Roasted Grapes with Goat Cheese & Rosemary

Hanging out in Colmar, France

Hanging out in Colmar, France

What a whirlwind it has been since we returned from our trip to Europe. We had a great time in Basel, Colmar, and Stockholm. But thing thing Garriy and I both took back home with us, as usual, is that it is the people that make the place.

The view from Aya and Kileken's balcony in Basel

The view from Aya and Kileken’s balcony in Basel

AyaandCatOur favorite part of the trip was being with Aya and Kileken in their lovely home in Basel, cooking dinners with them, drinking too much wine together, and getting lost while biking through vineyards with them in the Alsace in France (more on that in the next post!). As you know, Aya and I met studying together in Morocco–and one of the reasons we hit it off so well is because I think we travel and approach the world in a similar way. Our most recent trip only underlined that.

Aya spoiled us with lots of meals that we should try and post (including moules in wine sauce, which entailed lots of YouTube videos about how to debeard mussels), but we all cooked some amazing meals together as well.

This is a simple appetizer I made during our visit that I love and I learned from my friend Trish. It’s so easy to put together, which makes it all the better. If you decide you don’t want it as an app, the grapes on their own are also great as a side (especially roasted pork, or a polenta and veggie main). Miss you A&K!

Grapes and goat cheese

Roasted Grapes with Goat Cheese & Rosemary

  • 2 or 3 bunches of green grapes, taken off the stem
  • 2 Tb. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. minced rosemary
  • ground black pepper
  • coarse sea salt
  • 1 log of mild goat cheese
  • baguette, cut into rounds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the grapes, olive oil, rosemary, and pepper and toss to coat. Put the grapes on a baking sheet or in a baking pan and place in oven. Roast for 20-30 minute or until grapes begin to burst and put out their juices. When done, sprinkle on a generous amount of coarse sea salt to provide a nice crunch. Serve with the goat cheese and baguette.

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Norwegian Breakfast: Gjetost and Soft-boiled Eggs on Toast

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OK guys, this one is a little complicated. Not the recipe, not the ingredients, but pronouncing the focal point of the “dish” (if you will) – Gjetost. I just scoured Youtube to find a video demonstrating how one says the name of this little nugget of delicious, and came up with NOTHING! (On YOUTUBE?!) I know what you’re thinking: why would I assume that I, Jewess of Westchester county, know the correct pronunciation of this Norwegian delicacy and all these blonde-haired, blue eyed, tall people on Youtube got it wrong? Well, Chris spent a few months in Norway several years back so I’m trusting him for the real deal here.

So Im sure you all have a few burning questions:

1. What IS Gjetost? It’s a carmelized Norwegian goat cheese. Sweet, salty, smooth, delicious.

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2. Where does one purchase Gjetost? Previously from Amazon only in the US, as far as I could tell. But I recently discovered that they sell it at Whole Foods, which is why it now feels appropriate to put this on the blog.

3. What was that I heard about a reenactment of the Hanukkah miracle in a Norway tunnel a few weeks back? http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/22/norway-cheese-fire-closes-tunnel A truckload of brunost, a kind of gjetost (or is gjetost a kind of brunost?? Hmm… I don’t know) burned for five whole days. Whoa. That must be some smooth cheese.

Ingredients:

  • Gjetost
  • Two pieces of crusty white bread, sliced thin and toasted
  • 1 or 2 eggs

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Directions:

  1. To soft boil eggs, put them in a pot with enough water (starting cold) to cover them. Boil for 10-13 minutes on high heat. Exact time will depend on your burner and how hot it gets – might take a couple of tries to get the exact right timing for runny-in-the-middle but hard-boiled whites.
  2. Slice the cheese very thin as per the photo.
  3. Place cheese on top of the warm toast. It will melt a bit. Yum!
  4. Cut the eggs in half and put them on top, letting the yolk run.

The Best Pimento Cheese Ever…Seriously

Happy New Year everyone!

Other than eating too much, we had a wonderful holiday, but are now glad to be settled back down in Knoxville after lots of travel.

If you’ve ever visited my parents’ house in Kentucky, you’ll know that there’s always a big container of pimento cheese in the fridge. No matter what. And no matter how many times I say my lactose-intolerant self won’t take a bite, I always do, which is why I wanted to share this family favorite recipe with you all.

Pimento cheese has had an in-vogue moment again, at least here in Knoxville, along with deviled eggs, homemade pork rinds, and all kinds of other bad-for-you Southern food that trendy “locavore” restaurants here help eaters justify since the ingredients are easily sourced from nearby farms. I mean who can resist free-range deviled eggs with sriracha and homemade chowchow?

I’m glad Southerners are finding their groove and celebrating their food culture (even if it might give us all a heart attack). For one, it means that people are learning not to do sacreligious things, like pureeing one’s pimento cheese in the food processor, or God forbid, adding something sweet, like Miracle Whip, to it. Nevertheless, pimento cheese is one of those things you just don’t want to mess with. So, please don’t add jalapenos, or barrel-fermented organic pickles, or what have you to this. Just stick with the basics and keep it simple, simple, simple.

The trick here is to start with good ingredients, making sure to especially use good mayo (I always use Hellman’s) and good cheese (Cabot cheese is the best–I’m looking at you, Sara). My family always uses sharp white cheddar and roasted red peppers, which might sound kind of shishi, but fresh roasted peppers are a lot better than the little jars of pimentos that sit mouldering on the back shelf of your Piggly Wiggly (plus, you can’t even find pimentos usually up North or in Europe). The other trick is to absolutely not add too much mayo. The mayo should just barely bind everything together. Other than that, when serving it’s best with bland crackers. Saltines, water crackers, or Melba toast are all great options, but just make sure that your saltines aren’t fully salted, or the end product will be too much of a salt bomb.

Hope you enjoy!

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The Best Pimento Cheese Ever

  • 1 lb. or so sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 C. or so mayonnaise (Hellman’s or similar suggested)
  • 1 Tb. grated yellow onion
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

Grate the cheddar cheese using the grater fitting on your food processor, or by hand. Grate the onion and add to cheese, making sure to include any juice. Sprinkle in the diced roasted red pepper. Gently fold in the mayonnaise a bit at a time, adding more or less, just until the mixture binds together. Season with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Chill and serve with bland crackers or make sandwiches (tomato is nice on a sandwich with pimento cheese).

PS- Big thanks to Rita and Mom for teaching me this recipe…