Posts tagged: cheese

Asparagus and Brie Soup

Asparagus and brie soup

Asparagus and brie soup

I love asparagus and I love brie. So why not combine the two? The mustiness if the brie combines very well with the vegetal nature of the asparagus and while this soup seems like it would be very rich… it is. But so worth it.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, cut into small pieces, lower portions removed
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup white wine
4 to 6 ounces Brie, rind removed and cubed
Dash salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Saute the asparagus in a saucepan with the butter until tender. Stir in the flour and mix until the flour absorbs the liquid. Cook the  flour for about 2 minutes or until golden brown, forming a roux. Add the broth slowly, then add cream and wine. Bring to a slow boil and reduce the heat, simmering for 10-15 minutes.

2. Blend the soup with a hand blender, or in small batches in a food processor. Return to soup the pan and add brie, stirring gently. Simmer at a low heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade ricotta cheese

Homemade ricotta cheese

Cheese is not something that people often think to make at home, but there is nothing in the world quite like fresh ricotta cheese. Surprisingly easy to make, this staple (in my house) is above and beyond store-bought ricotta. I often use this in our other staple, lasagna, and we even eat it plain in a bowl with a little salt and pepper, as we would eat cottage cheese. Ricotta is one of the easiest cheeses to make at home as it requires no rennet (special enzymes to curdle the milk) nor does it require any aging or care. It is the ‘lazy person’s’ cheese, so to speak, but there is nothing lazy about how fast I eat it.

Ingredients
1 gallon whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
1 quart buttermilk
4 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice

You will also need a thermometer, sieve or colander, and some cheesecloth.

Directions
1. Combine the milk, buttermilk, cream, and salt in a non-reactive pan.

Forming curds

Forming curds

2. Prepare the colander for the draining process by moistening a few sheets of cheesecloth and layering them in the colander. This is where you will be placing the curds to drain excess whey. I place the colander in the sink to drain.

3. Attach the thermometer to the pan so that you may monitor the temperature.

4. Heat the mixture on high, stirring occasionally to prevent any milk from scorching on the bottom of the pan.

5. When the milk has reached about 175 degrees F, add the lemon juice and gently stir it in. You will see curds start to form immediately. Allow a few minutes for more curds to accumulate, stirring very gently on occasion.

Spooning curds

Spooning curds

6. Using a skimmer or sieve, remove curds from the pot and place them in the cheesecloth lined colander. The moisture level of the cheese will be determined by how long you let it drain. I like a moist ricotta, so I let it drain about five to ten minutes, but for a more firm cheese, let the curds drain longer.

7. When the curds have finished draining, remove them and eat immediately for the best ricotta you have ever tasted. The cheese will also last a few days in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Mexican Red Bell Pepper and Cheese Soup

mexican red bell pepper soup

Mexican Red Bell Pepper Soup

This soup is very easy to make in just a few minutes. It is the classic tale of looking in the refrigerator and finding no food. What I did find was a red bell pepper, and a few hunks of cheese. The old potato in the wire basket made the dish almost complete. The cheese and the potato give this soup a creamy consistency which is really amazing. The sweetness and distinct flavor of the pepper really come through, even with the intensity of the cheese. You can also use low fat versions of the cheeses with great results. Sometimes I add a chile pepper to give it a nice kick, and pepper jack cheese would do the trick as well. I will also generally use whatever cheese I have on hand, the choice is yours. One really nice aspect of this soup is that by adding the shredded cheese and incorporating it into the hot soup off the heat, most of the cheese melts in, however you will still find cheese strands throughout the soup, giving it a really wonderful combination of textures.

Ingredients
1 big red bell pepper (or 2 small ones), seeded with the pith (ribs) removed
1 medium potato
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 cups mixed shredded cheese (I usually use Cheddar, Queso Fresco, & Asadero), regular or low fat

Directions
1. Cut the pepper and potato into small pieces and place in a pot with the stock, cooking it at a medium-high heat.

2. After 10 minutes or so, use a hand blender to puree the soup (this can be done by pouring it into a blender as well if you don’t have the hand version).

3. Turn off the heat and add the cheese, stirring to melt it thoroughly. When the cheese has melted, which takes a minute or so, you are ready to serve.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Supreme de Volaille a la Milanaise

This classic, simple chicken dish is rich and flavorful while still being easy to make.

Ingredients
4 chicken cutlets
salt
pepper
flour
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup fine, fresh bread crumbs
1 egg, well beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated

Sauce Ingredients
4 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions
1. Lightly season each cutlet with salt and pepper.

2. Line up three plates — one with 1 cup flour, the 2nd with the egg , 1/8 tsp salt, and1/2 tsp olive oil mixed together, and the third with the mixed cheeses (Parmesan & Romano) and bread crumbs.

3. Take each cutlet, coat with flour, then egg mixture, then cheeses. Let rest on waxed paper for at least half an hour.

4. Saute the cutlets in butter (4 Tbsp) and olive oil (2Tbsp) for approximately 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes in second side, until brown and firm to the touch.

5. Keep warm in a low oven (150 degrees) until ready to serve.

For the sauce:
Put 4 Tbsp butter in a skillet over moderate heat until it turns light brown. Remove from heat and, add lemon and parsley. Spoon over cutlets and serve.

Serves 2 to 4

Petti di Pollo alla Bolognese

Ingredients
2 whole chicken breasts, split, skinned & boned
3 Tbsp. finely minced parsley
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 lb. Bel Paese cheese, cut into thin slices
flour for dusting
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. chicken stock
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter, firm, cut into little bits
8 very thin slices prosciutto

Directions
1. With a very sharp knife, slice each breast in half horizontally. Place each piece between sheets of waxed paper and lightly pound with the flat side of a wooden mallet until the chicken is about 1/4” thick. Salt and pepper breasts and coat with flour, shaking to remove excess.

2. Butter an ovenproof serving dish with 1Tbsp. butter. Be sure dish will hold all the chicken in one layer. Set aside.

3. Heat 3 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. oil together in large, heavy skillet over fairly high heat. Add chicken and saute 2 minutes on each side, without over browning. Place in a serving dish.

4. Completely mask each piece of chicken with a single layer of prosciutto. Lightly sprinkle with parsley and mask completely with the Bel Paese. Be sure the cheese comes down over the edges of the chicken so it will become sealed.

5. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over chicken. Gently pour in chicken stock around the chicken, dot with bits of butter and place in upper third of a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Run under broiler for a minute or less to brown slightly if necessary. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 2 to 4

NOTE: To do ahead, stop after sprinkling with Parmesan and refrigerate. Add stock and butter and heat before serving