Tag Archives: Cheese

#12: Antonelli’s Cheese Shop

If you live in Austin, you owe it to yourself to stop by Antonelli’s to try some of the fantastic cheeses that they offer. This particular cheese-cupcake is made of Havarti from Brazos Valley Cheese in Waco, Texas. Antonelli’s is a big supporter of the Central Texas food economy, and besides cheese, they carry various olives and charcuterie and lots of other goodies. They are located near Quack’s Bakery and Asti in the heart of Hyde Park and recently celebrated the first anniversary of their business. Happy (belated) First Birthday, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop!!

On a side note, Liz Love and I actually took this outfit picture much earlier in the challenge, but I haven’t been well enough to edit the image and post it until today. I’m feeling tip top now and posting should resume as usual this week. Sorry for my absence!


Queso Cheese Dip (with a secret ingredient)

I love queso, but I am not a big fan of the “processed cheese product” that is typically used to give this dip its creamy consistency.  Besides being high in sodium, many processed cheeses are made with hormone-laden dairy and lots of preservatives.  I avoid these pitfalls in my recipe by creating a creamy organic cheese blend from scratch, using locally-grown organic peppers, spices and cheeses, sans the chemicals.

Like the velveeta version, this queso recipe will stand up to hours of heat in the crock pot without separating, and it’s a snap to put together. I kept this recipe of queso covered on warm in the slow cooker for four hours yesterday before serving, and it held steady the whole time!

The secret ingredient that makes it so creamy and low maintenance is butternut squash puree.  The squash adds a lovely golden color to the cheese and enhances the texture, keeping it from getting stringy as it melts. A basic roux in the early part of the recipe also helps to stabilize the cheese.

As you can see, I added venison taco meat, guacamole made with local avocados, and sour cream to my queso just before serving yesterday.  The resulting appetizer was similar to the Bob Armstrong dip served at Matt’s El Rancho in Austin and Dallas.

I probably would have ended up with Kerbey Queso (cheese dip topped with guac and pico de gallo) if tomatoes had been in season at the market this weekend.  Since butternut squash is so easy to find here in Austin, I suspect I’ll get a chance to make this fabulous queso again for some Texas Longhorn tailgates, when fresh tomatoes are a plenty.

Butternut Squash Queso Cheese Dip (serves 6)
1/2 large onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butternut squash puree
2 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz. roasted peppers (I used organic canned, chopped hatch green chiles; fresh roasted would probably taste better, but they’re not in season right now)
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, saute minced onions in butter over medium heat until onions begin to soften.  Add flour to the pan and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until flour is golden brown.  Add milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly.  Cook until milk is warmed through and turns light brown. Next, add the squash puree, stirring until combined, followed by the cheeses, peppers, and spices. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes until all the cheeses are completely melted and the mixture is creamy.  Remove queso from the stove and serve immediately or transfer to a slow cooker, covered and set to “warm” until ready to serve.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Cheddar Kale Muffins

image courtesy Howard Walfish

These savory muffins call for a whole head of kale, plus protein-rich cheddar cheese, making them a healthy and filling option for breakfast on the go.  You’re going to have to take my word for it that these muffins look good. I made a batch of them for us to take on vacation to San Diego, and I was in such a hurry to pack them up that I forgot to take a picture!  They were great travel food; not too smelly on the plane, and a big step up from any of the airport snacks.

Cheddar Kale Muffins (yields 12 regular-sized muffins)
1 head kale, washed and dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 cup milk
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 12-muffin pan with paper liners. Chop thick stalks off of kale and slice remaining leaves very finely. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, saute chopped kale in olive oil for about seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is very tender and starts to look a little dry.  Set cooked kale on paper towels to drain and melt the butter in the skillet.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together milk, melted butter, egg, minced garlic, and cooked kale until the egg is completely beaten. Add flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cheese.  Stir until just combined; do not over mix.

Fill twelve prepared muffin cups with batter– about 1/4 cup per muffin– and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. The finished muffins will be slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into a muffin should come out clean. Remove the pan from oven and allow muffins to cool completely before eating. The kale flavor in the muffins is very strong while the muffins are hot; it mellows as they cool, resulting in a great breakfast treat.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery, and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Daikon Radish Dip

The first time I saw daikon radishes at the farmer’s market I thought they were giant parsnips.  I snapped up several, amazed at how inexpensive they were. What a surprise when I got home and realized I had purchased four radishes the size of my forearms!

Daikon radish is a versatile, inexpensive, low-calorie ingredient that is popular in Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and other Asian cuisines.  It can also be substituted for plain red radishes in almost any dish. One of the most popular among daikon preparations is pickled, either in kimchi or refrigerator pickles:

There are also several great recipes for warm radishes out there.  When cooked, Daikon loses its crunch and forward flavor and softens into a mild complement for other ingredients.

My favorite recipe for daikon radish is this creamy radish dip.  Although it’s a significant step up over packaged ranch, this  spicy white dip is about as accessible as the giant root gets. It makes for a wonderful introduction to daikon radish for kids or picky eaters.  Plus, if you’re scrambling for an easy, last-minute potluck offering, this is your recipe!  It has just four ingredients, and takes minutes to put together. If you don’t have daikon on hand, a bunch of red or black radishes work well in this recipe, too.  Just know that the resulting dip will be pink or gray, according to the color of the radish skin.

Daikon Radish Dip (yields about 1.5 cups)
1 large daikon radish
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves peeled garlic
8 ounce package cream cheese

Peel garlic, and combine with cream cheese and salt in a food processor. Wash and dry the radish. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin plus any root hairs.  Cut a five-inch section of the radish, discarding the top and end of the vegetable.  Chop that section into inch-long pieces and add those to the food processor bowl.  Pulse in the food processor until dip has a creamy texture with no big pieces of radish.  For best results, chill finished dip in the fridge overnight.  This firms up the texture of the dip and keeps it from getting watery.  Serve with crudite or use as a sandwich spread with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Thanksgiving: Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese

My family doesn’t traditionally include macaroni and cheese on the Thanksgiving table, so I feel like a bit of a rebel putting it on my menu this year. When I was planning our meal, though, I just couldn’t resist the rich, creamy texture and slightly spicy flavor of this recipe.  It gets bonus points for ease of preparation and kid appeal: the orange hue of the butternut squash makes this look just like the blue-box macaroni and cheese that kids love.  Plus, with whole wheat pasta, this is about as healthy as macaroni and cheese gets.

This recipe tastes great when reheated, but it doesn’t look very pretty on the second day.  For Thanksgiving, I plan to prep all the raw ingredients ahead of time, and then assemble and cook the macaroni and cheese in the 20 minutes while the turkey’s resting.  I’ll probably delegate stirring of the cheese sauce to my husband or a guest; though the sauce is really easy, it does require constant whisking so the dairy doesn’t scorch.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (serves 6)
1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta, your choice of shape; we like shells & spirals
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup butternut squash puree
1-1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk flour and melted butter together for about 4 minutes over medium heat; until mixture thickens and turns golden brown. Add milk 1/4 cup at a time, whisking constantly.  Continue whisking until liquid is warmed through and light brown. Next, add the squash puree and whisk until combined, followed by the cheeses.  Remove sauce from heat and continue to whisk until everything is smooth and creamy.  Whisk in seasonings, adding cayenne to taste.  By now the pasta will be done; drain and shake off excess water.  Stir pasta and cheese sauce together in a serving dish. Garnish with paprika and black pepper.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.


Grilled Goat Cheese, Apple & Persimmon Sandwich

I did not make this gorgeous loaf of Challah.  I bought it on the West Mall of campus from UT Challah for Hunger for just $5. Challah for Hunger is a national project that empowers college students to raise funds for and bring awareness to national disaster and humanitarian issues by selling bread on campus once a week. The students make the bread themselves (for proof, check out the adorable pictures on their Facebook page) and they sell it every Wednesday from 12-3 PM.  The UT chapter sells original, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate chip challah each week for just $5 a loaf, plus a “secret flavor” announced on their Facebook page.  Past secret flavors include pumpkin, raspberry chocolate chip, and tomato and garlic. These kids are gourmet! Whoever runs the UT chapter Facebook page is also a clever photo editor.

I had originally planned to make baked sweet potatoes with apple persimmon compote for dinner tonight.  That idea went out the window as soon as I bought the challah bread.  Instead I paired the spicy compote with creamy goat cheese inside the challah for a sophisticated variation on a classic grilled cheese sandwich.  I had prepared the compote ahead, so my total hands-on time for dinner tonight was about 5 minutes.

Grilled Goat Cheese, Apple and Persimmon Sandwich (2 sandwiches)
1/4 cup apple persimmon compote
4, 1/2 inch slices challah
2 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon butter

Set out butter and goat cheese and allow to come to room temperature(ish). Slice challah. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Generously butter one side of a slice of bread and place butter-side-down on the skillet.  Break up goat cheese and distribute it across the slice of bread as evenly as you can; top with compote. Butter one side of the remaining slice of bread and place butter-side-up on sandwich.  After sandwich has cooked about 3 minutes on first side, gently flip to the other side using a spatula.  Continue grilling until cheese is melted and the second slice of bread is lightly toasted.  Repeat with remaining ingredients to make another sandwich.  Try not to eat both of them before you can take good pictures for your blog.  I showed great self restraint and at least got this one while the sandwich was still in the skillet.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

*Special thanks to my friend Amy for taking the challah picture at the beginning of this post and all my outfit pictures for Kendi Everyday’s 30×30 challenge. You can see more of Amy’s photography and keep up with my progress here.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza

Earlier this week I read a wonderful article in The Atlantic online by Austin’s own Carol Ann Sayle, co-owner and co-founder of Boggy Creek Farms.  In  “Eat Shoots and Leaves: A Case for the Whole Vegetable”, Sayle argues that even conscious eaters among us waste a great deal food and money by discarding the greens that are attached to our CSA produce.  (The greens attached to grocery store produce are DOA before the veggies even arrive at the store, but that’s another matter.) In her article, Sayle suggested a few recipes for salads that utilize radish greens, beet greens, and more. My imagination was piqued. Inspired by Sayle’s column, I devised this recipe for roasted beet pizza that utilizes the whole veggie.  The sweet, earthy flavor of the beets is offset by salty goat cheese, pungent onions and garlic, and slightly bitter beet greens.  A whole wealth of flavors is captured in each bite!  Many thanks to Carol Ann for the inspiration.

A few notes about the preparation: I found this recipe to be a bit involved for a weeknight.  However, by roasting the beets and making the pizza dough the night before, I was able to put dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes! Since this recipe makes enough for 2 medium pies, I was able to put dinner on my friends Nathan and Amy‘s table, too!  I owe Amy big time for taking my picture each day as I embark on the 30×30 challenge.  If you’re not in the favor-returning market, just prepare one pizza.  The dough and all the toppings will keep in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready for pizza number two.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza (makes two medium pies, each pie serves 2-3 people)

The day before: prepare pizza dough and roast one beet.  My favorite pizza dough is NY Times writer Mark Bittman’s;  step by step instructions with photos & recipe here. To roast beet, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Scrub beet clean and cut off the greens and root end. Save greens in the fridge for later and discard the straggly root. Drizzle the beet with olive oil and wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil.  Bake on a cookie sheet in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until beet is tender.  Place whole, roasted beet in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.

When you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Remove pizza dough from fridge and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the toppings:
1/2 yellow onion, sliced as thin as you can manage
1 beet, roasted according to instructions above and chopped into small pieces
4 oz. goat cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil for drizzling
salt and pepper
1 bunch beet greens, stalks removed, sliced into thin ribbons
balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Once toppings are ready to go, prepare two cookie sheets or pizza pans with baking parchment.  Roll out pizza crusts, one at a time, on a floured surface until they are the correct size for your pans.  Mine ended up at 14 x 10 inches, but any size and shape will work.  Transfer to the prepared pans.

Brush each crust with a tablespoon of olive oil and top pizzas with sliced onions, minced garlic, chopped beets, salt and pepper.  Use your fingers to break goat cheese up, distributing the 4 oz. of cheese evenly between the two pizzas.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  At the 10 minute mark, pull the pizzas out and top with beet greens.  Bake an additional 3-4 minutes, until greens are bright green and tender.  Drizzle finished pizza with balsamic vinegar immediately before serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.