Category Archives: Cheese

Post-Travel Breakfast: Baked Eggs

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Why, hello there! Sorry for going MIA again. It’s beginning to turn into a talent, if I do say so myself.

So what have I been up to for the past few weeks? Well, let’s see:

  1. I finished my scholarly note. For those of you with a law student in your lives, you are probably well-aware that this behemoth of a legal paper is the bane of our existence. That being said, it felt incredibly rewarding when I turned in that thing. After massive amounts of editing, restructuring, then restructuring my restructuring, I was actually somewhat proud of the finished product–in that it contained at least one intelligible sentence. I consider that a success, don’t you?
  2. I caught the plague! There was no Easter celebration at our house this year. Yours truly came down with the stomach bug from hell within 24-hours of reaching my mom’s house. I couldn’t keep anything down for two-and-a-half days. I’ll spare you the details, but  know that I ruined everyone’s holiday. May it never be said that I lack impeccable timing. I didn’t know it was possible to subsist on a diet of soup and Gatorade for as long as I did, but I managed. On the plus side, I am now back to eating normal food.
  3. I took the MPRE. That is all I will ever say on that matter.
  4. I’ve been out of town. After weeks of prep, I spent the larger part of the past week traveling with my clinic to Jamaica. While we didn’t have much downtime, I did take pictures of food and will post them as soon as they are developed (i.e. once I use up the rest of the pics on the disposable camera). Jamaican cuisine is delicious, and this trip reignited my love of scotch bonnet peppers.

So that’s what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks. I’m a bit tired, but feeling accomplished–especially given how well the trip went.

Whenever I get back from a trip, I like to make myself a decent breakfast the next day. Sunday was no different. Eggs have been on my mind lately.  They’ve always been one of my favorite foods, but I tend to forget how wonderful they are. After a full day of traveling, nothing quite screams satisfaction like some runny eggs. This breakfast actually comes together quickly and is easily modified to serve a crowd or to incorporate whatever is lying around the fridge. Happy eating!

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Wild Rice Kale Gratin

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Sorry for the posting delay. The end of last week was a bit busy. Here’s that promised side dish I’ve been raving about for the last week or so:

As mentioned, I made this for a dinner that I hosted for a few of my high school friends. I am a big fan of kale–especially in the winter. It’s so crunchy and good for you; I can almost feel my arteries clearing up while I eat it. And then I go do things like add it to a gratin and counteract all that artery-clearing with some cheese. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

This recipe comes from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I wrote about last week. It’s a great dish for a crowd; one recipe fed eight of us with plenty of leftover for my lunches (and dinner) over the weekend. Plus the bites of kale and caramelized onion just go so well with the nutty wild rice. Plus, who can resist a dish with a cheesy-panko topping?

So visualize healthy thoughts while you eat this. I’m sure that it counteracts the cheese? Conversely, maybe all the kale intake will inspire you to go to the gym. In any case, you only live once. Might as well eat happy. Continue reading


Winter Kale Salad

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Yesterday was uncharacteristically warm, topping off at over 60 degrees with tons of sunshine and practically no wind. Given that D.C. has been in the 20s and 30s since Inauguration weekend, this random burst of warmth was quite welcome. I wore a dress for the first time in ages and gave my wool coat a break as I opted for a vest.

Don’t get me wrong; I love cold weather. But cold winter days have a tendency to put me in a rut, both wardrobe-wise and foodwise. Not only do I pile on layer upon layer of sweaters and coats, but I also feel like I need hearty, filling food to cope with the season. The problem is that most comfort food consists of rich stews, roasted chickens, and lentil- or bean-filled chili or soup. Needless to say, one gets really sick of eating the “brown” food group most of the time, and yesterday’s weather was the perfect reason to break this habit.

I tried to stick to winter-friendly ingredients–things that you can find in plentitude during the cold season. The crunchy kale pairs well with the bold flavor of blood oranges and the sometimes sharp bites of fennel. Plus, combining blood orange juice with sherry vinaigrette produces a dressing with the perfect amount of tang. And–personal health plug–this salad is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Total win.

So here’s to incorporating color into your winter menu. Happy eating.

** Side note: I’ll post the promised Smitten Kitchen side dish on Friday. I just thought the weather called for a salad post!

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Cheesy Garlic Bread

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All right folks, I’m going to let you in on a secret. This is probably the one recipe that I make which always gets compliments, and I’ve long suspected that it’s the primary reason I get invited back to dinner parties. I have never made this bread and not witnessed it be entirely devoured before the meal is halfway over. Seriously, it is that good.

As you’ve probably noticed, I have a thing for Italian food. Having studied in Florence, my appreciation for Italian cuisine grew exponentially, and I love the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and simple take on food. Italians don’t make garlic bread like Americans do. For them, it’s a simple piece of toast, rubbed with a piece of raw garlic that accompanies soups. It’s fresh. It’s healthy. And it really showcases the garlic.

But, sometimes. . .well, sometimes you need some good ol’ cheesy “American-style” garlic bread. And that is where this recipe comes in. It’s from America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t a clue if the recipe is still available online somewhere, but I have made this so many times that I no longer look it up–and I’m fairly certain the measurements are quite different at this point. It’s cheesy. It’s buttery. It’s so bad for you that it’s good. It’s basically the polar opposite of actual Italian garlic bread.

But you know what? Sometimes. . . sometimes I’m ok with that.

I hope this scores you many dinner party invites and provides you endless happiness as you lament the fact that Ben Affleck didn’t receive an Oscar nod for directing Argo (I’m bitter). Happy eating.

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Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi

Some foods are just naturally associated with comfort. Mashed potatoes. Mac n’ cheese. Roasted chicken. Chicken curry. They are the things that I find myself making (or, in the case of curry, asking my mother to make) when I’m frustrated and in need of a foodie-hug. This past week was just one of those weeks where nothing seemed to be going my way. I consistently got up late and had to rush in the mornings; I forgot things left and right; I didn’t meet personal deadlines for papers. Mostly, I felt tired and a bit run down. Which of course all culminates in frustration with myself and a need for comfort.

To break my funk, I decided to make gnudi. Having lived with the greatest host family on the planet my junior year, my list of comfort foods has grown to include all things Italian. Gnudi are essentially pasta, designed to emulate the filling of ravioli (hence, they are “nude.” Get it?). They are ricotta-based, mixed with herbs and greens (traditionally spinach), then boiled before being topped with either a simple tomato sauce or some brown butter and sage. Since I was too lazy to dice up tomatoes last night, I opted for the latter.

Despite their appearance, gnudi are incredibly easy to make. They require few ingredients–most of which can be found in your kitchen already. Plus, because they are protein-based, I find that 6-8 of these are incredibly filling, so you wind up with plenty of leftovers.

There is something so wonderful about simple, comfort food. Here’s to a better week ahead. Happy eating!

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Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

I love going to the farmers market. It’s always wonderful seeing the assortment of vegetables and fruits that change throughout the season and often vary from week to week. If I had my way, I’d be able to stroll through a different market every day of the week. While that’s theoretically feasible, those little things called “work,” “school,” and–my least favorite–“budget” make it practically impossible. So when I get the time to go, I tend to indulge.

These were so pretty–had to pick some up for my mom!

One of my favorite things to eat is a zucchini blossom. Incredibly delicate with a mild zucchini flavor, these flowers capture the best of summer. I was first introduced to them through my host family in Italy, and I now spend my summer trips to the farmers market crossing my fingers that they are in stock.

Zucchini Blossoms

If you do find some, be sure to make them the day of. They have an incredibly short shelf life. Preparing zucchini blossoms is also pretty easy. Simply make a slit in one side of the blossom, remove the stamen, and wipe the inside and the outside with a damp paper towel. At that point, you are ready to stuff them with whatever you want, batter them, and pan fry ’em up!

Here’s hoping that there are still zucchini blossoms at your farmers market. Happy eating!

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Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake

Cheesecake has always been one of my favorite desserts.  Growing up, instead of brightly-colored frosted birthday cakes, I asked my mom for cheesecake.  I typically requested a chocolate marbled one I found beautifully depicted in a tiny Hershey magazine.  Each March, we would eat grilled chicken, artichokes, and cheesecake.  Yes, I was a strange child.

When I got married, I wanted to continue the traditional, so for Brandon’s and my birthdays—they are three days apart—I tried my own hand at the marbled chocolate cheesecake, and while it was delicious, it cracked.  I tried again using a new recipe a few years later, and, again, it cracked.

A cracked cheesecake is still a tasty cheesecake, but for a perfectionist like me, that dang crack drove me crazy.  I tried baking the cake at a lower temperature.  Crack.  I tried leaving the cake in the oven with the door ajar to cool.  Crack.  Every stinking time.

Recently, I had the hankering for cheesecake, but this time, I chose to substitute my dear chocolate with a tangy lemon curd.  The tart lemon somehow made the rich, ultra-creamy cheesecake refreshing, and now, I have a new favorite cheesecake.

And in the end, this cheesecake was beautiful.  White with vibrant streaks of yellow and . . . a deep crack in the middle . . . oh well.  I’ve learned, if this happens, just cover any “flaws” with blueberries.  They become even tastier. Continue reading


New York-Style Cheesecake

First of all, I’m sorry for not posting lately. I’m finally finished with residency selection, and, now that my nerves have calmed and my current rotation is a bit easier, I can focus once more on the blog. You should be hearing more from me in the next few months.

And now, on to the food!

Who doesn’t love cheesecake?

Well… actually, I don’t. In fact, I can’t stand it.

…But my sister does!! This thanksgiving, we were discussing what desserts to make for dinner, and I asked if we could do something other than pumpkin pie. Why, you may ask, would I not want serve this staple of the American Thanksgiving table?

Not gonna lie, I don’t like pumpkin pie either.  I know, sacrilege.

I convinced my sister to let me try making something different, and she, ahem, kindly agreed to give me a shot at making a different dessert. I picked pumpkin cheesecake, because 1) as stated above, my sister loves cheesecake, and 2) there is no better dessert repellent for me than the aforementioned item.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Well, four packages of cream cheese, one can of pumpkin and a box of graham crackers later, I was staring into a gaping crack that could have been the grand canyon of cheesecakes. On the plus side, no one could tell once I covered it in marshmallow sour cream topping (most delicious topping ever- recipe to come later.)

Two days later, I made another cheesecake for a family event, and this one turned out wonderfully! Not a single crack whatsoever. I think the reason behind the success of this cake may have been that it was baked at a lower temperature and allowed to cool in the water bath for a few minutes once outside the oven. I figured since I put in the effort I might as well try a bite, and I have to say that for a cheesecake, it tasted really good!

Lessons learned:

  1. Baking cheesecake at a lower temperature (325 degrees) results in less cracking in the center.
  2. When the cheesecake is in the oven, don’t open the door and allow it to bake for the recommended time (you can even let it go 5 minutes less.)
  3. Making cheesecake isn’t difficult at all, and you should definitely try it out over holidays for the cheesecake lover in your life.
  4. Heating up a microwave with nothing in it will cause it to light on fire and then you will owe someone a new microwave. I kid you not.

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Fennel and Apple Salad

Continuing on my Spanish food kick, the second dish from dinner the other night (and hands down my favorite part of the meal) was a salad that I first had during Sam’s and my trip to Jaleo. Sam had told me about it before we went and insisted that we order the dish. As previously mentioned, I love fennel in pretty much any form. Hand me a bulb and I will eat it raw. This salad, followed closely by some delicious roasted onions, were my favorite tapas/dishes of the night (and that’s a difficult title to win at Jaleo).

The flavors in this salad are fantastic. The heartiness of the walnut and the apple were the perfect tint of winter which, combined with the fennel and chives that reminded me of early spring, made for the perfect “transition salad” between seasons. Ideally, you should probably slice your fennel and perhaps your apple on a mandolin. Being a poor law student, I don’t have one of those. That being said, slicing both really thinly with an extremely sharp knife did the trick for me. This also kept pretty well in the fridge and made for a great side salad at lunch the next day. Also, be sure to slice your apple last, as that will preserve it’s color.

On another note: my friend Sam is off to Italy for four months of culinary school and an internship. If you’d like to keep up with travels and culinary adventures, be sure to check out her blog at travelingwithmymouthfull.wordpress.com. Happy eating!

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Tomatoes Two Ways

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a very happy holiday. We had a relatively quiet holiday as our little cousins were sick (boo!), and I came down with a nice dose of allergies. That being said, the food was delicious (Thanks, Mom!!), and my Benedryl-induced naps were pretty awesome. For a low-key holiday, it wasn’t half bad. That being said, I think I prefer the usual chaos of Christmas and can’t wait to see the little ones when they are back in fighting form next weekend!

So during the hell period that was finals, I invented a couple of quick, mid-week dinners. I’m not going to lie, this was the result of my somewhat interesting finals-grocery-shopping and the subsequent attempts to use everything in my fridge before going home for the holidays. The sauce is extremely basic. Both dishes use essentially the same ingredients–the only real difference is that, in one case, the sauce is tossed with some pasta and a splash of pasta water, whereas in the other, it serves as a savory topping for some flaky salmon.

In any case, I consider this a testament to the magic of tomatoes and feta. Serve either of these dishes with a healthy serving of sauteed spinach or winter greens, and you’ll have a pretty well-balanced meal. Hope this helps you out in a pinch. Happy Eating!

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