Category Archives: cheese

Recipe of the Week

Flourless Almond Cake

almond cakes

Flourless Almond Cake

The almond is native to modern-day Syria, Israel, and Turkey, though it was spread to parts of Europe and North Africa in antiquity. Romans referred to almonds as “Greek nuts” and showered newlyweds with them as a fertility charm.

This is the perfect Passover cake.

¾ cup sugar
2 cups slivered almonds
pinch ground cardamom
4 eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 stick butter, at room temperature
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Butter a round 9 to 10 inch spring-form pan, and cover the bottom with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Place the almonds, sugar and generous pinch cardamom into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the eggs to the mixture followed by the almond extract. Drop in the butter and process until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the mold. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The cake is done when the top if golden brown, feels springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold the cake, invert onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto another platter to have the top of the cake right side up.

In a small saucepan, mix the honey with the lemon juice. Set over medium heat and simmer for a couple minutes, until it has the consistency of a glaze.

Spread the honey on the outer circumference of the cake – about 1 to 2 inches – using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the glazed area with the toasted sliced almonds and serve.

Serves 12 to 15

This cake is adapted from Patti Jinich’s Flourless Almond and Porto Cake

Cheddar and Herb Scones

cheddar herb scones

Cheddar and Herb Scones

We made these little nuggets of deliciousness in my English Tea Time class at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens over the weekend. They were delicious.

Cheddar is the most popular type of cheese in the United Kingdom and has been produced in the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England since the 12th century.

To learn some fun facts about tea time in England (and for a recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cardamom Scone) click on The Victoria Appetite

3 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup minced chives
½ cup minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 425º F.

In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together with a fork. Add the cold butter pieces and, using your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse sand. It’s ok if some large pieces of butter remain – they’ll add to the scones’ flakiness.

Pour in 1 cup of buttermilk, add the herbs and cheese and mix until the ingredients are just moistened – you’ll have soft dough with a rough look. (If the dough looks dry, add another tablespoon of buttermilk).

Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it very briefly.

Roll the dough into small rounds, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops and the bottoms are golden brown. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Makes 12

Prosciutto and Herb Frittatas

frittata

Prosciutto and Herb Frittatas

I couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye to 2014 than with a brunch of individual frittatas featuring some of my favorite ingredients – prosciutto, fresh herbs, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, referred to as “the best cheese on earth” by Bartolomeo Scappi his 1570 cookbook, The Opera.

1 tablespoon butter
2 slices prosciutto, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
2 teaspoons oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons chives, chopped
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
4 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon pepper
truffle salt or flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Rub the ramekins with enough butter to coat, leaving any extra pieces for flavor.

Chop the prosciutto and tomato and equally divide into the ramekins. Then add an equal amount of the herbs and Parmesan cheese.

Blend the eggs with the milk and pepper and equally divide into the ramekins. Bake for 20 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with flaky sea salt or truffle salt and serve warm with sliced baguette and wild arugula tossed with my favorite dressing.

Serves 2

Mushroom and Stilton Pasties

mushroom and stilton pasties

Mushroom and Stilton Pasties

This recipe was one of an entire feast prepared in my recent “Pubs and Taverns” class at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens after a discussion in the special exhibition Bruce Davidson|Paul Caponigro: Two American Photographers in Britain and Ireland. (Guinness Stout not pictured.)

English cheeses, though far fewer in numbers than the cheeses of France, have an important place in their diet, with Stilton being one of the finest. Pasties, or turnovers, are common fare in pubs and taverns. In the Middle Ages, mushrooms only appear in pasty recipes. This is not to say that they weren’t prepared other ways, but the vegetable was not considered appropriate for the wealthy table. Because of their mysterious growth and the fact that they lack visible roots, mushrooms were considered excrementa terrae, or excrements of the earth.

For the dough:
3 cups flour
1 stick butter
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
1 egg

For the mushroom filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ tablespoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled Stilton cheese
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Prepare the dough. Place the butter and the water in a small saucepan and simmer until the butter melts. (This can also be done in a bowl in the microwave). When cool, whisk in one egg. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and slowly add the liquid while kneading. Gather the dough and chill.

Preheat oven to 450º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Prepare the mushroom filling. Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over medium-low heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the butter to the pan. Once melted, add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are completely soft and all of the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.

Roll the dough out until about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles and place about a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Use your finger to brush a little of the egg wash onto the inner rim of the circle. Fold in half, pinch the edges together with your fingers and use a fork to seal. Brush the top with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

(Skip the egg wash if you choose to deep fry the pasties. Instead, heat about 2 inches of grapeseed oil in a deep pot to 365º F and fry in batches until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.)

Makes about 24 pasties