Spanish Mac and Cheese

Spanish Mac and Cheese (4 of 4)

I have been wanting for a very long time to create a stellar macaroni and cheese recipe, one of my all time favorite comfort dishes. I have tried variations including meat, vegetables, herbs and spices and had yet to develop that one flavor that made my taste buds sing.

So I had to take a step back and think about what I loved about mac and cheese dishes I had eaten in the past. Why did their flavors make me remember them long after I had consumed them.  My biggest realization is that sometimes you don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel.  This simple casserole is basically pasta and cheese sauce.  None of the restaurant style varieties had anything different thrown in, just a sharp cheesy tang and tender starchy pasta.  And quite honestly it really is about the cheese.

Spanish Mac and Cheese (2 of 4)

At a recent event at the St. Lawrence Market hosted by the Trade Commission of Spain and ICEX Spain Export my senses were pleasantly assaulted by an unreal number of Spanish cheeses available for taste.  This is a life changing event for any bonafide cheese lover.  Many of the cheeses I was already familiar with; Manchego and Iberico, were massively represented in varying degrees of age yet it also was easy to find some new favorites like the creamy Drunken Goat Cheese, or a nutty Sant Gil d’Albio.

Spanish Mac and Cheese (1 of 4)

Spain’s vast diverse landscape has a huge impact on the production of cheese.  Dairy producing livestock; cows, sheep, and goats are found all over the country yet the terrain in which they live can make a difference in even the most subtle way to the flavor of its milk.  Mountainous , rocky terrain can be favorable to the more hardy stock of goat while rolling hills provide the perfect grazing conditions for sheep.  Mixed milk cheese can be produced throughout the country adding to the over 100 varieties currently available in production.  Local wines and other edible products can also make a difference in the flavors available with some traditions including rinds made of fresh herbs or soaked in local wines.  As a country vast in landscape and climate variety each cheese produced is steep in quality and tradition.

After eating my weight worth of cheeses it was obvious that this is the direction I needed to go in my quest for the best macaroni and cheese.  And with so many of these great Spanish varieties available at my local cheesemonger. Don’t be afraid to change the kinds I used in my recipe with any others your prefer.  I chose 12 year old Manchego and Iberico for the pungent strong flavours and my new dream cheese the creamy Drunken Goat. Go to your cheese counter and ask to try what they have.  People who love cheese have a vast palate for what they prefer much like wine connoisseurs.  Experiment until you find your new favorite.  That’s how this recipe came to be.

Spanish Mac and Cheese (3 of 4)

I would thank to thank the Trade Commission of Spain and ICEX Spain Export , Spanish cheese expert Julie Rogers and Mary Luz Mejia for inviting to this event thus allowing my brain to create this decadent dish.

Spanish Mac and Cheese

I used 4 oz. Drunken Goat cheese, and 3 oz. each of 12 year old Manchego and 12 year old Iberico to make up my 10 oz of cheese for this recipe. Feel free to use any combination you prefer.

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Ingredients

  • 500 g pasta, any shape your prefer
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablspoons flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups milk, warm
  • 10 oz shredded cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a pinch of sea salt and your pasta. Cook until just fork tender and drain
  2. While the pasta is cooking preheat your oven to 350 degree F. Coat an 9" oval casserole dish with butter or cooking spray.
  3. In a heavy bottom pan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
  4. Add the flour and cook stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the roux start to smell nutty, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and stir constantly till thick. Once the milk mixture begins to coat the back of your spoon evenly you know it will be thick enough.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
  7. Add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine then pour into prepared pan.
  8. In a small bowl or fry pan melt the butter.
  9. Add the bread crumbs and mix well.
  10. Sprinkle the butter bread crumbs evenly on top of your casserole.
  11. Place in preheat oven and cook until top begins to brown and become crunchy, about 20 minutes.
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Secret Recipe Club: Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells (4 of 4)

Amanda over at Dancing Veggies is an octo-lacto-vegetarian and could not be anymore opposite then I am when it comes to food.  I’m more of meato-bacono-moremeatarian kind of eater.  So when I was assigned her blog for this months Secret Recipe Club I may of pouted a little then huffed and puffed, but in all honesty I do enjoy a challenge.  We can always use for vegetables in our house but finding a recipe in her extensive collection was a little harder than I thought given that I would be cooking this for DH (the pickier one).  Lucky me (and him) I hit a home run when I decided to make her Stuffed Shells with Mushrooms.

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells (1 of 4)

It looked like such a complete recipe that I chose to change very little.  I added some onion to the tomato sauce and changed my cooking method just a little.  Her cheesy stuffing and basic rich and refreshing sauce were a perfect pair.  I even made extra to freeze for another meal.  Success!

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells (2 of 4)

Yields 4

Mushroom and Cheese Stuffed Shells
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 basil leaves, finely diced
  • 28 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the Shells
  • 1/2 lb large shells, pre-cooked and cooled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 basil leaves, finely minced
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, separated in half

Instructions

  1. In a large pot heat the 2 tbsp olive over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Add the can of tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer while making the shells.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. In a skillet over medium-high, heat the oil.
  6. Add the garlic and onion and cook until fragrant 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until soft. Remove from heat, stir in the basil and let cool.
  7. In another bowl mix together the cheeses (1/2 cup of the mozzarella) and cooled mushroom mix.
  8. In a 9" square or oval casserole dish spoon just enough tomato sauce to coat the bottom.
  9. Stuff each precooked pasta shell with the filling and place on top of the sauce. Top each shell with a spoonful of sauce and set the rest of the sauce for serving with cooked dish.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the shells and bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes or until bubbling and cheese has melted.
  11. Serve with more sauce is needed
Recipe Type: Pasta
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Cheesy Vegetable Gratin

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin-19

I was recently offered the chance to try out a product from Microplane Canada.  Given carte blanche to pick any of their gorgeous kitchen tools I couldn’t resist picking a box grater.  It’s ironic that I haven’t had one of my own before this.  I grew up as the designated cheese grater in my family and the box was always what we used.  Nothing is more satisfy than that light bang on the counter to get a small handful of shavings that had been hanging on to the grating blades.   The handful that never made it anywhere but in my mouth.

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin

Moving out on my own I had plane graters, and container graters but never the upright box.  Given my recent problems with my shoulder I figured the motion  needed to use this type would be far easier and a lot less painful and it’s surprising how a well built, good quality kitchen tool makes you enjoy the little things in cooking.  Like smooth, effortless grating.

I wanted to make a great recipe to try that would allow me to use this product to it’s full potential.  This gratin did just that as well as providing my family with a rich and decadent side dish that night for dinner.

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin-2

By using cheeses and vegetables of different hardness I had a chance to try out each blade offered.

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin-3

The slicer blade work decently with soft vegetables like zucchini and squash but required a little more elbow grease than I had hoped and was rather awkward to do safely. I would not give up my mandolin any day. Since my main use for this kitchen tool would be cheeses I was not too concerned that this slicer wouldn’t get used.  Everyone needs slices of cheese too.

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin-4

The medium ribbon blade worked wonders creating gorgeous wide strips of dairy goodness.  Of course it’s almost impossible to not grab a handful.

The fine zester and the coarse blades also had no trouble shredding up my cheeses without frustratingly gumming up the grater.  I particularly love the look of the curls the course blade created.

Cheesy Vegetable Gratin-7Cheesy Vegetable Gratin-5

The rubber legs are amazing at keeping the grater in place while I used it and have I mentioned how utterly gorgeous this tool looks with its stainless steel blades.  Even after using and washing regularly it’s still shiny and new.  As I mentioned before a good quality kitchen tool like this grater makes the world of difference when you are cooking in the kitchen.  Your time should be spent tasting and creating not struggling over your prep.

Check out Microplane at the Toronto Gift Fair this coming weekend to help them celebrate 20 years in grater business.  There will be cake and prizes, as well as an opportunity to check out this amazing product.

*This is a sponsered post and while I did receive this grater free to try from Microplane, the recipe and opinions are solely mine.

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Ingredients

    7.6.8
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    Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

    The Canadian Food Experience Project: My Cherished Canadian Recipe.

    This is the first time I have ever made this recipe. Seems weird to be my most cherished right.  The thing is my mom was never an exciting cook. But there were things that she made that I loved to smell cooking in our house.  I would come home from school and see the pot of pasta boiling on the stove and the grater overflowing with shredded cheese and I knew this was the best day ever.  She made this rather simple, yet delicious pasta dish that filled my dad’s required quota of “Italian” and made me one happy little girl.

    Part of the reason this dish was so cherished for me was that I would be allowed to help mom grate the cheese and in most cases, having made way to much macaroni she would let me have a little bowl of hot pasta stirred with a handful of cheese as pre dinner treat.  Only for me. Her little taste tester.  Part of me thinks she made the extra pasta just for me and not as a eyeballing error.

    Even today when I crave something warm and comforting for dinner I’ll boil up some pasta and stir in that handful of cheese and enjoy my little dish with a huge grin on my face, probably the same one I wore as a little girl.

    The other day I decided to make the full casserole my mom use to make.  While it tasted fantastic and I was glad I attempted it it still taste better from mom.

    My mom used to get a certain brand of breakfast links however as years passed they were harder and harder to find.  I had to make do with these ones from Schneiders.  You want to precook them by frying them up in a pan. Place them in the bottom of a sprayed casserole dish and top with sliced onions.

    Macaroni and Cheese CasseroleOnce your pasta has cooked and drained you want to stir in the cheese and a can of crushed tomatoes.

    Macaroni and Cheese CasserolePour on top of sausages and sprinkle with more cheese.

    Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

    Bake until bubbling and the top has started to get crunchy.

    Macaroni and Cheese CasseroleLook at all that cheesy goodness.

    Yields 6

    Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
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    Ingredients

    • 3 cups elbow macaroni
    • 1 pkg breakfast sausage links
    • 1/2 onion, sliced
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup reserved
    • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, drained

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a medium oval casserole dish with cooking spray.
    2. In a large pot of boiling water cooked the pasta until just fork tender.
    3. While the pasta cooked brown the sausage in a fry pan until cooked through.
    4. Place sausage in bottom of prepared pan and top with onion slices.
    5. Drain the pasta and while it's still hot stir in cheese until melted and then stir in the tomatoes.
    6. Pour pasta on top of sausages and top with reserved cheddar cheese.
    7. Bake in preheated oven until top is browned and crispy about 40 minutes.
    Recipe Type: Pasta
    7.6.8
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    The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.   I hope you enjoy my experiences and stories with Canadian food and hope you get a chance to check out the other bloggers involved. Please leave a comment below about your own experience based on the monthly theme.

    Blue Cheese Dip

    Serves 1/8 cup

    Blue Cheese Dip

    Serve with crackers, vegetables or chicken wings.

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    Ingredients

    • 3/ 4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp white vinegar
    • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
    • salt and pepper

    Instructions

    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow to chill in the refridgerator for several hours.
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    Like all good creamy dips it all starts with the mayonnaise.

    Add your sour cream.

    Add the lemon juice and vinegar.

    Then mix in the minced garlic.  If you really like your dips to be garlicky feel free to add more than 1 clove.

    Finally add the crumbled blue cheese and mix everything together well.  Season with salt and pepper.

    The longer you let the dip sit in the fridge the longer the flavours are able to combine and mellow. Enjoy.

     

    Skillet Breakfast

    One of the things I crave most when I have been out late the night before and may have imbibed just a wee bit too much is a greasy breakfast.  Maybe not a healthy choice but definitely one that gets me moving again.  This recipe is one that is more off the cuff then structured.  All ingredients are usually what I have on hand as opposed to planned.  Feel free to add, subtract or alter to suit your needs. Oddly enough I seemed to be out of eggs the day I cooked this up (must be all the baking lately) or I would have scrambled a few in it as well.

    This breakfast all started because I had leftover ham from the night before.

    In a skillet over medium high heat melt a generous spoonful of butter.  Each person’s generously can be different. I feel I was moderately generous here.

    I didn’t have left over potatoes but 5 mins in the microwave later I had these cooked and ready to go in the pan.  Cube them to a reasonable bite size. Again everyone’s bite is…….

    Oh and I added half a sliced onion.  How can you not add onion to melted butter in a pan.  It’s like they call out to each other.

    Add the leftover ham that you obviously cubed and more than likely nibbled on a piece or twelve. Cook everything together until browned.  Which considering most of the ingredients are already cooked so only take five minutes or so.

    Finally the piece de resistance.  Cheese!!! Oh glorious cheese.  Any cheese will work.  If you only have cheese slices throw them on.  Borrow from the neighbor down the street.  What ever you do don’t leave out the cheese.

    Oh I used a taco cheese blend here. Very gourmet.  Let it melt, sprinkle with a generous (yes that again) amount of black pepper and a pinch of salt and voila. Best greasy breakfast ever! And you did it all in your pajamas.

    Oh serves about 2 or one very hungover 1.

    Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes and Bocconcini

    I found this amazing recipe from an issue of Canadian Living.  It’s is super easy to make and surprisingly filling.  Make this a standard for meatless Mondays. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes according to your heat tolerance.  This amount gives just a little bit of zing.

    Serves 1/4

    Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes and Bocconcini
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    Ingredients

    • 5 cups fusilli pasta
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 4 cups baby spinach
    • 1 cup mini bocconcini

    Instructions

    1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
    2. In a large skillet over med-high cook the onion and garlic with the oil until soft.
    3. Add the tomatoes.
    4. Stir in the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.
    5. Cook until the tomatoes begin to split open.
    6. Add the spinach, cooked pasta and reserved liquid.
    7. Add the cheese.
    8. Cook until the spinach begins to wilt and the cheese starts to melt.
    Recipe Type: Main Dishes
    7.6.8
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    Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

    In a large skillet over med-high cook the onion and garlic with the oil until soft.

    Add the tomatoes.

    Stir in the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.

    Cook until the tomatoes begin to split open.

    Add the spinach, cooked pasta and reserved liquid.

    Add the cheese.

    Cook until the spinach begins to wilt and the cheese starts to melt.

    Pull Apart Garlic Bread

    So I made this recipe adapted from www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com for a ladies night at my home recently.  It was a huge hit getting completely devoured in about 10 minutes flat.  Next time I will definately make two.

    Serves 1/8

    Pull Apart Garlic Bread
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    Ingredients

    • 1 loaf sour dough bread
    • 16 oz monterey jack cheese, sliced
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup diced green onion

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Cut the loaf of sourdough bread in thin slices lenghtwise making sure not to cut all the way through.
    3. Turn the loaf 90 degrees and slice widthwise.
    4. Fill all the gaps in the bread with your cheese slices.
    5. In a microwavable dish melt the butter with the garlic.
    6. Stir in the green onion.
    7. Generously pour the melted butter over the loaf of bread making sure to completely cover it.
    8. Wrap the loaf in foil and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
    9. Unwrap, place on baking sheet and return to oven baking 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and bread is slightly browned.
    10. Serve immediately.
    Recipe Type: Appetiser
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    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    Cut the loaf of sourdough bread in thin slices lenghtwise making sure not to cut all the way through.

    Turn the loaf 90 degrees and slice widthwise.

    Fill all the gaps in the bread with your cheese slices.

    In a microwavable dish melt the butter with the garlic.

    Stir in the green onion.

    Generously pour the melted butter over the loaf of bread making sure to completely cover it. Melt more butter and use if you feel like the bread hasn’t been covered enough. You want it to get into all the nooks and crannies.

    Wrap the loaf in foil and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.Unwrap, place on baking sheet and return to oven baking 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and bread is slightly browned.

    Serve immediately.

    Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

    If you like things really spicy feel free to add more peppers to the batter.

    Serves per biscuit

    Cheddar Jalapeno biscuits
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    Ingredients

    • 2 cups flour
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 4 tbsp butter, chilled and cubed
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 1/2 cup old cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 3 tbsp jalapeno, chopped

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    3. Using a pastry blender carefully cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
    4. Fold in the cheese and peppers.
    5. Stir in the buttermilk.
    6. Drop the batter in large spoonfuls on your prepared pan.
    7. Bake for 10 or until golden.
    Recipe Type: Appetiser
    7.6.8
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    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
    In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

    Using a pastry blender carefully cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.

    Fold in the cheese and peppers.

    Stir in the buttermilk.

    Drop the batter in large spoonfuls on your prepared pan.

    Bake for 10 or until golden.

    Welsh Rarebit

     

    Serves 1/4

    Welsh Rarebit

    Typical in Great Britian, Welsh Rarebit is a fondue-like savoury sauce made with cheese that is served over buttered toast.

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    Ingredients

    • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • 1/4 cup low fat milk
    • 1 tsp dried mustard powder
    • 1 dash worchestershire sauce
    • 4 slices thick bread
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • tomato

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Grate the cheese.
    3. Put butter, cheese, milk, mustard powder, worchestershire, salt and pepper in saucepan. Heat over low until until smooth and creamy and cheese is melted, stirring constantly.
    4. Toast the bread. Cut in triangles and arrange in a casserole dish.
    5. Ladle sauce over toast.
    6. Bake in oven, about 15 minutes, or until crusty. Slice tomato.
    7. Serve 2 triangles per plate. Top with tomato.
    Recipe Type: Appetiser
    7.6.8
    5

    Zucchine and Cheddar Biscuits

     

    Serves per muffin

    Zucchine and Cheddar Biscuits

    Serve these to those picky children who don't like vegetables. They won't be able to tell that there is zucchini in them at all. They may taste the onion so if your little ones hates those as well just omit it from the recipe.

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    Ingredients

    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes
    • 2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 cup zucchini, peeled, grated and squeezed dry to remove excess moisture
    • 1 tbsp onion, minced
    • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease 12 muffin tins.
    2. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl.
    3. Using a pastry blender cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
    4. Mix in the cheese.
    5. In another bowl mix together the eggs and milk. Stir in the onion, zucchini and mustard.
    6. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture until dough forms, do not over mix.
    7. Spoon dough into muffin tins and bake for 40-45 minutes until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
    Recipe Type: Breakfast
    7.6.8
    83

     

    Prep work: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

    Cut the butter into cubes.  They are easier to incorporate into the flour when in smaller pieces.

    Mince the onion.  I tend to use mostly red onion in all my dishes however you can use whatever you have on hand.

    Grate the cheese.  The sharper the cheddar you use the cheesier the taste.

    Grate the zucchini.  Zucchini is packed full of water to you need to squeeze out any excess moisture.  Just grab a handful of the grated stuff and squeeze.

    Now let’s put it together. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

    Add the butter and with a pastry blender cut it up into the flour. Make sure you don’t leave any large pieces of butter.

    Add the cheese and mix well. Make sure you don’t have large clumps of cheese. It would be good if you could guarantee that you got the biscuit with that clump however it’s not likely to happen unless you eat the whole pan yourself.

    In another bowl beat together the egg and the milk.

    Add the onion, zucchini and Dijon mustard. Dijon mustard has a very pungent taste but don’t be concerned if you don’t like it, the taste isn’t recognizable in the finished product.

    Mix everything together well.

    Add the milk mixture to your bowl of flour.

    Stir just enough to make sure everything is combined, but don’t over mix.

    Drop evenly into your muffin tins.

    Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

    These are really good right out of the oven but you can let them cool, wrap them in foil and reheat as needed or eat them cold.

     

    Cheesy Garlic Bread

    Serves per slice

    Cheesy Garlic Bread

    This is a great recipe for any party. Feel free to change up the cheese combinations like Monterey Jack, Asiago or Romano. Even some grated cheddar or marble will work. If you want you can wrap the bread in foil and freeze it for another day. Just do this before the cooking stage and add a few more minutes to your baking time. It can be baked right from frozen.

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    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
    • 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
    • 1 loaf French bread, halved lengthwise

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Combine the butter, mayonnaise, green onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and Mozzarella cheese in a large bowl.
    3. Cut each half of French bread into 4 pieces.
    4. Spread the cheese mixture evenly on the bread pieces.
    5. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes.
    6. Broil for 2 more minutes to make the cheese bubbly and golden.
    Recipe Type: Appetiser
    7.6.8
    74

     

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Dice up the green onion and mince your garlic.

    In a medium bowl combine the butter and mayonnaise.

    Add the green onion.

    Stir in the garlic.

    Add your cheeses and stir everything together well.

    Slice your french loaf in half.

    Spread your cheese mixture evenly on both sides.

    Bake in the oven until golden and bubbly about 8 minutes.  Broil for about 2 minutes to really brown up the top.

    I served this at a family function of about 7 people and they were all concerned about there being to much.  As it turned out we ate while we sliced it up and only one side made it to the table.  It was polished off as well.  But really.  Look at this gooey cheesiness.  Could you refuse a piece or five?

     

     

    Asiago Cheese and Crab Dip

    Serves 1 tbsp

    Asiago Cheese and Crab Dip

    Serve hot with bread slices and sticks.

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    Ingredients

    • 1 can crab meat, drained and crumbled
    • 1 1/2 cup asiago cheese
    • 1 cup romano cheese
    • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 gloves garlic, minced
    • 1 green onion, minced

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Mix together crab meat, 1 cup of asiago cheese, romano, mayonnaise, garlic and onion into a small baking dish.
    3. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
    4. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
    Recipe Type: Appetiser
    7.6.8
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    Fondue

    Serves 1 tbsp

    Chocolate Fondue Cheese Fondue

    Fondue can be used as an appetiser, main course and of course dessert. It's one of the best ways to have people over without getting lost in the kitchen while great conversation happens without you.

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    Ingredients

    • 8 oz. heavy cream
    • 12 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
    • optional: various flavour extracts like raspberry or almond to really add a great flavour.
    • cut up fruit, cookies, pretzels, etc. for dipping
    • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    • cubes of bread, vegetables, cooked meats like ham, salami or sausage

    Instructions

    1. In a a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until bubbles begin to form.
    2. Add the chocolate and whisk constantly until completely melted and smooth.
    3. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with accompaniments.
    4. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine wine and vinegar.
    5. In a bowl toss the cheeses with the cornstarch.
    6. In small amounts add the cheese to the hot wine, stirring well and making sure it's completely melted before adding more cheese.
    7. Transfer to a fondue pot and serve immediately with accompaniments.
    Recipe Type: Appetiser
    7.6.8
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    Arranging a Cheese Tasting Party

    Today is National Cheese Lover’s Day, National Buttercrunch Day and National Granola Bar Day

    Arranging a Cheese Tasting Party

    I am a huge lover of cheese. Take me to any party and I head straight to the cheese platter and fully monopolize the wares. There has been occasions, due partly to laziness and partly to my obsession, that I have had a dinner consisting solely of cheese, crackers and the occasional pickle (it’s a vegetable you know).

    What I think I love best about this wholesome food is that it has so many varieties with a huge range of flavours that everyone, except maybe the lactose intolerant, can find one they enjoy. Hosting a tasting party is a great was to enjoy your favourites and try a few new ones.

    Here are a few guidelines you can follow to make the most of your party and to keep you on the right track.

    K.I.S.S (Keep it simple silly!)

    You’ll see why this is important when you just see the sheer volume of choices available. Without a clear idea what direction you want to go in a cheese arrangement can become a platter of mismatched tastes and textures that will only confuse and quite frankly disappoint yourself. Consider these ides:

    Textures: Cheeses are like people, they can be soft, semi soft or firm. Pick one type and showcase the range of flavours it comes in. You can do the same when picking your guests.

    Flavours: Yes the most important part yet the one that can get messed up the easiest. Offering one cheese with flavours from mild to strong is a great example of showing off it’s diversity.

    Colours: Yellow, white and blue are all represented in the cheese world.

    Themes: No I don’t mean having you guests dress up as 80’s rockers, though it would make for a great party. Cheeses can have themes too. Plan an arrangement around cheeses from the same country or one cheese that is produced differently in many countries. Choose a one colour theme like different blue cheeses or textures like a variety of soft spreadable cheese. And don’t forget cheese comes from different animals as well.

    Amounts

    Nobody likes a party where the food runs out before all the guests have arrived so make sure you have enough to go around. Hey if you have extra give me a call, I’ll help you with that problem. Here are some basic guidelines for the amount of cheese you will need, but can be adjusted of course if your party consists of supermodels or sumo wrestlers.

  • As an appetizer, 3-4 ounces per person
  • As a main course, 5-6 ounces per person
  • Hors d’oeuvres before a dinner, 4-6 ounces per person
  • Hors d’ouevres at a cocktail party, 5-6 ounces per person
  • If I’m invited, 1 giant block
  • Presentation

    You’ve planned your party, the guests are salivating over the invitations and you have taste tested each cheese personally…many times. Now it’s time to pull it all together.

    Cheese is great on it’s own, but can be better with the right accompaniments. Crackers are suitable if not a bit boring but make sure that you don’t get the fancy ones with flavours that will over power your main attraction. Putting out bowls of nuts, olives, grapes and figs is a nice light touch that with help cleanse the palate between cheeses. Wine is also hugely popular and can definitely be added as a thematic element but sometimes you just want it to be about the cheese.

    Take the cheeses out of the refrigerator 1 ½ hours before they are to be served. They need to be at room temperature to fully enjoy their tastes, but make sure they are wrapped tightly with plastic to keep them from drying out and to keep your greedy little fingers away. And never have your cheese cut ahead of time for all the same reasons.

    You can present them on a large platter or individuals ones, that’s totally up to your decorating style. Have a knife for each hard cheese (and to use on any guests that seem to think a 3 inches slab is a serving) and a spoon for scooping each soft cheese as well as plates for your guests to load up.

    What ever you end up trying don’t get to caught up in the right or wrong. It’s about gathering close friends and family together to share a love for the amazing flavours that cheese has to offer and each others company. Remember as long as there are cows, sheep, goats and buffalo around their will always be cheese so there will always be more parties. Because you know practice makes perfect.

    Would you like some cheese with that wine?

    The Cheese Spread

    The Cheese Spread

    I went to my first amateur wine and cheese tasting last night where the guests were required to bring a wine and cheese from the same region and I discovered a few key things,

    • 1) I don’t like stinky cheese. Muenster, Camembert and Limburger all curled the hair on my arms.
    • 2) Apple slices and almonds work really well to cleanse the palate between tastes
    • 3) Most great wine regions don’t make much cheese while really great cheese regions don’t make much wine.
    • 4) No matter how many different cheeses there are in the world someone still brings the same as me (actually two people did)

    But despite the over abundance of Niagara Gold I got to try a few wines and cheeses that I discover I enjoyed very much.

    Just a few of the many choices we had.

    Just a few of the many choices we had.

    Angel’s Gate Riesling was just sweet enough to please my sugary taste buds while a Ninha Verde from Portugal was the second red wine in the past month that I absolutely love. As for the cheese my favourites of the night was a nutty Beemster from Belgium and Asiago from Italy.

    Oh and the last thing I learned;

    • 5) There is actual cheese in Cheese Whiz. (paired nicely with a tasty American wine).

    Tell me about your tasting party experiences.

    Chocolate Cheese

    In preparation for an upcoming wine and cheese party I found a great store located on Lakeshore Rd in Clarkson. The instructions for the party required guests to bring a wine and cheese from the same country. We had already decided on our wine, an Ontario Cabernet Franc from the Niagara Region and hoped to at least find an Ontario cheese.

    The employee in the shop was incredibly helpful allowing us to try a few cheeses before we decided on a Niagara Gold that had a wonderful mellow, buttery flavour and obviously from the Niagara region. While in the shop we tried the most peculiar thing. Chocolate Raspberry Cheese from Pine River. Tasting something like chocolate cheesecake with a bold raspberry flavour it still had the texture of a regular hard cheese. Of course we couldn’t leave the shop without a sample to take with us to the party. Pine River also makes a plain chocolate cheese and an Irish Cream Chocolate cheese.

    Goat Inc is a wonderful little place with a diverse selection of cheese from around the world. Staff is both helpful and knowledgeable and made our wine matching adventure quick and easy. Wine-tasting Party gift certificates are also available if you want to try it for yourself.

    The Cheese Shop

    The Cheese Shop

     

    Goat Inc. Fine Cheese Shop
    1744 Lakeshore Road West
    (at Clarkson Rd.North)
    Mississauga,Ontario
    (905)823-3353