Category Archives: Cheese Dishes

Quiche Lorraine

Real men don’t eat quiche?  Garbage.  Since when do men not like bacon, eggs and cheese in portable form?  Quiche Lorraine is the ultimate symbol of breakfast majesty – it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night trips to the fridge when you want a bite of a little something savory.  I’m all for serving this quiche with a plate of mixed greens (maybe in some Tarragon Lemon dressing?) but in actuality, I end up eating it still in the kitchen over the pan after it’s cooled to room temperature.  I’ll pass on standing on ceremony – if it’s good, I’m tucking in.

Quiche Lorraine © Spice or Die

This quiche recipe is incredibly versatile – if you’re so inclined, replace the 1 1/2 c. of ham with whatever filling you’d like.  For you vegetarian lovelies out there, try mushrooms, spinach, swiss chard, shallots – anything you put in an omlette can go in a quiche.  In fact, for a vegetarian delight, try my Green and Gold Quiche, a tasty blend of mushrooms, spinach, shallots and sharp white cheddar.  It’s not at all traditional, but equally grubworthy as this Quiche Lorraine. Continue reading Quiche Lorraine

Classic Mac and Cheese

Melt My Heart

Classic mac and cheese has to be in the pantheon of ultimate comfort foods.  Of the folks that deign to make their own from scratch, they each seem to have their own secret recipe that is tailored to their unique tastes.  Mine is a perfect reflection of my love of spice and texture – I give the sauce heat with a slew of different piquant ingredients, and add crunch with a lovely dose of panko (japanese bread crumbs).  It’s some majesty.

Classic Mac and Cheese © Spice or Die

There are two schools of homemade mac and cheese recipes – one where the sauce is made from a cooked bechamel, and the other which is made from an uncooked custard of eggs and cream that form a sauce upon baking.  I’m in the bechamel school – it’s how I learned to make it from my mom, and we all know that mama is always right.  If you’ve never made a bechamel before, it’s an incredibly simple and versatile sauce that you’ll be happy to have in your culinary repertoire.  I make my bechamel extra savory with a secret ingredient – grated onion.  The bits of onion, cut with a box grater on the fine setting, manage to melt into the sauce, imparting flavor without you tasting distinct bits of onion.  Secret ingredients should be just that – a secret.

This mac and cheese is interesting as leftovers – the sauce turns into a solid custard, which is deliciously guilty when eaten cold.  It’s incredibly easy to cut into squares, which is why I can image Paula Deen (who just so happens to be in the egg custard school of mac and cheese) has fun breading and deep frying chunks of leftover mac and cheese.  I personally don’t do this, but I won’t look at you funny if you decide to give it a try.  Comfort food should do what you will it to, and if you want to deep fry, there’s no time better than the present.

For my darling vegan friends, I have perfected the most luscious version of this recipe with absolutely no dairy.  I’ll post it as soon as I make a batch and snap some pics.

Classic Mac and Cheese

1 lb. of elbow macaroni
4 tbs. of butter
4 tbs. of flour
1/4 c. of grated onion, juices and all
4 c. of milk
2 tsp. of salt
1/8 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/8 tsp. of white pepper
2 tsp. of worchestershire sauce
2 tsp. of deli mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 c. of extra sharp cheddar, shredded
2 c. of colby jack, shredded
1/2 c. of panko bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs)
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
2 tbs. of grated parmasean

Preheat oven to 400°.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta until al dente and drain.

While pasta is boiling, make your sauce.  In a large sized pot, melt your butter on medium-low heat.  Whisk the flour into the butter to form a smooth paste.  Add the grated onion and stir.  Slowly add the milk in a steady stream, whisking the whole time to prevent lumps.  Add the salt, paprika, black pepper, white pepper, worchestershire sauce, mustard and cayenne.  Turn up heat and continue whisking until sauce thickens.  Turn off the heat and add the 4 c. of cheese and whisk until melted.

Dump macaroni into the pot with the sauce and stir.  Pour out macaroni and sauce into a buttered dish.  In a small bowl, mix the 2 cups of colby jack, panko, paprika, black pepper and parmasean.  Top the macaroni with the cheese mixture.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden.  Let sit for 4-5 minutes and then serve.

Boursin (for Fakers)

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

What’s the deal with the price gouging at the grocery store?  Makes a girl get all huffy and work on a recipe for homemade majesty to save some bucks.

You’ve probably seen/had boursin before, a creamy fresh cheese spiked with herbs and a healthy shot of pepper.  The cheese, created in Normandy, is a delicious treat on crackers and bread, and a perennial party pleaser.  Problem is the stuff runs about $5-6 for a mere 5 oz.  I could warrant spending that much on a fancier cheese, but on something in the aisle next to the Rondele?  Forget it.

My childhood church put out a cookbook back when I was a kiddie, and one of the recipes in there was a Homemade Boursin.  A combination of dried herbs, cream cheese and butter, it was close enough to the original stuff that I couldn’t see a reason to spend the money on the real stuff.

I don’t really know where the original recipe’s gone, but I’ve been making this version for years – a spicier alternative with both white and black pepper and a shot of chopped garlic.  I also make it with half the fat by using Neufchatel and SmartBalance spread in lieu of butter and cream cheese (you can certainly go full fat if you’d like, though).  The whole mess is whipped up in the food processor in mere seconds, and I then get to watch as it’s systematically devoured at parties.  The best kind of recipe of all :)

To my vegan friends, I’ve made this with Tofutti and vegan margarine before and it is absolutely as good as the vegetarian version.  Definitely give it a try – your dairy consuming buddies won’t know the difference.

Boursin (for Fakers)

8 oz. of neufchatel (or other cream cheese), softened
4 tbs. of Smart Balance spread (or butter), softened
1 1/2 tbs. of dried herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, tarragon – I just use Herbes de Provence and call it a day)
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
1/2 tbs. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 cl. of garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients well (or blend in a food processor).  Serve with crusty bread, toasts or crackers.

String Bean & Heirloom Tomato Salad

Summer, Summer, Summer Time! Oooooooh, Summertime!

Ok, maybe not summer yet, but I do like it when I can get produce to do my bidding at any given season and remind me of the joys of a fruitful harvest from the garden.  This salad, based on one that I fell in love with at the restaurant The Smith, is a bright assortment of crisp and tart, sweet and salty flavors.  It’ll make you want to sit in a hammock and sway on a warm summer night.

The salad calls for heirloom cherry tomatoes, but these little gems can be hard to come by out of season.  As such, get the freshest ripest tomatoes you can find, regardless of size or color.  In the middle of the summer, stores and markets offer what they sometimes call “ugly” tomatoes – these are actually heirlooms that are truly the tastiest tomatoes you can buy.  Bumpy and abnormally shaped on the outside, they are bursting with juicy sweetness, reminding you of the joys of homegrown produce.  My favorites are an heirloom variety that I used to grow back in the day called “Black Krim’s” – they were a sickly dark green on the outside and a gorgeous purple on the inside.  I only gave them to people I liked, even when I had bumper crops of tomatoes hanging from the burdened vines. Continue reading String Bean & Heirloom Tomato Salad