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Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

The word quiche derives from the german word “kuchen” which means cake.  The french of the Lorraine region adapted the original german version “Lothringer Speckkuchen” of a bread pie with eggs, cream and bacon by later adding gruyere cheese and a pastry crust to make the modern Quiche Lorraine.

I was given an onion and cheese quiche recipe at a cheese tasting course Emilio and I attended las December and have been experimenting with it ever since.  It was much easier than I expected and my friends and family love it.  Actually, this version is really called Quiche Alsacienne from the Alsace region in France.  The main difference from the Quiche Lorraine is the addition of onions to the filling. This dish is mainly served for breakfast or brunch. Here is my version of Quiche Alsacienne.

Bon Appetit!

Quiche Alsacienne

Dough

1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 cup butter (cold)

3 tbsp water

Filling

2 tbsp butter

1 large thinly sliced onion

5 bacon strips (chopped)

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp kosher salt

pepper to taste

approximately 3 ounces of grated hard cheese (Comte, Gruyere, Cheddar or Manchego) note: depending on the grater (mine grates very thin) it is a little over 1 cup of grated cheese.

Procedure

1.  Sift flour and salt into a bowl.  Add cold butter cut into cubes and mix with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer ( you can also do it with your fingers or with a food processor) until the mixture resembles crumbs.  Add the water to make a firm dough. Knead the dough until smooth (add more water if you need to).  Wrap in clear film and chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.

2.  Roll out the dough (about 1/4 inch thick or less) on a lightly floured surface, big enough to line a 10 inch flan tin with a removable base .

fold pastry like this to safely place in middle of flan tin, then spread out to the sides


3.  Fold outer edges of dough in to be able to place the pastry in the middle of the flan tin without breaking or falling apart.  Press the pastry to the sides and let rise above the rim by about 1/2  an inch to allow for shrinkage.  Prick the pastry base with a fork a few times.

4.  Line pastry with foil paper and pie crust beads (or dried beans) and chill again for about 15 minutes.

5.  Preheat oven at 400º f.

6.  Place the flan tin on a baking sheet and bake “blind” or covered with the foil paper and beads for 15 minutes.  Remove the beads and foil and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºf.

7.  Meanwhile, make filling by melting butter in a large saute pan (medium heat).  Saute bacon for about 7-8 minutes until cooked  but not brown and crispy.  Add onion and  saute for about 8-10 minutes until cooked and caramelized.

8.  In a bowl, beat the egg with a whisk.  Add heavy cream and seasonings and continue to whisk until some bubbles form at the top.

9.  While still on the baking sheet, spoon onion mixture into cooked pastry and scatter.  Add grated cheese and pour egg-cream mixture slowly over the filling, making sure none spills over the edge of the pastry case.

10.  Cook for 35 minutes or until filling has just set.

11.  Remove from oven, let cool down and remove from flan tin.  Place on serving plate. Serve warm for breakfast or brunch.

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Sandwichitos de Mezcla- Pimento and cheese sandwich spread

These sandwiches are a must at birthday parties and school activities in Puerto Rico.  It is easy and savory and totally addictive for kids and their parents! Here I will post my recipe and a variation.  I have made both for many years and both have a “cult following”.  It is also great for picnics or as a snack on boat trips.  I usually cut them into squares or triangles but if you want to be creative, first cut bread with cookie cutters like circles or flowers (4 out of every slice) and put mixture in piping bags to make cute bite size sandwiches.  Also, you can make themed sandwiches like the ones I made for my daughter’s kindergarten Halloween party (these are a larger size).



Note:  Make sure you store the sandwiches between two layers of damp paper towel (top and bottom of tray) and cover with lid or foil paper so that the bread stays soft, specially if refrigerated overnight.

Enjoy!

Sandwichitos de Mezcla- Pimento and cheese sandwich spread

Ingredients

16 ounces Velveeta cheese (or Longhorn style cheddar cheese or queso de papa) cubed

1  (12 ounce) can of Spam cubed

7 ounces can of pimentos (including liquid)

1/2 medium onion

variation

1 cup of Kraft sandwich spread (This is optional. My original recipe has only the first four ingredients but some people like to add this spread to the mixture or use it as a substitute of the Spam if you want it without ham)

Procedure



1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times in the beginning and then continuously for a few minutes until a smooth paste forms. (enough mixture for about 2 pounds of club bread)

2.  Spread on club sandwich bread to make sandwich and cut corners with serrated knife. Cut into squares or triangles. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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Cheese Fondue

Last night I invited my brothers for dinner to watch the premiere of the last season of the ABC’s television series Lost. We have been following this show for the past 4 years so we are excited the final season has finally started to give us the answers to all the mysteries and entangled stories that have us so confused.  We all have our theories and interpretations and have long discussions about the characters and the hidden meanings behind this and that.  Not since I was in college (early 1990’s) and followed Friends and Seinfeld in “Must see TV” on thursday nights in NBC, have I been so excited about a tv series.  This must sound silly, but I admit I don’t get to watch a lot of tv between work, parenting and being a wife, daughter and friend.

As part of our meal, I made my version of Cheese Fondue.  Swiss fondue originated in Switzerland in the 18th century in the canton of Neuchatel.  The word fondue has its roots in the french word “fondre” (to melt) and its past participle “fondu” (melted).  The traditional swiss fondue includes rubbing garlic in the botton of the melting pot (“caquelon”), and melting Gruyére (hard cheese) and Emmenthal (semisoft cheese) with white wine and Kirsh (cherry liqueur).  Some recipes suggest adding cornstarch or flour to help incorporate the ingredients to become a semi-liquid substance. Temperature is key because you don’t want it to be too hot that it burns or coagulates the cheese or too low that the cheese mixture becomes hard.

When Emilio and I got married, we got a fondue melting pot from Le Creuset as a present.  It took me several years to take it out of the box and use it.  Yes, I was afraid of it!  Now its one of my favorite things to use in the kitchen.  Its fun and easy for a small group of guests (maybe you can make it for the Superbowl!) but not for large parties.  Make your fondue in your gas stove top if you have one (simmer) and have your guests gather in the kitchen or use a gel alcohol burner under the frame to put it at the dinner table.  I don’t particularly like using tealights because its harder to control heat.  I use Cointreau instead of Kirsh.  Cognac will also do the trick. I mince the garlic and leave it in the mixture instead of just rubbing the sides of the pot.   Last but not least, don’t forget about eating “la religieuse” (the nun) or the thin crust of toasted cheese left at the bottom of the pot. Delicious!  Bon appetit!

Cheese Fondue

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virging olive oil

1 large clove of garlic (minced)

1/2 pound Gruyére Cheese (coarsely shredded)

1/2 pound Comté or Emmenthal (coarsely shredded)

1/4 pound Muenster cheese ( coarsely shredded)

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup of white wine

2 tbs Cointreau

Crusty bread cut in cubes (bagette and ciabatta are my favorites)

Procedure


1.  Put extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic in pot and allow to simmer a few minutes. Do not burn garlic.

2.  Add shredded cheese (in batches), wine, corn starch and liqueur and contantly stir until all ingredients are incorporated (for about 20 min)

3.  Have crusty bread cut in cubes and skewers or forks ready for dipping.

FYI, Marco Dettling, maitre fromager from The Cheese Market in Puerto Rico, has a ready-to-use fondue mixture of artisanal cheeses from Europe, in case you don’t want to go through the trouble of shredding the cheese. They deliver the shredded cheeses to your home and you do the rest. If you live on the island, here’s the contact info. (thecheesemarket@gmail.com  ; tel 939-389-4351)

Note:  I also make a version of muenster cheese and white cheddar which my kids adore.  Just substitute the gruyére and comte with these cheeses and follow the same directions.


The possibilities are endless.  You may also use Vacherin and Sbrinz as alternative cheeses.

Enjoy!

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This week I am making an early posting because on wednesday we are going away on vacation to Colorado for New Year’s Celebration.  The kids are very excited and looking forward to making snow angels and of course skiing.  It’s a good change for us form the constant heat in Puerto Rico (although I am sure by the end of our vacation we will be more than happy to return to the warm sun in the island).

Last week I got together with some of my dear lifelong girlfriends. We try to see each other as often as possible but family life, work, school and different zip codes don’t always allow us that pleasure.  At the request of two of the “girls” that were simultaneously visiting the island for the holidays, we had a “mother and daughter happy hour” in which our moms and us sipped champagne and snacked on my famous fried gouda cheese balls (bolitas de queso fritas).  We had a wonderful time sharing stories, remembering the “good old days”  and catching up on life.

This appetizer is always a hit! What more can I tell you… I love fritters! But not only is this appetizer tasty, but you can make it ahead of time, freeze it, and fry it whenever you have unexpected guests or for an impromptu gathering.  It is a simple and easy recipe and doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare. My sister-in-law is a big fan of this recipe and it is now one of her specialties!  Can be eaten alone or with guava dipping sauce.

Gouda cheese balls

makes about 60 spheres

Ingredients

1 pound of gouda cheese (shredded)

1 egg white (lightly beaten)

2 tbsp all purpose flour

about 1/2 cup of cracker meal

Procedure:


1.  Shred 1 pound of Gouda cheese ( in food processor with shredder attachment or with a grater).

2.  Add  egg white and all purpose flour in a bowl and mix well with your hands.

3.  Shape into spheres with the palm of your hands, about the size of a quarter coin in diameter.

4.  Roll each ball into the cracker meal to seal.

5.  Refrigerate at least half an hour before frying. It is important that they are cold (not frozen) when you fry them to lower the chances of sticking and breaking apart. If frozen, let thaw for about an hour before frying.

6.  Deep-fry in a heavy bottom pot or in a deep-fryer for about 2-3 minutes in very hot vegetable or canola oil (about 350º f) until golden brown. Use a spoon to remove from the oil preferably one with holes so that the oil drips. Do not use a fork.

7.   Fry in small batches so that they don’t stick together and break apart.    Let stand in a plate lined with paper towel to drain.

Enjoy!

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