In my younger years, I remember my dad regularly purchasing a jar with little cubes of cheese floating in an irresistibly seasoned marinated oil. I want to say that the cheese was blue cheese but I’ve always disliked the strong blue cheese flavor so either it became milder from sitting in the oil or it wasn’t blue cheese at all. *shrug* What I do remember is that these little cubes of goodness were amazingly delicious spread upon a whole wheat cracker. In the many, (*ahhhem* twenty), years since I’ve left home, I haven’t been able to find it in my local markets.
On a recent visit to my local middle eastern grocer I had the idea of making my own marinated cheese cubes. Feta seemed like the only reasonable choice. I love flavored feta and it would be delicious in a marinated oil similar to that I remember from my childhood. I optimistically purchased a 1 pound tub of plain feta cheese. I wasn’t actually brave enough to try the plain feta by itself. I let my husband’s taste buds do the tasting for me. My heart sort of sank when he said – with a look of disgust, “Ohhh, I don’t think that’s the kind of feta you meant to get.”, but after sampling it myself, I knew I had made the right decision.
I cut my plain feta in small 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes and layered them in a mason jar. As I was layering, I added the herbs and spices that I remember floating in that delicious marinaded cheese Dad used to buy! I added sprigs of fresh thyme, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, oregano and rosemary, then topped up the jar with a good aromatic olive oil, capped it, placed in the refrigerator. I waited a good week before I cracked it open again. *Note that the oil in the refrigerator gets a little bit cloudy – this is normal. As soon as you take it out and let it warm up just a tad, the oil returns to normal.
I was a little concerned, remembering my husband’s response to the plain feta, that it wouldn’t take on much of the marinated flavor but when I opened that jar a week later I was SO incredibly impressed with myself. It was so similar to the cheese I remember.
…and to think I waited 20 years to taste something I could so easily make myself!