Tag Archives: Cheese

Savory Waffles for Your Sweet

Savory Waffles for Your Sweet

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association.  Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2017.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission.

Say “Cheese” for the Holidays

To celebrate Thanksgiving, my students and I created and enjoyed an elegant cheeseboard featuring the below seven cheeses.  As you know, a cheeseboard should contain cheeses of various textures from various countries of origin – this board did just that.  If seven is too many, choose any subset of three or five – an odd number is a must!

The below descriptions are from the cheesemonger and/or from the producer’s online descriptions.  Our accompaniments were Marcona almonds, Acacia honey, and fruit and nut crisps.

It was no surprise that the favorite was the Saint André…who doesn’t like butter? The Cambazola was also a standout and an effective way to introduce young turophiles to blue.

This assortment would be ideal for a holiday soirée with some Prosecco or Crémant d’Alsace.  Cheers, or should I say “Cheese”!

cheese-board

Saint André (France/Cow)

This soft-ripened, triple crème cheese is a product of Soulie, France.  Its luscious, mild, buttery flavor and velvety smooth texture make it a favorite of most everyone.  St. André may be served before a meal or for dessert with fresh fruit.

Mt. Tam (U.S.A./Cow)

This is Cowgirl Creamery’s signature cheese.  Smooth and creamy, this triple cream is made with organic milk in Petaluma, California.  It is firm yet buttery with a mellow, earthy flavor, reminiscent of white mushrooms. 

Taleggio (Italy/Cow)

This washed-rind, pressed curd cheese is from Lombardy at the foot of the Alps.  Its flavor is rich, buttery, and beefy with nuances of fruit and nuts.  Its texture is creamy yet substantial.  Fruit and crusty bread serve as good companions.  Serve it alone or consider sliced sopressata and prosciutto.

Manchego (Spain/Sheep)

This is Spain’s most popular cheese, and this version is aged for 4 months.  It is uncooked, pressed curd cheese that is made from sheep’s milk in the region Castile-La Mancha.  Look for the cross-hatched tire track pattern on its rind from the basket in which it was pressed and aged.  Enjoy it with fruit and truffle honey.

Ossau-Iraty (France/Sheep)

This cheese has been twice named the best cheese in the world.  It is made from raw sheep’s milk in the French Pyrénées.  One of the oldest and most heavenly of cheeses, its origin goes back thousands of years.  Enjoy the splendid nutty and fruity flavor of this firm cheese with fresh pears and figs. 

Couronne de Fontenay (France/Goat)

This cheese is from the heart of the Loire Valley and aged for one month.  The name means “crown” because it is shaped in a small crown shaped ring coated in vegetable ash.  While the center is a chalky texture, it becomes creamier closest to the bloomy (soft and fluffy) rind.

Cambazola (Germany/Cow)

This smooth, creamy, soft-ripened cheese combines a rich German triple-crème with Italy’s marvelous Gorgonzola dolce.  Cambazola is intended to appeal to those who find blue cheese a little too harsh and spicy.  The smooth and creamy texture is enhanced by subtle blue veins, creating a mouth-watering experience.

More Tastes at Tria

If you intend to dine out in Philly during the holiday season, make Tria Cafe a destination.  Tria on Rittenhouse continues to be one of my favorite lunch spots.

A decadent addition to the ever-changing menu is the chicken liver mousse with shallot marmalade, grapes and whole grain mustard.  A smear of velvety mousse, a slice of sweet grape and a dollop of crunchy, vinegary mustard makes for the perfect bite (on some crusty bread, of course).

Chicken Liver Tria

The marinated calamari with green beans, red onion, almonds and capers was oh so tender.  And, a drizzle of calabrian chili oil provided a little heat.  Rather than a sweet dessert, we prefer to conclude with the Téte de Moine when it is “in season”.  This creamy cow cheese from Bern, Switzerland is cut into lovely florets using a girolle.

Tete de Moine Tria

On this trip, we enjoyed some bubbly and then compared a Grenache/Syrah blend from the Rhône to a Marcillac from Southwest France.  The wine list, in addition to the creative small plates, is always a treat at Tria.

Eggplant and Tomato Tian

This Provençal dish is a bright accompaniment to a grilled steak or lamb chop.  The term “tian” refers to both the earthenware dish in which the vegetables are cooked and the gratin of vegetables and cheese itself.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (preferably Sicilian), thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a round 9-inch ceramic tart pan.  Arrange the eggplant in a layer on the bottom of the dish, permitting the slices to overlap slightly.  Then add a layer of tomato and season with pepper.  Continue to layer in this fashion until you use all of the tomato and eggplant.  Top with another drizzle of olive oil, and bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.  Uncover, add the cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes until the vegetables are browned and the eggplant is tender.  Top with fresh basil and sea salt before serving.

Tian

Concord Grape and Ricotta Pie

Everyone remembers enjoying Concord grape juice and peanut butter and Concord grape jelly sandwiches as a child.  Although these are two of the most comforting ways to appreciate the sweet yet tart grape now available in farmers’ markets, there are so many other preparations – chutneys, jams, pies…

I detected the unmistakable fragrance of Concord grapes at a farm stand this weekend and could not resist buying a bunch.  As I still had some ricotta in the refrigerator from recent ravioli making, I decided on a Concord grape and ricotta pie.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1 pound ricotta

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup Concord grapes, halved and seeded

Zest of one lemon

Ricotta Pie Batter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9 inch tart pan or pie dish.  Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl, and then mix in the ricotta, sugar, salt and vanilla.  Fold in the grapes and lemon zest.  Pour and smooth the batter into the tart pan, and bake for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown.  Garnish each slice with additional grape halves and lemon zest.

Concord Grape Pie

Drop a few grapes into a glass of Prosecco to celebrate autumn with this Concord grape dessert.

Some End of Summer R & R – Raspberries and Ricotta

I have been back in the classroom for two weeks, yet I am trying to soak up every last bit of summer, including summer berries.  This easy dessert incorporates raspberries, my favorite berry, and ricotta, one of my preferred cheeses.

Simply scoop some ricotta into each dessert bowl and gently blend in a small quantity of honey.  I used honey infused with lemon from a local farmers’ market.  I also drizzled a bit of chocolate infused olive oil on top of the ricotta, but you could substitute with some chocolate shavings.  Top with a few raspberries and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I purchased some delicious pâtes de fruits (fruit jellies) in Tout Sweet Pâtisserie.  The Negroni flavor is most interesting with its ingredients of blood orange, grapefruit and Campari.  So, for a little bitter to balance the sweet, I placed a few of these tasty jellies on the side.

Cheers!

Ricotta and Raspberries 1

Grilled Eggplant and Ricotta Makes for a Simple Summer Appetizer

I recently wrote about a very simple way to prepare eggplant in my post, “Fresh from the Farm Stand”.  Most frequently during the summer, I grill eggplant as a side dish after marinating it in extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.  (The small round Sicilian eggplants are my favorite!)

The steps are simple…First, slice the eggplant into rounds of about 1/6 to 1/4 inch thick.  Then, place a layer of slices in a large baking dish and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of sea salt.  Repeat with additional layers until all slices are topped with both oil and salt.  The purpose of the salt it to extract the liquid that causes the eggplant’s bitterness.  Let the slices marinate for about one hour prior to grilling.  Grill the eggplant on medium-low heat, turning the slices with tongues so that they soften and brown.

As an alternative to a side dish, incorporate this eggplant preparation into an appetizer course.  Arrange several slices on a small plate alongside a dollop of ricotta cheese.  Drizzle the ricotta with extra virgin olive oil and top with fresh ground pepper and finishing salt.  Fresh herbs, such as basil, make for a colorful addition to this tasty starter.

Eggplant and Ricotta

Not Your Spring Spiral

Please enjoy my April edition of The Judicial Palate!

Not Your Spring Spiral

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association. Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2014.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

 

Fiddleheads for Dinner

April marks the beginning of fiddlehead fern season.   This is the time of year to enjoy those lovely fern fronds before they unfurl – on your plate.   To celebrate the first sighting of fiddleheads this year (at Whole Foods), we decided to feature them with a risotto for last night’s dinner.

To prep the risotto, bring about 32 ounces of chicken stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Slice several cloves of garlic and cipollini onions and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil in a risotto pan. When the onions start to become translucent, stir in one cup of Arborio rice, coating the rice with the oil.

Onions cooking

Add a large ladle of stock to the rice to begin the absorption process. Keep the heat on medium low so as not to scorch the rice, and keep stirring with a large wooden spoon. Continue to add more stock ladle by ladle, and continue stirring for about 25 minutes or until the rice is not hard in the center.   In addition to the stock, add freshly squeezed lemon juice and some splashes of white wine or Prosecco for extra flavor.  When the rice is cooked, stir in half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, turn off the heat and cover.

Risotto Cooking

To prepare the fiddleheads, thoroughly rinse and cut off the ends of the stems. Blanch the fiddleheads by placing them in boiling water for a minute and then running them under cold water. Do not sauté the fiddleheads until the risotto is almost finished as they only take a few minutes – you want them to retain their crunchiness. Sauté the fiddleheads in extra virgin olive oil for about three minutes and add some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I also added some Piment d’Espelette for some red color and mild heat.

Fiddleheads

To serve, spoon the risotto into a pasta bowl and top with the beautiful fiddleheads and crushed red pepper. This is a light, tasty dish that is fun to prepare – consider opening a bottle of red to aid in the stirring.

Risotto

Tarte à l’Oignon

While several Thanksgiving dishes call for onion – stuffing, for example – the onion is certainly not the star.  So, four sweet onions remaining in the refrigerator after the holiday called out to be featured in one of this weekend’s dinners.  As I was not yet ready for a decadent onion soup, I decided on an onion tart.  Below is my recipe for this savory tart.

For the crust:

  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ stick chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons iced water

For the filling:

  •  4 sweet onions, sliced
  • Dijon mustard (I recommend Edmond Fallot mustards from Burgundy)
  • Gruyère and/or Emmentaler cheese
  • Fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

To prepare the crust, mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  With a sharp knife, cut the butter into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients.  Rub the pieces of butter and the dry ingredients together with your fingers until the butter is broken into tiny pieces.  Add the egg and mix it into the dry ingredients with a fork.  Then drizzle in the iced water.  Begin to knead the dough quickly into a ball.  Add more iced water until the dough is just wet enough to form a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for several hours.

When you are ready to start putting the tart together, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat.  When the butter is melted, add the onion and sauté until the onion softens, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and add flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and the work surface.  Roll the dough until it is about ¼ inch in thickness and large enough to cover the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch tart pan.  Prick the crust with a fork in several places to prevent the bottom from bubbling.  Pre-bake the crust in the middle level of the oven for 10 minutes.

Crust

Rolling out the crust with a French rolling pin

Remove the crust from the oven and turn down to 400 degrees.  Spread a thin layer of mustard on the bottom of the tart shell.  Then place slices of the cheese on top of the mustard.  Top with the onion mixture and some fresh thyme.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and slice into wedges.

Onion Tart

Just out of the oven

Enjoy the tart alongside a salad of fresh greens and pomegranate seeds for a colorful dish.

Slice of Tart

Slice of onion tart served with fresh greens