Stuff and Nonsense: cheese


Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts

6.28.2018

Cucumber & Tomato Salad With Cheese & Olives

I often serve a simple chopped cucumber and tomato salad as my go-to weeknight side dish, but that can, admittedly, get a little samey-samey from week to week. Happily, the addition of a little fresh soft cheese and olives is a great way to dress it up and make it taste more interesting.

The recipe listed below is just an example. All of the amounts are quite approximate and should be adjusted to suit your own taste/appetite. I seed the tomatoes if I'm using a full-sized one, because otherwise the salad can be bit, well, seedy. However, I don't bother to peel or seed the cucumber because I prefer the added texture. As always, feel free to do your own thing.

Yes, those are fish sticks in the background. No, I have no shame. They were delicious.


Cucumber & Tomato Salad With Cheese & Olives

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 oz chopped tomatoes
  • 5 oz chopped cucumber
  • 3 oz crumbled feta cheese or fresh goat cheese or perlini mozzarella
  • 1½ oz chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, parsley, or Mediterranean oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Toss all ingredients together in a serving bowl. Allow to rest on the kitchen side (so the flavors can marry) while you grill your chicken, bake your fish fingers, or whathaveyou.

4.20.2018

Cookbook Club: Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)

April's library cookbook theme was brinner (breakfast for dinner). I thought this was a fun, quirky topic that would appeal to many different kinds of cooks. Apparently, I misjudged, because only seven cooks registered for the meeting ... of which, five turned up. I'm a little frustrated by the low turnout, because -- while there certainly seems to be a lot of interest in the club -- it is nearing its one year anniversary with attendance numbers lower than when it launched.

Anyway, the cooks who came were very excited to share their dishes:
  • "Amish Breakfast Casserole" from Taste of Home's Brunch Favorites: 201 Delicious Ideas to Start Your Day. So much cheesy potato goodness. Hearty, but not heavy. Very morish.

  • "Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast" from Gale Gand's Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend's Best Meal. Crunchy on the edges, moist and custardy in the middle, and so wonderfully redolent of cinnamon and apples. The honey butter topping sounded like too much, but paired wonderfully. Just thinking about this dish makes my mouth water.

  • "Breakfast Scramble" also from Taste of Home's Brunch Favorites: 201 Delicious Ideas to Start Your Day. The cook who made this used canned potatoes (to save herself 20 minutes), but there's no way we'd have been able to tell if she hadn't mentioned it. A nice, meaty hash.

  • "Syrupy Banana-Nut Overnight French Toast" from Good Housekeeping The Great Potluck Cookbook: Our Favorite Recipes for Carry-In Suppers, Brunch Buffets, Tailgate Parties & More. Creamy, custardy french toast a top a layer of gooey caramelized banana goodness. Very reminiscent of bananas foster and totally yum.

  • "Three-Meat Quiche" from The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night by Teri Lyn Fisher & Jenny Park. A fluffy, creamy, cheesy quiche filled with smoked ham, bacon, and sausage. We ate it closer to room temperature than warm and it was still delish -- and the crust was still crisp!


Everyone enjoyed talking about the cookbooks they'd used and the recipes they'd made. We were all very complimentary about each others' dishes and seconds (quite possibly thirds) were taken. I'm pretty sure everyone left with the intent of making their own dish of "Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast" as soon as possible.

And what did I make? I made "Chili and Cheese Crustless Quiche" from Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups: 515 Hot & Hearty Dishes Your Family Will Love. As this was a quick-cooking slow cooker dish, I assembled and cooked it at the library before the club met. I'd fully intended to try the recipe at home over the weekend -- to make sure it worked -- but didn't have the time. Happily, cooking the quiche at work turned out fine and everyone seemed to enjoy it.


Some of the cooks that come to cookbook club aren't keen on very spicy foods, so I only used two cans of chiles rather than the three called for. Both cans were diced, as well, as I couldn't find whole canned chiles that weren't pickled. I didn't know what brand of chili con carne was best, so just went with Hormel's turkey chili without beans as it had fewer calories and less fat that other chilis on the shelf at the grocery store. The finished quiche did have a little kick, but the cheese and egg helped balance that. Overall, I feel it's something I'd make for myself.

This is not the first time I used Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups for cookbook club -- I made the "Slow-Cooked Shepherd's Pie" back in February, when the theme was "Pies: Sweet & Savory." I've also made a few recipes from this cookbook just for myself -- the "Mexican Beef Stuffed Peppers" and "Chicken Merlot With Mushrooms" -- with good results. This is not the most exciting, cutting-edge cookbook out there, but its recipes are reliable and family-friendly (and almost always accompanied by very attractive photographs).

11.30.2017

Rotini with Butternut Squash & Pancetta

The Thanksgiving CSA share was full of Cucurbita -- acorn, butternut, and autumn crown winter squash plus a few wee sugar pumpkins -- and I couldn't be happier. Not only because I love to eat winter squash, but also because the delicious little cucurbits will keep practically forever when stored properly, meaning I can eat CSA squash well into February.

But who am I trying to kid? I'll have eaten them all by Christmas!


The dish below is loosely inspired by Melt's recipe for "Roaring Forties with Honey Roasted Delicata Squash, Sage Butter, and Rotini" I made last month. In my dish, everything cooks on the stovetop -- freeing up the oven to bake the dozen wee sweet potatoes that were also in my CSA share -- and I've replaced the nuts with pancetta.


Rotini with Butternut Squash & Pancetta

Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz chopped yellow onion
  • 4 oz chopped pancetta
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, & diced small (¼-inch cubes)
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp sage
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 10 oz whole grain rotini
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 oz crumbled blue cheese, plus extra to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium in a large Dutch/French oven. Add pancetta and cook for a few mins or until much of the fat is rendered out. Add the onion and cook for 5 mins, until it softens and the pancetta is crispy.
  2. Add the butter, squash, rosemary, sage, thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix well to combine. Cover and cook for 10-12 mins, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, but not mushy. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the back of the box. Drain and add to the squash mixture. Add the blue cheese and season to taste. Serve in pasta bowls sprinkled with extra blue cheese.


For years, I thought winter squash was called such because it was harvested in the fall and we needed a name to clearly differentiate it from summer squash, but NO. I know nothing. Winter squash is so named because it keeps through the winter. So obvious.

10.28.2017

Exploring Melt: The Art of Macaroni & Cheese for Cookbook Club

For September's library cookbook club, one participant brought "Roaring Forties with Honey Roasted Delicata Squash, Sage Butter, and Rotini" from Stephanie Stiavetti & Garret McCord's Melt: The Art of Macaroni & Cheese (Little, Brown, & Company, 2013). She'd checked out the book, completely enamored with the gooey cheesiness on the cover, but then been kind-of turned off by most of the recipes in the book as they were not "mac and cheezy" enough for her -- the cookbook is a very "gourmet" take on macaroni and cheese, using many pricey, artisanal cheeses. Anyway, she did not think much of the rotini recipe -- felt in needed bacon and a different cheese, but brought it along anyway for us all to try.

Overall, we found the dish unmemorable ... a bit dry and the flavors didn't meld together, but it wasn't bad in any definable way ... just rather meh. We all agreed the addition of something (probably bacon or pancetta) might have improved it. Admittedly, the cook had substituted butternut for delicata (couldn't find delicata at the shops) and another blue for the Roaring Forties (ditto). And the dish sat for an hour or so at room temperature before the cook book club sampled it ... so its meh-ness was not entirely the recipe's fault.


I ended up bringing Melt home with me after the meeting and kept going back to the rotini recipe, wondering if I could do better with the correct ingredients. Then I looked around on the Internet for Roaring Forties cheese and found that it was a fancy Australian blue cheese that retailed for $38/pound. Well, I thought, that's a clear nope.


Ah. But then ... delicata squash appeared in my CSA share and I decided, what the heck, I would give the recipe a try. An entire rainy afternoon lay open before me, rich with possibility, so I cracked open a bottle of red and went to work. [While no one recipe step is difficult or fiddly, so much of the dish is prepared separately, only to be brought together at the end, that it feels as if the recipe is taking an inordinate amount of time to make. Therefore, I really recommend you make this dish when you're feeling totally mellow and chillaxed about cooking, with lots of time on your hands, and (definitely) an open bottle of red to keep you company].



First, you make the sage butter by heating butter, fresh sage, sea salt, and honey over low heat. Then you pour it over the chopped delicata squash and toss it until everything is coated and roast the squash for an hour. (The recipe said to use a 8-inch square baking dish, but no way were my two chopped squash going to fit in that pan. And then, since there was extra room in the 13x9, I added one large diced sweet onion).


Then, you cook the pasta until al dente and set it aside. (I used 100% whole wheat rotini, because I hoped -- rightly it turned out -- the firm texture and nutty, grainy flavor would benefit the finished dish. I also tossed the cooked pasta with a little unsalted butter before setting it aside, because butter is flavor and dried-out noodles are just sad).

Then, you toast the pecans in a skillet until fragrant and set aside. (I have a horror of burning nuts so I may have under-toasted mine, but they were still delicious).


Then, you add the pasta and blue cheese (Litehouse Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles, because I wanted an affordable mild, creamy blue) to the squash pan and give everything a good stir, garnish with toasted pecans, and eat ... except I was like "To hell with garnishing!" and stirred the pecans in with the pasta, squash, and cheese. It might not have been so photogenic, but I liked that the pecans became coated with the melting cheese and pan juices.

Eaten straight from the baking dish, this rotini was really good. The onion and extra butter definitely helped, I think, as did using a soft blue that mostly melted into the dish. The flavors really came together and I loved the sweet caramelized delicata squash. Definitely didn't need any bacon! 13/10 would make again.

Next, I think, I'll try Melt's "Pastitsio with Kefalotyri and Lamb," because I love a good pastitsio/pastichio. But, yeah, it's going to be even more time consuming. Wine will help, no doubt.

8.31.2017

Easy Cheesy Cauliflower

Had ten people over for grilled cheese, cake, and Secret Hitler last weekend, you see, and bought enough cheese for fifteen. Or twenty. Probably, twenty. I clearly am not good at estimating cheese portions. On the other hand, if you enjoy cheese, I'm the woman to party with.

So, I had cheese. And I had cauliflower. Cauliflower cheese, please, said my greedy tummy and who was I to disagree?


If you make this dish, be sure to drain the cauliflower very well before adding the cheese mixture. I did not drain mine very well and the cauliflower cheese came out of the oven rather soupy. However, it did set up quite well as the dish cooled so ymmv.


Easy Cheesy Cauliflower

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 16 oz cauliflower florets
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded or chopped into small pieces
  • 4 Gruyere slices
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ Tbsp roasted garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Put the cauliflower and water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with cling wrap and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain well and set aside.
  3. Put the cream cheese, cream, and cheddar in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave on medium about 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Additional time may be needed if sauce remains lumpy.
  4. Stir in the seasonings. Add the drained cauliflower and gently stir until well coated. Top with the Gruyere and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

This would also work with mix of cauliflower and broccoli as well as any semi-firm cheese, such as cheddar, Swiss, Fontina, or Jack.

6.08.2017

Improv Cooking Challenge: Jalapeños & Cheese

After much indecisiveness, I decided to experiment with jalapeño and cheese corn muffins for June's Improv Cooking Challenge. Unfortunately, the first batch was nearly indelible -- astonishingly hot, much too dry, and a little tough. However, I tried again -- adding more liquid, reducing the amount of dried jalapeños, and stirring less -- and eventually arrived at a moderately zippy, tender muffin.


I used Cabot's Jalapeno Jack, a creamy cheese generously studded with fiery jalapeño pieces. It's a flavorful cheese, with plenty of spice, but doesn't set fire to the back of my throat. Really, though, any spicy semi-soft cheese you like will work in this recipe. Just as you should only cook with wine you like to drink, you shouldn't cook with cheese you don't want to surreptitiously nibble.

If you can't find plain kefir at your market, buttermilk or soured milk will work in a pinch. I used kefir simply because I almost always have a container of kefir in my fridge and running to the shop to purchase a container of buttermilk that would end up going off before I could use it up was just ... nope.



Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 oz canola, plus extra for greasing the muffin tin
  • 5 oz white whole wheat flour
  • 5 oz cornmeal
  • ⅛ tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp dried crushed jalapeños
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 9 oz plain low-fat kefir
  • 4 oz whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 pickled jalapeño slices

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Brush a 12-hole muffin tin with neutral cooking oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, mustard powder, baking powder, cheese, crushed jalapeños, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the kefir, milk, oil, and eggs together.
  4. Fold the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, working swiftly yet gently to avoid tough muffins.
  5. Divide the mix between the 12 oiled muffin wells (they will be quite full) and top each with a jalapeño slice. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when tested.
  6. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm with whipped butter.

For anyone new to my blog, the Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the second Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.





4.27.2016

Ham & Cheesy Chicken Breasts

This was my first attempt at prosciutto-wrapped, cheese-stuffed chicken breasts for April's Improv Challenge. While it came out well, I didn't think it came out quite well enough for the Challenge -- the spreadable cheese was both too mild to stand up to the stronger flavors of the prosciutto and too soft as it ran out of the chicken has it baked. Still, this was my first attempt and I thought it came out pretty well, so I'm leaving it here for kicks.

You can see the (better) prosciutto-wrapped, cheese-stuffed chicken breasts recipe I actually submitted for April's Improv Challenge here. The cheese still escaped, but the flavors were better.


Ham & Cheesy Chicken Breasts

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 thin slices prosciutto de parma
  • 4 tbsp soft spreadable cheese like Boursin or Aloutte
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 plum tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the prosciutto in pairs on the baking sheet.
  2. Slice each chicken breast in half, almost-but-not-quite all the way through, so it is falls open like a book.
  3. Stuff each breast with half of the cheese, then gently smoosh together to close. Place each breast cross-wise on a slice of prosciutto. Fold the prosciutto over the chicken and tuck the ends under.
  4. Arrange tomatoes around the chicken. Drizzle both with olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle with lots of pepper.
  5. Roast for 20 mins until the chicken is golden around the edges and the tomatoes look a little shriveled.

4.21.2016

Improv Challenge: Ham & Cheese

This my second attempt at cheesy ham-wrapped chicken for April's Improv Challenge. The first time, I used a soft, spreadable cheese that ran out of the chicken as it baked and was also a little overwhelmed by the sweet, salty, prosciutto. For my second attempt, I turned to a firmer cheese -- Gruyere -- whose sweet, salty, creaminess balanced a little better with the prosciutto. As I've used it in grilled cheese and paninis, I knew it would also melt better.


But it still tried to escape from the chicken! How do you keep the cheese inside the chicken? Should I have frozen the cheese first, the way you can freeze butter for chicken kiev? Seared the chicken to seal it shut? Using less cheese isn't an option, as I'd say that even with an ounce of cheese per breast, there was still not enough cheese!


Ah, well, what is cooking for if not to master new things? Slowly. With many redos!

If you want to skip the cheese and tomatoes altogether and tweak the cooking times, chicken tenders wrapped in strips of prosciutto are delish on a salad.

Why roast tomatoes, anyway? Why not? Roasted grape tomatoes are one of the most delicious things on Earth. The tomatoes roast down to an excellent jam-like state and their bright, sweet-sour tang goes really well with chicken.

Fancy Ham & Cheese Chicken Breasts

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts [Coleman organic]
  • 2 oz Gruyere, thinly sliced [Boar's Head Blanc Grue]
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto de parma [Boar's Head]
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Cut a deep pocket in each chicken breast, going almost-but-not-quite all the way through.
  3. Stuff each breast with half of the cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, then gently smoosh together to close. Wrap each breast in two slices of prosciutto, tucking the ends underneath like a blanket.
  4. Arrange tomatoes around the chicken. Drizzle both with olive oil and balsamic. Sprinkle with lots of pepper.
  5. Roast for 25-30 mins -- until the chicken has reached 164°F, the prosciutto is golden around the edges, and tomatoes have collapsed in on themselves and look a bit charred.




10.30.2015

Chicken Thighs Breaded With Flax & Almond Meal

I was craving oven-fried chicken, but breadcrumbs seemed ... boring. Nutritionally unadventurous. I'd breaded chicken with almond meal before, but was always a little disappointed in the texture. What about adding in some flax meal? Flax has a nutty flavor that should pair well with the almond meal and, maybe, give the breading a little more body?


"Breaded" Chicken Thighs

Yield: 2-4, depending on appetite

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup flax meal
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Place a cooling rack on a half sheet pan (13"x18").
  2. Beat egg in a shallow dish like a soup bowl or pie plate.
  3. Combine meals, Parmesan, and seasonings in another shallow dish.
  4. Dip chicken in egg, allowing all excess to drip back into dish, and then thoroughly coat with the meal mixture.
  5. Place chicken on the cooling rack and bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is 165°F.


Overall, I think this was a good start. Next time, I might reduce the amount of flax by a tablespoon or two, because The Husband thought the texture was a little "weird." I liked the texture just fine, but thought the chicken was just a bit ... bland ... so lashings of cheese and seasonings next time, too!

9.24.2015

Broccoli Mac

I'd overbought fresh broccoli and undercooked for the week, so this morning I was faced with a bag of fresh broccoli florets and a desperate need for two day's worth of work meals. I considered a broccoli pasta salad verrrry briefly, realizing the other ingredients I wanted to add to it -- artichoke hearts and sun-dried oil-packed tomatoes -- were not to be found in my kitchen. Some kind of broccoli and pasta hot dish, then? I did have surfeit of pasta, after all. Broccoli mac?! Broccoli mac!


I used my standby recipe for quick macaroni and cheese -- Campbell's Kitchen's "Fastest Homemade Mac and Cheese" -- as it was only five ingredients (if you count water as an ingredient) and the pasta cooks in the sauce. It is the fastest (nonbox) macaroni and cheese I've ever made and there's only one pan to clean up.

I steamed the bag of broccoli florets in the microwave according to the directions on its packaging, using the minimal time so the broccoli retained a little bite, and then coarsely chopped the cooked florets so they'd distribute more evenly throughout the cheesy mac when mixed in.


Because I had several open containers of pasta, I used a mix of small shells and elbows. The cooking times listed on their boxes were the same, so I knew they'd be okay together in the pot.

The cheese is a mix of leftover house brand shredded "pizza blend" and Cabot Sharp Light Cheddar. The "pizza cheese" blend melted wonderfully (as expected) and helped give the mac the delightful gooeyness I crave in macaroni and cheese, while cheddar added a sharp bite.


After I'd stirred everything together, I found the cheesy mac -- while certainly creamy and cheesy -- was still a little lacking so I added roasted garlic powder, black pepper, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Instant yum!

3.27.2015

Homemade Spudulike: Tuna & Sweet Corn Stuffed Baked Potatoes

While I've made baked potatoes stuffed with Tuna Sweetcorn Mayonnaise before as a homage to the Spudulike jacket potatoes I can't buy stateside, it's been a while. Happily, while I'm still not 100%, baked potatoes are definitely something I can handle and everything I needed to make them was already in the house.


Tuna & Sweetcorn Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 baking potatoes
  • olive oil, as needed
  • sea salt, as needed
  • oz can solid white albacore tuna, well drained
  • 1 oz thawed frozen corn, well drained
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
  • Dried parsley flakes, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, if desired
  • 1 oz shard cheddar, shredded [Cabot Seriously Sharp]

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Clean potatoes, pat dry, rub with olive oil, sprinkle all over with sea salt, place on a small baking tray and bake for 1 hr.
  2. Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients (except cheese!) in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. When potatoes are done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or until the are easily handled.
  4. Split potatoes, spread with butter, stuff with tuna mixture, top with cheese, and pop under the broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

2.20.2014

Improv Challenge: Bread & Butter

I first made this one Monday night when I realized that, while I was the only one home for supper, a bottle of moscato and movie did not supper make. But throw in some bread and cheese and it's an elegant evening at home? Why, yes. So, when I saw February's Improv Challenge ingredients were bread and butter, I knew I had to write this dish up and share it with the world.

Honey & Herb Crostini

The buttery, crunchy bread. The creamy, slightly tart cheese. The sweetness of the honey. The heat of the pepper. The subtle, earthy thyme. Just fabulous. I've made this for myself three times since and, each time I make it, I am amused by just how tasty buttery toast and cheese can be!

I suspect fresh lavender, tarragon, and dill would work well in place of the thyme and I look forward to making many versions of this dish in the spring ... when my garden is not covered in a mound of ice and snow. Blech.

Honey & Herb Crostini
Serves 1 with wine

Ingredients
1 small baguette (baton)
2 Tbsp good quality cultured butter, melted [Vermont Creamery]
4 oz tub spreadable goats' cheese [Vermont Creamery]
Fresh thyme, for garnish
1 Tbsp honey, for drizzling [Cracovia Linden Honey]
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
Cut 8 thin slices from the baguette and set the rest of the baguette aside for another day.
Step 1

Brush both sides of the sliced baguette with butter and place on a baking tray.

Step 2

Broil for 2 minutes or until lightly browned, flip, and broil the other side.


Step 3

Spread each piece of bread with goats' cheese and sprinkle with pepper.
Step 4

Garnish each pieces with thyme and drizzle with honey.

Step 5

Arrange on a pretty plate and serve immediately with a bottle of moscato and episodes of The Great British Bake-Off.

Honey & Herb Crostini



1.16.2014

Improv Challenge: Crackers & Cheese

It's a new year for the Improv Challenge and we're starting the year with crackers and cheese! At first, my brain was all canapécanapécanapé, but then I read an article about German cooking and fell in love with the idea of Käse Schnitzel, a schnitzel covered in melted cheese. Surely, I could use crushed crackers to crust the schnitzel and then drizzle it with drown it in cheese sauce.

Käse Schnitzel II


I used Club Minis -- a bite-size buttery cracker -- that I chucked in food storage bag and bashed with a meat tenderizer until they were acceptably crumby. Any buttery cracker would work, I'm sure, and you could even use cheesy ones and omit the cheese powder. I used Club Minis simply because they are my addiction and I welcome any excuse to bring more of them into my home.
Cheesy Fried Pork Cutlets
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 lb boneless pork cutlets
3 Tbsp flour [King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat]
½ tsp teaspoon salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika [Penzeys Hungary Sweet]
1 large egg [Farmers' Cow]
3 Tbsp milk
2 cups crushed buttery crackers [Keebler Club Minis]
2 Tbsp cheese powder [King Arthur Flour Vermont Cheese Powder]
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed


Directions
Set oven to warm or whatever is your oven's lowest temperature setting.

If your cutlets are not very thin, you will need to pound them until they are about ¼-inch thick.

Set out three pie plates. In one, combine the flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper. In another, combine egg and milk. Mix crackers and cheese powder in the last pie plate.

Dredge meat with flour; dip in egg mixture, then dredge with cracker mixture. Arrange the pork cutlets on a baking sheet or platter and let stand for 5 minutes.


Heat oil in a large skillet. Cook cutlets in batches (I could fit 2 in my skillet at a time) for 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3. Remove to the warm oven and continue with remaining cutlets. You may need to add more oil between batches.

Frying Cracker-Coated Cutlets

Beery Cheese Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 10¾ oz can condensed cheddar cheese soup [Campbell's Healthy Request]
⅓ cup pale lager [Foster's]
2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded [Cabot Seriously Sharp]
¼ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp paprika [Penzeys Hungary Sweet]
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine soup, beer, cheese, mustard, paprika, and worcestershire. Heat through, stirring frequently, until shredded cheese is completely incorporated.



I served the cutlets with broccoli and buttered parslied noodles (and cheese sauce over everything, of course). The cutlets were pretty fab -- crunchy and moderately cheesy even without the sauce -- and I cannot wait to make them again. I tried another version of this recipe with baked cracker-crusted turkey cutlets and, while it was pretty good, the cutlets weren't nearly as crunchy and the overall flavor was a bit bland. Healthier, no doubt, but simply not as tasty.

The cheese sauce was pretty fab, too. Creamy and sharp with just a touch of heat from the mustard and pepper ... I'll be making it again just to pour over broccoli or cauliflower! I used Foster's in the pork version and Heineken with the turkey with good results -- you want to taste the beer behind the cheese, but not go "hey! beer sauce!" (unless that's your taste preference, of course).

Käse Schnitzel II


1.10.2014

Cheese Sauce On Everything, Please

I bought some cracker meal while playing around with recipe ideas for January's Improv Challenge and, while I instinctively knew it would work best for frying, I tried to be healthy and used it to bread baked turkey cutlets. While the results looked good, they tasted a bit meh.

Cheesy Turkey Cutlets

Cracker meal is just what it sounds like -- finely ground crackers. I bought mine from Nuts.com, but you can certainly make your own if you have access to a food processor. Bashing a bunch of crackers with a rolling pin will work, but the cracker crumbs need to be very fine and uniform, so you may have to go at it for a while. (I admit it's an excellent way to work out a case of the angries and the stuff keeps forever in a tightly sealed container so ... may I suggest diy cracker meal as some fine kitchen therapy?)

I served the cutlets with broccoli and mashed potatoes (and cheese sauce over everything, of course). While the cutlets were certainly edible, I know they would have been better pounded a bit thinner and friedfriedfried (and my final version does use very thin fried pork cutlets). They lacked crunch, color, and flavor. If not for the cheese sauce, they would have been completely forgettable.

Truly, the cheese sauce stole the show. Creamy and sharp with just a touch of heat from the mustard and pepper ... I'll be making it again just to pour over broccoli or cauliflower! It's a complete cheater sauce as it's just canned condensed "cheddar" tarted up with (real) shredded cheddar, dry mustard, paprika, and black pepper. Oh, and beer. Because beer is cheddar's BFF.

There's a restaurant the next town over that makes a cheddar ale soup I really want to clone. Except then I would eat nothing but cheddar ale soup and toasted baguettes and that way lies madness.

11.17.2013

Easy Cheesy Salsa Chicken

I threw this together the other night when I realized there was more cheese in the cheese drawer than there was actually "proper food" in the rest of the fridge ... not an unusual occurrence in this household, you know. Probably I should be embarrassed, but ever since we started watching Pushing Daisies, I've thought this every time I opened our fridge:


If you haven't seen Pushing Daisies (get thee to Netflix), let me just say that two of the characters really love cheese. So much so that their fridge contains nothing but cheese and their niece spendt years thinking that's all the appliance was for and was, indeed, called a "cheese box."

While, for all my talk of cheese, this isn't a super-cheesy dish, it is quite fast and satisfying. We always have extra beans and salsa in the cupboard, because you never know when you'll need them. I guess it's like other people's need to always have an extra jar of peanut butter jar on hand.

Cheesy Salsa Chicken

Cheesy Salsa Chicken
Serves 2 generously

Ingredients
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded flattish
2 Tbsp taco seasoning [Penzeys Arizona Dreaming]
½ cup low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup frozen fire-roasted corn, thawed
½ cup garlicky salsa [Green Mountain Gringo Roasted Garlic Salsa]
2 oz shredded cheddar[Cabot Seriously Sharp]

Directions
Rub breasts with seasoning blend. Cook in a hot oven-safe skillet for about 5 minutes per side or until breasts are a lovely brown on each side and cooked through.

Pour black beans, corn, and salsa over the chicken and top with cheese. Pop skillet into the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden.

Serve topped with sour cream and more salsa, if desired.
You could serve this over rice, if you were so minded, but it's pretty filling on its own.

9.19.2013

Improv Challenge: Pasta & Cheese

My participation in the 2013 Improv Challenge has, sadly, been a bit sporadic. Many of the 2013 ingredient pairings have struck me as more sweet than savory and I just haven't been in the mood for sweet. Happily, September's ingredients are "Pasta and Cheese." Other than a lokshen kugel (noodle pudding), I don't know how pasta and cheese could be anything but savory! (Prove me wrong, Improv-ers).

Because we are supposed to be eating more healthfully here at Chez Savory Tart, I did not whip up a beautiful bacon-wrapped meatloaf stuffed with macaroni and cheese, but made a pretty (and decidedly more healthful) warm pasta salad using whole wheat pasta, blue cheese, beets, arugula, and pecans.

Warm Pasta & Arugula Salad

While I recommend using a mild blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola or Danish Blue, feel free to substitute fresh goat cheese if even the merest thought of blue cheese gives you the horrors.

If you don't have flax seed oil, olive oil will do fine. I just find flax seed oil gives greens a lovely nuttiness.

And, yes, feel free to go Martha and roast your own beets!
Warm Pasta and Blue Cheese Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 oz whole wheat penne
3 oz fresh arugula
1 oz mild blue cheese, crumbled
[Gorgonzola or Danish blue]
Half 8 oz pkg cooked beets, drained and diced [Melissa's or Love Beets]
1 oz pecans, crushed
1 Tbsp flax seed oil [Barlean's]
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Put the arugula in a large bowl and set aside.

Cook pasta until al dente (or however you like your pasta). Drain pasta and pour, still hot, over arugula. Toss until arugula wilts a bit. (If your arugula looks like it isn't wilting, cover the bowl with a tea towel and go away for a few minutes).

Add blue cheese, beets, pecans, olive oil and balsamic, and toss again.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide between two plates. Nom.

Warm Pasta & Arugula Salad




3.24.2013

Celebrating Spring with Strawberries & Blue Cheese

It really is spring! The calendar says so and nature agrees!

First Spring Blooms 2013

First Spring Blooms 2013

Wanting to celebrate, I made a beautiful “spring” salad of baby arugula, strawberries, crumbled blue cheese, and sliced almonds dressed with white balsamic vinegar and Barlean's flax oil. I used a lovely bit of Boucher Family Farm's Madison Blue in the salad -- it's very creamy with great tang. At the moment, one of my favorite blues.

Spring Salad

While I made this salad, I founding myself singing Miriam Makeba's "Love Tastes Like Strawberries." I'd never heard of Makeba until I saw her commemorative Google doodle and now I can't get enough. Good thing my library system has a vast and varied music collection!

11.09.2012

Italian Homework: Walnut, Pear, & Gorgonzola Salad

I was all excited to start "Lesson 9: Healthy Italian-Style Salads" in my online Italian cooking class, but then I had a little dental work done and couldn't eat cold, crunchy things for a few weeks. Sheesh. I have preposterously sensitive teeth.

But, except when the wind's blowing northeasterly, my teeth are feeling pretty fine again and so I decided to tackle my salad homework. (Cooking homework is the best homework ever -- if there had been cooking in math class, I would have been a regular teacher's pet and there is actually a lot of math in cooking, you know).

I made "Walnut, Pear, & Gorgonzola Salad," because pears and gorgonzola are just meant to go together. Like peanut butter and jelly or brown sugar and bacon. And, oh my gods, I loved this salad. Loved it. Could happily eat it every day for a week. All the flavors and textures blended together so well and so cleanly that I swear to cake my tastebuds sang with happiness. Salty gorgonzola, grainy pear, crunchy walnuts ... you form a perfect triangle of deliciousness.

You must try this salad.

Making Walnut, Pear, & Gorgonzola Salad
(Ingredients shown are for a single-serving salad)
Easy Walnut, Pear, & Gorgonzola Salad

Salad Ingredients
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and chopped [Anjou pears]
½ cup chopped, shelled walnuts
1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese [reduced fat]

Dressing Ingredients
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
To make the dressing, put all ingredients into a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake well.

Making Walnut, Pear, & Gorgonzola Salad

In a large bowl toss all the salad ingredients, except the cheese, together with the dressing.

Making Walnut, Pear, & Gorgonzola Salad

Place the gorgonzola in a mound in the center of the salad and serve. Goes well with crusty rolls.

Serves 4
Yes, you could substitute your favorite balsamic vinaigrette for the scratch dressing, but why? It only takes a minute to throw together and tastes pretty darn good.

Making Walnut, Pear, & Gorgonzola Salad