In a couple of weeks we will be staying in a cottage with friends and so this wasn't simply something for the forum but I have made a few additional variations. Obviously the cheese will need some time for the flavours to infuse and mature so this is just the preparatory steps...
What I will prepare are two different herb coated cheeses (which I will not smoke) and some good old mature cheddar which I will cover in my usual BBQ rub.
The herb cheeses will be split into two batches. One with fresh herbs and the other with dried herbs.
The cheeses are:
Left - Wookey Hole cave age matured cheddar. This is one I regularly smoke and so I have something to compare the end result to
Top right - Olde York Artisan soft sheep cheese. You see it here with a wax coat but this will be removed. The cheese has the texture of a good Feta
Bottom right - Soignon Goat Log - sliced
Fresh herbs - A mixture of basil, coriander and flat leaved parsley
These are placed in the oven at 100F (40C) for about 2 hours to remove some of the moisture. They are left until the leaf tips are crumbly for about 1/3 of their length however they are still pliable and the stems moist. The herbs are then chopped and mixed and then put back in the oven for another 30 minutes.
When finished they are still a little moist but do not resemble dried herbs.
The dried herb mix is produced by simply mixing shop bought dried herbs
As JJ mentioned the cheese will pick up the smells and flavours of whatever they are in contact with. I am trying this with both my normal "fresh" moisture reduced and commercial dried herbs to see if there is much difference in the strength of flavour. I have not tried comparing before so it will be interesting to see.
For the cheddar I prepared one of my favourite rubs with everything apart from the salt. Yes in the end I decided to keep the sugar in just to see what it was like!
Ground black pepper
dry mustard powder
light brown sugar
This I sieved this over all surfaces of the cheddar slices. I only used a dusting as the favour is very intense
The soft cheeses I split into two batches. One was covered in the fresh herbs and the other with the dried herbs. The surface of the cheese is lightly coated in olive oil first to get the herbs to adhere. Fresh herbs on the left and dried herbs on the right.
Soft cheeses wrapped ready for maturing in the fridge
The cheddar has been split into two batches. Two pieces have been wrapped and will go into the fridge unsmoked (bottom) and three pieces are now in the smoker and will come out at about 9pm tonight (UK time)
There will not be much more to show for a week or so. I was contemplating putting a webcam in the fridge so that you could all stay riveted watching it mature live - however I realised you would only be able to see anything when the door was opened and the light came on...