Where would we be without milk and dairy food? Dairy is a primary source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It is also an excellent source of protein and other vitamins and minerals. Cows are not the only animals raised for milk production. Many global cuisines feature milk products from sheep, goats, and even camels. Some Asian cultures consume horse milk.

In America, most milk products come from dairy cows. Dairy farming has been a venerable business in our country since colonial times. States such as California, Wisconsin, and New York are renowned for their dairy farms and milk products.

Over eighty years ago, Congress declared June as National Dairy Month. It celebrates milk and the plethora of delicious dairy products made from it. At first, whole milk has a layer of heavy cream, which is used alone or processed into other tasty treats. Further processing gives us delicious butter and buttermilk. 

Perhaps by accident, people discovered the advantages of fermented milk. Over time, they created creamy delicacies such as sour cream, yogurt, and cheese. When mixed with cream, eggs, sugar, and then frozen, it becomes ice cream.

With so many dairy products and regional variations, it would be nearly impossible to list them all. Try to imagine any of your favorite foods or recipes without at least one dairy product; your list would be quite limited.

Dairy gives food the comforting, creamy texture that our taste buds crave. It is used to thicken liquids, bind other ingredients in a recipe, or lend a delicate flavor. Cheese has its own subcategory of near limitless styles and tastes. Many international recipes use luscious cheese as a star ingredient.

The versatility of dairy food earns it a coveted spot in your cooking repertoire. It can be used for any dish imaginable, from appetizers to desserts. Dairy can enhance ingredients for a spicy curry or provide a creamy base for the ultimate cheesecake. With a little research, you can discover fascinating and delicious dairy recipes from around the world. It is an excellent way to teach your children about healthy dairy products and other cultures.

This June, celebrate National Dairy Month by trying a new dairy product, or an international recipe that features dairy. Of course, nothing is as satisfying as warm, homemade cookies and a cold glass of milk! Consider some of these innovative dairy-based recipes for your next meal.

Creamy Leek & Mushroom Soup

This warm, comforting soup is a unique blend of three mushroom varieties, savory leeks, and a spice blend of garlic and sweet dill. The flavorful broth has a creamy base of milk, heavy whipping cream, and chicken stock. It is ready to serve to your family in less than an hour. 

Southern Cheddar Corn Cakes

Savor the taste of hot fritters off the grill, loaded with sweet kernels of corn and zesty red bell pepper. After you fry the cakes to golden perfection, sprinkle them with shredded cheddar cheese, and pop them into the oven until the cheese is melted. Top them with a simple arugula salad and serve toasty warm.

South African Bobotie

Introduce your family to the unique tastes of South African cuisine with this national favorite. Bobotie is a sweet and savory casserole-style dish that has minced lamb (or beef), onions, garlic, and aromatic spices. The sweetness comes from apples, dried apricots, and golden raisins. It is topped with a layer of creamy custard.

Savory Cheesecake

Decadent cheesecakes are not just for dessert anymore! This savory recipe has a luscious filling of three different kinds of cheese, sour cream, Dijon mustard, and flavorful spices. The sweet and spicy crust features crushed pecans, dried cherries, crackers, spices, and a touch of cayenne. It bakes in less than an hour. Try this cheesecake as part of a tasty brunch menu, or as an elegant snack.

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad

Instead of the usual mayonnaise dressing, this Greek-inspired chicken salad uses a mixture of tangy Greek yogurt and mashed avocado. In each bite, you get tender chunks of chicken, chopped pecans, grapes, dried cranberries, chopped celery, and sweet tarragon. Serve it as a hearty sandwich filling or on a bed of lettuce.

English Cottage Cheese Rolls

Who would have guessed that cottage cheese could be so versatile? Even with your busy schedule, you can make this airy, delicious bread in about an hour. Along with the cottage cheese, it has five other ingredients that you already have in your pantry. With just the right touch of sweetness, the walnuts add a satisfying crunch. 

Norwegian Sour Cream Porridge

Here is a delightful Norwegian comfort food that hails back to the days of the Vikings. It is easy to make with sour cream, milk, flour, and some sweet spices from your pantry. The dairy components give the porridge a velvety texture, while the flour thickens it. Warm butterfat rises to the top, and mixes with generous sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon.

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