Category Archives: Cheese

Wait. What? Watermelon!

Take a close look at this picture. You’re right, that’s not chopped tomato; it’s fresh watermelon!

Last week Cathy was looking for a quick and easy summer appetizer that would take advantage of the season’s fresh produce. We think she scored a home run with this sweet ‘n tangy watermelon bruschetta. You’re gonna love it!

Watermelon Bruschetta

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups diced watermelon, drained on paper towel
1/3 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon diced red onion
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 baguette, thinly sliced

• Combine all ingredients except for the bread.

• Cover and chill at least 30 minutes. Serve with bread slices.

Tips

• Do not prepare more than an hour before serving or mixture will become too soft.

• Try the watermelon over grilled chicken or salmon. Yum!

3 Comments

Filed under Appetizer, Breads, Cheese, Entertaining, Foodies, Fruit, Snacks, Vegetarian

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Here at A LA CARTE we are passionate about our Mac ‘n Cheese.

In fact, we have rules.

#1 Mac ’n Cheese must not be from a box. EVER.

#2 Mac ’n Cheese must be made with a quality aged cheddar.

#3 Mac ’n Cheese must not have unnecessary add-ins. No broccoli, no tuna, no bacon, no chicken, no lobster. No exceptions.

Classic Macaroni & Cheese
Makes about 8 servings

1 pkg. (16 oz.)  cavatappi pasta ( elbows, gemelli, or penne)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
2 cups milk
8 ounces aged cheddar, shredded

– Preheat oven to 375°.

– Grease bottom and sides of 2-quart casserole.

– Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to cooking pot.

– Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Using whisk, stir in flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until well blended.

– Slowly add milk to flour mixture, whisking constantly. When sauce begins to thicken, remove from heat. Let mixture cool for about five minutes.

– Stir in cheese until melted.

– Pour cheese sauce over cooked pasta in pot. Mix well. Transfer to casserole.

– Bake uncovered at 375° for 30 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

In the photo above, we’ve used cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta and a 3 year old extra-aged artisanal cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company, called Grafton Gold.

We’d offer to share, but it’s all gone!

6 Comments

Filed under Cheese, Main Dishes, Pasta, Side Dishes

Billy Jabour’s Breakfast in Bread

This past summer I visited dear friends of mine, Dorie and Ray, in the Albany, N.Y. area.  As soon as I entered their house, I encountered the fragrant aroma of fresh-baked bread.  Moments later, Dorie presented an array of absolutely delicious stuffed breads that she had sliced into appetizer portions. I had to know the source, and luckily Dorie gladly shared her secret. The fresh-baked breads had just been delivered by Billy Jabour, a friend of Dorie’s daughter.

Billy Jabour is founder and owner of The Whole Loaf in Troy, N.Y.  Experienced bread baker and creator of signature stuffed-bread loaves, Billy started his business about 5 years ago.  The loaves were a Jabour family tradition as far back as Billy can remember. Initially, Billy started with a menu of 10 loaves, and today The Whole Loaf’s menu boasts more than 30 mouth-watering choices including savory and sweet combinations perfect for anytime of day.

The Breakfast in Bread loaf is an inspiration—bacon, breakfast sausage, ham, maple syrup, mozzarella and Swiss cheeses make up this awesome creation. We think it would be perfect for brunch…just add a colorful fruit medley, juice and coffee!

We couldn’t resist photographing some of Billy’s other flavors, too. You can only imagine how good it smelled in the studio!

The Beefcake (lower right: bacon, ground beef, onions, Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses); The Big Red (upper right: chicken parmesan, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses); The Hamtastic (left: ham and Swiss cheese rolled in rye dough).

View the full menu by visiting wholeloaf.com.  You may order through the website, or email your request to orders@wholeloaf.com

Cathy

7 Comments

Filed under Appetizer, Breads, Breakfast, Cheese, Reviews

Fig-mania

Okay, is it just me, or is there a fig craze afoot? From fig vinegars and fig chutneys to fig spreads and fig jams, I seem to be encountering figs everywhere I turn. Just yesterday I noticed pint baskets of fresh figs at my local supermarket. And last month, while driving to the beach in North Carolina, I stopped at Morris Farm Market and what was the first thing I spotted?  A gorgeous display of fresh figs!

I bought a quart and we enjoyed experimenting with them over the next few days…we tried them grilled on pizza, drizzled with olive oil and added to arugula salad, and we even invented a bittersweet chocolate & fig dessert sauce that we poured over vanilla ice cream. Today, I was walking along Canal Street in Chinatown and there among the dried lychees and live crabs were, yes, pints of fresh figs, at the very reasonable price of two for $3!

So, in the spirit of fig-mania, we present Cathy’s latest fig concoction. And if you have a favorite fig recipe, please share it!

Heather

Tortelloni with Sautéed Figs & Goat Cheese
makes 2 main dish servings or 4 appetizer servings

3 Tbs. butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
6 figs, quartered (I used Kadota figs)
2 Tbs. chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 pkg. (9 oz) fresh portabello mushroom and cheese tortelloni (or your favorite
tortelloni or tortellini)
3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

– In large skillet, heat butter over medium heat until lightly browned.  Add onions; cook and stir until browned.  Remove onions from skillet.  To skillet, add figs, walnuts, salt and pepper; cook until figs just start to soften. Remove skillet from heat.

-Meanwhile, cook tortelloni according to package directions, draining and reserving 2 Tbs. pasta water.

– To skillet, add tortelloni, reserved pasta water, cooked onions, goat cheese and basil; cook over low heat just until cheese melts.  Serve immediately.

FUN FIG FACTS

The most common figs grown in the United States come from California, and are generally available from mid-May thru mid-December. The four common varieties include:

Mission: deep purple skin (darkens to a rich black when dried) with pink flesh; sweet
Kadota:  green skinned with amber flesh; practically seedless; slightly sweet
Calimyrna:  golden skin with pink flesh; nutty flavor
Brown Turkey:  brownish copper skin with pink/red flesh; mildly sweet

Use fresh figs within a day or so after buying them as they are very fragile!

1 Comment

Filed under Cheese, Fruit, Main Dishes, Pasta

Cheese, Please!

On a gloomy & rainy spring afternoon a few weeks ago, I met a colleague for lunch in the city. She took me to Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro, a charming place just around the corner from her office on Park Avenue. “Everything’s good here,” she said as the waitress handed us menus, “but I usually  order the Cheese Board.”  I quickly scanned the menu and, although there were lots of tempting choices, I decided to take Helene’s advice and ordered the Cheese Board.

The waitress reappeared with a beautifully arranged plate featuring wedges of  three different cheeses, a halved fresh fig, a cluster of red grapes, pear slices, walnut halves, and delicate spring greens. Did I mention we also had a basket of fresh baguette slices? Mmmm. A little bite of cheese, a nibble of pear, a crunch of walnut, perhaps another slice of bread….just a happy mix of flavors and textures. So very civilized!  My day had brightened considerably by the end of this wonderful meal. Upon leaving, I requested the names of the three featured cheeses. They were Buche du Poitou (a French goat cheese), Coolea, and Cashel Blue (both Irish cow’s milk cheeses).

Try this at home… a Cheese Board is so simple to make. Start by selecting a couple of interesting cheeses—perhaps a sheep’s milk, a cow’s milk and a goat’s milk. Allow one ounce of each cheese per serving. Arrange your Cheese Board with the cheeses, lightly dressed (just a touch of oil and vinegar) greens, nuts, fruit, and of course, fresh French bread. Bon Appetit!

Note: the selection of cheeses in our photo are a Rosenborg Castello (Danish Blue), a Wisconsin Gouda, and a Chevre.

Heather

2 Comments

Filed under Cheese, Entertaining, Main Dishes, Salad

Brie ‘n Basil Bites

Next to my Famous Chicken Casserole that’s technically not even mine, this pretty little appetizer is my most requested recipe. Last week, my loyal & hardworking foodie friend Patti whipped up a double batch of these for me to take to a charity event for which I had volunteered to cook. (I have really nice friends.) The Brie ‘n Basil Bites were, as always, a big hit, and there were numerous requests for the recipe. Luckily, I had the foresight to ask Patti to save some of the cheese mixture so I could take it to the studio the next day and have Joe shoot the “bites.”  So here goes, an enticing photo from ALACARTE and the recipe!

Brie ‘n Basil Bites

Makes about 4 dozen

Adorable and totally delicious—as every good appetizer should be.

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 small garlic clove
4 ounces Mascarpone cheese
4 ounces  Brie or Taleggio cheese (rind removed), cut into 4 pieces
3/4 ounce lean prosciutto, minced
about 4 dozen crisp crackers, such as Wheat Thins Big
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
about 4 dozen tiny basil (or parsley) leaves

– In food processor with motor running, add  basil and garlic through feed tube and process until minced.  Add Mascarpone and Brie cheeses; process until smooth.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add prosciutto.  Process just until combined. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate mixture for 1 or 2 days.)

– Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe cheese mixture onto each cracker or  use a small spoon to dollop  cheese mixture onto crackers.

– Garnish with pine nuts and basil leaves.  Serve immediately.

Tips

– There is nothing as wonderfully creamy as Mascarpone, an Italian triple cream cheese. If you cannot find Mascarpone, mix together 4 ounces of best-quality cream cheese with 2 tablespoons heavy cream as a substitution.

– You can substitute ham for prosciutto.  A suggestion would be Black Forest ham, but any cooked ham would be fine.

– Taleggio is a pungent cow’s milk cheese from the Lombardy region of Italy. The cheese is cave aged and becomes quite tangy.  Taleggio is sometimes referred to as “Italy’s answer to Brie!”

Heather

8 Comments

Filed under Appetizer, Cheese, Entertaining, Foodies