Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baked Camembert In A Box With Pear Chutney

 I don't know if that has happened to you as well, but lately I had problems with my comment box.
Several of my readers wrote me on FB that they were unable to comment because there was no comment box at the post page.
I'm really sorry for this inconvenience and want to thank them for trying and often insisting, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
Thanks a million, I really appreciate it, comments are the soul food for all of us bloggers, the feedback that let us know your thoughts , suggestions and support.
The other issue was that after a certain amount of comments ( usually about 50) no other comments entered. I could read them by E-mail but they didn't appear on my post and I was unable to reply.
Suggestions or proposals for solutions are highly appreciated. :))

But now let's  go back to a much more pleasant subject.
As you may have noticed  when reading my last posts, I'm still a bit cheeseaholic and discovered a delightful recipe watching a cooking program on TV last week that presented baked Camembert in a box with crunchy crostini.
As I had some fresh pears at home, I thought it might be a good idea to prepare a pear chutney and pair it with the warm Camembert.
The result was delicious- the warm,melted Camembert with a mild Rosemary fragrance matched very well with the spicy sweetness of the Chutney.
A real danger on our table - we could have repeated once or twice sans regret! 

Here is what you need :
2 whole Camemberts in its box
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig Rosemary

For the pear chutney
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 kg ripe but firm pears, cored and cut into 1/4 dices
1 tablespoon brown sugar (I didn't have brown sugar at hand so I used white granulated sugar, but I recommend brown sugar for this recipe)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated garlic
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nut meg
1 teaspoons brown or black mustard sheets
A good pinch of Tumeric or Saffron  to add color
1 sprig rosemary

Peel and grate the ginger, set aside.

Peel and core the pears, cut into medium dices.
Heat a large pan with the oil and add pears,ginger,garlic and rosemary.

Fry until pears soften slightly, than add the sugar, cloves, mustard sheets and nutmeg until fruits start to caramelize.
Add the cider vinegar, bring to a boil,turn down the heat and let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and begins to thicken.
Stir frequently during this process, so the pears won't stick.
Do not overcook, the pears should keep their shape.
Add Saffron or Tumeric, season with salt.

Remove Rosemary sprig. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Sprinkle with chopped rosemary.

Baked Camembert in a box.
Preheat the oven at 180C / 350F
Remove any plastic packaging from the cheese, put the camembert back in its box.

Cut off the top layer of the skin.
With the help of a knife, insert some rosemary tips and garlic slices.

Dizzle with olive oil.

 Bake in the hot oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the center of the cheese is melted.
Some cheesy leftovers from the baking tray ,mmh :)

 Decorate with rosemary sprigs and some dried cranberries.

Serves 2. Bon Appetit!
See you next week.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall Delight: Easy Cheese Souflee

As you can see from my last post, I feel a bit cheese centric lately.
Probably it all started during our 8-year stay in Switzerland.
We lived 3 years in Geneva and 5 years in the country's capital, Bern.
From both places, we often made excursions to Gruyere, birthplace of the famous Gruyere Cheese.
There it's inevitable to visit the cheese factory which introduces visitors to the secrets of cheese manufacturing.
It's an experience for all senses, most of all for your sense of smell.
Either you love it or you hate it. 
I personally loved it but one of my boys hated cheese from this day on until now.
You never know!
This is how my interest in cheese started and I began to collect cheese-based recipes.
The different aromas and ingredients are amazing.
Cheese can be made of cows, goats,buffalo, sheep or camel milk (did I get all?)
It can range from mild, soft cheese to aged hard cheese and a huge variety of textures and flavors in between.

 My cheese soufflee is made from aged gouda but you can choose any shredded cheese of your liking and play a bit with the flavors.
I tried to keep the recipe very simple and easy. Preparing Souffle isn't as difficult as many people think.
The only trick is to serve it immediately if not it will sadly shrink to a Hobbit like appearance.
:(                                                                   :(                                                               :(                        

You need:

1/2 cup breadcrumbs
250 g  Quark light (or creamy cottage cheese)
4 egg yolks
80 g shredded aged Gouda
30 g corn starch
3 egg whites
Butter and breadcrumbs to grease the molds
Salt, freshly ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Butter 4 soufflee dishes, than "dust" with breadcrumbs and remove the excess.

Heat oven at 160 C.
Put the forms in a large roasting tray, fill up to 2cm with hot water, enough to come up 1/3 way up their outside. 
Whisk the Quark with the egg yolks until creamy.

Add the cheese, mix well, then add the cornstarch, the bread crumbs,salt ,pepper and nutmeg.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites bit by bit into the cheese mixture.

Put the mixture in the molds.

Bake up to ...... or until puffed and golden. SERVE IMMEDIATELY.

As it tooked some time to take the picture, the souffle downsized already a bit. :)

Serves 4. Enjoy! See you next week.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Goat Cheese Au Gratin With Figs in Red Wine Syrup and Rocket Salad

I know,I know- summer is gone and we are all a bit nostalgic about those wonderful sunny days and the long warm evenings.
But shall I confess something to you? - It's (early) fall and that is my favorite season.
While some of you may only love summer, I just can't help loving these beautiful October days with Mother Nature displaying the most gorgeous colors in a warm autumn light.
So what can be better than to celebrate the season with some wonderful ripe figs, red wine and pair these delights with a crispy goat cheese au gratin?
And  why not indulge this week in a delicious fall treat, just to get in the mood?
If you want to join the celebration, this is what you need:

220g goat cheese log cut into 1 1/2 cm thick slices
2  rosemary sprigs
2 ripe purple figs
250ml full bodied red wine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
The zest of 1 lemon
1 clove
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 spoonful of roasted, coarsley chopped pine nuts

For the salad dressing:
300ml extra virgin olive oil
100ml Balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper


For the figs in red wine syrup:
Quarter the figs. Then halve each quarter. Set aside.

Chop 1/4 fig coarsley

Pour the wine in a medium sauce pan, add sugar,spices, lemon zest and the 1/2 spoonful of chopped figs. Cook over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble.

Then lower the heat and let simmer until the mixture has reduced to half and gets a syrup consistency.
Let cool down to room temperature, then add the quartered figs.

Set aside.

Place the goat cheese slices  and the Rosemary sprigs onto a baking sheet and place under the grill.

Grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese has slightly melted and begun to brown.

To serve, place the rocket leaves on a serving plate, put goat cheese in the center and top with the figs and the wine syrup. Srinkle with the roasted pine nuts.

Serves 4. Enjoy!
See you next week.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stuffed Bell Pepper with Home Made Tomatoe Sauce and Walking Vienna.

The first weeks back in Austria have been happy days visiting family and friends, going to concerts and exhibitions,but - oh boy - I didn't know that good things can be so exhausting :)
So this Sunday we decided for a break and stayed at home doing basically nothing at all, just as the song by Bruno Mars goes, "Today I don't feel like doing anything"

Playing Strauss Waltzes in a small cafe in a beautiful passage in one of the old Palaces, the 
Palais Ferstl.

 Detail of the ceiling in the same Palace

Staircase at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts)

Visiting home is always like going back to your roots and remembering dishes you enjoyed in your childhood. 
It's funny, but whenever I talk to expats from different countries asking them what they missed most from home of course they always mention the family, friends, language, climate but another constant was invariably food.
The history of a country's cuisine is always a part of a country's cultural history.
The Danube monarchy had, at the height of it's power, about 52 million inhabitants and there were 16 different languages spoken.
Austrian cuisine is a mixture of as many different European cuisines as there were countries that integrated the Danube Monarchy.
Apart from the original regional cuisines there are influences from the Hungarian, Czech, Italian and Bohemian kitchen.
It's basically a fusion kitchen of different regions of the former Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, long before the word fusion was even invented.
The Turks who made two attempts to conquer Vienna, left the habit of drinking coffee, the Hungarians spiced up dishes with their delicious, hot Paprika and 
diligent Bohemian cooks, famous for their  skills enriched with their  wonderful desserts the  tables of Austrian aristocratic and bourgeois families.
The dish I would like to present to you today  is a classic of Austrian cuisine,
 "Gefuellte Paprika" or Stuffed Bell Pepper with a rich, home made tomato sauce.

This is what you need:

For the tomato sauce: 
1/2 kg red,ripe tomatoes
40g butter
40g flour
1/2l vegetable stock
1 spoonful tomato paste
1dried Bay leaf
1/2 to 1 spoonful brown sugar
Salt, freshley ground pepper
Clean tomatoes and put them for about 1 minute in boiling water, this will help to peel them easily.
After peeling quarter them and remove the seeds.

In a large pan melt the butter over medium heat until foaming. Add flour. 
Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes,stirring constantly. Slowly add the vegetable stock,whisking constantly until mixture is smooth. Then add the Bay leaf, quartered tomatoes and the tomato paste.
Let simmer at low heat about 20 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked down and will fall apart into the sauce.
Let cool down, then puree the ragout in the blender.
Strain the mixture through a colander, then stir in salt pepper and brown sugar.  

For the stuffed bell peppers.
You need:
4 medium size green and yellow bell peppers
400g minced meat (1/2 pork, 1/2 beef)
1 small chopped onion
3 spoonful of extra virgin olive oil
3 spoonful cooked round grain rice (or other)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 spoonful of chopped parsely
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
salt and freshly ground pepper 
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan 
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella
Halve bell peppers  and remove stems, seeds and membranes.

Place peppers in a large pot, cover with salted water and bring to a boil.
Then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 5 more minutes.
In a large pan heat olive oil and saute onions with crushed garlic until slightly tender.

Add minced meat, marjoram and parsely,  mix well and cook until nearly done.

Mix with the cooked rice then stuff  peppers with the meat-rice mixture.
Apart, combine the Mozzarella and Parmesan.

Place stuffed peppers in a large baking dish.

Pour most of the tomato sauce in the baking dish and  save a bit  to pour over the stuffed peppers.
Bake at 350C for about 30 to 40 minutes, then top with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted. 

Serves 4.  Enjoy!
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See you next week.

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