Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

10th April
written by Loren

I found these little beauties in the olive bar at the local Bylery’s. For the non-Minnesotans out there, Byerly’s is an upscale grocery store, kind of like a whole foods but without the commitment to natural/organic food. The kind of place your grandmother shops at, as long as her IRA is well funded. Anyways, I was looking for some olives and the helpful lady behind the counter suggested I try these flaming red beasties from South Africa. I popped one in my mouth and knew pretty much instantly that they were going to become a recurring item in my cooking. The taste starts out sweet and a little fruity, sort of like a red bell pepper. The next thing you taste is the vinegar from the pickling brine, and finally that heat from the chili pepper. The peppadew variety of chili peppers weigh in around 1,200 scoville units, so they have some heat to them but are not as hot as something like a jalapeno. I would definitely serve them confidently to my mother, but maybe not my grandmother, if that’s a useful guide.

While I will definitely be thinking up more uses for the peppadews, the first thing I went for is stuffing them. Really, I think that is a natural first thought when you look at the peppers. They’re about the size of a cherry tomato, but completely hollow, with a little hole in the top. Tell me that’s not made to stuff with garlicky cheesy goodness? *Editors note:Upon further review, this is definitely everyone’s first idea of what to do with peppadews. Seriously, do a google image search for peppadew peppers and see what I mean.

The cheese stuffing for these was based on the stuffing for the oven baked jalapeno poppers from a previous post with a few modifications. First, nix the bacon. I’ll give you a second to wrap your mind around that. Seriously though, not everything needs bacon in it, and on this particular night we were also grilling so we could get that great smoky flavor in another course. Next, it needs to be a little thinner as a mixture so you can easily pipe the mixture into the peppers. To that end, I added a little bit of milk and olive oil.

  • 4 oz. (1/2 brick) cream cheese, room temp
  • ~5 oz. (1 log) goat cheese, any kind you like
  • 2 cloves garlic, pasted
  • 1 tbsp minced herbs (basil, oregano, chives, and tarragon are all good choices)
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp milk, added as needed to thin out the mixture

Mix the above ingredients together in a bowl, then use a rubber spatula to scoop all of it into a bag you can use to pipe it into the peppers. For our more bourgeois readers, you have a pastry bag with your choice of piping tips. For the rest of us, grab a ziploc bag and snip off one of the corners. Be sure to start out with a small hole in the bag; you can always make it a bit bigger but you can’t make it any smaller and it is a pain to try to take the cheese mixture from one bag to another.

Pipe the mixture into the peppers, then figure out how you want to serve them. They would be just fine by themselves I think, but this time I served them with some hot capocollo which was a nice compliment. Next time I think I’m going to slice out some ribbons of pruscutto and wrap those around the peppers.


28th March
written by Arthur

Yesterday, Iggy returned from a long weekend in North Carolina bearing pimento cheese and pound cake.

I had first heard about pimento cheese from Jane and Michael Stern‘s Road Food segment on the Splendid Table (wow, that’s a mouthful).  After hearing about the stuff, I was curious and wondered how to get my hands on what I learned was a one those rare remaining regional (Southern) creations.  So I was excited to finally give it a try.

So what is pimento cheese?  At its most basic, it’s cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos (yeah, those red flecks from olives),and  salt & pepper, but additional ingredients can pop-up.  The mixture can be either blended to a smooth paste or choppily mixed together.

The mixture Iggy brought back was chipotle pimento cheese,  with a little bit of heat added to basic ingredient outline and was on the coarse side of the mixing style.  Keeping it simple, and classy, we ate this new fair onto some Ritz crackers.  And the Ritz cracker were prefect–their crispy butteriness amplified decadent fat going on in the cheese (we also tried it on some of fancy, and neutral,  little cheese toasts to get a baseline).

Now that I’ve had it I want more.  While part of me is ready to organize a second War of Northern Aggression to get my hands on the stuff, I might just settle for making it at home.  If I can get my hands on pimento and a decent recipe, it seems easy enough.  I just keep wondering what else I could do with this cheese.  Grilled cheese?  Burger toppings?  Deep frying?!  If I pull of any of this, I’ll be sure to post!

29th November
written by Loren

Hello food fans,

It’s been about 5-6 weeks since my last post. I would apologize for the delay but at this point it seems to be becoming a pattern that I post in bunches and then dissapear for a while, so maybe you should just expect that at this point. Anyways, I’ve got some great ideas and recipes which are coming your way over the next month or two, including: Oreo cake balls, the best stuffing recipe EVAR, White Chicken Chili, grilled pheasant breasts, and some homemade eggnog when we get close to Christmas!

Today’s recipe comes from… nowheres in particular. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work one night and got a hankering for some kind of garlicky-creamy goodness which I could spread on crackers. Since this particular grocery store happened to sell roasted garlic cloves in their olive bar, I went for those. A week later I re-made the recipe with a few tweaks which really brought everything together.

  • 1 brick of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 cup roasted garlic cloves
  • 1 raw garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 package basil leaves (15  big leaves or so?)
  • 4 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded/grated Parmesan
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper
  • Sprinkle of red wine vinegar
  • a big dollop of  sour cream (optional)

Combine everything but the cream cheese in a food processor and pulse until its a roughly homogeneous mixture, then add the cream cheese and process until everything is mixed together.  You can do a few different things with this; I imagine it would be great as a sandwich spread, you could make pinwheels, you could probably thin this out with some milk and white wine to make a bitchin’ pan sauce for something like roasted chicken, or you could just spread it on same fancy crackers and top it with some thinly sliced capocollo.  I chose the latter route, and it was well received by the Thanksgiving crowd.

On a side note, please do yourself a favor and go buy a half pound of capocollo. This delicious salumi is dry cured from the meat on the neck and shoulder cuts of the pig. It’s like a cross between canadian bacon, real bacon (take that Canada!), and prosciutto. It’s not usually smoked to the best of my knowledge, but there is sometimes a spicy or savory coating on the outside of the meat. The marbling, which is amply demonstrated below, is incredible and gives it a deep, rich flavor. Get your butcher to slice it thin, and eat a few slices while you walk around the grocery store and decide what you want to do with this manna from heaven.

om nom nom

20th October
written by Loren

Our glimmer of hope

This has been a disappointing football season so far, as any Vikings fan will tell you. Not only are the Purple stinking it up, but they’re doing so in the most frustrating way possible. They have some pretty damn good players (Kevin Williams, Jared Allen, AP, Antoine Winfield, Percy Harvin) but they prove week after week to be entirely incapable of playing like professionals. What’s more, they aren’t even in full blown re-building mode, as evidenced by the fact that before they re-structured Adrian Peterson’s and Chad Greenway’s deal they were right at the salary cap. I can accept losing from a team that’s trying to get young or is trying to free up cap space to make some moves, but we’re doing neither and sucking royally. 

But at least we have something to look forward to now that Donovan “Chunky” McNabb has been benched for our first round pick, Christian Ponder. He may not be any better than McNabb… no, wait, I’m not going to go with that disclaimer. He will be better than McNabb. He showed a couple of things in his debut last week which are going to be huge upgrades. 1. He’s accurate, or at least far more so than D McB. He was putting passes right in front of people IN STRIDE, as opposed to 2 feet above a receivers head and 3 yards behind them. 2. He’s got some mobility and he’s able to throw on the run. Did you see that safety McNabb took last week? He saw a blitzer coming up the middle and just laid down in the end zone. Ponder looked pretty good at avoiding the rush. Finally, I think Ponder cares about winning. If the Vikes wanted McNabb last offseason they should have given him a contract so loaded with incentives that he would have earned slightly above minimum wage in that week 1 stinker where he piled up 39 yards over the course of the game, because you can absolutely tell he does not give a shit what happens in these games because he’s making $5 million in his last year in the NFL.

Enough football talk, time for football food. The other week Rick and I had another of our patented football ho-downs with 10.5 straight hours of food, beer, smoking and football. During this particular one, I got to try out a new Food Network recipe which turned out amazing. The only downside of it is that it’s pretty heavy and somewhat greasy, so if you’re not careful you will eventually have wished that you had a bit more self control as you nurse an over-full belly.

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil*
  • 1/2 pound Spanish or Mexican chorizo
  • 1/2 pound mushroom caps, quartered
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
*note: The olive oil is only neccesary if you are using the more solid  Spanish Chorizo which is a cured sausage like Andouille. All I was able to find was fresh ground Mexican Chorizo,

Spanish Chorizo

which has more than enough fat to render out without adding additional oil.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. If using Spanish chorizo, dice it and add it to a pan over medium-high heat. If using fresh ground chorizo, add it to the pan and break it up while it’s cooking. Add the quartered mushrooms to the pan after about a minute and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes.  At this point, you’ll most likely want to remove some of the excess grease from the chorizo-mushroom mixture which you can do by pouring everything into a colander or onto a plate lined with a few layers of paper towels. After you remove the grease, add the meat and mushrooms to a small to medium baking or casserole dish and top with the shredded cheese.  Bake until bubbly, then remove from the oven and top with the scallions. The Food Network recipe said to serve this with blue corn chips, but that seems like a bad idea to me. It’s a very thick and stringy mixture which seems like it would destroy corn chips. I served it with a take and bake ciabatta bread that was torn into small peices and that seemed like a great fit.
15th October
written by Arthur

Tragically, I have no clever backstory for this cheese.  Fayaz just showed-up with it one night after making a Union Market stop on his way home.  The cheese itself will have to be story enough.

Saint Nectaire is a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk in the Auvergne region of France.

This particular cheese had a medium sized and soft rind. The flavor was medium to light, savory, and creamy.  The savory flavor took on a nutty (maybe almond) flavor.

All-in-all a solid cheese that might pair well with a beer.


12th October
written by Arthur

Today I finally made it out of the office before 7:30 and naturally made a beeline for the cheese aisle at Union Market. (Okay, so I stopped by to pick up the makings of dinner, but I couldn’t keep myself away from the cheese.)

After a few minutes of browsing I found my self holding a little bundle labeled Kunik and described as a “white mold-ripened cheese made from goats milk with Jersey cream.”  Never heard of Kunik?  Neither had I.  Apparently it’s a triple crème cheese hailing from Nettle Meadow (a New York farm and cheese maker that often shows up on the shelves at Union Market).  It’s a soft cheese, like a brei, to which I’ll mostly be comparing.

The first thing I noticed as I cut in was it’s thick, but relatively soft, rind.   The creamy inside is thick and holds it’s form well after being cut.

The flavor is rich and creamy–much more so than a brie.  There is background flavor of goat cheese in there somewhere, but I don’t think that I would have been able to identify it if I didn’t have advanced notice of its addition.   While delicious, the cheese is heavy and hard to eat much of at once, perhaps making it an ideal addition to a cheese plate for several people.



20th September
written by Arthur

This cheese is amazing.  I’m almost at a loss for hyperboles.  When I took my first bite, all I could think was “oh my god, this is what cheese should be.”  I know, I know, there are lots of different kinds of cheese that have their own qualities, but for the moment I’m in love.

The initial flavor is a wave of savory.  After a few moments, and maybe a few pieces,  I realized that taste was a play of nuttiness, salt , and sweetness.  The flavor fills your mouth making you want more.  I have not idea what you should eat this with, I just ate it by the piece.

It’s a hard cheese with little granuals.

The cheese is made with raw cow’s milk.  Normally, Gruyere is aged 5 months.  This bad boy is aged at least a year and every day of it seemed to only improve the flavor.

11th September
written by Loren

The NFL won't be the same without you, Randy.


Welcome, my friends, to the show that never ends! Well, actually it ends every spring. And this offseason it almost ended for a full year thanks to greedy owners. BUT IT’S BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER! I think every year I become more of a football fan. Back in the mid-90’s I followed the vikings very casually. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s I became a rabid Vikings fan (even after the gut wrenching 98 NFC championship and the 41-doughnut debacle against the giants just 3 years later). In the mid to late 2000’s I started to get interested in the other NFL games not featuring the Vikes and now that I started fantasy football last year I am an unabashed football addict. Between the months of September and January, nothing can get me down because I always have Sunday and Monday to look forward to. And in a couple of years, when the NFL starts selling Thursday night games to non-premium channels, we’ll have that too. And there will be much rejoicing.

And now that football is back, we’re going to resurrect the on-again-off-again Football Food series. This week: Beer Cheese Dip. I tried this for the first time at a work potluck (love my job), and it was incredibly addictive. It’s a nice combination of tangy beer, sharp cheddar and onion flavor, and creamy cheesy goodness.

Combine in a bowl: 2 bricks of cream cheese, softened; 2 cups of shredded cheddar; 3/4 cup of beer, I used Summit EPA because a) it’s my Minnesota beer of choice and b) I wanted something with enough flavor to shine through all the cheesyness; 1 packet of ranch seasoning; 1 bunch of green onions, chopped. Reserve a bit of cheddar and green onions to sprinkle over the top when you’re done mixing.

Eventually I would like to work out a version of this dip that uses fresh garlic and herbs in place of the ranch seasoning packet, but in the meantime this is a tasty addition to your sunday football buffet. As for your dipping item, I think this would taste pretty good with plain ol’ potato chips but the dip is probably too thick to maintain chip integrity. Stick with pretzels or veggies. Also, this makes enough dip for 6-7 people. If it’s only you and Brundage watching football, you might want to cut the recipe in half.


Football Predictions:

I don’t know that we’re going to keep up the Vikings weekly football prediction segment we  had going last year, but here are some general predictions for the NFL season which we’ll re-visit at the end of the season.

  • Barring injury, Adrian Peterson will rush for 2,000 yards this year. While we don’t have the greatest O-line Minnesota has ever seen, the reports are that we have abandoned the zone-blocking crap which plagued us in the Childress era.
  • The Colts will be in contention for the first overall draft pick by the end of the season. This team is GARBAGE without Manning. He ran the whole offense and he elevated a team that has drafted crap the last several years. (Sub-prediction: this will create endless ESPN contaversy about whether Peyton will allow them to draft Andrew Luck) UPDATE: Houston leads Indy 34-0 at halftime. I like this prediction.
  • The Houston Texans will finally make the playoffs. I mean, they kind of have to. Jacksonville and Indianapolis will be terrible, and I just don’t think the Hasselbeck-led Titans will steal the division away from them.
  • The Lions will still fail to hit the .500 mark. I know everyone is in love with them and they have certainly created a monster d-line, but Stafford is made of porceline and I still think they need another season to wipe out the stink of 0-16.
  • Lastly, the GB Packers will fail to make the Superbowl this year. Because they’re evil. Superbowl pick: New England over Philly.
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25th August
written by Arthur

Asiago Stella

Ah cheese.  It’s been way to long since I wrote about a new cheese.  On my train ride home today I decided to change that.

My main goal was to find something I could put on a salad.  I stopped by Union Market and scanned maybe 10 varieties of  blue… not what I was in the mood for tonight.  Then I found something that I hadn’t seen before:  Asiago Stella.  (Well I’ve seen Asiago cheese, but it was always hard as rock or dust, not like the softer, moist looking block before me.)  I wasn’t sure about it, but, when I realized that it was about half the price of most of the others, I decided I had to give it a try.

It actual turned out to not be great for eating on its own–a little bit dense and a little mild.  But it was prefect on the salad.   It has a some what savory nutty flavor and when cut into about quarter inch cube it add a nice dimension of flavor to a salad with some amazing little heirloom tomatoes, some cucumber, and a bit of carrot (all from a co-worker’s CSA).

7th August
written by Arthur

It’s been a while, a long while, since I last posted.  A difficult break-up, followed by finals, followed by studying for the bar kept me out of the kitchen and off the blog.  The last few months have been arduous.

I sat for the last day of the bar exam on July 27 and on the 28th began my return to the real world.  But, when I tried to get back on ECL on the 29th I found an unfortunate “Fatal Error” message.  After only a few hours of work behind the scenes I was able to break the blog even more—no contact with the server.  But today, I final got everything back up and running.  I had no idea when I started this thing that I would learn so much about computers.

Last Saturday, for the first Saturday in recent memory, I woke-up and didn’t open a bar study book.  Instead I grabbed an ice coffee and made the mile and a half walk to the farmers market for the first time this summer.  I went from stand to stand looking at all the green, red, yellow, and orange delights.  But I had a mission: caprese and pesto.

I found a huge plant of basil for only $3.  I say plant because it really was still a plant with roots and all.  It kills me to think about how much I’ve paid in winter for a handful of sorry looking basil from the supermarket.  For the tomatoes in the caprese I got some bright red cherry tomatoes.  Other random finds included some garlic scapes (long shoots that grow out of the head of the garlic) and a head of broccoli.  [My apologies for the details on the mundane.  What can I say?  I’m excited.]

On the way home I picked-up pine nuts from Russo’s Mozzarella and Pasta up the street from me.  On the walk home from Russo’s I realized I had forgotten the cheese!  So I stopped in a Union Market and picked-up some Parmigiano Reggiano and some amazing mozzarella.

Now when I say this was amazing mozzarella I’m not doing it justice.  I didn’t realize when I bought it, but I had gotten Burrata.  Burrata is basically cream filled mozzarella.  It’s rich, silky, and decadent—like no other cheese I’ve had in my life.  Outside is a layer of the familiar fresh mozzarella, inside is a semi-solid pudding like structure.  I started cutting the fist size balls to make caprese but quickly turned to tearing with my hands.  I then cut the cherry tomatoes in half and cut about a half dozen basil leaves into strips.  After mixing it all together with some good olive oil and some coarse sea salt I enjoyed an incredible afternoon snack.

But I can’t forget the pesto.  I used the following recipe as a template (it’s almost identical to the one in Loren’s pesto post), but improved it with two more cloves of garlic and about another cup of basil.  Also, make sure you buy actual Parmesan Reggiano and some decent olive oil–the extra few bucks are worth it and can be spread over several batches.


  •  2  3 cups fresh basil leaves, packed  [going from 2 to 3 cups made it less runny, which I personally like]
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  •  3  6-7 medium sized garlic cloves, minced [I needed more garlic, all the vampires in pop-culture today have me worried]
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:  First, combine the basil with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor.  Then, add the garlic, pulse a few times more.  Next you’re supposed to slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on.  I only have a miniature Cuisinart Chopper and Grinder.  The lid doesn’t have an opening so I had to pulse, add oil, pulse, and oil…. you get the idea.  It was a little slower going, but worked great.  Scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula and add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended.  Finally, hit it with a pinch of salt to taste and give it one last pulse.  When you’re done the whole room will have a wonderful pesto smell and you’ll have enough pesto for a few people.

Oh, and the pesto keeps in the fridge for a few days or the freezer forever—so you don’t need to eat it all right away.  This is a good thing, because I made a return to the farmers market yesterday and just made a giant batch.

It’s feels good to be cooking and typing some non-law study words again.  There isn’t a lot of summer left, but I plan to make the most of it!  Sometime soon I’m coming back from the farmers market with squash blossoms.

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