Showing posts with label Snacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Snacks. Show all posts

A cheesemaker's dilemna

My new-found hobby, cheesemaking, has resulted in some winners and well, less-than-winners.   Even with the occasional clunker there's plenty of cheese to go around and a need for new ways to serve it up. 

A friend at work lit up when I talked about "excess cheese" (as if that's REALLY a problem) and he suggested a recipe from Alton Brown.  Using bits of cheese plus some of my homemade stash I made a batch that promptly disappeared at my next dinner party.

Super easy and super delish - I'm now addicted!

Alton Brown's Fromage Fort Cheese Recipe
Recipe courtesy of Food Network


  • 1 pound left-over cheese*, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic


Remove any rinds from hard cheeses. Grate hard cheeses and cut others into 1/2-inch cubes. Place cheese, wine, butter, herbs, and garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 1 hour for a firmer consistency. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

*you can use most cheeses including cheddar, brie, parmesan etc.  I used semi-soft cheese and a little parmesan.

Cow's milk cheese  - slightly aged and served with figs

Yummy cheese

Cheesemaking 101

The idea of making my own cheese had been brewing for a while so I finally enrolled in a class.  Taught by the SF Milk Maid and hosted by Cuesa (the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) we were treated to hands-on learning and snacks along the way.

We each received a small disk of cheese - or crottin (goat cheese) - to take home (aging requires about 8 weeks) and a small supply of materials to make more.  Below are pictures from my first batch made at home, this time with raw cow's milk (hard to find but seemed worth it).  I bought the milk at Lunardi's in Belmont CA.

For more on where to buy a basic kit or a recipe, click here.   And if you have source for fresh goat milk please drop a note:

Crottin (cow's milk cheese) - awaiting removal from the mold

Outside the mold and ready for aging (8 weeks)

Caramel Corn, quick and easy

Caramel Corn
  • 8 cups popped popcorn*
  • 4 cups oven-toasted rice cereal squares
  • 2 cups miniature pretzels
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine popcorn, cereal, pretzels and pecans in a rectangular bowl. Combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil over entire surface. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook without stirring 5 minutes. (Mixture should continue to bubble gently over surface.) Remove saucepan from heat. Quickly add vanilla and baking soda, stirring carefully. Pour over popcorn mixture in bowl, and toss until well coated. Bake 30 minutes, stir after 15 minutes.

Transfer popcorn mixture to a large piece of parchment paper. Cool completely, breaking mixture into clusters as it cools.

Yield: 15 cups.

*I used microwave popcorn (light)

Addition (12/3/09) - for those who don't have access to corn syrup, here is a link to creating a substitute.

9 spice curry pumpkin seeds

Definitely a treat this Halloween!

These were from a sugar pumpkin (pie pumpkin) I recently roasted to make ravioli. We separated the seeds from the pumpkin and rinsed in a bowl of water. Then we mixed up the oil, 9 spice curry powder and salt before baking in the oven at 350 for about 30 - 40 minutes.

I must admit that these are my favorites so far. Much crispier than the seeds I usually have (perhaps because this is a sugar pumpkin?) and the curry is a winner.
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Favorite Spinach Dip

Take a classic, add some extras and you get my favorite, most requested spinach dip. The key: sharp cheddar cheese and a splash of tabasco (you really can't go wrong with tabasco in general!)

  • 1 package (10 oz.) baby spinach, chopped or 1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 container (16 oz.) sour cream
  • 1 cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods® Real Mayonnaise
  • 1 package Knorr® Vegetable recipe mix
  • 1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ½ - ¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 small tomato diced OR ¼ cup roasted red bell pepper (diced)
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste

Combine all items. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Here's the original recipe.

Simple Chocolate Peanut Clusters - Always a hit!

Simple Peanut Clusters

  • 1 pound of dark chocolate*
  • 1 pound almond bark or candy coating
  • 1 pound salted, roasted peanuts (I like the Trader Joe's peanuts)

Melt the chocolate and bark then mix in the peanuts. Scoop onto parchment paper and let firm up. Pass around and watch these dissappear (there's something to the salty/peanuty/chocolatey thing... I use a vintage fondue pot to melt the chocolate - it's fast and easy to control the temperature. You can find these pretty inexpensive on (you guessed it) eBay!

The finished product in fancy formation. Paper cups not required to enjoy!
*Note: the original recipe called for 6 oz. of dark chocolate and 6 oz. or chocolate chips. I prefer all dark chocolate but definitely go with what you like!

My Favorite Salsa

6-8 tomatoes (chopped)
½ red onion (chopped)
1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
2-4 jalapenos
2-3 limes (juiced)
2 cloves minced garlic
Sea salt to taste

Hint: I use a food processor carefully to avoid having tomato puree on my hands. I give all the veggies a rough chop (large pieces) before dropping them into the food processor. First up: the onion and garlic (remove from the bowl when finely chopped.) Next, the tomatoes (again, remove from the bowl when chopped into small dice.) Finally, the cilantros and jalapenos (seeds optional; depends on your heat tolerance). All the ingredients can then be combined in a large bowl before adding the lime juice and salt.

Sometimes if I feel like the salsa needs an extra kick, I drop in some Tabasco.

Recipe courtesy of J.B