So. San Francisco & Modesto – May 24, 2012 – Latin-style cuisine is on the rise. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), nearly half of the consumers surveyed (48 percent) said they cook Mexican food at home and it’s predicted that the Mexican/Hispanic food segment will continue to grow moderately (2 percent annually) through 2016. (Mintel, 2010).
With Latin culture so much a part of California’s past and present, it makes sense that the state is not only the number one dairy state but also the country’s leading producer of Hispanic-style cheeses and dairy products. There are over two dozen types of Hispanic-style cheeses that carry the Real California Cheese seal, certifying they are natural cheeses made in California exclusively from California milk. With the wide variety of California-made Hispanic dairy products from fresh crema and drinkable yogurt to fresh cheeses, melting cheeses and aged cheeses appearing in grocery stores, it’s not surprising that the home cook might be confused as to how to best use these versatile ingredients.
“Dairy is very important in the Latin culture because it not only offers flavor and authenticity but also serves as an affordable source of protein,” says Latina food blogger, Nicole Marie Presley of PresleysPantry.com. “With the availability of authentic Hispanic-style dairy products in almost every grocery store, it’s so easy to meld Latin and American cultures to create delicious results.”
The CMAB has assembled recipes, usage tips, trends and experts to illustrate the versatility and delicious flavor of Hispanic-style dairy products for both Latin-influenced and American dishes. When using Hispanic-style dairy products keep these tips in mind:
- Fresh cheeses, like Queso Blanco, Queso Fresco and Panela, soften when heated but don’t melt, so you can use them to make dishes like chiles rellenos with a soft, creamy filling that won’t run out onto the plate.
- Melting cheeses, like Queso Quesadilla, Oaxaca and Asadero, are creamy and mild, excellent for eating as a snack. They’re the preferred cheeses for quesadillas, queso fundido and tacos, but they’re also great for topping burgers and pizza.
- Hard cheeses like Cotija can be crumbled or grated for a garnish, or mixed into a casserole or sauce for added flavor.
- Crema (also called Crema Mexicana) is very versatile and can be used as a sauce, a base for sweet or savory flavors or drizzled on top of spicy ingredients to cut the heat.
From non-traditional uses such as pizzas and lasagnas to more typical dishes like zesty enchiladas and tacos, Real California Hispanic-style cheeses and dairy products lend rich, creamy flavor and authenticity to Latin influenced dishes.
Viva Hispanic-style dairy!