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archive for cheese

all hail the elastic waistband

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Recipe: baked brie with cranberries and pistachios

The time has come for folks to don their elastic waistband clothing. I know this because I’ve been working ’round the clock for several days stirring, mixing, cooking, caramelizing, tempering, dipping, rolling, slicing, and baking goodies for distribution. I completed phase 1 of my cookie schedule on Friday morning. I’ve been working phase 2 all weekend (with some time taken out for Kaweah’s birthday celebration).

phase 1 cookies plus jams and homemade spice rubs

But full on debauchery should not be limited to desserts and sweet bites this time of year. I am a card-carrying member of the savory clan – those of us who opt for potato chips over chocolate chip cookies any day. Appetizers and salty snacks forevah!! When I last had my parents over for dinner, I tried a baked brie appetizer with cranberries and pistachios that was a sort of compromise between salty and sweet. It’s the perfect thing for holiday parties because it’s quick, easy, and the results are lovely.

a wheel of brie, an orange, water, cranberries, pistachios, and sugar

grate orange zest into the cranberries

add water to the cranberries, sugar, and orange zest

**Jump for more butter**

for the cheese lovers

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Recipe: pastitsio

Just this past weekend, I was walking through Whole Foods with one of my besties from high school (she was in town for a conference) when Emily said, “I could give up meat in an instant, but I could never give up cheese.” I smiled because I have several friends who are bona fide cheese fiends. It’s quite the accomplishment that I can eat Gruyère, but that is about as exotic as I get… which I realize isn’t terribly exotic at all. Still, when presented with the opportunity to receive a review copy of Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I could not wait to crack it open.

224 pages of cheesy goodness

Stephanie and Garrett – two incredibly talented individuals – are the masterminds behind the book (Garrett is one of my favorite food writers). They teamed up to present countless hours of research and recipe development in this glorious collection of all things pasta, cheese, and more cheese. As I stated before, I am not a cheese person, but found myself mesmerized by Matt Armendariz’ seductive photos of melty cheese and pasta. After perusing fresh salads, creamy stovetop dishes, hearty mains, and sweet recipes, I settled on pastitsio for my test drive. Hot casserole-style dishes are especially welcome during our Arctic cold snap in the Rockies.

the meat sauce: tomato paste, canned tomatoes, olive oil, white wine, salt, ground lamb, pepper, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, cinnamon, allspice, garlic, onion

for the pasta and mornay sauce: olive oil, milk, penne, pecorino romano, butter, eggs, salt, flour, pepper

The recipe calls for Kefalotyri, which I could not find, so I used the recommended substitution of Pecorino Romano. That’s another nice thing about this book. Even though I know zip about cheeses, Stephanie and Garrett introduce the reader to new and exciting varieties while offering more common cousins in case you can’t source the original. Other than the cheese, all of the other ingredients are easy enough to find. Oh wait, except bucatini – I couldn’t find that either and opted for penne, a pasta for which I have strong affections.

start the meat sauce: add browned ground lamb to sautéed onions and garlic

add wine, spices, tomato paste

pour in the canned tomatoes

simmer it down for 30 minutes

**Jump for more butter**

food with friends

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Recipe: lahmacun (turkish pizza)

I hope those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a nice one this past week. I’ll tell you about ours later, but I need to share this recipe with you before it gets buried in my queue of posts! A few weekends ago, my stitch-n-bitch crew got together at Nichole’s house for lunch. It had been quite a while since I had seen some of these ladies. I mean, one of my girlfriends got married since I last saw her, and another got her Ph.D. (actually, I skied with her last spring – but still!). We spent time catching up and everyone offered a dish to share as well as hands to help Nichole with prep. I brought the rolled pistachio baklava as well as a quart of precious huckleberry ice cream.

But the real star of the show was Nichole’s Turkish pizza or lahmacun. I had never had it before and I obsessed over it for days afterward until I begged her for the recipe. The flavors, the fresh ingredients – it’s all wonderful. I did a little research online and cobbled together a compromise between Nichole’s version and another more traditional version to excellent results. I love it when my friends introduce me to new foods.

ground lamb, olive oil, red peppers, onion, garlic, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, parsley, pepper, salt, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, paprika

brown the lamb

drain the fat

You can use lamb or beef, but because we have truly excellent local Colorado lamb, the decision was practically made for me. Some recipes cook the meat before mixing it with the sauce ingredients while others leave the meat raw because it will cook when you bake the pizzas. I opted to brown the lamb and drain off the fat (of which there was a lot). Nichole cooked and simmered her sauce for a few hours and I swear it was phenomenally good straight from the pot. I just didn’t have the time to simmer the sauce and wanted to see if my quicker method would work.

chopped vegetables and diced tomatoes

process to a thick sauce

**Jump for more butter**