February 20, 2010

New Home

Hello, everyone! More Cheese More Chocolate has a new home. Head to http://morecheesemorechocolate.com to see what's new!

February 18, 2010

Our Valentine's Dinner

For Valentine's Day I really, really wanted to make nachos for dinner. I'm not joking. I had some spicy chorizo, a couple of ripe avocados, and, as you might expect, a huge stash of cheese, and aren't holidays an excuse to splurge and eat unhealthy things that you wouldn't normally eat? I think so. Unfortunately my valentine wasn't down with the nachos idea, so I ended up going a little more traditional and made steak. It worked out for the best, as Matt told me that it was the best meal I've made in a very long time. A compliment like that is the best Valentine's gift a girl could get. At least I think. Now that I'm repeating it it sounds a little backhanded, but I can assure you that he meant it in the nicest possible way.

The menu:

Homemade rye bread
Roasted broccolini
Blue cheese mashed potatoes
Rib eyes with chimichurri
Chocolate mousse with freshly whipped cream

The bread recipe is from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I recommend both the book and the bread.

I bought these gigantic rib eyes because they were on sale at Whole Foods for something like $10.99/lb, far cheaper than the $23.99/lb. filets I was planning on buying. Between the two of us we didn't even eat one, which means steak salads all week for me! Just as I started to get nervous about how my pesky fire alarm was going to react to me cooking a steak on the stovetop I saw Matt's friend Sarah's tweet about Bittman's method for pan-cooking a steak in a poorly ventilated apartment with no smoke. Miraculous!

Speaking of Bittman, I used his recipe for chimichurri to top off the steak. It was so good that I used it top off the potatoes and the broccolini as well. Then I used my bread to sop up every last drop. You can find a recipe here, and I would recommend making it in a food processor as he suggests in his book rather than chopping it by hand.

I had some red potatoes that I'd boiled earlier in the week for a salad that I turned into blue cheese mashed potatoes. Simply mash up some boiled potatoes and add any combination of milk, cream, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter, season with salt and pepper, and crumble in a generous amount of blue cheese.

Since my potatoes were cold I transferred them to a baking dish, topped them with some pats of butter, and baked them with the broccolini until they were heated through.

Oh yeah, the broccolini. Toss it with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and bake on a cookie sheet at 375 or so for maybe 10 minutes. It's to die for. I may be exaggerating, but only slightly.

This meal was incredibly delicious and very easy to whip together. The chocolate mousse was the only thing that took more than about 15 minutes to make, but it was far from difficult. For as delicious as it is, it's totally worth the effort. If it weren't for the sinfulness of the mashed potatoes and the fact that I don't eat much steak I would make this meal all the time.

All of that chocolate is proof that this dessert is worth making. And check out my reflection in the double boiler. Hello, me!

The chocolate mousse recipe I used was from Orangette. You can follow the link to her recipe; I'll just show you some pretty pictures of the process. The only change I made was the addition of a little cinnamon to give it a little Mexican flavor. It was my consolation prize for not having nachos, I guess.

Molten chocolate.

+ egg whites

Folding in the egg whites.



Sigh again.

There's nothing better than licking a spoon and discovering a second layer of chocolate underneath. NOTHING.

Extra whipped cream to top it off.

The big blue bowl remains. Who wants to help polish it off?

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February 16, 2010

Sweet and Savory Palmiers

Last Friday night marked my third and final law prom, and to celebrate the occasion I spent the first half of the day baking. Whereas in high school I considered drinking to be the key factor in having fun at prom, these days I see whipping up some appetizers to be of rather high importance. Well, at least somewhat high importance. We all know that a few glasses of the sauce trump puff pastry in terms of pre-prom necessities, but puff pastry is a close second.

For law prom festivities last year I made a quick and easy Brie en Croute, but since our pre-party was taking place in a hotel room this year and I was unsure of when we would actually be consuming the appetizers I figured I should make something that could be completely finished ahead of time and required no last minute heating. I couldn't seem to get the idea of puff pastry out of my head, so after a little digging around on the internet I decided on palmiers. While they're slightly more work than brie en croute, once you get started you get into a rhythm and can whip out several varieties of them in no time. I read that they freeze well uncooked, so they'd be a great thing to make a few extra rolls of to have in the freezer for emergencies. Puff pastry emergencies.

Here's what you'll need for all varieties of palmiers:

Puff pastry, thawed
1 egg
1 tbsp water

One sheet of puff pastry yields 12-15 palmiers. The egg and water are for an egg wash to brush on the dough before baking. One egg should get you through several sheets of puff pastry.

Start by rolling out a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it's about 12" long. Try your hardest to keep it a rectangle. The world will not end if you roll out a blob instead of a rectangle, but a rectangle will be easier to work with.

Cheddar, Bacon & Thyme Palmiers

Step 1: Fry some bacon. I think I only used three of the four strips pictured here, but it's better to make more and snack on some than to not make enough. I promise.

Sprinkle the pastry with grated cheddar (I probably used a few ounces) and fresh thyme. Or dill. Or chives. This is probably as generous you can get with fillings without making it impossible to roll up and slice the pastry.

Crumble the bacon into small pieces (even smaller than this would be good), and sprinkle it over the cheese and herbs.

Roll up the dough lengthwise as tightly as you can, but stop when you're about halfway. If it's not rolled tightly you risk having the fillings fall out once you slice it.

Roll up the opposite edge toward the center so you have a log like the one pictured above.

Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes or freeze it until your next puff pastry emergency.

While the pastry is chilling you can whisk an egg with a little water to make an egg wash.

Preheat the oven to 375. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and then cut it into about 1/2" slices with a sharp knife. I found that my bread knife did the best job, but that might have been because my other knives were overdue for a sharpening.

Place the slices on their sides on a baking sheet that's either greased or lined with parchment paper.

Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip and bake for about 5 more minutes or until golden brown. Check out that bubbly cheese!

Post-flip and ready to eat!

Blue Cheese & Toasted Walnut Palmiers

I've been on a bit of a blue cheese kick lately, so I knew I wanted to make some blue cheese palmiers, and I had some walnuts in the freezer which were the obvious partner for the blue cheese. Next time I might add a little jam or apple butter into the mix, but they were perfectly delicious with just the blue cheese and walnuts.

This is just a handful of walnuts, toasted in the oven and chopped.

Sprinkle the blue cheese and walnuts over the pastry. A tiny bit more blue cheese than this probably wouldn't have hurt.

Roll it up.

Refrigerate. Egg wash. Slice.

Even in its raw state it looks tasty.

Here's a before-the-flip/after-the-flip shot. Notice how much the bottom browns.

Berry Jam & Brown Sugar Palmiers

After a couple savory batches I figured I should make a sweet one, and it was the perfect use for the remainder of a jar of mixed berry jam that was in my fridge. I wasn't overly excited about this mixture and assumed that one of the cheese ones would be my favorite, but once I tasted the results I was really, really into the sweet batch.

Put a few globs of jam on the pastry.

Spread it all around. Add a little more if needed.

Sprinkle with some brown sugar.

Roll it up.

Refrigerate. Egg wash. Slice. Bake. Flip.

Attractive and delicious.

Here they are on their fancy platter in our Breakfast at Tiffany's themed room. Yes, we had themed rooms.

And finally a shot of me and my roommates for the night. Check out my blue tights!

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February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day from More Cheese More Chocolate! I hope your day is filled with as much chocolate as mine!


February 13, 2010

Blackened Salmon Salad, Two Ways

It's be a rough few weeks here in More Cheese More Chocolate land. Matt and I suffered a huge loss a little over a week ago, and cooking, let alone blogging, haven't been much of a priority. (Thanks to my big brother for filling in a little while I've been gone!) We spent many, many days surrounded by family and friends and ungodly amounts of comfort food, with nary a vegetable in sight. While the outpouring of support in the form of home-cooked meals was completely overwhelming, there comes a time when you're ready to stop eating platefuls of meat and bread and you no longer want to be surrounded by a dozen varieties of cookies, brownies, and cakes.

When I returned to Minneapolis a few days ago I was excited to get back into the kitchen, and a big salad was at the top of my list of things to make. I had originally planned on making a niçoise salad, but when I realized that my co-op didn't have tuna steaks my plans changed a bit. My focus shifted from my list of ingredients for niçoise salad to random things that sounded good and seemed to fit together. The next thing I knew I was making blackened salmon, crumbling blue cheese, and slicing new potatoes. This salad base would work well with steak or chicken in place of the salmon, and the vinaigrette could easily be swapped out for blue cheese dressing.

The base of this salad consisted of green leaf lettuce, spinach, boiled new potatoes, roasted red peppers, cucumber, green pepper, and blue cheese. For a dressing I drizzled it with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a little lemon juice.

Blackened Salmon
Adapted from Real Simple

Preheat the oven to 400.

For the salmon spices I combined 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. The cayenne came flying out of the bottle when I was measuring it, so I probably had a little more than 2 teaspoons and it was very hot. If you're not that into spicy foods you can reduce the cayenne by half or more. This spice mixture will coat 3-4 servings of salmon.

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan, remove it from the heat, and stir in the juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon. Transfer the mixture to a shallow bowl.

When the oven is nearing 400, heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Dip the salmon in the lemon butter and then in the spice mixture to coat. Cook the salmon on the stove for about 2 minutes per side, and then transfer the skillet to the oven for about 8 minutes to finish the cooking. Place the salmon atop the salad and eat, eat, eat.

The second salad had more of a Mediterranean twist with green leaf lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, sliced pepperoncini, and a lot of crumbled feta. The dressing was a vinaigrette made up of one part dijon mustard, one part red wine vinegar, and three parts olive oil.

Leftover salmon topped off the salad, and it was delicious.

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February 11, 2010

Groceries and Garlic

Hey all, I have a little news...

I have groceries! A lot of them. As you might have guessed, this means I'm back to cooking (yay!), so expect more frequent posting coming soon.

Until then you can ooh and ahh over this heart-stopping meal I had in South Dakota a few days ago - a garlic burger and cheese balls. Holler! While it wasn't quite the same as the garlic cheeseburgers I consumed in college, it was pretty tasty and a decent stand-in for the garlicky burgers that I plan on eating at least once per day at my 5-year reunion this summer. And who can argue with fried balls of cheese? For the record, I didn't eat all of those.


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