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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

I am a mushroom addict.  So when I came across this appetizer that combined sautéed mushrooms with puff pasty, I knew I had to try it!

I’ve now made these beauties a few times, and without fail they get snatched up!  Who can resist caramelized onions and mushrooms topped with swiss cheese and served on a delectable puff pasty?

I love that these tartlets are easy to make, yet sophisticated – the best sort of food in my mind. They take some time to prep (caramelizing takes a little patience), but certainly worth the effort!  These would be perfect served either at a snazzy Christmas party or for a relaxed weekend dinner.

Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker for the recipe!

IMG_4281

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Gruyere Tartlets

(Makes 16 3-inch tartlets)

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
16 oz white button or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ c. white wine (can substitute chicken or vegetable broth)
2 sheets puff pastry (thawed according to directions on package)
1 c. grated Gruyere cheese (can substitute any variety of Swiss cheese)
1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, beaten together (for the egg wash)
Handful of parsley, chopped

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes.

Add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add the mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft and all of the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes.

Add the garlic and the thyme and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to pull up all of the browned bits, and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.

Unfold the thawed sheets of puff pastry and cut out circles from the dough (if you don’t have a cookie cutter, the edge of a narrow glass work great), placing them evenly spaced on the baking sheets. Using a very sharp knife, make four small scores around the perimeter of the dough, about ¼ to ½-inch from the edge.

Top the rounds of puff pastry with a small spoonful of the onion and mushroom mixture, trying to keep the filling within the score marks. Top with the shredded Gruyere cheese. Brush the edges of the dough rounds with the egg wash.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 15 to 25 minutes. Broil for 1-2 mins to make the cheese bubbly and brown. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Best served warm.

Bon appetit!
– Catherine
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Since I’ve recently moved to a new city – Ottawa – I’ve quite enjoyed exploring the new market and food scene here. I love how I can also cross the river and end up in Québec, where food is inspired by ages of artisan craft. In homage to la belle province de Québec, we recently cooked a feast using local ingredients, featuring a Maudite beer and a plump, gnarly and bright orange hubbard squash. This risotto is perfect for those cold evenings we’ve been getting recently; and the smooth and rich pieces of roasted squash mixed in keep it lively.

Maudite risotto with squash_Ed

Ingredients – 6-8 servings

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 well garnished sprig of fresh thyme

8-10 cups homemade (or packaged if you don’t have any) vegetable stock

1 cup dark beer (we used Maudite)

1/3 cup parmesan

1/2 tsp salt plus any more to taste

1 1/4 cups arborio rice

1/2 kuri (hubbard) squash, cubed, roasted (400F) in 2 Tbsp olive oil + 1/8 tsp salt + 1 tbsp fresh thyme + 1 minced clove garlic

Directions

To prepare the roast squash, preheat the oven to 400F and peel and dice the squash into 1 inch cubes. Mince the garlic and combine the olive oil, salt and fresh thyme with the garlic in a large bowl. Place squash cubes into bowl and toss with all ingredients. Arrange the squash cubes on a baking dish, making sure none are touching so they roast best. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the edges become golden and the squash is tender. Remove from oven and reserve.

Heat the stock in a pot and keep it simmering with a lid on while you cook the risotto in another pot.

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion with the fresh sprig of thyme until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Once the onion is ready add the garlic and cook for one minute, and then add the arborio rice and stir to coat. Cook the rice grains in the oil/onion/garlic mixture for 3-4 minutes, until they become translucent as well. When the rice is ready, add the beer and stir to mix it all in. After this, add the stock one cup at a time, stirring, until the stock is absorbed. You don’t need to be stirring constantly, but it does require a lot of stirring for best results.

Continue adding stock one cup at a time, until the rice is cooked through and the risotto is creamy. Season with salt. When just about ready to serve, stir in the parmesan and the cubes of squash. Serve in bowls or deep plates, and garnish with a pinch of parmesan and fresh thyme if you like!

Bonne appétit.

-Sitelle

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I sat daydreaming in front of recipes for several hours today, overwhelmed by the freedom I have gained after completing my exams. What will I cook, I asked myself, unsure of what to do since until recently my cooking was restricted by time and what was in the fridge. I was overwhelmed with the decision of what to cook, yet I yearned to create something.

I came across a few savoury tarts, and made up my mind. Tonight’s meal would be simple, a goat cheese tart with red peppers and a green salad. I could hardly wait to get the ingredients, and get the tart in the oven so that the apartment would be full of delicious aromas when my partner G. came home from class.

Goat Cheese Red Pepper Tart

Ingredients

1 savory shortcrust pastry

2 large shallots, finely sliced

1 Tbsp butter

Pinch salt and pepper

1 small package plain goat cheese

1 egg

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Pinch salt and pepper

2 pieces of prosciutto (optional)

1 red pepper, cored and sliced into thin rounds

1 Tbsp honey

Directions

Prepare the shortcrust pastry and let rest at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, slice the shallots finely. Heat butter in a frying pan over medium-low heat, and sauté the shallots until they become caramelized, stirring occasionally, around 15 minutes. The key is to cook the shallots slowly as it allows them to caramelize without burning. Once ready, season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Wash and core the red pepper and slice it into thin rounds. Set aside.

Whisk together egg and goat cheese until smooth. Add the nutmeg and the salt and pepper. Let stand while you roll out the pastry between two sheets of wax paper, and place in a buttered pie shell or tart pan. Crimp the edges with with your fingers or a fork, and prick the base of the shell with a fork.

Spread the goat cheese mixture over the bottom, then sprinkle half of the caramelized onions. Slice the prosciutto (if you want to make this with meat) and drop the pieces evenly over the goat cheese mixture. Top with the red pepper rounds, and then drizzle the honey over top.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the red peppers cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle the remaining half of the caramelized shallots over before serving. Serve this tart with a large and simple green salad. This tart would be great for a simple weeknight meal (especially if you make pastry in advance and store it in the freezer like I do), or would be a lovely piece to take over to a friend’s potluck dinner party, as it does not require reheating!

Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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Saturday morning was particularly drab, grey and drizzling.  Luckily, I had brunch plans with two girlfriends to liven up my morning.  While helping my friend curl her hair to attend a wedding, we decided to prepare a quiche with some of our favourite ingredients – bacon, caramelized onions and wilted spinach.  The combination turned out to be a great match – the salty bacon balancing out the sweet onions and bitter spinach.

Bacon, Caramelized Onions & Spinach Quiche

Serves 6

Quiche

Photo courtesy of Jenn Xu

Ingredients

1 pie crust (store-bough or homemade)

5 strips of bacon

1 small onion, chopped

2 handfuls spinach

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk (or cream)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated extra old cheddar

Directions

Pre-bake pie crust according to directions.

Meanwhile, prepare the quiche fillings.  Cook, crumble, and set aside the bacon.  Saute the onions in some of the reserved bacon grease over low heat.  Once caramelized, add the spinach and cook until wilted. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and seasoning.

Sprinkle the cheese and bacon bits over the bottom of the cooked pie crust. Spread the onion and spinach filling overtop.  Pour the egg mixture overtop.  Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 35 minutes or until set.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Muskox burger

I’ve been saving photos of many things for Gourm(eh) in the past month. Life up North has been ever-consuming, and I was waiting for a window during which I could start posting. Since we started up Gourm(eh), we’ve been trying to explore Canadian cuisine. We’ve posted traditional dishes and others from almost each continent. I think that really points to how wonderfully multi-cultural our country is, and I must say I really enjoy that fact.

During my stay up in Hay River, I think I finally have learned a little more about Canadian cuisine. As a small northern community (although large for the territories), pot-lucks, dinners, the market and cooking clubs with kids at the school have shown me several new secrets about Canadian food. Here, if it contains meat (wild or store-bought) and it sticks to your ribs it is good, keeping you fuelled through the cold and dark months. It’s pretty much “no meat, no good” in the families that have been here for generations. An influx of new folks has started to change up the tastes in town (including Chinese and vegetarian), but those are not yet mixed into the norm, from my observation.

One pleasure I’ve had has been to explore wild meats here. I am always asking the kids stories about hunting with their families, talking with elders about how they lived on the land. It’s fascinating, and every story involves new and interesting information I’m still not sure how to fit together. It’s also been fun trying all the different wild meats common around here, from Bison to Caribou and Fish. Last week, we made these Muskox burgers which were unbelievably delicious. Muskox has its own unique flavour, and is totally lean. The afternoon before we cooked them, I happened to hear some advice from a child’s mother: include oats and eggs or else they will fall apart the meat is so crumbly!

The most surprising thing about Muskox is that even though we always buy extra lean ground beef, I’m used to my burgers and meatballs shrinking. With Muskox meat, we shaped burgers into medium-sized patties hoping to end up with small patties, as we do with beef. This time, though, the patties did not shrink at all, leaving us with exactly the same volume as we began with. If you’re a meat-eater, I highly recommend trying Muskox if you ever have the opportunity!

Muskox feast

Muskox burgers – (5)

Ingredients

1 lb ground Muskox meat

1/2 cup instant oats

1 leek, white and light green only, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp crushed rosemary

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1-2 eggs (depending on how crumbly the mixture is)

5 buns (I like to make bannock buns)

Suggested toppings

5 lettuce leaves, washed

1 tomato, sliced

Cheddar slices

Dijon mustard

Caramelized leeks (optional)

Directions

In a bowl, pat dry the muskox meat as best you can. Mix the ground meat up with your hands. Add all the additional ingredients except the egg. Mix well, and once it is evenly mixed, add the egg. Form the mixture into patties and cook as you would a burger.

Serve on freshly baked bannock buns with any of the toppings you enjoy!

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Cran almond and feta salad

Since I’ve lived in two very different yet both remote locations these past two years, I’ve learned that a yearning for delicious food and the absence of many of my favourite items makes for some intense cravings. Last year, I would have done just about anything for something other than palm oil and broken-grade rice; this year I would do just about anything for something other than a tasteless carrot or bitter celery.

As a member of the local volunteer fire department and ambulance service, I’m learning about standing up for myself in conversations dominated by men. This past weekend we had a pot-luck at the firehall, and I knew the food would be heavy on “man food”, which I’ve determined through my engagement in the department to mean meat-heavy (always) and often sauce-based dishes or casseroles. The food is usually delicious, but it lacks in the veggie dimension. I hate to follow the entrenched rules and bring light food as is expected of a woman, but at the same time the extreme lack of the vegetable and fruit food group made my final decision to bring a salad a no-brainer. I knew it would just reinforce stereotypes, but that’s something I can handle.

Here’s the recipe for the delicious salad we brought along to the potluck!

Cran Almond Feta with Vinaigrette

Ingredients – 6 servings

1 head lettuce (anything except iceberg if you can help it), washed, dried, and torn into pieces

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2/3 cup crumbled feta

1/2 cucumber, quartered then sliced

Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp grain dijon mustard

11/2 Tbsp cider vinegar

4 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 shallot, minced

1 tsp crushed tarragon

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Once melted add the maple syrup. Once hot and mixed, drop in the almonds and cook, stirring every minute or so, until they brown. Allow them to cool and make sure the clusters are not too big by separating them with your fingers.

Wash the lettuce and cucumber and prepare. Place lettuce in a large salad bowl, and sprinkle the cucumber over top, along with the feta and the cranberries, and then the maple-candied almonds. Cover until ready to serve.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the mustard and vinegar well. Add the oil and stir vigorously until it combines. Add the shallot, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour over salad when ready to eat!

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To accompany the cranberry sauce post I did a few days ago, here’s the recipe for an absolutely divine cheesecake we made for a dinner party last night. G. has been coaching boy’s volleyball, and last weekend he brought a big bag of his home-made chocolate chip cookies along for the team. They loved the cookies apparently, but the poor quality of the flour meant that before the boys managed to eat all of them many had disintegrated. He came home and announced we must make a cheesecake to use up the crumbs. Yes!

Warning! Bake this cake in the morning – it requires a lot of cooking and cooling and rest before you can serve it to your guests or bring it to a dinner party. It’s well worth the effort though, I promise. It’s lighter than many cheesecakes, and the nuts in the crust along with the browned butter make it absolutely irresistible.

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (we used crumbs from the chocolate chip recipe at the back of the “chipits” chocolate chip bag, and picked out the chocolate chips we could find)

3/4 cups chopped pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup browned butter

Filling, first layer

2 eggs, well-beaten

1 lb (454g) cream cheese (this is two packages of philadelphia cream cheese, not one!)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Filling, second layer

1 1/2 cups thick sour cream

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp maple syrup

pinch of salt

1-2 cups Spirited Cranberry Sauce

Directions

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once it is melted, allow it to begin to bubble. Reduce the heat and watch it carefully until the bubbles start to get bigger and then smaller. Once they are tiny and look foamy, keep your eye out for little golden and then light brown specks in the butter. Remove it from heat immediately as the butter is now at the browned butter stage which is delicious as it tastes like hazelnuts but it can easily be burned. If you like you can keep a shallow pan of cold water next to your stove and when the butter is browned you can dip the bottom of the pan in order to kill the cooking process and protect your butter from burning.

Mix the cookie crumbs along with the brown sugar, and then pour the butter over that whole mixture. Mix well, and then press into a round, 2 1/2 inch deep springform pan (ideal… we don’t have anything of the sort though and managed well enough). Press the bottom and sides up to form an even crust. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you process the first layer of cheesecake. Remove the cream cheese from the fridge so it can soften a bit, as with the eggs.

Next, preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk all the ingredients for the first layer together, except the cinnamon. If you have a food processor, process them together. If not, as is the case with us, you can press it through a sieve several times with a spoon and that does the job too although it is a bit messier! Spoon that into the crust and bake for 20-22 minutes. When it is cooked remove it from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. This takes several hours. Sprinkle the cinnamon over top of the first layer.

To make the second layer, preheat the oven to 425F. Mix the ingredients for the second layer thoroughly. Pour it all over the first layer. When the oven is ready, cook for five minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool first to room temperature and then to chill thoroughly in the fridge for at least 6 hours before it is ready to be served.

Before serving, prepare spirited cranberry sauce, and drizzle over top.

-Sitelle

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