Archive | cheese

Chasing Cheese: A Taste of the Canadian Cheese Rolling Cheddar

You might have heard of the unusual cheese rolling tradition that’s been going on for hundreds of years in Brockworth, Gloucester. Well, we have our very own Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, too, and it’s coming up (or should I say, rolling down) in Whistler this weekend. Instead of chasing a 9-lb double Gloucester like the one used in England, Canadian Cheese Rolling participants will be chasing a hefty 11-lb Courtenay Cheddar made by Natural Pastures.

Cheese Rolling Race at Whistler, BC

Cheese Rolling Race at Whistler, BC  |  Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada

What: 7th Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival with lots of fun activities for the whole family:

Cheese rolling races for ages 19+ (7 men’s and 4 women’s events, plus finals)
Costume contest
Uphill races by age (for kids)
Free cheese seminars
Cheese Market with lots of Canadian cheese samples made from 10% Canadian milk

When: Saturday, August 16th 12nn to 4pm (Registration for the cheese rolling is at 11:00am)

Where: Whistler, BC

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Posted in cheese, events0 Comments

Change, Rituals and a Go-To Recipe for Pate Brisee

Last Monday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, according to a publicity campaign from a travel company. This pseudoscience was based on a formula including factors such as weather conditions, debt level (i.e. debt from the holidays, I assume vs ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action. Needless to say this is rubbish. Any day could be really bad for anyone, just as it could go stupendously well for another.

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Ground frost from our New Year’s Day walk in the park.

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Posted in baking, cheese, Meatless Monday, tarts, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

There’s no getting around the too-lazy-too-cook-for-oneself bug when you’re at home for lunch on a hot summer day, or any day for that matter. I’ve heard it many times from friends who live alone: how do you get motivated to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Look no further than your local grocery store or farmer’s market and get what’s in season. That is my dirty little secret. I can admit to eating bananas or ants on a log (i.e. celery with peanut butter and dried cranberries) when I’m really pressed for time and need sustenance.

I had this for lunch last week and I felt much better about eating it than reaching out for a bag of chips. Hey, it happens.

This is as simple as it gets:

  • Peel and slice fresh peaches (or just slice nectarines)
  • Crumbled creamy goat cheese over the quarter moon slices
  • Drizzle with a tiny bit of honey
  • Eat!

Peaches with Goat Cheese and Honey

Posted in breakfast, brunch, cheese, cooking for one, dairy, dessert, fruits, gluten-free, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, raw, snacks, vegetarian, wheat-free0 Comments

Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

After a busy day, there’s nothing more that I want than fast food. Not the McD kind or the pizza kind. I want something I could fix ASAP without having to fret over ingredients I’m missing. You must think I just bake and eat baked goods all the time with everything that I’ve been posting lately, but I still do cook. I want to spend my time in the kitchen wisely (=quickly), making something that’s good enough to eat and enjoy, but still healthy. I mean, cutting out the part where I drink wine is eating healthier, right? Aha.

There were still fresh pasta and prosciutto from my last trip to Granville Island, and a bunch of almost- forgotten Swiss chard that commanded attention or they will take a direct trip to the food scrap recycling bin. And then there’s the leftover ricotta from my crumb cake baking, plus a lonely shallot bulb.  I’m not organized enough to have my market loot assigned into dishes and menus, so this is a regular plight: Get available and/or in-season ingredients and figure it out in the kitchen later. The pantry and fridge supplies my cooking notes, and sometimes we orchestrate some magic. This one will be added to my pile of go-to quick food, with the greens adapted to what’s in season or easily available.

Simple food can be satisfying, you just have to be willing to try. And don’t forget to check what you already have in your kitchen. Yes, that is a lesson for myself as well.

If you’re into Swiss chard, check this other recipe, too: Eggplant & Chard Lasagne. It’s a vegetarian dish that has a good chance of winning the meat lovers over. :)

Happy weekend!

   Get the recipe for Linguine with Braised Chard and Prosciutto

Posted in cheese, experiments, Fuss Free Fridays, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pasta, quick & easy, vegetables3 Comments

Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The first cake I ever baked in North America was carrot cake. I remembered then that we only had a fine grater, and can you image grating so many cups of carrot through that? Laborious! I kept thinking that it better be good, while staring at my orange-soaked hands. Guilty of mass carrot murder. But, you know, we love carrot cakes and this is what you make for the love of it.

What makes this different and so much better than my previous attempts was that it’s surprisingly light, and still amazingly good. Sometimes, a heavy carrot cake just puts me off because I can only have a couple of bites and I feel like that’s it for me for the rest of the month.

But this…this I can eat again and again.

Once you make it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

It’s great for Fall or anytime of the year, really. :-)

Get the recipe for the Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in baking, cakes, cheese, coffee buddy12 Comments

The Mummy Diaries, Part 1: Spanaspookyta

Up until we moved from Manila, the Halloween holidays were spent going to cemeteries to visit our loved ones who passed away. We begin this cemetery-hopping with family from All Saints Day through All Souls Day. They weren’t ever about parties or making ghoulish treats, which would seem inappropriate when you’re visiting your loved ones’ graves. Nowadays it’s a long way from “home” to do our annual visits. I haven’t forgotten our roots, but I’m slowly adapting Western Halloween festivities. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?

Fact: I avoid horror movies and can’t watch them alone. I can’t handle haunted houses, unless you can stand me screaming my brain off, then your brain off. I’m afraid of the dark. Halloween food and costume parties are as far as I’d go for Halloween. Thanks to Renee‘s #GreatHallowTweet BlogHop, I’m getting into the spirit! I’m fumbling my way through while my Hallow cohorts have better things up their sleeve. Look for the pumpkin on the sidebar and click on their links to see what they’re up to. Whooo!!!

My first Halloween “treat” for you this year isn’t a sweet treat and requires some imagination…so forgive me. I love vegetables. For some people, knowing that this has spinach inside it is spooky in itself. Haha. [You can also check out last year's Macawrongs.]

Mummified spanakopita!

If you poke a couple of holes with the tip of knife, boring through the filo to a glimpse of the spinach before baking, the "eyes" would well up like this.

I’ve included some photos of the process of mummifying them. These are basically snack size and would also make excellent appetizers! I already have half of mine in the freezer for later.

Spread the spinach mixture (use your go-to spanakopita filling recipe) on two filo sheets greased with olive oil or butter.

Fold over, and slice the whole length of filled filo into 2-inch width strips. You will end up with about 12 filo mummies. If you do, you will need 4 more filo sheets to for mummification.

To create the mummification strips, brush half of a single filo dough and fold crosswise. Cut in half.

For one of that halves: Cut into quarters. For the other, cut into 8 strips crosswise, which will be the mummy strips.

Get one of the quarter sheet and fold over one of the spanakopita pieces.

Use a dab of olive oil to stick them together if needed.

Lightly and sparsely brush the thin strips of filo pastry with olive oil and wrap around to create the mummy effect.

Tadah!

Posted in appetizer, baking, cheese, events, snacks, vegetables29 Comments

Dana Treat Scones: Sweet Dreams Are Made of Savory Cheese-Dill

On a gray Saturday morning in Seattle, we huddled around the kitchen island, hands clutching cups of tea and coffee for warmth,  and minds still waking up from restful slumber. The morning lull segued into caffeinated conversation, all of us excited to revel in the food blogging bubble for a weekend. Dana, the admirable hostess that she is, had breakfast treats ready for us house guests: fresh blackberries and Frog Hollow Farm peaches, yogurt, and home baked muffins and savory scones. It was a good morning.

This was two weeks ago.

Wouldn’t you agree that there are things about a vacation that anchor you there? The ebb and flow of time, the scents and sounds, the vibe, the people, and the food and their flavors. Although Seattle had its own charm, with its quaint rows of colorful houses amidst greenery, there is no contest that our weekend there could be easily embodied as a collection of tastes.

Here’s the great thing about memories surrounding food: you can recreate the dishes and be transported back to that moment with

a

single

bi t e.

Or whiff.

Yesterday at the crack of dawn, when it was cold and dreary, just like that weekend morning, I enjoyed a leisurely brunch of scones and tea.  The girls I miss, yes, but I was back in Seattle with them if only for a few nibbles (and Tweets).

Savory Dill-Cheese-Shallots Scones

Savory Dill-Cheese-Shallots Scones

These scones, they’re light and flaky; perfect. The inviting aroma of shallots, dill and baked cheese beckon you to usher a wedge into your mouth. Sinking your teeth into the buttery bread, you can listen to it crumble, morsels rolling down your chin, fingers, and onto your plate, your table. Some might be left at the corner of your mouth, but don’t be too prudent and wipe it, please, only if you must. There will be more. Sip tea, look around you, relax. Come back for more.

You couldn’t even tell I have had scone-o-phobia, can you?  They used to be under my category of, “I’ll Live Even If I Don’t Get To Ever Make Them” having sworn them off because of one too many cardboard-ish (cafe) scones. Opinions change once your friends make them and you’re willing to give it a second chance. The rest is history. And well, my dad should be happier now that I’ve finally made his long-standing request. Hah!

Dana Treats

I got the recipe from Dana, and for me they are Dana Treats even if they were originally Holly Bower‘s (aka Holly B of Holly B’s Bakery in Lopez Island Washington) recipe.

Just so you know, I really had fun with these scones. {grins}

Mmmm...scones

Now get bakin’ and munchin’!

Get the recipe for the Dana Treat Scones (Savory Cheese-Dill)

Posted in baking, bread, breakfast, cheese15 Comments

Recipes Lost in Notation and Other Recipe Testing Fails

It’s funny how when I get my writing mojo back, I can’t seem to lay off of it. [This is a Leo thing, right Tracy?] So here I am, burning the midnight New Moon oil with a lot of things swirling in my head. I still have two or more IFBC posts, but I’m giving it a break or you might think I’m utterly stuck waxing poetic about food blogging conferences and friends.

I’m sure you other food bloggers will agree that not everything we prepare in the kitchen makes it on our respective blogs. In my case, about half of what I cook and bake never gets featured here because they:

  1. taste meh, bad, or just okay,
  2. look gross,
  3. accidentally fell on the floor or disintegrated before taking photos,
  4. were not photographed,
  5. were badly photographed,
  6. inedible,
  7. or most likely: lost in notation

I had this Filipino dish to have you try, called Tortang Talong (Filipino Eggplant Omelette), but it had a case of #7. It’s super simple, but my limited short-term memory didn’t retain the oven setting and time. It’s easy enough to search online on how others do it, but I just don’t include a method, technique, or other parts of a recipe if I didn’t test it myself. So this will have to wait until I buy more eggplants and oven-roast them again. On the other hand, more eggplant goodness for my belly.

Still on a Southeast Asian Motherland kick, I’ve been wanting to share the  Filipino Chicken Empanada recipe that I learned while observing relatives of relatives on the East Coast. BUT. Guess what? #7.

If this keeps going on, I don’t think I’d even get to my golden years!

Tonight I wasn’t particularly keen on cooking. I began reviewing a friend’s book draft (I’m not a professional, but she asked me to check it out…as a friend) after a 4-hour meeting the previous night, and now with 3 hours of sleep. Long story short, this Energizer bunny needs to rest. All my residual charge could muster up to do was boil, peel, and slice beets. And then I decided they need some other color, like pluots. And then I wanted something salty and creamy, there goes the feta.

A light drizzle of blood orange olive oil later…

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

Beets with pluot and feta cheese

…an excited first bite was superseded by great disappointment. That’ll be number 1 and 7.

However, all is not lost as I discovered that pluots and feta party together. I mean, Hi, let’s go on another date tomorrow! I’m feeling creamy feta-pluot in my next 24-hour future. What it would end up as, I’m not sure, but I’m getting them a room already. Hopefully it works out.

Have you put together something that seemed brilliant in your head and ended up in a pile of disappointment, beside newly delivered pizza? Or maybe, you have recipe testing fails to share? Do tell!

If you have other pluot-feta recipes, I’m yours. Oh, just remember I have 1/8 cup of butter left. That’s all I can use for now. It’s ghastly to have less than 4 sticks of butter available. That’s just not right.

Energizer bunny out.


Posted in cheese, experiments, fruits, vegetables, vegetarian8 Comments

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne and Being a Reluctant Gardener

In case you’re in the mood for lasagne, and up for something different, try this Eggplant and Chard Lasagne. Yes, it’s vegetarian and it’s incredibly good in a Wow-That’s-Vegetarian?! kind of way. I served it to a group of carnivores who whined (a little) before tasting it. They shut up after the first bite. Then, the rest of the lasagna was history…gone with the skeptic wind.

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

I really, really wish you could taste this right now!

Eating what I consider a “balanced” diet

I do love my chocolates, high-fat Irish butter, desserts and everything sweet, so I try to balance them out with oatmeal or 2% greek yogurt in the mornings, and vegetable/fruit-rich dishes the rest of the day [Keep in mind: I try, but it doesn't always happen.]. Having said that, I also don’t see the point of dreading a lackluster meal only to make myself feel better with too much dessert. And let’s face it–it’s way easier to keep eating dessert…so very easy. I want to eat with a good diet in mind, but I don’t want to eat like I’m missing out. I’m with the camp who believes that eating healthier shouldn’t mean resigning to eating food that taste like crap.

After having cooked several recipes from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, I couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking of putting more vegetable dishes on their tables. Remember the split pea soup? Yum! This lasagne? Oh my. It’s another winning combination, and I can’t believe I’ve never used chard and eggplant together like this, it’s so deviously simple.

I wasn’t quite sure how it would taste from the recipe, to be honest, but knowing that my fellow food blogging pal Dana made it before was the extra assurance I needed to feel at ease making this for the first time and serving it to hungry non-vegetarian bellies.

And you know what? It was a smashing success of a pasta dish. If you taste this, you won’t say: “This tastes good for vegetarian…” It is awesome. Period. No need to label it as “vegetarian” as an excuse for its taste. I know what it’s like. I used to wince whenever someone said the V-word. I die a little each time then, if I want to be dramatic about it. But this. Oh, I love it! I’ve no qualms about serving it to anyone. I plan to serve this at my next birthday party, and it won’t need the usual introduction of, “That’s vegetarian, FYI.”

Eggplant and Chard Lasagne

Dig in.

It tastes like lasagne (in case you’re wondering). It’s not too leafy, not too rich. It’s filling, but it won’t weigh you down–y’know that feeling with pasta that’s bloated you can barely look at it before thinking there’s just no way I could eat that? I was quite surprised at how good eggplant was in between sheets of pasta, and really being good friends with wilted chard. Mmmm…mmm!

So the question is: would I pick this over the conventional lasagne if I had the choice? YES! Oh, heck, YES!

Truly, I love the dish as is, but something’s missing. With the beginning of spring, I can’t help but think of how it could be better with garden-fresh eggplants and chard. Yeah, I’m going to go all oogly-vegetably on you now.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, a-gardening we go!

I won’t lie. I don’t have a green thumb (although he says there is no such thing) and gardening became obliterated from my thinking process before I reached my teens. Gardening wha’? Before that, I enjoyed mostly third-party gardening. I was perfectly content with watering the plants and removing/cutting the occasional dried stem or leaf. The major dig-ins, I just watch while others do it. My forte was harvesting and eating the fruits/vegetables, or cutting flowers and leaves to put in vases for our rooms. Very nice.

This year, I want to overcome my fear of soil–of earthworms, in particular–and start a small garden in the backyard. I used to live in a building complex where the yard consisted of rocks and manicured lawns and trees tended on an almost-daily basis by gardeners. You can’t plant. Not that it mattered at the time. Now that I’m back in the ‘burbs of Vancouver, there is actually a yard to play with.

Gulp.

I fear the yard. All it looks to me is more work when I could be tweeting instead! I’m so inspired by Kristina and Kristina‘s gardens. [Hah! Did I confuse you? Raise your hand if your name is Kristina and you garden. I see a pattern here.] I hope I’m not setting myself up for failure. We’ll see. I’ll try.

I mean…really, I will. Just thinking of having fresh produce from my own garden makes me happy. And I know that sounds like the geekiest food-related thing I’ve said. Help.

Do you have any tips for a newbie gardener like me? Can you share links/resources or books/primers to read?

I want to have a vegetable garden and eat the fruits of my labor. Hopefully, we can get soil this weekend. And no, I have not read a single book on gardening. Can gardening knowledge be–hold your breath–organic? :D

Get the recipe for Eggplant and Chard Lasagne (includes PDF)

Posted in books and publications, cheese, healthier choices, main dishes, pasta, vegetables, vegetarian4 Comments

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I was told a while ago: ‘Every dish tells a story.‘  At the same time, food is meant to be savored with every bite. Since leaving the FoodBuzz event last week, I have had more desire to achieve more than I had since starting this blog.  Joy’s been an incredible inspiration for my cooking and I hope that this is a trend that continues.

Upon my return to the office, there was a flier posted next to the time clock, “Holiday Potluck!’ So I figure, Cool! I’ll make something simple, easy, and enjoyable. My first thought was a simple garlic mashed potato dish. A few days after that posting, the HR manager asked me what I was making for the potluck because she knew about our little journal from previous discussions.

I’m going to keep it simple, garlic mashed, I think.

“What? Don’t be boring! I’ve seen the stuff you guys make! Give us something more gourmet!”

A challenge, huh? I was game. So a few more nights passed, then it hit me. Of all the things of a Thanksgiving meal, there is not much that is not considered ‘comfort food’. Then I started thinking about the various comfort foods of a meal that could not only serve 30 people, but have the flavor and memories that follow with each taste.

I would stick with the potato idea. I browsed various sites for perfect dishes but nothing was out of the ordinary.  Then it hit me. Crème fraîche Loaded Whipped Mashed Potatoes! Yeah, try saying that to your guests at your next dinner party when you make this dish.

So, I decided I would not have a toungue twister and simplify it to “Gourmet Loaded Potatoes“. It is a relatively simple dish, but its attention is needed. If you stick with it, you’ll have an incredibly tasty, rich, and flavorful new spin on the potato.

Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

I took this challenge head-on and I am proud of the results. I got rave reviews at the pot luck and I look forward to serving this dish again soon.

-Daniel

Gourmet Loaded PotatoesDownload PDF recipe for Gourmet Loaded Potatoes

Ingredients [Serves about 30, as a side dish]

  • 10 lbs of Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 lb of thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 ½ cup of heavy cream, with extra just in case
  • 1 7.5 oz package of crème fraîche
  • 1 3-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (seasoned salt preferred)

Equipment

  • Large bowl or strainer for holding the cooked potatoes
  • Electric mixer

Preparation

1. Prepare the potatoes by submerging them in cold water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add salt to the water and bring the pot to a boil uncovered. When you get to a rolling boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. At the end of the 10 minutes, try piercing a potato with a fork. If it goes straight through, it’s done. If not, cook another 4-5 minutes and check again.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a pan in medium heat and cook the pancetta. You’re looking for a total crisp, nothing undercooked or limp. This cooking time will change depending on your pan, heat, and if you used any oil to help cook. Remove from the heat and pat dry any excess oil or grease with a paper towel.

3. Drain the potatoes from the pot completely and set them aside. Put the pot back onto the stove.

4. Add ingredients into the pot in this order: butter, crème fraîche, cream cheese, heavy cream. Grab the cooked pancetta and crumble it as much as possible. Then add the potatoes back into the pot. By the time the potatoes get into the pot, the butter should be completely melted and the cream cheese should as well.

5. Add the pepper, chives, cheddar, and the remaining salt.

6. Blend all ingredients together with a hand mixer starting with the lowest speed and progressively working to medium, about 5 minutes. When everything is well mixed, check the consistency. If it’s not whipped and/or enough, add 1/3 cup of heavy cream and continue mixing for another minute. Serve warm and enjoy!

Posted in appetizer, cheese, dailies, dairy, dining, experiments, fun, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables12 Comments