It's been five years since Top Chef season 5, and now Ariane is the chef/owner of a four-star restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey aptly named 'CulinAriane'. She's also the brand ambassador of Finlandia Cheese Inc., a New Jersey-based brand of dairy products, and also one of the most popular brands in the global dairy industry.
“One of my real secrets is knowing that all cheese is not created equal,” advises Ariane. “Whether I’m choosing ingredients for the restaurant or for my family, quality is my first concern. So when I’m choosing cheese, I prefer Finlandia®. Regardless of the cheese type, all Finlandia cheeses are all natural, hormone-free and naturally lactose-free, and I especially like the superior taste and end results when used in my recipes.”
Today, my friends and readers are in for a treat as I share with you these recipes created by Chef Ariane Duarte. They're some of my favorite comfort food, and they're perfect for chilly, blustery days (like today).
3 c cooked elbow noodles
1 small onion diced
2t garlic minced
2 T butter
3c skimmed milk
3/4c cottage cheese
4 packages sliced Finlandia Swiss, Light Swiss or Lacey Swiss (cut into small dices)
1T chipotle peppers, pureed
salt & pepper
seasoned bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a blender, add skim milk and cottage cheese. Blend until smooth.
3. Add butter in a sauce pot, and once hot add onion and garlic.
4. Add flour, mix well and then add milk mixture. Stir and let thicken for about 7 -10 minutes.
5. Add chipotle pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Add cheeses and cooked pasta. Mix well and put into a casserole dish.
7. Top with bread crumbs.
8. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
Ariane says: I love macaroni and cheese and this contemporary twist on the classic combines three distinct cheeses with the subtle smokiness of chipotle peppers. Finlandia Swiss cheese is essential to the recipe because of the creamy and full-bodied flavor it imparts. I was inspired to add cottage cheese to the recipe because it also adds even more creaminess, but without the calories and it provides a lot of protein, too. The cheeses are the perfect counterpoint to the sharpness of the peppers and the full cheese flavor delivers the comforting texture that gives the nostalgic dish its staying power.