cheese

Grandma Mac and Cheese

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All of my grandchildren think that I make the absolute most wonderful, bestest, most delicious mac and cheese. And they expect at least one mac and cheese dinner when they come for a visit.

No worries. I always have one in my freezer, just in case there is ever a surprise knock on my door from one of them.

Of course I thought my grandma made the best mac and cheese too. Hers came out of a box and the cheese part were some granules that came in a separate foil package. She was supposed to mix the granules with milk and butter I think, but she never did. She just opened the package and sprinkled it on top of the cooked elbows. 

That's the way all of us grandchildren thought mac and cheese was supposed to taste. And of course, grandma made it best.

It's the way I made it for my kids. Because that was the best.

Somewhere along the way I tasted actual homemade macaroni and cheese. It was a revelation. It was wonderful. Which is NOT to say that grandma's wasn't good. It was just a whole different dish. I still think of it with fond memories. My daughters think of it with fond memories. And, btw, they also made the packaged kind and sprinkled the dry cheesy granules on top for their children. And their children love that too and probably will have fond memories of that dish.

But when they come to visit me, it's the other kind they expect and love. The from-scratch kind.

They're also pretty clear about how they like it too: moist but not overly sauced, with a combo of American and cheddar cheeses and a crispy top. No added things like tomato or cooked vegetables. No crust -- just maybe some extra grated cheese.

This is the one:

 

Grandma Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 pound small pasta such as elbows

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups milk (preferably whole milk)

  • 14-16 ounces mixed American and cheddar cheeses plus extra for garnish, shredded

  • salt to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions, rinse under cold water, drain and set aside. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, turn the heat to low-medium, add the flour and cook, stirring with a whisk, for 2-3 minutes, but do not let the mixture become brown. Gradually add the milk, stirring with a whisk to keep the sauce smooth. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add most of the cheeses, leaving some to top the dish as garnish. Add some salt and continue to whisk the sauce until all the cheese has melted. Add the pasta and mix to coat all the pieces. Eat as is, sprinkled with extra cheese, OR place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes to crisp the top. 

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Orange and Vanilla Scented Cheese Stuffed Dates

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Sometimes I think life is a bunch of holidays with not much in between, except for the entire month of January.

I suppose that's a good thing, because holidays are happy and celebratory. Also, there's the food. Except for Yom Kippur, every holiday has food. And even when it comes to Yom Kippur, there's the break-the-fast when it's all over and the break-the-fast is all about food. 

As far as holidays go, at this point of the year, we've just finished Thanksgiving. Next up? Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is a really delicious holiday. Lots of fried stuff like latkes and doughnuts.

It's also a dairy holiday because of the story of Judith. You can read all about it here

So for me, in honor of Judith, in addition to the usual potato latkes and doughnuts, I have served cheese latkes and potato latkes with a yogurt based sauce laced with lemongrassPotato Galette with Caramelized Onions and Cheese has been on my Hanukkah menu and also Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel

Desserts? I could go with Meyer Lemon Yogurt Pie (you can use regular lemons) or maybe Baked Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce and Cranberries. Maybe even cheesecake. Or some fabulous cheesecake cookies!

And also these stuffed dates! Easy to make, not too sweet (no added sugar), these little morsels are perfect for the holiday. If you don't want to use almonds for garnish, crushed, toasted coconut will do nicely.

 

ORANGE-VANILLA SCENTED CHEESE STUFFED DATES

  • 12 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons crushed toasted almonds (or pistachios or crushed, toasted coconut)

Cut the dates through the center, but not all the way through to the bottom. Remove the pit and spread the date slightly to form a hollow for filling. Mix the cram cheese, yogurt, orange peel and vanilla extract in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth and soft. Fill the dates with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the nuts.

Makes 12 

Herbed Feta Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives

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A few weeks ago I took a quickie trip to Berlin with my daughter. We took a stroll through the Turkish outdoor market, where I saw someone selling a gorgeous hunk of feta cheese, scattered with sundried tomatoes and olives, seasoned with herbs and sprinkled with a drizzle of olive oil.

I noted the ingredients and took a photo. 

It looked so delicious that the moment I saw this cheese thing I knew I had to make it at home.

I did.

It is as good as I thought it would be. I served it to guests last weekend.

They raved.

Here's the recipe. 

Herbed Feta Cheese with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives

  • 1/2 pound feta cheese
  • 3 sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 8-10 imported black pitted olives
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Cut the feta cheese into thick slices and place on a serving dish. Chop the sundried tomatoes and scatter them over the cheese. Scatter the olives around the cheese and dish. Scatter the parsley over the ingredients and sprinkle with the oregano and some Aleppo pepper to taste. Drizzle the olive oil on top.

Makes 8-10 servings

 

Cheese and Vegetable Kugel

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When my kids were young and still living at home, I made kugel a lot. My daughters were not terribly anti-vegetable, but I realized that pairing veggies and noodles would make it even easier to have more vegetables at our meals.

Also, it is a good way to use leftovers -- the recipe below is extremely versatile. Add cut up cooked green beans or asparagus, corn kernels, peas. Like that.

This kugel is filling enough for dinner. Also yummy with a sunny-side egg or two on top of each serving for a meatless (Monday) dinner. And a wonderful choice for dairy-fest Shavuot.

Veggie Kugel

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 10-12 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach or kale, washed and dried, coarsely cut
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 12 ounces medium-wide egg noodles
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • paprika

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9”x9” baking dish. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until it has wilted (kale may take a minute or so longer). Add the carrots and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and set aside. Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, the cooked vegetables, eggs, sour cream and 3/4 cup of the Swiss cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir to mix ingredients well. Place in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese and paprika. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

Caprese Salad Grilled Cheese

Someone should build a monument to the grilled cheese sandwich.  
  Say what you will about burgers or hot dogs, I don’t think any other dish is as well loved as this one. We should preserve one in a time capsule and send it to another universe so whoever eventually gets it will know how good the food is here.  
 Anyone old kind of grilled cheese sandwich will do. The  plain old classic  works: cheddar or American cheese on white bread. But few would argue the merit of  variations . 
 Like this one: caprese salad grilled cheese panini made with fresh mozzarella cheese, ripe red tomatoes, fragrant basil and fruity olive oil inside a crusty hunk of ciabatta, fried to a crisp in a little butter. 
 It’s the perfect light lunch or supper, weekend brunch dish. Excellent choice for Shavuot, the “cheese” holiday.                                                                                                                                                                                  
 Caprese Salad Grilled Cheese                                                                                                                                                                                        
 ciabatta bread (or 2 slices sourdough bread) 
 2 teaspoons olive oil 
 3-1/2 to 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 
 3-4 slices fresh tomato 
 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 
 2 teaspoons butter 

 Cut the bread to make two sandwich size slices from the loaf. Brush or spoon one teaspoon olive oil on each bread slice. Place the cheese on one of the bread slices. Place the tomato slices on top of the cheese. Scatter the basil on top. Cover with the second bread slice. Melt half the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, place the sandwich in the pan. Weight down the sandwich (use a large pan with a saucepan or cans inside; or use a panini grill). Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom slice of bread is crusty and brown. Lift the sandwich using a rigid spatula. Add the remaining butter to the pan. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the sandwich, uncooked side down. Replace the weights. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the bottom is crusty and brown and the cheese is melted. 
 Makes one sandwich 
  An InLinkz Link-up

Someone should build a monument to the grilled cheese sandwich.

Say what you will about burgers or hot dogs, I don’t think any other dish is as well loved as this one. We should preserve one in a time capsule and send it to another universe so whoever eventually gets it will know how good the food is here.

Anyone old kind of grilled cheese sandwich will do. The plain old classic works: cheddar or American cheese on white bread. But few would argue the merit of variations.

Like this one: caprese salad grilled cheese panini made with fresh mozzarella cheese, ripe red tomatoes, fragrant basil and fruity olive oil inside a crusty hunk of ciabatta, fried to a crisp in a little butter.

It’s the perfect light lunch or supper, weekend brunch dish. Excellent choice for Shavuot, the “cheese” holiday.                                                                                                                                                                                 

Caprese Salad Grilled Cheese                                                                                                                                                                                       

ciabatta bread (or 2 slices sourdough bread)

2 teaspoons olive oil

3-1/2 to 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

3-4 slices fresh tomato

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons butter

Cut the bread to make two sandwich size slices from the loaf. Brush or spoon one teaspoon olive oil on each bread slice. Place the cheese on one of the bread slices. Place the tomato slices on top of the cheese. Scatter the basil on top. Cover with the second bread slice. Melt half the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, place the sandwich in the pan. Weight down the sandwich (use a large pan with a saucepan or cans inside; or use a panini grill). Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom slice of bread is crusty and brown. Lift the sandwich using a rigid spatula. Add the remaining butter to the pan. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the sandwich, uncooked side down. Replace the weights. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the bottom is crusty and brown and the cheese is melted.

Makes one sandwich

Blue Cheese and Almond Stuffed Dates

Here’s a quickie hors d’oeuvre you can make if you’re having people over the watch the Superbowl. I’m actually bringing some to my brother Jeff’s house. He and Eileen always are the Superbowl hosts and we usually don’t eat real dinner until much later than we get there, so we need some nibbles for the pre-game show and the pre-pre-game stuff. 
 These take about 5 minutes to make and best of all, you can eat them as is or heat them in a 375 degree oven until they’re hot. 

 Blue Cheese and Almond Stuffed Dates 

 24 large dates, preferably Medjool 
 1/2 cup blue veined cheese  
 1/4 cup chopped smoked almonds 
 3 tablespoons brandy 

 Slit the dates open lengthwise and remove the pits. Combine the cheese, almonds and brandy in a small bowl and mix to blend them. Use equal portions of the cheese mixture to stuff the insides of the dates. Eat as is OR, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the stuffed dates on a cookie sheet and bake for 2-3 minutes or until just hot. Can be prepared ahead up to the point of heating. Makes 24

Here’s a quickie hors d’oeuvre you can make if you’re having people over the watch the Superbowl. I’m actually bringing some to my brother Jeff’s house. He and Eileen always are the Superbowl hosts and we usually don’t eat real dinner until much later than we get there, so we need some nibbles for the pre-game show and the pre-pre-game stuff.

These take about 5 minutes to make and best of all, you can eat them as is or heat them in a 375 degree oven until they’re hot.

Blue Cheese and Almond Stuffed Dates

24 large dates, preferably Medjool

1/2 cup blue veined cheese 

1/4 cup chopped smoked almonds

3 tablespoons brandy

Slit the dates open lengthwise and remove the pits. Combine the cheese, almonds and brandy in a small bowl and mix to blend them. Use equal portions of the cheese mixture to stuff the insides of the dates. Eat as is OR, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the stuffed dates on a cookie sheet and bake for 2-3 minutes or until just hot. Can be prepared ahead up to the point of heating. Makes 24