I think when you are a food lover you develop food crushes if you will. I have quite a few but one I make no secret of is for my love of Tillamook cheese. I used to buy it in Phoenix but since I move to the Pacific Northwest the variety that is offered far exceeds what I had in Phoenix. Though I must admit out of all their cheeses I am still in love the most with their classic Sharp Cheddar. Swoon.
So imagine my excitement when I learned that there was a Tillamook cookbook. Yes, that’s right, a cookbook. One that is dedicated to all things cheese, and more importantly Tillamook cheese. It’s not a skinny one either (just shy of 200 pages).
Sure it has recipes (we will get to that) but what I really found helpful was the Northwest Wine and Cheese Pairing section. I must admit that I am less than stellar with pairing foods with wine so I love the fact that they tell you which type of wines go best with what types of cheese. It almost makes me want to throw a cheese and wine party!
There is a little bit about the history of Tillamook along with a recipe for making your own homemade White Cheddar Cheese. I have only ever made ricotta so the thought of that sounds really interesting. Now all I have to do is get my hands on a ½ Junket of rennet tablet (any ideas???). It makes 2.6 pounds of cheese so the other problem would be to figure out how to store all that cheese! But I thought it was a fun touch to the book and something you don’t see a lot in most cookbooks.
There are your basics that you would think of when you think of a cheese cookbook. Your fondues (Cheddar and Beer….I will be making that for Superbowl Sunday when the Cards play!  Go Cards!). Your macaroni and cheeses (there is an entire section on just mac and cheese). They have the standard ones and some not so standard ones (Truffle-Scented Mac and Cheese with Crisped Pancetta anyone?). But all in all this cookbook had far more surprises than what I expected. Which of course is a good thing. Cheese and Seafood Enchiladas. Ole! Grilled Cheddar and BBQ Pork Sandwiches (again I am thinking this for Superbowl). Grilled Polenta Torta for the vegetarians in your life (or just the veggie lover). Savory Southwestern Bread Pudding would make a great side. The Grilled Cheddar and Apple Sandwich sounds like a great lunch. And let us not forget dessert (though that was by far the smallest section :( ). Now before you go yuck, remember that cheese does go nicely in a lot of desserts and also keep in mind that Tillamook is a Dairy. So they make butter and ice cream as well.
I will be posting a recipe in the coming weeks of one of the things I made from the book, but in this post I decided I would make a tribute recipe. It’s a bit unusual, but then again, so am I. It’s an appetizer and a snack food, just in time for the up coming Superbowl (Go Cards!)
I made mashed potatoes. I added lots of Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I added a little horseradish sauce and a little sour cream. I mashed that into the back of some large shrimp. I rolled the shrimp first in rice flour and then in crushed potato chips and then deep fried them. Yum. Yum. I served them with at BBQ Ranch dipping sauce but you could dip them in whatever you like.
So the moral of the story is this. If you are a cheese lover and have not had Tillamook. Go find some and eat some. If you like to cook and bake with cheese, go buy this book.

Potato Chip Crusted Tillamook Cheesy Mashed Potato Stuffed Shrimp

1 large Russet potato, peeled, boiled, and then cubbed
1 heaping cup Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
1 tsp horseradish sauce (or more depending on how much heat you want)
1/3 cup sour cream (hey, guess what, Tillamook makes that too)
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups rice flour
2 cups finely crushed potato chips (I used Ruffles because that is what was in the house)
oil for frying (I used canola)

In a deep fryer or deep pot, heat up oil to 375 degrees.

Place potato into a mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer). Using the paddle attachment, beat on low for about 30 seconds. Add cheese, horseradish sauce and sour cream. Beat on medium until completely combined. If your potatoes don’t seem creamy enough you can add more sour cream. Set aside.
Butterfly shrimp.
Using your hands (so make sure they are clean ;) ) stuff and mold the potato mixture into the back of the shrimp. It holds about 2 TBSP of filling depending on your definition of jumbo shrimp. Do this to all of the shrimp.
In three shallow bowls, place the beaten eggs in one. Place the rice flour in another. Place the crushed potato chips in another.
Carefully dip shrimp into eggs, then into rice flour. Back into egg, then back into rice flour. One last dip into the eggs and then finally coat with crushed potato chips. Repeat with all of the shrimp.
Fry in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Fry for about 1 minute then flip over shrimp with thongs to see if it is browning. When one side is brown, flip over and let the other side brown.
Remove shrimp from oil with both sides are brown, about 2-4 minutes depending on how hot your oil has gotten.
Place on paper towels to soak up the grease. Serve hot so that the cheese is oozy inside the shrimp. Serve with BBQ Ranch dip or sauce of your choice.

BBQ Ranch Dip

1(1 ounce) envelope of Ranch dressing mix
1 1/2 cups sour cream
4 TBSP barbecue sauce

Whisk together all three ingredients. Place in bowl and serve.

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