Cheese o’ clock: Comté

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In response to a well-formed, convincing request (“Bring it back. I want cheese.”) from my old pal, Jenny,  it’s high time to reinstate cheese o’ clock. The star of this post is one of my new favorite cheeses: comté.

Comté is a French cheese that’s described as complex, nutty, and sweet. It pairs well with dried fruit, jams, and nuts.  My girl Katie brought a block  up to a friends weekend in Canandaigua Lake in October and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

laguiole cheese board

^ How adorable is this cheeseboard? It marks the geographic locations of where certain French cheeses come from (Roquefort, Brie, Reblochon to name a few).  You can place your favorite cheeses next to their place of origin- so neat!

Now let’s make some snacks!

Cheese plate fixings:

Comté cheese
Apple cranberry chutney (I used this), cran-apple butter (Trader Joe’s is amazing) or preserves
Walnuts, toasted
Your favorite crackers

So good. Although next time I buy this cheese, I’m going to try it with a fig jam/spread as well.

compte

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P.S. I’ve been shy and reluctant to use descriptive adjectives (complex, bold, nutty, etc) when describing things like cheese and wine  because it makes me want to give myself a wedgie for sounding pretentious. But dammit, those adjectives are CORRECT.  This cheese is complex and nutty! So for future cheese posts, just know that I know I sound like an asshole- and I will take that risk if it means being an accurate asshole.

The ultimate:

 

 

Apricot Cherry Almond Scones

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I know- kind of a weird combo of ingredients, but IT WORKS.  The mild sweetness of the cherries blends so well with the tart, bright apricots, and the almonds add a lovely texture to the two fruits. This time of year is the absolute best. We are in the midst of baked goods weather, my friends, so might as well have fun with it and make some interesting concoctions- both within and outside of the pumpkin spice realm.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1/2 cup dried cherries, diced
1/2 cup fresh apricot, peeled and sliced into 1″ pieces
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Dice apricot and set aside.  Your apricot should be firm but slightly ripe.  Dice dried cherries into small pieces, roughly the size of currants  (I wish I had done this! I had whole dried cherries in mine and they were excellent but a little overpowering). Combine flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine 1/2 cup milk, vanilla, and egg white in a bowl. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist (dough will be soft). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Add almonds, cherries and nectarines. Kneed dough until everything is incorporated.

Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut dough into 12 wedges. Bake at 425° for 16-17 minutes or until golden. Serve warm, or cool on a wire rack.

Basic scone recipe: MyRecipes

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These scones with coffee make the mornings feel a little more cozy in these chilly times. Plus, they keep for over a week so you can enjoy them for breakfast, brunch or a snack long after you make them. Yay.

Last weekend I watched the best movie called In A World written by and starring Lake Bell. It was super bright and charming and I highly recommend it.  My mom told me to check it out describing it as “a lighter, more levelheaded version of Tiny Furniture” I didn’t know whether I should be impressed that my mom actively sought out good movies on Netflix or mildly disturbed that my mom has seen Tiny Furniture.  But yeah, if you have Netflix, you need to watch this movie.

The song below played during a cute scene of In A World.  I’m not ashamed to admit I have a tiny soft spot for 70s adult contemporary (Jackson Browne, etc) and this is no exception:

Mango Manchego Grilled Cheese

mango manchego grilled cheese

I’ve developed an obsession with manchego this past year.  Manchego cheese is a buttery sheep’s milk that pairs well with more manchego cheese. Thanks to the overabundance of fun condiments in my fridge- from blood orange marmalade to pumpkin spread to chipotle ketchup to 3(!!) jars of mango chutney- I was able to create this little diddy.  It’s so good, things tend to get messy: my fingertips get oily,  cheeks are swiped with a glob or two of  chutney, and sometimes I’ll even collect an arugula leaf in my hair if I’m really in it to win it.  I’m kind of a monster though, so you’ll probably be fine to eat in front of others.

Ingredients:

2 slices of your favorite bread
3-4 oz manchego cheese
1 tbsp mango chutney
1/4 cup baby arugula
1 tbsp canola oil (or mayonnaise! I feel like I’m the last to know about this)
cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes if you prefer) and salt

Directions:

1.  Spread chutney on one slice of bread and add a couple dashes of salt and cayenne pepper. Add arugula then cheese.

2. Brush the outside of each slice with canola oil (OR spread mayonnaise).

3.  Grease medium pan with non-stick cooking spray and set burner to medium high. Cook and flip over until both sides are golden brown.

mango manchego prep

 

mango manchego2

Have a fun week!  Heard this song from my friend Christine’s employee a few months ago. It’s the perfect strolling song for this nice weather:

 

 

Sweetheart Fruit Tart

fruit tart

I made this fruit tart for my bud Katie’s birthday last week!  She is a sunny, funny, beautiful engineer who I’m so happy to call my friend (and neighbor!)

I love everything about this tart:  the crunchy (and slightly spicy) crust, the rich yet airy filling, and the beautifully bright glazed fruit arrangement on top.  I’m beyond ecstatic about the way it turned out.  This one is a keeper and i’m definitely making this again for any event that calls for dessert or something sweet for breakfast/brunch.

Ingredients:

Pie crust*:
2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1/2 stick of butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
ice water (optional)

*If you’re pressed for time,  a premade gingersnap/graham cracker crust is great too!

Filling:
6 0z cream cheese (3/4 of a package)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Topping:
1/4 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
2-3 kiwis
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tbsp water

Directions:

Crust:

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Crush gingersnap cookies with a food processor or whatever method you prefer (a tiny hammer and a ziploc bag has served me well in the past). In a medium bowl, whisk together ground gingersnaps, sugar, butter and salt until well combined. If crumbs are not holding together into moist clumps, add 1 tbsp  of ice cold water and stir to combine.

2.  Press mixture evenly on the sides and bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Filling and Topping:

1.  In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, brown sugar, and lemon juice with an electric mixer until well blended. Add heavy cream and beat at a high speed until mix is light and fluffy. Spread evenly over the crust shell. Chill for at least 2 hours.

2. Once filling is set, arrange fruit on top by starting in the middle and working your way to the edge.  You can use whatever fruit you like (blackberries, nectarines, peaches, mandarin oranges, etc) in whatever order you’d like!

3. Combine jam with water and brush over top.  Serve.

Crust adapted from Martha Stewart 

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Some gal pal stuff ^  The tart is excellent with champagne, by the way.

 

The Juice Box Cocktail

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This drink has been a been in my rotation for years thanks to my buddy Whitney.  It tastes eerily like an old juice box favorite, so you might have to remind yourself to sip it slowly- because unlike Juicy Juice,  it’s not 100% juice and you’ll get 100% drunk. Unless that’s your goal, in which case, knock yourself out man.

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Stoli Blueberry Vodka
3 oz club soda
3 oz cranberry juice

Directions:

Use a lowball or tumbler glass. Fill with ice and pour in all ingredients. Stir and garnish with  lime.

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party sounds:

Brussel Sprouts with bacon, onions, and mushrooms

brussel sprouts with bacon

No need for oil or butter because everything is sautéed in sweet, delicious bacon fat. mmm. This might be one of my favorite things I’ve made this year. It’s easy, economical, and everybody loves it. It’s pretty much the total package when it comes to side dishes.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 lb brussel sprouts
4 strips raw thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 cup red onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

1. Place brussel sprouts in a large pot filled with water and bring to a boil. cover and let them sit at medium-high heat for 20+ minutes. After time has passed, take one out and prod with a fork to test if it has softened.  When ready, drain brussel sprouts in the sink and let them cool. Once they are cool, cut the sprouts in halves, lengthwise.

2. In a large non-stick pan, cook bacon on medium heat until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and onions and continue to cook while stirring, for about 5-7 minutes. Lastly, add the brussel sprouts and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the sides start to brown. Take off heat and stir in brown sugar,  garlic powder, and pepper. Let sit for a few minutes. Serve.

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Enjoy!

Favorite brussel sprout nickname:

haverfoods

More Tom Haverford foods

This video makes me REALLY excited for spring:

lemon thyme sugar cookies

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These are inspired from the amazing rosemary cookies my friend Katie made at a holiday party last year.  I decided to revisit the lemon-thyme combo from Martha Stewart’s vodka thyme lemonade and apply it to dessert (then maybe drinks again too).

This recipe  involves a basic sugar cookie mix. I generally prefer to bake cookies from scratch (see manifesto) but sometimes even the standard sugar cookie calls for some outsourcing.

Ingredients:

Cookie:
1 pouch of sugar cookie mix
1 stick of butter (or whatever the pouch dictates)
1 egg (or whatever the pouch dictates. listen to the pouch. pouch pouch pouch.)
2 tbsp thyme
1 tsp lemon zest

Icing:
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine cookie ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Using a heaping teaspoon, drop dough roughly 2 inches on to the a lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Move cookies to some parchment or wax paper on the counter for the icing!

2. Combine icing ingredients in a small bowl and stir until blended. Pour over each cookie and give at least 5-10 minutes to let it dry.

Enjoy!

 

Butternut Squash with Rosemary and Tomatoes

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So when I moved to Philadelphia from Rochester NY, I remember thinking “well, at least I’ll have a mild winter!” Because in my experience, it has always been a wimpy season here. When I was at Villanova, every winter was a solid 20-40 degrees and it rarely snowed. When it did snow, it was like.. maybe 2 inches and everything would straight up SHUT DOWN.  So, it wasn’t completely out of order to think I could have a nicer, breezier version of the boreal bullshit of the upstate NY/Canada freeze. Right? Nope.

Cue record-breaking cold. Cue the Polar Vortex (which sounds like a Super Mario Land level with a penguin/abominable snowman boss or something).  Sure, I’ve definitely got an arctic leg-up on these hoagie-eaters, but I’m less than thrilled to have brought the North down with me this year.  It’s not a big deal, but:

This dish will warm your belly and it goes beautifully with meat, fish, or salad.  I’ve made this several times this winter and will continue to make it because, time and time again, it has proved itself to be a veritable mouth-party.

Ingredients:

1 lb butternut squash, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
1-2 beefsteak tomatoes, diced (roughly 1+1/2 cups)
1 large onion, diced  (roughly 1 cup)
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
3 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 tsp salt
salt and pepper to taste
rosemary sprig, garnish (0ptional)

Directions:

1. In a large pot on high heat, boil squash for in water for 30 minutes and then let simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes until squash is soft enough to pierce with a fork all the way through.

2. In the meantime, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a medium pan at medium-high heat.  Add onions and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  When tomatoes start to break down and the onions start to brown, add fresh rosemary and stir for 1-2 minutes. Take off heat and set aside.

3. Drain squash. Pour it back into the pot and mash into mush with a potato masher. Return to stove and set to low heat. Stir in the tomato onion rosemary mixture. Add salt and the remaining 2 tbsp butter.

4. When everything is fully incorporated, take off heat.  Garnish each serving with a sprig of rosemary and serve!  Salt and pepper to taste.

BONUS: If you have leftovers, this makes an amazing soup.  Just add chicken broth.

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yes:

The “Rill Dill” Grilled Cheese

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This guy is the real deal. It’s perfect for chilly afternoons as a warm, inviting comfort food for kiddos and adults alike.

Ingredients:

2 slices of your favorite bread
1 oz aged sharp cheddar
1 slice american cheese
dill pickle spears, thinly sliced
a few bits of fresh dill
1/2 tbsp butter, room temperature

Directions:

Butter both sides of your bread. Cover bottom slice with a thin layer of dill pickles.  Add american and cheddar cheese. Sprinkle fresh dill over cheddar cheese and top with other bread slice. On medium heat on a non-stick pan, grill on each side until golden brown and until cheese has melted.  Eat immediately. I liked to dip this in ketchup with red pepper flakes!

Enjoy!

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my favorite song at the moment:

Honey Ginger Rosemary Cocktail

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This right here is called the Honey Tree.  I got this one from my bud Katie Hearn while visiting her and our friends in Philly. The honey whiskey and ginger ale are a gorgeous combination and the rosemary is very subtle taste but you can smell it with every sip. PERFECT fall cocktail.

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Jack Daniels honey whiskey
5 oz diet ginger ale
1 sprig rosemary

Combine ingredients, stir, and serve.