Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Huge cheese pile

Cheese Soup

Cheese Soup (adapted from eggton)

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Poblano pepper, seeded
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • chicken broth
  • 6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • chipotle Tabasco sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • crispy bacon

Saute the onion peppers, garlic.  Add the carrot and chicken broth to cover veggies by an inch.

Simmer the veggies until very tender.

Working in small batches, blend the soup until smooth.  I left some chunks in my soup for texture.

Grate the cheese and toss with the flour.  Turn the heat to low.  Add the cheese to the soup, stirring until it melts.

Add a few dashes Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to taste.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crispy bacon on top and some warm French bread.


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antonelli's cheese event space austin 2013

Arriving early yesterday to help pour wine gave me a chance to snap a couple of pictures before all of the guests arrived at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.  The event space across the street is a remodeled turn of the century home, an intimate gathering for cheese and accoutrements.

jordan 2010 chardonnay and 2003 cab sauv

A selection of four wines were presented: (left to right) 2010 Chardonnay, 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.

My favorite wine to drink on its own was the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, it was so mellow and fruity.  The best pairing was the 2010 Chardonnay with Pure Luck’s goat cheese and a lime marmalade.  Most of the food bloggers in attendance enjoyed the Red Hawk cheese with the youngest Cabernet Sauvignon.

jordan wine guests at antonelli's cheese 2013

Lisa Mattson (pictured left) walked us through each wine and described the area north of Healdsburg, CA where the winery is located.  Kendall Antonelli (pictured far right) guided us through the cheeses, her passion for artisanal fromage bubbled.

2013 antonelli's cheese pairing platte

I have to check out the shop next time there is a need for cheese (which is pretty often in my house!).  Pictured above (clockwise) Pure Luck goat cheese, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk, Ossau-Iraty, and Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.  The Red Hawk had a beautiful cream line under the rind, I could eat my weight of that cheese!

AFBA event 2013 Jordan Wine Antonelli's Cheese

Two of my fellow AFBA members, Elizabeth of  Local Savour and Stephanie of Steph Cooks, who hung out after the tasting.  Elizabeth, Brittanie (Three Diets One Dinner), and I enjoyed the rest of the evening at Dolce Vita as I needed some coffee after all that wine.

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Need I say more?

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Now that you have a freezer full of home-made pierogies, I’ll tell you about eating them.


Bring a pot of water, about 6 cups, to a rolling boil.  Slice half of a yellow or red onion and fry in a skillet.  Drop in four to six frozen pierogies at a time into the boiling water.  Once the pierogies float to the surface of the water they are cooked.  Remove with a slotted spoon and fry a little on both sides with the onion, add a smidge of butter and salt to the pan.

Serve with a side of sour cream or ranch dressing.  Bacon pieces are optional but highly recommended.  These are also a great companion to ham or sauerkraut.

The last batch I made about a year ago was shared with a friend, being Texan they ate the pierogies with salsa.  Huh?  Salsa?!?  I’m not going to do such a sacrilegious thing, but they raved about it afterwards and wanted more.  I never made more for them.  Not out of spite for them ruining perfectly good perogies with salsa, no that’s not it.  Pierogies are seasonal to me.  They are heavy and warm, like someone’s arm wrapped around you when they fall asleep, they’re hard to get off.  Only the pierogies stick to your ribs and thighs instead of your shoulders.

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Making my own food is so satisfying.  I can control the quality of the basic ingredients that form a dish.  These pierogies were made with organic unbleached flour, real cheddar cheese (not that processed crap), red onions, organic potatoes, and chives from the front garden.  Back in junior high when I first learned the ways of the pierogi, we lived on a farm and grew a large portion of our own food.  If I could get the cement-like dirt in my yard to loosen up I could grow the potatoes and onions needed for this recipe.  All that I would need is a cheese purveyor and charcuterie for bacon.

I’ve noticed everyone makes their batch of tamales for the year (or few months) during the winter holiday season.  In Canada, it’s cold at least 80% of the year, so there is some leeway in the definition of “winter season”, nonetheless it’s a good time to gather and make homemade food to last through to spring.  My tamale is the pierogi.  If only I had a bigger freezer!

Traditional pierogies, at least in my family, were filled with potato and cheese.  There are all sorts of variations from blueberry, to cottage cheese, to mushroom.  Not a huge fan of the sweet blueberry version.  A perogie in my mind is savoury.  And bacon.  Lots of bacon involved.

Here is how I made my pierogies.


1. Gather your ingredients and equipment:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • leftover mashed potato
  • sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • cooked bacon and onion, fine dice
  • fresh chives
  • round cookie cutter
  • pierogi press (kitchen toy, not essential but it makes pretty pierogies)
  • rolling-pin
  • tray covered in parchment or wax paper that fits in the freezer horizontally (check to be sure you have space!)
  • pastry mat or floured work surface
  • small dish of water


2.  Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the water, eggs, oil in another bowl.


3.  Pour the egg mixture in the flour.


4. Stir until almost all the flour is absorbed, add more water a teaspoon at a time to reach a uniform dough.  Little hands can help, too!



5.  Knead the dough for a couple of minutes.


6.  Let the dough rest covered by the bowl or plastic wrap on the counter for at least 20 minutes.  Meanwhile mix the filling.  I prefer to have the “goodies” in one bowl (bacon, onion, half the cheese, and chives) and the potato in the other with half the cheese.  Make sure the potatoes are cold otherwise the cheese will melt and that doesn’t make for good pierogies.


7.  Take a baseball-sized portion of the dough and roll out on the floured mat/countertop until it’s very thin.


8.  Cut rounds of dough.


9.  Place the dough on the pierogi press, stretch the edges if needed.


10.  Fill the center with a bit of the bacon mixture and top off with potato.  There should be about a rounded teaspoon of filling total.  Watch out for pokey bacon pieces that pierce the belly of the pierogi!


11.  Dip a finger in the water.


12.  Rub the water around half the perimeter of the dough.


13.  Squish…


14.  There’s your pierogi!


15.  Place the pierogies on the sheet pan and freeze.  Once frozen (20 minutes) transfer to freezer bags.  Use within 3 months for best results.  Repeat until you run out of filling or dough or patience.

Alright, that’s the hard part.  The easy part is cooking and enjoying all your hard work.  Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Drop your frozen pierogies in the water (not too many, don’t crowd the hot tub) and boil until they float to the top.  I give them an extra 30-45 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon.  If you want the full experience of the Canadian Perogie, fry those suckers in butter and top with bacon and caramelized onions, with a spoonful of sour cream.  Yeah baby. Effin heart attack on a plate!  I suggest serving 2 or 3 pierogies per person the first time you make this.  Let them develop the thirst for butter-coated potato cheddar pierogies before telling them how many are in the freezer.  More for you in the meantime, eh?

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One of my worst fears has come to pass for local families, and at the worst time of the year.  Early today an apartment complex caught fire, several families with children lost everything.  Can you join me in making a donation or spreading the word to those who can make a donation to help save Christmas for these families?  One of the schools affected, Forest North Elementary PTA is taking donations of any kind but for those not in the area who want to help can do so on their website.  Alternatively, contact the Austin Disaster  Relief Network – 512-331-2600 or donate online.  News story is here.

I realize you probably have every charity in the world contacting you for help.  My dear readers, if you can spare anything for these kids I would be very grateful for any assistance you can give to our neighbors.  Thank you and have a blessed holiday season!

Now a recipe for you and your family on this chilly Austin day…


The fall back plan in my kitchen is pasta.  I can make fresh or dried pasta and any little stragglers of food in the fridge can be used to dress it up.  Even if there’s no tomato sauce, like today, I use some canned diced tomato and tomato paste instead.  Look for tomato paste infused with roasted garlic, whatever you make from the pantry with it will be pleased.

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 15oz can petite diced tomato
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (with roasted garlic)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Greek Seasoning (Victorian Epicure)
  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry rubbed sage

Start with the pasta.  Brown the meat in a large skillet and break apart as it cooks.  Season the meat well with salt and pepper.  Add the onion and carrot, garlic and herbs.  Stir to distribute and pick up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomato, paste and about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to dissolve the paste.  Cover and simmer gently until ready to serve and the pasta is al denté.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.   Remove from heat.

Serve with Pizza Toasts and a side salad for a comforting meal with your family.

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This was a hearty lasagna sans meat.  I used layers of fresh baby spinach and finely diced yellow bell pepper between an italian cheese blend and ricotta mixed with egg and marinara sauce.  The noodles were whole wheat and uncooked.  Seriously easy to assemble.  Just wait for it to bake, first covered with foil (about 40 minutes) and then topless to brown the final layer of cheese (15 minutes).   Use plenty of sauce since the pasta will use the moisture to cook in the oven.

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This recipe has been under development for a couple years, this one was pretty close to what I want.  The cream cheese was what I had in the fridge, this should be a mozzarella blend of some kind.  This was already an experiment so the cream cheese went in.

  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 15 oz can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 15 oz can cream of Poblano soup
  • 1 (28 oz) can green beans
  • 1 (30 oz) jar cactus strips
  • french fried onions

350ºF for 45 – 55 minutes until bubbly and onions are browned on top.  Kinda like this:

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  • yellow potatoes, cut into fries
  • Monterrey Jack cheese
  • bacon pieces
  • chives
  • sea salt and pepper

I made the fries in the oven (350º for about 20-25 min), which can be tricky.  Turn them over once the bottoms are lightly browned.  I also turn on the broiler on low at the very end to crisp the fries.  Plate the fries, add sea salt and pepper.  Top with slices of cheese and return to the broiler that has been turned off, just until melted.  Top with bacon and chives.  No deep-frying required!

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Living in Texas has influenced my choices in quickly prepared meals.  Tacos are the ubiquitous fast food in Texas and there as many ways to prepare them as there are fire ants in your backyard.  Some like it hot, some as hot as an inferno.  Others keep chilies out of the equation.  Do you like avocado?  Loads of diced vegetables?  The selections of meats and different cuts within each type of meat are enough to send your tongue in a tizzy.  Today I had some pork stew meat ready to be made into something delicious.

First, prepare the meat.  I chose a smoky mild dried chili, called cascabels, as the flavour base for my chunks of pork.

  • 1 1/2 lb pork (stew meat cuts)
  • 1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 dry cascabel chilies
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced

pork cascabel tacos

Place all above in crock pot on low for about 6 hours or until the meat is tender.  You could do this on the stove if you like on a very low simmer.  I hesitated to add more liquid than what came in the can of tomatoes, and I’m glad I did.  This would have been much soupier and the pork may have been tough if it was left to boil in liquid.  With minimal moisture, the fat rendered out of the pork to allow it to fall apart.

You can prepare the pork in advance, keep it in the fridge in a sealed container.  The flavours will marry even more.

For the tacos, I made a fresh salsa (tomato, red onion, poblano pepper, pinch of salt) and warmed up the tortillas in a small fry pan.  A few shreds of sharp cheddar cheese, I can’t have tacos without cheese, under shredded pork and topped with the salsa.   If we had any good avocado, that would have made this even more delicious with its balance of creaminess against the tang of raw onion.  Oh well, dinner is served!

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