Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Blue cheese "cheesecake"


There are many "lucky" foods to eat on New Year's: Lentils (to bring wealth), fish (abundance), figs (fertility), noodles (long life), pork, and cake (cake always fits a celebration! Check out Megan's AMAZING cakes at Foodalution! I digress.)

I think, living in Wisconsin, I would have to add cheese to the list. I mean, when is supporting our dairy farmers not lucky?

This small, savory, cheesecake is the perfect appetizer for a party and a great way to feature the delicious flavor of blue cheese. Thanks Lori Dumm for providing me with this recipe! My favorite blue cheese right now is Hidden Springs Bohemian Blue. What's yours?

What food do you eat to bring luck in the new year?

BLUECHEESE CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

1 package cream cheese, softened

1 lump bluecheese about1/2 to 2/3 the size of the cream cheese

¼ cup roasted red peppers, finely chopped

½ cup caramelized nuts (almonds or pecans work nicely)

½ cup balsamic vinegar

½ cup tamarind concentrate (you may need to water down the concentrate, it can be like a jell. Then just dilute it a bit to make ½ cup. You want the flavor to be strong, but the consistency syrupy)

cilantro, finely chopped

crackers or bread

Method

Oil the inside of your mold with olive oil

Put red peppers at the bottom of a small mold

Mix together cheeses and press into mold on top of cheeses

Refrigerate an hour or so until cheeses firm up.

Meanwhile make balsamic reduction by heating balsamic and tamarind in saucepan on stovetop until reduced to a syrup, about 15-25 minutes at a simmer.

To Serve

Slide a knife around mold and turn the cheesecake upside down onto a plate.

Drizzle balsamic reduction and nuts over top of cheesecake and decorate plate.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with toasted good qualilty white bread or crackers (maybe vegetables?)

A New YearBluecheese "cheesecake"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Warm Winter Salads


My inspiration and motivation seem to have faded with the daylight. Cooking has become my solace, my place of contentment while I stave off the dark and cold. Even cooking gets passed up sometimes, however, and replaced with downright laziness: reheated leftovers, sitting on the couch watching a movie, or, I admit, totally wasted time online. Well, I did make a wreath, but that's because I'm cheap. I mean thrifty. The other thing that has waned? My desire to eat salads. I just don't want the cool crunch, thank you very much. Oh, and my motivation to write about it.

After eating the most amazing warm spinach salad enjoyed at Mermaid Cafe on the World of Flavors Atwood Food Tour, I was re-inspired to enjoy greens in the winter. I loved the idea of a warm salad, and began making them with seasonal greens, and giving them a bit of winter weight with local cheeses, and nuts. I was hoping to share 5 warm winter salad recipes with you, but as I mentioned, my motivation is running thin. So here are 4—I mean 2--good ones:).

Do you have a favorite cold weather salad?

Green and Gold Salad

canola oil

7 large brussels sprouts, sliced

1 large yellow carrot, grated

1 tsp grated ginger

salt

¼ cup slivered almonds

Heat oil in skillet

Add brussels sprouts and salt, cook about 3 minutes.

Add carrots and stir for about 3 minutes.

Cover and let steam for about 5 minutes or until veggies are tender

Add grated ginger and almonds. Cook one minute.

Serve.

Wilted Spinach Salad a la Mermaid Cafe

(this is my recipe based on what I sampled there—maybe I'll be lucky to get their recipe someday:)

olive oil

6 cups loose leaf, washed baby spinach

1 shallot

2 tbsp goat cheese

crumbled bacon

Cider dressing (I think any viniagrette would work tho)

Heat skillet and add oil. Gently sautee shallot in skillet, stirring often about 3 minutes.

Add the spinach. Let wilt about 1 minute.

Remove from skillet and place on plate with a dollop of goat cheese (I love Dreamfarm and Capri Creamery!)

Drizzle dressing over.

Serve with fresh baguette.