Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An interesting alternative to Bar Cheese?

I think I found a good alternative to the Velveeta in the bar cheese I posted a little while ago (Pudge's Bar Cheese)

I think with a little bit of tweaking, it might even fool Tim!!  A BIG thank you to Copy Cat Recipe's ( for the recipe!

The Pantry Cheese Spread

1 lb. margarine, room temperature (not butter)
3/4 lb. sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 lb. Romano cheese, grated
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
Mix all ingredients together until fluffy, using electric mixer on low speed. Spread on sourdough French bread and toast under broiler. Note: The spread keeps for months if stored in the refrigerator in airtight container (if it lasts that long).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This one is for my friend Helen!

Helen is the busy mother of twin boys ( are they 10 now Helen?), and she deserves this recipe.  It's a really fast version of coq au vin, and when I published this blog on Facebook, she asked did I have a fast one.  So, Helen, here you go!

Quick coq au vin (you can even do coq au riesling... works just as well.)

4 slices of streaky bacon chopped into 1 inch chunks
4 - 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into chunks (although I have used skin on thighs and it's delicious, esp if you like dark meat)
1/2 package of frozen pearl onions
2 cloves of garlic chopped or minced
1 container of mushrooms (quartered)
1 1/2 cups good red wine (will boil off so the boys can eat it)
1 cup good quality chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or Bisto if you have it, if so follow package directions)
1/4 cup cold water

Rice for serving (or boiled potatoes... or mashed... yum!)
1 covered quart size oven safe casserole

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sauté bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan.  Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper to taste and brown in bacon drippings in skillet. Sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side; transfer to casserole and put in oven covered to keep warm.

Add onions to skillet and saute until warmed through and slightly cooked, add in mushrooms; season to taste with with salt and pepper and some thyme if you have it. Sauté all until until brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute until you can smell it, only a few minutes. Add wine, broth, and bacon and stir well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Allow to boil briskly for 10 minutes.

While the sauce is boiling, in a separate cup combine the corn starch and 1/4 cup cold water, stirring until smooth, then add to sauce. (if using Bisto, follow package directions) Cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Check for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed. Add chicken and any accumulated juices into the sauce. Stir to combine, and put into the lidded casserole. Bake for an additional 35 minutes, or until it's bubbling and the sauce has thickened well.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beef Wellington, without the beef....

Really that should say Veggie Wellington.  I made it for Tim and we loved it so much, and had so many vegetables left over, I made it again the following day.

When I was a kid, watching Julia Child, she made beef Wellington and put a mushroom duxelle on top.  I was so fascinated by the process that I started making the duxelles by hand all on my own.  A duxelle is very finely hand chopped mushrooms slow sauteed in butter, until you almost have what looks like browned chopped meat.  It adds so much flavor and moistness to the package that I just loved the idea.  Perhaps I should also explain, Beef Wellington is a puff pastry package of a hunk of beef (usually seared prime rib or tenderloin) with diced sauteed vegetables on it and a type of Bordeaux gravy or sauce all wrapped in the pastry.  It's delicious and surprisingly easy to do.  But, as you know, Tim is a vegetarian, so the beef part is out.  I constructed a vegetarian version of this that is really delicious, although a little bit time consuming.  It makes a nice presentation when cut (my poor iPhone photo is above) and you can easily adapt this with any vegetable, green or cheese. 

Vegetarian Wellington

1 thinly sliced beet
1 sliced turnip
thinly sliced carrot
green beans
swiss chard (or spinach or kale)
thinly sliced zucchini
sliced mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic sliced
3 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 package (2 sheets) of puff pastry
Jarlsberg cheese (2 cups) shredded

Equipment needed:
covered large non-stick skillet
large ceramic baking dish
several cookie sheets for cooling vegetables
long strips of parchment paper

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet, heat up 1/2 of the garlic and add in the sliced carrots in batches.  Cook them until they are softened, but still hold their shape.  Do the same to all the sliced vegetables, leaving the beets for last and adding garlic and olive oil in as needed.  As each batch of vegetables is finished, put them to the side on the cookie sheets to cool.  Season each batch with salt and pepper as you cook, it should all be flavorful as you go.  Once all the vegetables are cooked and cooled, take more olive oil and oil the inside of the baking dish.  I also sometimes take strips of parchement and after I oil the baking dish, I place the strips of parchement down and hang them over the sides so you can easily remove the whole package once the top is on.  Take the puff pastry out of the  fridge and line the baking dish with one sheet of puff pastry.  Layer all the cooled vegetables one at a time in over the puff pastry alternating with layers of cheese.  When all the layers are done, take the last sheet of puff pastry and cut a circle that will cover the top of the layers.  Take the puff pastry from the original layer, seal it over the circle that you covered the layers with.  Use a fork to seal the edges and refrigerate the whole thing for 20 minutes. 

After 20 minutes, invert the whole thing over a baking sheet, use the strips of parchment to pull the whole thing out easily.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  It will be golden brown all over, and you may see some moisture from the vegetables and cheese.  Let it cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Once again, you can substitute any vegetables. The second one I made was yellow squash, onion, potato, turnip, celery root, kale.  You can really use anything.