Tag Archives: cheddar

Bacon Cheddar Scones with Maple Syrup

Every once in a while, I come across something I’ve torn from the food section of our local paper.  I’m thinking this wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t shoved it into one of my cookbooks — the one most relevant to what I’d torn out.  I see bits and pieces like it wedged between pages along with notes and stickies I’ve written about recipes I’ve tried and easily slip past them when I’m on a mission for a particular recipe.  They do cause me to pause occasionally though, to dust off the mental note I made the last time I saw them and promise that I should take a look.  Make something from them.

Time passes and then really passes. Seventeen years of time passing happened while I was busy doing other things.  A household was moved, jobs changed, pets passed on, three boys raised to manhood.  That folded up one-page spread entitled “50 Boffo Biscuits” written by Andrew Schloss published in The San Diego Union-Tribune January 12-13, 1994 was tucked away through all of it, just waiting.

It originally caught my eye because the brief article read, “Here we offer eight basic formulas for biscuits and scones, with enough variations to give you 50 fun and easy ways to put them on the table in 1994.”  Looking at it now, I know I wouldn’t have noticed the very small print beneath that read, “Biscuits courtesy of Baked by Etta.”

I had to wonder who Etta was, whether she had a bakery, and if it was still around.  A quick Google search provided a location and some reviews raving about cakes like grandmother made with “pure flour, butter, and eggs.”  I knew a field trip was in order, but decided I’d entertain myself with trying some of Etta’s biscuits and scones.

You wouldn’t turn down a Bacon and Cheddar Scone, would you?

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Green Chili and Cheddar Souffle

Eggs

One of the things I’ve learned over the years about food is that often, the recipes that have a reputation for being fussy are anything but.   Souffles are a great example of this.  Think of all the times you’ve seen a cook depicted making a souffle that failed to rise, or had fallen because of a loud sound.  Why would the average cook want to waste time and ingredients on something that temperamental?

Honestly, I’ve had more trouble with brownies and biscuits before, but I’ll chalk it up to approaching a common recipe with little or no thought and then blowing it when I least expected to.  The fussy reputation of a souffle keeps me in line, and so I pay attention when I’m making one.

If you’ve never tried one, you should.  They’re perfect for a light meal on a weeknight because you will nearly always have everything you need on hand:  eggs, milk, a bit of flour, and whatever you’d like to flavor it with.  If you’re like me, your cheese drawer is always in need of attention and the combinations are just about limitless.

Just remember — it’s all about the size of the dish.

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Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Frittata

Broccoli Bacon Cheddar Frittata One of the very nice things about having a close friend is knowing that when she calls early on a Saturday and asks if I want to go somewhere with her, I don’t have to worry too much about things like fixing my hair or making sure I have eyebrows on.  On this particular occasion, it was a tomato festival of sorts and since I’ve been thinking about tomatoes I thought it would be great to avoid planting seeds and just cut to the chase with small plants.

You can call me weak.  It’s quite all right.

Nevertheless, we did drive up to the Quail Botanical Gardens to peek at the booths of herbs and homemade soaps, jams, and of course, tomato plants featured at the Tomatomania event.  I purchased several varieties including a few Super Marzanos and have lovingly planted them all in one huge pot.  Yes, I know there’s a rule about how far apart one should plant tomatoes, but I have limited space and I’m planning on watching like a hawk, making sure they get just the right amount of water and sunlight as any good helicopter parent should.

But this isn’t about tomatoes — yet.  Again.  It’s about broccoli.

My good friend is an avid gardener and is already gathering gorgeous heads of broccoli so of course, she gave me one before we set out on our Saturday morning trek.  The broccoli sat on the kitchen counter the rest of the day and I proudly showed my husband, “Look.  Look what Mrs. B grew in her very own garden.”  To my husband’s credit, he was actually quite impressed as those of us who have never grown broccoli might be and I placed the broccoli back on its towel having decided that I’d make a quiche or frittata in the morning for Sunday breakfast.

The next morning…

Picture me still semi-delirious and rinsing the coffee pot so that I might soon enjoy my daily jolt.  Picture my son bending over the very slightly wilted head of broccoli, hands in pockets and observing, “Mom.  It appears your broccoli has aphids.”

And he was right.  Hundreds of little green bugs lay perfectly around the broccoli as if someone had told them a pot of hot water was looming in their immediate future and they had all jumped ship — erm — vegetable.  The first thing I thought of was my friend because she’d mentioned they were going to have broccoli soup for dinner the night before and I wondered whether she’d noticed the bugs.  Oh, my.  There were so many tiny bugs.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed there were a variety of bugs, or at least bugs in varying stages of metamorphosis.  Stuck to the sides of the stems were dark rounds somewhat resembling scale. I sprayed the broccoli, picking through all the florettes and holding a fine-meshed strainer beneath to see what I collected.  Then I blanched the floretes, watching even more little bugs swirl in the boiling water before floating to the top.  As usual, a douse in a cold water bath to stop the cooking not only made the broccoli’s color quite vivid, but uncovered a few more critters who managed to make it through the previous attempts to rid the broccoli of their presence.

I was convinced I’d won but had to call my friend to let her know.  Yes, they’d enjoyed the broccoli soup, but no, they hadn’t seen any bugs.  Evidently we were the sole lucky recipients of the protein bonus with the broccoli.

Regardless, we enjoyed a lovely frittata that morning.  Bugs or no bugs.  Just don’t ask me to eat a grass hopper, okay?  Even if it’s deep-fried and has bacon wrapped around it.

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Mexican…Erm…Welsh Rarebit

When it comes to cheese, I guess I tend to lean toward the white side of things more so than the yellow or orange, so that means that mozzarella, feta, goat, and provolone are what I reach for first when I'm standing in front of the deli case wondering what I should throw in the cart.  And it doesn't stop there, because machego, iberico, St. Andre, brie, and camembert are also favorites.

This doesn't mean I don't care for "orange" cheese, however, and I do have to think of the resident hunkster who absolutely loves extra sharp cheddar.  Loves.  It.  Finds it in the deli drawer, looks at me and asks, "Are you saving this for anything?" and then takes a slice here and a nibble there — especially when he comes home from work and dinner isn't quite ready.

Me?  I only like it melted.  Melted in grilled cheese sandwiches, or on burgers.  Oozing between layers of pasta or in enchiladas.  Or Welsh Rabbit.

Welsh what?  Wait — cheese with rabbit?  Hmmm…

No, no rabbit.  Welsh Rarebit — or in this case, Mexican Rarebit.

Evidently, both names are correct — rarebit or rabbit — and if you're one whose interests lean toward the history of food, then there's much to read about his particular dish.  To me, it's yet another dish that is relatively quick, comforting, and fairly inexpensive — yet packed with incredible flavor.

Make a salad, pour a beer — but save one for the dish, and you're ready for another Friday night meal in.  Don't forget your napkin.Rarebit or Rabbit?

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Scrumptous Extra Sharp Cheddar Souffle

cheese souffle

Extra Sharp Cheddar Souffle

For some reason people either haven’t made a souffle before, or completely shy away from the whole idea.  I’m thinking it’s because of all those times they’ve heard about or seen segments on television shows or cartoons where the souffle has collapsed, or turns out like a brick.  I know that when I cook something for the first time, anything can happen — but not if I’m thorough in my reading of the recipe, have the right materials and ingredients, and pay attention.  And that’s usually difficult, because when you’re slugging down chardonnay as fast as I can, then things can get fuzzy.

I have made only five souffles over the years.  The first one was made in a newly remodeled kitchen with the MoH in our very new 36″ gas Dynasty range.  It came out perfect.  Truly.  The second was to celebrate a new kitchen in our current home with my VBF and her husband over for the show.  They were considering a new kitchen of their own and were thinking about what kind of range to purchase, and wanted to see my shiny 48″ Duel Fuel Wolf in action.  The only thing this range doesn’t have is four-wheel drive.  The souffle came out perfectly again.  And has each time.  We’ve even been known to scream loudly at the souffle after taking it out of the oven just to see if it would deflate.  Nope!  I’m sure that now I’m telling everyone that a souffle is safe to attempt, my next will fall completely flat.  I’ll make sure I let you know about that when it happens.

Nevertheless, take it on.  You won’t be disappointed.  I recommend Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One.  It not only provides the recipe, but variations, and also very important techniques that help improve your cooking craft.  There are no shiny food porn pictures, but that’s not the point of this book.  Just follow the directions, learn the techniques, and take your own pictures.  That will be far more worthwhile.

I chose to serve this souffle with a baby romaine salad tossed in a light basil-oil and lime vinaigrette topped with asparagus sauteed in garlic and diced prosciutto, and topped with a sort of granita made of diced and seeded tomatoes, minced shallots, and grated lemon peel.  Simply, and completely, taste bud heaven.

Scrumptous Extra Sharp Cheddar Souffle

(Souffle Au Fromage)

Serves 4
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I did not use a convection setting for this souffle)

Position rack in the middle of the oven with no rack above it.

Materials:

6-cup souffle mold (important if you want the souffle to rise up above the rim of the dish)
2-1/2 qt. saucepan
Wire whip
Mixer

Ingredients:
1 tsp butter
1 T grated fresh Parmesan (fine grate — a planer works excellently)
3 T butter
3 T flour
1 c. boiling milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch ground nutmeg
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
big pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (added because I was using an electric mixer with more than 2 whites)
3/4 c. extra sharp cheddar (used for my recipe)

Directions:

  1. Measure out all your ingredients ahead of time — Very Important!
  2. Separate egg yolks from the whites.  Add the extra egg white to the others, and save the extra yolk for another purpose if you wish.
  3. Butter inside of souffle mold and sprinkle with grated — you may need more than the 1 T stated
  4. Boil milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave while the flour mixture is cooking.
  5. In the 2-1/2 qt. saucepan, melt butter and stir in the flour, cooking over medium heat.  Allow to foam for two minutes without browning.    Remove heat.
  6. When bubbles are gone, pour all the boiling milk
  7. Beat vigorously with a wire whip until blended.  Beat in the seasonings as well.
  8. Return to medium high heat and boil, stirring with the whip for 1 minute until thick.  Remove from heat.
  9. Pour egg whites into the bowl of a mixing machine and whip on low for 1-2 minutes, add the salt and cream of tartar, and switch to high, beating until stiff and glossy, about 1 minute more.  Be careful to not overbeat.
  10. Pour egg yolks into the saucepan milk mixture one by one, whipping vigorously each time one is added.  Check seasoning, and correct to your liking.
  11. Take a very large spoonful of the eggwhites and gently fold it into the egg yolk mixture in the saucepan.  Stir in all but 1 T. of the grated cheddar cheese.
  12. Carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites, being careful to not over mix.
  13. Pour the combined mixture into the souffle dish.  It should be about 3/4 full.
  14. Tap the bottom of the dish once lightly on the counter, and carefully smooth the top of the souffle.
  15. Sprinkle remaining grated cheddar (1T) over the top.
  16. Set souffle on the middle rack of the oven.  Immediately turn the temperature down to 375 degrees.
  17. Cook for 25-30 minutes.
  18. DO NOT open oven for the first 20 minutes during cooking, or at all if you can help it.
  19. The finished souffle will be at least 2″ above the rim of the souffle dish, and nicely browned.
  20. Serve immediately to the Oooohs and Ahhhhs of your incredulous guests.