All posts in cheese


 

Meatless Mondays

{Roasted butternut squash, chickpeas, tahini dressing and toasted walnuts.  Sweet potato black bean southwest burger.  Roasted Brussels French lentils feta salad.  Spaghetti squash roasted broccoli rabe and almond basil pesto}

Exciting biz news… In March I started cooking vegetarian and gluten free meals for a client here in SF.  I am really enjoying creating and cooking 5 new seasonal recipes every week!  And more so, this is the way I eat too (plant based gluten free) so cooking this type of food is much more enjoyable for me than meaty, saucy, porky, fatty heavy food.  You know that heavy slush feeling you get after eating pasta and burgers?  Well with my cooking, you’re left feeling energized and perfectly satisfied :)

A few of my favorite vegetarian bloggers are Kimberly Snyder, My New Roots and Whole Living.

{sweet potato and lentil stew.  Japanese Salad with carrot ginger dressing.  Shaved Brussels salad, blood orange pomegranate and pistachio citrus dressing. Cornmeal crust pizza, herb chèvre and roasted zucchini}

Beginning in June I will be expanding (commercial kitchen whootwhoot) and offering my Weekly Veg/Gluten Free menu to the public.  Shoot me an email if you want to get on the weekly mailing list…and get ready to have health delivered to your door

 

 

 

A Summer Soiree

I catered a lunch yesterday with a menu that I am so excited about!  It was such a beautiful representation of what you’d find at a Farmers Market in July – so fresh and delicious – I have to share. If you are not a big meat eater – I think salmon would substitute nicely for the skirt steak.

Appetizers:
Figs and Prosciutto over Ricotta, Drizzled with Honey  
(For the non pork eaters substitute chopped pistachios for prosciutto)

Salad:
Grilled Peaches with Toasted Walnuts, Pt Reyes Blue Cheese in a Balsamic Dressing
Main:
Skirt Steak over Fresh Corn Polenta
Sun Marinated Heirloom Tomato (soaked in a bowl of olive oil, balsamic, basil and garlic – Amazing and can go on anything! This is my summer staple)
Fresh Chopped Salad of Summer Squash, Zucchini, Wax Bean and Haricot Vert Swith Lemon Zest, Basil, Pine Nuts and Fresh Grated Parmesan

Dessert (not pictured)
Short Cakes, Vanilla Ice Cream and Plum Compote

Prep Ahead Tips:
Day Before:
prep, chop and blanch your summer veggies
Steam corn for polenta
Make your dressing and marinades
Start Marinating your Tomatoes
Chop nuts
make Shortcakes for dessert

Morning Of:
Make crostini
Grill the peaches
Grill the Steak (only to rare – let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and divide on 2 small baking pans.  Reheat in the oven for your guests right before serving – this will finish the cooking too.  I divided the meat between 2 pans so that one batch would be brought up to med-rare and the other batch I left in the oven a bit longer to bring the meat up to med)
Fill a large pot on the stove with broth and line up your polenta ingredients to throw in and make cooking/hosting as easy as possible (4 cups broth, 1 cup polenta. 1 cup parm, 2 cups fresh corn steamed and cut off ear)

Skirt Steak Marinade:
So good- I need to write this down so I don’t forget what I did
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Chopped Garlic, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce

Enjoy!!!
 

Provence Party

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love an excuse to host a party.  So when my married friends and I started a monthly dinner group, you can imagine how excited I was when it was my turn to host!

I want to share this dinner party as an example of how simple it can be to host a fabulous supper in style and stilettos ah!
The key is to plan ahead and decide on a menu that can be prepped days before and requires little hands on time during your party… for example a cheese, fruit and nut platter for an appetizer and slow cooked meat for your main…

I decided on a Provence theme because, well, I’m obsessed with the south of France! The food, wine, culture, language, men, style, architecture, cobble stones, surf, music, all of it!

Provence Party Menu
Appetizers:
Cheese Plate

Tomato Tarts

Artichoke Tarts

Dinner:
Slow Cooked Lemon Chicken in Garlic and Thyme
over Saffron Rice

Rosated Broccoli and Garlic with Basil, Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Ratatouille with Homemade Pesto 

Dessert
Lavender Madeleines with Honey Creme Fraiche

 Set the mood

  • Offer your quests a glass of wine when they come in.  Simple say, “I just opened a bottle of wine, can I pour you a glass?”
  • French music on Pandora
  • Savorying Provence, cookbook on my coffee table
  • Olive tree to add a little nature
  • Little bowls of olives and rosemary marcona almonds

 

Squeeze In One More Summer Lunch

Photo courtesy of Downtown Romantic

First, I must explain my recent 3 week disappearance… My best friend from Milan touched down in SF for a great 2 week visit.  We were so busy sight seeing and eating, I didn’t get a chance to stay connected.
We managed to eat out at some great San Francisco hot spots, play an American game of Sloshball and even party in LA for the weekend.  I will soon share some of the great recipes and meals enjoyed along the way, but for now, here is one dish that was inspired by Cecile’s Milanese-ness!
Risotto… famous in Italy and it is no wonder why.  It is rich, creamy and incredible satisfying. Risotto is always a crowd pleaser and perfect served anytime of the year made with what ever happens to be in season!
With that said, when I was asked to cater a small birthday lunch, I knew a Summer Risotto must make its way onto the menu.

I’ll post the recipes soon, but for now here is the Risotto recipe courtesy of my cousin who volunteered her afternoon to help me in the kitchen.  Helane was home visiting from New York where she works for in Fashion Media and when feeling inspired writes on her blog

Summer Lunch Menu:
To Drink:
Mint and Strawberry Lemonade (spiked with vodka if you are feeling up for it!)
Light Bites:
Melon, Prosciutto and Manchego
Appetizer:
Summer Squash and Zucchini over Pesto and Feta Puff Pastry
First Course
Crab Cakes topped with Herb Aioli on a Bed of Lamb’s Lettuce (recipe)
Secondly:
Summer Risotto (recipe)
Something Sweet
LemoCrème brûlée 

 

Warm Avocado and Pesto Crostini

I feel so sorry for avocados.  They have such a short life.  Really, only one perfect day to be enjoyed at its best.  And once you cut in, there is no going back.  It’s only downhill for the little lady from there.


My beautiful little Hass Avoacodo had been sitting on my windowsill for a couple days now, just waiting to ripen to perfection under the sun light.  This morning, I reached up to give her a little squeeze and she waaaaaaas perfect!

Now my favorite part of being a chef begins… coming up with something delicious and creative with a few given ingredients.

My culinary wheels did a little spin that went something like this:
Basil on it’s last leg of life, why not pesto (my recipe made with brazil nuts),
Marinated feta I’m currently obsessed obviously must be smothered on top (recipe)
A big hearty slice of bread, because what’s better than crostini?
And all put under the sizzlin broiler to let the flavors really melt together!
Oh, and of course finished with fresh ground black pepper, sea salt and a drizzle of extra aged balsamic!

Please don’t end!

I was not planning on having an entire avocado for lunch today, but honestly, I didn’t feel I had a choice :o)

For those of you who like to eat gluten free when possible, you have got to try this bread.
I keep it in my freezer and cut off pieces as I like
And this is my favorite Balsamic, from Napa Valley

 

Marinated Feta

Spread over warm crostini and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic


Mindee and I were first introduced to marinated feta in Greece this summer.  You know the Greeks…they looooove their feta!

Since then, we always have a bowl of this deliciousness marinading in the fridge.  It has become my new favorite condiment, and I’m sprinkling it on almost everything these days, from my poached egg in the morning to my crostini with grilled asparagus (recipe) at lunch

 

There are only a few ingredients here, so choose good quality cheese and oil! I used sheep feta but goat is just a yummy. I think next time I make this I will use a harder cheese.  This brand happened to be a little too soft, which has great flavor but you want the cheese to keep its shape more than mine did.
Ingredients:
20 oz feta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 T garlic infused extra virgin olive oil
1 Heaping T of Herbs de Provence
1 t black pepper corns
1/2 t sea salt, or to taste
Directions:
Cube the cheese and set aside
Whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl
Add the cheese and gently toss
Let sit for 30 minutes before serving
Serve at room temperature
Transfer to a container with a lid so you can keep it in the fridge
Enjoy- I know you will!
 

Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Apricot Chutney Flat Bread

Savory gorgonzola and sweet apricots make a heavenly combination

My friend Kate from Seattle (we met 3 years ago while living in Thailand) came to visit for a couple of days and on her last night here we had a Sex And The City, Wine and Flat Bread Marathon.
Kate is a great cook (enjoying healthy foods like me!) and so fun to be in the kitchen with.  We also made a Margarita with Eggplant (a specialty of hers) and a Pesto with Fresh Tomatoes (a specialty of my mom’s).
Partially inspired by sipping wine while cooking, we’ll credit our healthy appetites to the 3.5 mile run across Golden Gated Bridge earlier that day :o)

This is an amazing combination worth trying on a panini or served in bowls along side crackers for an appetizer.  I don’t eat pork but I just thought of another good idea: apricot glazed pork tenderloin, thinly sliced, caramelized onions spooned over and blue cheese crumbled on top, serve hot and melting.  Maybe sprinkle with fresh thyme to add some color.  Oh, you could use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for an incredible rich and flavorful dinner entree.

Ingredients:
Flat Bread, I used Udi’s Gluten Free
Chevre Cheese
Apricot Chutney (recipe here)
1 t olive oil
1 Sweet Onion thinly sliced
1 T brown sugar
1-2 garlic cloves chopped
Gorgonzola or another stinky blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 350
Make the caramelized onions:
Add the oil and onion to a heavy sauce pan (not too big)
Cook slowly over medium heat for a couple of minutes
Add the brown sugar and garlic
Spread a thin layer of chever of the bread
Followed by chutney
Caramelized onions and crumbles blue cheese
Sprinkle with good salt
bake for 15 minutes

Margarita Eggplant, with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil and Tomatoes 
 A favorite of mine while growing up:
Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Basil, Feta and Parmigiano 

yum
 

Savory Breakfast Cake

I’m a firm believer that Brunch is not complete without eggs

I’m not exactly sure what to call this egg dish.  It is somewhere between a giant frittata, cheese cake, bread pudding and strata.  We’ll call it Savory Breakfast Cake.  Savory for the Eggs and Cheese and Cake because I love how it is free standing.

I choose to make a savory pudding in a spring pan because I recently came across 2 in my mom’s cupboard and I’ve been dying for a reason to use them.  I also made a cinnamon raisin bread pudding (recipe) to serve at brunch (full menu)

Don’t stop at Breakfast, this would be excellent served with lunch along side a simple green salad, or dinner along side salmon and grilled asparagus

Ingredients:
4 cups Cubed bread
1 cup Milk
5 Eggs
1 container Ricotta cheese
1 cup Asiago
1 Garlic Clove minced
Lots of herbs de Provence
3 Zucchini chopped
1 Cup frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
S & P to taste
Feta and Cherry tomatoes for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350
Spray a Spring Pan
Soak the cubed bread in 1 cup of milk (almond, half and half…)
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients
Add the bread and milk to the the egg and cheese mixture
Pour into pan
Optional, garnish the top with halved tomatoes
Bake for 45 minutes
Remove from the oven, top with crumbled feta and return to the oven for about 10 minutes
Allow to cool for a bit before running a knife along the sides and placing on a platter

 

Baked Dates filled with Chevre and Wrapped in Bacon

Ok, I don’t eat bacon, buuuuuut, these I had to try.

These bad boys are a crowd pleaser for sure. They are so rich so you wont need to make more than about 2 per person.



I really, really encourage you to use organic meat and especially support producers who use humane methods of farming. I made these for a private dinner party I catered, (who wanted to keep the menu local and seasonal- yes- I love it!) so I bought the bacon from Prather Ranch. They’re really a great ranch and raise their animals in a healthy and happy environment. Yea Prather!



There is nothing esthetically appealing about baked dates wrapped in bacon. Uh, so brown and boring. I definietly knew I’d have to dress these up a bit with color and fesh herbs.
I bought leaves from the florist at Whole Foods to put on the plate and pinched a bit of fresh thyme onto each date


Ingredients:
Medjool Dates, 2 times the number of pieces of bacon you use
Chevre (Goat Cheese)
Bacon, organic. trimmed and cut crosswise in half

Pit the dates
Fill each date with about 1/2 t of chevre
Wrap each date in a piece of bacon, stem side down and cheesy side up
Place on a baking sheet lined with foil
Place under the broiler for about 2 minutes on each side to get them nice and crispy.
Let stand for a couple of minutes before serving.
Stick ’em with a toothpick and sprinkle with fresh herbs

easy peasy!

Note:
I found that just baking them did not get the bacon crispy enough.
Because I made these for an event, I broiled them for a few minutes hours before and just reheated them in the oven right before serving.

cheesy side up, bacon stem side down
 

Acorn Squash Risotto


I just read that It is possible to make risotto in a dutch oven! Wow, talk about much simpler and less hands on time.

Until I experiment with that… here’s a risotto recipe cooked the traditional way… 30 minutes of standing over the pot adding broth a little bit at a time while stirring continuously…
Time consuming, but delicious and worth every minute.

I am O-bsessed with acorn squash, but you can use butternut squash instead. Butternut squash can be found in stores pre-cut.
Serves 6
Ingredients:
6 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
2 T EVOO
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cups acorn squash, peeled and chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano
Simmer the broth in a large stock pot
In a heavy, large saucepan, heat the oil
Cook the onion until translucent
Add the squash and mix well for a few minutes
Add the rice and toss to coat
Add half of the wine and stir until absorbed
Add the stock 1 ladle at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid is absorbed
Continue until you have used all the stock
Add the remaining wine and stir until the rice is al dante, a total of about 20 minutes
Stir in butter and Parmigiano cheese
 

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmi-Yumma

I feel it’s time I start posting more savory, salty, hot dinner dishes.

By the looks of my blog you may think I only eat sweets and vegetables. While that is mostly true, sadly, I do still enjoy cooking hearty meals for friends and family.

This eggplant parmigiana is always a hit and can be made ahead of time before the guests arrive.

I adapted the recipe from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights. I love her recipes, philosophy and life story.
If I have a cookbook one day… wait… let me start again… when I have a cookbook of my own one day, it will be a lot like Dahl’s!

Ingredients:
3 medium sized eggplants
sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 (14 oz) cans of chopped tomatoes
1 T brown sugar
s & p
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
2 cup fresh basil, copped
2 large buffalo mozzarella, sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400
Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch slices, lengthwise
lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet
Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 20 minutes. This allows the water to exit the eggplant. Soon you will begin to see little droplets of water on the eggplant- it will look like it has just rained in your kitchen on your eggplant. Pat with paper towels to absorb the water.
Lightly brush the eggplant with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until they turn golden.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat olive oil and gently sweat the onion, adding the garlic a minute or two later (onion takes longer to cook than garlic)
Add tomatoes and brown sugar and season with s & p
simmer for 20 minutes, covered
Now is when you add thick balsamic vinegar, optional
Grease a baking dish
Now the fun layering begins!
Eggplant
Sprinkle with basil
Mozzarella slices
Tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Keep repeating in this order
Top with Parmesan and basil
Bake for 20 minutes
I know it’s tempting, but allow to cool for about 10 minutes before digging in
Note:
Can keep in the fridge over night unbaked, throw in the oven 30 minutes before quests arrive.
 

Fig & Blue Cheese Salad

At a dinner party I catered

Figs: my favorite thing about late summer/fall!
I could eat them every meal, fresh, dried, cooked…emmmm

Ingredients:
Fresh Figs (halved)
Point Reyes Blue Cheese
Walnuts
Organic Mixed Greens

Dressing:
Mix
1 T Balsamic
1/4 t crushed Garlic
1/2 t Dijon Mustard
Whisk in
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and white pepper

 

Cornmeal Crust Pizza


I have always loved cornmeal crust pizzas and finally realized it was time I learn to make one. If you have never tried one, it’s time to indulge.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re all aware nothing beats a traditional Italian thin crust pizza, nothing, but, a cornmeal crust does put up a pretty good fight.
Not only are cornmeal crusts hearty and filling, they can also be made gluten free!
Since going gluten free, this has been in the top 5 on my “Gotta Make GF” list!
Not to mention, it has less than 10 ingredients and you don’t have to wait for it to rise like pizza dough, this is a gotta make for sure recipe!
I encourage you to get creative with your toppings. Use whatever vegetable is in season, eggplant, tomatoes, arugula, artichokes butternut squash… have fun with it!
I also decided to throw dried rosemary and thyme into the crust for a little extra flavor.
I made the pesto, I’ll post the recipe one of these days, but store bought can be just as tasty.
I used almond milk and walnut oil in place of milk and vegetable oil. Either works fine.

Yields 2 crusts

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups cornmeal
2 cups GF flour
1 T baking powder
2 t sugar
1 t salt
2 t dried thyme
2 t dried rosemary
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup walnut oil

Toppings:
Goat Cheese
Pesto
1 Summer squash
2 Small zucchini
Fresh Thyme
2 cloves of roasted garlic (optional)

Preheat 325
Whisk the dry ingredients
Add the wet ingredients, stirring well
Divide into 2 equal portions for 2 pizza crusts (even 3 thinner crusts if you want)
Press one portion into a pie pan with a removable bottom
Bake for 15 minutes

Meanwhile, thinly slice your squash and zucchini

Remove your crust from the oven and spread goat cheese over the warm crust, this makes spreading easier.
Add you pesto
Fan the slices of squash and zucchini
Garnish with thyme and garlic
Continue baking for 12 minutes

This recipe was not taking from this book, but it has been out for a couple of days now and must have been what inspired me
 

Winter Citrus Salad


This Saturday at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market I saw something  I had never seen before.  Red Walnuts!  They are so pretty, almost too pretty to eat.

I knew I’d have to make something that would incorporate these beautiful walnuts.  I decided on a winter citrus salad (I almost always add chopped nuts to my salads because I think they add an extra heartyness).  Citrus fruits are everywhere this January, so I bought oro bianco grapefruit and blood oranges (of course regular grapefruit and oranges would work just fine too).  I choose avocados too because they go nicely with citrus and are in season. 
(check out more seasonal fruits and veggies!)
Last stop, Cowgirl Creamery, my favorite local cheese store, to pick up some raw goat feta to crumble on top.
To give this dish a little more substance, I made quinoa flavored with mint and lemon!
I made a dressing of fresh ginger and avage- so delicious.  The sweetness of the agave and the strong flavor of the fresh ginger really go well with the citrus fruits.  If you don’t have agave, honey will work too.  I bought fresh crushed ginger in a jar, and since I made this salad I’ve used it about 3 more times in recipes- it’s my new favorite “must have”!  Ginger is also super good for you! (Ginger’s health benefits)
This salad can be presented in many ways.  NO need to make it technical like I did- I just had the time to spend making it look pretty.  These ingredients all thrown together in a bowl will look pretty no mater what.
Ingredients:
Avocado
Grapefruit
Blood oranges
1 cup of quinoa
Fresh mint
Lemon zest
Feta cheese
Dressing:
Equal parts fresh crushed ginger and agave.
Add extra virgin olive oil until you reach the consistency you like- stir really well
Quinoa:
A cooking technique that Erin taught me.
Add your Quinoa (1 part to 2 parts water) to boiling water.  Stir a bit, bring to a simmer for about a minute.  Then turn off the heat and cover.  Let site for about 15 minutes- it will cook itself in the steam!  
Add lemon zest and chopped mint to taste
Stir in good olive oil salt and pepper to taste
I used a cookie cutter to shape the quinoa nicely.
Pile on the grapefruit and chopped avocado.
Sprinkle with walnuts and crumble feta.
Drizzle with the yummy agave ginger dressing! 
And lastly, ENJOY!