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Cheese

Sandwhich is a wonderful sandwich shop in Chapel Hill that I adore. They also have seasonal salads that are superb! I treated my super undergrad assistant, Krishna, to lunch at the end of the semester, and we both selected this salad. Bibb lettuce with hard boiled eggs, pomegranate seeds, apples,  cheddar and more with a light vinaigrette dressing. Served with crusty bread and their marinated carrots. Delicious. I want to replicate at home, and go back to Sandwhich too. Doesn’t the picture make you hungry?

We had the pleasure of having a houseguest for the past month while he was doing a medical school rotation at UNC. His friend, Casey also graced our household and taught me this wonderful recipe.

Pasta with kale, shiitake mushrooms and a taleggio cream sauce
Serves 6

Ingredients:
3 Tb Butter, unsalted
1 Cup Shiitake Mushrooms, diced
3/4 Cup Shallots, minced
1/8 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp Pepper
3/4 Cup Milk or Heavy Cream (if you want to indulge)
3 Oz. Taleggio cheese, diced
1/2 Cup Parmesan, shredded
1 Bunch Kale, stems removed and chopped
1/2 Lb Pasta, penne, or something similar

1. Heat butter in a large saucepan. Add mushrooms and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender.
2. In another saucepan, boil water for pasta and to blanch the kale. Cook pasta according to package directions, blanch the kale near the end of cooking by using a fine mesh metal strainer with cooking. Once kale is tender immediately rinse in cool water (or place in a bowl of ice water)
3. Once the mushrooms and shallots are tender, add milk, tallegio cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta and kale, top with more Parmesan and serve.

Apologizes for the delays, life has been a bit crazy lately. Lots of travel for joyous and not so joyous reasons (my beloved Grandma Charlotte passed away, she was 92 and lived a full wonderful life). I’m grateful that I was able to say goodbye with our family in Cleveland. With all of this travel and dissertating stress, as well as the cooler weather, I am back in the kitchen cooking up a storm.

A few people lately have mentioned squash macaroni and cheese lately… and today while I was at Whole Foods, I saw a can of pureed butternut squash and was craving comfort food. This was the result.

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Makes many servings!

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can Pureed butternut squash, or pumpkin (or 1.5 cups pureed squash)
2 Tb Butter, unsalted
1 Onion, medium, diced
1 lb Macaroni or Cavatappi
3/4 cup Milk
8 oz Extra sharp cheddar, grated
3 Tb Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 Tb Flour
1/8 Tsp. Mustard powder, dried
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Prepare the pasta and cook to al dente.

2. In a large skillet, saute the onion in butter until translucent. Add flour and milk and stir until the sauce slightly thickens (aka making a roux). Season with mustard powder. Add can of squash, grated cheddar and Parmesan. Stir until the cheese is melted. Add cooked pasta and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with extra Parmesan if you like. Freezes well, if you can restrain yourself from eating the whole casserole.

Note: Adding nutmeg, or using ricotta or greek yogurt might help mask the squash flavor; though using extra sharp cheddar helps too.

Toast is one of my favorite lunch/early dinner places in Durham. Joey and I went for lunch yesterday before seeing our dear friend off as he moves home to Arizona. I had a green salad and crostini, which was a perfect complement to the 95+ degree day. For those of you who don’t know, crostini are little toasts with yummy toppings. I had two kinds of crostini yesterday- pesto with roasted tomato and mozarella & goat cheese with honey and cracked black pepper. They were divine and are perfect with a nice green salad. I am excited to make them at home for a cocktail party, or just for fun.

Here are recipes for the crostini (note the amounts of toppings will vary slightly depending on the size of your bread).

Goat cheese crostini with honey and black pepper

Serving size varies depending on how many you want to eat 😉

Ingredients:
Goat cheese
Baguette, sliced in 3/4″ slices, or prepared crostini from the store
Honey
Black pepper

1) Slice baguette, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and toast in oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast in oven for 2 minutes.

2) Remove baguette slices from oven (or if using crostini start here). Spread about a tablespoon of goat cheese on each slice. Place back into oven for another minute.

3) Remove from oven and top with a drizzle of honey and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!!!

Crostini with roasted tomato, pesto and mozarella

Again the serving size varies depending on how many you want to eat & how much ingredients you buy.

Ingredients:
Fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4″ thick & wide enough to cover  about 2/3 most of the baguette slice (see picture above for example)
Homemade or store bought pesto
Tomatoes (roma, cherry or grape).
Baguette, sliced in 3/4″ slices, or prepared crostini from the store

1) Roast tomatoes in oven following this recipe from smitten kitchen. This takes a while, but is worth it!!!!

2) Slice baguette, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and toast in oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast in oven for 2 minutes.

3) Remove baguette slices from oven (or if using crostini start here). Spread about a teaspoon of pesto on each slice, top with a roasted tomato and a slice of mozzarella. Place back into oven for another minute or until the mozzarella is melted. Prepare to be blown away!

I think that y’all might think I’m Italian.. as lately all I’ve been cooking is pasta and greens. First, before we begin..my apologies for the delay. Life has been a bit crazy since we’ve been back from Texas–impromptu trips to the beach, planned trip to Bald Head, wedding planing/family stress related to wedding planning, etc.

We also had a lovely engagement party thrown by our friend Deepu–thanks Deeps! Anyhow, my co-worker Valerie gave us a Moosewood cookbook that inspired this recipe. For those of you who don’t know, Moosewood is an amazing restaurant that cooks mainly vegetarian in Ithaca, NY. You should go, or buy their cookbooks! Ok, here is my adaptation.. we didn’t have lemons, basil or linguini..so I improvised and made lots for eating later this week.

Zucchini Pecorino Pasta

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2-3 Zuchini, cut into small pieces
4 cloves garlic, pressed (or four Dorot cubes from Trader Joes!)
3 Tbsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 Tsp dried basil
Red pepper flakes
1/2 lb Pasta– penne, lingiuni or the like
3/4 cup Pecornio, grated (about 3-4 oz)

1) Make pasta according to the package directions. Be sure to salt the water too.

2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add garlic and zucchini. When the zucchini browns add salt, pepper, basil and red pepper flakes.

3) When the pasta is done put into large bowl and toss with the pecorino. Top with the zucchini and serve. Add more Pecorino, especially if you are a cheese addict like me. Bon Appetit!

After living in North Carolina for a few years, I’ve grown quite fond of pimento cheese! Though it is quite nutritionally dense, there are many ways to lighten it up including eating less of it, using low-fat mayo and adding veggies. I’m a huge fan of “ciolo” jalapeno pimento cheese, which is made exclusively for Whole Foods; though I suspect it is only available in certain areas of the country, such as Austin–where I’m visiting now. For lunch today, I had pimento cheese on toasted crusty white bread, cucumbers and sliced mango. Yum! This lunch inspired me to adapt a recipe to try when back in NC.

Jalapeno pimento cheese (Makes lots)

1 lb Cheddar Cheese, grated (Try a mix of extra sharp yellow and white cheddar, also Cabot low-fat cheddar might work OK too)
3 Tb Mayonaisse, low-fat (Add more or less depending on your taste)
2 Roasted red peppers, diced
2 Jalapenos, seeded and diced (Add more or less depending on your taste)
2 Green onions, chopped
1/4 cup Red onion, diced
1 7 oz. jar of pimentos, drained and rinsed
2 cloves Garlic
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on crusty bread or with crackers. Also, you can serve it like a grilled cheese sandwich. This is my favorite at Parker and Otis in Durham, NC! Keeps safely in the refrigerator for a few days.