naturally homogenized and therefore, the curd is softer and easier to digest, making the remaining lactose easier to handle.

Interestingly enough, a good portion of the lactose is in the whey which is discarded in almost all cheeses except the softer ones like ricotta and cream cheese. And so, for the most part, most cheese is very low in lactose. About 90% plus gets tossed with the whey. The moister, fresher and younger cheeses have the highest percentage of remaining lactose.The longer a cheese ages and ripens, the harder, less moist it becomes and the fewer traces of lactose remain. In really hard, mature cheeses like Parmesan, the leftover lactose is negligible. It seems that a lot people actually can tolerate cheese, especially harder ones, in small amounts. This is really interesting to me and I am going to slice through some more cheese and keep going with this on a later post!

Until then, here is a cheesy recipe everyone should be able to enjoy!! These are fabulous with a spoonful of Tropical Sals-up from last week.

Zucchini "Fries"

2/3 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs seasoned with Italian herbs like basil and oregano (I make my own with 1 slice whole grain bread and a handful of Kettle Brand potato chips...I like those and will do a post on them later, too)  
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 medium zucchini (about 1-1 1/2 pounds)

Preheat oven to 425 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash zucchini and slice into strips. Beat egg until blended and add milk. Combine cheese and breadcrumbs. 

Dip zucchini strips into egg-milk mix, let the excess drip off and then roll in cheese-breadcrumb mix. This does get messy and I had to "pat" some of the breadcrumbs on. Place in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake 20-25 minutes or until golden. Turn once. Serves 4-6. 

1 comment:

  1. Great point about the "lactose-free" cheese, Penny -- milk doesn't always agree with me, but I have no problem with cheese, probably because it's already naturally so low in lactose. I really think that lactose-free label is a marketing ploy.