This is the second installment in my Regions of Italy project. It’s Pallotte Cace e Ova, or Cheese and Egg Fritters.
The original recipe called for extra virgin olive oil for deep frying. I find this a bit nutty. In the first place, extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point, which means that the risk of burning is quite high. (You can argue with me about that if you want, but I’ve seen olive oil scorch way too quickly, so I stick with that belief.)
Second, extra virgin olive oil so expensive that the thought of filling a pot with 3 or so inches of it makes me dizzy. Also, the general belief is that so much of the flavor of extra virgin olive oil is lost when it’s heated, and so it’s not worth using to cook, which is why I use regular olive oil even for sauteing. So, for deep frying, I prefer to use peanut or some other cooking oil. But I’ll leave that choice up to you.
The fritters can be eaten by themselves, but are often served with tomato sauce. Having said that, I found that a spritz of lemon made them taste fabulous. Enjoy! Continue reading →
I love making frittatas. They are soversatile, and you can make them with just about anything.
Frittatas can be made with 2 methods. The first is the flip–you cook the frittata on one side, invert it onto a plate, and slide it back into the pan to cook on the other side. That’s the method that I’m going to venture to say is most common with most home cooks.
I think the other method is more common in restaurants, and that is where the frittata is cooked on the stove top, then placed in the broiler to cook the top. The frittata I offer today must be done using this method because the top layer is mozzarella, and if you flip that over…well, you’re just going to end up with a pan full of mozzarella.
Dessert sandwiches are so much fun to eat. Proof of this is the popularity of ice cream sandwiches, for which the wafers I use here were intended. The wafers are like ice cream cones, only flat. However, you can use them in many different ways.
I decided to try an unusual combination of cream cheese and peanut butter for the filling. It’s extremely easy and delicious, if not low-calorie. While I used regular, dairy cream cheese, you can substitute vegan cream cheese. And if peanuts are a problem for you, substitute almond or cashew butter. Adults and kids alike will love this.
Cream Cheese-Peanut Butter Wafer Sandwiches
Makes 3 sandwiches.
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature ½ cup peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter) 2 tablespoons maple sugar 8 oz. chocolate, melted 6 (5-inch) wafers 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios
With an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, peanut butter, and maple sugar until well blended. Set aside.In a double boiler or non-aluminum bowl set over a small pot, melt the chocolate over simmering water.Set a wafer on a flat surface.
Spread ½ cup of the cream cheese filling over it. Top it with another wafer. Repeat this twice.Drizzle chocolate over each sandwich, then top each with a tablespoon of the pistachios.
Last week, I mentioned that the great people at the French Cheese Board were kind enough to get me some cheese samples. I created a recipes with one of my new favorite cheeses, Mimolette. That recipe was Caramelized Onion Rings with Chipotle Cream and Mimolette. This week, I’m featuring Abondance cheese.
Abondance is a semi-hard, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese. It has a creamy texture, similar to Swiss cheese, and has a natural rind that tends to have a granular residue (it kind of looks like sawdust). It’s quite fragrant and has a nutty, buttery flavor. Although it’s yielding, it hold up well in this pear-walnut salad, where it blends beautifully with the nuts and fruits.
Pear, Walnut and Abondance Salad
2 Bartlett or Anjou pears, ripe but still firm
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries
8 oz. Abondance cheese, cubed
Slice or cube the pears, depending on how you want your presentation to be. Place them in a bowl and spritz lemon over them and toss gently. (This is to keep them from browning.)In a medium bowl, combine the oil, honey, balsamic, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well blended.Add the pears, walnuts, and cranberries to the dressing and toss gently.Add the cheese and stir again.Arrange on a platter, if that’s how you’re serving it. Otherwise, transfer to a clean bowl. Serve.
So, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several events hosted by The French Cheese Board in New York City. This past month, I attended a soiree at their new location in in Little Italy. (Although, judging from the hip space and chic crowd, I’m tempted to call it a Soho party.) There was an amazing selection of cheeses and I had my fill, for sure.
Anyway, the very nice people at The French Cheese Board were gracious enough to offer me some cheeses to experiment with. And who am I to turn down such generosity? No one, that’s who. I requested three kinds of cheeses, and below is the first recipe I came up with. This one uses one of my new favorite cheeses, Mimolette.
Mimolette is a sharp cheese, and has nutty, fruity undertones. It’s easily spotted within a selection of French cheeses because it’s the color of cheddar (except more vibrant), and has a thick, granular-looking crust.
I thought that both the color and flavor would go well with vegetables, so I decided to make Caramelized Onion Rings with Chipotle Cream and Mimolette. Caramelized onions are incredibly divine, but if you’re not a fan, try this with grilled asparagus or grilled or roasted sweet potatoes slices. Continue reading →
Some people don’t know what to do with spaghetti squash. It’s an odd vegetable. It’s a squash but has a crispy texture and comes apart in strands. So, while you can certainly prepare it they way you would prepare it they way you’d prepare other squash, the result will be very different.
But because the flesh comes apart in strands, many people use it in place of spaghetti, with tomato sauce, cheese, and everything. And, along those lines, the squash can be used in place of pasta in other ways.
Here I decided to do a modified mac and cheese, combining spaghetti squash with actual pasta. But it’s not a true mac and cheese becuase it contains no milk of any kind. But it does have 2 kinds of delicous cheese, so I call it a Cheesy Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake.
By using 2 kinds of cheese, you get a deeper, more complex flavor. The cheeses I chose are Manchego and Jarlsberg, but you can substitute any other 2 cheeses you like. Or you can go the traditional route and do straight-up Cheddar.Continue reading →
One of the nice things about the holiday season is all the festivities and food. On Wednesday, December 9, I got to do something a little different—I went to a cheese-tasting event at The French Cheese Board on 39th Street in Manhattan. It’s a chic, clean, modern space where you can purchase your favorite French cheeses.
Wheel of Raclette
The event was promoted by The Baddish Group, a PR firm that specializes in food and beverage marketing, and they offered a sumptuous spread of several different cheeses, from Camembert and brie to Raclette and butter made with sea salt. They were all so fresh and flavorful that I couldn’t help going back for more. I watched as others kept going back as well, which made me feel kind of bad for the kitchen staff. They were definitely being kept hopping trying to replenish the table. A server came by with a few different hors d’oeuvres: Mac & Mimolette, Brie and Grapes on a canape, and Raclette & Potatoes. The mac ’n’ cheese was so good in its simplicity, cheese and grapes is a classic combination that can never go wrong, and a potato slice with a piece of Raclette on top was divine.
It was a warm, friendly gathering of people in different segments of the food industry. A couple of us were food bloggers, while others were buyers, chefs, and marketers. I’m sure that other professions were represented. Despite the incredible and uncharacteristic warm weather, a simple, lovely Christmas tree along one wall reminded us that it was the holiday season. I think that always puts people in a better mood.
My favorite cheese, by far, was the Mimolette, a pumpkin-colored cow’s milk cheese. It’s a firm cheese, which is my favorite kind, but I really liked it for its smooth, sweet flavor. Which leads me to my favorite drink of the evening.
They asked mixologist Natasha David from Nitecap, a bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, to come up with some cheese-inspired cocktails for the event.
Natasha created cocktails that were not only inspired by cheese but that actually used cheese. And not just in the final concoction—her creations were made with spirits that were infused with cheese.
I asked Natasha what her method for the infusions was, and here’s what she said:
The infusions were quite simple—I let the cheese sit in the booze for a certain amount of time, then strained them and froze them so that all the fat would rise to the top and then strained again. I did that twice over 48 hours.
For the Mimolette Rind—I used 50 g of rind to 1 750 ml bottle of Calvados for 7 hours.
For Camembert—I did 60 g of Camembert to 1 750 ml bottle of Dorothy Parker gin for 5 hours.
For Bleu—I did 50 g to 1 750 ml bottle of Linie for 2 hours.
From there, the mixologists at the event concocted the three drinks below to accompany the hors d’oeuvres. I’m going to give an infusion a try at some point—it will definitely be a new experience for me. If you do it yourself, let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!
Cheese-Infused Cocktail Recipes
Cocktail #1: To accompany the Mac & Mimolette, a Mimolette Rind-Infused Calvados cocktail
2 oz. Rind-infused Busnel Calvados 0.75 oz. Lemon Juice 0.5 oz. Simple Syrup 1 barspoon Bon Mama Fig Preserves Egg White
Method: Shake, Strain Glass: Double Rocks glass with Big Block of Ice Garnish: Grated Mimolette
Cocktail #2: To accompany Brie and Grapes, a Camembert-infused Gin cocktail
2 oz. Camembert-infused Dorothy Parker Gin 0.75 oz. Lemon Juice 0.5 oz. Ginger Syrup 1 barspoon Lingonberry Preserves Seltzer
Method: Shake, Strain, Top w/ Seltzer Glass: Highball with Kold Draft Garnish: Candied Ginger
Cocktail #3: To accompany Racelette & Potatoes, a Bleu d’Auvergen-infused Aquavit
1.5 oz. Blue-infused Linie Aquavit 0.75 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth 0.75 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth 1 tsp. Pickled Tomato Brine
Method: Stir, Strain Glass: Nick and Nora or Martini Garnish: Blue cheese stuffed Pickled Tomato
This is my friend Tucker. He wanted to do something classy this holiday season.