Guinness Pub Cheese

Pub cheese is such a wonderful thing. I guess, that only applies when I make it myself. I really don’t want to purchase “pub cheese” from a grocery store – sorry to the Publix.

The fact that this recipe has Guinness in it makes it all the better. I made it the first time as a trial run for a pot luck at work. I am happy to report, it was a great success.

Never hurts that it is super easy, does it?

D&D_2657

2 blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 c. shredded Cheddar
1/4 c. beer, such as Guinness
1 tbsp. chives
1 tsp. garlic powder
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives and serve with dippers of your choice.

Source: delish.com

Bacon Cheddar Soda Bread

I haven’t yet ventured into yeast bread, but I will make a quick bread, because I’m not scared of it. Yes, I am scared of yeast. So. Sad.

But here is a take in a recipe from one of my favorite recipe guys. Kevin – Closet Cooking.

D&D_28262 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded or diced
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons parsley (or chives), chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add cheese and stir to coat with flour. Coat bacon pieces with flour as well. Stir in herbs. Form the dough into the desired bread shape, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake until golden brown, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Simple as that, well, sort of, mostly.

Source: Kevin – Closet Cooking

Can’t help it – I love Kevin’s recipes. Simple and elegant and always changing.

Notes: Herbs from my potted garden – onion chives, garlic chives, and parsley. Woo hoo.

Apparently, I didn’t dice my cheddar small enough because it leaked out which was disappointing because I took great efforts to push the cheese and bacon to the inside if the dough.

Guess next time I’ll shred the cheese instead. I just thought in the interior of the bread if their was some nice bits of cheese – small chunks – it would be nice. Shredded just seems a little bit meh.

15 March 2018

Pull-Apart Cheesy Garlic Bread

This is the third version I’ve made since this past fall, but only the first version I’ve been relatively happy with. There might be still more work to be done, but I will keep at it like the trooper that I am. D&D_1643

Things I’ve learned:
-You need a sturdy bread. A round is okay, but I like a Chicago Italian loaf the best so far. A white bread (version #2, I used White Mountain Bread round) and it was just too soft. You can’t really pull-apart the bread. Sort of defeats the purpose.
-Roast the head of garlic. Great flavor and compliments the minced garlic. Yes.
-Melt the butter in a pot and add all flavorings. Keep on low to infuse the butter with lots of flavor.
-Use sliced cheese in the lower part of the cross-hatched of bread. Use grated cheese above.
-Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
-Fresh herbs – your choice but I like chives, parsley, and finely minced rosemary.
-Red pepper flakes are a must, even if it’s just a tiny pinch.
-Make the cross-hatch pattern large – it’s easier to stuff than a tight cross-hatch pattern.

Loaf of Chicago Italian Bread
Head of garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 Tbs minced parsley
1 tsp finely minced rosemary
I Tbs Dijon mustard
1/3 pound provolone, sliced kind of thick
1/3 pound colby, grated on large holes of box grater
minced chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut top 1/2 inch of head of garlic to expose cloves. Place on piece of foil, pour olive oil on garlic, wrap tightly in foil and bake about 40 minutes, until garlic head is soft. Remove and set aside. Leave oven on.

Melt butter over medium low heat in saucepan, add in minced garlic, salt, red pepper, black pepper, zest and juice from lemon. Add in parsley, rosemary, and Dijon mustard. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Place bread on foil and make a large cross-hatch pattern, slicing most of the way, but not all the way through. Brush tops and sides with butter. Slide provolone in crevices, then squish roasted garlic in with the provolone, and then stuff the colby as well. Spread remaining butter with herbs into crevices and on top.

Bake until cheese melts, 18 – 20 minutes. Top with chives and serve.

15 January 2018

Christmas Eve Buffet Cheese Ball

So I think this year, I might subject friends and family to my odd sense of nostalgia and hope I, the one who has this in my memory, am not disappointed.

For some reason, known only to herself (she never did explain it), my mother left me in charge of deciding the food for Christmas Eve. Not the making in all, or even most, cases, but the deciding. In our family which was rather large even though is was just my 3 siblings, me, my parents, and our older siblings kids, we opened presents from each other on Christmas Eve, so it was a night of perpetual snacking and in my case eating enough vanilla taffy to almost (almost, but not quite), make myself sick. Oh, and fudge too. And I don’t even like fudge (Groundhog Day.)

D&D_1499This was one of the things that I wanted every year and also made myself – not exactly difficult even though we had no food processor or mini chopper. You just did it the old fashioned way, by hand – no harm in that. I have no idea where this came from, but in my made-up back-story for it, it was a contribution to a local newspaper from some woman who would call herself by her husband’s name, you know what I mean. Instead of Mary Smith, she would be Mrs. John Smith, like she didn’t have an existence outside of him – yes, going off the rails here a bit, but that kind of thing just makes me slightly crazy.

Here for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

Several questions arise – the first being do they still make dried beef in those odd little jars (not that I could tell, and I looked), where is it in the store if they do and what are my other options? I’m thinking pan fried proscuitto minced.
Also – only 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar. First, must be Cabot seriously sharp, but needs to be orange for color contrast and it will most certainly be more than 1/2 a measly cup. Please.
I will taste and check the horseradish level, but must be careful not to blow everyone’s palate. I tend to like just a click more horseradish than most people.

What I did make –

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded at room temperature
3 Tbs well drained horseradish
1 cup minced dried cranberries
3 scallions minced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coating:
1 Tbs chives, minced
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, minced

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, and horseradish until well combined. Add in cranberries, scallions, and pecans. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic and chill until firm.

When ready to serve, mix coating ingredients in a wide bowl, and roll cheese ball in to cover, pressing in as necessary. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

23 December 2017 – for Christmas Eve.
Never hurts to try something new, esp. if it is really good – and um, it was.

Sometimes others do things better than I do. German potato salad –

I have finally given in for real to the fact that sometimes other people do things much better than I do.

Case in point,I have been trying to make German potato salad as good as the Creamery for years. It seems to be an effort in futility. I would love to find someone in the family to give me the recipe, but that, I doubt, will happen.

So my lack-luster versions or even decent versions, have been just that, to me – lack luster compared to the Creamery. I thought about it so much before our Easter picnic luncheon and realized that be beloved father-in-law loved a canned German potato salad. And, honestly, it was the first German potato salad I had ever had too. So, damn it, I just did that.

Read German potato salad is what I went for – I mean, why not? My in-laws like it, I like it the MotH likes it. The Boy likes it. Why make things more difficult?D&D_1846

That is not to say that I did not “decorate” it. I added minced chives and some amazing local (Fairhope, AL) Bill-E’s bacon. Because, um, again why not gild that lily?

Deviled Eggs

I guess it is just a requirement that you have some sort of egg – thing for Easter – spring and all. So I made deviled eggs. Again for The Boy – he will eat them anytime.

This is again, another no-recipe recipe. I have done this so many times, but to be honest, I do not eat deviled eggs – at all, ever. I like egg salad, so this really does not make sense, but there it is. D&D_1839

So here is how I make hard-boiled eggs. Put eggs in a decent-sized pot and cover with at least an inch of water. Heat the pot to boiling and removed pot from heat, put on a lid and let sit for 13 minutes. Yes, 13 minutes. Dump the hot water out and add cold water and bash the eggs against the side of the pot. Let sit for a few minutes  – peel the eggs and cut in half cleaning the knife between eggs so no yolk gets on the white part.

Remove the yolks and put into small-ish bowl. Add a little Duke’s mayo* and some Dijon mustard – I go with a smidge more mustard than mayo. Add 3 Tbs of drained sweet pickle relish and one more not drained. Taste and decide on salt and pepper.

Put the yolk mixture in a zip top bag and cut off a corner to make a tip to pipe the yolks into the whites. Then decorate. This time I decided on chives and really amazing local bacon, but I also like minced shallots and I really like paprika. I guess it is a Southern thing – the paprika, not the shallots. Parsley is always nice.

It is funny how I like egg salad, and plan to make some soon, but do not like deviled eggs when in reality they are not that far apart. Strange.

* A Southern staple – you must not be without it, ever.

Artichoke Bread

This idea kind of combines a couple of other really good ideas. Cheese bread and artichoke dip with some garlic throw in for good measure. This just sounds like dinner to me. That being said, I am sure I could survive on bread and cheese – and maybe some apples and grapes and be a perfectly happy camper.dd_1810

For all the desserts that I bake, they just are not my favorite things. I do it to make the Boy happy and when I have extra to share, I take them to the office or to my local. I am going to make an effort to also start taking treats to the local sheriff’s department and the local fire departments. My only question there is – is that just weird? Will they be suspicious of it? I hope not. Cookies, and baking in general, are just good for me to do and I would like to share.

Last week was a pretty rough week for our LEOs  in Escambia County FL, Santa Rosa County Fl, and Escambia County AL. You probably didn’t hear, but a guy killed two women in Milton, another in Foley and stole her car, and shot a women in Pensacola and then stole her car too. She later died. It was a bit scary because he and his accomplice were seen not too terrible far from my office. I just don’t understand. Who does this? This seems really depressing, but it was that week. Let’s just say we were all hyper aware of our surroundings now.

I am sure artichoke bread will not fix the bad things in the world, but doing something comforting makes life a little better – at least it does for me.

14 ozs artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
zest of one lemon
chopped chives
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half horizontally

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix artichokes, scallions, garlic, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, and cheeses, reserving some cheese for the top. Or just add some more, because it is cheese after all

Hollow about 1/2 inch of bread out of both halves of the bread. Spread mixture in the hollow and top with reserved cheese.

Wrap bread loosely in foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melty and golden brown.

Source: Closet Cooking


German Potato Salad

When I first started eating, and loving, German potato salad I was not even in my twenties, (let’s just say that was a while ago) and had no concept of the kinds of potatoes other than russet or baking potatoes and my favorites, red new potatoes. It wasn’t until I tried to start making German potato salad that I began to understand about waxy potatoes.  This recipe calls for waxy potatoes and my favorite are Yukon Gold. dd_1657

1 1/4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
4 slices of bacon, or more because it is bacon
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 Tbs white wine or cider vinegar
1 small onion, minced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/4 cup snipped chives
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cook the potatoes in salted simmering water until just tender. Just test them with a paring knife – it is the best way to decide if they are done or not. Drain, dry, and peel and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices.

While potatoes are cooking, prepare dressing. Cook bacon in a sauté pan over medium high heat until bacon is crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving bacon fat in the pan. Crumble bacon into small pieces and reserve.

In a pot, bring broth, vinegar, onions, salt, sugar, and pepper to a boil.

Combine canola oil, bacon fat, and mustard with warm potatoes. Pour broth vinegar mixture over potatoes. Toss to combine. Add in reserved bacon and chives and parsley.

– I think the best thing you can do is dress a potato while it is still warm because will just be a sponge to the liquid you are including. Another reason to love any kind of potato salad – in my opinion.

I first learned this idea from a good friend who dressed her potatoes for potato salad with pickle juice from the jar right when they came out of the hot water – it makes a world of difference.

 

Homemade Boursin

I am a huge fan of Boursin. My spell check wants me to write bourbon but I am not a big fan of that, so that is not going to happen. I think the best Boursin-like cheese I had was in Amsterdam. Lord, there are cheese shops there are on every corner. Yes, I should move there now. I really could live on bread and cheese alone – I am not kidding about this.D&D_1485

We were in Amsterdam when the Boy was about three and a half and he and I would walk along the canals. Such a lovely city. One time there was a what I can only think was a boat full of tourists on the canal and they were video recording the Boy and I (mostly the Boy) on the bridge as they went by. Funny, with his blonde hair and blue eyes, I’m sure they thought he was a native. They recorded a really cute American kid in Amsterdam.

It is a bit of an indulgence, Boursin. It is not cheap, but it is worth it. And to figure out  a way to make it at home would be pretty nice. Even if it is a close approximation I think I will be pretty damn happy with it.

Yes, just bread and some sort of cheese –  No dessert, no chocolate. Not sure I could give up lemons though. Just give me bread and cheese and I will be happy. Yes, very happy.  And beer not giving  that up, forgot to mention that bit. But I do not think that is a big surprise.

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 medium sized shallot, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
2 Tbs chives, minced
a couple or three scallions, minced
Lemon zest, as much as you would like – I lean in favor of quite a bit, but that is me – at least, and then the juice of that lemon too.
Finely ground black pepper, just a few turns

Whir up the shallot in the food processor. Add salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice and whir just a couple more times. Add the cream cheese,  parsley, chives, scallions, and ground pepper.

Pack into a ramekin and cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and chill for an hour and up to five days.  Serve with crostini or some kind of bread thing – so random – toast maybe. I still think that an oven-toasted crostini would be the best delivery vehicle. But now that I have had that, I think a nice soft bit of French bread would also suit well.

I have to say … I really liked this – um, a lot. Probably too much.

Turkey Cranberry Herbed Cream Cheese Pinwheels

This is a kind of riff on an Ina Garten recipe for turkey tea sandwiches on raisin bread (without cinnamon – this is crucial because that would just be yuck) with cream cheese and scallions. Ina’s recipe is one of the Boy’s favorite things, I do think he is correct. This is one of those things that you just should let people taste before you say anything about what is involved.D&D_1483

I am not a huge turkey fan in general, but turkey does work well with fruit, be it raisin, or in this case, dried cranberries – guess it needs to be dried fruit to work, but it works well. But maybe it is because we usually eat turkey with cranberry sauce – and oh, that works amazingly well.

2 – (6.5 ozs. containers) Alouette – Garlic and Herbs Cream Cheese, just sitting out for a bit
Dried cranberries, most of a bag, but taste as you go along, it is important. Chop those cranberries up a bit. It makes it work so much better.
Scallions, about three, green and white parts, again chopped up pretty fine
Roasted turkey – just enough to cover the tortillas. About 1/3 of a pound, sliced thin.
Spinach flour tortilla, but I think any tortilla would work. But I think the spinach ones look pretty good.

Spread the tortilla with the herbed cream cheese. Top that with the dried cranberries and scallions (and chives if you have them at the time). Then top with the roasted turkey. Now for the fun part – Roll them tightly and cover them with cling film – again tightly. Let them chill. Then (starting way too may sentences with that word) sliced them about an inch thick with a sharp serrated knife.

I kind of like these closer to room temperature than straight from the refrigerator.  My preference, but it so works for me.

I will say this is a good mix of flavors. Yes, you totally should try it for a party. Easy to make ahead and simple to put out – you can put toothpicks in the little rounds, but if you twist them tight enough, you will not need to do that.

I really like making something new from something else I really liked.