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Berry Blue Cheese Spread

10 Nov

Any reason I can find to cook or bake I am all about it!  We are celebrating a co-workers birthday so I decided to also do a dip along with cupcakes (recipe to follow).  I adore appetizers and can make a wonderful meal that would cause me to float in the air sighing in deep contentment (see my facebook page where I was in heaven enjoying an artisan ciabetta bread, supreme brie cheese and a bottle of pinot grigio).  Good food makes me very happy and this dip is another reason.  I’ve made this dip before to share with friends and co-workers.  I prefer outside the office to enjoy with a lovely bottle of wine but I digress.  I like the funky ingredients of this and it all works.  I’ve also become a fan of blue cheese but in moderation and this dip fits that bill.  With the holidays coming up this is just in time.

Adapted from Better Homes and Garden

Berry Blue Cheese Spread

makes about 2 cups

  • 1/2  cup  dried blueberries
  • 1  cup  boiling water
  • 1  8-oz. pkg.  cream cheese, softened
  • 6  oz.  blue cheese, coarsely crumbled
  • 2    green onions, chopped
  • 1  clove  garlic, minced
  • 1/2  cup  coarsely chopped pecans
  • Assorted whole grain crackers or cracker bread, broken

Place dried berries in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over berries. Let stand for 1 minute. Drain; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese and blue cheese by hand until nearly smooth. Stir in drained berries, green onions, and garlic just until combined.

Coarsely chop pecans by hand and stir in cheese.  Refrigerate a few hours so flavors can meld together.

Baba Ganousch

10 Oct

A friend had told me about a new international market in Charlotte because she knew I liked to try different types of food.  I’ve been in a few little markets in the area and was never impressed or inspired.  When a market is listed as a european market and the only food items available are Russian, that’s a big let down.  On my friends recommendation I went to the market on my lunch hour.  OMG is all I can say.  I felt like a kid in a massive candy store!  Impressed, yes indeed!  Inspired, absolutely!  This place had it all and then some.  We love to shop in the corner markets or the supermarkets when we travel internationally.  We buy items to bring home with us and savor every drop or bite til its gone and wish to return to get more.  I was able to find a lot of these products in this market.  For the Charlotteans, this is the Super G market on Independence Blvd.  The prices for produce are very good but I did find you need to use the produce within days.  Not a problem here.    I had already bought some tahini from the natural market and the eggplant at the Super G was lovely and cheap so I decided to try this eggplant dip. 

I prefer this dip to be served warm.  While it is very good but I felt like there was too much lemon.  Next time I will half the amount of lemon but in the recipe listed I will allow for the full portion.

Adapted from David Lebovitz, http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/07/baba-ganosh/

Baba Ganousch

makes 8 servings

  • 2 medium-sized eggplants or 1 large eggplant
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half bunch cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Prick the eggplants a few times.  Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and roast in oven about 30 minutes until completely soft.  Test by inserting a paring knife into the eggplants.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Place the pulp along with all other ingredients in blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Season with additional salt  if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving. Serve with pita bread.

Can be made and refrigerated for up to five days prior to serving.

Gruyere-Chive Popovers

19 Sep

Where I live in Charlotte my favorite grocery store is Harris Teeter.  They have a lot of great stuff and in the better neighborhoods the selection is, better!  Everytime I go however I have to browse the gourmet cheese section.  I love to squeeze the soft cheeses, I can’t help myself.  I browse for the specials because a few days before expry date they mark the items down to 1/2 price.  I have picked up some fabulous cheeses and butter from France that are truly outstanding.  The best part is I can freeze it for later use to cook with or just cheese and crackers with a nice bottle of wine when Larry is home.  When I was at a craft store earlier in the week and they had some cookbooks marked down.  I don’t buy as many cookbooks lately but if it’s special, ie. nice pictures, awesome recipes and on sale I will get it.  I got several cookbooks because they were only $3 a piece and picked up some for Mariya but I did keep one for myself.  So on my latest trip to the Teeter I picked up some gruyere cheese on special and when Larry was home one Saturday I made these.  The recipe makes 24.  You will need a mini muffin pan non-stick preferred.  I think Larry ate about 16 of these.  They are small and very tasty.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Small Plates

Gruyere-Chive Popovers

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely snipped
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, melted
  • 4 oz gruyere cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 450F.  Generously oil 2 mini muffin pans or spray with Pam.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, pepper and chives.

In another bowl whisk together the milk, eggs and butter.  Add the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.  Some lumps will remain which is ok.

Fill the prepared muffin cups to about 1/4 inch of the rim.  Place a teaspoon of the cheese on top in the center.

Bake for 10 minutes without opening the oven door.  Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 and bake until popovers are brown, crusty and puffed 10 minutes longer.

Transfer to a plate and serve warm.

Blender Guacamole

19 Sep

For about 2 years now I have been looking at the Blendtec and Vitamix blenders but I could never decide which one was better and if I truly wanted one.  I did alot of research and the people who had both prefered the Vitamix hands down.  I knew Costco did demostrations on both blenders so I checked their schedule and told my family that for mothers day I wanted a Vitamix.  Mariya and I went to a demo and we were sold.  The blender came with the wet container and I immediately purchased the dry container.  I had a nice cookbook from them with all kinds of recipes to include anything from soups to ice creams to drinks etc.  I made the guacamole for Cinco de Mayo.  I normally mash the avocado myself and add some fresh pico de gallo but since I had this expensive blender I decided to follow their directions for the guacamole.  This makes it so unbelievably creamy, it was the best guac we’ve had yet.  The only issue is cleaning up the blender is a pain but so worth it.  I’m sure however, this can be made in other blenders.

Blender Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 medium tomato, halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Pit and peel avocados.

Place all ingredients in the blender in order as given.

Turn on blender to medium speed and blend for 15-20 seconds til onions and tomatos are chopped.  Serve with tortilla chips.