Oh goat cheese, how I love thee.
Since I stopped eating dairy almost a year ago, I have managed to adapt pretty well. I don’t miss much, not the ice cream (the soy stuff is surprisingly good), nor the milk chocolate (give me dark any day), or even creamy pasta sauces (hey, it’s much healthier without them). I do eat Parmesan on occasion, or, actually, quite often on pasta, but it’s aged and I don’t eat enough to do any harm.
But the one thing that I really miss, that I constantly crave, that sets my mouth a’droolin’… well, that thing is goat cheese.
And sometimes, when I find a recipe like this, that just screams for the addition of goat cheese, I’m willing to suffer the consequences. You see, the recipe originally called for smoked mozzarella. Yes, I loved mozzarella… but not enough to deal with the painful after-effects. But substitute goat cheese instead… yup. I’ll eat me some of that. And I’ll like it, no matter how I feel afterword.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad. I’ve heard that goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, and it just might be true. In that case, you might be seeing more of it in our everyday recipes.
When I first found this recipe, Taylor gave me one of those looks… the look that says, “oh please don’t make me eat that cardboard hippie crap… unless I can add italian sausage.” And quinoa does have that stereotype. However, when we sat down and took the first bite of these crispy cakes, even I was surprised. There was flavor there that I never expected. And it was good. Worth the trouble of struggling to flip a fragile paddy of quinoa good.
Especially with the addition of the goat cheese. :)
Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Goat Cheese
Makes 2 servings. Recipe from Epicurious.
For quinoa cakes
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup drained bottled roasted red peppers, rinsed and chopped
3/4 cup water or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Make quinoa cakes:
Bring water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan.
Meanwhile, wash quinoa in 3 changes of water in a bowl, then drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.
Stir quinoa into boiling water and return to a boil, then simmer, covered, until quinoa is dry and water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes, then stir in egg.
Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and lightly brush with oil. Lightly oil a 1-cup dry-ingredient measure. Pack enough quinoa into measure with a rubber spatula to fill it two-thirds full. (If spatula becomes sticky, dip in water.) Unmold onto baking sheet and gently pat quinoa into a 4-inch-wide patty with spatula. Make 3 more quinoa cakes, brushing measure with oil each time. Chill cakes, uncovered, at least 15 minutes.
Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander and drain 30 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of eggplant to extract liquid, then pat dry.
Cook eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, roasted peppers, and water or broth and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender and mixture is thick (if dry, thin with a little water), about 10 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Carefully add quinoa cakes and cook, turning once carefully and adding remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons oil, until crisp and golden, about 3-5 minutes per side (pat cakes to reshape with cleaned rubber spatula while cooking if necessary). Transfer to plates.
To serve, spoon ragÃ¹ over quinoa cakes, then sprinkle with chopped parsley and crumbled goat cheese.
TIP: Really pack in the quinoa when forming the cakes. The firmer they are to begin with, the easier they are to cook. I’d also recommend making smaller cakes than described, maybe 1/3 cup full rather than 2/3. The smaller cakes, I found, were much easier to flip once in the pan. And hey, even if they crumble a bit, let them keep cooking. Even a badly mutilated cake will still be crispy and delicious!
I’ve personally never had Radicchio. But I found this recipe, and it looked good, so I thought we’d give it a try. We could’ve bought a steak, for the price of the one head (not two like the recipe calls for). Expensive stuff, that radicchio.
It did have an interesting flavor. Almost bitter, or, definitely bitter if you got too much of it in one bite. But with the baby spinach and bacon, it mellowed out. It was definitely a change from some of the things we typically cook.
The bacon is definitely crucial. We somehow managed to lose the bacon between the refrigerated section and the checkout stand. Taylor swears he had it. We searched high and low in the fridge, freezer, and cupboards (maybe? accidentally? would it still even be good 2 days later?) and even in the car. No luck. No bacon. And when we checked our receipt, sure enough, no bacon.
If there’s one thing I hate it’s running to the store at 6pm. We like to shop in the middle of the day when no one’s around. But 6pm at the store is a whole other story. Not sure what it is but I feel like we’re slacking in the plan-ahead department, and have had to make more of these 6pm runs than ever.
But in this case, this recipe wouldn’t have been that good without the bacon. So the store run was absolutely necessary.
Penne with Radicchio, Spinach, and Bacon
1 whole head of garlic (with about 12 to 14 cloves)
6 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 pound penne
8 ounces bacon (about 8 slices), cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide strips
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
6 cups (packed) coarsely torn Treviso, Chioggia, or Tardivo radicchio leaves (from about 2 medium heads)
3 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves, torn in half (about 10 ounces)
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, torn in half (about 10 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 375Â°F. Cut off top 1/2 inch of garlic head, exposing cloves. Place garlic head, cut side up, on sheet of foil and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Wrap garlic in foil. Roast until garlic is soft, about 40 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Squeeze garlic into small bowl.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook bacon strips and chopped onion in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Add chicken broth, remaining 5 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, and roasted garlic. Bring mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally. Add radicchio, spinach, and basil and stir to combine. Simmer just until radicchio and spinach wilt, about 1 minute.
Drain pasta and return to same pot. Add radicchio-spinach mixture to pasta. Add 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper; toss to coat. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese alongside.
We don’t cook breakfast very often. Dinner is really our thing. Even on the weekends, we’re up at a decent hour and usually work through most of the day. I’m fine with a glass of chocolate soy milk, which usually lasts me until lunchtime.
So when we do make breakfast, it’s always a treat.
I haven’t had or made French toast in a very long time. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had it.
So as I was eying the half loaf of Golden Brioche Bread we had left in the fridge, I knew it would be good for two things: bread pudding, or french toast. Obviously I chose the later.
This recipe is super quick, rich, and delicious, and easy to make dairy free. You could also swap out the amaretto (but who would want to?) and flavor it with vanilla or cinnamon instead.
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Happy early birthday, to me, to me.
Very happy indeed!
I’m easily stumped when it comes to birthdays. I get asked over and over what do I want, what do I want, when really, I don’t know. I guess it’s a good sign when you are satisfied with what you have.
Since no one close to me ever wants to buy me fonts for my birthday (yes, I’m a design nerd), I was at a loss. Until I found the now infamous recipe for No Knead Bread. You see, no knead bread requires, well, a nice pot. A heavy pot that can go into the oven. I wanted this bread, and I wanted it badly. And I had no such pot.
Needless to say, I knew what I wanted for my birthday.
Lucky for me, we have a Le Creuset store downtown (next to Whole Foods, nonetheless!). And so Taylor and I made the treck to the hoity-toity shopping center. I was entirely planning to make the final purchase online, where I could surely get a better deal. Maybe it was the pushy salesman or the enticing shade of turquoise… either way, we left carrying (or, rather, Taylor was carrying) a lovely 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset, in Caribbean blue.
I’m in love (with a pot, yes, but with the boy who bought it for me too!).
And let me tell you, this bread is worth it!!
Of course, we couldn’t JUST eat bread for dinner. I recently saw this recipe for Vanilla Bean and Butternut Squash risotto over at Erin Cooks… and with my stash of ebay vanilla beans I am always looking for new ways to use them. While it might seem like an odd combination, the subtle sweetness of the vanilla is a perfect compliment to the squash and creamy risotto. Plus the tiny speckles are a sight to be seen.
Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto
Makes 4 regular or 6 side dish servings.
Recipe from Giada.
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large vanilla bean
3 cups peeled cubed (1-inch wide) butternut squash, about 12 ounces
2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon
3/4 cups finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and add them, and the bean, to the broth. When the broth comes to a simmer reduce the heat to low. Add the butternut squash to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the butternut squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the broth down to very low and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sautÃ© until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Discard the vanilla bean. Turn off the heat. Gently stir in the butternut squash, Parmesan, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and salt. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately.