Tag Archives: Cheese

Melty, Cheesy Goodness: Summer Style

If you read this blog on the regular, you have probably gathered by now that I like cheese. And if you’re especially perceptive, you know that I like melted cheese. It’s like a hidden message I have buried deep within the posts. Subtlety is my forte.

On the menu:
Summer squash and potato with goat cheese gratin
Serves 3 as a side, 2 as a meal

1 medium sized green squash (or yellow)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 medium sized red potatoes
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup skim milk
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the potatoes and squash VERY thinly, about an 1/8 of an inch thick or thinner if you can manage. [NOTE: if you have a mandolin, use it. If not, a very sharp chef’s knife will work] Toss the potatoes, squash, and onions with the olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Layer 1/3 of the potatoes, squash, and onions in a large baking dish. Season again with a bit of salt and pepper, and crumble goat cheese over the whole layer. Repeat the “Layer, season, crumble” 2 more times until you’ve used up all the potatoes, squash, and onions. Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the top of the dish. Bake for 30 minutes with the dish covered, and another 15 minutes uncovered until the cheese is browned. Serve. Eat. Pat belly. Smile.

*Note: this recipe was adapted from this recipe at The Kitchn. Their picture is GORGEOUS. It’s worth a click.

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A Fish of a Different Color

Lately I’ve been feeling a little… chunky. Not like sophomore year of college where I literally had to buy a new pair of pants whilst working at the mall because the pair I was wearing was cutting off my circulation, but… chunky. It’s bathing suit season, you know? Time to lay off the extra mayo and pancake appetizers at brunch. Forget I just indulged in all-you-can-eat gnocchi. It never happened.

It is in the spirit of lighter options that I experimented with tuna and planned a weekday lunch for myself that won’t lead to high cholesterol at the young age of twenty-COUGH.

On the menu:
Mediterranean tuna salad
Serves 2

1 can of albacore tuna in water (or 1/2 cup tuna steak, roughly chopped)
2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked according to directions on box (I used elbow macaroni, but you can use any little chunky pasta)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THESE DIRECTIONS THEY ARE VERY VERY COMPLICATED: Toss pasta with olive oil. Add tuna. Add fruit. Add cheese. Add zest. Add salt and pepper. Toss. Eat. Feel healthy. Be happy.

I like this in a bowl with a fork, but you could easily put this on some toasted Italian bread, or melted between two pieces of flat bread with the chunks of mozzarella binding it together. But, as I mentioned, I’m trying to fit into last year’s summer wardrobe and extraneous bread ain’t gonna help me there.

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Brunch in BillyBurg

Country Ham Biscuit

This was a weekend chock-full of amazing eats. So for the next three days, I’m going to regale you with stories of what I ate in a two day span. Prepare yourself. It’s a lot of food for one small lady, but I ate so I could report back to YOU. Seriously, you should be thanking me. And sending donations for a gym membership.

Egg 135 N. 5th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Egg is a tiny white-walled hallway of a restaurant with a focus on Southern-style dishes. My lovely friend Sasha has been raving about this inexpensive brunch spot for months (“the biscuits! my GOD, the biscuits!”) so her sojourn into town from DC was a perfect excuse to make the trek to this neighborhood I otherwise steer clear of. Too much ironic-disheveled-Salvation-Army makes me itchy.

On the menu:
Eggs Rothko (easy-cooked egg in a slice of brioche, topped with cheddar, served with broiled tomatoes and kale)
Country Ham Biscuit (thick cut ham, fig jam, and cheddar on a country biscuit, served with grits)
Mimosas
French press coffee (NOTE: Egg serves each table its own French press; how swank is that?)

Eggs Rothko

Verdict: Hipsters, be damned, I am going back to EGG! Oh, the beauty of salty, thick-sliced ham paired with sweet fig jam and salty melted cheddar. I feel I have to discuss the filling and THEN the biscuit because they are magic alone and perfection together. Some might tell you I peeled away the top of the biscuit to save for later and eat slowly at the end of the meal with fresh raspberry preserves… but those people would be liars.

The wait at Egg will run you at least a half hour if you go during typical brunch hours, but it is worth the wait, my friends. Sasha did not tell a lie: the biscuits are to die for. Everything tasted like it was straight out of your Kentucky grandma’s kitchen: farm fresh, made on premises, and prepared with love. More than once my fellow diners and I cried out, “Man, that is SOAKED in butter!” But y’all know that’s just fine with me.

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Why go out for a hamburger when you’ve got steak at home?

This past weekend, I found myself completely caught up in the summer heat with an intense craving for some red meat. I wanted a freshly grilled burger or a sizzling steak or even a Zweigle’s hot dog with that delicious crispy skin you can only get from a charcoal grill. Nothing says summer to me like the smell of grilled meat. Well… maybe grilled meat followed by some ice cream.

On the menu:
Ribeye steak
Steamed broccoli with goat cheese and walnuts
Baked potato

While there is nothing very complicated about this meal, it’s a classic, it’s sure to please any meat eater, and it can be created in a quick thirty minutes.

Steak

Heat an oven-proof skillet to high heat with 1 Tbsp of canola oil
Season the ribeye with salt and pepper, and sear the meat for around 2 minutes on each side
Put the entire skillet in a 450 degree oven for around 6 minutes (if you’re making a thinner piece of meat, take the steak out after 4 or 5 minutes)
Let the meat rest for fifteen minutes after it comes out of the oven

*A few notes on steak:

  • In order for the steak to really hold in all the juices, the outside layer needs to sear. When you place your steak in the skillet, don’t move it around at all aside from the single flip.
  • Never cut your steak open immediately after it’s removed from the heat (or taken out of the oven). Meat contracts when it’s heated and all the juices run to the center. It needs at least 15 minutes after it’s been removed from heat (longer if it’s a big honking piece of meat) to relax and release and let the juices redistribute. If you cut a piece of steak straight off the heat, all the juices will run out onto your plate. And that ain’t cool.

Broccoli

Trim stalks off of the broccoli and cut into bite-sized pieces. Throw the pieces into a pan with an inch of water at the bottom. Turn the heat to medium and let the broccoli cook until the water is 99% gone. Plate broccoli and break up goat cheese over the top while it’s still hot enough to slightly melt the cheese. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.

And for dessert? Ice cream. And when your local grocer, has a sale on Ben & Jerry’s… well, it’s like fate made that decision for you, now didn’t it?

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Summer’s So Close I Can Taste It

I’m obviously a girl who loves her sweets. But there is a sweets subcategory that always gets me: fruit. I love a good peach pie, or a lemon raspberry cake, or even an apple baked with sugar and cinnamon. Now that summer is waving at me from just a few short months away, I’m thinking lemons. And since I’m always thinking dessert and I’m always thinking cheese, what came out of my brain were these deliciously light, crispy lemon cookies with a smooth, creamy center to round it all out.

On the menu:
Crispy lemon cookie sandwiches

Cookies:
(recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Lemon Poppyseed Cookies)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (2 to 3 lemons)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter (make sure 1 is at room temperature)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until reduced by half. Add 1 stick butter; stir until melted. Cream remaining stick of butter and 1 cup sugar on medium speed. Mix in egg and lemon butter. Mix until pale, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla and zest. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix completely. Refrigerate dough for 30 – 45 minutes.

Pour remaining 1/2 cup of sugar on a plate. Roll spoonfuls of chilled dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll them in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Press each with the flat end of a glass dipped in sugar mixture until 1/4 inch thick. Bake until just browned around bottom edges, 8 to 9 minutes.

Filling:

4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp butter (at room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 Tbsp milk (only if your filling is particularly dry or sticky)

Cream together both cheeses, butter, and powdered sugar, adding milk if necessary. Add lemon zest and vanilla. Mix well. Spread 1 Tbsp of filling between two completely cooled cookies. Refrigerate sandwiches until ready to serve.

Note: if you’re serving these for guests, make sure you refrigerate at least one hour before serving so the filling firms up completely.

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The Cheesiest Mac of them All

I cook because I love food, but I also cook because I love making other people happy via food. One time my friend Meagan came over around dinner time when I had made mac and cheese, and proceeded to eat three bowls of it. I couldn’t have been happier. There is no higher compliment to a cook than guests going back for seconds.

On the menu:
Mac and cheese with pancetta (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Serves 6 as a meal, 10 as a side

6 tablespoons butter, divided
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cups (or less) whole milk
2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 pound macaroni (any medium-sized pasta will do: penne, orecchiette, gemelli, etc. – I used penne and gemelli here because it’s all I had in my pantry)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and get a large pot of salted water boiling for pasta. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté until crisp, about 6 minutes. Add onion; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and garlic; stir 1 minute. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter; allow to melt, then add flour and stir 1 minute. [Now is a good time to start cooking your pasta – cook until al dente] Gradually whisk in 1 cup of milk; simmer until thick enough to coat spoon thickly, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in all cheeses. Whisk in more milk by 1/4 cupfuls until sauce is thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko and stir until very light golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Lightly butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add warm cheese sauce to drained al dente pasta; toss to coat. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over. Bake mac and cheese until heated through and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. [I added a little more cheddar to the top of mine, because I really, really like cheese… but if you’re trying to avoid a heart attack, maybe leave off the extra]

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