Category Archives: fruits and vegetables

Recipe of the Week

1950s-Style Cheese Log

1950s-Style Cheese Log

From the 1950s through the 1970s, cheese balls felt right at home sitting next to a dry martini.

For the cheese ball:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
8 ounces finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons port wine, sherry, cognac, or whiskey
1 to 3 tablespoon room temperature butter, if needed

For the coating:
¾ cup combined chopped roasted nuts and chopped dried fruit of choice

For serving:
bell peppers, carrots, radishes, grapes, and Ritz crackers

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process or beat until light and fluffy in texture, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Add the grated cheddar cheese and process for 30 to 45 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl. It should be very smooth and completely combined. If it is not, process or mix another 30 seconds.

Add the garlic and the liquor of choice. Process until the mixture is completely smooth and the mixture is thick and fluffy – about one full minute or more. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl.

If the mixture has become runny (like salad dressing or yogurt), add 1 tablespoon room-temperature butter at a time and process or beat until completely incorporated, fully processing or beating between each addition.

Scoop the mixture into a mound. Place a large piece of plastic wrap about 12 by 16 inches on a work surface. Using a large spoon, transfer the mixture into a mound in the center of the plastic wrap.

Shape it into ball or log using plastic wrap. Lift up 2 opposite sides of the plastic wrap and cover the sides of the cheese mixture. Place your cupped hands against the plastic wrap, and gently press the mixture into a round. Lift up the remaining plastic, one piece at a time, and cover all sides of the cheese round. Shape it into a ball. Collect all the plastic pieces at the top and twist them together, creating a bundle that looks like a tied sack or pouch.

Wrap the plastic-wrapped cheese ball completely in aluminum foil and shape again with your hands. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 6 days.

Before serving, pour the coating into a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator, unwrap completely, and place on the topping. Gently roll to coat. Pat the sides and top well to ensure a full coating. (Wrapped in plastic and then foil – but without rolling in the topping, a cheese ball will keep for up to a week.)

Place the cheese ball on a serving tray or platter with a selection of vegetables, crackers, clusters of grapes. Set out small cheese knives or butter knives for spreading and serve.

Makes 1 4-inch cheese ball, serving 6 to 8
(adapted from Kitchn)

Baked Figs with Honey Creme Fraiche

Baked Figs with Honey Creme Fraiche

These amazing figs were prepared in my last Cookbook Club and were adapted from a recipe in Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food of 1950. 

“In a fireproof dish arrange some slightly under-ripe unpeeled figs. Put in a little water, sprinkle them with sugar and bake them (as for baked apples). Serve them cold, with cream.”

For the figs:
1 ½ pounds fresh figs, halved
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon sugar

For the honey-crème fraiche:
8 ounces crème fraiche
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Put the figs, cut side up, in a baking dish. Divide the vanilla bean evenly among the figs.

Brush the tops of the figs with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until very soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

While the figs are baking, mix the crème fraiche and honey together.

To serve, place 2 to 3 figs in a bowl with a dollop of honey-crème fraiche.

Serves 4 to 6

image by Megan Griffith

Baby Avocados with Orange and Olives

Baby Avocados with Orange and Olives

Between 1934 and 1935 Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas spent 7 months traveling through the United States. In Toklas’s “Food in the United States” chapter she refers to the trip as, “an experience and adventure, which nothing that might follow would ever equal.”

Of California she wrote, “California was unequalled. Sun and a fertile soil breed generosity and gentleness, amiability and appreciation. It was abundantly satisfying. In Pasadena amongst olive and orange groves we saw our first avocado trees and their fruit offered for salt stacked in great pyramids, almost as common as tomatoes would be later in the season.”

2 oranges
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup parsley, minced
1 tablespoon thyme
3 tablespoons chopped olives
salt and white pepper
6 to 8 baby Hass avocados
3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest the oranges into a small bowl, making sure to stop when you start to see the white pith.

Supreme the oranges. Cut off each end of the orange and set upright on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice off the pith, following the contours of the fruit, moving from top to bottom, cutting as little of the flesh away as possible. Repeat with the other orange.

Roughly chop the orange flesh and add it to the bowl with the zest. Add the garlic, parsley, thyme, and olives and season generously with salt and white pepper. Toss to combine.

Halve the avocados lengthwise, remove the pits, and fill each cavity with about 1 tablespoons of orange mixture. Arrange them on a platter, drizzle generously with olive oil, and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Tuna, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

tuna salad

Tuna, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

When I don’t feel like making lunch, this is what I make. Perfect with simple saltine crackers.

1 can tuna in water, drained
3 tablespoons jalapeño juice (my favorite brand is San Marcos)
3 pickled jalapeños, chopped
juice of 1 lime, or to taste
1 avocado, cubed
1 grapefruit, supremes diced
handful chopped lettuce
sea salt and pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl. Toss and serve.

Serves 1 to 2