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).
Finlandia Swiss Chipotle Mac & Cheese
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.
French Onion Soup with Finlandia Swiss Cheese
¼ c butter
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 t white sugar
1 T all purpose flour
2 ½ c water
½ c red wine
1 ½ cup condensed beef broth
1 French baguette, sliced thick
8 oz sliced Finlandia Swiss Cheese
1. Melt butter or margarine in a 4 quart saucepan. Stir in sugar.
2. Cook onions over medium heat for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
3. Stir in flour until well blended with the onions and pan juices and cook about 5 minutes.
4. Add water, wine, and beef broth; bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Cut four thick slices of bread from the loaf. Toast the bread slices until browned and crusty. Reserve the remaining bread to serve with the soup.
7. Ladle soup into four oven safe bowls. Place one slice of toasted bread on top of the soup in each bowl.
8. Cover top of bowl with Finlandia Cheese slice until it just falls over the edge.
9. Place soup bowls on a cookie sheet to avoid spills in the oven.
10. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or just until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Next week, I'll be sharing a few more recipes from Chef Ariane. In the meantime, you can check out the Finlandia Cheese website for more information and other recipes. Happy weekend eating! :)