Category Archives: Cheese
It’s the first week of June, and it’s raw and rainy. I’m bundled in fleece because it’s only in the mid-50’s outside. I’m so ready for summer. I’d even settle for spring. At boot camp this morning, we were taking a survey of who turned their heat back on…
Local farmers’ markets are just starting to open for the season. I pick up my first week’s CSA share tomorrow. My vegetable garden is planted but sunshine and heat are needed for it to grow.
When summer tomatoes are at their peak later in the summer, Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella or burrata makes a regular appearance on my table, but it’s much too early for that. I saw a recipe in the New York Times a few weeks ago for a spring version with fava beans and fennel. Those aren’t in season yet either, but I felt inspired.
What was fresh at today’s farmers’ market? Radishes and sugar snap peas cried out to me. I also have plentiful arugula growing at home, self-sowed from last fall’s plants, and fresh mint in my herb garden.
Here’s my version. The variety of color and textures is a treat for the senses. I love how I’ll be able to vary the ingredients as the season progresses towards tomatoes and beyond.
Spring Burrata Salad
1 small shallot, diced finely
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 radishes, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, sliced thin
1 heaping cup of sugar snap peas, tops trimmed, cut in half
1 4-oz ball burrata
Arugula leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces if large
1 sprig fresh mint
In a small bowl, cover diced shallot with lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt, and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables (5-10 minutes). Then, whisk in olive oil.
In another bowl, toss the radish slices, sliced celery, and peas together.
Arrange the arugula on a plate. Place the burrata in the center. Scatter the mixed vegetables over the arugula and burrata.
Spoon about half of the dressing over the salad. Finally, tear the leaves from the mint sprig into small pieces and sprinkle over the salad.
Serve immediately. Use a serving spoon to cut the burrata in half or quarters as the salad is served.
It’s time again for a recipe review for the Cottage Cooking Club. This group has spent nearly two years collectively cooking through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg, a vegetarian cookbook filled with recipes for flavorful and relatively simple ways to enjoy your vegetables. For March, Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness and leader of the Cottage Cooking Club, selected an assortment of recipes to use up the last of the late-winter while getting ready to welcome the produce of early spring.
I’ll admit that I fell down on the job this month. I selected three different recipes to make, but was only able to manage two. I have ingredients for my remaining selection (vegetable biryani), so if I fit it into our menu, I will share the results next month.
The two recipes I made this month got top marks.
First up, I made “Vegiflette” Toastie! I love the toasties (open-faced sandwiches) in this book. The topping for this one is inspired by the French dish Tartiflette, a gratin of potatoes, onions, bacon, and Reblochon cheese, though in vegetarian form.
Reblochon is currently banned for import into the United States. As a result, I discovered a substitute that might become my new favorite cheese. Reblochon is a washed-rind raw milk cheese made in the French Alps. After a thoughtful discussion and some tasting with the cheesemonger at Whole Foods, I settled on her recommendation of Oma, a similarly pungent washed-rind raw milk made in Vermont. The cheese is made by the von Trapp family and aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill. We had a little laugh about whether we’d sing better (think The Sound of Music –the same von Trapp family) after eating this cheese. In my case, it didn’t help.
The toastie topping was simple to throw together for a decadent lunch. You need a little advanced planning to have cold cooked potatoes on hand. While slices of rustic bread (I made a loaf of no-knead whole wheat) toast, thickly sliced cooked potatoes are pan-fried in some olive oil. Once they’re browned, slices of bitter Belgian endive are added until they soften up.
The vegetables are piled on top of the toast, sprinkled with a generous grind of black pepper, then covered with a few pieces of cheese. A few minutes under the broiler melts the cheese and you have lunch.
I loved this. I’m also intrigued to try the original dish, with bacon or without, though with the cold weather on its way out, that kitchen experiment might need to wait until next year.
I also made zucchini penne spoufflé. I’d been wanting to try this recipe ever since the group made the spinach version last May.
Spoufflé is a cross between mac-and-cheese and a soufflé. It starts with a roux made from milk infused with onion, bay, and peppercorns. I loved learning this infused milk trick when making the fennel and squash lasagna last month. It’s amazing how something so simple adds an unexpected dimension to the finished dish. The roux is enriched with grated cheddar cheese and a healthy dose of nutmeg. Then egg yolks are whisked in to further thicken up the sauce. It wouldn’t be mac-and-cheese without some pasta, plus a chunky puree of sautéed zucchini adds color. Finally, it wouldn’t be soufflé without folding in some stiff egg whites to lighten it up.
The whole concoction is transferred to a buttered dish and baked until it’s puffy and golden. My soufflé dish was a smaller than I expected, so I made a mini-one with what didn’t fit in the larger vessel.
I ate this hot from the oven, but the leftovers, slightly deflated, are good too.
The toastie was my favorite this month, but I’d definitely make both of these recipes again. I would like try the spinach version of the spoufflé too.
Next month will be the final month devoted to this cookbook. Andrea has plans in the works for the group to continue the adventure, cooking through more of Hugh’s books.
This month, check out my fellow Cottage Cooking Club member’s blogs to read their reviews of March’s recipe selections.