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Posts Tagged ‘Cheese’

This weird looking thing is romanesco and it’s awesome.  I’m not a huge broccoli or cauliflower fan, but this is their more delicious sibling.  Plus, it’s probably the only nuclear green food without artificial ingredients.  I’ve only recently started cooking with it, and now can’t stop.  Mostly I’ve been roasting it, but it was fabulous in some roasted garlic aioli during the Super Bowl, and it’s really good on this pizza.

Romanesco Pizza a la Arugulove

Ingredients
1 pizza dough (this is my latest favorite recipe)
a couple heads of romanesco, broken up into florets
1 lemon, zested and juiced
a couple leeks, washed and thinly sliced
A bunch of kalamata olives, pitted and diced (I probably used about 1/3 of a cup before chopping)
A tablespoon or two of capers, chopped up a bit, if you can
A handful of fresh parsley, minced
4 ounces of goat cheese
Olive oil, salt & pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450.  Toss the romanesco in olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the leeks, and saute until soft, about 7-10 minutes.  Towards the end, add the lemon juice, and simmer until cooked off.  Place the olives, capers, and parsley in a bowl.  When the leeks are done, add those and mix together.  Spread out on the pizza dough.

At this point, I was tempted to bake and eat just like this.  I may do it too, for my next party.

But, this time, I persevered.  I pulled the romanesco out and spread it on the pizza.  Add the crumbled goat cheese and the lemon zest.  Stick it back in the oven and bake for another 12 minutes or so.  Pull out and enjoy with a glass of crisp rose or sauvignon blanc.

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These.

Cut up feta, cucumbers, and watermelon into cubes.  Put on skewers.  Eat.

Make lots because your guests will gobble them up.

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I have a girl crush on Ina Garten.  I want to move in with her, into her gorgeous house in the Hamptons, and cook and drink French wine with her and her friends every night.  We’ll pick fresh herbs from the garden, Michael will bring the flowers for our table setting, and Miguel will take the photos for my food blog.  Jeffrey is out of town most of the time, so surely she has room for one more, right?

Until that dream comes true, I will have to live out my fantasies making her recipes from my old kitchen in Berkeley.

This recipe of Ina’s is really good.  It’s fast and simple, since you can prep the other ingredients in the time it takes the pasta to cook.   It’s a really unusual combination, but it works.    When she made it on her show, she included cherry tomatoes.  While the Food Network website’s recipe doesn’t include the tomatoes, I did because I found a pint of this season’s first tomatoes at the farmers market.  I wouldn’t skip them – they add a sweetness that balances nicely with the pepper.  I also used penne instead of noodles because I think the tomatoes mix in a little better with shorter pastas.

Pasta with Pecorino and Pepper
Recipe by Ina Garten

Ingredients
1 tablespoon whole black Tellicherry peppercorns
1/2 pound dried pasta – I used penne, but Ina recommends an Italian egg pasta, such as tagliarelle
1 cup freshly grated aged Pecorino cheese (4 ounces), plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons heavy cream – I used half and half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter – I used about half that amount
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions
Place the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and crush them until you have a mixture of coarse and fine bits. (You can also grind them in a small food mill or coffee grinder.) Set aside.

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with salted water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package until al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, mince the parsley, grate the cheese, and halve the tomatoes.

 When the pasta is done cooking, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.  After you drain the pasta, return it to the pot.   

Working quickly, with the heat on very low, toss the pasta with 1/2 cup of the grated Pecorino, the crushed peppercorns, cream, butter, parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt, tossing constantly. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking water.  Once everything is combined, turn off the heat, and add the tomatoes and the remaining cheese.    Serve immediately with a big bowl of extra grated Pecorino for sprinkling.

And because at Ina’s house, no meal is complete without a glass of wine, I served it with some lovely sauvignon blanc from St. Supery.  How bad can that be?

 

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The best thing about spring is that I get to make this salad.  I adore it.  Fresh peas are absolutely amazing, and this salad has lots of them.  Freshly shelled and left raw, they are sweet and crunchy and perfect with the spinach, feta, and lemony dressing.

The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef cookbook.  Like most Jamie Oliver recipes, it’s pretty relaxed and not very precise.  Just toss a few handfuls of baby spinach with a handful of fresh shelling peas and crumble some fresh feta over it.  To dress, mix one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt, and some freshly cracked pepper and whisk together.  Toss the dressing over the salad and you are good to go.

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I think I have made up for my food blog neglect with preparing one of the most labor intensive dishes I’ve ever made.  This dish was really good and it makes a ton, so it was worth the work.  Shelling that many favas takes a while, but my DVR was filled with Glee and the Good Wife, so I set to work shelling while catching up.

Ravioli Stuffed with Fava Beans, Ricotta, and Mint
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
Makes about 3-4 dozen

3 cups shelled fresh fava beans (3 pounds in pods)
10 ounces ricotta cheese, drained in a sieve (I used homemade)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Coarse salt

Pasta Dough – I used the recipe that came with my Kitchenaid pasta attachment

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add beans. Cook approximately 1-2 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water to cool.  Remove the beans from the skin. 

Place about 2 cups of the beans in the food processor and pulse.   Add the parmesan and ricotta, mint, lemon juice, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Refrigerate filling at least 1 hour (up to 2 days).   At this point, it would be a really yummy spread.

Roll out the dough however you prefer.  If you’ve got the Kitchenaid attachment, I rolled mine out to the 5th setting.

Dust 2 rimmed baking sheets with cornmeal or flour and set aside.  Place 1 piece of pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface (keep unused pieces covered). Space heaping tablespoons of filling  evenly across the sheet.  Using a wet pastry brush, moisten pasta around each mound of filling. Fold top half of sheet over filling to meet edge; press around mounds to eliminate air and to seal.

Cut pasta into 2 1/2- to 3-inch squares and place on dusted baking sheets.  Roll out remaining pasta dough, and repeat. (If serving that day, cover ravioli with plastic wrap, and refrigerate on baking sheets until ready to use. If making ahead, freeze on baking sheets until firm, about 1 hour, and then transfer to an airtight container; freeze until ready to use, up to 1 month.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt.  Cook at a gentle boil until ravioli are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer to a colander using a slotted spoon; drain.  

To serve, I heated a couple tablespoons of butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and added the remaining fava beans.  I gently tossed in some of the ravioli and served it up with grated parmesan.  I enjoyed the fruits of my labor with a Napa Sauvignon Blanc – perfection.

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 So, here’s something you probably don’t know about me.  I’m obsessed with cults.  I once toured the Scientology mansion in DC just to get a look around and when the Texas Department of Child Services invaded that polygamist ranch, I was glued to CNN.  So when this article appeared in the East Bay Express a few months ago, linking a local raw food restaurant with a cult like organization, I was totally intrigued.  I still haven’t been to the restaurant yet and I’ve heard it’s very good, but I think I’d be too intrigued by watching out for cult things to care about the raw food.

If you don’t want your salad to come with a side of brainwashing, you can make your own.  Now, this has parmesan cheese, which probably isn’t raw.  But the asparagus is, which is unusual but totally delicious.  If you are used to roasted asparagus, this tastes nothing like that.  It’s fresh and mellow.  The cheese adds richness and the lemon makes it tangy and bright.

Grating the asparagus was a little tricky.  Don’t snap the ends off the asparagus before you grate.  I made that mistake and then had nothing to grip on to when I was using the vegetable peeler to shred it.  Either way, I imagine it will take a bit of time, but since it’s really the only thing you need to do, the recipe is fairly quick to throw together.   The recipe makes a ton – I made about a half a pound of asparagus and adjusted accordingly, since it was just my husband and me.

Shaved Raw Asparagus with Parmesan Dressing
Recipe by Mario Batali and adapted from the April 2010 Food & Wine

Ingredients
2 pounds large asparagus
1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (3 ounces)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into long, thin strips and transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix the Parmigiano-Reggiano with the lemon juice, water and olive oil. Add to the asparagus and toss to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper and serve at once.

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This is my last Dark Days post.  I think a few die hards might be going one more week but this will be it for me.  So, I wanted to go out with a bang.  On Saturday at the farmers market I picked up some gorgeous asparagus.

and I got some of these…chanterelles.

I decided to make a savory bread pudding.  There’s a few of these recipes floating around and all winter I had in my head that I’d make a butternut squash one.  That never happened, so this is the spring version.  Because I blew all my cash on those chanterelles, I wasn’t able to get my cheese at the farmers market.  So I stopped by the grocery store on the way home in search of local cheese.  They had an aged, nutty goat cheese from Cypress Grove, which is in Northern California.  I  thought would be lovely.  Except now, I just went to their site to get the name of the cheese, only to learn that this particular cheese is made in Europe for Cypress Grove.  Gahhhh.  If I had known that, I would have just gone for gruyere.  Oh well, it was just four ounces.

This all came together really easily.  Nothing here is too precise and I think it’s fairly hard to screw up.  Just stale bread, a custard batter, cheese, and vegetables.  Simple and hearty.

Asparagus and Mushroom Bread Pudding
Recipe inspired by Epicurious and 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients
1 1-pound loaf  bread, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.  I used Acme’s pain au levain, an earthy sourdough type of bread.
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 shallot, leek, or spring onion, thinly sliced
6 large eggs
2 cups whole milk (I used one cup skim and one cup half and half because that’s what was in my fridge)
1-2 cups finely grated cheese, idealy gruyere or some aged, nutty cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Directions

 So warm and hearty and satisfying.  We drank a lovely Sonoma chardonnay with it.  Perfect early spring dinner. 

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Once, when I first started cooking, I made a spinach pie recipe that involved a phyllo sheet crust.  That damn crust was the hardest thing ever.  Of course, I didn’t have a pastry brush back then, so I was smearing the butter on with a spoon and made a giant mess.  But for years and years after, I didn’t make anything with puff pastry because I thought it was the same thing as phyllo and I was never, ever going to repeat my phyllo experience.

At some point, I figured out that puff pastry are phyllo are night and day.  Puff pastry is one of the easiest things ever.  I have not gotten over my fear of phyllo, but I’m quite happy to have cured myself of the confusion.

This recipe is delicious.  It was super easy and a perfect appetizer with wine.  The original recipe called for feta, but I used parmesan.  My friend said how much he liked gorgonzola with carmelized mushrooms, so I think that would probably work well.   Really, it’s pretty flexible so I plan on playing around a bit with cheese and herbs in the future.  I also bet it would be nice with some ground walnuts in there.  I had some issues making them look pretty so I probably didn’t fold it right, so my next attempt may just be rolling it up like a pinwheel.

Carmelized Onion Palmiers
Recipe printed with permission from I Shot the Chef

Ingredients
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 to 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 sheet of store bought puff pastry, thawed
2 tbsp cornmeal (I used flour)
salt
pepper

Directions

Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often until they just start to color.  Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking, stirring often until brown and caramelized.  This should take about 30-45 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them.  When they are carmelized and golden brown,add the garlic and stir around for one minute.   At this point, I added about a tablespoon of water so I could scrape up some of the carmelized bits at the bottom of the pan, but that’s optional. 

Remove from the heat and add the cheese and thyme and stir until the cheese melts.  

The original recipe recommended roughly chopping the onion in a food processor until it’s a little more fine but still chunky.  I didn’t find I needed to do this, maybe because I had sliced the onions in a food processor to begin with so they were pretty small.  Whatever you decide will probably be fine.   Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Let cool completely.

Sprinkle your clean surface with cornmeal (or flour).  Place the thawed puff pastry on the dusted surface and sprinkle the top with whatever you are using.  Roll the sheet of puff pastry into a rectangle, just slightly thinner than it was originally.  Be careful that it does not stick.  Spread the onion mixture on the puff pastry, leaving about 1 inch around the edges.

Start rolling one of the short edges towards the middle.  Then roll the opposite edge to meet up in the middle.  This will make a log shape.  Brush a little water in the center where the two rolled halves meet.  Turn the log onto its side and press down slightly so the halves stick together.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm up.  This makes it much easier to cut. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the log from the freezer and slice into 1/4 inch disks.  Place the cut side down on a parchment covered sheet pan.  If they are deformed, don’t panic.  Mine looked much better when they came out.

 Bake for about 20 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown and cooked through.  Best served warm, but also good at room temperature.

 

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Last night was a late night.  We were out celebrating friends’ engagement and I woke up this morning starving.  Granola and yogurt didn’t really cut it, so when I was at the farmers’ market, I went a little crazy.  In my mad frenzy to find things to make the hunger go away, I grabbed some tortillas from Primavera and some raw milk cheddar from Spring Hill Farms.  Primavera makes these amazing white cheddar and pumpkin tamales, so I wanted to try to recreate that flavor.  And I knew from my chorizo and sweet potato tacos that their tortillas were delicious. I had  half a butternut squash in the fridge left over from the coleslaw, so my lunch was sounding pretty good in my head.  Some good looking avocados and citrus fruit were out, so those went into my backpack as well.

To make the quesadillas, I just roasted some 1 inch cubes of butternut squash, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, at 425 for about 25 minutes.  Mashed that up and spread it on a tortilla.  Topped it with some grated cheese and another tortilla and cooked it up in a skillet for a few minutes on each side.

For the salad, I diced an avocado and segmented a pink grapefruit and a blood orange.  Toss those up with a bit of salt and pepper, and lunch was ready.

 

When I was finally able to eat it, I was a happy, happy girl.

 

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This is a weird dish though.  Good, but weird.  The squash is raw.  I liked it, because it was fresh and crunchy, but it has a really unusual taste.  I found it tasted better the next day, after it had sat for a while and absorbed some of the dressing.  My husband wasn’t so much of a fan, as he claimed it had a raw squash taste.  That’s sort of the point, but I suppose if you don’t like the raw squash taste, then you probably won’t like this.

If you’ve got any butternut squash still stashed away from your garden or CSA, this would be a good dish to try.  It’s a great way to use up the squash in a lighter, more spring appropriate dish if you are sick of heavier soups and roasted vegetables.  IT’s also super easy and takes just minutes to prepare.

Butternut Squash Coleslaw with Honeyed Goat Cheese Dressing
Recipe by Tyler Florence

Ingredients
4 ounces fresh creamy goat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used golden raisins, though cranberries would probably be prettier.)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, combine goat cheese, honey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.  Whisk it up well until fully combined. 

Remove the top narrow portion of the butternut squash and peel, and reserve the bulb for another use.  Or just use an entire small squash.  The recipe recommends using a mandoline to cut it into long, fine matchsticks, but I don’t have a mandoline.  Into the food processor it went, using the grating blade.  Perfect.  And probably easier than the mandoline.  This should yield about 4 cups, though I probably had at least 6 and found the dressing enough to cover all that.  Fold it into the dressing and add the dried fruit, walnuts, and parsley.

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