Category Archives: Cheese

Individual Cheese Soufflés

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I like to serve soufflés  in individual dishes. This recipe makes two generous soufflés. I used ramekins that are 5″ across. For dinner parties I like to double this recipe and use smaller ramekins. I served the soufflés with a sauteed chicken breast and brandied cranberry sauce. They would be equally good with a large herb salad. Fresh eggs are important in this recipe. Contrary to rumors, soufflés are actually very easy to make as long as you follow the instructions and do not open the oven while cooking. I also use a ceramic oven liner that retains heat and makes for even baking. Have fun with this!

 Individual Cheese Soufflés

  • 1 teaspoon of Piment d’Espelette (optional; you may find this favorite seasoning of mine difficult to find)
  • 3/4 cup finely grated aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 1/4 cup for topping (used the food processor with blade for grating the cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature and more for coating the ramekins
  •  2 tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
  •  1/2 of a nutmeg, freshly grated
  •  3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  •  1 cup finely grated semi-hard cheese such as Comté Manchego, Gruyère. I used Comté and did the food processor method for both the Comté and the Parm (but do make sure that there are no large lumps)
  •  3 large very fresh eggs, separated + one extra white.
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons, they are my favorite and my tree is loaded)

 

Preheat the oven to 375˚F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter ramekins sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano to coat completely all the way to the top. Shake any excess cheese out into a bowl. Place the molds in the freezer to chill.

Melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the Piment d’Espelette , flour, nutmeg, and salt; whisking constantly, cook the flour without browning, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and garlic and continue to cook, whisking, at a low simmer until the mixture is smooth and thick like pudding, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the Comté and any Parmigiano-Reggiano left over from coating the molds and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Continue stirring vigorously with a rubber spatula to cool.

Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice in a clean bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the  beater on medium-high until they just hold a soft peak. * DO NOT not over-whip the whites, which would give your soufflé a cloudy instead of creamy consistency.

Fold one-fourth of the egg whites into the cheese mixture with a rubber spatula, carefully turning the bowl and mixing gently until the whites are streaked throughout. Add the remaining whites and fold in but don’t overmix, which can deflate the whites.

Transfer the batter to the chilled mold and scatter the remaining  Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Place the dish on a baking sheet/tray and set in the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 325˚F/ 165°C/, and bake until the soufflé is golden, puffed, and set but just a touch wobbly inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately. After a few minutes a slight deflation is normal, this is why they must be served immediately for the most impact. Enjoy!

Charleston’s Newest Restaurant

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There are some new kids on the block. I say kids because Nicole and Jay Kees are at least as young as my adult children. Though they are well seasoned food adventurers who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina just 12 weeks ago to open their new eatery, Angel Oak Restaurant.  I was invited to attend a media dinner at Angel Oak last night and I was pleasantly pleased. It is not just the interesting locally based seasonal food that caught my eye, but attention to the smallest details in the choices for decor and service ware. The restaurant has a very personal feel to it and that is because everything in it was hand picked from antique markets in upstate New York before the Kees moved to Charleston. Antique bottles filled with herbs are on each table and in window frames, the tables which are covered in brown paper are set with vintage china and when you order coffee, the cream comes in old pint milk bottles. The toile banquettes were hand made by the couple, chairs bought on Craigs List and antique doors provide cover for the busing station. Though the mason jar drinking glasses are a southern staple, the decor is fresh, art filled and not at all cloying.

Now, let’s talk about the food. The Angel Oak Restaurant has a seasonal locally inspired menu which is printed up daily. All pasta is made in house. Sauces & condiments are made from scratch and interestingly presented. Their supper menu includes appetizers such as oysters on the half shell with fresh horseradish, champagne mignonette ($7), deep fried bacon drizzled with a Buffalo sauce served with home made blue cheese dressing ($6), Port Wine Pate fresh creamy chicken liver pate, green tomato chow-chow, pickled vegetables, selection of mustards, toast points ($8) and Lobster Mac with fresh lobster, creamy herbed champagne cheese sauce and a baked panko crust ($12) among other offerings.

Port Wine Pate~fresh creamy chicken liver pate, green tomato chow-chow
pickled vegetables, selection of mustards, toast points

They also have a fun “snack” menu for just $3 you can have a taste of House-Made Ricotta with toast points and local honey,  Fried Green Tomatoes, Deviled Eggs and Yorkshire Pudding with Gravy. It is a playful way to taste some really interesting flavors. At our table the house made ricotta was a big hit.

House made ricotta with honey

Fried Bacon with Buffalo Sauce and house made blue cheese
Pate with house made pickles, mustard and green tomato chow chow

Entrees, salads and sandwiches fill out the rest of the supper menu. The entrees vary from Southern staples (Chef Kees is from Southern Missisippi and trained at the C.I.A.) to interesting plays of local ingredients. Their stellar Buttermilk Fried Chicken, drizzled with five spice herb honey served with  macaroni and cheese gratin and collard greens ($17) made several diners smile. Shrimp Carbonara with sautéed Low Country shrimp, house made pasta with peas, roasted lardons of local bacon tossed in a creamy herb sauce ($16). My Steak Au Poivre; seared peppercorn crusted local grass fed sirloin finished with a brandy cream sauce were served with herbed shoestring fries in a brown paper bag ($21) was a perfectly cooked medium rare. Other offerings round out the supper menu. Sides ($3) include herbed shoestring fries, macaroni and cheese gratin, roasted corn on the cob,creamed smashed potatoes, stone ground grits, braised carrots, collard greens & seasonal vegetables.

Classic Steak Au Poivre ~ seared peppercorn crusted sirloin finished with a brandy cream sauce & herbed shoestring fries

Perfectly cooked crispy fries served in a brown paper bag

After all of that good food, it might be difficult to save room for dessert, but their banana pudding served in a jelly jar was worth the extra calories.

Banana Puddiing

Restaurant owners: Executive Chef Jay Kees and Manager Nicole Kees

Sunday Brunch is served from 10-4, Lunch is served buffet style with lemonade or tea from 11-4 Tuesday-Friday ($8.95~ call for menu items as they change daily) and dinner is available Tuesday-Thursday till 9 and Friday-Saturday till 10. Angel Oak is located near Johns Island, 3669 Savannah Highway Johns Island, SC 29455. Indoor and out door seating is available. For reservations call 843) 556-7525. Go to Facebook and “like” Angel Oak Restaurant to stay in the loop on what is happening at this fun new dining spot.

If you are not from Charleston, you might want to read more about the namesake of this restaurant, the Angel Oak Tree. It is thought to be the oldest living organism East of the Mississippi River.

The original Angel Oak on Johns Island, SC

I am looking forward to return visits and having a chance to taste more of Chef Kee’s creations. I will be sharing them with you then.

Goat.Sheep.Cow Charleston’s Cheese Nirvana

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I have been living in a cheese deprived state for the last four years, sequestered on the most isolated land mass in the world.  I am happy to say that there is a special little shop on Church Street in Charleston that is full of wonderful and interesting cheeses from all over the world. They have more than cheese too; wonderful wines, breads, olives, honeycomb, crackers, nuts, condiments and a collection of incredible charcuterie !  To me this could be called Nirvana… Cheese Heaven!

Of course I brought along Mr. Garlic and we parked on the quiet street as a carriage rode past. Inside was a wonderland of cheese. My Facebook friend Trudi is one of the owners of this fabulous shop and she had lots of treats in store for us. We sampled, clicked pictures and yes, bought some awesome cheese!

Trudi and Mr. Garlic

Three partners brought this lovely shop from the Jersey Shore where it was called The Wine Concierge to Charleston where it gained the catchy new name and a city look and feel. We in Charleston can count ourselves blessed!  Sommelier,  Dr. Michael Cohen (a retired orthopedic surgeon) and his wife Patricia (former owner of a custom bridal business) joined forces with Trudi Wagner who held a seat on the NYSE for Goldman Sachs. They each bring to the table a group of talents that make this shop something very special.

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You can find goat.cheese.cow on Facebook, on their website or by driving down Church Street and finding #106.  Don’t live in Charleston? No problem, they also offer online shopping and direct shipping. Of course their selection changes frequently, so if you want something special you can also give Trudy a call at 843.480.2526. They are open Monday-Saturday from 11:00-6:00. They do party platters, picnic baskets and more.

Honeycomb from Savannah Bee

 

Vidalia Onions and the First Yellow Squash of the Season

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Low Country Squash with Pork Chops and Butter Leaf Salad

For me, it is a right of passage of sorts. I remember back over 30 years ago when as a young bride in the Low Country we had just moved in to a new house on the St. Helena Sound. my neighbor brought me over a little brown paper sack filled with yellow squash. She told me to go to the Piggly Wiggly and buy a “mess” of Vidalia Onions and explained this very simple recipe. Every spring I make this and think of the gift that Belle gave me. These two vegetables which appear at the same time every spring in the South will always be a perfect pairing in my mind. You can use any sweet onion to make this. Fortunately I had the amazing luck to come upon a shipment of Vidalias here in Hawaii. I grabbed them up and have been making all kinds of good things with them. But when I was at the farmer’s market and saw this yellow squash, I had to make this.

The recipe is embarrassingly simple and I am sure you will love the velvety texture that is the result.

Vidalia Onions and the First Yellow Squash of the Season

3 Vidalia or other sweet onions sliced

3 tender yellow squash sliced

3 cloves of garlic finely minced

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan

In a generous skillet, heat the olive oil and put in the squash in an even layer. Brown and turn.

Add the onions and stir, sautee till the onions start to sweat.

Clean a hot spot in the center of the pan and add  the minced garlic. Stir again.

When the onions turn translucent and just start to brown, add the cheese and stir till it starts to melt.

 

Add salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

 

Eggplant Rollatini

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My Manhattan Kitchen

Involtini di Melanzane con Salsiccia e Mozzarella to be exact! I had two big eggplants, some spicy homemade Italian sausages and lots of great herbs and tomatoes. I sent a note to my friend and fellow blogger Peter Francis Battaglia (whom I also call Saint Peter sometimes) asking him if he had a good rollatini recipe that did not require ricotta. He sent me one via messages on Facebook and I made it last night. I even had some for breakfast. I served it on spaghetti that was simply tossed with butter, EVOO and some garlic. Here is the recipe pretty much as he sent it to me. I added just a couple of things in the mix.  This is a recipe that can be made *creatively* and you can easily increase the amounts if you want to. I had a little extra filling left, so I just stuffed it in around…

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Empanadas de Betabel (Empanadas with Golden Beets and Corn)

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Empanadas de Betabel 

I love roasted beets. When I was doing research for an Oaxacan Dinner Party I had on Saturday, I found saw a recipe in Susana Trilling’s great Oaxacan cookbook Seasons of My Heart.  Her recipe for Empanadas de Betabel (Empanadas with Beets) stood out to me. The recipe also incorporated fresh corn which I had also planned to use for the party. Her method was to boil the beets  I roasted mine. In her recipe the empanadas were cooked on a camal. I did them on a camal for the dinner party, but last night I had some oil in a pan because I was making enchiladas, so I fried them and I think they actually came out better fried. On the night of the party I also paired them with home made Mole Verde, last night I just squiggled on a little crema and tossed on some cilantro. I used golden beets because that is what was available grown locally. I am sure red beets would change the color of the filling significantly. These can be made with or without cheese… but I really love cheese. I added a few things to her original inspiration and lessened the cooking time for the filling.

For the filling:

 1 pound of fresh beets (I used golden because that is what was locally available)

1 medium white onion, finely chopped (I like to use red onions, but white onions are used in Mexico most of the time)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons garlic finely minced

Corn cut from 3 fresh ears of corn, about 2 cups (In a pinch you could use frozen)

¼ cup fresh roasted green chiles diced (you could use canned, but fresh is so much better)

1 teaspoon smoked salt (sea salt is fine, I make smoked salt and love the flavor)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ cup fresh epazote leaves chopped (you can substitute cilantro or parsley if you cannot find fresh epazote, but the flavor will be different)

12 ounces quesillo shredded (if you cannot find quesillo, any good white melting cheese works, such as Jack, Gouda or Manchego)

For the masa:

3 cups masa harina

2 cups chicken stock

¼ teaspoon of salt

A pinch of chili powder

METHOD FOR THE FILLING:

Wrap the beets in heavy duty foil with a few garlic cloves and drizzle on some olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, pull or cut off the skin. Then dice into ¼ inch pieces and set aside.

In an 8 inch frying pan over medium heat, fry the onions in the oil and butter till translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Add the corn kernels & chiles and cook for another 3-5 minutes more.  Add the seasonings, beets, salt, pepper and epazote. Cook for a few minutes just to blend flavors. Put the filling in a bowl and cool slightly till you can put the mixture in your hands.

Have the shredded cheese available in a second bowl.

METHOD FOR THE MASA:

Pre-heat a comal or griddle over medium heat

Mix the stock and seasonings into the masa. You want a soft slightly wet dough, wetter than for tortillas. Knead for about 1 minute. Divide the dough into 10 balls, slightly larger than a golf ball. Using a tortilla press, put a piece of a plastic shopping bag on the bottom of the press and then place the ball of dough and top with a second piece of plastic. Press down wiggling the handle a bit to flatten the dough. Pick the circle (looks just like a tortilla at this point) up in your hand and while cradling it fill it with about 3 tablespoons of cheese, then 2 tablespoons of the beet and corn filling. Seal the edges with water and pinch all the way around.

To cook the empanadas; place on a hot comal and allow to brown on each side for about 3-5 minutes. Serve immediately or keep warm in a warming oven. I served these with green mole and crema.


Alternative;  have about 1 inch of oil in a small frying pan at medium heat and fry the empanadas, then place on paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with a drizzle of crema and fresh chopped cilantro.

Individual Cheese Soufflés for Valentine’s Dinner

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This would make an ideal Valentine’s dinner dish. I like to serve soufflés in individual dishes. This recipe makes two generous soufflés. I used ramekins that are 5″ across. For dinner parties I like to double this recipe and use smaller ramekins. I served the soufflés with a sauteed chicken breast and brandied cranberry sauce. They would be equally good with a large herby salad. I used my friend Ron’s eggs, straight from the backyard coop. Fresh eggs are important in this recipe. Contrary to rumors, soufflés are actually very easy to make as long as you follow the instructions and do not open the oven while cooking. I also use a ceramic oven liner that retains heat and makes for even baking. Have fun with this!

 

Individual Cheese Soufflés

  • 1 teaspoon of Piment d’Espelette (optional; you may find this favorite seasoning of mine difficult to find)
  • 3/4 cup finely grated aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 1/4 cup for topping (used the food processor with blade for grating the cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature and more for coating the ramekins
  •  2 tablespoons all-purpose/plain flour
  •  1/2 of a nutmeg, freshly grated
  •  3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  •  1 cup finely grated semi-hard cheese such as Comté Manchego, Gruyère. I used Comté and did the food processor method for both the Comté and the Parm (but do make sure that there are no large lumps)
  •  3 large very fresh eggs, separated + one extra white.
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons, they are my favorite and in season now)
Get everything prepped and mise en place.

Mise en Place

Preheat the oven to 375˚F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter ramekins sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano to coat completely all the way to the top. Shake any excess cheese out into a bowl. Place the molds in the freezer to chill.

Melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the Piment d’Espelette , flour, nutmeg, and salt; whisking constantly, cook the flour without browning, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and garlic and continue to cook, whisking, at a low simmer until the mixture is smooth and thick like pudding, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the Comté and any Parmigiano-Reggiano left over from coating the molds and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks, one at a time. Continue stirring vigorously with a rubber spatula to cool.

Whisk the egg whites and lemon juice in a clean bowl with a Kitchen Aid Mixer beater on medium-high until they just hold a soft peak. * DO NOT not over-whip the whites, which would give your soufflé a cloudy instead of creamy consistency.

Fold one-fourth of the egg whites into the cheese mixture with a rubber spatula, carefully turning the bowl and mixing gently until the whites are streaked throughout. Add the remaining whites and fold in but don’t overmix, which can deflate the whites.

Transfer the batter to the chilled mold and scatter the remaining  Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. Place the dish on a baking sheet/tray and set in the oven, decrease the oven temperature to 325˚F/ 165°C/, and bake until the soufflé is golden, puffed, and set but just a touch wobbly inside, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately. After a few minutes a slight deflation is normal, this is why they must be served immediately for the most impact. Enjoy!

Plated. I sauteed the chicken in a little bit of butter. The chicken was massaged with Piment d'Espelette, flour and salt.