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Bacon and Blue on Rye


Add blue cheese to bacon in these sandwiches.

Food Network star Sondra Lee is known for taking already made products and combining them for maximum effect. Her “Semi-Homemade Comfort Food” (SL Books, $19.95) is loaded with tips and she even offers her favorite brands to help you with your shopping. Of course, you could make as much of the dish as you had time for.

This recipe is for a quick sandwich that matches two favorite foods: bacon and blue cheese. The end result will have you seeing a BLT in a whole new light.

Bacon and Blue on Rye

16 slices fully cooked bacon (Tyson)
8 slices light rye bread (Oroweat)
1/2 cup creamy blue cheese dressing (Bob’s Big Boy)
4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (Sargento)
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Spring salad mix

Heat the bacon in the microwave according tot package directions.

Toast bread and spread each slice with blue cheese dressing. Place 4 slices of the bacon on half of the bread slices. Sprinkle with blue cheese. Top each with tomato slices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce and then the other piece of bread. Slice in half and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From “Semi-Homemade Comfort Food” by Sondra Lee

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Ask a Foodie: How Do You Roast Beets?


Roasted Beet and Pistachio Salad

Q. How do you roast beets. Do you cut them up first?

— Bonnie F.

A. It’s easy to roast beets, no matter the style you use.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then clean your beets. Cut off the greens and reserve for another use. Rinse the whole beets and lay them on a sheet of aluminum foil. Cover with a bit of olive oil. About.com recommends a little more if you are going to use the beets in a salad, then using the beet-infused oil in your dressing. You can do this with any type of beet, including the more popular red, orange, white or chiogga (candy-striped).

Fold up the foil into a pouch and slip it into the oven. Bake for an hour at least and test for doneness by pricking one with a fork. If your beets are of different sizes, the smaller ones will cook sooner and you can remove those. Return the remaining beets to the oven and cook until tender.

Once the beets are ready, peel them and chop into the desired sizes.

Here’s a roasted beet salad recipe freely adapted from the new edition of “The Good Housekeeping Cookbook.”

Roasted Beet and Pistachio Salad

6-8 medium-sized beets, roasted
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or beet-infused oil)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
4 cups field greens and fresh herbs
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, roasted in foil for at least 4 minutes alongside the beets
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Once the beets are roasted, peeled and cooled, cut into chunks. Set aside.

Make a dressing from the balsamic vinegar, mustard, oil, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

Toss some of it with the field greens and line the bottom of your serving dish. Start with a little and toss for about 1 minute to make sure the greens are covered but not drowning.

Then toss some of the dressing on the beets and toss to make sure they are coated but not slick or oily. You may have some dressing left over.

Place the beets on top of the greens. Then sprinkle on the pistachios, the blue cheese and the mint. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Freely adapted from “The Good Housekeeping Cookbook”

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Blue Cheese Crackers an Easy Appetizer


Blue Cheese Crackers

Cheese crackers have been a party favorite for years. This version is made with blue cheese and includes the addition of nuts.

Blue Cheese Crackers

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend butter and blue cheese with salt and pepper.

In a large mixing bowl, blend butter, blue cheese, salt and black pepper, if using, with a fork. Add flour a little at a time and use your hands to form a ball of dough.

Top with chopped pecans.

Pinch a dough ball about 3/4 inch off the main ball and flatten it to a little more than 1-inch around. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each cracker with a little egg and press in some of the chopped nuts.

Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden at the edges. The baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the cracker, so watch after 10 minutes. Remove when done to a cookie rack. Let cool.

Makes 36-40 crackers.

From John Griffin.

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Ask a Foodie: Cambozola a ‘Hybrid’ Cheese


Q. What is Cambozola cheese, and what wines would pair well with it?

A. Cambozola is a popular cheese, though we note that food writers Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst, in “The Cheese Lover’s Companion”,  say it’s not particularly revered among true cheese aficionados.

It was “invented” in Germany in the 1970s, and is a blend of Camembert and Gorgonzola cheeses, from which the cheese gets its name. By adding extra cream to the Cambozola, the fat content swells to 70 percent. Then, it is injected with blue mold Penicillium spores and ripened for three weeks, according “The Cheese Lover’s Companion.”  The result is a triple cream cheese with just a touch of blue cheese flavor.

Those who like it  find it a creamy, good accompaniment to fruit, such as pears or figs, as well as with fruity red wines such as a Cru Beaujolais, Zinfandel or dry, red Primitivo.

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Give Your Macaroni and Cheese a Makeover


MacaroniDan Lewis of the Plaza Club developed this version of macaroni and cheese while working at Ironstone Vineyards. You can make it in individual dishes or in a family-style casserole dish. This variation combines three cheeses and a few herbs in a way that makes “this every day dish really stand out,” he says in the “Discover Ironstone Vineyards” cookbook. “Any type of pasta can be used, so here is your opportunity to use that guitar-shaped pasta that seemed like a good idea when you bought it three years ago!”

Ironstone Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups whipping cream, divided use
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup finely diced pancetta or applewood-smoked bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 cup crumbled blue cheese or roquefort
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
8 ounces pasta, cooked
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon minced parsley
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
8 oregano sprigs

Whisk 1/4 cup of the cream with the cornstarch and set aside. Sauté the pancetta in the butter over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, shallot and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Add the blue cheese, goat cheese and the remaining whipping cream and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta and chives.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pasta in 8 individual baking dishes. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, Romano cheese, salt and pepper, and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for 20 minutes, or until browned. (This can also be made family-style by putting it in one large casserole dish and baking for 30 to 40 minutes.) Top each serving with an oregano sprig and serve immediately.

Wine suggestion: Light and fruit or semisweet white wine

Makes 8 servings.

From “Discover Ironstone Vineyards” by Dan Lewis

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Buffalo Wings: The Original From The Anchor Bar


BuffaloWingsThis recipe is attributed to Teresa Bellissimo, who is owner of the Anchor Bar and Restaurant in Buffalo, NY, reportedly the origin of this popular style of wing.

Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing

4 to 5 pounds chicken wings
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt (if desired)
4 cups good quality vegetable oil
4 tablespoons butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
5 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Louisiana Sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

BuffaloWings3Chop off the tip of each chicken wing, and discard it. Chop the wing in half (cutting at the joint) to make 2 pieces. Grind on fresh black pepper and sprinkle with salt if desired.

Heat the oil over high heat in a deep skillet, Dutch oven, or deep-fat fryer until it starts to pop and sizzle (around 400 degrees).  Add half the chicken wings and cook until they’re golden and crisp, stirring or shaking occasionally. When done, remove them to drain on paper towels and cook the remaining wings.

Melt the butter or margarine over medium heat in a heavy saucepan, add the hot sauce and the 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Stir well and remove from the flame immediately.

BuffaloWings2Place the chicken in a plastic tub with the sauce, shake well, dump onto a warm serving platter, pour the sauce on top, and serve.

Source: St. Sam’s and St. Bede’s Recipe Pages from “Totally Hot! The Ultimate Hot Pepper Cookbook”

Part of the wing series: Take Wing: The Essential Party Food Has Many Flavors

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Cool Hors d’Oeuvres When It’s Hot


ceviche2The caller was urgent. “What kind of hors d’oeuvres should I serve at a cocktail party this time of year?” he wanted to know.

The gathering would be later in the evening and feature little more than snacks and drinks. “I’m hoping everybody’s had dinner by then,” he said.

Yet he also wanted to serve something meaty.

My first thought was pork tenderloin, which you can season to your taste and make ahead of time. Just slice it up and serve cold or at room temperature with a few condiments, ranging from mustard to pickled red onions.

Ceviche also came to mind. This marinated seafood dish looks great, is coolly refreshing, and can be put together at the last minute, all the while suggesting you’ve been slaving over the food.  (The accompanying recipe is from Jonathan Parker’s “The Manhattan Ocean Club Seafood Cookbook.” Parker has cooked in several San Antonio restaurants, including Pesca on the River and Ounce.)

If you want to rely on the deli to help, find the best roast beef you can afford, such as the house-made version at Central Market, 4821 Broadway. Have it sliced relatively thin (not as thin as prosciutto) and fold a piece on top of a garlic bagel crisp. Crumble blue cheese and toss some arugula on top. Serve horseradish sauce, a flavored mayonnaise or two, chimichurri sauce and/or mustard on the side. Your entire snack is done and you didn’t have to turn on the oven.

Grilled PineappleItalian lovers might want to get together an antipasti selection, including grilled or oven-roasted asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese on top as well as grilled squashes, roasted peppers, tomatoes, skewers of garlic potatoes, eggplant, and jalapeños. This is another approach that should be done ahead of time, because the vegetables taste best when served at room temperature.

Complement the tray with various salami, olives and rustic cheeses, both hard and soft.

Don’t forget the power of fruit. So much is in season now, from melons to cherries. Serve strawberries with chocolate-flavored whipped cream. Stuff fresh figs with goat cheese and wrap in a slice of prosciutto. Grill peach halves and pineapple slices (see the accompanying recipe for Grilled Pineapple With Sweet Rum Glaze).

Here are a few other ideas from SavorSA writers that are easy yet elegant for summer parties:

  • If you are serving crudités, add some color to the tray with an old Cuban recipe that friends and I have enjoyed on many occasions: Take ham slices and wrap them around pickles. Vary that with asparagus or hearts of palm.
  • Pick up empanadas from Beto’s Comida Latina, 7325 Broadway.
  • Chicken salad sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches, tea party-style, are great with many white wines.
  • Last, but certainly not least: Salsa, guac and chips — c’mon, it’s San Antonio!

What do you like to serve at cocktail parties during the summer? Post your comments below.

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