Tag Archives: cheese

The Breakfast of Gods

13 Feb

Fresh Eggs

I love breakfast. I really love breakfast. Not on a daily basis mind you, as most days I can’t even manage a bowl of cereal.  Weekends, however, are made for it.  Crepes with Nutella, waffles and some warm maple syrup or freshly made scones are all on our family menu card, but my breakfast of choice is my wife Susan’s cheesy eggs.  Add pork sausages or some bacon slices it becomes literally The Breakfast of Gods.

Pork Breakfast Sausages

Eggs have been eaten by people since the beginning of time.  They are simple, provide protein and vitamins, and are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.  And they taste so good, and Susan, my wife, makes the best eggs ever.

Adding Land O' Lakes American Cheese to a pan of eggs

The key ingredient to Susan’s cheesy eggs is Land O’ Lakes American cheese.  Cubed and added to a pan of scrambled eggs cooking in a non-stick pan, the cheese melds with the eggs as the eggs begin to solidify and the cheese starts to melt.  Stirring continually at the beginning and then intermittently once the curds begin to form,  the consistency becomes large curd scrambled eggs with an invisible but ever-present cheesy flavor.

Large egg curds and cheese coming together

The Breakfast of Gods

Cheesy eggs, breakfast sausage and some toast, and Sunday morning is complete.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin

Do you speak cheese?

24 Jan

This is from the Harvard Gazette on a group of students visting Formaggio Kitchen and making their own cheese!  Check out the audio slide show I created for my “day job.”

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

Justin

Good ingredients done right make things wonderful

9 Jan

Sweet Yellow onions and my Opinel

Good ingredients done right are what make things wonderful.  Onion Soup is an example of a dish that explodes with flavor when you take the time to do it right.

The word restaurant comes from the French restaurer, or to restore, and first appeared in the 16th century meaning “a food which restores,” and referred specifically to a rich, highly flavored soup.   At that time onions were easy to grow and cheap, thus onion soup was sold by street vendors primarily to poor working class members of Parisen society.

Today, the sweetness of caramelized onions, the deep rich flavor of beef broth and the texture of  french bread croutons topped with warm cheese are what make this traditional soup a favorite everywhere.  Chef Thomas Keller comments on soup a l’onion in his book Bouchon,  by saying “It’s soup and sandwich at once.  And if you have it on a cold winter day, few things are more soul satisfying.”

Onions slowly caramelizing

Simple is best, and because there are few ingredients in an onion soup, it is important to take your time when making it.   Good caramelized onions can only be done low and slow.   It is important when you do this to make sure you are using uniformed slices that are not too large or too thin.   I used a mandoline to slice my onions, and cooked them for about two and a half hours.   Doing so allows for the natural sugars to caramelize rather than just simply brown.

A tea bag used for a sachet in the beef stock

I used pre made beef stock, but again, the process of reducing it slowly brings out the depth and flavor found deep with the ingredients.   I also added a tea bag filled with black and pink peppercorns, bay leaves as well as some fresh thyme to add flavor to the broth.   I didn’t have any cheesecloth to make a sachet, but found that the tea bag tied with a bit of kitchen twine worked great.

French bread, toasted and ready to top the soup

I had a fresh baguette that I sliced, coated with olive oil and toasted in the broiler.   Because of the size of the bowl I was going to use, I figured two slices per bowl, and in the end it worked out perfectly.

Emmental sliced thin as well as grated

You can use any kind of cheese that will melt well on top of your bowl, and I’ve had it with everything from Comte to mozzarella, but I had picked up some Emmentaler, a traditional Swiss cheese.  The Emmental I got from Formaggio’s was from an small artisan cheese shop in Monticello, Wisconsin, Edelweiss Creamery, that has been at the same location since 1873.

Soup a l'Oignon with toasted Croutons in place

I reduced my stock at the same time I was caramelizing my onions, and after two and a half hours, I added the stock to the onion pot, and continued to reduce the soup, intensifying the flavors.   I then placed my slices of Emmentaler cheese on top of the croutons, and sprinkled some grated emmentaler around the edges, and quickly put the bowls under the broiler.

Ready for the broiler

While the bowls were in the broiler, I prepared a serving plate to place the bowls on, because coming out of the broiler they would be too hot to touch.  One of the many things I’ve learned while behind the line in kitchens like Menton is that small damp clothes are often included under bowls so they don’t slide around on a serving plate.  In this case, it being critical that the bowls say in place, I took a paper towel, wet it and then cut it into small squares to include on the plate.  A simple and sure way to keep your main dish right were you want it.

A kitchen secret to keeping your bowl in place on a serving plate

I watched the bowls closely, and in short order they were ready to come out of the broiler and set for presentation.  The soup was wonderfully rich and warming.  The sweetness of the caramelized onions and gooey cheese made for a wonderful mouthful with every bit, and the slight crunch of the croutons added just enough texture to the soup.

Remember, Food is Love!

I hope you enjoyed this and will check back again soon.   Please leave your thoughts or comments here, and as always … Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers,

JI

Gratin Dauphinois

28 Dec

Gratin Dauphinois or Scalloped Potatoes

Gratin Dauphinois is a French dish my mother called Scalloped Potatoes.  The “gratin,” comes from the French meaning “to scrape” or the “scrapings” of bread or cheese that is often found in casserole dishes with a crusty top.  The Dauphine, a region, is part of southeastern France that since the time of the French Revolution has has been divided into three departments, IsèreDrôme and Hautes-Alpes and is the site of the Dauphine Libere, a yearly tune up for those who will ride in Le Tour de France cycling race.  In addition to being the culinary epicenter for Scalloped Potatoes or Potatoes Au Gratin, this region of France is also famous for a green liquor made by Carthusian monks called Chartreuse, but that is another post.

Julia Child, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking said, “There are as many “authentic” (sic) versions of gratin dauphinois as there are of bouillabaise,” and I’d tend to agree with her.   In this version, as if often the case with what I cook, I took a look at what we had in the fridge and freezer and came up with this version of my own.

My Mandoline after being washed

I used a mandoline, something no kitchen should be without, to slice up some potatoes we had lying around and grabbed some left over spiral ham we had in the freezer from Thanksgiving.   My Mother’s version of scalloped potatoes always had onions in them, but we didn’t have any here in the house and I wasn’t going out in the cold to track some down.

Uniform width really helps with cooking time

I cut most of the larger slices in half

Using a mandoline is great for getting all of your slices exactly the same width, which helps with presentation but more importantly with cooking time.

Next I diced up some of the leftover ham, and Utah and Normand were good about helping with those unused scraps, and then chopped some fresh sage that we had to add some more flavor.

Leftover ham chopped up and added to the mix

I grated some Gruyere, a cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland that is a bit salty and nutty and is great for things like quiche and yes, Gratin, and added that to the pile of things I was collecting.

Nutmeg, sage and cheese

Once all the ingredients were prepped, I put some butter to melt in a pan, and added some flour to create a bit of a roux and added milk to the mix.   I also added a couple of table spoons of sour cream and the Gruyere and grated in nutmeg.  Salt and pepper to taste and that was done.

Yummy goodness

After using a wisk to bring this all together over a medium heat, I layered the the potatoes and ham in my stoneware pan, and poured the creamy mixture over it, and did the same a number of times.   I finished with a bit of grated sharp cheddar on top and put the mix into the oven covered for about an hour.

Layer upon layer

Grated cheddar on top

The results were wonderful, and after letting it cool for a bit.  A perfect hot, homey meal for a cold winter’s night.

Gratin Dauphinois avec Jambon

I would love to know what you think about the blog, meal or drink ideas, cooking, my photography, restaurant recommendations, or anything else you’d like to share.

Remember, Food is Love!

Cheers – JI