Recipe

Queso Fundido

Queso Fundido

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Yield: 6 to 8 servings

A welcome addition for your next Taco Tuesday at home!  This is an oh-so ooey-gooey, cheesy (a pound, if we’re getting specific), spicy dip to serve at your next football party or Mexican fiesta…or for dinner to eat all by yourself.  Don’t worry, I barely made a dent in it because it serves a ton.  (I used to go to a restaurant when I was traveling for work and order just this for dinner…should I be embarrassed about that?!) Oh and it’s super easy too!

 

1 to 2 links of fresh or dried chorizo sausage

2 poblano peppers, thinly sliced

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno, very finely minced (depending on the size of your jalapeno and your taste)

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, cut into small chunks

1/2 pound quesadilla or Oaxaca cheese, cut into small chunks

2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped, plus more for serving

2 scallions, finely chopped, plus more for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 limes, halved

Tortilla chips and small tortillas, for serving

 

Preheat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  When hot, drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil into the skillet and add the chorizo; sauté until cooked through and crisp, if using fresh chorizo, or until warmed through and crisp if using dried chorizo.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.

 

In the same skillet, add a little more vegetable oil and the poblano peppers; sprinkle with kosher salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes more, until the vegetables are softened and reduced in size.  You will begin to see strings of poblano skins in the vegetable mixture; you can pick out if you like.

 

Combine the jalapeno, garlic, cheese, scallions, cilantro, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl.  Set aside.

 

Preheat your broiler on high.  When the poblano and onion mixture is cooked through, pour in the cream.  Allow to reduce for 1 minute and turn off the heat.  Place the cheese mixture over the vegetables, spreading in a single layer. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Squeeze the lime, green onions, cilantro and reserved chorizo over the top.  Don’t allow to sit too long or the cheese will begin to harden.  Serve with tortilla chips, soft tortillas and additional limes, if desired.

Recipe

Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breasts.jpg

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Yield: 2 servings, 4 if you’re feeling generous

This recipe comes from Chrissy Teigen’s fantastic cookbook, Cravings.  I spent a month cooking from her cookbook because every recipe just looked soooo good.  I’ve adjusted the amounts for the filling because I like it a little gooier and bacony-er.  Lemons have a way of ending up in about 75% of my food and I love the way the flavor brightens up this dish.  Oregano is definitely an acquired taste (which I suggest you acquire!), but feel free to omit or substitute with another herb if you like.

 

FOR THE FILLING:

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 ounces goat cheese, softened

1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (about 3 to 4 sprigs)

1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped (about 1 sprig)

Zest of one small lemon, or 1/2 a large lemon

Pinch of red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 slices bacon

FOR THE CHICKEN:

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 slices prosciutto

1 cup cherry tomatoes

Fresh thyme and oregano sprigs

 

Mix together the cream cheese, goat cheese, garlic, thyme and oregano in a small mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Lay the bacon slices on a small baking sheet and bake for 14-18 minutes, until crisp.  Chop or crumble by hand and add to the filling when cooled enough to touch.

Place one chicken breast in a gallon-size plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet until about 1/2-inch thick.  Don’t worry if you have any tears or other imperfections; you’re going to wrap this in sweet, sweet prosciutto, which will cover it all up).  Season with salt and pepper.  Repeat with the remaining chicken breast.

Spread the filling in the middle of the chicken breasts, parallel to the longer side of the chicken.  Roll each chicken breast, starting from a long side.  Lay the prosciutto slices out, to roughly match the size of the rolled chicken breast, and slightly overlapping.  Lay the chicken in the middle and wrap the prosciutto around.

Add 1 tablespoon of bacon fat to a large cast-iron skillet and place the chicken breast in the center. Scatter the tomatoes around the chicken and place both lemon halves in the skillet.  Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the herb sprigs on top.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Let the chicken cool slightly before slicing and serving.  Serve with the tomatoes and juice from the pan.

Recipe

Crab Omelet with Mascarpone, Fennel, Leeks and Old Bay Hollandaise

Crab Omelet with Mascarpone, Leeks, Fennel and Old Bay Hollandaise

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Yield: 2 omelets

Omelets and I used to be arch-enemies.  I just couldn’t figure out how to make them without throwing in the spatula and turning them into scrambled eggs to salvage the meal.  It’s always been one of those “mom things” that only moms seemed to be able to do…mine included.  But I just kept trying and finally I got one to actually look like an omelet!  I still remember my joy when I texted my mom a picture of my perfect, cute folded omelet.  This is a rendition of one I had in Nashville that made me finally realize I could like and eat fennel…it doesn’t hurt that it was in cahoots with some crab, mascarpone and hollandaise (a few of my favorite things).

 

FILLING:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 bulb fennel, stem removed, cored and thinly sliced (save some of the fronds for garnish)

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

4 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over for shells

OMELET:

6 eggs, divided

1 tablespoon butter, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

OLD BAY HOLLANDAISE:

2 large egg yolks

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Kosher salt, to taste

 

Heat a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium heat; when hot, add the butter and olive oil and allow to melt.  Add the fennel slices, sprinkle with kosher salt and sauté for 15 minutes, until softened.  While the fennel cooks, soak the leek slices into cold water to remove any dirt.  Drain thoroughly before adding to the skillet.  After 15 minutes, add the leeks to the skillet and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Sauté for 10 to 15 minutes more, until softened.  Remove from the heat and place into a small bowl.  Add the mascarpone cheese and mix thoroughly.  Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.  Set aside.

 

To make the hollandaise, whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice in a glass bowl and vigorously whisk until the mixture is pale yellow, thickened and doubled in volume.  Place the bowl over a saucepan over barely simmering water, ensuring the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.  Whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch and thickened slightly.  Slowly drizzle in the melted butter, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume again.  Remove from the heat and add the cayenne, salt, Old Bay, and white pepper.  Keep warm over the water (with the heat off), stirring occasionally.  If the mixture thickens too much, add a few drops of warm water to loosen.

 

Working with three eggs at a time, whisk vigorously to thoroughly combine and make a homogenous mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon each of butter and oil over medium-high heat.  Add the eggs; they should form a thin layer on the bottom of the skillet.  Leave the eggs untouched until they are mostly set and the bottom is dry.  Flip the omelet to cook the other side for just a minute.  Add enough of the leek-mascarpone mixture to fill and top with half of the crabmeat.  Fold the omelet over in half onto the filling.  Repeat the process with the remaining omelet ingredients.  Top each omelet with the Old Bay hollandaise before serving.

Recipe

Shrimp Burgers with Herb Mayonnaise and Green Salad

 

Shrimp Burger 1

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Yield: 4 servings

Okay so just to prep you: you are going to be making your own mayonnaise on this one.  I guess you could use store-bought, and mix in some fresh herbs, but let’s just assume you’re going to make your own.  Never done it before?  That’s okay, I was a newbie once too and it isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it was going to be.  The key is to create a proper emulsion, which will depend on your whisking abilities and ability to be patient when adding the oil.  Homemade mayonnaise is so much better than store-bought and I’m a real mayo connoisseur so trust me on this one.  These shrimp burgers were shockingly juicy and flavorful, even after being reheated for lunch the next day.

 

HERB MAYONNAISE:

2 large egg yolks (as fresh as you can get)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 cup safflower or grapeseed oil

Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

SHRIMP BURGERS:

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 head frisée, endive or oak lettuce

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 buns, split

 

Combine the egg yolks, mustard, salt, white pepper and half of the white wine vinegar.  Whisk until very smooth and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.  Slowly drizzle in the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, while whisking vigorously and wait for the oil to completely combine with the egg mixture before adding another tablespoon.  The mixture should begin to thicken and will turn a pale yellow color.  Continue to add the oil in this fashion until all of the oil has been used.  When emulsified, the mixture should be very thick and will look almost exactly like store-bought mayonnaise, but will be a beautiful yellow color that you only get from homemade mayo!  Add the remaining white wine vinegar; taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste.  Add the lemon zest and juice and the chopped herbs and whisk to combine.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

 

In the bowl of a food processor, add half of the shrimp and pulse several times to finely chop.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Finely chop the remaining shrimp and add to the bowl.  Add the parsley, shallots, garlic, Old Bay, cayenne and salt and pepper.  Gently mix to combine, taking care not to overmix.  Form into four patties, place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least one hour to firm up the mixture.

 

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp burgers and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side.  You may have to cook the burgers in two batches.  While the burgers are cooking, make the salad.  Add the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Toss the greens in the dressing.

 

To serve, spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the buns.  Place the burgers on and top with the salad.

 

Inspiration: Shrimp Burgers with Herbed Aioli and Frisée Salad from Burger Night by Kate McMillan

 

Shrimp Burger 2

Recipe

Pimento Cheese with Piquillo Pepper Sauce

Pimento Cheese

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Yield: 6 to 8 servings

I have an addiction to pimento cheese…part of it stems from the fact that I’ve always wanted to be a southerner and the other from the fact that I love mayonnaise and cheese.  Throw some mascarpone in this one and leave me in peace.  If a menu has pimento cheese on it, I’m all over it like…well, me on pimento cheese.  This is my favorite way to make it and it’s super simple, a little spicy and oh so cheesy.  For those that have never experienced this, it is not spicy unless you choose to make it so because pimento peppers are very mild (or you can substitute with roasted red peppers if you can’t find pimentos).  Add this to a grilled cheese, put on top of a burger, add to pasta for some delicious mac and cheese, stuff inside jalapeno peppers or throw it in some creamy grits (all of these are probable forthcoming recipes).

 

1/2 cup mascarpone, at room temperature

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup diced pimentos

3/4 teaspoon smoked hot paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha, or to taste

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 ounces coarsely shredded sharp white cheddar

6 ounces coarsely shredded sharp yellow cheddar

1/4 cup Parmesan

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely minced

2 tablespoons chives, minced

PIQUILLO PEPPER SAUCE:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

One 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers (will yield about 1 cup)

One can of tomatoes (you can use either whole peeled or crushed, you will need about 1 cup)

1 tablespoon crème fraiche

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone, mayonnaise, Sriracha, Dijon mustard, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper, until well combined.  Add the cheeses, diced peppers, parsley and chives to the bowl and mix with a spatula until well combined.  Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary.  Transfer the cheese to a container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours to allow the flavors to combine.

 

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan or small Dutch oven.  Add the minced shallot and sprinkle with salt; sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened and translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the peppers, tomatoes and shallot-onion mixture to a blender and blend until completely smooth, approximately 30 seconds.  Return the mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until slightly reduced and heated through.  Add the crème fraiche and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure you taste your sauce throughout the cooking process and adjust the seasonings.  Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.  When ready to serve, in a shallow bowl, pour the piquillo pepper sauce and place a large scoop of pimiento cheese in the center.

 

Recipe

Cheesy Stuffed Mini Potatoes

IMG_9675Cheesy Stuffed Mini Potatoes

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Yield: 2 to 4 servings

These are a fun spin on your classic baked potato.  You can make your mashed potato filling any way you prefer; if you want to make a more refined version, substitute heavy cream for the buttermilk.  If you really want to go all out, use a delicious, runny triple crème-style cheese, such as  Mt. Tam, Epoisses or Rush Creek Reserve (when in season).

 

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 large or 12 small)

1/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream

1/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1 to 2 ounces high-quality white cheddar cheese (or any other melting cheese)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 slices thick-cut bacon

6 to 8 chives, finely chopped

Crème fraiche or sour cream, for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Lay the bacon slices out on a small, foil-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 to 13 minutes.  Drain on paper towels; reserve the pan for cooking the potatoes.  When cool, cut into 1-inch squares and eat the rest of the bacon.

 

Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of salted water; cook for 10 to 20 minute, depending on the size of the potatoes, until just tender.  Drain and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Once cooled, cut enough of the top off to allow you to scoop the inside out and a thin slice off the bottom of each potato to sit flat.  Use a melon baller to scoop out as much of the filling as possible, leaving the potato skin and a thin shell of potato inside to form a cup.  Run the potato filling through a potato ricer, food mill or mash by hand to a fine consistency (do NOT use a food processor unless you want potato gum).  Return the potato filling to the pot and add the crème fraiche, buttermilk, butter, and Parmesan cheese and mix until smooth and well combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Place the potato skins on the sheet pan used to cook the bacon.  Season the inside with a light drizzle of vegetable oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add a small chunk of Cheddar to the bottom of each potato, and fill with the mashed potatoes to form a rounded top, but do not overfill.  Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until warmed through and very lightly browned on top.  Top with a small dollop of crème fraiche, a slice of bacon and a scattering of chives.  Grate some fresh pepper over the top before serving.

Recipe

Mascarpone Brownies

IMG_1941.JPG

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Yield: about 16 to 20 small brownies

Okay so it probably goes without saying that ANYTHING with mascarpone as an ingredient is going to be good, but these…these are something else.  These are the most moist, rich brownies I’ve ever had.  Basically, this is brownie fudge.  These probably don’t need frosting, but we’ve already thrown caution to the wind so go ahead and do it.

 

BROWNIES:

1 cup butter

3 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon espresso powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

CHOCOLATE MASCARPONE FROSTING:

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup butter

2 to 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, depending on your taste

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Preheat the oven to 325°.  Cut two large strips of parchment to fit into an 8-inch square glass pan, allowing enough to overhang the pan and provide “handles” for you to remove the brownies.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

 

In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate and butter.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir.  Continue to heat in 15-second intervals, stirring after each heating, until the butter and chocolate have just melted.  It should take about 1 minute.

 

Sift the sugar and cocoa powder together into a large bowl.  Add the melted chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  Add the mascarpone, eggs, espresso powder and vanilla extract and stir to combine.  Add the flour and salt, and gently fold to combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and remove using the parchment handles onto a cutting board.  Allow to cool completely.  I know it’s tempting to eat warm brownies, but these are so moist that they really need to cool completely.

 

To make the frosting, combine the cream and mascarpone cheeses and butter in a mixing bowl and beat to combine.  Mix in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until smooth and creamy.  Add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract and mix one more time to thoroughly combine.  Add more powdered sugar, if desired, to reach your preferred sweetness and consistency.  Spread on the cooled brownies and cut into small squares to serve.

 

Inspiration: Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies on food.com