Tag Archives: walnuts

Blue Cheese Mac with Walnuts

31 May

I am a cheese lover… I guess this has been established and proven by the posts on this blog already.  However, blue cheese is a relatively recent acquired taste for me. I always found it too salty and pungent for my taste.  However, I few years ago I went to a really nice restaurant in Ponce, Mark’s at the Meliá, that featured a Boston lettuce salad with crumbled Maytag blue cheese and vinaigrette.  I was a convert after that dish.

Now I do not shy away from blue cheeses anymore.  I love it in desserts, in salads, and lately, in pastas.  That’s how this Mac & Cheese came about.  Kind of like a grown-up version of a mac and cheese. 

I did this dish the first time improvising at my aunt’s house in Miami.  She wanted macaroni with a white sauce.  So I decided to give it a twist to make it interesting.  She loved it and my cousin, whose daughter is a chef, loved it too.  She had never tasted my cooking and she was nicely impressed.

I hope when you make this, you’ll also impress the ones you love and cook for.

 

 Blue Cheese Mac with Walnuts

BLUE CHEESE MAC WITH WALNUTS

1 tbs sofrito
1 tbs olive oil
½ cup milk
4 oz cream cheese
1 handful of grated Italian-blend cheeses
6 oz of blue cheese – your favorite blue cheese will do here
½ cup of walnuts, toasted
½ package of your favorite whole-grain tubular pasta – penne, macaroni or rigatoni will all do

 

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until almost cooked thru.  Try not to cook them too long, so they do not break when you stir the sauce in.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil and sofrito.  Cook for a few minutes and add the milk.  Let it warm through, but be careful it does not boil.
  3. When the milk has heated up add the cheeses.  I leave the blue cheese for the end.  Stir a few times to make sure all the cheeses melt well.  They melt faster and better if they’ve been out of the fridge for a few minutes.  Not necessarily room temp, but not out of the fridge either.
  4. When the pasta is done, drain it and return to the pot.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.  Add the walnuts.

Stuffed Baked Brie

18 Mar

The other night we got together to watch the French film La faute à Fidel…  a very nice film showed in a French film festival recently at the University of Puerto Rico.  I was not able to attend the original showing, so my friend Laura’s mother, who’s a film buff and loves to buy films, lent it to us for a night of French movies and of course, French food…

I’ve been meaning to make a different version of the Camembert Chaud at the Bistro de Paris restaurant we love so much… where they take a round of camembert cheese, take the top off and warm it up in the oven and serve with French bread toasts, walnuts and sour apples.

I wanted to see if I could challenge myself and work with some phyllo dough I had bought and was always afraid of using.  I always do that, I like things at the market, but then leave them in the fridge or the pantry and do not use them immediately.   I built myself some courage and this is what turned out…

 

 brie-relleno-1

STUFFED BAKED BRIE

A 4.5 ounce round of Brie cheese
2 tbs of guava jelly
1 ½ tbs toasted walnuts, cut into small pieces
2 tbs caramelized onions – recipe here
4 sheets of whole-wheat phyllo dough – defrosted
4 tbs of butter, melted
Canola spray

 

  1. Take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.  Spray with canola oil.
  2. Take one piece of the phyllo dough and place on top of baking sheet.  Brush lightly but evenly with melted butter using a pastry brush.  Place the second sheet of phyllo crosswise, perpendicular to the first sheet.  Brush again with the melted butter.  Place the third sheet of phyllo diagonal to the frist two, as if covering the spaces left open by the first “cross”.  Brush again with melted butter and place the fourth and last phyllo sheet perpendicular to the 3rd sheet, therefore creating another cross with the sheets.  Spread  the last sheet with the remaining butter.
  3. Cut the brie cheese into two halves, creating a top and a bottom half.  We’ll be making a “sandwich” using the two brie halves.
  4. brie-relleno-por-dentro
  5. Place the bottom half of the cheese in the middle or the phyllo sheet stack.  Spread the caramelized onions on on top of the brie half.  Now, spread the guava jelly on top of the onions.  Place the walnuts pieces on top of the guava jelly. And now top everything off with the remaining half of brie cheese.  It may get a bit messy, but it’s all good.
  6. brie-relleno-antes-de-cerrar
  7. Now you’ll start wrapping the brie with the phyllo… take one section and fold it over the cheese.  Now try enveloping the cheese with another side… you’ll see you’ll have a lot of phyllo left over that you won’t know what to do with it.  Just take it all and gather it on top of the cheese like making a bun…  I just could not take pictures of this because my hands were so messy with melted butter.
  8. Place the stuffed brie in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set a bit… 
  9. After 15 minutes have passed, pre-heat the oven to 450 F.  When the oven is ready, bake the brie covered with a piece of parchment with a foil paper on top for about 10 minutes.  Then take off the parchment/foil covering and let the phyllo get golden brown.
  10. Take out of the oven and wait about 2-3 minutes for the cheese inside to adjust to the temperature and cut and serve immediately after.  We served them with water crackers and apple slices.

 

brie-relleno-2

We loved the mixture of the tangy brie with the sweet guava jelly and onions.  But I had a few mishaps and I want you to learn from my mistakes.  So here are some tips when making this Stuffed Brie:

  • Use the same baking sheet where you’ll bake the brie to set it up.  I transferred the brie from that baking sheet to something smaller to put it in the fridge and I almost lost the entire bottom when transferring it back to the baking sheet to bake.
  • The temperature of the oven is important… if the temperature is not that high, your phyllo dough takes longer to cook and get golden and might give your jelly an opportunity to seep out. 
  • This is not a good dish to assemble at home and transfer somewhere else to bake…  I suggest you assemble and bake in the same premises.  I have not tried yet the bake first and then transfer and reheat… if you do, let me know if it works better.

 

Hope you love it as much as we did…

Pasta Romesco

29 Dec

 The other day I was overzealous making a party dip made from red bell peppers, Muhamara, and I ended up with so much that I used one part for the party I was making it originally and another part I used it to make this pasta dish.

I decided to call it Pasta Romesco instead of Pasta Muhamara, in honor of the dip, because I noticed the ingredients in the dip were almost the same as a romesco sauce I had learned a few years back from a recipe book for IBS patients.  Red bell peppers, bread, walnuts, balsamic vinegar, etc.  I have seen other romesco sauces that use tomatoes as a base, but the one I learned first used red bell peppers, so we’re sticking to that version.

This pasta is evidence this dip is very versatile as it is delicious.

 romesco-pasta

PASTA ROMESCO

½ packet of whole-wheat pasta
¾ cup of the Muhamara dip
¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

 

  1. Boil the pasta according to the package directions.  Remember to salt the water well.
  2. When the pasta is done, drain the pasta saving about 1 cup of the pasta water.
  3. Return the pasta to the pot where you boiled it and add the Muhamara dip.  If you feel the sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water to thin it out.  Add the grated cheese and mix well to combine.
  4. Add more grated cheese on top to serve.

Muhamara

24 Dec

Now that the holidays are here, I am the designated dip maker for all the parties I’ve been invited to.  I had found red bell peppers on sale and wanted to make something special with them.

A few months back, a KarmaFree Cooking reader mentioned me about Muhamara – a red pepper dip made with pomegranates.  I started looking for recipes on the internet and learning more about it.  Funny, but I found a recipe for Muhamara in my recipe book (the one I have built from magazine clippings that interest me) this version did not include the pomegranates, yet it is very tasty.

 muhamara-dip

MUHAMARA DIP

2 red bell peppers
½ a 6-inch pita bread  
½ cup water
1 small garlic clove
½ cup of toasted walnuts, plus more for garnish
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ tsp Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

 

  1. Roast peppers until blackened all over under the broiler, turning with tongs as each side is blistered.   I did it in a toaster oven at the highest temperature.  Transfer the peppers to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap; let stand about 15 minutes. Peel, and discard skins, stems, and seeds. Set peppers aside.
  2. Toast pita bread until crisp and golden. Break into pieces; place in a bowl, and cover with the water. Soak until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a sieve, and drain well, pressing out excess water. Set aside.
  3. Combine garlic and walnut pieces in the bowl of a food processor; process until fine crumbs form, about 10 seconds. Add paprika, roasted peppers and pita bread; process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add vinegar, lemon juice, oil, and salt, and season with black pepper. Pulse until combined.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Before serving, bring to room temperature. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with walnuts.

 

I served this dip with Wheat Thins.  It was delicious.  It definitely tastes better the next day when at room temperature.  So plan ahead and make it the day before you’ll be serving it to guests.

This dip was also delicious served inside a sandwich, with tomatoes, lettuce and any other of your favorite fixings.  Or also, you could repurpose it as a pasta sauce

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