Showing posts with label cheese hors d'oeuvres. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese hors d'oeuvres. Show all posts

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Dreaded Thanksgiving Hors d'oeuvre Dilemma

Thanksgiving dinner is undoubtedly the biggest meal I cook all year. It's not that we have so many people but everyone seems to have a special dish without which it's just not Thanksgiving. I must not be the only person who feels this way because I just heard about a woman who contacted all her guests in advance to be sure no one will be disappointed at Thanksgiving dinner.

Since there's so much food, I tend to be inclined to skip hors d'oeuvres. I mean, really folks, just sit down and eat! But every year, somebody comes in search of just a little nosh before we eat. Even if we're ten minutes from eating. Even if the turkey is already on the counter, beautifully done. I guess that makes me sound like a Thanksgiving Scrooge, which I'm not – really!

So it's always a dilemma. I don't want anything that will tie up the oven. I'll be busy making gravy and juggling all those other dishes, so I really don't want to have to make anything time-consuming. No one wants anything heavy. I know you're thinking so put out a cheese platter and be done with it.  Um, yes, that's what I usually do. A quick platter that everyone ignores!

This year, as I perused recipe ideas that ran from odd (balsamic drizzled radicchio) to weird (whipped ricotta with chilies and green olives) to too plain (popcorn), I stumbled across this brilliant idea in Food and Wine. Mini mac and cheese!

It does tie up the oven for 10 minutes, but I can live with that. Best of all, it can be made a day ahead, so when chaos reigns in the kitchen, all you have to do is pop them in the oven. Unless someone eats a lot more than one or two, they won't spoil their appetite for dinner, and there are very few people who won't eat mac and cheese.

The recipe from Food and Wine by Grace Parisi had a couple of great features. She used Parmesan to line mini-muffin tins, which adds a lovely little salty crunch to the sides. And she tossed in an egg yolk to keep everything together. Very clever.

Now, to be honest, I think you could make this with your favorite mac and cheese recipe. Just cut it in half and be sure to add an egg yolk. I used an extra sharp cheddar and cream cheese, just to give it that creamy texture I like so much. When it comes out of the oven, turn a deaf ear to pleas to eat it (they smell divine!) for five minutes. They have to cool a little bit to set, otherwise you'll have a big mess.

Three-Cheese Mini Macs
by Grace Parisi in Food & Wine
tweaked by moi
Makes 24+

1/2 pound elbow macaroni 
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing  
2 tablespoons plus two tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  
3/4 cup milk 
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces soft cheese (brie or cream)
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten  
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

2 tablespoons Panko bread crumbs

Use a 24 cupcake mini-cupcake pan or two 12 cupcake mini-cupcake pans

Cook the macaroni according to package and drain.

Preheat oven to 425. Brush each well of the pan with butter. Sprinkle the wells with a total of two tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Over the sink, turn the pan to distribute, much as you would to flour a cake pan.

Melt the butter in a pot and whisk in the flour. Cook about two minutes and whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil and cook five minutes. Add the cheeses and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the egg yolk and the paprika.

Fold in the macaroni. Use a measuring spoon to add a heaping tablespoon to each well. Mix the remaining two tablespoons of Parmesan with the Panko bread crumbs and sprinkle over each well.

*At this point you can can cover and refrigerate overnight.*

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Use a thin knife to loosen and remove.

Did you know that Daryl Wood Gerber, Lucy Burdette, Julie Hyzy and I are having a contest? You could win a fabulous basket from our favorite cookbook store, Salt & Pepper Books!

Click here to start!

And my dogs and cats are still looking for more dogs and kitties to join their MURDER, SHE BARKED street crew! Leave a comment here today to enter!

Riggins, the Bookends Literary Agency Mascot!

Sunny says it's not just for dogs.
Laura Baker Collins's Alona

JJ Murphy's Lemon & Dunkin

Happy Thanksgiving! May your blessings be many.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lucy Burdette's Pimento Cheese Two Ways

The happy graduate with her proud father, Harry, and her proud Aunt Sue
LUCY BURDETTE:  I confess that I've become obsessed with pimento cheese. It began in Elizabeth City, NC at my niece Rachel's graduation party. Her father, Harry Williams, is a chef. Lucky for her (and for us!), he offered to cater her congratulations graduate party. She picked the menu and there were tons of southern delicacies, but the one I hovered over was an enormous vat of pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese isn't new to me--I like to try it wherever I see it (mostly in the south.) If you don't follow golf, you might not know that the Masters golf tournament serves only a few kinds of sandwiches, including pimento cheese on white bread. The recipe is closely guarded, as you can imagine. 

As I hunted for the right recipe, I found there are more variations than you can shake a stick at. The toasted pecans (not at all traditional,) the onions, the scallions, the pimento only, the mayonnaise contingent vs the cream cheese adders. The white cheese, the yellow cheese, the sharp, the mild...even some Parmesan.

Here's what I decided on, and my testers declared it:

Lucy's Perfect Pimento Cheese

6 cups shredded sharp white cheddar (don't buy a pre-shredded package, if you can help it)
4 oz Greek cream cheese (half is Greek yogurt--more protein, less fat)
7-8 oz red peppers in oil, chopped
1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped--mostly white parts, sauteed in tiny amount of butter
1/2 cup mayonnaise, more if needed (I used Hellmann's)
dash of Tabasco sauce, to taste

Shred the cheese, combine in a large bowl with cream cheese, beat until well mixed. (I used an electric mixer.) Add the red peppers and scallions, mix well. Add the mayo. If the mixture isn't the right texture for
spreading, you may add more, plus hot sauce to taste.

Chill in a pretty bowl and serve with crackers and celery. Or use in sandwiches.

That is my version. Now I will give you my niece's father's version, which was to die for!

Harry's Dumbwaiter Pimento Cheese

2 lbs of high quality yellow sharp cheddar cheese
2 lbs of white Vermont cheddar cheese
6 medium red peppers, roasted then peeled and seeded, processed until all same texture, by pulsing, but not pureed
Take edible parts of 2 leeks and dice, sauté in butter until translucent
Tip: Leeks are always gritty so after you dice let them wash in fresh cold water for a few minutes. Then take your hand and scoop them from the top leaving the grit in the bottom of the bowl.
1 cup or 1 ½ cup of mayonnaise, depending on desired creaminess
Light Dash or 2 of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix ingredients all together.

Allow mixture to sit for 4 hours so that cheese can absorb flavors of other ingredients

NOTE FROM HARRY: I was the Sous Chef at The Dumbwaiter in downtown Norfolk, working under Chef Sydney Meers. This was his recipe and one of the most popular items on the menu. We used pimento cheese in many ways, such as,  Pimento cheese crème fraise , pimento cheese cream sauce, polenta,  spinach and pimento cheese dish that Sydney called lasagna, pimento cheese topped tart apples on oven baked turkey sandwiches to name a few. Southern Living magazine came to The Dumbwaiter on a tour of Norfolk and when the article was written (which wasn’t even a food article) the writer stated that the Pimento cheese at The Dumbwaiter was worth the trip to Norfolk.

Now back to me, Lucy. The only pimento cheese mistake I made while in the South was ordering a grilled pimento cheese sandwich in a deli. The bread was a fake whole wheat and the cheese very heavy on warm mayo. Honestly, we couldn't even make it through half a sandwich. And we were hunnnnnnggggrey!

But I can vouch for both of the recipes here--they make the perfect snack for reading. Serve with crackers and celery.

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And don't forget to order TOPPED CHEF so you have something to eat while reading--guaranteed to make you hungry! 

In case you think I'm making more of a fuss about pimento cheese than it warrants, look what upcoming book I found in Publishers Marketplace:

From Publishers Marketplace 6/6/13

Perre Magness's PIMENTO CHEESE, celebrating this classic Southern favorite (Pimento is a religion in the South) -- with recipes history, anecdotes and tips, to BJ Berti at St. Martin's, for publication in Fall 2014, by Lisa Ekus of The Lisa Ekus Group (NA).