Cheese

Rosemary, Lavender and Goat’s Cheese Bread

French Herbed Bread 2

 

So, is everyone ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow?  We’re hosting for the second year in a row, so we are in the process of turkey brining/chestnut roasting/mad prepping before the big day.  Got all of the deep cleaning in the house done on Sunday (yay for productivity!), so on Thursday it’s just cooking, some light cleaning, and some definite parade watching.  Growing up, my family always traveled to Bakersfield to visit my dad’s side for Thanksgiving, so I never watched the parade until I was an adult, but I definitely get the appeal.  But, we always listened to Alice’s Restaurant in the car on the way down, so I insist on continuing that tradition even when we’re staying at home.  

:-)

I wanted to post a recipe this week, but was at a bit of a loss of what to do.  I figured everyone is pretty overwhelmed with turkey/potato/green bean/squash/pumpkin/various pie recipes, so I thought I would go in a less traditional direction.  I wanted to do something as a starter, something a less traditional, a little … different.  So, in looking for something new and different, I looked to Rachel Khoo.

French Herbed Bread 1

 

For those of your who aren’t familiar with Rachel Khoo, I insist you get familiar.  She is a culinary creative, originally from London but based in Paris, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu and now has several cookbooks and a show on the Cooking Channel.  She does fresh, modern interpretations of classic French dishes.  She is also one of the most adorable human beings on Earth.  I discovered her cookbook, “The Little Paris Kitchen,” on our trip to Calistoga in May.  I have been working my way through the book, trying as many recipes as I can.  They are all so fresh and interesting and inventive.  I have a full-on food crush.

French Herbed Bread 4

One of the recipes I had been dying to try was this bread: Lavender, Rosemary and Goat Cheese bread.  Almost like an herbed focaccia, with pockets of hard goat cheese sprinkled throughout.  I could hear it calling me every time I flipped through the book.  I could resist no longer.  I had to make it!

Imagine this bread, crusty and warm, straight out of the oven, with a dish of soft butter or good olive oil on the side.  Everyone ripping pieces off, dipping, enjoying the sharp hit of the cheese throughout the soft, aromatic dough.  This would make an excellent starter to an elegant and hearty Thanksgiving.  Or, just a nice afternoon’s lunch.  Or breakfast.  Really, anytime.  This bread is pretty fantastic.  Upon making the bread, I realized that I had run out of dried rosemary.  I decided to use Herbs de Provence instead (a dried French herb mix of lavender, thyme, fennel, savory and basil), which worked beautifully, though I imagine the lavender and rosemary combo would be just as tantalizing.

With a little bit of time for rising, this bread is actually incredibly easy to make, and so rewarding to eat.  Make this, either tomorrow or another day, your taste buds will thank you.  

:-)

Have a happy and indulgent Thanksgiving friends!  THG

French Herbed Bread 3

 

Rosemary, Lavender & Goat's Cheese Bread
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tsp. active dry yeast
  2. 1 cup lukewarm water
  3. 3 cups bread flour
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  5. 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  6. 1/2 tsp. dried lavender
  7. 2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  8. 3 oz. hard goat's cheese, cut into small cubes
Instructions
  1. Mix the yeast with the warm water, stirring until the yeast has completely dissolved. Mix the flour, salt, rosemary and lavender in a large bowl. Pour in the dissolved yeast and the olive oil and mix to form a dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it forms a sooth, sticky ball. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour, then put into the fridge overnight.
  2. The following day, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until it forms a smooth ball again, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll the dough into a large circle and then cut the circle in half. Make a large cut down the middle of each half without cutting all the way through the dough, starting a little way in from the rounded edge and stopping before the opposite side. Make three small slashes on each side of the cut, then use your fingers to gently open out the slashes to look like the veins of a leaf. Place each half on a piece of parchment paper and push the cubes of cheese randomly into the dough. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 475F.
  5. Put a baking sheet in the oven to get hot while oven is preheating. Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt. Once the oven is hot, place the bread on the hot baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 400F and bake for another 12-15 mintues or until the bread is golden brown. Serve warm with butter and olive oil.
Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen
Adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Apple, Arugula & Goat Cheese Quiche

Apple Arugula Quiche 1
Do you feel it?  The change in weather?  The darker mornings and shorter days?  The crisp, cool smell in the air?

It’s fall.

Oh, how I have waited for fall!  I like mild weather; not too hot, not too cold.  I like sweaters and coats and hot coffee and boots and warm stews.  I like candles lit in the fireplace, snuggly blankets on the couch, the smells of roasting squash and cinnamon and rich, hearty soups.  I like the feeling of looming holidays, the harvest festivals, the general sense of mischief and merriment in the air as Halloween approaches.  I like fall.

Apple Arugula Quiche 3

 I did cheat a bit.  I made this quiche in the summer.  It’s light and lovely and worked well for a backyard picnic lunch.  But the flavors work well for the fall too.  Apples and arugula.  The zing of the goat cheese.  A little salad on the side, and you are ready to enjoy the season.

Apple Arugula Quiche 6

 Most of my blog cooking gets done on the weekends.  With getting home late, and it getting darker earlier now, it just makes more sense.  So, Shawn and I do our best eating on the weekends (this quiche included).  There’s something really satisfying about spending your Saturday surrounded by food; farmer’s market in the morning, some baking, some eating, dessert, a nice dinner.  Weekends work well for those slowly prepared foods; braising, roasting, stewing.  Your whole house fills with the scents of dinner at home; there is no cozier feeling.

Apple Arugula Quiche 4

 

I mean, just look at that quiche!  You can bet the whole house smelled like apples and cheese, the peppery crust.  We were salivating by the time it was ready to eat, just wanting to dive in headfirst.  Yum, yum, yum.

How will you be welcoming in the fall?  THG

Apple Arugula Quiche 5

 

Apple, Arugula & Goat Cheese Quiche
Serves 4
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For the crust
  1. 1 1/2 cups flour
  2. 3/4 cup unsalted butter, in 1/2" cubes
  3. 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  4. 1 tsp. black pepper
  5. 1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
For the filling
  1. 2 Granny Smith apples, sliced 1/8" thick with a mandoline, seeds removed
  2. 6 eggs
  3. 1/4 cup heavy cream
  4. 1/2 cup milk
  5. 5 oz. Chevre goat cheese, softened
  6. 2 cups fresh arugula, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, pepper and sea salt. Add cold butter and work with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add ice water 1 Tbsp. at a time and mix until dough just begins to come together. Form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 6.5 by 16 inch rectangle (12 inch round if you are using a round tart pan). Carefully fit dough into a 4.5 by 14 inch tart pan (or 9 inch round), pressing gently along the sides to fit to pan. Pierce the bottom with a fork and refrigerate 20 minutes to set.
  4. Line tart shell with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake 10 minutes in center of oven; remove parchment paper and weights and bake another 10 minutes until bottom has just cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk eggs until thick and ribboned. Whisk in cream and milk. Add goat cheese and arugula and mix well to combine.
  6. In the cooled tart shell, lay apple slices long ways (or in concentric circles), overlapping until pan is filled. Carefully pour egg mixture over the apples up to just under the edge of the crust. Bake 30 minutes at 375 F until egg mixture has set.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The Humble Gourmet http://www.thehumblegourmet.com/

Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart

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So, I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Quite awhile. Case in point? This dessert was made for Christmas Eve dinner. So…yeah. I’ve been lazy getting around to it.
But, I figured, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. And this dessert is decadent, and involves chocolate, and red fruit. And, it’s pretty. Really, really pretty. And if you were going to eat a pretty dessert any day, it should be Valentine’s, right?

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I’m going to be alone this Valentine’s Day. Shawn is going away for a work conference, so it’s just me, the dogs, and some terrible/awesome rom-com I’ll find on basic cable. I’ve never been very into Valentine’s Day; it’s a great day for eating chocolate and smelling pretty flowers, but otherwise, I can take it or leave it. So, I’m not destroyed over spending it on my own. Shawn has a standing tradition to give me a bag of Skittles each year on Valentine’s, so as long as I get those tasty little fruit candies, I’m a happy girl. But I’ll miss my guy, just cuz
:-)

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The sweetness of the chocolate versus the tang of the goat cheese and tartness of the currants is such a great combination. It’s complex and unexpected. Plus, as I mentioned before, pretty. This is a dessert to make to impress your Valentine.

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I love the currants in the goat cheese filling. Fancy, like little rubies.

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Beautiful. And delicious, let’s not forget that.
What are you doing for your Valentine this year? THG

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Red Currant & Goat Cheese Tart
Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
Chocolate Filling:
6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
Goat Cheese Filling:
8 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange
2 eggs, at room temperature and beaten
1/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh red currants, stems attached

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cubed butter. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in ice water, 1 tsp. at a time, until dough just comes together. Dump dough onto a well-floured surface. Roll out into a 1/4″ thick rectangle. Press dough into a 4.25″ x 13.75″ tart pan. Fork the bottom of the dough. Line pan with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake in oven until just beginning to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
While crust is baking, heat 1/4 cup heavy cream to simmering. Pour over chopped chocolate and mix until chocolate completely melts.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together goat cheese and sugar until fluffy and well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, orange juice and zest. Add egg mixture to goat cheese mixture. Whisk half and half and heavy cream into cheese mixture until well combined.
Spread chocolate in a thin, even level at the bottom of the tart shell. Pour in goat cheese mixture on top. Tap tart pan to remove any air bubbles. Carefully add red currants to the top of the goat cheese mixture, making sure not to let them sink to the bottom of the tart. Bake in the center of oven until goat cheese sets, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Radish and Goat Cheese Tartines

French Breakfast Radishes

A few musings on this chilly day:

– I could not be more sick of turkey.  Truly.  I feel as if I’ve been eating turkey non-stop for a year.  And still, there is turkey to be eaten.  I feel the massive levels of tryptophan that I have seemly consumed in the past week will launch me into full-on winter hibernation.

– I love the idea of winter hibernation.  Think about it: spending an entire season tucked warmly into bed, no where to go, nothing to do.  Just coziness and deep sleep.  Here’s hoping I get to be a bear in my next life.

– In my quest for any and all things NOT turkey, I have found myself eating much smaller quantities of food.  And that is not a bad thing; I feel like the rich, complex and hearty foods associated with the cooler seasons are better consumed in smaller portions.  It’s leaving me feeling very satisfied and well-fed, without that “stuffed to the gills” feeling.  Which is good, because, as I mentioned, I am sleepy enough this time of year without the added affect of the “food coma”.

Radish and Goat Cheese Tartines

– My new favorite farmer’s market discovery are these French breakfast radishes.  I haven’t been very exposed to radishes, never really ate them growing up, and I’ve generally found regular radishes to be a bit too peppery for my taste.  Not these little beauties.  Mild and crunchy, with just that little spicy zing right at the end.  Shawn’s been having them just lightly dipped in sea salt.  Very tasty.  I prefer them on this goat cheese tartine.

French Breakfast Radishes

There is no real recipe to speak of here: just toasted wheat sourdough bread with soft goat cheese, good olive oil, radishes, pepper and a little fresh mint on top.  Just assemble and eat.  You really don’t need anything more complicated than that with these little jewels.  They hold up wonderfully with the tangy goat cheese and cool mint.  I had this for dinner and then again the next day for lunch.  With the excess and overeating to come with the holidays, these are a great little palate break from all the sugar, starch and salt.  Bon appetite!  THG

Radish and Goat Cheese Tartines

Sunday Brunch

Orange-Cinnamon Rolls

First things first, I must apologize for my absence last week. Shawn and I got our loan pre-approval (yay!) and have been hitting the “we’re-buying-a-house” work pretty hard. It’s been almost 2 years since we moved in with my parents to begin saving for a home; WE ARE READY. So, I apologize for the neglect last week, and also any future neglect that may happen in the coming weeks/months while I try to balance this work/blog/home buying/life thing.

Last Sunday, we had a brunch. My cousin Mike and his family were up from Bakersfield visiting his wife Jen’s grandparents, and they stopped by on their way back down Sunday morning. I love brunch (doubt that I’m alone in the sentiment). There is so much bread and cheese and powdered sugar involved in brunch, am I right? I generally don’t really like breakfast too much (typical breakfast food is much to heavy for me first thing in the morning), and yet I love brunch. Go figure.

Pancetta and Cheese Strata
Spiced Potatoes and Peppers

My mom and dad decided that the best course of action would be for everyone to make a different dish. My dad made strata, a baked casserole-like dish consisting of egg, pancetta, cheese and crusty French bread. Insane. So, so good, especially the crunchy, toasted bread on top. Yum. My brother Ryan made a dish of potatoes and peppers; incredibly flavorful and just a little spicy. Really great savory dish considering the amount of sweet we had going on.

My mom made Dutch pancakes. These are, and I cannot understate this enough, THE GREATEST BRUNCH FOOD YOU WILL EVER EAT. A spongy, very eggy baked pancake filled with fruit and eaten in slices. So insanely delicious, like a bite of pure happiness. She made one with fresh strawberries (my favorite) and one with apple compote for the filling. Mike and Jen’s 2 little kids, upon seeing the Dutch pancakes, both proclaimed “breakfast pie!” and immediately dove in. Super cute kids.

Strawberry Dutch Pancakes

I decided to go with a brunch classic: cinnamon rolls. Who doesn’t like cinnamon rolls?

I had made a batch of these the day before as well. Emily and I decided to have a Scarlett O’Hara marathon by watching Gone With The Wind and the first half of the mini-series Scarlett. We both went through simultaneous Scarlett O’Hara obsessions recently, with me reading the original book and Emily seeing GWTW for the first time and reading the sequel. Such an iconic and classic story, though we both agreed that the mini-series sequel was laughably bad. Timothy Dalton as Rhett Butler? Clark Gable you are not, my friend.

So, I made a batch on Saturday and then made two batches on Sunday. Yes. 3 batches. It’s amazing I’m not currently in a bread and sugar coma right now.

I based the recipe on the Neely’s. I decided to forgo the nuts and instead I added orange zest and orange juice to the rolls and the glaze. Orange-cinnamon rolls are such a great combination, with the heavy spice of the cinnamon and that little zip of freshness and tartness from the orange. Yummers.

What’s your favorite brunch food? And, more importantly, Clark Gable or Timothy Dalton?  THG

Orange-Cinnamon Rolls

Mike’s Cheese and Pancetta Strata (adapted from this recipe)

6 oz. pancetta, cubed

1 loaf crusty sourdough French bread

1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

8 eggs

3 1/2 cups milk

1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 pinch pepper

Butter a 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  In a frying pan set over medium-high heat, fry pancetta until brown and crispy.  Drain on paper towels and allow to cool to room temperature.

Cube bread into 1” pieces and put into prepared baking dish.  Add pancetta and cheeses, mixing with hands to distribute evenly.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Tabasco, Dijon mustard and pepper.  Pour mixture evenly through baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours, or overnight.

Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour until strata is set and crispy on top, golden-brown.  Serve immediately.

Serves 10-12

Laura’s Dutch Pancakes (from the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook)

4 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbsp. butter, softened

3 cups strawberries, sliced

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs.  Sift in flour and salt together in a small mixing bowl.  Add flour mixture to eggs, alternating with milk, until a smooth batter has formed.  Butter the bottom and sides of a cast iron skillet.  Pour batter into skillet.  Bake in the middle of oven for 20-25 minutes, gradually reducing heat to 350ºF.  The pancake should puff up along the sides and be crisp and golden-brown all around.  Remove from skillet.  Fill with sliced strawberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut into slices and serve.

Serves 8-10

Orange-Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from this recipe)

1/2 oz. (2 packages) dry active yeast

1/2 cup warm water

4 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

5 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

zest of 1 large orange

Glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast and warm water.  Let stand for 5 minutes to soften yeast.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and salt until well combined.  Whisk egg mixture into bowl of yeast until well combined.  Whisk in 1 cup of flour, then melted butter until smooth.  With the mixture set on low, add remaining flour 1 cup at a time, waiting until each cup is completely combined.  Mix well until strong dough is formed and springs back when tapped.  Place in a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest.  Punch down raised dough and dump out on a floured surface.  Roll into a 12×15” rectangle.  Brush dough with melted butter.  Pour sugar mixture evenly over dough.  Working on the longer end, roll somewhat tightly into a log.  Cut off the ends.  Cut log into 8 even pieces.  Place slices in a greased 9” round baking pan.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size again, about 1 hour.  Bake at 400ºF about 30 minutes, until rolls are puffed up and golden brown.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  Whisk in orange juice until smooth and at a good, thick consistency.  Pour over cinnamon rolls.  Serve at room temperature.

Makes 8 rolls

Croque-Monsieur

Croque-Monsieur Ingredients

This week has been CRAZY.

Croque-Monsieur

Committee meetings, website tutorials, newsletter layouts.  Sushi with a good friend, beautiful musical performance by another good friend, quality documentary-watching time with my love.  In the middle of all the HTML code, raw fish and show tunes, I couldn’t find any time to post this recipe until now.

I’m sorry my friends.  Will you forgive me?

Green Salad with Creamy Balsamic

This week called for a quick, throw-it-together-in-30-minutes dinner.  Hearty.  Cheesy.  With a healthy dose of carbs (quick note: I never shy away from carbs.  They are one of the things that make life magical). 

Croque-Monsieur

Hello croque-monsieur.

Open-faced French sandwich.  Thick sliced sourdough bread, ham, Gruyere cheese, béchamel sauce.  Some mashed fingerling potatoes stacked on as well.  Cuz it wasn’t feeling quite filling enough as is.

Winking smile

I also added a little green leaf and creamy balsamic on the side.  For color.  And to pretend like this is a healthy and nutritious meal (spoiler alert: not so much

Smile
).  BUT, it’s delicious.  And easy.  And filling.  And if you have a completely insane week full of stage readings and inDesign files, this is going to hit the spot.  Yum.  THG

Croque-Monsieur

Croque-Monsieur

2 lbs. fingerling potatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 loaf day-old sourdough bread

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 cup béchamel sauce (recipe below)

1/2 lb. thin sliced ham

1/2 lb. Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced

Béchamel sauce:

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. flour

1 cup milk, at room temperature

Sea salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  When melted, whisk in flour until a smooth paste develops.  Do not allow flour mixture to brown.  Whisk in milk, sea salt and pepper.  Whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450ºF.

In a medium-size bowl, toss fingerling potatoes with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.  Lightly mash potatoes until just mixed but not completely smooth.  Set aside.

Cut sourdough into 8 1” slices.  Toast lightly in a toaster.  Rub each toasted slice with smashed garlic clove.  Spoon approximately 2 Tbsp. of béchamel sauce onto each slice of bread and spread to even consistency.  Top with ham slices.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes on top of ham and smooth.  Top with Gruyere slices.  Arrange sandwiches on a baking sheet.

Turn on your oven broiler to low and place the rack directly below.  Place sandwiches underneath flame and broil until cheese is bubbly, about 8-10 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through.  Serve sandwiches immediately topped with Dijon mustard.

Makes 8 sandwiches

Creamy Balsamic Dressing

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. honey

1/4 cup olive oil

black pepper to taste

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar, honey and pepper.  While whisking, slowly pour in olive oil to emulsify.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes approximately 3/4 cup dressing

Sunday Scrap Lunch: Custom Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Sunday Grilled Cheese Ingredients

Part of being a humble gourmet is knowing that you can’t always spend money on custom, special meals.  Sometimes, you have to go to the leftovers and scraps in the fridge to get a meal on the table.

Shawn and I are currently saving up to buy our first home (so exciting!).  We are just about at our savings goal, which means we are on major spending lock-down.  No $40 dinners, no random shopping trips, no weekend lunches out.  It’s tough sometimes, but we are just so close that we can really see it being worth it.  So, scrap lunches have become the new thing for us.

Custom Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Crumbled goat cheese and homemade olive tapenade left over from our New Year’s party.  Extra green apple from the Apple-Caramel Pavlovas.  Asiago cheese from Macaroni and Cheese night.  Honey.  Roasted red pepper.  A few slices of bread, a handful of kettle chips and an ice tea.

Lunch.

Roasted Red Pepper/Tapenade and Apple/Honey Grilled Cheese

No need to post a recipe with this meal.  Just assemble, melt some butter, and toast.  Grilled cheese my friends.  Such a tasty and versatile little sandwich.

Sunday Scrap Grilled Cheese

Such a great way to use up leftovers.  Shawn had an Asiago, green apple and honey sandwich on whole wheat.  Sweet and tart and salty all rolled into one, with the whole wheat providing an earthy and hearty backdrop for the other flavors to rest on.  I had the goat cheese, roasted red pepper and tapenade on sourdough.  Very hearty, salty, briny and sweet all mingling with the sourdough bread.  It was goat cheese heaven.

We ate our little gourmet sandwiches while watching Dexter on Demand.  Awesome Sunday lunch break.  And far better than most grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve paid upwards of $7.50 for.  Free gourmet grilled cheese.  Who could ask for anything more?

Scrap meals are definitely the norm for us lately.  But scrap meals doesn’t mean bad, past-their-prime leftovers.  It’s all about creativity.  Take some dry pasta and whatever fresh herbs are about to turn and have a fresh pasta dish.  Take some chicken broth, left over roast chicken and instant rice for a delicious and hearty soup.  Or make a grilled cheese sandwich.  There are so many combinations you can do with grilled cheese, you’ll never get bored of it.

What’s your favorite “clean out the pantry” scrap meal to cook?  THG

Sunday Scrap Lunch: Custom Grilled Cheese

3 Cheese Baked Macaroni and Cheese

3 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

I.  Am.  Stuffed.

I feel like I’ve been eating non-stop for the past 3 days.  Swiss fondue, cracked crab, strata with bacon, crème brulee French toast, turkey, quiche.  And chocolate.  So, so much chocolate.  Christmas is really just an unending string of rich and delicious foods in my family.  I love it.

Dubliner, Asiago and Swiss
Cooked Spiral Noodles

So, in honor of this season of fats and carbs, I decided to post a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese.  Anyone already starting the New Year’s resolutions need not read any further.

Smile

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This dish is rich, creamy, cheesy and crispy, all at once.  It’s made with 3 different white cheeses: a Dubliner cheddar (Shawn’s favorite), an asiago and a Swiss.  The Dubliner is sharp and nutty, the Swiss is smooth and creamy, and the asiago just helps balance out the two more complex cheeses.  At my sister’s request, I added fried pancetta and green peas to the dish as well.  They added a touch of color and a nice palette break from all of the noodle-cheese goodness.

Butter Melting for Roux
Roux

Spices for Sauce
3 Cheese Sauce

I also added panko breadcrumbs on top for a little extra crunch.  Panko breadcrumbs, for those of you who’ve never used them, are Japanese breadcrumbs that are super flakey and crunchy.  You can find them at most grocery stores where the baking goods and regular breadcrumbs are.  They aren’t very expensive, and definitely add a very distinct texture to everything.  Trust me; once you use these breadcrumbs, you will never go back to regular ones.

Panko Breadcrumbs on Macaroni and Cheese

This dish is so delicious and rich.  I would most definitely serve it as the main course; it really doesn’t need to be on the side of anything.

What sort of rich and indulgent dishes did you eat over the holiday?  THG

3 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

3 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups low-fat milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp. ground mustard

2 tsp. ground paprika

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

1 3/4 cups Dubliner cheese, shredded and divided

1 3/4 cups asiago cheese, shredded and divided

1 3/4 cups Swiss cheese, shredded and divided

4 cups spiral or macaroni pasta, cooked

12 oz. pancetta, fried and drained

1 1/2 cups green peas

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  Add flour and whisk continuously until golden brown and roux has a nutty aroma.  Add milk and cream to roux and whisk until smooth.  Add mustard, paprika, black pepper, salt and nutmeg and whisk to combine.  Take out 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture and slowly whisk into the beaten eggs to temper.  Add egg mixture to cream mixture and beat over medium heat until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Add 1 1/2 cups of each cheese to cream mixture and whisk until all cheese is melted and smooth.  Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and toss to coat completely.  Add pancetta and cheese and mix to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix. 

Pour pasta into a 9×9 casserole dish and spread evenly.  Cut up remaining 1 Tbsp. of butter into small pieces and scatter over pasta.  Take remaining 1/4 cup of each cheese and scatter evenly over pasta.  Top with panko breadcrumbs, spread evenly.  Bake until cheese is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden-brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8