Cheesy Artichoke Rice

I hate the way when you look up “cheesy rice” and you get “minute rice” and non-cheese cheese slices. Ugh. That is just not right. And that is also not cheese either.  Who does this?  I ran out of orzo and thought to make a rice recipe that would work for my lunches at work. I prefer home-made lunch to restaurants, with some exceptions.  You know, things I just don’t make (Indian food) and that I know other people do a much better job than me. But pasta dishes, rice dishes, when lots of cheese or mushrooms are involved – I think I got this. No, I know I do. D&D_2081

So my thoughts on this are:

I need lunch for tomorrow.
I have no vegetable or chicken stock (unreal!) and I’m not going to the grocery store at 8:30pm. Nope.
I have lots of rice.
I have quite the variety of cheeses.
I have scallions that are mostly okay.~
Always have onions and garlic.
Lemon zest

With all that in mind, I’m going to figure out what to make tonight and here is what I did.
2 cups H2O
1 cup long grain rice
lots of salt

Cook like you always make rice – if you need a tutorial this is how it goes: Thank you The Kitchn.

Once you remove it from the heat, add 3 Tbs of unsalted butter while it steams on the back burner — important: lid on, heat off.

Unsalted butter
Olive oil
Small yellow onion, diced
3 good sized cloves of garlic, minced
artichoke hearts, drained & quartered (not marinated)
~ the scallions were past there “best buy” date at this point – too bad. But the onions and garlic made up for it.

In a saute pan, melt 2 Tbs unsalted butter and one small yellow onion diced and a good pinch of kosher salt. Saute on low-ish heat until soft. Then add three cloves (less or more as you prefer) minced and let them sit on the top of the onions  – you don’t want them to burn. Stir them in a bit and then remove from heat.

Now, here is where things get interesting – I opened a can of artichoke hearts and quartered them and added them to the onion mixture with a little glug of olive oil and let everything simmer until it was a cohesive mix of veg that was soft – that seems to be key.

D&D_iPhone_image1As mentioned – I have cheese options – so I pulled out all the cheese that had already been opened. Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Manchego  – so the decision is which one or which combination to use. I used some Manchego because it is melty but it grates like a cheddar, but just a little softer and the Dog (Hood) really likes it. And then the Pecorino – for that salty flavor – a great sheep’s milk hard cheese. Not too different, really from Parmigiano, but not the same either. Manchego is another sheeps’ milk cheese from Spain – from the La Mancha region. So I guess this is the Spanish sheep milk cheese recipe.

I have to say cheese, for me, matters not if it from a cow, a goat, or a sheep. I just love cheese in a stupid sort of way. That is probably obvious by now.

But when I do it again, I will put some sharp cheddar in the mix. This time I added lemon zest at home and took that lemon to work for the juice for my lunch leftover hacks. Excellent.

I think that just might be the key to a great lunch hack at work. I always have a fresh lemon and a bit of grated Pecorino or Parmigiano in the fridge there – it really makes all the difference in the world. From boring leftovers to something special.

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


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.

Lemon Crisps

I do love lemon – I know, I know,  everyone is astonished by this fact right, but there it is.  I honestly don’t think there are too many lemon recipes in the world. I will try to come up with a few if my own. A goal of this year. There we go, me and my lists again. Sigh.

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Lemon Crisp Cookies

You know I have learned a few things about cookie dough over the years and in one case most recently. One thing is particularly important. If the raw dough does not taste good, the cookies (or cakes or whatever) will not taste good either. My mom would have had a hissy fit over this. She was a firm believer in not eating raw eggs*, but I’ve always eaten raw cookie dough. Though she did not know it. I mean, come on, raw chocolate chip cookie dough is kind of way better, in my opinion, than actual baked chocolate chip cookies.

All this said, this dough tastes so good I am not sure I want to make the cookies. That is a huge complement. But I will make these cookies just to see how they turn out.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over a piece of waxed paper.

Cream together butter and sugar, then add egg until combined. Add lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Sift in dry ingredients.

Drop by 1 1/2 tsp size  (or roll into 1 1/2 sized balls – way easier to be more exact) onto parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Let cool on sheet for a minute then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Icing
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 – 6 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Beat together and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Notes:  Snappy little lemon cookies  – what could be better? I honestly have no idea.  But I did top the lemon icing with lemon sugar from King Arthur Flour. Let’s just gild that lily then. These were also so easy to make. I also let them sit in the fridge for a couple of days – no problem. That is my favorite kind of cookie. Easy. Non-fussy.

*This is total bullshit, but at that time eggs – or at least in my mom’s mind,  uncooked eggs were evil. It did not take long to learn that was not real. I did mess with her a bit about that, because I was that daughter, Raw chocolate chip cookie dough – probably my favorite chocolate delivery system, um, ever.

Apple Cake “Tatin”

It is the time of year that I start thinking about apples (and pears). I have a great apple cake recipe that I make for The Boy – D&D_IMG_0779-EditSour Cream Butterscotch Apple Upside-Down Cake. It’s dreamy. No really, not kidding, even though the name is long and I never seem to put all the words in the same order. Sometimes I make it for Thanksgiving, sometimes in the spring for his birthday. Apples are great anytime, but they, to my mind, really are fall fruits.

I like this idea because it plays on the classic tart Tatin which, by definition, is “A famous French upside-down apple tart made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with butter and sugar, then apples and finally a pastry crust.”*

I’ll admit to some trepidation about this recipe, but it was really only the part that involved a candy thermometer. Even though I have a good bit of candy making (sugar work) experience, sugar can go south so fast, but my Thermopen and careful watching saved the day. Thank you Ina Garten!

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 1/4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 12 pieces or more as you see pictured – yep, that’s just me.
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the apples in the dish, cut side down. Okay, there are two cut sides – um, yep there are.

Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Pour evenly over the apple slices.

Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 D&D_IMG_0782-Editminutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If an apple slice sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
* Food Lover’s Companion, p.620.

I’m sorry, but this cake is only slightly amazing.
I dub you – breakfast apple cake!
And this will make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table – a high honor indeed. Plus the MotH liked it too which is nothing short of amazing. It is not too sweet and the apples baked up to perfection.D&D_IMG_0793-Edit

9 October 2015