Tag Archive: Cheesy Goodness

Bravo, Luciano!

If you’ve paid attention to my Instagram feed in the side bar, you’ve noticed that I have a problem.  What started out as a “treat” one lazy Saturday morning has now be come an addiction.  At least one morning each weekend – sometimes Saturday, other times Sunday – I find myself driving to Sunflour Baking Company for a cheddar biscuit with bacon.  This weekend was no different, but I fear it’s getting worse.  Last week I also grabbed some Duck Rabbit Milk Stout cupcakes and a couple sandwiches while I was in there.  This has got to stop soon.  Otherwise, before I know it, I will be walking out with an entire case of Ham & Gruyere Croissants, all the while cramming yet another cheddar biscuit into my face.

Each week as I wait for my biscuit, I see this quote on the chalkboard style menu that hangs on the wall just inside the bakery door:

I think that’s lovely.  Don’t you? As much as I am an opera fan, I had never heard or seen this quote from Pavarotti before.  All I can say is – “Bravo, Luciano!  Bravo…

and I HAVE to stop coming here so often or otherwise I’m gonna start to look a little too much like you.”

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/1038

poTAYto/poTAHto

Last Sunday BG and I attended an appreciation cookout as supporters of a friend’s ministry.  She was providing the main course and the rest of us were to bring sides.  I’ve mentioned that I have a reputation a foodie and cook amongst my Charlotte friends, so I wanted to make sure my side was especially scrumptious.  I settled on Sara Foster’s Potato Gratin with Tomatoes, Chevre, and Thyme from The Foster’s Market Cookbook.

I first made this about 5 yrs ago when taking a meal to my dear friend who was just home from the hospital with her first baby.  I mentioned to her then that it was all I could do to avoid sticking my face directly in the pan while I was making it.  You see, I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.  Baked, scalloped, stuffed, mashed, whipped,  roasted, au gratin, or twice baked – you name it, I like it devour it.   But back to my original story…

The last three weeks in the Beer Guy/Wine Girl household have been ridiculously busy.  And, in keeping with that, I had another event I had to attend prior the aforementioned appreciation cookout.  This potato dish is quite rich and I don’t even want to know the calorie count, so this is not a dish I make on a regular basis…despite its orgasmic deliciousness.  This is a special occasion dish and, as such, I haven’t made it in a couple years.  Meaning…I totally forgot how long it takes to build and cook it!

Our cookout started at 5p.  I got home from my first event at 2:30p and meandered towards the kitchen at about 2:45p to start prepping my dish.  I set to work slicing my potatoes

and melting my butter.

The recipe recommends that you slice the potatoes (~1/8 inch thick) as needed while you build the layers. Something about the starch in the potatoes holding it together.  The butter is to brush along the surface of the baking dish as well as on top of each layer of sliced potatoes.

So I’m slicing, layering, buttering while throwing in some goat cheese, parmigiano reggiano, and thyme in the mix…

then layering in the tomatoes…

(Note to self – Buy a mandoline before making this again.) all the while, merely glancing at the portion of the recipe that said to “bake 30-40 minutes.”  Well, at 4:40p, I moved out of the slicing and layering zone, and looked at the recipe to refresh my memory on the final steps.  At this point I knew we were going to be late but, as I was thinking it only had to bake for 30-40 minutes, I thought it would be a fashionable 15-20 min late.  That’s when I saw it… the instructions to “bake, covered, 45-50 minutes” then “uncover and bake 30-40 min MORE!”

In a panic, I let a few choice words fly, slammed the layered concoction into the fridge, and yelled to BG upstairs that we had to go NOW!  We ended up taking a sad little store-bought side to the cookout, which was a total let down.  Luckily the good food (provided by other people) and even better company at the cookout lifted my spirits.  Then we came home and that’s when I really started to grin…

You see, I had already spent the money to purchase the necessary ingredients for this side as well as a lot of time putting it together.  I couldn’t just throw it out because I hadn’t finished it or taken it to the party.  I had to press on and see it through to the end.  It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.  Really at this point all I had to do was add the toppings and bake (albeit for nearly an hour and a half).  The recipe calls for pouring half-and-half over the ensemble, but I just happened to have some whipping cream left over from my recent creme brulee adventure.  So…

I went with that, then topped it off with some homemade bread crumbs, and baked it until it looked like this.

BG just so happened to be flying out on (yet another) business trip the next morning…and I would be at home…alone…all week…with my creamy, goat cheesy, potato gratin!  Hmmm…

Don’t mind if I do!

Like I said, I never met a potato I didn’t like.  It will be a miracle if this dish survives the next three days!

So was this an honest mistake or an evil brilliant plan?  You decide!

Cheers y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/754

This I Know

I am for apres ski.  I’m not certain yet whether I am for skiing, but I am most definitely for apres ski!

Exactly what is apres ski, you ask?  According to Wikipedia it means “after skiing” and

“refers to going out, having drinks, dancing, and generally socializing after skiing. It is popular in the Alps, where skiers often stop at bars on their last run of the day while still wearing all their ski gear. The concept is similar to the nineteenth hole in golf.”

I mentioned that this week would be my first attempt at skiing… as in EVER!  On Day 1, I smartly went to Ski School in the morning and spent the afternoon playing in what I called the “baby pen.”  That was fine.  Day 2, however, was a different story.  I spent the morning on the bunny slope at the very bottom of the mountain at Deer Valley.  I had a blast doing that, and was gaining confidence in my ability to slow myself down and stop when I wanted rather than solely by flattened terrain.

After lunch BG, who had been “babysitting” me on the bunny slope all morning, assured me that I was ready to try something more and took me to the closest “green.”  I repeatedly asked him “So, because this is a green it is not any steeper than what I have been doing?”  To which he repeatedly replied “Right.  It will just be longer.”  Does anyone else sense the foreboding here?

I started getting nervous when the chair lift for this particular run went more than just a little higher than the one for my precious bunny slope.  And, by “more than just a little higher” I mean 1200 FEET HIGHER!!  I know it’s no double black diamond, but this is the highest elevation I’ve been to and not been on an airplane…and we all know how much I LOVE that.  May I just say that BG was woefully mistaken in his assessment of the slope of this so called easy green run?  It was considerably more steep than the bunny slope.  To make a long story short, there was great crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth and we WALKED down from 8400 feet…except for the portions where I scooted on my butt for 10-15 yards at a stretch.

Once at the bottom, after our 45 min descent , I had just enough time to do a couple more runs down the bunny slope so that I didn’t completely wig out and give up on skiing altogether right then and there before meeting up with the rest of the family for our apres ski at the Stein Eriksen Lodge.  Little did I know that to get there, we had to ride a chair lift that went even higher than the last one.  I don’t know exactly how much higher, but it was enough…to COMPLETELY FREAK ME OUT!

Once again, great crying…wailing…gnashing of teeth…

At least this time, I was assured a shuttle ride down the mountain since BG’s mom does not ski and had to arrive at the lodge by shuttle.  We took our apres ski in Stein Eriksen’s Troll Hallen Lounge.  Once in the door I ordered a glass of Pinot Noir so fast that I don’t even remember the name of the vineyard.

Maybe I don’t remember the name of the vineyard because I was having a hard time reading the wine list through my red, swollen, and bloodshot eyes and basically rattled out something that sounded like “Pinot Noir” to the patient server.  There are no tasting notes on it because, honestly, my nerves were so frazzled at that point that I finished the glass in about three swallows.

The apres ski menu had something for each of our thirst cravings.  BG, of course, had a beer… some brand of oatmeal stout

while his dad had some sort of amber.

His mom enjoyed a virgin Bloody Mary, which was apparently very good but quite spicy,

and his sister had an adult coffee beverage.

For our snacks we split two bowls of Chef Zane’s Spicy Nuts and a big ole pot of New York White Cheddar and Stout Fondue!

Talk about cheesy goodness…

I tell ya, if the wine hadn’t started to cheer me up by then the fondue would have certainly done the trick!  I do love a good fondue!  So, if you are skiing Deer Valley in Utah, and are into good food at a ridiculously high elevation, the Troll Hallen Lounge in the Stein Eriksen Lodge is a must.

Finally, after two glasses of wine and a gigantor pot of beer-based cheese, I finally managed to smile again.

Like I said in the beginning, I do not know yet whether I am all for skiing but, THIS I know – I am most certainly for apres ski!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/665

Grandaddy of All Ham & Cheese

So last week, after working at the hospital from 7a-3:30p all day Saturday, running around to do a little Christmas shopping, then spending 3 hours decorating the Christmas tree, I collapsed into a heap on the couch.  Firmly ensconced in my warm blanket with mulled apple cider in hand, I began to mindlessly flip through the channels and came across It’s Complicated on HBO.  Great movie.  I love Nancy Meyers movies.  If you haven’t seen it, you should.  But I digress…

First, it must be said that Meryl Streep’s kitchen in that movie is A-MA-ZING!

Seriously, this is my DREAM kitchen.  But the kitchen is not the point of this post…it’s what is being eaten in this fabulous kitchen!  There is a scene where Meryl Streep and Steve Martin are eating a meal of what looked to be a large piece of cheesy bread, salad and some Chardonnay.  Now, the first time I saw this movie WHAT was being eaten didn’t catch my attention.  But this time, I went – “Huh, wonder what THAT is?”  Through the miracle that is the DVR, I was able to rewind and memorize the French name Meryl Streep called it…

Croque Monsieur!

When curious about making a French dish, there is but one “go to gal” – The Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten.  A little search around the Food Network website informed me that this dish is basically a French Ham & Cheese sandwich.  Hmmm….and I just happen to have fresh homemade bread on my counter. What’s a girl to do?  Why whip some up, of course!

Check out the Barefoot Contessa’s full Croque Monsieur recipe here.  First you have to grate a lot of cheese – I mean a lot.  We’re talking 12 oz/5 cups of Gruyere

and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan.

(Now, my Pampered Chef gadget definitely made this grating easier.) Then you melt some butter and stir in some flour until it looks like this.

Did I just make a roux?  To finish off the sauce, stir in 2 cups of hot milk

followed by the Parmesan, a 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir it until it is a big ol’ saucepan of creamy, cheesy goodness.  And now, NOW is when we get to put that Beer Bread to good use…

First you slice it up, then toast it up, and cover it in Dijon mustard, sliced ham, and grated Gruyere

top if off with another slice of bread,

and cover it with the cheese sauce.

GET. A. LOAD. OF. THAT!!!!  Any recipe that allows me to ladle cheese sauce on to, well, quite frankly anything, is a winner in my book!

Believe it or not, you then sprinkle MORE Gruyere on top then bake and broil it until it looks like this

Now, BG was not about to let any of the cheesy goodness go to waste.

I mentioned that the fastest way to his heart was to combine his two favorite things – beer and bread.  Well, you add cheese to that and he is on Cloud Nine!

In all honesty I sliced the bread too thickly.  So, the next night I made it in an open faced version and much preferred that.  It’s much prettier that way, don’t you think?

BG declared that this was the “best damn ham and cheese ever” and I have to admit, I whole-heartedly agree with him!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/545

Would It Be So Wrong…

if I just stuck my face in this?

I don’t think so.  I mean, it’s a baked brie.  When you really think about it, who would blame me?

Well, my church small group might not appreciate it since I made it for them.  It was our night to bring snack and I completely forgot about it until the night before.  Once I remembered, I somehow got it in my head that I wanted to take a baked brie.  A friend gave me her recipe last year and I took it to a couple of events where it was a huge hit.  Well…I apparently lost the recipe.  So what’s  girl to do when she’s got her heart set on serving a baked brie and she’s lost her recipe?

Google to the rescue of course!  What did we ever do without it?

The first Google listing was this recipe from The Food Network.   It looked yummy but, frankly, I just didn’t have time to cut the brie in half, stuff it, trim the pastry to the circumference of the brie, and make decorations out of the pastry trimmings.  So that recipe was quickly discarded.

The second listing was from Simply Recipes.   I took one look at the recipe pic and knew this recipe wouldn’t disappoint.  It had a very simple ingredient list.

First you lay out the pastry dough and set your brie wheel right in the middle.  Then cover said brie wheel with raspberry jam.

Next you fold the pastry around the cheese, like so…

Then top with maple syrup and brown sugar and bake it up.

I like to serve it with crackers or crostini and sliced apples with candied walnuts on the side.

If you are salivating like I am, pop on over to Simply Recipes and download this yummy, crowd pleasing recipe here.  People will think you slaved over it.  But, really, it only takes about 30 min.

Oh, I almost forgot the most crucial step in the process!  I can’t stress this enough –

DON’T STICK YOUR FACE IN IT BEFORE SERVING IT TO FRIENDS!

It’s tricky, but it can be done.  Trust me.

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/499

Dig This Zucchini Pizza

My new blog crush is Eat, Live, Run.  It’s author is Jenna, a food writer that’s been to culinary school, and is a relatively recent Southern transplant into Foodie-Wino Paradise (a.k.a. the San Francisco Bay area and adjacent Wine Country).  So since she writes about food and wine (two of my favorite things) and she lives in one of my favorite regions on the planet, I absolutely ADORE her blog.

A couple weeks ago she posted a recipe for “Cheesy Zucchini Pizza That Will Rock Your Face.”  It looked beautiful and super easy so I knew I had to give it a try.

First step was to pour myself a glass of wine.  What? It’s in the recipe.  No, seriously.  It is. Click the link above to check it out for yourself.  Jenna specifically says “First, you must drink wine.”  Ok.  I’m in!

Tonight’s vintage of choice is the 2008 Estancia Pinot Noir.  Look for an Uncorked! on that later this week.

In addition to sipping a nice glass of Pinot Noir, the process includes grating the zucchini… (See.  Got the wine.)

mixing the “sauce” and toppings (with wine in tow)…

rolling out the pizza dough (not pictured, but the wine is present)…

putting it all together (wine still in the foreground)…

and baking it up.  Doesn’t that look SUPERB?

Jenna’s recipe did not call for it but since it’s National Goat Cheese Month, and goat cheese makes everything better, I sprinkled a little on top of mine. Mmmmm!!! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!!!

Regarding forming the crust, Jenna commented “I lack talent in the pizza dough throwing competition, so my crusts always end up looking a bit rustic, if you will.”  Well, tonight’s cheesy zucchini goodness is only my second attempt at making a homemade pizza, and in neither of these instances have I attempted to actually throw the dough.  I have a relatively new house with lovely (read CLEAN) painted ceilings and I prefer to keep it that way.  So, I used a rolling pin and my hands (I’m assuming that’s kosher in the pizza making world) and worked it into not really a circle, not really a square, not really a rectangle kind of shape.   It was sort of like a wonky parallelagram.

So  Jenna, if yours is “rustic” then mine is down right artisan! But like she said, “Ain’t no thang.”  It tasted good anyway!  In fact, it was FAB-U-LOUS!  I cut it into big ole “rustic” pieces and plated it up with a lovely little salad (topped with little clumps of goat cheese, of course).

The Beer Guy was even quite taken with it and, believe me, he is not a veggisaurus by any stretch of the imagination.  True to form, though, he did suggest that it would be “even better” with sausage!

Jenna promised that this was a “Cheesy Zucchini Pizza That Will Rock Your Face,” and I’m not going to lie to you, people.  It did.  It rocked my face! Check out Jenna’s blog for the full recipe and see for yourself.

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/243

National Goat Cheese Month!  What?

August is National Goat Cheese Month! I certainly didn’t know that.  Did you?  My friend, Carmen, from Keeping Up Klapper mentioned it on her blog last week and that was the first I’ve ever heard of it.  After I reading her post , exclaiming “National Goat Cheese Month?!?!” at the top of my lungs and squealing with delight I thought,”Why isn’t this being more widely publicized? Why hasn’t this been mentioned on the Today Show or been a headline in the New York Times? Where are the county fairs in its honor? Where is the parade?”  Certainly something like National Goat Cheese Month is worthy of a parade!  With all the doom and gloom that’s constantly in the news, I think a national holiday devoted to Goat Cheese would be just the thing to cheer folks up!  Don’t you?

Goat Cheese just happens to be my FAVORITE cheese!  And something like National Goat Cheese Month sounds a heck of lot like a reason to work it into my diet every day for a month.  A quick Google search of National Goat Cheese Month informs me that this holiday is celebrated by making your favorite goat cheese recipes and sharing them with your friends and family.  SIGN. ME. UP.

Well, let’s see…So far I’ve had a salad for lunch every day this week which was topped with Goat Cheese.  That’s a start.

Then I made these mini Goat Cheese Empanadas to take as an appetizer to a Women’s Quarterly Dinner with my church.

(These were a recipe I got out of Real Simple magazine.  They were alright, but didn’t live up to my hopes.  True to form, they were “real simple” to make, but they just didn’t have a lot of pizzazz.  I kept thinking they’d be better with the goat cheese that comes with the dried cranberries in it, then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and dipped in or topped with some sort of berry chutney.  I’ll work that one out and get back to you on that.)

How am I doing so far?  Keep in mind, I found out about National Goat Cheese Month 6 days into it, so I’m a little behind.  But where to go from here?  What’s a girl to do? Hhmmm. Should I…

A) gather Goat Cheese and some other soft cheeses and have one of my favorite dinners of cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts, and wine (of course) while watching movies with the Beer Guy?

B) make some of these Deep Chocolate Brownies with Chevre Swirls or these Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles?

C) make this Pasta with Cheesy Pink Sauce?

D) find another reason to make and serve this Goat Cheese Bruschetta?

E) sample different local Goat Cheeses at my farmer’s market and establish a local go-to Goat Cheese favorite?

OR…

F) All of the above.

Yeah, I’m definitely thinking “F) All of the above.”  I’ll keep you posted on the “celebration” in the KDT household.  What about you?  Any suggestions or favorite Goat Cheese recipes?  I’d love to hear about them!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

Permanent link to this article: http://kitchendoesnttravel.com/blog/archives/236