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Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

This year, I’ve been spoiled by my grandmother – which is not unusual – except that I am now receiving a quarterly magazine with fresh, classic, and inspiring recipes from Normandy. It’s great, coming at a time when I am often at a loss for ideas since cooking for one is simply less fun than for two. It’s amazing how easy it is to get entrenched in routine in the kitchen, and this magazine has done wonders for me this year in getting me back into the exciting realm of cooking.

I love how this salad captures the flavours of summer, while being filling enough for a weekday lunch. I’d recommend making this soon, while the tomatoes are still sweet off the vine.

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Ingredients – for 4 servings

-1 Boursin cheese, garlic and herb
-1 boston leaf lettuce, washed and dried
-200g cooked Puy or French lentils (I cooked 1/2 cup in 2 cups vegetable broth for 25 minutes)
-1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
-1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 chicken breasts
-1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped

For the vinaigrette:

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 Tbsp honey
-3 Tbsp chicken cooking jus
-salt and pepper

Directions

Cook the lentils until tender but still intact, about 25 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Dice the chicken breasts. Heat the butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, sear the chicken. Cook 4-5 min per side until cooked through and golden. Season with salt and pepper. When the chicken is cooked, add 30mL of water to the pan and scrape the pan with a spatula to make the jus. Simmer until reduced and flavourful.

Coarsely chop the pistachios. Break up the lettuce leaves coarsely, add them to a large bowl with the lentils, the quartered tomatoes, the chicken, small spoonfuls of the Boursin, and sprinkle with the pistachios.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the chicken jus with the mustard, honey, vinegar and salt and pepper. Once it is smooth, add the olive oil one spoonful at a time while mixing. Season to taste and drizzle over salad. Serve immediately!

-Sitelle

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While some were escaping a falling stage at Ottawa Bluesfest, this past weekend I attended the Stewart Park Festival – a three-day musical treat in the charming town of Perth, Ontario.   Stewart Park is a long tradition in my family, complete with large family picnics.  Between good music, family galore (at last count, I visited with over 28 family members), and lazing in the sun on the cottage dock, the weekend quickly evaporated.

Cottage food combines the best of simple and delicious.  My grandmother’s stuffed zucchini is one such delicious cottage tradition.  The recipe is ever-changing, incorporating vegetables in the fridge that need eating, but always manages to taste delicious (and while a little finicky, it is super easy to make en mass) Because really, who does not love zucchini stuffed with bread crumbs and topped with bubbling cheese?

Stuffed Zucchini

(serves 8-12)

Ingredients:

6 zucchini, ends trimmed

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon olive oil

Herbs to taste (be generous – I love a combination of thyme and basil)

A vegetable or two, finely chopped (I used a tomato and half a red pepper here – also great with mushrooms)

About 1/3 of a loaf of stale bread (fresh is fine too – although your stuffing will be less crispy), cut or grated into small pieces

Splash of Worcester sauce/tobacco (if you would like to add heat)

Grated old cheddar cheese

Directions: 

Drop the zucchini in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente, about five minutes.  Remove from the water with tongs, and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise and widthwise, creating four “logs”.  Allow to cool slightly before hollowing out the zucchini seeds.  Retain and finely chop about half the zucchini innards.  Place the zucchini logs on a large baking sheet.

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the herbs and vegetables and cook until soft.  Stir in the breadcrumbs, Worcester sauce, and the finely chopped zucchini innards and continue to cook stuffing for five more minutes.  Carefully scoop the stuffing into the zucchini cavities and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Bake in a 400 F oven for 10-12 minutes.   Broil for an additional minute or two, until the cheese is bubbling and the stuffing is crisping. Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Today’s post comes to you like a blast from the past. I have just left for a bit of an adventure…

…in Latin America. I needed to take a break from things here, and explore.

So I prepared a few posts in advance of my absence. I will also try to post about local dishes where I am visiting, so you can play “where is Sitelle” in addition to travelling vicariously through my culinary anectdotes! But I’m not sure how often I’ll have access to the internet, so you can experience the rest of my exam-time cooking adventures I have yet to describe.

This cracker recipe, as many others we have posted, comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French table – as she calls them, “cheez-it-ish crackers” (p 10).

I admit I’d never made savoury crackers before, but these immediately caught my attention, being full of cheese, for which I can’t think of a time I’m not game for. And I always like to try new things. The great thing about them is they’re super easy to store in their raw form in the freezer for a simple apéritif to begin at future dinner parties, or for a quick snack if you’ve got some waiting in the freezer.

Ingredients

-8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
-1/4 pound extra old (I like 4-year old) cheddar, or gruyère or comté, grated
-1/2 tsp salt
-pinch of cayenne (optional)
-1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
-parmesan to sprinkle on top (optional)

Process the butter, cheese, salt and cayenne with a pastry cutter or a food processor, until small curds form. Add the flour, and work in quickly, using your fingers, until the dough forms larger curds.

Turn the dough out on a clean surface and knead it until it can be formed into a ball. Divide the dough in half, and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and place in a fridge for at least 1 hour. I like to form them actually into cylinders the diameter of the crackers, and freeze them.

Preheat the oven to 350F, and remove the dough cylinders from the fridge (or better yet the freezer) and use a knife to slice it into crackers, 1/4 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, until slightly golden and firm. Cool on a wire rack and serve as a snack or with a glass of wine!

-Sitelle

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Be they braised or sautéed, hidden in quiche or shining in vichyssoise, I absolutely adore leeks.  They combine the delicate flavour of a Spanish onion, with the vibrancy of a green onion and a lovely subtle nuttiness.  I have been eyeing leeks all winter long, but at $5.99 a bunch, they have been far overpriced for a student budget.  This week they went on sale, and I have been relishing their abundance in my refrigerator!

I wanted to create one-pot meal that was satisfying, yet let the leek’s flavour shine.  Without cream, I dared not attempt a vichyssoise. Instead, I decided a creamy risotto infused with leeks would be just the comfort food I needed.  To add some colour and sweetness (and inspired by the leek and potato theme), I included a sweet potato in the risotto.  The result was lovely and balanced, with earthy undertones from the potato and just a hint of spring from the leeks!

 

Leek and Sweet Potato Risotto

(4 servings)
 
Ingredients:

½ sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 tablespoon butter

2 leeks

2 garlic cloves

¼ cup white wine or sherry

1 cup Arborio rice

3-4 cups vegetable broth, kept piping hot (but not simmering) over low heat

1 teaspoon thyme

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup Parmesan cheese
 
Directions:

Steam the cubed sweet potato until cooked, but still al dente.  Meanwhile in a separate pot, sweat the leaks and garlic cloves in the butter until translucent and fragrant.  Add the rice, and toast for 2-3 minutes.  Deglaze the pot with the wine, simmering until the alcohol has mostly evaporated.  Add ½ cup of broth, stirring gently until absorbed.  Continue adding ladlefuls of broth, allowing the rice to absorb each new addition before adding the next, until the rice is cooked al dente and slightly creamy, about 18 minutes.  You may not need all your broth or you may need extra.

Stir in the thyme, fresh parsley, sweet potato, and Parmesan.  Allow the risotto to sit covered with no heat for 2-3 minutes. (Incorporate an extra tablespoon of butter to make really rich and glossy). Adjust the seasoning and serve!

–       Catherine

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12-Minute Pizza


On nights when you come home starving and are craving some comfort food, home-made pizza always hits the spot. Pizza making is versatile, fitting whatever ingredients you have in your fridge, and it is also hard to mess up.  Whether you are craving some comfort food (mozzarella and pepperoni) or gourmet (feta and asparagus), anything really can top this pizza.  I love how depending on my mood, I can change cheeses or ingredients, making each pizza unique.

My go-to recipe starts with a pita for its base and uses salsa as a sauce.  This was an entirely accidental, yet brilliant discovery by my roommate one evening, when we ran out of tomato sauce and paste one evening.  Salsa infuses the pizza with flavour, and if you like spice, heats it up nicely.  Top it with your favourite ingredients (tonight I used mushrooms and red peppers), toss it in the oven and bubbly and crisp, and you have a delicious meal in less than 12 minutes from prep to table!

 

12-minute Pizza

(1 individual pizza)
 
Ingredients:

1 pita

2-3 tablespoons salsa

Toppings to your liking (my current fave is red pepper, green olives, and red onion)

Grated cheese (any or a combination of cheddar, mozzarella, goat cheese, feta, etc.)
 
Directions:

Preheat oven to 425o F.  On a baking tray, spread salsa over pita.  Sprinkle pitas with toppings of your choice followed by the grated cheese.  Bake in the until cheese is melted, about five minutes.  Broil for an additional two minutes until your pizza is bubbling and delicious.

–       Catherine

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I would love to find out how and why we get cravings.  They’re such a mystery, and at the same time, so important in driving people’s food habits.  It may be a combination of biological need, psychological drive, environmental stimuli (e.g. advertising), or completely random.  I have no idea – but I do know that I am not the only person to fall victim to these feelings!  I also recognize that some are more able to indulge in their cravings than others, which has begun to make me think about what being able to fulfill cravings might actually mean.

Some days, all I crave is the deliciously comforting combination of cheese and tomatoes.  And those days are particularly dangerous when I walk into a grocery store, as happened a few days ago.  The result: ridiculous amounts of cheese, and the resolve to make cannelloni for dinner.  I sure am happy I actualized my craving, as it resulted in a delicious meal with copious amounts of left-overs to keep me going for the next few days of unexpected snow.

Cannelloni in the making!

Ingredients

-3 garlic cloves, minced, and separated into 2
-2 + 2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp each dried basil, oregano, and parsley
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-2 cans tomatoes (purée’d or diced are best)
-pinch salt, pepper
-1 leek, minced
-1 large handful each parsley (flat-leaf is best) and basil, chopped
-1 pound ricotta cheese
-1 package strained cottage cheese
-2 eggs, beaten
-1/2 cup grated mozzarella
-1 package cannelloni or lasagna sheet noodles
-1/4 cup parmesan, grated

Directions

In a frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add 1/2 the garlic, the dried herbs, and stir for 2 minutes.  Then add the canned tomatoes, salt, and pepper.  Simmer this down for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another frying pan, heat the rest of the olive oil.  Add the minced leek, and let this melt for about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, and then the chopped fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, cottage cheese, 1/2 the mozzarella and 1/2 the parmesan, the eggs.  Mix, and then add the leek mixture, and mix again.

Then, either pipe the mix into the cannelloni noodles, or if you like assembly like me, spoon it/pipe a line onto one end of a lasagna noodle (cut them in half), and then roll it up.  Place the cannelloni in an oven dish that has been oiled with olive oil.  Continue to use up all the filling in the rest of the noodles, and then cover it all with tomato sauce generously.  The noodles soak up a lot of the sauce.  Cover the top with the rest of the cheese.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, until the top is golden crispy and the noodles are cooked.

-Sitelle

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