Tag Archives: cheese

More Ducky Treats … Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack and Duck Crackling Croutons

If you’re on a tight food budget, minimizing waste is important. The dishes below are re-imaginings or by-products of previous dishes.

I occasionally bake sourdough breads but, in the meantime, I store the sourdough starter in my fridge. It’s fed only once a week the minimal amounts to keep it going. Nevertheless, it DOES accumulate so, every 6-8 weeks, I make a batch of flour tortillas, leaving only enough starter behind to keep the culture going. The tortillas freeze well and make great wraps for sandwiches and crusts for individual pizzas. And you can flavour them with various dried herbs, pureed spinach, finely minced sun-dried tomatoes and pastes like pesto, tomato paste, chipotle in adobo and even, cocoa powder.

I happened to run across the last of a tub of gochujang (Korean chili paste) in my fridge recently so I added two rounded teaspoons to a batch of the tortilla dough for a mild spicy flavor and pretty orange colour.

Gochujang Sourdough Flour Tortillas

 

My duck ragu was delicious but I wondered if I could use it in another interesting way, similar to the way I used pulled pork, combined with barbecue sauce, as a topping for flour tortilla pizzas. But I didn’t WANT pizzas. A Mexican tortilla stack came to mind even though tostadas or corn tortillas are usually used for that. I ended up with something that was delicious and let me clear out more items from the fridge (an avocado that was past its prime) and a scant cup of home made refried beans from the freezer. Monterey Jack cheese, recently bought on sale, was shredded and added to the creation. The rest of the cheese, ungrated, was bagged, labelled and dated,  and tossed in the freezer.

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack with Salsa Rice

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack – serves 2 or 3

3 7-8 inch diameter flour tortillas (bought or home made, regular or sourdough)
1/4 cup shredded duck ragu
1 cup refried beans
1/4 -1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
diced avocado and green onion sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a pie dish with a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around your tortilla stack.

Spread half of the refried beans on two of the flour tortillas, spread one tablespoon of sour cream over each stack and then top with half of the duck ragu. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of grated Monterey Jack cheese over the top.

Place one of the stacks in the prepared pie dish and then place the other stack on top of the first. Top with the last flour tortilla and wrap the aluminum foil around the stack. Bake in the oven for half an hour.

Take the pie dish out of the oven, unwrap and top the tortilla stack with the rest of the grated cheese. Return to the oven and bake uncovered until the cheese melts and is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, cut into desired serving portions, top with the diced avocado and sliced green onions and serve with Mexican rice and salad for a complete meal.

Duck Crackling Croutons

When I made the duck ragu, I removed the thick, fatty skin from the breast, and wrapped it up and then refrigerated it. Since I had the oven on today, I cut the skin into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide, made shallow cross-hatched cuts across the surface of the skin for easy drainage of the rendered fat, and placed the strips of skin on a baking dish. Then I put them in the oven (350 deg F) along with my tortilla stack. Periodically, I drained off the melted fat and, when the strips were nice and crunchy, I removed the baking dish from the oven and let the duck crackling strips cool. Then I diced them and sprinkled them on a Caesar salad in place of croutons.

Caesar Salad with Duck Crackling Croutons

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Italian Easter Ham Pie

This Italian Easter ‘pie’ has many names and several variations as to crust and fillings. This is the version that I decided to make, but if you want to look for others, here are some names to look for:  Italian Easter Ham pie, pizzagaina (or chiena,chena,cena), pizza rustica, pizza ripiena, pizza piena.

Italian Easter Ham Pie for Two – makes 2 4-inch diameter mini deep dish pies

pastry for a pie crust bottom only

140 gm dry curd cheese or cottage cheese or ricotta**
40-50 gm grated Mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten, 1 tbsp removed for egg wash
1/2 tsp dry parsley
1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6-8 slices diced deli meat (pepperoni, Genoa salami, capocollo or smoked ham)

Egg wash – 1 tbsp beaten egg and a splash of cream or milk

** Home made paneer cheese (an Indian dry curd cheese) was used. I got 290 gm (10.44 oz) of drained cheese from 2 liters (8 cups) of milk and 1/4 cups of white vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out two bases (8 inches in diameter) and two tops (5 inches in diameter) and line two deep dish disposable aluminum pie tins with the bases. Set aside the tops.

Mix together the filling ingredients and fill the pie tins. Press down a bit on the filling to compact it.

Moisten the edges of the bases, put on the tops, seal and, with the tines of a fork, seal again. Place the pie tins on a baking sheet for convenient transfer to the oven.

Brush the top of the pies with the egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the two pie tins to a cooling rack. Cool for 30 minutes to set the filling.

The pies may be eaten warm, room temperature or cold with a salad for a complete meal or on their own for a snack.

Cheese Spaetzle

Sometimes I run across recipes posted in the blogs I subscribe to that I have to make ASAP because they look and sound amazing.

Like this Cheese Spaetzle from Masala Herb.

I only had about a cup of leftover spaetzle/nokedli in the freezer, so I had to estimate the amount of cheese (old/sharp cheddar) that I used and cut up the smallest onion I found in my mesh bag of onions. I used real butter, rather than margarine, to cook the onion, as the recipe recommended, and tried to slice the rings as evenly as possible so that they would cook at the same rate. As the thinner rings caramelized, I removed them from the frying pan to try to avoid any burning. (Well, I tried.)

It took less than a minute under the broiler to melt the cheese … and then I dug in.

I had intended to leave half of the dish for the next day but ended up finishing the pan cause it was just THAT good.

Creamy Avocado Pasta and a Quick Asparagus Spaghetti Carbonara

Cooking for one can be a chore, but these two pasta dishes need few ingredients, and can be made at the end of a tiring work day. In fact, waiting for the water to boil takes longer than actually cooking/assembling the dish. You can use leftover pasta warmed in very hot tap water if you’re in a hurry. (Or heat 2 cups of water to a boil in the microwave and dilute with a cup of tap water.)

The creaminess of the sauce for this dish owes nothing to cream, butter or even cheese, just a whole avocado mashed with a fork, a bit of lemon juice to cut through its bland richness, and salt and pepper to taste. I’ve seen recipes that add whole kernel corn, diced whole or halved cherry tomatoes but I was too lazy to thaw the corn and didn’t have (nor do I like) raw tomato.

Avocado Pasta

Creamy Avocado Pasta – serves 1

100 gm/3.5 oz dry fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water, barely warm
1/2-1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of garlic powder
1 small avocado
1 green onion, top only, thinly sliced on diagonal (for garnish)
2-3 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
2 tbsp fresh corn kernels, or thawed and drained (optional)
dry red pepper flakes (optional, for garnish)

Slice the avocado in half, pit and scoop out the meat into a medium sized bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch each of salt, pepper and garlic powder and use a fork to mash the avocado into a fairly smooth paste. (I like to leave some smaller chunks for texture.) Add the cooked pasta and 2 tbsp of the reserved pasta cooking water and stir together. Taste. If the sauce seems bland, add a bit more lemon juice. If it’s too thick, add some more reserved pasta cooking water. Adjust salt and pepper amounts to taste.

Sprinkle the tomatoes and corn over the pasta and stir in. Sprinkle on the green onion and red pepper flake garnishes, if using.

Serve immediately as it will not keep.

I’ve made spaghetti carbonara before but am repeating my ‘recipe’ for one person, with the addition of asparagus, cause I had some in the fridge. Delicious, creamy without using ANY cream and fast to put together.

Asparagus Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara – serves 1

100 gm/3.5 oz dry fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water, barely warm
6-8 asparagus stalks, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
3-4 strips bacon**, fried until crispy and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, reserve some of the fat to cook the asparagus  and add to sauce
1 tbsp bacon fat**
1 egg yolk
2-4 tbsp ground Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

** Vegetarian Option: In place of the bacon/bacon fat, use 1/4 cup coarse seasoned breadcrumbs and olive oil to saute the asparagus and toast up the bread crumbs.

Cook the pasta just before assembling the dish or rewarm by dipping in some very hot water, if using leftover pasta. Drain.

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tbsp bacon fat and a couple of tbsp of the cooled pasta cooking water.

In a large saute pan, over medium high heat, saute the asparagus, just until tender using the remaining 1/2 tbsp of the bacon fat. Sprinkle some salt and freshly ground black pepper over the asparagus.

Add the diced bacon strips and re-crisp if using leftovers.

Add the warm pasta and stir to combine and to warm through the pasta.

Take the saute pan OFF the heat and pour the yolk mixture over the hot pasta. Stir well to coat the pasta with the mixture. The grainy mixture will smooth out and become creamy and slightly thickened. Add additional warm pasta cooking water if needed. Season with more salt if needed.

Serve immediately with additional freshly ground pepper over the top.

Pork Roast ChilaMigas with Red Kidney Refried Beans

A hearty ‘morning after’ breakfast full of protein and assembled from odds and ends. This is a combination of two classic Mexican dishes, chilaquiles and migas, so I called it “ChilaMigas”.

Breakfast Pork Roast ChilaMigas – serves 2

NOTE: amounts are estimates based on availability and hunger level

1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup leftover pork roast, diced (use leftover pulled pork or shredded rotisserie chicken if you prefer)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup salsa, spicy or medium (or mild)
1 cup refried beans**
2 handfuls of corn tortillas, crushed lightly
handful shredded Monterey or Jalapeno Jack cheese (use cheddar if you prefer it)

For Garnish … use as many of these as you have or want
fresh cilantro or green onion tops, thinly sliced
diced tomatoes
diced avocados
feta cheese (use Cotija cheese if you have some)

** I used my own home made red kidney bean refried beans

In a small bowl, combine the eggs and the salsa. Reserve.

In a large non-stick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the leftover pork and brown a bit until heated through. Add the refried beans, stirring until warmed. Add the egg/salsa mixture and the crushed tortillas, stir and continue cooking until the eggs are almost set.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top and let it melt a bit.

Serve in a bowl with your preferred garnishes on top. You can eat this with more corn tortillas or a fork as it’s a bit thick.

PS: A can/bottle of Corona or Dos Equis with a wedge of lime would be a perfect accompaniment.

January Wrap Up

WARNING: Picture heavy post

The first month of the new year is almost gone and, while I ate well, I’ve had to be very frugal in my grocery shopping. Which meant foraging in my freezer for things I bought in more affluent days. Some of the meals were very simple while others were a bit more fussy.

Fried pork chop with leftover butternut squash

Ready-made frozen potato, cheddar and bacon filled pierogies sauteed in onions, topped with sour cream and served with Debrecener sausage

Buffalo Chicken wings – Two pounds of wings dressed with sauces/dips included in the box. Added bagged, frozen hashed brown potato patties and salad

 

Chicken Cutlet Caesar Salad – Leftover cutlet, home made croutons and shredded cheddar for extra texture and flavour

Lap Cheong (Chinese Sausage) Steamed Rice

One of my favourite dim sum dishes is sticky/glutinous rice lotus leaf wraps (lo mai gai). Along with chunks of steamed chicken, small chunks of Chinese sausage (lap cheong), Chinese mushroom and scallions are also found in the wrap. I remember pieces of hard boiled egg … but that seems to have disappeared. When I ran across a package of those tasty sausages, I picked it up with the vague idea of making something similar. Instead, I just added them to the top of a pot of rice before cooking it and let the fat melt and flavour the rice. Then I chopped up the sausages, and stirred them, along with green onion and soy sauce, into the rice. A spoonful of sambal oelek for spice and I had a fast and delicious rice bowl for lunch or supper.

Cheese “Boats” or Pies aka Fatayer Jebneh or Khachapuri

Some years ago I made fatayer, a Middle Eastern yeast based pastry which may be shaped in a variety of ways and filled with meat, spinach, mushroom or cheese. Left as flat rounds or mini ‘pizzas’ the dough may be topped with a za’atar paste (a spice mixture made up of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seed) or a ground meat mixture. The meat ones are called ‘sfeeha’.

Cheese Pies (Fatayer Jebneh) – makes 20 6″ oval cheese pies

Use ~2 oz/56.7 gm per fatayer

To make the dough

3 cups flour, divided (2 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup)
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking powder (see note)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp granular yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water

For the cheese filling

2 cups crumbled paneer, ricotta or feta cheese  (or some combination)
2 cups grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion (~2)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the 2 tsp of sugar and warm water in a cup; the yeast should foam and bubble. If it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and baking powder (if using) until combined.

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips.

Add the yogurt and the water/yeast mixture and knead the dough until it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands, using the reserved flour as needed. (TIP: lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy interior.)

Oil a bowl with a little olive oil, place dough inside, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size.

Push down the dough and then cut into half. Roll each half into a sausage shape and cut into 10 even sized portions. Roll the 20 pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape 5-6″ long. Place 1 rounded tbsp of the cheese filling in the middle of the oval, leaving about 1/2″ around the margin.

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it. Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat. Repeat on the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds down to adhere the dough to the cheese. This helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

Brush the pastries with milk, egg wash or olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F.

Rest the pastries for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them.

Bake on the lower-middle rack for 15-20 min until the tops and bottoms are golden brown.

Note: If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking, keep the baking powder (increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder. (Baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

 

Recently, I learned about a similar cheese topped pastry called khachapuri made in Georgia (the Caucasus mountains). I was intrigued by the shaping, so I used the same dough and a similar filling (ricotta, cheddar and feta cheese, green onion, salt and pepper)  I’d used to make the fatayer and played with the dough. They looked pretty good (and tasted delicious) but I need to work on my shaping as the boats opened up during baking. NOTE: The cheeses were all frozen and bagged 2-3 months ago so I wanted to use them up.

 

 

Dessert made with leftover pastry from the chicken pot pies

Butter tarts with raisins

Blind baked mini pie shell filled with orange curd and topped with sweetened whipped cream

 

Calzone … a Pizza Alternative

Getting tired of making the same old pizzas??

Make a calzone instead, using the same basic pizza dough. In whatever size you like … 4, 6 or 8 inch.

NOTE: For another alternative to pizza, see the Buffalo chicken stromboli I posted a while ago.

Serve with a bowl of marinara sauce for dipping

I decided to make a regular sized (12 inch/20 cm diameter) pizza for work lunches and divided the rest of the dough into three 8 inch/20 cm calzone which can each serve one hungry person, or two moderately peckish people. I used a generous 1/4 lb (115-130 gm) of dough per calzone.

Filling amounts:

4 inch – 1 tablespoon
6 inch – 1/3 cup
8 inch – 1/2 cup

Broccoli rabe, ricotta and Parmesan cheese filling – fold over and seal the edges by crimping or with the tines of a fork

Brushed with extra virgin olive oil and baked at 450 deg F/230 deg C in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 min. Make vent slits in the top of the calzone before baking. These were marked with the initials of the fillings … R (broccoli rabe), BR, B (bacon)

Regular pizza … pepperoni sauce, sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow), bacon and mozzarella cheese.

Buttermilk Duo (Biscuits and Honey Bread) and Pot Roast Leftovers

I was tempted by a liter of half price buttermilk (even if the best before date was a few days later) and made a couple of new recipes I had found on FB and the internet.

Buttermilk Biscuits – tasty enough but a bit too much butter for my taste and a fussy technique with results that didn’t make me want to repeat the recipe.

Buttermilk Honey Bread – a 2 loaf bread recipe found on the Spruce web site. No eggs were used in the bread itself, but I used one for a glaze. Instead of using all the dough to make two loaves, I reduced the amount so that I only used 500 gms of dough for each loaf and divided the rest (~640 gms) among four hoagies

Grilled cheese sandwich

Pot roast hoagie with mushroom gravy and Brie cheese – a Philly cheese steak inspired sandwich using leftovers from my Christmas dinner. All it was missing was some french fries and a pint of cold beer. Prior planning would have helped.

As you can tell … I LIKE Brie … a lot.

Wrapped in foil and baked in a hot (400 deg F) oven for about 10-15 minutes until the pot roast has warmed through and the cheese is melted. Messy as the mushroom gravy seeps out, but SO delicious.

Rough Puff Pastry and Cranberry Brie Appetizers

Have you ever seen those dramatic rounds of brie cheese, topped with cranberry sauce or pepper jelly, wrapped in puff pastry, and baked? The gooey cheese is spooned out with crispy crackers or wedges of fruit like tart apples or sweet crunchy pears.

For a single person that’s a LOT of cheese though, so I bought a small round of double creme brie and used my home made cranberry sauce to make appetizer-sized bites with the same ingredients. And, since I didn’t have any puff pastry, I went on line and found a recipe for something called a “rough” puff pastry. I made a few changes.

I didn’t want to cut open a lemon or lime for the half a teaspoon of juice the recipe called for … and, it was optional. So I left it out. Salted butter, bought by mistake, replaced the sweet butter and salt called for.

Half of the puff pastry was rolled out, cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, and used to line mini muffin tins. The rest was wrapped and frozen away for another day.

Playing with Rough Puff Pastry

  

NOTE: I had enough puff pastry from half the batch to make a dozen appetizers, but I decided to play with the rest of the dough and made some mini puff pastry ‘croissants’ and a single pastry horn from a strip of pastry wrapped around a cannoli tube. I should have put some jam or a chunk of chocolate into the croissant before rolling.

 

 

Cranberry Brie Bites

Cranberry Brie Bites – makes 8 appetizers

~ 250 gm puff pastry
small round of double creme Brie cheese
cranberry sauce (purchased or homemade)

Preheat oven to 400 deg F.

Roll out the puff pastry about 1/8-1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Line a tray of mini muffins with the pastry squares, pressing the pastry gently down into the tins.

Cube the cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. (NOTE TO SELF: Cut the chunks of cheese bigger next time. And trim off the rind for presentation.)

Place a small dollop (1/2 tsp) of cranberry sauce in the center of each puff pastry square. Top with a cube of the brie.

 

Bake about 18-20 minutes or until puff pastry corners are toasted lightly brown.

Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

The Humble Baked Potato … Gets Dressed Up

The classic baked potato with sour cream and butter. Delicious. But it can be so much more.

Like twice baked potato skins. Which I’m going to make too. In the meantime, here are some other toppings for that baked potato.

Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Potato – A simple bechamel (white sauce) becomes a mornay sauce when you stir cheese into it. Sharp/old cheddar cheese adds a nice punch but you can use whatever kind you prefer. Microwave some broccoli florettes just until tender, chop them up coarsely and then stir them into your cheese sauce.

The result … like having a bowl of cream of broccoli and potato  soup but with a lot more substance. Makes a tasty side dish to a pork chop or a piece of roasted chicken.

Dress up a pan of baked potatoes with various toppings for game day.

Chili Baked Potato – chili con carne, sour cream, shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese, green onion

I was going to make and post each of the toppings below but I got distracted by other things so I’m sending this out into the LJ/blogging world. I may make and post pictures at some point … but I’m not making any promises.

Other Baked Potato Toppings

1. Pulled Pork – bbq sauce, shredded pulled pork, coleslaw, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions
2. Breakfast Sausage and Gravy – pork sausage gravy
3. Tex-Mex – spiced meat (ground beef or turkey) mixture, salsa, queso fresco (or paneer cheese)