Tag Archives: cheese
The weather has been wonderful lately, a real treat compared to last year’s never ending “winter” in SF. We’ve been enjoying our backyard and sat out around 3:30pm yesterday to have a little backyard feast after a rough day of household tasks (and, admittedly, the diligent avoidance of all things Bay to Breakers, and the decision to not leave our own property, which has become an annual tradition on the day Bay to Breakers is held; we cannot get that drunk anymore, we are too old). Oh, and to observe the solar eclipse, which made some really neat patterns on our front door and cast an interesting level of clear, bright light onto the whole Golden Gate Park area.
I offered up a civilized bottle of vinho verde, raw macadamia nut cheese rolled in pistachios, raw “Mexican” chia crackers, raw sugar snap peas, rose water fruit salad with raw cashew cream sauce and delicious fava beans with pecorino.
Weeknight Pasta with Spicy Scallops, Fiddlehead Ferns and Mozzarella
2 oz dry spaghetti (I used whole wheat bionaturae spaghetti. I actually like the flavor of it.)
1-2 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped into chunks
1 medium leek, chopped in short thin strips, white & light green only
4 oz fiddlehead ferns, cleaned and trimmed (can sub asparagus, tender wild greens, or chicories)
1 C white wine
1 T butter
2 tsp chili flakes, divided
salt & pepper
Salt & pepper the scallops; sprinkle sparingly with chili flakes. Bring water to boil, and prep all ingredients.
Begin cooking the pasta. Meanwhile, cook the leeks at medium low heat for 5-10 minutes until coloring. Add 1 tsp chili flakes and fiddlehead ferns. Cook 2 minutes at medium high heat. Add about 1/2 C white wine and cover loosely with a lid; reduce heat to medium.
In a very hot pan (cast iron would work best), sear the scallops and turn only when browned at high heat. If sticking when turning over, do not force. Add 1/2 cup wine, wait a moment and wiggle them free to flip.
Add the pasta to the fiddlehead and leek mixture, turning heat up to medium high. Add the mozzarella and toss quickly. Plate with the scallops on top.
This recipe will feed about 4 people with a side dish or 3 hungry people without one. It helps to have a food processor available.
2/3 lb spicy or sweet Italian pork sausage, out of casing
3 cups chopped chard and/or spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese (preferably sheep’s ricotta)
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
Cook the sausage in a medium high heat skillet in a little chunks, seperating with your fingers, until brown on one side. Add the onions, and cook until mostly tender. Add the chard/spinich, and cook briefly until wilted. Allow mixture to cool slightly in pan or in thin metal bowl, and if you have one, use a food processor to make the mixture more even/fine. Once cooled to room temperature or close to it, add the ricotta and stir until blended. Adjust seasoning.
1 container chopped or strained tomatoes (I used a carton of POMI)
1 stick butter
1/2 onion, peeled and intact
Combine all ingredients in sauce pan and simmer until delicious. Add salt. About 30 minutes. Can make ahead.
1 T butter
2 T flour
1-2 cups milk
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme chopped
Melt the butter until the water content has fizzled off, add the flour and whisk, cooking about 1 min until slightly darker. Slowly add milk until you have a nice, somewhat thick consistency sauce. Set aside. You’ll be reheating this shortly and possibly adding more milk to pour over the cannelloni.
00 white wheat flour if possible
0 semola / semolina flour
Use this recipe and roll out as thin as possible into sheets, cutting into strips about 10 inches long by 4 inches wide, roughly. It is ok if the sheets vary in size, so long as they’ll roll into a cannelloni giving it a few layers around. Boil water, add salt, and one at a time blanch the strips for 30 seconds or so, until they toughen up a bit. Remove, set on paper towels flat, not touching other pasta, in layers, to reserve for use.
Alternatively you can buy cannelloni tubes from the grocery or lasagna sheets without the ruffles.
Put a thin layer of red sauce in your baking/casserole dish to prevent pasta from sticking to bottom. Roll several spoonfuls of filling into each pasta sheet, placing each closely against the next in the dish. Once finished, top with red sauce thoroughly, then white sauce. Top with grated parmesan or asiago, bake at 375 for 25 minutes until golden and beautiful on top.
Gnocchi alla gorgonzola e pera is actually a pretty common dish in the northern half of Italy; the kind of thing any restaurant that might be serving tourists would throw on (without regard to seasonality, local cuisine, etc), and while that might turn you off, it’s actually quite good. That said, I ate it several places in Florence, and am fairly certain I spotted it on other menus around the way.
I couldn’t find much on the history of this dish, so I think it’s more of a modern classic–prior to not-too-many-years-ago, most classic products of regions didn’t get transported or heavily used much in other regions. There was a time when gorgonzola is what you ate when you were in piedmonte; risotto is what you ate in Milan and in the far north, you ate potatoes in Alto Adige and maybe in Emilia-Romagna. Less so now, with the best of the best being desired by Italians everywhere loving food.
Gnocchi is, however, typical of Alto Adige (where potatoes are most common), and gorgonzola–if it is officially DOP gorgonzola–is from Piedmonte. For this dish, you’ll want to use the opposite of what you’d likely want to snack on in a cheese plate. You’ll use Gorgonzola Dolce, which is the young, “sweet” gorgonzola. As the cheese ages it becomes more “piquante” or spicy, hot. It’ll tickle your throat if it’s the wrong type for this job. If you don’t have a quality cheese chop that carries both and can point them out, look for gorgonzola (imported, not pre-crumbled) that has a more soft, creamy texture with less blue bits–that’s usually it.
3 oz gorgonzola dolce cheeese
1 ripe pear, diced
1 T butter
2 T flour
1 cup light vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk
salt, fresh ground pepper
Boil your water and have it ready. If you are using fresh gnocchi (which you could be!), they require VERY little cooking time, take what you think they take and cut it by half. Seconds! Otherwise, they’ll fall apart, and you’ll regret it.
Dice your pear, have your ingredients ready. You may or may not need slightly more or less veg stock & milk. Create a roux by heating the butter in a small sauce pan, until clear and stopped bubbling, medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until color darkens slightly, about 2 minutes. Continue whisking and slowly add the vegetable stock, then the milk, until you get a mac-n-cheese type consistency, or slightly thinner. Add the gorgonzola and continue whisking until smooth.
Add the gnocchi to the water and cook; remove the gnocchi as soon as they float to the top of the pan using a slatted spoon or gnocchi paddle. Add the pear to the sauce and let it warm up, adding the gnocchi to the sauce and stirring gently to coat, with a large wooden spoon (don’t use metal, you’ll chop up the dumplings).
Add some salt and black pepper to taste, serve!
Fresh gnocchi makes a huge difference over the vaccu-packed kind you’ll find on the pasta isle. It’s much less dense and has the texture of a down pillow, collapsing in your mouth. I buy mine in bulk from Rainbow market or from Faletti Foods; both carry gnocchi by the bay area’s “Pasta Shop,” which lots of local stores retail products from.
Inspired by Wild Ginger in Cambria, CA, these wontons are tasty, filling finger food; the slaw helps to cut the fat and is a nice fall accompaniment. They’re also a really convenient way to use up any leftover wonton skins and leftover salmon.
For 12-16 wontons
Square wonton skins
1/3 lb salmon, cooked (grilled, broiled, whatever)
1/4 C cream cheese (I prefer Gina Marie from Sierra Nevada Cheese Co)
1-2 tsp brown rice vinegar
1/8 tsp five spice powder
lots of safflower/sunflower/other high eat oil for frying
Shred the salmon and mix with room temperature cream cheese. Add rice vinegar, five spice powder, and a pinch of salt to taste. Set aside for up to 2 hours or refrigerate up to 2 days ahead. Use 1T per wonton wrapper and moisten wrapper with spray bottle. Fold diagonally and seal, then bring end points together and seal. Fry at medium high heat, testing a piece of wonton skin first, until evenly golden.
Spicy Persimmon Cabbage Slaw
1/2 head cabbage, chopped somewhat finely
1 persimmon, sliced thinly
2 tsp gochujang or other chili paste such as harissa
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Whisk gochujang, lime juice, cumin and salt; toss cabbage and persimmon in mixture and let set 10 minutes before serving, or up to 1 hour.