Teleggio Cheese

Life has run away with me and between being extremely focused and busy at work and feeling over scheduled (with good things, but none-the-less) outside of work I have found very little time for writing, and honestly, very little time for cooking as well the last few days.

I did, however, try a new cheese.  Cheese has got to be one of my favorite things and one of the reasons that I will never be vegan.  I have had people rail against cheese as non-vegetarian, and technically they are often right.  Rennet is very much non-vegetarian.  There is a lot of cheese made with synthesized enzymes these days, though, and if I eat eggs and seafood, both of which are true, I think that it is also acceptable for me to decide that I am going to eat cheese.  Lots of cheese.  =)

I bought this cheese over a week ago and kept eyeing it and then not opening it.  Monday morning I realized that I didn’t make any food for the week during the course of Sunday (Sunday evening was spent at friends’ celebrating Chinese New Year and I did not host or cook).  So I opened my fridge and poked around.  I found a few things that could readily be grabbed on my way out the door and did so.  Let me tell you, boiled potatoes with salt and pepper, half a green pepper, and a hunk of cheese is not the worlds most balanced meal.

I am also letting you in on my dirty little secret that I don’t cook gourmet food all the time.  But in the spirit of getting back into posting more, I intend to start including what happens when I cheat, when I don’t want to cook, or the comfort food I make that happens to be partially coming pre-prepared or pre-packaged.

When I opened the cheese I had a moment of worry that perhaps I had let it sit too long.  It is a pretty soft cheese, and sometimes they are unhappy sitting in their saran wrap for very long.  I wondered if perhaps I had purchased a stinky cheese without realizing it.  But the flavor was lovely.  I only had a few bites, as I couldn’t manage to hunt up any crackers at work.  Upon looking it up on Wikipedia I discovered that its strong fragrance and mild flavor is typical of the cheese.  It has an almost nutty or fruity sort of taste to it and is thickly creamy.  I am excited to cart it back home with me this evening to polish it off.

You can find an interesting article about Teleggio at After Cheese Comes Nothing.  There is a map of where in Italy it is traditionally made and some lovely tidbits about historical production (cows are milked on their way down from the alps).  This Teleggion was purchased at New Seasons for 12.99 a pound, and I have no idea how to tell if it was made in the old style, or at a large factory.  Though from the availability out of the country and its fairly reasonable price, one can probably assume that it was not small production.

February 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm Leave a comment

Cubicle Foraging – Poppy Seeds (Poppy Seed Lemon Cake)

Taking a deep breath….  and trying to get back into posting things.  Life has run away with tons of new things cropping up at work and things not letting up as much after the holidays as I had expected.

I finally got around to making this lovely cake, which I saw over at SmittenKitchen.  M joined me for the evening and brought his camera.  We made pizza for dinner and then made cake while trying out one of my holidays gifts, a nifty new board game.

I got an entire tupper ware container of poppy seeds from work a couple of weeks back.  I am not a huge fan of poppy seeds, but her descriptions of the cake were so intriguing that I had to try it.  It was a huge hit with people at work and I enjoyed a couple of small pieces myself.  It has made me determined to try making some lemon flavored cakes some time in the future, perhaps also trying out the gorgeous frosting recipe SmittenKitchen has been playing with.  It takes the zest from two medium to large lemons, which makes the batter very fragrant and lovely light lemony color (at least until you add the poppy seeds).

Poppy Seed Lemon Cake

(recipe found at SmittenKitchen, adapted, from Kurt Gutenbrunner via Food & Wine)

2/3 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt (edited to add this)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/2 cup poppy seeds (I got this from one 3-ounce spice bottle)

Preheat the oven to 325°F Butter and flour a fluted Bundt or tube pan generously.  Butter the dull side of a 10-inch piece of foil.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the sugar with the egg yolks and whole egg at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and very fluffy, about 8 minutes.  Beat in the lemon zest.  Sift the flour and cornstarch over the egg mixture and fold in along with the pinch of salt with a rubber spatula.  At medium speed, beat in the butter, then beat in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover tightly with the buttered foil.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  She made note that she had a ten inch pan for her cake and it was done ten minutes early.  I also only had a ten inch pan and mine was done at roughly 35 minutes, so it should be a pretty good guideline.

Remove the foil and let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes.  Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely before serving, at least 30 minutes.

I am afraid that I was not thrifty and didn’t end up using my egg whites for anything.  As this was the second thing baked in the evening, I decided against having more clean up.  I am eyeing a crème brûlée and angel food pair up sometime in the near future, though.  Which hopefully will remove the slight feelings of guilt at having tossed the extra egg whites.  I did look at recipes to use them, I just didn’t end up doing an of them.

February 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm 4 comments

The Holidays have eaten my life

Well, as many people are probably used to having happen in their own life, the holidays seem to have consumed most of my life for the last few weeks.  I am horribly behind at posting the various things that I have been cooking.  And, of course, it seems that I don’t have time to type up any of that now, nor the recipes in front of me for reference.  But I have been away for what feels like far too long, so here I am.

I lucked out like crazy and ended up with five cookbooks for the holidays.  All of them about baking of one sort or another.  I am really excited to try them out, especially the various bread books (yes, there were three of those).  Here is what I got:

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day

Luscious Berry Desserts

The Splendid Spoonful: from custard to creme brulee

I am sure you will see some various things posted from these in the next few weeks.

January 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

The holidays have run away with my schedule.  I finally got to making this on Friday, though, which has been on my list for a while.  I found the recipe over at Tartelette.  She mostly posts about sweet things (no surprise here), but occasionally has some tasty savory recipes as well.

I didn’t have any fresh thyme, so I did mine with dry.  Unfortunately I think that I overdid it.  I guess measured in my hand, and since dry also packs so much tighter than fresh, I think that the thyme was over done.  But it was still a tasty and savory soup, and the recipe is below, courtesy of Tartelette.

Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes (seeds scooped out & saved)
1 small acorn squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves or garlic, peeled and smashed (don’t worry about mincing)
4 cups chicken stock (I did mine with low sodium veggie stock)
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or less if desired. You can also use some sage)
water
salt and pepper

In a stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cubed squashes and sautee for a few minutes until they start to get some caramelizing color. Add the garlic and sautee one minute, stirring often to prevent it from burning (or it will become bitter). Add the soup stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered for about 30 minutes or until the squash is tender. With an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot until smooth. If using a food processor or blender, let the soup cool a bit before processing. Adjust the consistency to your liking with extra water. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish as desired.

This serves four, with some bread as accompaniment (M brought over a loaf of his 5 minute a day bread).  I made my soup in the blender, rather than with an immersion mixer, which worked just fine.  She also lists some possible garnishes, toasted squash seeds, hot peppers, or (for those of a meatier persuasion than I) bacon.  I could see it being fun to play around with that, especially in a version that wasn’t over herbed.

Hope you all are enjoying some good soups with the winter weather.

December 16, 2009 at 4:14 pm Leave a comment

Snacking Away

It has hit that part of the afternoon where one inevitably is a bit munchy.  I recently was introduced to a happy vegan snack at a friend’s house, and enjoyed it so much I went and bought all the stuff for it, though I don’t normally keep coconut or almond butter around.  You take an apple and slice it up, then put a layer of almond butter over the slice and sprinkle some dried coconut shavings over top.  It is quite tasty.  I have made the cheater’s version here at work, which consists of a pile of almond butter, a pile of coconut, slices of apple, and repeated dipping.  It turns a very light snack (an apple) into something quite substantial that I expect may manage to hold me until I finish cooking dinner tonight.

December 11, 2009 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

Chennai Masala

After wine tasting at Renaissance we had the usual debate about dinner locations and decided on Chennai Masala as M’s sisters had not been there.  It is my favorite Indian food restaurant in Portland.  There are many tasty places to eat Indian food, but Chennai Masala specializes in South Indian fare.

I lived in South India for six months, residing in Pune for most of that time.  Pune is roughly four hours east of Mumbai (Bombay).  It is an important center for both the software and automobile industries and is also well known for its educational institutions.  The food is amazing.  When I get home sick for Indian food it is the food of Pune, both what you find in restaurants and the food that my aai, my Indian host mother, would cook for me at home.  After school each day my fellow students and I would pile into rickshaws or walk down the street to one of the cafes to feast on South Indian snacks and fresh lime sodas to tide us over until the supper hour, which was more at the European hour, say nine o’clock at night.

Chennai Masala specializes in South Indian food and has a substantial menu of South Indian snacks, hard to find most places that I have been in the US.  Dosa, idli, uttapam, sambhar….  Just thinking about them gets me salivating.

We ordered the spinach dosa to share, and then each ordered something on our own.  If you have never had dosa before, it is fun food.  A giant thin crepe is loosely rolled around a filling or folded over in half over it.  The flour is a combination of rice and lentil and has its own particular flavor, being a little earthy and nutty once fried.  You can get a variety of fillings put in them and they usually come with a number of accompaniments for dipping.  Our came with a spicy spinach filling and had sambhar, and two chutneys on the side.

I don’t recall what everyone else got, but I ordered aloo gobi (an indian curry with cauliflower and potatoes) for my entree, which was quite tasty.  Our meals were served with naan.  I am more partial to chappati for eating with, though I certainly enjoy eating naan, especially if it is garlicy and has butter.

I highly recommend that you go and check out Chennai Masala, located in Hillsboro.  They were even written up in the Willamette Week restaurant ratings.  All of their food is great, but go and try the South Indian snacks.  They are stellar and will get you wishing you could travel to Pune to eat in the cafes.

December 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm 2 comments

Wine Weekend – part one

Two weekends back, before the craziness of Thanksgiving took over my life, there was a weekend involving lots of wine tasting.

I met M and his two sisters at Renaissance Wine Shop (located at Orenco Station in Hillsboro) for a tasting of wines imported by Small Vineyards.  We all had a great time, for which I am very thankful.  I like them both very much and was a bit concerned things might be awkward after relationship situations changed.  I got met with hugs and giggles and support.

Small Vineyards comes to Renaissance a couple of times a year and I always try to catch their tastings.  They import small production wines from Italy (sometimes the wines are produced in lots as small as 100 or 200 cases) and often they have some very interesting and delightful wine at reasonable prices.

We tasted:

Tenuta Ponte, Coda di Volpe 2008, 100% Coda di Volpe (800 cases produced, a white which I failed to take tasting notes on, and didn’t end up buying a bottle [$17])

Fattoria Bibbiani, Treggiaia 2006, 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cab and Canaiolo (1200 cases produced, a slight raspberry nose, earthy currant flavors with medium tannins [$11])

Podere Ciona, Montegrossoli 2007, 95% Sangiovese, 5% Alicante Bouschet (290 cases produced, raspberry and strawberry on both smell and taste, light tannins [$17])

Antonion Sanguineti, Caruso 2007, 15% Corvina, 5% Rondinella, 20% Nero d’Avola, 50% Sangiovese, 10% Syrah (500 cases produced, this unusual wine has grapes from the vineyards of several friends of the wine maker.  Raspberry and cherry are found in the nose, to which a lemony note is added, high in the mouth, when tasted.  Light to medium tannins. [$20])

Tre Donne, d’Arc Langhe Rosso 2006, 40% Barbera, 30% Pinot Noir, 20% Dolcetto, 10% Freisa (400 cases produced, my favorite wine of the evening.  I had never had freisa grapes.  They lend a lovely floral nature to the wine.  Slightly floral strawberry nose, floral, peach, pear, almond, clove, and rosehips or hibiscus once tasted.  I tried to buy some of this, but they ran out of it about an hour into the tasting. [$17])

Eugenio Bocchino, Tom Langhe Rosso 2007, 70% Barbera, 30% Merlot (200 cases produced, velvety nose with temple flower notes, flavors of raisin and plum with a full mouth feel and medium tannins.  I bought a bottle of this, since the Tre Donne was not available. [$22])

Perazzeta, Rita Riserva, 100% Sangiovese (250 cases produced, smells like cherry cream soda, flavors of cherry, apple, mango [$34])

December 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

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