Market Finds

Market Finds
Farmer's Market Bounty

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Cheesy Excuse: Part Deux

So, I find myself this week without a new recipe for my blog. Unfortunately, the stomach flu hit my son and me, and food was about the farthest thing from my mind. I decided to repost a blog that originally appeared on the Taste and Savor site last year, but never got transferred to my passionate plate blog. Ironically, this blog is about an evening when I was supposed to be home writing, but found myself spending the entire evening with a friend, bottles of wine and a big hunk of stinky cheese. Sounds, like fun, wish that was what I had been up to this week.

The good news is, that we are all feeling better and are moving off of the clear broth and Saltine cracker diet that have been our staples this week. I am already thinking of my recipe for next week and excited about the new crop of spring veggies coming our way.

As always, keeping every plate passionate, even if it is a plate of Saltines.

This blog originally appeared on on Sept 5, 2012.

Despite all of my intentions to write a new and interesting blog each week, there are instances when my hectic schedule leaves me with little time to sit quietly at my keyboard and write. Typically, I have a valid excuse such as, I worked three thirteen hour shifts in a row or I was carpooling the kids all evening. Last week was not one of those times.
Last Thursday, I had every intention of stealing off to my office and writing up a new blog and recipe that I had made earlier in the week. But alas, I was invited over to my neighboor's house for a "glass" of wine. This is really code for "let's chat and drink a bottle of wine". Since Carol was kind enough to supply the bottle of wine, I could not arrive empty handed, so I pulled out a nice piece of cheese that I had been saving for a special occasion. So pehaps, this was not the special occasion I had in mind, but wine, cheese and good neighbor's company would suffice.
I walked into Carol's house with the immediate disclaimer that the odor she may smell was not me. Many times it is me of course, because after a day in the kitchen with onions, garlic and other offending smells, well, you get the picture. In any case, the slightly funky smell was from my prized block of cheese, that I brought to share. This cheese is one of my new favorites and was of course introduced to me by Chef Nancy. It is called Morbier.

Morbier is a semi-soft cow's milk cheese from France. It resembles a blue cheese, but the vein running down the middle is actually thin layer of tasteless ash. The cheese was still cold out of the refrigerator when we first tasted it. It was delicious of course, but the flavor was not yet fully developed. As we sat and talked over the next couple of hours, it was great fun to see how the taste of the cheese changed and improved as it warmed up to room temperature. Needless to say, the time passed, the wine was gone and all that remained of the Morbier was a lifeless rind sitting on a plate.

Yikes! I had spent the entire evening eating cheese and drinking wine. No time for a blog this evening. I had to walk home and make some dinner for the kids and get everyone organized for school and work the next day.

I hated having to tell Nancy that I had no new blog for her on Friday morning, but I kept my fingers crossed that she would see the humor in the picture of my "dead soldier", shown above. She is afterall, a Partyologist! Luckily, she did, and I ended up getting a blog out of my evening, albeit a week late.

So, the next time, you feel the urge to procrastinate and or just spend a nice evening with a friend, take along a nice slice of Morbier to share. I buy mine at the Buford Highway Farmer's market and have seen it at Whole Food's and occasionally Costco. Oh, and if you need to bring the wine as well, try a nice Pinot Noir. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Invite an Italian To Dinner

This Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo came about at work one day, when Chef Nancy and I were up to our elbows in food prep for a Thanksgiving meal for the participants at Cancer Wellness last fall.  Now, you may ask, who in their right mind would stop in the middle of such a large production to sit down and eat lunch, much less a big bowl of pasta.  Well, we would.  As I have mentioned before, we always try to take a few minutes to sit down and take a break for a midday meal.  Usually it's a salad, made from whatever we have leftover in the kitchen.  This day however, there was not a leaf of lettuce to be found, as we scrambled in true Iron Chef fashion to grab whatever spare ingredients we could find, and put together a quick meal.

What I came up with was a jar of roasted piquillo peppers, a log of goat cheese, a block of parm and some whole wheat elbow macaroni.  Perfect, a little pasta would power us through the long afternoon and evening ahead.  The result of my kitchen scavenger hunt yielded a beautiful and comforting Alfredo sauce, that is much lower in fat and calories than the original.  This dish has since, become a staple at home, and is a quick and easy weeknight treat. 

Try inviting this light and saucy Italian to your house for dinner tonight.  Remember to make every plate something to be passionate about.  Buon appetito!

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo:

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive-oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 roasted red peppers or a 12oz jar of piquillo peppers, coarsely chopped
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 cup of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 lb of your favorite pasta, cooked to package directions

Optional Garnishes: Parsley, Chives, Basil, chopped roasted red pepper.  A combination of any or all of these is great.

Beautiful ingredients in all the colors of the Italian flag

 Step One:  Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, but not browned, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, and additional minute.  Lower heat to medium and add the peppers, milk, yogurt and both cheeses.  Stir to combine while cheeses melt.
Onions and garlic softening in the olive oil

The peppers make the sauce.  Try roasting your own for a more intense flavor than the jarred peppers

Ahhhh.....melting cheese.  Heaven!

Step Two:  Once cheese is melted, blend mixture with an immersion blender, or allow sauce to cool slightly and transfer to a traditional blender to mix up the sauce.
Sauce is ready for the "boat motor", a.k.a. the immersion blender

The immersion  blender is a great tool for making soups and sauces

This is enough sauce for one pound of pasta.  Feel free to add a drizzle of additional olive oil or s splash of the hot pasta water if the sauce appears too thick.
Pour a glass of wine and sit down with your family to enjoy!