It all began with a bag of shelled green peas. I was thinking sautéed spring vegetables with pasta; the Italians call it primavera. But, I did not want to use traditional pasta such as linguine, penne, or tagliatelle. And, I had a yearning for some sort of fresh sauce, too, in lieu of a creamy one. The bag of peas held the answer to my quest. Continue Reading →
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I am not mathematically inclined, but I do like to figure out how things work and have always had an inquisitive mind. If a shortcut works, well, I’ll take that route. It stems from childhood. When a problem arose, I would try to sort it out on my own before approaching my parents. I would come up with a solution and present it to them. They may not have always liked what I came up with but at least it was there for them to say yea or nay. Continue Reading →
How to turn Greek yogurt into a delightful soft cheese? It’s quite easy and so simple! Labneh is strained yogurt and found in Middle Eastern cuisines. Serve it with a drizzle of olive oil and top with za’atar or do what I did by rolling into balls and place in a jar with olive oil. Continue Reading →
Halloumi, a Cypriot cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep milk, has a high melting point and can easily be fried, grilled or roasted. When fried or grilled, it develops a delicious crust that surrounds a slightly springy, mild interior that squeaks between your teeth when chewed! Its uses are so versatile: skewer cheese chunks and place on a grill (brush with olive oil), make halloumi fries, wrap in prosciutto (grill or pan-fry), sliced and added to baked peppers, or shrimp and halloumi skewers with mint salsa. Continue Reading →
Mac n’ cheese (aka macaroni and cheese) has been around since the 1930’s and I grew up with it; both the boxed version and homemade. The afternoon my daughter was born I ate a whole box for lunch…no wonder she likes it. It’s been years since consuming the all-too-orangey-looking commercial stuff. Continue Reading →
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing mouth-watering about processed cheese. It lacks any kind of taste, looks artificial, and I doubt there’s any nutritional benefit once being processed. As a cheeselover, it pleases me to know there are cheesemakers in every province. According to the Canadian Dairy Commission, Quebec is the biggest producer of cheese, followed by Ontario. Canadian cheesemakers produced more than 137.7 million kilograms (303 million pounds) and more than 1,050 types of cheese in 2011. Be still my cheese-beating heart! Continue Reading →
Entertaining can seem like a daunting task whether it’s your first time or 100th! The key to any successful party is in the planning. When I plan a dinner party its roots are usually based on a country we have been to and have enjoyed the food. From there I start thinking about what I’d like to serve, where some of the food will be consumed and what libations will accompany the food. I make a list…it’s the crucial part of making an evening end well. Continue Reading →
America is considered the true home of the hamburger, but chopped beef had been a staple of Eastern European cuisines for centuries. German immigrants from Hamburg arrived in America in the 19th century bringing their Hamburg-style beef with them. Burgers are all about the toppings and this recipe focuses on the topping you can’t see. The idea behind an inside out burger is to sandwich ingredients within the beef patty and when you take a bite, the stuffing is uncovered. Talk about a taste sensation!
1 1/2 lbs. medium ground beef
1 onion, thinly sliced
cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated (or any mixture of hard or semi-hard cheeses)
4 slices bacon, cooked
bread and butter pickles
Divide beef into 4 even chunks. Divide those chunks in half and form patties. Using all fingers, grab a generous pinch of Gruyère cheese and place on one half of the patty. Place the other half on top. Using your fingers, crimp and seal the edges closed – you don’t want the cheese exposed. Repeat for remaining patties. Place in refrigerator until ready to use. Keeping the patties cold before cooking helps them to stay together and stay as juicy as possible.
In a frying pan over medium heat add a splash of olive oil and sauté onion until golden brown. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add a splash more olive oil and add mushrooms. Cook until light brown or to your liking. Remove and set aside.Season patties with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and grill over medium-high heat (2 minutes per side for rare, 3 for medium-rare, 4 for medium, and 5 for well-done). Resist the urge to press the burgers while they cook as this releases their natural juices (making for a drier patty) and the cheese will ooze out. IF USING A GRILL PAN: Heat pan over high heat on top of the stove. Cook the burgers the same as you would for the barbecue. Build the hamburger by placing one patty on the base of a hamburger bun followed by thinly sliced cheese (the heat from the burger will soften the cheese), pickles, bacon, mushrooms and onion.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: The first time I made an inside out burger was 2 years ago when we lived in NY and I haven’t made a regular burger since! I like my burgers thick and use a pound of ground beef for the two of us. Get creative and use other toppings to stuff your burger. Enjoy!
Sometimes it’s a photo or description of a photo that makes me stop in my web-surfing tracks. Such was the case when I wondered onto Averie Cooks site. It was her 2 ingredient, 110 calorie baked mozzarella cheese sticks that grabbed my attention.
egg roll or wonton wrappers
low-fat mozzarella string cheese sticks
1. Preheat oven to 400f. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or with parchment paper.
2. Place cheese stick on a diagonal of the wrapper and roll up (tightly), folding in the sides as you go. Place the bundle seam side down on baking tray. Lightly spray or brush with olive oil and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.
3. Turn cheese sticks over and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Serve immediately and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce. I used my own marinara sauce.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: With 2 ingredients and no cutting involved, these were definitely easy to make. Just make sure the ends of the cheese are covered well or you’ll end up with some of the cheese oozing out…not a bad thing if you ask me. Enjoy!
I love simple ingredients as they tend to work symbiotically to create great flavors. Less is more…I know this sounds cliché but it’s true and not just in the food world. The more ingredients you use the greater the risk of losing the essential flavor of your food. When the ingredients are good, they need minimal help to make them better. This recipe is easy to make and with only five ingredients, it’s a winner. These polenta sticks with smoked mozzarella peeking out of the salami will be a hit at your next dinner party. Cornmeal, the golden-yellow polenta, is a culinary staple in Northern Italy. Polenta is a neutral flavored dish that can be used as a base to carry other flavors. Using a medium grind cornmeal will yield the best results. Look for ‘stone ground’ cornmeal on the label.
Serves 4 as an antipasto
1/2 cup cornmeal (packaging may also say polenta)
2 cups water or chicken stock
pinch of salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or aged cheddar cheese
fennel salami (or favorite salami), thinly sliced
To make the polenta sticks, place water and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil then slowly add the cornmeal, stirring occasionally. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes (if using instant cornmeal, the time is shortened to about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and add a tablespoon of butter. Stir until butter is melted then add the cheese. On an 8-inch plate, grease with 1 tablespoon of olive oil then pour polenta on top. Smooth to edges of plate and allow polenta to cool to temperature. Once cool, cut into strips.
Preheat oven to 400f (200c). To assemble, place a thick slice of mozzarella on top of the polenta and wrap a piece of salami around it. Place on a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese has softened. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly…you don’t want these piping hot when you serve them as the flavor intensifies when warm.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: You can make the polenta the night before. When ready to assemble, remove from fridge and slice into sticks. To keep things looking more uniform, cut the polenta based on the length of the mozzarella slices. If the salami slices are larger than the polenta sticks, fold under (like I did) to make it fit before wrapping. Enjoy!
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