Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

20131023-151549.jpgSo I’m scanning yahoo the other day and came across this really easy Mexican dessert recipe.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients and saw that there was cheese involved with the dessert which sounded interesting… plus one of the comments on the bottom mentioned that the consistency/texture is similar to flan, but with nowhere near the amount of calories which really started to get my attention.
Talk about one of the more simple recipes out there!  I’ve included the info below:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces of Mexican/Latin cheese (I went with a mixture of cojita cheese and queso fresco which you can find in any latin grocery store)
 Butter to spread on the baking dish20131023-151534.jpg
I mixed the eggs, milk, sugar, and cojita cheese/queso fresco in a blender but I also added some cayenne pepper just to give it a little heat with the sweet of the sugar and the saltiness of the cheese.  I then preheated the oven to 350F andrubbed the butter along the bottom and sides/corners of a square glass pyrex dish.
Threw in the blended mixture and placed it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top was golden brown.  Let it stand to cool then I threw it in the fridge with a cover.
20131023-151525.jpgAfter a few hours, I had some for dessert that night and it really was like flan but a little bit more “chunky” because of thecojita cheese.  I thought it tasted great but I might be a little bias!  If you think you’d like a cheesy kind of flan, then give it a try.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick but I would enjoy it without the pepper as well.  I even put some in a bowl and threw on some chocolate syrup which gave it a nice chocolate flavor as well.

Mushrooms and Polenta.jpgThis was a ridiculous thing to cook in the middle of summer in Arizona. With the sun beating down and the temperature rising to over 115 degrees, I decided I wanted to try making Wild Mushrooms with Cheesy Polenta. A nice light, easy meal to eat in the overwhelming heat!

J. and I shopped up a storm at Wholefoods and Lee Lee’s Asian Market to get as many different varieties of mushrooms we could find. We went a little crazy getting shitake, portobello, oyster, button, and enoki mushrooms. I knew that this was going to be delicious.

Once home from our mushroom adventure I started by cleaning all the mushrooms. J. finely diced some garlic (about 3 cloves) and 2 large shallots. We then both worked on slicing mushrooms. This took us a long time since we had gone crazy with the mushroom purchasing but we eventually made it through.

In an extremely large pan (you could use a wok – we used a deep skillet) I added 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brought it to a high heat. Once the pan was hot I added the dices garlic and shallots, slightly caramelizing these before adding the mushrooms (largest first and then adding more as they started to cook). I also added in some fresh thyme and oregano at this stage to boost up that flavor some more.

Once the mushrooms had started to cook down I added 1/4 cup of white wine and 1/4 cup of veggie stock. I let this cook until it had started to thicken, seasoning it at that stage with salt and pepper. The final stage of the mushrooms was to add 1 tablespoon of butter to finish it all off. Delicious.

While we were working on the mushrooms I had cooked the polenta just as the box told me to do. To the cooked polenta I added 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese that had been grated. You can add butter and cheese to your liking… we made it very cheesy. Then I just seasoned the polenta again and we were ready to eat.

This was a hearty, rich, creamy dinner. We both absolutely loved it. The mushrooms were really well cooked, full of flavor with that delicious mushroom wine broth. The polenta was so cheesy, it was probably clogging arteries but I could have eaten a bowl just of polenta.

We made far too much and ate far to many bowls of it. It really is the perfect winter dinner when you want something without meat but still filling and delicious. We will definitely make it again but wait until the endless heat of the Arizonan summer disappears and we can stop eating salads.

Prosciutto Salad.jpgNow that I am working I am finding less time to blog so I am still filling you all in on the wonderful food we ate in Australia back in December and early January. I am hoping I will get into a better blogging routine once I am used to working again! In the mean time I wanted to share a great salad we ate Christmas Eve in Australia.

This salad is a meal on its own but we were lucky enough to have it with some delicious Moreton Bay Bugs. These are a type of crayfish found in Queensland. They are one of my favorite types of seafood and something we traditionally have at Christmas time. We eat these plain… they don’t need to be boiled in spices or anything just cooked simply, cut down the middle and this time we served them with a mango chili mayonnaise. (Recipe for the mayonnaise to follow later).

Back to the salad.

In a large (and I mean LARGE!) salad bowl put a mixture of salad leaves. You can choose any kind you like, we did a mix of my parents’ home grown lettuce. Drain around 270 grams of semi dried tomatoes, make sure you keep the oil though because this becomes part of the dressing. Add the tomatoes to the salad leaves.Moreton Bay Bugs.jpg

Next, slice up 1 bunch of asparagus into about 1 inch lengths. Blanch these for a few minutes, but make sure they are still crunchy. Set them aside to cool.

Add to the salad bowl ¼ cup of pine nuts and 1 thinly sliced red onion. Finally add in the cooled asparagus and toss all the ingredients together.

Now the thing that makes this salad more like an entire meal is the topping. On top of the tossed ingredients the deliciousness is layered. First, pan fry 6 large slices of prosciutto. Break these up when cooked and layer them over the salad. The shave large pieces of fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the prosciutto and salad. I like to use a vegetable peeler to get the big chunky shavings of parmesan. Now, I know some people don’t like parmesan so you could use pecorino or even a mild Mango Chilli Mayonnaise.jpgcheese like swiss over the top.

The final part of this salad is the dressing, quite possibly the simplest dressing ever. In a bottle mix the drained oil from the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Shake this well and then drizzle over the salad.

Serve and eat… It is such a delicious, hearty salad and I could eat it as a meal all by itself. The bugs were just an awesomely delicious bonus. The saltiness of the prosciutto and cheese with the crunchiness of the pine nuts is so yummy! The bugs dipped in the mayonnaise on the side was a perfect warm summer’s day lunch!

Pink Cougar.jpgMe and a new friend and soon to be colleague, S, headed out for some early Christmas drinks last night. We went to a place down the road from my soon to be office called Grassroots. This is a bar, meets gastro pub, meets restaurant. It is a really nice place and so close to work and most importantly their “social hour” has both food, beer, wine and cocktail discounts.

I was in a celebrating mood so for a change I went for a cocktail instead of beer or wine. I got a giant glass of white sangria. I would tell you what was in it but unfortunately the menu stated that it was a secret recipe so I have no idea. But it looked so pretty and festive, plus it tasted super delicious! Is it strange that sangria makes me think of Christmas? My family went through a stage of making sangria during the Wisconsin Burrata.jpgholidays, since it is so warm in Australia at that time of year. I thought I was being very good only ordering a class when I could have ordered a jug for $20! How restrained I was.

S ordered something called a Pink Cougar, this was a combination of vodka, chamomile-lemongrass syrup, lemon and a pink candy wedge. This came in a lovely martini glass. I assume she really enjoyed it… she drank it all. All I have to say is that it wasn’t very pink… I would have liked to see more pink.

I always like to nibble on something when I am drinking, especially if I have to drive so S and I decided to order some of their yummy shared plates. Ok, to be honest I ate enough that I didn’t need dinner when I got home… but that’s ok, isn’t it?

White Sangria.jpg

First up we ordered the Wisconsin Burrata… a plate of yummy goodness. The plate came out with a giant ball of fresh mozzarella, arugula with a delicious dressing, a spicy tomato jam and sea salted crunchy ciabatta. So we spread on some jam and mozzarella and added some arugula to a piece of ciabatta. What a delicious combination and the mozzarella had to be some of the best I had ever eaten!

Next we ordered something called Dad’s Grocery Bag, basically a meat and cheese platter. Lucky for me S. is a vegetarian so I got to eat all of the delicious cured meats, some salami, ham and pastrami! Yummy. Somewhere in there I also ordered a second glass of White Sangria.

Ok, back to the platter… It had 3 different cheese on it, I know one was a goat cheese, another was a sharp cheddar of some kind and the third though delicious, I have know idea what it was. Also on the platter were some mixed nuts, honey and beautifully freshDads Grocery Bag.jpg french bread. This was such a great thing to nibble on while we chatted and drank.

One of the things I have missed about home are having after work drinks with friends at a cool cafe or bar. Just hanging out and chatting over drinks and good food was how I spent many a Friday night back in Melbourne. I am hoping since this Grassroots Kitchen & Tap is just down the road S. and I will have at least a few more opportunities to sample their wares! Sitting out on their heated patio will be a perfect end to a work week. New friends and new jobs… now that deserves another cocktail!

When J. and I were discussing what we should cook for the Thanksgiving holiday we decided not to go down the usual, traditional route. I have never cooked a turkey and Thanksgiving is not going to be my first time trying. We decided on really simple sides of green peas, corn and a potato gratin to go with roast chicken. We wanted to relax for most of the day, not spend the entire day in the kitchen.

I had made this gratin a few time before for J. and he absolutely loves it so it was an easy choice. I woke up really early Thanksgiving morning so when J. finally woke up he found my elbow deep in potatoes!

The twist to my gratin is the layers of my secret ingredient between the potato layers. It isn’t terribly exciting but my secret ingredient is caramelized red onions… my onions though are caramelized in bacon fat just to make them incredibly delicious.

So first thing first I slice up the 3 large red onions and throw them into some bacon fat to start caramelizing…. this always takes longer than I expect so it is good to get it started straight away.

Next up, I thinly sliced up 3 really large russet potatoes. I would love to have a mandolin for things like this but it was just me, my trusty knife and a very slow and careful pace. Last thing I wanted was a trip to the emergency room Thanksgiving Day. I also made sure to keep stirring and checking on the onions, I didn’t want them to burn on the bottom.

In a bowl I mixed 1 cup of full cream, garlic salt and pepper. I like to season the cream before putting it with the potatoes because otherwise I find the whole gratin just tastes unseasoned.

I then started layering the potatoes on the base of our pyrex dish. Only slightly overlapping them. When the first layer was down I put a layer of the caramelized onions. I figured I would get 4 layers of potatoes which meant I needed to divide the onion in three. After I had spread the onions out I started on the next layer of potatoes… Then I just repeated.

I finished with a layer of potatoes on the top. Then I gently poured the seasoned cream over the entire dish of potatoes and onion. The cream doesn’t cover the potatoes completely, just most of it. Last thing to do was to sprinkle the top with some cheese and slip it into a 400F degree oven for 45 minutes.

I made this nice and early and then just reheated it later on in the evening when we were ready to have dinner. I was really happy with this. It is such a filling dish but the onions combined with the creamy potatoes and cheese are just delicious! We have heaps of leftovers of this one and J. will be having it for lunches this week. He really enjoys it so that is a good thing. It was a nice change to the traditional roast potatoes we would normally do with roast chicken.

Stay tuned for the chicken recipe!

Sunday last weekend we had so many leftovers from the dinner the night before I figured we would just eat a plate of that for dinner. After cooking a big dinner Saturday the last thing I wanted to do Sunday was cook. So J. and I cam up with this amazingly delicious sandwich. Gravy soaked pork with cheese and giardiniera on toasted bread. And so begins my Ode to the Pig Part III.

I grabbed the left over roast pork out of the fridge, along with the left over gravy. I sliced thin strips of the pork and put them in a small saucepan, covering with the gravy. I then just let this warm slowly. I also heated up some of the roasted veggies we had to use as a side to our sandwich.

J. in the meantime cut four thick slices of semolina bread and started toasting them under the broiler. He flipped them over and topped each side with some grated sharp cheddar cheese before putting them back under the broiler to melt.

Now it was time to assemble. On one side of the toasted bread and cheese we heaped large amounts of the gravy soaked sliced pork. On top of this we added heaped spoons of giardiniera. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a spicy pickled vegetable mix with carrots, pickles, peppers. So tangy and spicy it is fabulous on sandwiches. Lastly we just put the second piece of toasted bread and cheese.

These sandwiches were piled high but with some difficulty I managed to cut them in half. We sat down and bit into them and we were in porky, spicy, heaven!!! Amazing how great such a simple dish can taste and with no cooking at all. Cold pork turned into such a delicious dinner… the giardiniera add just the right amount of tanginess and spice. It was the perfect sandwich.

The pig did it again!

Saturday night marked my first opportunity to cook for friends here in Phoenix. I had hijacked a group of J’s mates to come over for dinner after the boys had all gone motorbike riding that afternoon.

I spent time during the week leading up to the night planning a menu to suit their tastes. They aren’t the most adventurous eaters and most importantly I couldn’t put the tiniest bit of spice in anything… without profuse sweating and cursing for our mates.

So after some consultation with J. we came up with a menu. First course was really just going to be finger food to keep them happy when they got back from riding so I went with Cheesy Bacon Bites with Plumb BBQ Sauce.

These are ridiculously easy to make but taste so good. Nothing tastes quite as good as bacon and cheese so I was really in no doubt that these would be a hit.

For 20 bites I used 1 sheet of puff pastry rolled out a little thinner than usual. I then cut the sheet in half length ways. On each of the halves I crumbled crispy bacon down the centre. I had cooked and cooled the bacon earlier.

Once the bacon was evenly placed down the middle I added the grated cheese. Any cheese would be tasty with this and I just used some 3 cheese grated mix we had in the fridge.

Then it is just a matter of carefully rolling the pastry over. I use a little water along the edge to seal it. I then just cut into bite size pieces and placed them on a greased cookie sheet. Be careful that you don’t loose all the filling because it falls out very easily. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg.

These went into a 400F degree oven for 15 minutes, until they were golden brown.

While these were cooking I made up the dipping sauce. Usually this sauce would have some Thai sweet chilli sauce in it but I steered away from that. I mixed together 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of smokey BBQ sauce, and 1/4 cup of plum sauce. That’s it! If you want the spice add 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce as well.

They came out of the oven just as the boys got home from riding and they disappeared within 5 minutes!! Quick, easy and delicious. You can’t go wrong with bacon and cheese! That glorious magical animal called the pig has given us so much!