Posts filed under ‘Vegetables’

Cubicle Foraging – Cotija Cheese – part 2

I am finally getting around to posting about the tasty things that I made with my cotija cheese.  I got nine delicious ounces of it to take home a few weeks back and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it as I had never made anything with it before.

I found two recipes that sounded good, Cauliflower Gratin with Cotija Cheese (found on and apparently taken from Sunset magazine) and Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas (found on and apparently originally from Williams Sonoma in some fashion).

I didn’t have quite enough cheese for both recipes, so I ended up doing reduced portion versions of both items (albeit on different days).  Both dinners ended up being a bit of a study in what you can do wrong and how it is wonderfully tasty anyhow.  =)

Cauliflower Gratin with Cotija Cheese

(adapted from what I found on and apparently taken from Sunset magazine)

1 large cauliflower head, trimmed of the stem and leaves (roughly 1.5 lbs)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 pound poblano chilies
6 ounces cotija cheese
Salt and fresh ground pepper

First, deal with your poblano peppers.  The original recipe calls for roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips.

(If you are like me, and skimmed the recipe, you may have ended up doing this bit somewhere in the middle and having to delay other parts while you do it.  I ended up doing a combination of two things, some dry pan cooking to toast them and then some time in the oven to bake them through.  Ideally, you would bake them til they got very soft and peeling would be easy.  I ran out of time, so I went ahead and seeded them, peeled what I could, and then diced them with bits of skin left on.  This seemed to work fine.)

Next, trim, rinse, and cut your cauliflower.  You want relatively small floret pieces, perhaps 1/4 inch wide.  Try for fairly uniform pieces, as it will help them have a similar consistency once they are cooked.  Prep a large pan of boiling water to put the cauliflower in.  Cook them at a boil for about 3 minutes.  Rinse them in cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

Take your heavy cream and stir the cayenne into it.  Turn your oven on to 450 degrees F.

Assemble the gratin.  In a baking dish (I did mine in a round casserole dish, which I believe was 2.5 quart capacity) layer about a quarter of the cauliflower across the bottom.  Cover this with a quart of the cream.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Add a layer of poblano pieces and some of the crumbled cotija.  Repeat this process until you have used all the ingredients, ending with the cheese on top.

(If you accidentally forget to layer the cheese in, like I did, and you can choose to stick it all on top or to mix the whole thing and just sprinkle the top.  I would recommend mixing it all up, as the large layer of cheese on top didn’t let the dish get the proper texture through out.  It was still incredibly tasty, however.)

Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on how brown the cheese top is getting.  Let the dish rest for about 15 minutes prior to serving.


April 1, 2010 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

Cubicle Foraging – Spinach, part 2

Well, I got half a block from work on Thursday when I realized that I had left the spinach in the fridge at the office.  I dithered a few moments, then decided to walk back to work to get it.  I was actually excited to make something out of it and nothing else in my fridge at home was really calling to me.  I ended up making sautéed garlic spinach along side jasmine rice and a lovely french cheese.  I love the sweetness that you can get from garlic if it is sautéed but not browned.  The jasmine rice with a bit of butter and salt was aromatic.  The port salud cheese was a little reminiscent of Muenster.  It was on the softer side, rich, and salty.

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Butter

large bag of small spinach (perhaps roughly a pound)

6 – 8 medium cloves garlic

2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste


Peel the garlic and chop it up into medium pieces.  Rinse the spinach and discard any pieces that seem excessively wilted or slimy.

Put a large saute pan, with available lid, on the stove with medium-low heat and add the olive oil.  Let the oil heat a couple minutes, then stir in the garlic and butter.  Let it saute for 3 – 5 minutes.  You want to soften the garlic, but do not want to brown it.  After letting the garlic saute in the oil and butter for several minutes, add the spinach and turn the heat up to medium.  Stir and cover.  Let the spinach cook, stirring every few minutes until all the spinach has wilted.  Salt and pepper to taste either at the stove or at the table.

Note: If you notice that your garlic is starting to darken, quickly toss in your spinach and mix, the cover.  This will help prevent the flavor from shifting farther away from the sweet end.

November 16, 2009 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment