Archive of ‘cheese’ category

Curried Onion & Spinach Pizzas and Why Curry Doesn’t Suck

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I'm going to be honest with you.  I'm not a big fan of the flavor of curry.  It's not that I've ever hated the taste, I just never found myself craving it like I do some foods.  And a few years ago, an episode of food poisoning turned my meh attitude towards curry into an active dislike.  It wasn't the curry's fault.  Strangely enough, it was Greek food that was the culprit but curry was the unfortunate victim.

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I'm kind of a weird bird though.  I hate having aversions to food.  I have very few of them and they tend to be oddly specific.  I hate cooked raisins and black walnuts.  Other than that, just about everything I can eat.  Granted – there are things I'm not super fond of (nuts in brownies) but I can eat them without feeling ill.  The idea of not being able to eat a food because it contains a certain ingredient irritates me.  I can think of few things more annoying than being a picky eater – not that it irritates me in other people but it irritates me to be the one picky one.

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My curry aversion has had a strange hold on me so I've turned it into a project over the last couple of years.  I started out by adding it back in to my diet in small doses in a spoonful of food.  When I could handle that without feeling sick, I added it to foods that I really love.  So when I saw this recipe in Vegetarian Planet, I decided to give it a try. 

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What did I think of this pizza?  I really liked it.  I'd love to rave on and on about it but I think that's still beyond me when it comes to curry.  But this recipe was really tasty and I would make it again.  Leftovers were eaten gladly and I think I might be able to finally move past my curry aversion.  The sweetness of the onions, the vegetal greenness of the spinach, the spices all mixed with the butteriness of the cheese makes this a win.  I did increase the cooking time for the onions and I liked more cilantro on it than the recipe called for.

Curried Onion and Spinach Pizzas
Adapted from Vegetarian Planet

Makes two 8-inch pizzas

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 garlic clove, minced
5 cups packed spinach leaves, large stems removed
Salt & freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cashews
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Your favorite pizza crust recipe – this is mine. This recipe will make four 8" pizzas and the toppings are enough for two pizzas.  Either double the toppings recipe or save the extra dough for later.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Place pizza stone in oven to heat for an hour before baking.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until they turn light brown. Add curry powder, fennel seeds and garlic.  Cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add spinach and 1 tablespoon water and stir until spinach wilts.  Season with salt & pepper.

Divide full recipe of pizza dough into four balls.  Put two of those balls back in the fridge to use later. Roll the other two balls out into two 8 inch pizzas.  Sprinkle a flat cookie sheet or pizza peel with cornmeal, then place the pizza dough onto the sheet.  

Top the pizzas with the spinach onion mixture. Slide pizza directly onto the baking stone.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove pizzas, sprinkle with mozzarella and the cashews and cook for 3 minutes more.  Top each pizza with cilantro, cut into pieces and serve.

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Please click here for a printable recipe!  

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Camel Crickets and a Winter Squash & Potato Casserole with Gruyere Cheese

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Whenever I leave on a trip, I only need one guess in order to know what my husband will be eating while I'm gone – mashed potatoes.  Sometimes he mixes it up and makes hash browns and if he's feeling particularly crazy, he might make potatoes au gratin. My boy loves potatoes.  And really who can blame him?  They're one of the most comforting foods known to mankind.  

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What makes my husband's potato love even more amazing is how traumatized he was by a bad potato experience.  When he was thirteen, his grandma sent him to the root cellar underneath the smokehouse to get some potatoes for Sunday dinner.  Marcus opened the door and as he did so, in his own words, about a billion camel crickets were on the back of the door and jumped on him.  After jumping up and down while screaming like a banshee, he made a pact to never enter the root cellar again.  In our house, my husband is the regular bug smasher or remover, except if it's a camel cricket.  We've only had two in our house during the seven years we've lived here but each time, I've been brought in to dispatch it.  Ask him about the camel cricket move I do with my hand on his arm to freak him out.

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I have a lot of love for potatoes, this despite the fact that my parents once tried to kill us by feeding us about three tons of potatoes.  Ok – maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But it honestly seemed like three tons of potatoes at the time.  When we lived in Brentwood, TN, my Dad put in a rather large garden.  As I remember, he planted two rows of potatoes.  I remember feeling like Almanzo from Farmer Boy when it came time to harvest them. I remember my Dad being a bit flummoxed by the quantities of potatoes that we harvested. The rest of that summer, lunch consisted of a potato with cheese melted on it.  Amazingly enough, the potatoes were so good, my brother and I didn't get sick of them.  But we do refer to it as our potato year.

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Monday night, we had our neighborhood potluck and I needed to make something to bring.  I tend to bring vegetarian dishes to potlucks because I have so many friends that are vegetarians and I want there to be something they can eat at these functions.  These dishes also have to be Southern potluck worthy which usually means they need to not be too weird and it's always a winner if it involves cream or cheese.  

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As I browse the web, I save recipes that I want to try later.  Doing a search on recipes containing potatoes, I found a wonderful casserole posted by Marisa McClellan who writes the wonderful blog, Food In Jars.  If you want more information about canning and preserving food, her blog is a must read.  I've gotten so many helpful tips and advice from her site.  

This casserole is delicious on so many different levels.  It's true comfort food but the sage and the nutmeg fancy it up a bit.  The sweetness of the winter squash adds a bit of twist to the standard mashed potato casserole.  It's light and fluffy and the Gruyère cheese mixed throughout the dish and sprinkled on top makes it truly amazing.  I was told by our friends and neighbors at the potluck that this was totally blog worthy.  Since it was the first dish gone, I think we found a winner.

Potato & Winter Squash Casserole with Gruyère Cheese
Adapted from Marisa McClellan
Serves 10-12 as a side dish

2 lbs potatoes, peeled,sliced in half and cut into 1/2 inch slices(choose a good mashing potato – I used Yukon Gold)
2 lbs winter squash, peeled,sliced in half and cut into 1/2 inch slices(I used butternut)
2 cups shredded Gruyere Cheese (this is about 9 ounces)
3/4 cups shredded Parmesan (this is about 1 ounce)
4 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, beaten
3-4 finely minced sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the potatoes & squash.  Cover, reduce heat and cook at a slow boil until soft (this took us 25 minutes).

While potatoes and squash are cooking, grate cheese and toss together.  Reserve 1 cup for sprinkling over the top.  

Drain potatoes and squash, reserving one cup of cooking water.  Return potatoes and squash to pot and mash well.  Add butter and 1 3/4 cups of cheese and mix well.  Add seasonings, stir and taste.  Adjust seasoning if needed.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes and stir in beaten eggs.  Add reserved cooking water until mixture is just slightly pourable.  

Pour potato & squash mixture into a baking dish and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until until the top is browned and the casserole bubbles (this took us 45 minutes). Serve!

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Please click here for a printable recipe!  

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Get Garlicky Kisses by Eating Roasted Garlic, Gruyere and Rosemary Pizza

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I have a deep and abiding love for garlic.  My view is that most foods can only be made better with the liberal use of garlic. And garlic is one of those foods that I feel is made even better if you grow it yourself.  So much so that a week before I was married, you could find me in our backyard garden with an umbrella over my head, trying to get 18 different kinds of garlic planted on the only day I had free before I had to get a manicure for my wedding.  Yes – I'm that crazy for garlic.

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(And Charlie is that crazy for garlic tops)

I had an acquaintance in college that was very outspoken on the "rule" that you should never order garlicky foods if you were going out on a hot date.  She had a lot of dumb rules like this because she was the sort of person that would never do something so gauche as wear white after labor day.  Quite frankly, I thought she was as dumb as a box of hair and I always made a point of traipsing through my dorm in a white sundress the day after Labor Day just to irritate her(and the dumbest thing was that it DID irritate her).  But while I thought that most of her views were merely stupid, the rule against garlic on a hot date was pure evil in my view.  Garlic is one of those things that makes life better and the idea of being involved with a man who I couldn't share garlicky kisses with?  Why bother?  Kisses shared over a hot loaf of garlic bread and a cheap bottle of red wine – THAT, my friend, is the kind of passion pool I long to dive into.

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A few years ago, my husband and I got into the habit of making pizza once a week on Fridays.  It's so much less expensive than ordering one and the pizza is so much better.  Plus it's fun to experiment with different toppings.  I'm certainly a fan of the traditional when it comes to pizza but I'm never disappointed when we try something new.

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If you've never tried growing garlic, why not try it this year?  For those of you that plant your own garlic, you can't go wrong with Applegate, Red Toch, Metechi, Morado Gigante, Inchelium Red and Tennessee Redneck.  Those varieties are my personal favorites.  If you've got a square foot of growing space, you can grow garlic. It's so worth it.

Tonight?  I've got a bottle of cheap, red wine and leftover pizza drowning in roasted garlic.  I've got a hot husband to share it with who thinks passionate garlic kisses are the bee's knees. I'm a very lucky woman.

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Here is my current favorite pizza crust recipe – we've used this for years with great results.  For the recipe below, we used about a third of the dough, rolled out into a 12-inch pizza.  Please read that post for all my tips on making good pizza.

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Roasted Garlic, Gruyère and Rosemary Pizza
Serves 2
Adapted from 
Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese(this is about 4 ounces)
2 teaspoon minced rosemary
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated black pepper
1 head roasted garlic (see note below)
Balsamic Glaze (see note below)
Unbaked 12-inch pizza crust of your choice

Heat oven to 500 degrees.  After oven is heated, place pizza stone in oven for at least 45 minutes. 

After rolling out dough, sprinkle with cheese.  Then sprinkle evenly with rosemary and pepper.  Transfer pizza to pizza stone in oven using parchment paper and bake for eight minutes or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.  Remove pizza from oven.  Let cool for about a minute.  Squeeze garlic out of papery skin onto pizza and gently spread with a knife.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze (we ended up using about a tablespoon).  Cut into pieces and serve.

NOTE:
To Make Roasted Garlic – Cut the tips off of ends of a head of garlic.  Put in small baking pan lined with foil.  Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

To Make Balsamic Glaze – Put 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil on medium-high heat.  Try to dodge the fumes when making this so you don't pass out.  When boiling, turn heat to medium and reduce by about half.  This took us 20 minutes.  Cool and store in refrigerator.

 

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Please click here for a printable recipe!  

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Pretending Caramelized Onion, Peach & Brie Quesadillas Are Diet Food

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I spent this past weekend with a group of the loveliest women imaginable at a spectacular food event called IFBC (recap coming soon).  Let me quickly say that it was an amazing weekend full of fun, laughter & spectacular food.  We managed to pack the last few days with so much awesomeness that it made coming home a bit of a buzz kill, even if snuggling with my husband helped make up for it.  Walking into our construction zone of a house and finding out that one of our affiliate networks decided to change 500+ of their links without warning – well, let's just say that I was brought back to reality pretty damn quick.

After stuffing myself all weekend and risking a blowout with my Spanx, I swore to myself that I would subsist on cardboard & grass for the next couple of weeks.  But after realizing that I had wonderful truffles from Theo chocolates to eat, bread, cheese & salami to finish off, it seemed kind of silly to shock my system with too much healthy food.  Far better for me to ease into it, you see.  Plus I had some brie & peaches to use up.  I mean, it's a sin to waste food, right?

Whenever I need to make caramelized onions for a recipe, I make extra.  They're one of my favorite leftovers to have.  They freeze well and they make just about anything that's savory better, including these quesadillas.  These make a quick meal when time is tight and the way the onions, Brie & peaches taste together is sublime.

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Caramelized Onion, Brie and Peach Quesadillas
Serves 2

1 medium peach, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 ounce Brie, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup caramelized onions (See note)
2 1-inch flour tortillas

Mix peaches with sugar and set aside for five minutes.  Put a nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Over one half of a tortilla, spread a thin layer of peaches (you'll use about half), a couple of tablespoons of onions and half the Brie.  Fold tortilla in half and slide into skillet.  We usually don't use oil but if you'd rather use some, you can melt a little bit of butter or use a little bit of cooking spray.  It takes about 2-5 minutes per side – you want the tortillas to get nice and brown.  Cut into wedges and serve.

Caramelized Onions

1 large onion, thinly sliced.
1/2 tablespoon butter

Melt butter in a medium skillet.  Add onions and cook about 45 minutes, until onions and nice and brown.  You don't want them to get crispy brown.  Make sure to stir about every five minutes.  I usually double or triple this recipe and either use the onions in other dishes or freeze for later use.

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Please click here for a printable recipe!

Fresh Corn-and-Asiago Cheese Bread Pudding

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Y'all – I'm melting here in Knoxville.  No – seriously.  I'm really melting.  Yesterday it got so hot in our living room that Marcus walked in and I had been reduced to a mere puddle on the floor.  The only thing that saved me was that he sucked me up with a straw, brought me into our air conditioned bedroom and when I started to regain my solid form, he put in the freezer to finish the cooling off process.  It was a very close call.

However I am such a committed food blogger that I dared – nay, I was thrilled – to turn on my oven this past week to make the following recipe.  This was spectacular in oh-so-many ways.  It's a cinch to throw together.  It's delicious.  It's heavenly straight from the oven, beguiling at room temperature and reheats like a dream.

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I inhaled three servings of this stuff the first night we made it – it's one of the most comforting comfort foods I've ever made, yet there's nothing stodgy or heavy about it.  The chewiness of the bread, the luxurious smoothness of the cream, the salty pungency of the cheese mixed with the sweetness of the corn – all of this combined made me sigh when I took my first bite.  This dish is as soothing as cool, crisp cotton sheets but there's nothing overly familiar with it.  This is a dish I'm willing to turn my oven on for right now – that's saying a lot.

The first time we made this, I used Asiago Pressato – the only kind the market had.  This is a younger version of Asiago then most people buy.  It's a bit sweeter than the more aged Asiago and the texture is creamier.  The second time I made it, we used a more traditional Asiago – most versions were delicious.  If you can't get find Asiago, I think this would be delicious with many different cheeses – you might try a good Parmesan (no buying the pre-grated stuff!) or Pecorino Romano.

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Fresh Corn-and-Asiago Cheese Bread Pudding
Adapted from Southern Living
Yield:  12 servings

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups 1-inch cubes of french bread or other sturdy bread (I used one loaf french bread)
4 cups fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.)Asiago cheese, shredded

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add bread and toss to coat all the cubes.  Let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 13×9 inch baking dish well.

Stir corn and cheese into the bread mixture.  Spoon into pan.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until set and golden brown.

Please click here for a printable recipe!

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Some other recipes using fresh corn:
Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Mozzerella, Corn & Tomatoes 
Summer in a Bowl Corn Chowder
 

Please join us by participating in SummerFest 2010!  Post on your blog or in the comments or join us on Twitter by using #summerfood.

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