Sunday, October 9, 2011

Say Cheese! - October 2011

Diva:  Ashley

Drinks:  Stacey
Selection of red and white wines
Perrier with lime and lemon

Appetizer:  Mary Ellen
Gjetost, Apples and Pecans

Gjetost, a brown goat cheese
Honeycrisp apples
Pecan halves

Slice the gjetost cheese very thin (I had the deli do it for me!)
Slice the apples very thin
Place the gjetost cheese on the apple slices and top with 1 or 2 pecans

Soup:  Hallie
French Onion Soup

2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise (use a food processor- save yourself a few tears)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
¾ tsp salt
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 tsp all-purpose flour
¾ c dry white wine
4 c reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fl oz) (I used vegetable broth instead)
1 ½ c water
½ tsp black pepper
6 (½-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette
1 (½-lb) piece Gruyère, Comte, or Emmental (I used a Swiss Gruyere from the 3rd Street Wine Co.)
2 T finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes (be patient and wait till the onions really are browning). Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.

Remove croûtes from oven and preheat broiler. Put crocks in a shallow baking pan. 

Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a croûte in each. Slice enough Gruyère (about 6 ounces total) with cheese plane to cover tops of crocks, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

(From Gourmet December 2006)

Salad:  Erin
Pear, Pancetta, and Apple Smoked Gruyere Salad

¾ tsp whole coriander seeds
1 T fresh lemon juice
½ small shallot, minced
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
1 large head of butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups) or mixed greens
1 large red Anjou (or other, I used home grown Bartletts) pear, peeled, cored, sliced (I used 1/2 pear per person)
¼ c coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
gruyere cheese, thin cut with peeler

Toast coriander seeds in small skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer to mortar and grind coarsely with pestle. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in lemon juice and shallot. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and sauté until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate. Place lettuce in large bowl. (Dressing, pancetta, and lettuce can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let dressing and pancetta stand at room temperature. Cover lettuce with damp kitchen towel and refrigerate.)

Toss lettuce with dressing. Top with pear slices, then cheese and pancetta.


Side Dish: Aven
Macaroni and Cheese with Vegetables

1 ½ c small pasta shells
1 clove garlic, minced
2 c small cauliflower florets
2 T milk
1 c cottage cheese
½ tsp mustard powder
¼ tsp ground black pepper
⅛ tsp salt
1 ½ c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, onion, and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the peas and carrots and broccoli. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pasta is just tender. Drain and return the pasta and vegetables to the pot and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, cottage cheese, mustard, pepper, and salt. Add to the pasta mixture. Stir in the Cheddar.

Return the pot to the heat and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts and the mixture is hot. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

(Adapted from

Entrée:  Mariah
Mariah’s Cheezy Lasagna

1 large can stewed toms
1 large can chopped toms
1 small can tom paste
1 medium handful of Italian Seasoning
1 medium zucchini grated
2 heads garlic
1 large yellow onion
Garlic Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large pot simmer all day, taste often

The Layers
Ricotta (recipe below)
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan Cheese

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for one hour
Remove foil and broil for 3 minutes or until cheese bubbles

Fresh Homemade Ricotta

2 quarts whole milk
1 c heavy cream
½ tsp salt
3 T fresh lemon juice

Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered; it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.

(From Gourmet April 2006)

Dessert:  Colleen
Mascarpone Brownies

1 c unsalted butter
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c white sugar
½ c cocoa powder (sifted)
½ c mascarpone cheese
3 large eggs, at room-temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ c all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt

6 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 T whipping cream
3 T unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 325F and grease or parchment paper a 8x8 pan. Set aside.

In glass mixing bowl melt butter in microwave on full power. Stir in chocolate and mix until combined (a few additional seconds in the microwave may be needed). Add sugar to chocolate/butter mixture until combined. Heat for an additional 30 seconds on high, remove and stir until it looks shiny. It will still look a bit grainy.
Add mascarpone, vanilla, eggs and mixing until smooth.

Sift flour, salt and cocoa into mixture with a sieve and stir just until combined, making sure to scrape all sides of the bowl. (Mixture will be rather light in texture, instead of dense and heavy like many brownie batters)

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top to ensure even baking. Bake for 40-50 minutes (ours is usually done around 47 minutes) until tester comes out clean. Use the flat end of a potato masher to lightly tamp down the surface of the brownies while they are still warm. Do not squish, merely flatten any parts that might have raised more than others (typically the edges). This will help the ganache coat evenly. Leave in pan and set on wire rack to cool.

While brownies are cooling, make your ganache to pour over the top (which you will want to do while your brownies are still warm). To do so, simply heat butter and cream on medium power (taking care not to boil) in the microwave and add chocolate. Stir until all lumps disappear. Immediately pour over brownies. Let cool completely (we find placing them in the fridge helps up stay out of the pan until they the ganache is set 100%). Once chilled a knife will cut through them cleanly, make sure to clean your blade for each cut for a more polished look.

The mascarpone keeps things moist and dense without the same thin, underdone taste of a normal fudgy brownie. It also allows the chocolate to shine through without feeling a sugar coma after eating one (although we make no promises that you can eat just one).


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