A Peek Inside the Cheesemonger's Kitchen

I have a secret.

Sometimes when I need a recipe or inspiration on how to prepare a certain ingredient there is generally one person I turn to. He is a chef and he always has the answers I’m looking for.

I have another secret.

I love cheese.

Here is where these two secrets meet: I am often looking for a new and creative way to cook with cheese. It just so happens my friend with all of the answers, Chester Hastings, is coming out with a book from Chronicle Books. The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen: Cooking with the World’s Finest Cheeses is exactly what I have been waiting for.

In honor of springtime and Chester’s upcoming book here is a sneak peek at a recipe from The Cheesemonger’s Kitchen.

Burrata with asparagus, pinenuts and golden raisins is so simple to prepare. Asparagus evokes springtime. Vibrant and crisp, it is a beautiful way to celebrate the season. The burrata is a delicate, creamy base for the warm, tender asparagus. The asparagus is lightly tossed with fruity olive oil, toasted pinenuts and succulent golden raisins. Top the asparagus salad with browned breadcrumbs for a nice crunch. Add a few strands of saffron and the whole dish is enlivened. This dish is light, fresh and uncomplicated.

Here is the recipe with an excerpt from the upcoming book:


The distinctly Sicilian combination of pine nuts, raisins and breadcrumbs is quickly becoming a classic all over the world. From light pastas with fried sardines and fennel, or fillings for swordfish or beefsteak rolls to lovely and light springtime fair such as this presentation of early April asparagus and fresh burrata cheese.

The addition of saffron, if used judiciously, adds a lovely perfume and an elegant effect if the threads are left whole.


2 balls fresh burrata, roughly 6 ounces each

1 bunch asparagus

2 tbsp toasted pinenuts

2 tbsp golden raisins

6 threads of saffron

½ cup best quality extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup bread crumbs

Cut the woody ends of the asparagus off and discard. Blanch the asparagus spears in plenty of salted boiling water until tender, just giving when pinched where the tip begins (do not overcook!). Shock the asparagus quickly in a bowl of ice water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Cut asparagus on the angle into pieces resembling penne pasta.

Soak the golden raisins in warm water for 5 minutes to re-hydrate, then drain and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked and cut asparagus with the pine nuts, re-hydrated raisins, saffron and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Heat 4 tbsp of the olive oil over a medium heat and add the breadcrumbs. Shake the pan vigorously over the heat, frying the breadcrumbs to a light and golden crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut the burrata balls in half and lay individual plates ‘skin side’ down. Divide the asparagus mixture among the burrata pieces and sprinkled the fried breadcrumbs over the top.

Drizzle with a bit more extra virgin olive oil and serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

*a thin slice of prosciutto di parma would be a welcome addition to this dish, simply served alongside or draped over the top to hide the jewel of a salad hidden underneath.


  1. Asparagus is a wonderful ingredient. Amazing vibrant photos. This is a well put together blog.

  2. Did you seriously not invite me over to share in the deliciousness?? I expect a hand written invitation next time :)

  3. Esi- You are always welcome to come over and share in the deliciousness! But your invitation is in the mail :)

  4. Oh, does this look divine! I love it and now it has me inspired!

  5. Lovely photos and recipe! So perfectly springtime and perfectly delicious.

  6. You had me at burrata. And then at asparagus and pine nuts. This looks delicious!

  7. wow looks so good and amazing picture

  8. i love the way you unravel your secrets with us hihihi..
    awesome pictures... definitely spells S P R I N G!

  9. Oh my goodness that burrata looks heavenly.

  10. Really this looks like something Mozza would serve. A beautiful spring dish. I love it and I can finally eat cheese now.

  11. What a delicious way to combine asparagus and these other ingredients!

  12. Jaime- I hope you are inspired to make this recipe you will love it!

    Cathy- Means a lot that you like the photos!

    Anna A- Yay for eating cheese again! Let's plan a dinner!

  13. Wow how lucky to be on the inside track! Thanks for the sneak peek I look forward to the book. And to reading this blog you are clearly a woman in the know!

  14. This is so amazing! I have never tasted burrata but have been seriously craving it, seeing it appear in other recipes as well - I'm so intrigued! I'm so happy it's asparagus season. 8-)

  15. I've been looking for room temperature appetizers that I can serve at my husband's grand opening party. This is App number 1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. XOXO

    Any more ideas? I have no ovens. I can prepare bring food to the place, which is only 5 minute drive so it needs to be cold or room temp when served.

  16. These are GORGEOUS! Did you submit them to Tastespotting? Because you should. I'd like to spot them. And then taste them! :)

  17. Wow how amazing! I'm looking forward to this book!

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  19. Oh, the saffron is a great touch. Love that with the raisins as well. Who woulda thunk?

  20. it looks so fresh and delicious! :)

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