January 27, 2010

Cheese Part 5 - Dessert

It's not a complete dinner unless it ends with dessert.  Thanks to Carole, we finished the night on a sweet, silky, cheesy note.    Mmmmm wow!  I'll take this dessert of your hands anytime lady. 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

1/4 cup caramel topping
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
1 21-ounce can apple pie filling
12 pecan halves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Reserve 3/4 cup of the apple filling; set aside. Spoon the remaining filling into the crust. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the eggs and mix well. Pour this over the pie filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center of the cake is set. Cool to room temperature.

Mix the reserved pie filling and caramel topping in a small saucepan and heat for about 1 minute, or until spreadable. Spoon the apple-caramel mixture over the top of the cheesecake and spread evenly. Decorate the edge of the cake with pecan halves and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.


Cheese Part 4 - Vegetable Dish

We had at least one vegetable dish thanks to Lesley.   She's getting really good at whipping up some tasty veggies.   It's simple and tasty!  And Lesley, like we told you... you didn't over cook because the cauliflower still had a crunch.   We look forward to more tasty dishes from you. (with or without being wrapped in your infamous pastry shells)  

1 cauliflower cut to medium roses
3-4 potatoes thinly sliced and halved (like chips)
1 1/2 - 2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c milk
6 tbsp butter, chilled
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder or to taste

Arrange potatoes and cauliflower in 9x9 baking dish (preferably ceramic or glass).  In a medium bowl, stir cream and milk together then add salt, pepper, coriander and garlic. Pour cream mix over veggies. (if using butter, put a pat over veggies throughout out dish) Cover with aluminum foil and cook in a preheated oven at 425. The time is tricky original dish says an hour but I checked mine at 30 minutes and it was done, almost too done, so I'd check it every 20 minutes until veggies are soft.  Sprinkle cheese over and bake for 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted. 

January 25, 2010

Cheese Part 3 - Second Main Course

This is one of those recipes that doesn't sound appealing when you are describing it.  It's a classic southern Italian dish from Palermo.  Rice, cheese, sopressata salami, more cheese.  I wasn't sure about it as I was putting it all together but once it was in the crockpot and all layered and pretty, I thought for sure it would be tasty.   The smell of it cooking all day drove me crazy!  I kept my fingers crossed that it would taste as wonderful as it smelled.    It made enough for me to take to work and share the next day.   Not that I'm biased but this is a perfect side dish for a potluck.

Arancini Casserole

4 c cooked white rice
2 c mascarpone cheese
1 c chicken broth
2 c finely grated pecorino romano cheese
6 oz fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2 in thick slices
6 slices Genoa salami or sopressata, cut into cubes (about 1/3 c when cut)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

Coat the insert of the 5-7 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Put the rice, mascarpone, broth and 1 cup of the pecorino in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Put half the rice mixture in the slow-cooker insert.  Layer half the mozzarella and all salami over the rice.  Put the garlic, parsley, oil and the remaining 1 cup pecorino in another small bowl and stir to combine.  Spread half the garlic mixture over the salami.  Layer with the remaining rice mixture, the mozzarella, and the remaining garlic mixture.  Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours until the casserole is heated through.  Remove the cover and cook until liquid in the casserole has been absorbed, an additional 30-45 minutes.  Serve from the cooker set on warm or off.  Serve 6-8.

Cheese Part 2 - First Main Course

Elisabeth (aka "E") made a delicious macaroni and cheese for our dinner party.  It was very creamy and flavorful. Just what mac 'n cheese should be!  I definitely kept leftovers to enjoy for lunch and dinner the next day.

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slices good-quality white sandwich bread, torn into rough pieces
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch (10-15 1-second pulses). Set aside.

Pasta and Sauce

1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
5 c milk
8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler on high.  Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in Dutch oven over high heat.  Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender.  Drain pasta and set aside in colander.  In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming.  Add flour, mustard, and cayenne and whisk well to combine.  Continue to whisk until mixture becomes fragrant and deepends in color (about 1 minute).  Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken).  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consitency of heavy cream (about 5 minutes).  Off the heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted.  Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is steaming and heated through (about 6 minutes).  When you add the pasta to the cheese sauce, add any mix-ins you like such as peas, ham, bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto.

Transfer to broiler safe 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs.  Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown (3-5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning).   Cool for about 5 minutes.  Enjoy!

January 24, 2010

Cheese Part 1 - Appetizer

Stephanie started off our dinner party with these tasty appetizers. I'm glad this only made a small batch or else I would have overdone it. Cheese is fabulous! But fried cheese... ohhh my! Great idea Steph!

Pizza Rolls or Fried Cheese (whatever you want to call it)
by Stephanie

4 c canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 c milk
3/4 c panko bread crumbs
3/4 c Italian bread crumbs
8 oz mozzarella string cheese, individually wrapped
16 thin slices salami and/or prosciutto
8 egg roll/spring roll wrappers

In a medium saucepan, add oil and heat to 325 degrees. In a medium shallow bowl, whisk eggs and milk thoroughly. In another medium bow mix panko and Italian bread crumbs. Dredge 1 entire side of egg roll wrapper into egg wash. Place 2 slices of the meat in the center of wrapper, towards the edge closest to you. Place 1 stick of cheese on top of meat. Roll wrapper edge closest to you over the filling. Tuck ends and continue to roll until it forms an egg roll shape.

Dredge rolled wrapper in egg wash again, then thoroughly coat in bread crumbs. (wrappers can be frozen for future use at this point)

Add 2 rolls at a time in the oil, cooking 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Be careful not to over cook or cook on too high of a temperature as the rolls may explode. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and serve immediately. Dip in your favorite marinara or pasta sauce.

January 18, 2010

January Dinner Party - Cheese

Happy New Year!!

You can't go wrong with cheesy food, friends and cheesy bingo. A few of my girlfriends and I decided to have a monthly dinner party with a theme or star ingredient for all the dishes we make. This month I hosted the kick-off with CHEESE. I love cheese! All the dishes were delicious and cheesy-rific! Thank you ladies for participating in the fun! Below is our menu and the cook who made each dish. Hopefully I'll have recipes from each of them soon to share. Also, next month Lesley is hosting with the main ingredient as CHOCOLATE. Stay tuned!

Stephanie: Pizza Rolls (assortment of salami or prosciutto with string cheese wrapped in a wonton wrapper and deep fried) w/homemade Marinara.

Chrystal: Arroncini Casserole (slow cooker recipe - Italian rice dish layered with several cheeses and cubed salami)

Elisabeth: Mac 'N Cheese

Lesley: Cauliflower, Potatoes & Cheese

: Caramel Apple Cheesecake