Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Edgar's Baked Paprika Cheese -- Chai Another Day

LESLIE: Yesterday, we gathered Around the Kitchen Table to chat about where our recipes come from. All I can say about this one is that I spotted a recipe online from the British chef, Jamie Oliver, for a baked sheep’s cheese using paprika, though how I got there, I have no idea. His sheep’s cheese was a Spanish variety I had never heard of, though my friend Google told me I could buy a pound of it for $38, plus shipping. I studied the description of the cheese and while it sounded very yummy indeed, I decided goat cheese would be a good substitute, though a bit tangier. Tang is good.

And while I love paprika, I gotta tell you, smoked paprika is the Thing. The Bee’s Knees, the Cat’s Meow, the cream on the top of the milk jar. My favorite spice.

Paprika is a pepper, a capsicum, but it doesn’t pack a lot of heat. It’s especially popular in Hungarian cooking, but the smoked variety seems to have come from the Spaniards.

I baked this in a cake pan, because I didn’t have a ramekin the right size, an omission I have since remedied, and because I wasn’t sure how much it would run. (Not at all, as it turns out.) Baking and serving it in a single dish is definitely the way to go, if you can.

I gave this dish to Edgar, the chef at Speziato, a fictional Italian restaurant that appears in Chai Another Day, the fourth Spice Shop Mystery. (Speziato means “spicy.”) Readers of the Spice Shop Mysteries met Edgar in Guilty as Cinnamon—he’s the sous chef Pepper chats up in the alley behind Alex Howard’s restaurant and who saves bones for Arf, her Airedale. Since the events of that book, Alex has moved on and our sous chef got a name and his own book. He’s a big, burly Salvadoran immigrant who is passionate for cooking, thrilled and terrified by the opportunity to run his own kitchen, and head over heels for smoked paprika. I'm kind of in love with him, and thought he deserved a dish of his own.

CHAI ANOTHER DAY will be out June 11 and is available for pre-order now. Read an excerpt on my website.

Edgar's Baked Paprika Cheese

4 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
8–10 slices of a baguette, toasted or crackers (gluten-free or standard)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Shape the goat cheese into a disc about 1 inch by 4–5 inches and place on a baking dish or in a ramekin. If you are using a rinded cheese, slice off the top. Sprinkle the disc with 3/4 teaspoon paprika.

Bake about 15 minutes, until cheese is soft and gooey.

Toast the bread in advance, or pop it into the oven during the last 7 minutes that the cheese is baking; toast 5 minutes on one side, turn, and toast 2 more minutes.

Place the cheese or baking dish on your serving plate. Top with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon paprika. Arrange toasts on plate and serve immediately.

Serves two as an appetizer.

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books, June 2019): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

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  1. You need to correct the "nominated" to "WINNER!!" . . . so happy for you!


    1. LOL -- done! Thanks for the reminder -- must go update the other scheduled posts!

  2. I love smoked paprika! Can't wait to try this recipe!

  3. I love a simple appetizer that can be put together with minimum fuss for maximum flavor.

    And from a previous comment I see that congratulations are in order!

  4. Congratulations, Leslie! Thanks for the easy appetizer recipe, too!

  5. Fresh goat cheese is wonderful. Melted into wilted spinach it's an effortless "cream" sauce. Spread on bread it replaces mayo. etc.
    This sounds really good.

    1. We know a woman who raises Tottenberg goats and makes cheese -- now I want some!

  6. Yum, sounds delish! Smoked paprika is so underrated and I use it in a LOT of dishes. Thanks for sharing, Leslie! Can't wait to read Chai Another Day!

  7. Sounds amazing. Will have to give it a try. Huge congrats on your win (tie)!