Tag Archives: cheddar

Smoked Cheddar Gougeres

gougere side view

We stood schmoozing around the kitchen island, savoring pillowy gougeres followed easily with sweet champagne, when it happened. Maybe the threat of the impending winter chill drew us closer together, or perhaps it was our need to tangibly express the deep connections we had formed, but suddenly, each person’s arms encircled the two waists of those standing closest, and we broke into singing the alma mater “Hark the Sound.”

When we completed the song, we were changed. What began as a class of strangers became a family. As I would later tell tour groups of potential students and their parents, that fleeting moment reaffirmed my love for the community I found at UNC.

gougere top view

I suppose that’s what I’ve sought to recreate since I’ve graduated. Wherever I go, I crave those arms around me, and I’ve been lucky enough to find them.

Tomorrow I go into surgery, and already I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support I’ve received from people both near and far. I’ve realized how much I value community — sometimes one needs a reminder. It’s nice to have lots of arms to fall into.

Once again I find myself in a moment like the one that occurred around my professor’s kitchen island, where everything came together in a moment of delicious clarity. And I thank you, friends and family, for that.

Recipe based of off this one. The best smoked cheddar ever can be ordered online here.

Smoked Cheddar Gougeres
Makes about three dozen

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Large pinch of coarse salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 cup shredded smoked cheddar, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg

1) Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the flour and stir it in with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms; stir over low heat until it dries out and pulls away from the pan, about 2 minutes.
2) Scrape the dough into a mixing bowl; let cool for 1 minute. (Waiting a bit ensures that the eggs won’t cook and scramble in the dough.) Beat the eggs into the dough, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Add the cheese and a pinch each of pepper and nutmeg.
3) Transfer the dough to a large plastic bag and cut about 1/2 inch off the corner diagonally. Pipe tablespoon-size mounds onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve hot, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze. Reheat in a 350° oven until piping hot.

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Apple Onion Cheese Tart

I am not private in my opinion of comfort foods. This blog, if nothing else, serves as a testament of my devotion to all things warm and buttery. Living so far from home necessitates cooking with an excess of butter from time to time. Is a flaky tart an acceptable replacement for my brother’s bear hugs or my sister’s permeating laugh? Well, no. But it makes a decent consolation prize.

Being a resident of New York City is taxing in all the ways you’ve heard (including, quite literally, taxes). There is no loneliness quite so profound as the one experienced while surrounded by a sea of strangers. Cures are difficult to come by. When home is a few bites away, sometimes that’s enough. In any case, it has to be.

This recipe comes from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, which is my go-to resource for fresh and, obviously, simple food. Alice actually has the onion tart and the apple tart listed as two different recipes, but the two foods seemed like such a complementary pair. The dough recipe required no modification. It actually bubbles butter. Now that, my friends, is enough.

Tart Dough:
Makes 2 12-inch tarts
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup ice-cold water

1) Cut the butter into the flour with your fingers or with a stand mixer. Pour in the water slowly, until the dough begins to clump. (Mix for 30 seconds or less if using a mixer.)
2) Divide the dough in two and create two balls of dough. Wrap with plastic and compress into disks. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Tart Filling:
Note: This recipe makes enough to fill one tart. Double the recipe if you want two!
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup cheddar or goat cheese

1) Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan on medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir occasionally, cooking for 20 to 30 minutes until onions are brown and soft. Let cool.
2) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove one of the tart dough sections from the fridge and roll into a circle with a rolling pin until the dough is about 12 inches in diameter. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
3) Spread cheese over the chilled tart, leaving a border of 1 and 1/2 inches. Starting at the outside, layer the apples slightly over one another and work toward the center. Apple slices in the center should be layered about 1 inch thick.
4) Sprinkle the apples with the cooked onions. Fold the border over the apples and onions to make a crust.
5) Mix the egg and milk or water together and brush gently over the crust. Place the tart on the lower rack in the oven and cook for 45 to 55 minutes until the crust is golden brown.

Twice Baked Potatoes

I made these babies for Super Bowl Sunday, because the only thing I enjoy about the Super Bowl is the food.

They basically speak for themselves, don’t they?

Twice Baked Potatoes:
Serves 8
4 large russet potatoes
olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
4 green onions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean the potatoes thoroughly, then pierce with a fork all around each potato. Rub potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake directly on the oven rack (with a cookie sheet on the rack below it) for 40 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
2)  Split each potato lengthwise and remove most of the potato, saving the skins. Combine the potato insides with the sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper and 1/2 a cup of cheddar cheese. Blend by hand or with a mixer until creamy.
3) Place the skins on a baking sheet. Fill each skin completely with potato mixture and top with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes. Top with green onions and more sour cream. Enjoy!

Beef Chili and Cheddar Cornbread

I’ve nearly been swallowed by this city in the best, all-consuming sense of the word. I have no other excuse.

I celebrated my one-month work anniversary. It snowed in October. I turned 23.

And this recipe is the best meal I’ve posted yet. Seriously.

Beef Chili:
2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 carrots, diced (I also roasted ’em)
2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon crumbled dry oregano
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups beef broth
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 8-ounce cans kidney beans
2 red bell peppers, chopped (I roasted these, too)

1) In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat and cook the onions in it for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and carrots and cook for one minute more.
2) Raise the heat to medium and add the beef, stirring and breaking up any lumps until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the diced tomatoes, broth and Worcestershire sauce and simmer the chili, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes.
3) Add the kidney beans, bell peppers, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until the bell peppers are tender.

Cheddar Cornbread:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided

1) Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Mix in 2 cups of the cheddar and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
3) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheddar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm.

Recipes based on this beef chili recipe and this cheddar cornbread recipe.

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

I’ll let my roommate’s reaction speak on this recipe’s behalf.

Reaction 1:
(gasp) These might actually be better than ABC sandwiches.

Reaction 2, one minute later:
These are the best muffins I’ve ever eaten.

Don’t even pretend you’ll just be eating these for breakfast. I know better.

Recipe adapted from this one. (These folks called for a tablespoon of salt. A TABLESPOON. I’m not tryna’ give you all hypertension.)

Bacon Cheddar Muffins:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon, cooked and broken into small pieces

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 standard-size muffin cups. (I greased mine with leftover bacon grease. TMI?)
2) Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in medium size bowl.
3) Combine milk, butter and egg in a separate bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
4) Gently stir in cheese and bacon. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.
5) Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers come out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack or plate.

Next time, I think I’ll press a chunk of cheddar cheese into the center of each muffin. And maybe add a few more slices of bacon.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese


In case you were wondering, I made macaroni and cheese for my grandparents this evening. Sure, it’s 70 degrees outside (I can’t stop dwelling on that glorious detail, sorry), but my grandpa is sick and cheese makes everything better.

I followed this Mark Bittman recipe pretty closely, but I used more bread crumbs and grated extra cheese to sprinkle on the top. I’m clearly thumbing my nose at weight-loss-related New Year resolutions.

Next time, I’m using more cheese and adding bacon. Boo-yah!

Apple Bacon Cheddar (ABC) Sandwich

Is it possible to crave a food you’ve never eaten?

That’s a rhetorical question, really, because I’ve been craving this sandwich for weeks. I mean weeks. And yet I can’t remember ever eating one.

But what’s to understand? I like apples. I love cheese. And I rarely eat bacon, but that might change now.

Yes, you could say that this recipe is as easy as A.B.C.

Apple Bacon Cheddar Sandwich:
Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
cheddar cheese, shredded
bacon (I used maple-smoked)
rustic bread, like ciabatta or French bread
salt & pepper, to taste
mayo (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut bread at preferred width, then split in half. Lay pieces open-faced on a cookie sheet.
2) Sprinkle both sides of the bread with cheese, salt and pepper. Top one half of each sandwich with apple slices.
3) Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and apple slices are softened.
4) Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp.
5) Once bread is removed from oven, top apple-covered bread slice with bacon. Spread on mayo to other side of sandwich as desired. Place slices together.