Cheese Chips!!!

 

parmesan cheese chip

 
Heres the trouble folks; once you start making cheese chips you will never stop. Even with the best intentions, “I’ll just eat a few and save the rest to serve with dinner tomorrow” ultimately you will eat too many and spread the addiction to others. 

Usually, we see parmesan chips, which are delicious, mind you, but they aren’t the only cheese in the ballgame when it comes to crisp, light, flavourful homemade cheese crisps. Like usual I’ve done the experimenting for you and tried chips at different temperatures made of various cheeses including parmesan, extra old cheddar, medium cheddar, handeck, asiago, and a mix. 

  

extra old cheddar chips before baking

My favourite are the chips made from extra old cheddar (made by my local cheese shop Jenson’s and aged 2 years I believe. And don’t worry about it being orange- like most Canadian cheese makers, they use a vegetable based natural colouring). They are more crisp than asiago whichs tend to have the tiniest bit of chew and cheaper than parmesan chips, which I like almost as much. 

*Some recipes said to use a mix of finely grated cheese and coarse and after trying both I can tell you this is horseshit and it doesn’t matter. Grate it however you want!

the winner!

The recipe is so simple I’m not sure you can call it a recipe, but here it is! I recommend serving these (or at least planning to before you scarf them all down yourself) with Roasted Tomato Soup.

 

roasted tomato soup with the few cheese chips not eaten before dinner!


Cheese Chips

Grated  cheese of choice *
Preheat oven to 400f

Line baking sheet with parchment and use tablespoon to make cheese mounds. Bake for 4-6 minutes or until starting to bubble – stay close and don’t overcook!

Let cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes- they will crisp up when cool. 

Store leftovers (ha!) in a glass jar with a paper towel in the fridge for up to a week. 

 

 

Advertisements

Rustic Zucchini Basil Pesto

The best thing about this recipe is….. NO food processor! That`s right folks, this “rustic“ pesto invented by moi requires just a wee bit of grating (the zucchini and parmesan), chopping (the basil), and NO pine nuts (keeps the cost down but would be lovely sprinkled atop your creation I`m sure).

A few days ago I thinking about making pesto but was worried about taxing my wee basil plant too much by stripping it nearly bare to get enough leaves to make it. Then one night making dinner I had some leftover zucchini and inspiration struck; If the zucchini could supplement the basil I wouldn`t need as much! A quick google search reveals yes, zucchini pesto is a thing! I was feeling lazy so I skipped the whole recipe surfing step I usually spend quite a bit of time on, as well as the whole getting out a food processor bit that is usually necessary with pesto. The result was amazing! I have now made this twice this week and guests rave about it. The word `rustic` is culinary code for `lazy`, didn`t you know? Make some lazy zucchini basil pesto today and say “Mmmmmmmmmm”   “mmmmmmmm”  thanks Violet’s mom!

If you have never had bread that has been baked then rubbed with fresh garlic, you are in for a treat and a suprise. The bread will take on much more flavour than you would expect with such a brief encounter with the garlic, yet it is still delicate and much more pleasant than little chunks of garlic.

packed with flavour, freshness, and crunch

packed with simple, fresh flavours this appetizer is a hit!

Rustic Zucchini Basil Pesto with Garlic Crostini 

1 handful of fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup grated parmesan (large hole side of grater)

1/2 cup grated zucchini (large hole side of grater)

salt and pepper

a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

FOR PESTO: Mix all ingredients above in a small bowl with a fork until somewhat blended.

TO SERVE: Make garlic crostini by slicing a baguette, brushing both sides with melted butter, adding a bit of salt and baking at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Rub with half a fresh clove of garlic and serve with a spoonful of pesto, or for an extra treat grate some extra parmesan and sprinkle on bread. Return to oven for a few minutes to melt cheese before topping with pesto and serving.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

IMG_5459.JPG
All too quickly summer is fading into the background and fall is taking over. Soon we will be onto soups, braising and slow cooking. But for now, try to hold onto it a little mouthful of summer (and cinnamon buns!) with this recipe. I decided to make this last minute for a brunch a few days ago and was able to find local strawberries, peaches, and apples to include with the rest of the imported fruits (mangos, limes, and kiwis; lucky you if these are YOUR local fruits!) which I think really made the dish.

This unique recipe was a hit and is perfect for this time of year. People were a little cautious at first but once it is announced (or labelled) as “Fruit Salsa” everyone is on board!

I adapted these recipes from The Yummy Life and only made a few small changes. Although the original author and other versions I have seen (including the similar one from Pampered Chef  via “The Girl Who Ate Everything” which includes preserves) note that you need to make this just a few hours before you serve it, I think it would be fine if you made it the night before and just added in the zest and apples the next day (apples changed colour and became softer and zest took over flavour profile).

Drain your salsa before serving (or serve with a slotted spoon).

*The original recipe for the chips uses water, which likely works just fine. However Alton Brown, Julia Child, and I all agree that the chips made with butter will be far, far, tastier.  When served at an event, it’s worth it!

Store in zip lock bag for your event if transporting but then a glass jar is your best bet.

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

serves 10 as a light appetizer

Salsa:

1 mango

1/2 pint of strawberries

2 kiwis

2 apples, peeled

1 peach (can replace with another mango)

2 limes

2 tsp. of lime zest

1 tablespoon of honey

Dice all of your fruit small like you would if making fresh salsa or chopping onions. Toss with remaining ingredients. Tastes very good when served immediately, even better an hour later, and is okay after that for about a day.

Chips:

1 package of whole wheat tortillas (large)

1/2 cup of melted butter (may need more)

3/4 cup of white sugar

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of cinnamon

1/8th tsp. allspice (opt.)

Preheat oven 400f

Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix sugar, salt, and spices together.

Layer your tortillas on one cookie sheet and begin brushing both sides lightly with melted butter*, then stacking them on a different cookie sheet.

When you are done with the buttering, go through and sprinkle sugar mix on both sides of tortillas and stack them back on the first cookie sheet. Cut through them with a pizza cutter or sharp knife and divide like a pizza.

Space out on your cookie sheets (you may have to do multiple batches but if you have enough cookie sheets and a convection oven, maybe not! Reduce temperature by 15-25 degrees if using convection).

Cook for 8-10 minute or until crispy. Cool before storing.

The BEST Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

A few weeks ago tomatillos made their way into my kitchen for the first time by way of my – you guessed it – CSA share from Sweet Pea. Since then I have made a variety of salsas with these lovely little devils, and have this conversation about a dozen times whenever I serve salsa verde:

Snacker: “What is this ? It is really good!”

Me: “It is salsa verde – aka green salsa”

Snacker: “So…it’s salsa made with green tomatoes?”

Me: “No – it’s made from tomatillos”

Snacker: “What the heck are those?”

Then after I explain what a tomatillo is someone else walks into the room and the whole thing starts over again like a never ending Abbott and Costello joke. For some reason I love explaining things so I don’t mind this at all.

Tomatillos are a relative of tomatoes and are called “tomato verde” (green tomato) in Mexico but are quite different from tomatoes. These tangy little gems grow in a husk and are quite firm, even when completely ripe. I find they have notes of citrus and are almost creamy when roasted. They have a very light and pleasant yet totally distinct flavour – I love them!

To prepare them for cooking, just peel off the little paper husk and rinse off the sticky residue – no peeling or seeding needed.

On quite a few sites I have seen storage tips that say you can either leave them on the counter or in the fridge.  According to Amanda McCracken (Owner of Sweet Pea C.S.A), this is incorrect. Tomatillos should be stored (in their husks) on the counter. This makes sense as their tomato cousins are never to be put in the fridge as they become mushy and tasteless.  I have read a few things saying you can freeze them sliced or whole but have not tried this yet (look forward to a future post all about produce storage!)

There are three main ways to make salsa verde; boiling/blanching the tomatillos, roasting them, or blending them up raw.

I avoided the boiling method as reviewers said it produced a watery salsa. Roasting the tomatillos (along with the peppers and garlic as you can see below) made for a nice flavour, but the color was quite dark. A few batches later, a combination of fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, and roasted tomatoes and tomatillos made the BEST salsa verde ever!

Many thanks to A Cedar Spoon for the inspiration in using the tomatillos raw.

Stay tuned for more tomatillo recipes!

SALSA VERDE

1 pint of tomatillos
Small handful of cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil
1 medium fresh tomato
1/8- 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes or 1 fresh pepper* (seeds removed)
Juice of 2 limes or 4 tablespoons
Small handful of parsley
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced/crushed/grated
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper

Place 1/2 of husked and rinsed tomatillos, the grape tomatoes, and the hot pepper(s) if you are using them. Drizzle oil and some salt and pepper over and roll around to coat.

Bake at 400 f for 10 minutes or until slightly blackened.

Add in with all other ingredients in a blender or food processor.

The garlic and spiciness factor will grow as the salsa is refrigerated, so go easy on these as you can always add more. Good for at least a week in the fridge.

* I have tried this with several different kinds of peppers (cherry bomb, cayenne, etc.) and find the heat level varies so much it is better to just use some red pepper flakes- a jalapeno would be good as well though.

IMG_5378.JPG

Cheesy Kale Won Ton Cups

made in a mini muffin tin with won ton wrappers

made in a mini muffin tin with won ton wrappers

On the heels of yesterday’s Quick Guide to Kale today’s recipe is a 100% original kale + won ton creation. My two loves together in a quick and tasty appetizer (or naughty lunch) recipe.

It all started off with a hankering for warm spinach dip. You know the kind – costs about $8 and comes with pita bread or similar. Basically an Ode to Cheese with spinach slapped in the title to make us all feel better about eating it. I had a variety of cheeses kicking around but very little naan/pita bread, and no spinach. Alas, this recipe was born as kale replaced the spinach and won ton crusts the need for pita bread. These comes together very quickly; about 10 minutes (plus 12 minutes to cook) and, like spinach dip, you can boast “Kale” in the title when you serve it and make people feel good about eating little cups of cheese.

If you want to make larger versions (either in regular or extra large muffin tins), check out my Won Ton Wrapper Mini Lasagnas recipe for info about this.

less messy than spinach dip and twice as good

less messy than spinach dip and twice as good

Cheesy Kale Won Ton Cups

1/2 package of won ton wrappers

grape seed, vegetable oil or similar

1 shallot, minced fine

1 tablespoon of butter

1/2 cup of ricotta cheese

1/4 cup of cream cheese

half a head of kale, de-stemmed and torn/cut into bite size pieces

1.5 cups of shredded cheeses (I used a combination of old cheddar and mozzarella) divided in two parts

1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt

salt and pepper

dash of nutmeg

small handful of chopped fresh herbs (i used a combination of chives, parsley, and a few leaves of  thyme and rosemary)

1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half, or the same quantity of chopped tomatoes

___

Saute shallot in butter.

Add kale and salt and pepper and saute until completely wilted.

With burner on low, mix in ricotta, cream cheese, half of shredded cheese, nutmeg and garlic salt. Taste and add salt and pepper. Stir well.

Preheat oven 375 f.

Oil a mini muffin pan well (the top too) and lay one won ton in each muffin well.

Put a tablespoon or so of the cheese & kale mix into each cup. Top with the remaining cheese, one piece of tomato, and a bit of herbs.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Reheat in oven inside tinfoil packet.

 

 

Best Ever Cucumber Sandwiches

I am getting ready to entertain, and trying out new recipes. My husband does not like cucumber sandwiches, apparently, but inhaled about 6 of these little guys in 2 min and went on and on about how delicious it was. So, even if you don’t see your crew as a tea sandwich kind of crowd, leave the crusts on and give it a go (I liked it better with the crusts off and did this for my own sandwiches) and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised. The cream cheese spread is very much like a super delicious and fresh version of Tim Horton’s garlic and herb cream cheese and would be good on anything carb based, really. Very light and satisfying meal paired with soup and cured meats (we ate it with Hungarian salami- so good!)

____________________

Recipe adapted from Dayles Incredible Links.

  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2- 3/4 of a container of whipped cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of room temp. butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 loaf sliced, firm-textured bread
  • dash of paprika

Run a fork along the sides of the cucumber to ensure the marinade is absorbed. Slice thinly, but not so thin they are transparent, and place in a pie plate filled with the vinegar and water. Leave to marinate for 30 min or so.

Meanwhile, cream the butter in a small bowl with a fork or butter knife, and then add whipped cream cheese (Philly makes this- it is so good) salt and pepper, dill, paprika, and onion and garlic powders.

Spread cream cheese mix on both sides of bread (not too thick).

Drain cucumbers on paper towels or cloth.

Arrange cucumbers in one even layer over one side of prepared bread.

Cut sandwiches with a a nice bread knife diagonally and remove crusts (whipping knife often) for cute tea sandwiches, or leave the crusts on if you are looking for something heartier.

Cheese Tortillini Soup

A light soup that is reminiscent of Italian wedding, but with much less work and calories. Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth, and make it gluten free by using gluten free tortellini and omitting the parmesan.

__________

1/2 bag of frozen cheese tortellini

1/4 cup of white wine

1 box of chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 cup of cooked lentils or canned chickpeas, mixed beans, or Romano beans, drained

2 tablespoon of olive or grape seed oil

1 tablespoon of butter

2 cups of mixed fresh chopped vegetables, such as mushrooms, cauliflower, swiss chard, spinach, carrots, turnip, zucchini, or parsnips

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 onion, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 can of stewed or chopped tomatoes, drained

2 teaspoons of thyme

1 teaspoon of dried basil

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan

Heat oil and butter and saute onions until soft and add celery and saute for another few minutes.

Add vegetables, herbs, and salt, and pepper and saute for 5 -7 minutes or until vegetables start to show some colour and soften a little.

Add garlic and beans and cook for another minute. Add wine and lemon juice and cook  until wine somewhat evaporated  3-5 minutes).

Add chicken stock and simmer, covered for 20 min.

Remove lid and simmer, uncovered for another 20 min. Add tortellini, simmer for another 5 min, and serve with grated parmesan on top.