Making a Cheese Basket

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    Making a Cheese Basket

    A Cheese Basket, Filled with Risotto
    A Cheese Basket, Filled with Risotto. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    A cheese basket is a bowl or dish made out of cheese that you can fill with pasta (with a not-too-liquid sauce), risotto, gnocchi, or even stew.

    Cheese baskets are easy to make, and make a beautiful presentation; they're nice for a change of pace and perfectly suited to a romantic occasion. Here we have a cheese basket filled with risotto, made by Mirko Margheri, Chef of Florence's Ristorante Oliviero (in Via delle Terme, behind Santa Trinita).

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  • 02 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: What You'll Need

    Making a cheese basket: You'll need...
    Making a cheese basket: You'll need... © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    To make a cheese basket you need a burner, cheese, a pristine non-stick frying pan about 9 inches (22 cm) in diameter, a pair of Teflon tongs that won't scratch the frying pan, and a cup or bowl to lay the cheese over.

    If the pan is pristine, you won't need either butter or oil to keep the cheese from sticking.

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  • 03 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: The Cheese?

    Making a Cheese Basket: Weighing the Cheese
    Making a Cheese Basket: Weighing the Cheese. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Mirko uses moderately aged (18 months) Parmigiano or Grana Padano, but any firm grating cheese will work, including Montasio, aged pecorino Sardo or Toscano, or pecorino Romano (what's known as Romano in the US).

    What's important is that the cheese not ​be overly moist, or be filante -- i.e. a cheese that strings out when heated, along the lines of Mozzarella, Jack, or Fontina.

    Mirko says that grateable goat's milk cheeses work especially well because of their fat content.

    You'll...MORE need about 65 grams of grated cheese, which translates into about 1 1/4 cups, or a couple of handfuls; after you've made a few cheese baskets you'll simply go by eye.

    Mirko notes that you can add flavorings to the cheese, provided they not be too moist: Poppy seeds, for example, or red pepper flakes, or even finely minced parsley.

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  • 04 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: Sprinkle the Cheese

    Making a Cheese Basket: Sprinkle the Cheese
    Making a Cheese Basket: Sprinkle the Cheese. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Heat the skillet over a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes. You want it to be hot but not searing. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the pan.

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  • 05 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: By the Time You're Done Sprinkling...

    Making a Cheese Basket: By the time you're done sprinkling it will begin to melt.
    Making a Cheese Basket: By the time you're done sprinkling it will begin to melt. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    By the time you have finished sprinkling the cheese it will have begun to melt, especially around the edges.

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  • 06 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: Continue Heating...

    Making a Cheese Basket: Let the cheese melt completely and cook
    Making a Cheese Basket: Let the cheese melt completely and cook. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    The cheese will begin to bubble.

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  • 07 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: Continue Heating, And When it Begins to Brown...

    Making a Cheese Basket: When the edges brown, use tongs to separate them from the pan.
    Making a Cheese Basket: When the edges brown, use tongs to separate them from the pan. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Around the edges, use the tongs to separate the cheese a little from the sides of the pan.

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  • 08 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: The Middle Will Begin to Tan

    Making a Cheese Basket: The cheese is ready when the center begins to tan.
    Making a Cheese Basket: The cheese is ready when the center begins to tan. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Another few seconds and the cheese in the middle of the pan will begin to tan. You don't want it to brown but simply color some.

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  • 09 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: Drape the Cheese

    Making a Cheese Basket: Drape the cheese over a cup or bowl
    Making a Cheese Basket: Drape the cheese over a cup or bowl. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    At this point, tip the skillet so the cheese flows out, it will come as a sheet, and drape it, browned side up, over a bowl or cup.

    Mirko used a round straight-sided cup 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter and about the same high, but you can use any shape you want. The sheet will set in about 15 seconds, at which point you can lift it off the cup.

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  • 10 of 10

    Making a Cheese Basket: Done!

    Making a Cheese Basket: Done!
    Making a Cheese Basket: Done!. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    The first basket's done, and now you can make the next.

    In terms of time required, you'll need 3 to 4 minutes per basket.

    What to fill them with? A few suggestions:

    Buon Appetito!