Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category
Ok, enough lobster talk. Who says decadent has to be hard work and fancy ingredients? I wouldn’t say I need to toil and experiment with the fancier ingredients, but I do enjoy trying something different. But then there are days when I’m tired of searching for the hard to find stuff, when I just want the simple ingredients ton stand on their own, when you want give the most basic of items their due as something whole and delicious unto themselves. You want to give them their 15 seconds of fame if you will.
And now part deux of the divoreee vacay extravaganza..
Obviously no 4th of July celebration is complete without that culinary American icon, the burger. And don’t get us wrong, we love juicy, meaty burgers (along with apple pie and freedom). But, it is equally obvious that divorcee vacay calls for a bit of panache, something beyond the red meat and yellow cheese standard. This last point is especially important, as no cheese connoisseur with any street cred is going to slap a Kraft single on a meat patty and call it a day.
Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to AMF’s good friends and newest contributors, Sparkles (Allison) and Master P (Paula). Being the wine drinking, sunloving, danceaholics that they are, I’m really pleased to have them share their culinary adventures and cocktail making hotness.
To be clear, we are not divorced (from each other or otherwise). Excluded from a college boys weekend, unable to convince two other bffs to join us and desperate to leave our respective cities (DC and NYC), we are vacationing just the two of us on the small, quaint island of Anna Maria, Florida. Hence, we feel like divorcees and intend to drink, eat and sun bathe accordingly.
Once you get on the island, it’s hard to leave (and not a good idea after wine in the afternoon) so we make sure to shop for the whole trip. Brilliantly, we acquire ingredients that can be re-used in innovative ways (ie if you buy enough different cheeses, you are pretty much set for days.)
Cocktail Hour Menu:
Libation – Mojitos with pineapple infused rum and coconut water
Appetizer – Grilled, halved peaches with honey vanilla ricotta
We begin our late afternoon with a cocktail “project.” Located in the fruit aisle, next to the peaches, we found coconuts, silly, fury little guys, just begging to be taken home (despite the obvious question: what does one do with a whole coconut?) Before we do anything, we slice up pineapple and throw it in a bowl and cover it with rum to let the rum seep in. (Snacking on rum soaked pineapple is pretty fantastic, as well.) We then take our coconut into the garage and discover a power drill! We hold the coconut over a bowl and drill! until we pierce through the shell, then add another hole for air flow and drain the coconut juice into a bowl to be thrown into a mojito with rum soaked pineapple, fresh crushed mint, more rum, simple syrup and a little club soda. Perfection!
Onto the appetizers! We preheat the grill on medium heat, then take a peach and half it, pulling out the pit and coat each half in olive oil, then throw them face down on the grill and close the cover. We mix ricotta with honey and a little vanilla while we wait. Once grill marks appear on the peaches, after about 10 minutes, we brush balsamic vinegar on them and then add copious amounts of the ricotta mixture and devour with a fork and knife. The result is as warm and delish as peach cobbler without as much guilt. (It is just the appetizer, after all.)
Cocktail Hour Recipes
2 parts chunks of pineapple
1 healthy pinch mint leaves
1 part simple syrup (1 cup water to 1 cup sugar)
1 part rum
1 part coconut water
Splash club soda
1 peach (pitted)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Balsamic vinegar mixed with honey for drizzling
Olive oil for brushing
Soon to come: Chorizo and BlueCheese Brandy Burgers..
I really shouldn’t call anything Jacque Pepin recommends a cheat. I mean, if he does something in the kitchen, it may as well be a law because you know there’s a sound rationale behind it and he’s going to do it right. Lately I’ve been reading his autobiography, The Apprentice, and I stumbled upon the souffle recipe that his mother used to make. I’ve been getting into making souffles lately partially because I enjoy the challenge and partially because a well made souffle is fucking delicious. What really attracted me to the recipe was that Pepin’s mother didn’t actually make her souffle the traditional way. Instead of separating the yolks and whites and recombining after changing the composition of both, she just mixed everything together with a white sauce and popped it in the oven. WTF?
And there I was, scratching my head wondering if this was a real thing or not. Had my cookbooks been lying to me? Is it really possible to make a tasty, delicate souffle without the multiple, messy steps I had become accustomed? Well, turns out Pepin wins yet again (no surprise). Not only was the souffle a great meal, but it rose beautifully. Simple, relatively fast, and much less sensitive to the normal restraints of throwing a souffle together. Future Top Chef contestants, you are welcome.
I’m a bipolar cook. When I’m putting something together in the kitchen I either want it to be something that’s is really challenging and involves multiple steps and stages or I want something earth shatteringly easy and beautifully simplistic. Now I say easy, but not Rachel Dogfood Ray easy. I mean learning how to cook things efficiently and perfectly easily. Eggs, pasta dough, soup, these are all things that tend to be pretty easy and really difficult at the same time. For me, the omelet has always been a sticking point. Sure I could bust out a pan of properly cooked eggs and drop in a few ingredients, fold the eggs over and serve. Problem was, the bottom would always be overcooked and leathery, or the insides wouldn’t be cooked enough, or the whole thing would taste like styrofoam. Any number of issues would arise to make a intuitively simple breakfast into a god damn lackluster meal.
So deciding that I had had enough of trying to figure out this egg dish on my own, I turned to who everyone should turn to when they can’t figure something out in the kitchen, Ms. Childs. Within a minute of opening Julia Childs’ The Way to Cook I found the technique for 20 second omelets. Brilliant. About 5 minutes after reading the method I was on my way to pick up fresh eggs despite the fact it was almost 10:00 at night.
I think I could spend the rest of my life eating cheese and bread. Seriously, sometimes I’m just amazed that these artisan cheese making nations even developed their own cuisine since I probably would have just stopped at mastering dairy cultures. Meat? Why they hell would i kill the animal that I need have to milk to get my cheese.
This, being my first post exclusively about cheeese actually seems a bit retarded. You see, I’m about to recommend a cheese that I have no story behind. Full disclosure: I was hardley able to discover anything noteworthy about this cheese except that I found a lot of people refer to it as “goats milk cheese” which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but further investigation will be done. At the end of the day, this was damn good cheese, cheese definitely worth writing about so I’ll just put it out there. You can find it at Whole Foods and a handful of online cheese shops. It’s called Miticana de Oveja.
Right off the bat, if you recall from your highschool Spanish, this is infact a sheep’s cheese from Murcia, Spain. Very soft, and nicely mild. Similar to the more popular French variation, Bucheron, this stuff is made for spreading all over a torn off piece of bageutte. Procuitto is a great complement as well.
What I love most about this cheese is that it has three very distinct and very excellent layers. You have the outer rind of edible mold that’s a little bitter and calky. Immediateley the next layer is this membrane of ripe, creamy glupe that is just begging to be smeared. Finally you get the crumbly, claylike core of the log. Semi-firm in texture, the core intensifies with age but still maintains a buttery tanginess. This isn’t a cheese you want to eat chilled, you want this to sit out and brought to almost room temperature.
There’s a lot of different stuff going on with this cheese. Tangy, sweet, soft, basically if you like goat cheese at all you’re going to dig this cheese. It’s one of those that I’ll only eat a little at a time because your palate will get a bit worn out nibbling on this delisiousness and it seems a shame to waste of morsel.
Balls. Yup, just balls. Only reason you’ll need. So after a few attempts with the risotto recipe, you may have found it doesn’t always come out so brilliantly. But you don’t want to waste your ingredients. The rice is a little too crunchy, or the final product was a thick and heavy blob of cement. These things happen, at least they happened to me more than a few times. So when I found out that I could turn my fuckup into a really tasty drunk munchie I was more than a little pleased.
If I was going to be on Top Chef (which I’m well aware is never going to happen), one thing I would master before at some point and time before the contest starts would be making a perfect souffle. I’ve been watching Top Chef for five seasons now and time and time again this dish has caused nothing but heartache and frustration. Anthony Bourdain talked about how it was without question the most difficult station to manage while in culinary school. It’s a dish few restaurants will serve and even when they do they usually specify that the dish will take an unusual amount of time. So I decided I wanted to see how difficult putting together this fragile dish would be expecting to fail miserably. What can I say? I like a challenge.
Surprisingly, I was pretty happy with the result. Trying to put this dish together gave me a pretty good understanding of the importance of each step. Making a souffle isn’t really that hard, but like most baking, it’s a goddamn science in that each step needs to be done just right … and I usually hate science.