Category Archives: Cheese
I’m a little late to report on my latest trials for Cook the Book Fridays. I have a reasonable excuse. I was away on a grand adventure to Mexico for a family wedding. We were staying near Cancun in Riviera Maya. It was wonderful. Other than the wedding, the highlight was visiting the ruins at Chichen Itza. We also tasted some authentic Mexican fare from the Yucatan peninsula which I’m looking forward to trying to replicate at home.
First up, I made the Comté and Ham Wafers from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. These are a savory version of slice-and-bake cookies, one of my favorite things to have on hand for nearly instant gratification. The wafers are more cheese than flour, making them very crispy and light (though not low calorie). The ham is prosciutto that is baked until crispy and then crumbled, high-end bacon bits. I used recently dried thyme from my garden rather than fresh herbs, but I think they tasted just fine.
I sliced-and-baked one log, which we nibbled alongside the evening’s cocktails –Corpse Reviver #2 – a pre-Prohibition cocktail we discovered during last year’s trip to Florida. It’s one of our favorite house cocktails now. I thought I’d freeze and save the other log for another night, but we scarfed them up. The other log is baking in the oven now.
I loved these wafers and will make them again. The type of cheese and herbs and ham (or absence of) can easily be changed for different combinations to suit your mood.
I must have made my logs thinner than intended because the recipe gives the yield as about 55 wafers and slicing at the stated ¼-inch thickness, I got about that many from each 1¼-inch diameter log.
The other recipe I made was Tabbouleh also from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. . I’m a big fan of tabbouleh, though the way I make it uses way more bulgur. This version is typical of authentic tabbouleh from Lebanon. It’s more of an herb salad. Chopped parsley and mint leaves are the main ingredients, accented with some chopped tomato and scallion. Just a touch of bulgur is added for some texture. The salad is moistened with some olive oil and lemon juice. Finally, a sprinkle of cinnamon and allspice give this a definite Lebanese spin. A touch of pomegranate molasses adds some extra tang. Years ago, I learned to add cinnamon and allspice to tabbouleh from our dear cooking friend Kathy, who was part Lebanese. Enjoying this salad for lunch, I thought of Kathy and how I miss her.
The tabbouleh was delicious, though I would enjoy it more in the summer. This time of year, I crave hot foods, not herbaceous salad.
You can find these recipes in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. The wafers are on page 45 and the tabbouleh is on page 95. I recommend them both. If you are interested in what the other members of Cook the Book Fridays have to say about these recipes, check out links to thoughts on the wafers here and the tabbouleh here.
Here are a few shots from Mexico.
Happy New Year! Greetings from the Arctic Circle! Well, not really, but it sure feels like it. Yesterday, we had a wild storm that left us with nearly a foot of freshly fallen snow and winds that blew the snow into even higher drifts. Today the sun came out, so everything is beautifully sparkly, but the temperatures are dropping rapidly and tomorrow, we’ll be living with a single digit high and a negative double digit low, not counting the expected wind chill factor. Brrrr!
Cold weather doesn’t keep me inside because the dog must go out. She has a natural fur coat, though the snow piled in her favorite spots and our paths to safe walkways frustrate her.
Inside, it’s comfort food weather. We’ve been eating lots of root vegetables, soup, stew, and bread, stick to your ribs fare. Duck-fat potatoes fits right into that line-up.
This hearty side dish couldn’t be easier. First, diced potatoes are parboiled to hasten the cooking. I didn’t bother to peel them. Then, the potatoes are cooked in a few tablespoons of duck fat. The duck fat I had leftover from the Counterfeit Duck Confit was gorgeous, clear, and golden. The potatoes browned beautifully. Salt them halfway through and stir in a few cloves of minced garlic at the end. Delicious! I also tried them with leftover turkey fat from Thanksgiving. Both the duck and turkey fat add a depth that olive oil just does not.
The potatoes require a little attention, some stirring so they don’t stick to the pan and burn. But your undivided attention is not required, so you can prepare the rest of dinner while the potatoes cook. Roasted chicken parts are a simple accompaniment, or some more counterfeit duck confit.
If you’re on the East Coast, stay warm this weekend. Don’t go out if you don’t have to. While you’re home you might as well bake some cookies and perhaps make a batch of duck-fat potatoes!
I might have mentioned that in December, I participated in Whole Foods “12 Days of Cheese”. Each day, a different cheese was on sale for 50% of its regular price. If you tried all 12 cheeses, the prize was… a cheese platter! For someone who loves cheese as much as I do, how could I not do it? It also required a daily trip to Whole Foods, but I also happen to love grocery shopping, so that wasn’t a hardship.
There were some delicious cheeses available. Some were old favorites (Humboldt Fog, Vermont Creamery Bonne Bouche, Epoisses), and now I’ve met some new ones (Truffle Gouda). The only problem was the timing. The cheese platter had to be redeemed before New Year’s Day, when the refrigerator still had blocks of several of the daily selections I purchased uneaten. And the cheeses on the cheese platter were rather pedestrian, not nearly as interesting as the flight of 12 days offered. Regardless, it was a fun food adventure even if I don’t need to eat quite so much cheese…