Tag Archives: goat cheese

Your Ultimate Green Salad

11 Aug

Oh my, do I love salad. Of all kinds. Cobb Salad, Antipasto Salad (coming soon), Cole Slaw, Greek Salad, Salad Nicoise, Panzanella (OMG), Tabbouleh, Caprese… I can’t get enough. And while my ‘last meal’ would probably include a Caesar Salad, ultimately my favorite salad is a green salad. Of a very specific kind.

Green Salad Ingredients

Green Salad ingredients

One reason I love green salad is that I love lettuce. Love. It. Basically, I’m a rabbit. Years ago I saw my dear friend Tanja eating lettuce out of a bag like potato chips and I thought, ‘Yep, that’s another reason why we are such good friends.” Crispy, crunchy heaven, that lettuce. The basis for all green salad.

The term green salad, however, can conjure an image of a pitiful scattering of withered lettuce served for free before something better arrives. As the late great comedian John Pinette said, “Salad is not food. Salad comes before food. Salad is a promissory note that food will soon arrive. If my brain sees a salad it says ‘Something good is going to happen soon, wait right here.'” This might be true at a low-rent diner but it misses the genius of an amazing green salad.
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A Perfect Breakfast

31 Aug

As readers of the blog know, I have a more than a few obsessions, chicken being one of them. It follows that eggs are also an obsession. I eat eggs virtually every morning. Along with coffee, there is no better way to start your day. Let me then give you one of my favorite breakfasts, a dish I make at least twice a week if not more: a baked omelette.

baked omelette

Baked Omelette, with nature’s gift on the side

Is this a quiche, you might ask. No, it’s not a quiche. I know that real men eat quiche but I’ve never been a huge fan of quiche. A baked omelette is excellent, then, for people in my camp. Even if you are a fan of quiche, I trust you will love this as well. The differences? First, there is no crust. I love a good flaky crust as much as anyone but I certainly don’t have time to roll one out in the morning. A good flaky crust also isn’t the healthiest thing to eat every day. A baked omelette is lighter, healthier and easier to make. It cooks in the oven much faster than a quiche, so it has a different consistency. It may not be incredibly attractive, but when something tastes this good, who cares?

A baked omelette is also very versatile. As the recipe below shows, you can incorporate all kinds of flavors into it, which means you can make it over and over and still keep it original and delicious.

It’s also damn good.

Omelette ingredients

basic ingredients for a baked omelette

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Squash Blossoms!

15 Aug

It’s still summertime, which means the Farmer’s Market remains filled with fruits and vegetables available only this time of year. I know, I know, we discussed this already here. But we haven’t talked Squash Blossoms, something truly unique and wonderful with which you can cook in the late summer.

As any gardener will tell you, squash is one of the easier things to grow and is ridiculously bountiful. As such, during the summer people are always on the lookout for inventive ways to use squash. I love layering sautéed onions, thinly sliced tomatoes and thinly sliced zucchini, layer by layer, with lots of fresh thyme, basil, salt and pepper, for a wonderful gratin. Add in a little white wine and/or broth, cover with foil and roast in the oven on 350 for 45 – 60 min (the last 15 min uncovered) and you will end up with a fresh, healthy divine dish that is redolent of summer. Squash is also great for pickling.

With squash also comes squash blossoms. For years I’ve admired these beautiful blossoms at farmer’s markets, in the store and in my own garden. But I never knew quite what to do with them so I didn’t try cooking with them.

Squash Blossoms

Fresh Squash Blossoms

Restaurants sometimes offer squash blossoms stuffed with cheese and then fried which, when done well, is terrific. But I am not much of a deep fryer at home and the recipes I looked at were too much of a pain. I finally decided to try a few inventions with squash blossoms and ended up with two dishes I know you will love.

Both have the same base:

– Sauté an onion, diced, in a little olive oil. Add a couple of cloves of thinly sliced garlic, some fresh thyme and salt & pepper.  (If you want a bit of spice, never a bad thing, add some finely diced jalapeño, serrano or red pepper. Remember the spice is in the seeds.)

– Then add a bunch of squash blossoms, chopped. Be sure to first gently wash the blossoms. Oh and tear them open before you wash and chop them to check for, you know, a creepy crawly. It’s rare but it happens.

– Saute everything down a little more until the blossoms are soft. This is a mixture I can eat by itself, with a spoon, it’s so good.

Now you have two options:

Squash Blossom Quesadillas or Baked Eggs with Squash Blossoms.

Both are very easy. And. To. Die. For.

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A Near Perfect Food

18 Feb

I was raised in the South. Port Arthur, Texas, specifically, a coastal town a literal stone’s throw from Louisiana. Being so close to Louisiana, many people in my hometown were Cajuns, my father’s side of the family included. Throw ‘The South’, ‘Texas’ and ‘Cajuns’ all together and you end up with people who overflow with hospitality and share a deep, intense love for food.

The house in which I was raised was no exception. My parents were two of the most hospitable people I’ve ever encountered. Someone was always in the guest room, on the sofa, borrowing the car, invited to dinner. Additionally, our life as a family revolved around food. What and when we would eat took precedence over just about everything else.

I tend to live by the example my parents set. If someone enters my home, their comfort is my goal and I feel embarrassed unless they immediately have at least the offer of food and drink. Given the house is a bit of a train station, with a parade of people coming in and out the door, I’ve developed some staples over the years I can throw together quickly or, better yet, have sitting in the fridge ready for use. The goat cheese spread below is first on the list, given the ease with which it is prepared. Oh, and then there’s this: it tastes really, really good. No, really. Even people who think they don’t like goat cheese devour this.

This stuff is so good, in fact, most of my friends get irritated if it doesn’t hit the counter soon after they arrive. Where’s the goat cheese? On the rare occasion I’ve been slacking and haven’t a ramekin of this waiting in the fridge, watch out.

Trust me. There is a reason this is the first food item I am posting on this blog.

GOAT CHEESE SPREAD

– 3 cloves garlic, peeled
– Fresh Rosemary  (1 or 2 sprigs)
– 11-14oz log of quality unflavored goat cheese, in big crumbles
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– Olive oil
– Fresh black pepper

1) In the food processor, chop the cloves of garlic and the fronds off the rosemary sprigs.

2) Add the goat cheese, the lemon juice, and a few grinds of black pepper (don’t be shy with the black pepper) along with a couple of healthy glugs of good quality olive oil. Start the processor and blend, adding olive oil as needed. You want it creamy but not too soft and smooth, not runny. Add more pepper to taste if you like.

3) I put it in small ramekins such as in the picture. This recipe will usually fill three or four 4-oz ramekins. Cover them with foil and stick in the fridge. You can serve them right away but they get even better over time.

4) Before serving, take the spread out of the fridge and let sit on the counter for about 15 minutes so that it softens just a touch.

5) Serve with crackers, fresh rustic bread and/or crudite. Oh, and white wine. Always “serve with wine”, right?

** This keeps in the fridge at least a week. I’ve waited much longer to serve it, once over three weeks, and no one has yet died. It serves many purposes beyond a perfect appetizer. This spread is terrific to have waiting when you come home from a vacation, for instance, and the house is usually empty of good food. Or on a night when you don’t have time to cook and want a light supper. A ramekin of this spread, some olives and some good crusty bread is a great dinner for me. Additionally, some studies indicate goat cheese doesn’t cause the lactose problems of other types of dairy. Give it a try.