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Hot Cheesy Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Dip

10 Feb

I know this is a pictureless post, but I made this to bring to a Superbowl party and didn’t think to photograph it at the time.  But it was so good I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post it.  The creaminess of the mascarpone and mozzarella works beautifully with the sharpness of the parmesan, brightness of the artichoke hearts, and heat from the hot sauce and chile flakes.  The rich roasted garlic really brings everything together.  The textures are also a great match, with the crispy panko bread crumbs working beautifully with the melt-y, creamy cheese.  Basically, this dip was satisfying and addictive, and I couldn’t stop going back for one more chip or cracker full of it.  I really can’t say enough about how delicious this was – it was a true crowd pleaser.  The hint of spice is what really takes this over the top.

Somehow we managed to have a little of this leftover (we all had to save some room for the salad, chili, and the best key lime pie I’ve ever eaten), so I mixed it up with some cooked noodles and baked it for a really decadent macaroni and cheese.

Hot Cheesy Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Dip

Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

1 head garlic

1 tbs. olive oil

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

1 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature (you can use cream cheese)

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded

1/4 cup plus 2 tbs. parmesan, grated

2 tbs. hot sauce

2 tsp. dry mustard

2 tsp. red chile flakes

1 tsp. chili powder

1/3 cup panko bread crubs

1 tbs. butter, melted

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375º.

Cut off top 1/4″ of garlic head.  Place on a square of tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap the foil around the garlic.  Transfer to oven and roast 45 minutes, or until garlic cloves are softened and golden brown.  Squeeze garlic cloves into a medium mixing bowl.  Mash with a fork until paste consistency.  Add all ingredients except 2 tbs. parmesan, panko, and butter.  Stir to combine.  Taste for seasonings, and adjust as necessary.

Transfer to a 3 cup baking dish.  Set aside.

Mix together 2 tbs. parmesan cheese, panko, and melted butter.  Spread in an even layer across the top of the dip.

Transfer to oven and bake, uncovered, 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbling and topping is golden brown.

Triple Herb and Almond Pesto

30 Jul

Originally, this fennel, dill, and parsley pesto was to be served over a poached whole fish.  But the fish was, um, bad.  Really bad.  So instead, I made a dinner out of nice bread spread with a touch of butter and this fresh pesto.  This differs from a traditional pesto because its cooked in some white wine to help tame the assertive flavors of the fennel and dill.  It still has that herbacious, garlicky, nutty flavor of a traditional pesto, though.

This is a really great way to use up the lovely fennel fronds that you get when you purchase a bulb of fennel.  Because of their strong anise flavor, its sometimes hard to figure out ways to use them.  But a pesto is the perfect application, because it allows the strong flavors of the fennel to shine and balances them out with pungent garlic, creamy olive oil, and the nutty flavor of whatever nut you choose to add.  The positive outcome of this dish made me feel not too terribly bad about the awful failure of the fish I had tried to cook, so I thought it was worth a post despite its simplicity.

Triple Herb and Almond Pesto

4 cups fennel fronds, loosely packed

2 cups dill fronds, loosely packed

2 cups flat leaf parsley, loosely packed

1/2 cup almonds

4-5 cloves garlic

2-3 tbs. olive oil

1 cup white wine

Using a food processor or blender, finely chop almonds and garlic.  Add herbs and finely chop as well.  With machine running, add olive oil.

Transfer to a medium sauce pan.  Add white wine.  Simmer over medium-low heat until most reduced.

Serve, as pictured, on bread with a light smear of butter, with fish, or with pasta.

Short Rib and Goat Cheese Empanadas

2 Jun

I have to start by apologizing for my long and unexplained absence.  Finals rolled in, then wedding stuff and work and a day or two slid into a week or two before I looked at my homepage and realized it had  been weeks since I posted.  I’ve really no excuse, other than a little bit of business and a whole heck of a lot of laziness.  So, to those of you who check this blog from time to time hoping to see something new, I’m sorry.

Anyway, I thought I’d get my butt back into gear.  These short rib and goat cheese empanadas were absolutely bursting in flavor, thanks in no small part to the delicious Pinot Szechuan sauce from The Czar’s Fine Foods, which I won awhile back from Noble Pig and finally had the occasion to use.

Empanadas are admittedly quite a bit a work, but there are several ways you can cut it down so it isn’t completely overwhelming.  The first thing is to use leftovers, or mostly leftovers, for your filling.  I already had some short ribs hanging out in the fridge from having some friends over for dinner, so it was as simple as chopping up some mushrooms, tossing with sauce, and adding a dollop of goat cheese to each empanada.  The second tactic is to use pre-made empanada shells, if you are so inclined, or even puff pastry.  You can also make the dough the day before and keep it refrigerated until you want to roll it out and assemble, which is what I did.

Regardless of whether you use all of the short cuts or none of them, these tasty mouthfuls of succulent beef and mushrooms with spicy, peppery sauce and tangy, creamy goat cheese are totally worth the investment.

Short Rib and Goat Cheese Empanadas

Empanada Dough:

4 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup cold water

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 tsp. vinegar

1/4 cup shortening

Lightly whisk together water, egg, egg white, and vinegar.  Set aside.

Add flour to a food processor.  A little bit at a time, while pulsing, add shortening.  If necessary, add more shortening or flour to get a crumbly, moist consistency.

With machine running, slowly pour in egg and water mixture until dough just forms.

Remove from food processor and knead until dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 24 hours.

Short Rib and Goat Cheese Filling:

3-4 leftover beef short ribs, shredded (for example, beet braised beef short ribs – the ones I used were braised in the slow cooker with pinot noir and some Pinot Szechuan sauce)

1/2 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/4 cup Pinot Szechuan sauce (or substitute something like hot barbecue sauce or sriracha or Tabasco)

Mix together all ingredients.

Assembled Pork and Sweet Potato Empanadas:

Makes about 6-8 empanadas

Empanada dough, see above

Short rib filling, see above

1/4 cup goat cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher salt

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º

When making empanadas, work with a floured surface and rolling pin.  Roll out dough and, using cookie cutter (or, if you’re like me and don’t have them, a round bowl 6″ in diameter), cut into circles.

Place a heaping tbs. of filling (see above) in the center of the empanada dough.  Add a tbs. or so of goat cheese.  Brush edges with water and fold in half to form a half moon.

Crimp edges on both sides with a fork.

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Add empanadas.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Crispy Miso-Shaohsing Tofu “Fries”

9 May

 French fries are delicious.  I love me some crispy, deep fried (or baked) potato strips.  But I had already started to press some tofu.  So I thought – why not try some tofu fries?

And they worked out surprisingly well.  The outer edges of the fries were crispy, the insides were soft and slightly chewy.  They had a light salty-sweet flavor from the marinade, and worked really well with the creamy and spicy yogurt-sriracha dip and sweet and tangy hoisin-vinegar dip.  You’re not going to fool someone into thinking these are deep fried potatoes, but they are pretty darn good.

Crispy Miso-Shaohsing Tofu “Fries”

Tofu “Fries”:

15 oz. block extra firm tofu, drained and rinsed

White Miso and Shaohsing Marinade (see below)

Non-stick cooking spray

Cut tofu into 1/4″ thick slices.  Place tofu on a stack of paper towels.  Top with another few paper towels and either a cast iron skillet or cutting board weighed down with cans.  Drain an hour or two, switching paper towels a couple times.

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over low heat.  Add tofu slices and cook 10-15 minutes per side until most of moisture has leached out and tofu is golden brown.

Place in a plastic bag and add marinade.  Marinate at least an hour but up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Remove tofu from marinade and cut tofu into strips about 1/4″ wide.  Spray a tinfoil-lined baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Add tofu “fries” in a single layer.  Spray again with non-stick spray.  Cook 10-15 minutes, turning once, until edges are crispy and deep golden brown.

Serve immediately, with dipping sauces below if desired.

White Miso and Shaohsing Marinade:

2 tbs. white miso paste

1/3 cup shaohsing rice wine

2-3 tbs. honey

1 lime, juiced

Whisk together all ingredients.  Set aside.

Sriracha-Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 1/2 tbs. seed-in sriracha

Whisk together ingredients and place in refrigerator for an hour to allow flavors to meld.

Sweet Hoisin and Vinegar Dipping Sauce:

3 tbs. hoisin

3 tbs. shaohsing vinegar

2 tbs. rice wine vingar

Whisk together ingredients and place in refrigerator for an hour to allow flavors to meld.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arancini

14 Mar

I always have a tough time judging exactly how many servings a risotto recipe is going to make, because the rice expands so much while it’s being slowly simmered and stirred in fragrant broth.  I’ve made it enough times (and recorded my recipes since I, you know, write a food blog) that I should know, but I often have small amounts of leftovers and I can never remember how much.  I don’t have an awesome memory.  I intentionally made a little bit too much this time, though, because I was craving some arancini – balls or patties of risotto coated in bread crumbs and fried.

You can serve these cheesy, crunchy, creamy patties of pan-fried beet, risotto, and goat cheese goodness in one of two ways.  As-is, perhaps with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt for serving, or as a burger patty, topped with whatever you want (Zak used some avocado and plain Greek yogurt).  Either way, they are colorful, flavorful, and relatively healthy.  They make for a yummy appetizer in their naked form and a hearty sandwich swaddled in a bun.

Just a warning – these are a tad messy to make, so if you have some gloves, I suggest you wear them.  Otherwise, your hands will likely end up stained a pretty gruesome shade of red.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arancini

2 1/2 cups leftover roasted beet risotto (let sit at least overnight)

2 eggs, beaten, divided

3-4 tbs. goat cheese

3-4 slices whole wheat bread (yield about 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs)

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

2 tsp. canola

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tbs. canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a food processor, combine slices of bread, garlic powder, parsley, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Pulse until bread crumbs are formed.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine risotto, and 1 egg, beaten.  Mix together thoroughly.  Form into patties roughly 3 inches across and 1 inch thick (about 1/4 cup of risotto).  Using your thumb, create a deep indentation in the middle of each patty, spooning about 1 tsp. of goat cheese into each indentation. Top the goat cheese with another 1 tbs. or so of leftover risotto/egg mixture.

Place flour in a shallow dish.  Place remaining beaten egg in a second shallow dish.  Place breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish.  Coat each patty with flour, followed by egg, followed by bread crumbs.

Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Pan fry risotto patties until deep golden brown and cheese is warmed through, roughly 4-5 minutes per side.

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