Tag Archives: cheese

Comfort Sundays

IMG_7748

Cheese is comfort right?

If you know me, you’ll know I keep a list a mile long. There just isn’t enough time to do, see, and cook everything! I have a hard time slowing down, a hard time focusing on just one thing, and a hard time not feeling like I’m missing out on something else. Until I suddenly slam to a stop because I’ve overdone it, and then nothing gets done, we eat popcorn, and my list (not being checked off during said down time) grows ever longer.

So in an effort to find some more balance and to feel like I’m being creative and cooking, I’ve decided to instigate Comfort Sundays. This involves (mostly) us picking and making a from-scratch, home-cooked real dinner on Sundays. These meals can be a more more fancy, a bit more labour intensive and will (hopefully) lead to trying out some new recipes (and a feeling of accomplishment.)

IMG_7739

This potato gratin kicked off Comfort Sundays. It was something I had bookmarked a while ago, but hadn’t had time to make. I was attracted to the recipe because it promised scalloped potatoes with less effort!

It did not disappoint! In fact, it may have stolen the show right out from under the nose of the ribs that we made to go it…. Now that’s something!

It is SO easy to make. It doesn’t need too many ingredients and things can definitely be swapped in and out. I read that you could swap in celery root, sweet potatoes, or butternut squash for half the taters. We didn’t. But I would when I make it again!

Rub ‘er down with butter and garlic

Layered and sprinkled

IMG_7743

Drenched and filled

So… You cut your potatoes thinly (You could use a mandolin but I’ve yet to be converted to wanting to drag out an appliance I don’t fully understand AND will need to wash. A sharp knife did just fine). Butter your dish. Layer your potatoes overlapping them. After each layer, add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme. I had enough for three (four?? I can’t remember…) layers. Then add equal parts stock (I used chicken, you can use any kind), and heavy cream. Top with cheese and bits of butter. Bake. Eat. Moan.

IMG_7744

Grate some great cheese

IMG_7745

Assembled and ready to bake

Cheery Cheesy Potato Gratin
Recipe via Alexandra’s Kitchen and originally Chez Panisse Vegetables (A book I’m adding to my wishlist!)

You really can’t mess this up. I promise. As long as you have potatoes and enough liquid to cook them and cheese to top them and make them broily and bubbly and CHEESY, you’ll have dinner in 1.5 hrs. I love that this (to me…) delivers scalloped potatoes with half the fuss. Happy Eating!

Ingredients: 

  • unsalted butter
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 3 lbs. peeled potatoes (I used yellow potatoes)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh thyme sprigs (leaves picked off)
  • nutmeg*
  • 1.5 cups (roughly) stock
  • 1.5 cups (roughly) heavy cream
  • 1 heaping cup grated Gruyere (or Swiss, or Comte) cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*After discovering that you could grate. nutmeg. fresh. every. time. with just a microplane, I’ve never looked back. But use what you have!

Method:

  • Slice potatoes thinly
  • Butter your dish and rub a crushed garlic clove all around. If you love garlic, you can just leave the bits at the bottom of the pan.
  • Put a layer of potatoes down, overlapping them.
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and nutmeg.
  • Repeat layers, until all the potatoes are used up.
  • Pour in equal parts stock and heavy cream. It should come up to the top of the potatoes.
  • Sprinkle the top with your cheeses and dot with butter. (The dotting is optional)
  • Bake at 425ºF for 45 to 60 minutes. If the potatoes appear to brown too quickly at 40 minutes, cover them with foil and keep baking until they’re tender all the way through.

 

Ballin’ retro

The cheese ball is back!

The cheese ball is back!

I know what’s been in missing in your life. At every party you’ve gone too. You’ve stared at the cut-up veggies, cubed cheese, ranch dip…. and sighed. Every time, you scan that table one more time, secretly hoping that something better might appear.

Ok, so maybe you aren’t dreaming about cheese balls. Maybe you lived through the last cheese ball phase, and you’re so.over.them.

Hear me out… this is Cheeseball 2.0. Not your mama’s cheeseball. It’s been updated with fresh herbs, roasted spices, and rolled in toasted nuts, seeds, or herbs.

toasting fennel

Toasty fennel

I took this to a birthday party and judging by the remnants, it was a hit.

I made 2 different ones out of a copy of Bon Appetit. (And is it just me, or does the magazine inspire you as much as it overwhlems you? So many dishes! So many beautiful pictures! So few hours and so few parties to bring it all too!)

capers, zest, fennel seeds, cream cheese

Pre-Whirl: capers, zest, fennel seeds, cream cheese, oregano

I digress. (Although I will digress further by saying that when you only live with the two of you, it’s hard to eat all you want to make. I still have frozen pie dough waiting for just the right time to make that cherry pie. Time for a dinner party!)

Right, back to the cheeseball.

Feta Cheeseball with Pine Nuts
Recipe via Bon Appetit

This guy is easy to make. Just whirl everything together and scrape into a bowl. Pay attention to the ounces. It’s easy to accidentally double the cream cheese. Not that I would know.

Also, for both these balls…. go easy on the salt. The feta is already salty and the accidental doubling actually helped it be less so.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • salt*
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped

*I use a variety of sea salts. Usually Himalayan pink salt, but also grey salt from France and flaky Maldon. They all vary in saltiness levels. Adapt  to taste, depending on what’s in your cupboards.

Method:

  • Process cream cheese, feta, and butter in a food processor until smooth.
  • Add capers, oregano, fennel seeds, and lemon zest; pulse until combined, season to taste with salt.
  • Line a small bowl with plastic wrap, and scrape mixture into it with a spatula.
  • Gather up plastic around cheese, forming into a ball.
  • Refrigerate to firm up. (3-12 hours is suggested)
  • When ready to serve, unwrap cheese ball and roll in pine nuts.

 

Delicious delicious bacon

Delicious delicious bacon from Roast Butcher

Seeded Cheddar Cheese Ball
Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

The original recipe called for a couple strips of pancetta, cooked and chopped up. It can be left out. I cooked some bacon instead, before realizing there would be veg-heads at the party, so I left it out of the recipe. It wasn’t missed.  Then I made a bacon sandwich to dispose of the evidence.

The original also called for sliced garlic and shallots to be fried up and mixed with the seeds prior to rolling the ball in it. Since I was bringing these to a party, I thought I would fry everything there. I didn’t. It was still delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1⅓ cups grated  cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons  black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

 Method:

  • Process cream cheese, cheddar, and butter in a food processor until smooth.
  • Add green onion, black pepper, Worcestershire.
  • Pulse until combined, season to taste with salt.
  • Line a small bowl with plastic wrap, and scrape mixture into it with a spatula.
  • Gather up plastic around cheese, forming into a ball.
  • Refrigerate to firm up. (3-12 hours is suggested)
  • When ready to serve, unwrap cheese ball and roll in a mixture of sesame and poppy seeds.