Tag Archives: cheese

15-Minute Fresh Tomato and Feta Tart

Ingredients

2 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes (about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 12 ounces), thawed according to the package directions and refrigerated
1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
Leaves of 4 sprigs fresh oregano or marjoram, minced
Leaves of 4 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
3/4 cup heavy cream or plain yogurt if you like it tart
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Greek

Instructions

Line a large platter or two with 6 or 7 paper towels each. Slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices, place them on the paper towels, and sprinkle with the salt. Set aside.

Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425F. Line 1 rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and set aside. Spray the underside of a second rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside, upside down.

While the tomatoes are draining, place the chilled puff pastry on the first baking sheet (lined on the inside with parchment or sprayed on the inside) and unfold it gently. Make sure to work quickly so the pastry stays cold. If at any time the dough feels soft, place in the freezer for 2 to 3 minutes until chilled again and firm. Thoroughly poke the dough evenly with the tip of a sharp small knife, about 48 times.

Completely cover the puff pastry with a sheet of parchment paper. Place the second prepared baking sheet (sprayed on the underside) on top of the parchment paper, spray-side down. Bake until the pastry turns a pale brown on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the top baking sheet. Bake until golden-brown and crisp on top, being careful not to overbake, 3 to 5 minutes more. Set the pastry aside to cool while you make the feta spread.

Place the cream cheese, garlic, oregano, thyme, pepper, and cinnamon, if using, in a medium bowl. Using a handheld mixer, mix on medium speed until combined. Add the cream and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the feta and mix until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread this mixture evenly on the tart crust.

Gently pat the tomatoes well with dry paper towels. Top the cheese mixture with the tomatoes salted-side down, arranging them in a single layer. The pastry will deflate somewhat. Drizzle over oil. Cut into pieces and serve immediately. This tart is best eaten the same day it is made.

Recipe Notes

Puff pastry: I am a believer in using butter-based puff pastry unless you need another version to meet a dietary need or you have no other available. Although most of the butter-based brands are sold one sheet to a box, they come in various sizes. If you buy a brand with 2 small sheets to a box, line them up as close to each other as possible on the oiled baking sheet and cut them to make one 9×12-inch rectangle. (On the negative side, the tart will really be two pieces and will not fuse together when baking. On the positive side, this will make it easy to serve without making too many cuts or breaking the pretty dough.)

Cheese spread: This mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated in a covered container.
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Monterey Jack Spaghetti

Ingredients

8 oz. of spaghetti, broken into 2 inch pieces
2 eggs
2 cups of sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
4 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 pks ( 10 oz ) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1 lg can of Durkee French fried onion rings, divided

Directions

Cook spaghetti to pkg directions.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs, add sour cream, Parmesan cheese & garlic powder.

Drain spaghetti & add to egg mixture w/cheese, spinach & 1/2 the onions.

Put in greased 2 qt. casserole & bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins, covered.

Last 5 minutes, add the remaining onions.
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Savory Cheese Muffins


Servings: 11 muffins

Ingredients

Butter and Cheese:

3 tbsp salted butter (unsalted + salt)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (Note 1)

Dry Ingredients

2 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda / bi-carb soda (Note 2)
1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

1 egg (large, 2 oz), lightly whisked
1 cup milk (full or low fat)
1/4 cup sour cream (or plain yoghurt)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or any plain oils, not olive oil)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (Note 3)
1 garlic clove, crushed

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F (standard) or 320F (fan).

Place butter and garlic in a microwave proof bowl and melt in 30 second bursts. Mix.

Brush a 12 hole standard muffin tin generously with butter, being sure to slather with some garlic. Reserve some butter to brush tops.

Whisk Dry ingredients in a bowl.

Whisk Wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour Wet into the Dry ingredients bowl. Mix 8 times. Add cheese, mix as few times as possible just to incorporate remaining bits of flour – no more than 7 big stirs (secret to soft muffs).

Divide between 11 holes in muffin in (I use an ice cream scooper). Batter should be thick and fill muffin tin to top (if in ball shape due to scooper, leave as is). See video.

Bake for 22 – 25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and crusty and spring back when touched in the centre.

Remove onto cooling rack, brush with remaining butter (microwave again if needed) and cool slightly before getting stuck into them!

Recipe Notes

1. I typically use grated Cheddar or Tasty Cheese (common in Australia). Any flavoured cheese will be terrific here, as long as it melts. Avoid Mozzarella – it doesn’t have enough flavour.

2. Baking soda gives these muffins a kick start with the rise so you get a lovely dome BUT if you don’t have it, then you can use an extra 2 1/2 tsp of baking powder instead. OR use self raising flour instead of plain flour and no baking powder and no baking soda.

3. Can sub with 1 tbsp dried parsley or 1 1/2 tsp of stronger dried herbs (thyme, oregano, mixed herbs, basil), or just skip. Still lovely flavour without!

4. These stay fresh for 2 to 3 days in an airtight container. Best served warm. These can also be frozen for 2 – 3 months.

5. As always for baking recipes, I have made these using Australian cups (imperial measurements used by the most of the world, including Europe, NZ) as well as US cups. I actually made these while I was in LA at a friend’s house and they came out just as they do when I made them at home!

6. Add In options: Up to 1 1/2 cups of stir ins of choice, add with cheese. Sun dried tomatoes, chopped or large chunks of feta, chopped olives, ham, cooked bacon, grated zucchini (salt, leave for 20 minutes then squeeze out excess water), grated carrot, chopped spinach, bell peppers/capscium (cooked). Cooked mushroom slices, cooked chorizo, even chopped chicken. Let your imagination run wild. Makes 12 high dome muffins, or 13 – 14 sensible muffins.
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Green Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

1 pound elbow macaroni (you can also use campanelle, cavatappi, or shells)
3 cups whole milk
1 cups packed fresh spinach
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Flour
4 cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 cup peas

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cook pasta in salted water for about 3 minutes less than package directions call for, until al dente. Reserve half a cup of the pasta water and strain.

While the pasta is cooking. Place the milk and spinach in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth.

In a large pot melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking continuously over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the milk mixture and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce is gently bubbling and starting to thicken.

Add reserved pasta water and cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in the pasta, salt, broccoli and peas.

Transfer to a greased 13″ x 9″ baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the pasta is set.
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Jalapeno Popper Pinwheels


Jalapeno Popper Pinwheels, enjoy them hot or cold! Go for hot because the cheese gets all melty and gooey
Servings: 24 pinwheels

Ingredients

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped finely
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
dash garlic salt (to taste)
2 Flatout flatbreads

Instructions

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, jalapenos, bacon, and garlic salt.

Divide the mixture in half, spreading each half evenly in a thin layer on each flatbread.

Roll the flatbread up tightly starting on the long end of the flatbread. Slice into 1/2 inch slices with a serrated knife. You can chill the rolled up flatbreads in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to make slicing easier.

If serving cold, chill until serving. For hot pinwheels, bake on a greased baking sheet in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Author’s note: I prefer them hot over cold but they’re good either way.
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Baked Brie with Cranberry-Pecan-Bacon Crumble

Ingredients

4 strips bacon
2 tablespoons candied pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, finely chopped
6 dried apricots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 7- to 8-ounce round high-quality Brie, preferably from France
Sliced baguette, crackers and apple and/or pear slices, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lay the bacon in a large skillet, then cook over medium heat until golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Drain the bacon on paper towels, let cool, then finely chop.

Combine the bacon, pecans, cranberries, apricots, rosemary, vinegar, pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl.

Remove the Brie from its packaging. Cut off the top rind of the round of Brie, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edges (use a sharp knife and go in from above at a slight angle). Discard the rind you have removed. Put the Brie in a small baking dish. Top with some of the cranberry-pecan-bacon crumble, and scatter the rest around the Brie. Cover the dish with foil, and bake until the cheese is warm and gooey, 30 to 35 minutes.

Serve with bread, crackers and apple and/or pear slices for dipping.
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Buffalo Chicken Cheese Balls

Ingredients

1 store-bought rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup hot sauce (recommended: Frank’s Red Hot)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups sharp Cheddar
1/4 cup freshly sliced scallions
1 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying

Blue Cheese Dip:

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup packed blue cheese, broken up
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Directions

Have oil heated to 350 degrees F.

Pick the meat from the chicken and discard the skin. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the hot sauce, pepper, cheese, and scallions, and toss to combine. Roll the chicken into 2-ounce balls, about the size of a golf ball.

Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Roll each ball in the flour, then the egg and then the bread crumbs. Set aside.

When the oil is hot fry the chicken balls in batches. Cook for about 2 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken to paper towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the chicken alongside the dipping sauce.
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