14 Days of Comfort - Recipes from a Cheese Shop
(or... what I made for dinner last night)
Here is where you will find the recipes which have been previously posted.
JEAN'S MEDITERRANEAN BARLEY BAKE
This extremely simple one pot recipe was given to me by a dear friend. It is deceptively delicious (trust me on this one) and you may already have everything that you need to make it. Serve with a simple green salad.
1 cup pot barley
1 onion finely chopped
1 green or red pepper pepper chopped
3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
A good sprinkling of Oregano
2 cups Cheese grated / crumbled. We prefer a combination of Feta and a good aged Cheddar but you can use whatever is available in a pinch.
Place all ingredients in casserole dish except for the cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, add the cheese and cook for another 30 minutes or until barley is tender.
SPAGHETTI WITH RAPINI AND THE KING OF CHEESE
Let me preface this by saying that I don't call these "comfort" recipes for nothing. We can't eat like this everyday but these are not ordinary days. So, all I can promise, is that these recipes are simple, delicious, relatively economical and most definitely comforting. On that note, here is what we had for dinner last night.
You don't need much for this one. A package of Spaghetti, you could use any pasta but for me its always Spaghetti, one bunch of Rapini, olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and the King of Cheese - Parmigiano Reggiano.
While you are preparing the pasta (I was once at a cooking class at Eataly in NYC and they told us to always adequately salt the water; if we don't, it just won't taste right so use a good tbsp or so), simmer the rapini (salt your water) for a few minutes to remove the bitterness. Strain it in a colander and rinse with cold water.
Saute over low heat in a large skillet, about a quarter cup of olive oil, two large cloves of finely chopped garlic (don't skimp) and a good tbsp of red chili pepper flakes being very careful not to overcook the garlic. After a few minutes of this, add the rapini.
Do not Strain or rinse the pasta (and don't overcook it - just al dente). Add the pasta to the skillet directly along with a bit of the salted cooking water - about 1/2 cup. Stir in finely grated King of Cheese, a cup or more to taste and saute for just a few minutes so that all the ingredients are incorporated and you have a nice creamy sauce. Enjoy!!
ROASTED BEET SALAD WITH PICKLED ONIONS AND CHEVRE
There is a little food market in San Francisco called Bi-Rite that looks like a convenience store from the outside but inside, boy, do they have it all going on. They have a prepared foods section and this is one of their most popular salads and one of my favourites. I serve this atop the actual beet greens.
The pickled red onions really make this dish but in a pinch - and we are in a pinch - you can use whatever onions you have in the fridge. You can also use feta in place of chevre although I do prefer chevre. Here's what you need:
2 bunches of red beets - about 6 beets
3 tablespoons Vinegar - champagne, white wine or apple cider are great but when in a pinch.....
1/2 red onion very thinly sliced
1 tbsp EVOO
1/4 tsp Dijon
1/4 tsp honey
2 tbsp chopped parsley - don't worry if you don't have
1/2 cup crumbled chevre or feta
Remove the beets from the greens (keep them to use as the greens in this salad), wash well, wrap each beet in foil and bake at 400 degrees until tender - about an hour. Remove from foil, let cool, slip the skins off and cut them into quarters or smaller if desired.
While the beets are roasting, combine vinegar, couple pinches of salt and onions in a small bowl and set aside for about 1 hour.
Remove the onion from the bowl and add to the beets. In another bowl whisk together the oil, mustard and honey, 1 tbsp of the reserved vinegar and a few big pinches of salt.
Add the dressing, parsley and all but 2 tbsp of the chevre or feta to the beets. Toss well and taste. Season with more salt or vinegar as needed. Garnish with a sprinkling of the remaining chevre or feta. Place on top of the reserved beet greens which have been washed thoroughly and cut into manageable size pieces. Enjoy!!
I've been doing a lot of cooking with olive oil so in addition to recipes for last night's dinner (and in fact breakfast), I'm going to take the opportunity to share with you some tips on buying olive oil. There are times when it doesn't make sense to use it; such as when cooking with high heat but for sauteing, sauces or dressings, it is ideal. Here's what to look for when choosing your olive oil:
At a minimum
Extra Virgin - not "light" or "pure"
Housed in dark glass or metal to protect from sunlight
Cold Pressed by Mechanical Means vs by heat or chemical means used by inferior or mass producers
For extra quality
Estate bottled. This means that olives are grown, picked and pressed on the same grove by the same family/small producer typically daily vs being trucked in from various places and left to sit around for days.
Specific olive varietals identified on the label. Again, this points to traceability but also flavour. Buttery, grassy, fruity, peppery - every olive will give you a different flavour.
Harvest date - ideally the most recent fall harvest and if no harvest date listed just ensure best before date is within two years.
SUNDAY BREAKFAST APPLE AND OLIVE OIL CAKE
From Le Pain Quotidien (Daily Bread) Bakery/Eatery in NYC. If ever in Manhattan, do go for breakfast, for sustenance, for company and comfort.
5 tbsp flour
5 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup liquid honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Peel, core and slice the apples into 8ths and place in the pan.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, olive oil and 2 eggs in a bowl and pour over the apples. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven. Increase oven temp to 400 degrees.
Whisk remaining 2 eggs with honey and pour over the cake. Return to oven and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes.
LEMONY (Egg-less) KALE CAESAR SALAD with TURKEY (or CHICKEN) SCALLOPINE
YES, Kale can be comfort food! In fact, I have made this salad two nights in a row because it is so darn good. Who needs Romaine? Forget about it! I'm not a big mayo fan and in my family this is our standard Caesar salad dressing. It is fresh, tart and robust. Don't be afraid of the the Anchovy Paste; you have to use it.
1 bunch of Kale, cleaned and chopped. Discard any tough stalky pieces.
2 medium cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 tbsp approx. Anchovy paste
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/2 tsp Dijon
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Lots of finely grated (i like to use my microplane) Parmigiano Reggiano - about 1 1/2 cups
Mash the garlic with a good pinch or two of salt in the bottom of your salad bowl using a fork until you have a paste. Add the anchovy paste, lemon juice and Dijon. Slowly add the oil and whisk until all is incorporated - the Dijon binds everything together. Add the Kale, toss well with your hands and then add most of the cheese, incorporating well and finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese on top.
For the Turkey or Chicken Scallopine, you need thinly sliced boneless, skinless breast (our local downtown butcher, McMasters will slice breast in half horizontally for you). Season with salt and pepper and coat lightly with flour. Sautée over medium low heat in a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter. When the poultry is just about done, remove from the pan and set aside. Add to the pan the juice of a lemon, about 3 tbsp of water/stock/white wine and a little grating of Parmigiano and give it a good stir to deglaze the pan. Put the poultry back in to simmer over very low heat for just a few minutes, turning once - just long enough to finish cooking and be well coated. The sauce will thicken just a bit from the flour coating on the poultry. And that concludes yesterday's menu!!
WHITE BEAN PUREE WITH PROSCIUTTO CRESPELLE
I'm not a huge legume fan but came to appreciate their richness years ago in the store when we developed our creamy white bean dip which is simply white beans pureed with cream cheese, herbs and garlic. So when I came across this recipe in my Bi-Rite (of San Francisco) cookbook, i had to give it a try and naturally it is delicious and the crispy salty prosciutto garnish brings out all the creaminess of the soup. Serve this with warm bread for dipping.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus extra for preparing the prosciutto
1 medium onion diced
2 stalks celery diced
1 carrot diced
4 large sage leaves chopped (or 1 tsp. dry sage in a pinch )
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, more if needed at the end.
3 cups cooked cannellini beans (you can probably get at Foodstuffs)
Kosher Salt and black pepper
freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 to 10 slices prosciutto (although you might want extra to snack on)
Sautee onion in olive oil til translucent and add celery and carrot for about 10 minutes more. Add sage, garlic and bay leaf and cook for another few minutes.
Add the stock, beans that you have drained and rinsed, 2 teaspoons salt and pepper taste. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Heat oven to 350. Brush both sides of prosciutto with olive oil and arrange in single layer on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until just slightly darker and wrinkly about 10 to 15 minutes. Let them cool undisturbed on the baking sheet until crisp and then break into large shards.
Finish the soup by discarding the bay leaf and working in batches carefully puree in blender. If you prefer a thinnner soup add up to another 2 cups of broth. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and taste. Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with the prosciutto crespelle.