A Crowd Pleaser

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Whether you are expecting a crowd to watch the Super Bowl or enjoying it with family or a friend or two, a yummy Mexican cheesecake is an appetizer that’s sure to please everyone. If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, there’s still time to make a quick trip to the grocery.  Here’s what you’ll need.

Mexican Cheesecake

1 c. crushed tortilla chips

3 T. butter, melted

2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened

1 package taco seasoning mix

2 eggs

2 c. shredded Mexican cheeses

1/2 c. thick and chunky salsa

1 c. sour cream

green onions, ripe olives, tomatoes chopped

Stir together crushed tortilla chips and melted butter.  Press onto bottom of 9″ springform pan.  Bake at 325 for about 10 minutes.  Cool slightly.

Beat cream cheese and taco seasoning at medium speed until well mixed.  Add eggs and continue beating until smooth.  Stir in shredded cheese and salsa.  Spoon mixture over cooled crust, spreading to smooth.

Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes until edges are set.  The middle may be a bit soft.  Top with sour cream and cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like to make the cheesecake a day ahead and leave it in the refrigerator until time to serve.  Just before serving, all you have to do is remove it from the pan to an attractive platter and garnish with  green onions, olives and tomatoes.  Serve with tortilla chips, sit back and wait for the raves.

I’m on my way to the grocery right now.  See you there!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Full Plate Thursday

Share Your Cup Thursday

Foodie Friday

Back at the Bar

When we are in Maine, our table is often set for 4, 6 or 8 people, but here in Houston folks don’t gather as much for dinner,  so it’s more likely the hubby and I will eat together most week nights.  Many of those meals will find us sitting at the bar, but that doesn’t exclude making some effort when it comes to presentation.

pumpkins/tableRemember those pumpkins and gourds I got at Beth’s some weeks ago?  Well, they came with me to Houston, and some are on the bar. While not what I’d call a dazzling centerpiece, they do add a little pizzazz and hint at what colors might be used as a complement.

tablescapeAs for the setting, it’s not anything fancy, usually a placemat and cloth napkin folded or secured with a napkin ring, a dish or two, a glass and flatware.  

napkin ringsNot having seen such as these carved wooden animal rings from a long ago trip to Kenya for some time, using them is like rediscovering old friends.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot every night at home is a gourmet meal.  Tonight it’s tomato basil soup and a green salad served on dishes with contrasting texture.

The reason we didn’t need much for dinner is because we had a little something extra at tini time. It was an easy to fix appetizer that is oh so good, and I’m thinking you just might want to try it.  There are only 3 ingredients: blue, roquefort or gorgonzola cheese; spinach and mushrooms. Here’s how it’s prepared:

gorgonzola dipGenerously cover the bottom of a baking dish with cheese.* Add a handful of spinach torn into small pieces and sliced mushrooms on top.  Bake at 375 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serve with baguette slices.

gorgonzola dipThat’s all there is to it, and I promise you it will get rave reviews. 

*I use a small cast iron skillet which makes enough for 4 people.  If you are preparing for a larger group, use multiple skillets or a larger baking dish.  In the latter case, you will have to  adjust the amounts.

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Tablescape Thursday

Inspiration Thursday

Foodie Friday

Simple And Oh So Good!

Super Bowl is right around the corner, and no matter who you are watching it with, it’s a good idea to have yummy snacks on hand.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like spending a lot of time on appetizer type things, so the one I’m sharing is perfect.  In fact, it’s so easy I’m almost embarrassed! 

hummus and tabouliLooks good, huhn?  Well, here’s all there is to it.  Spread hummus, any flavor, on a serving platter.  Top it with tabouli and surround it with pita chips or your favorite cracker.  If you are feeling industrious, you can make the tabouli, but the easier way is to buy it at the grocery.

I promise you this will disappear in a flash, so it’s not a bad idea to have refills on hand.  Thanks to my friend Gray for introducing me to this super easy appetizer.  It is now my go to!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Full Plate Thursday

Foodie Friday

A Taste of Louisiana

As we drove through Louisiana, the hubby started thinking it would be a good idea to stop for some boudin.  Along I-10 there is lots of opportunity.  At one stop, there was no more and the lady directed us to The Best Stop at the Scott/Cankton exit.  What a recommendation that turned out to be.

Linda_  021 (1)As you can see the place doesn’t look like much, but inside it was teeming with people purchasing bags full of prepared or ready to cook meats.  I bought enough boudin to last a lifetime and as a little treat I got some boudin balls to eat in the car.  Talk about good!

At home with lots of boudin, I decided to give those balls a try without knowing where to start.  Luckily, my son-in-law’s mom knows a lot about Louisiana cooking, so I sent an email asking her advice.  Her reply:  

“You may want to add a little flour to the mixture so the balls will hold their shape. Then lightly flour to fry. I like to add seasonings (ground bay leaves, mustard powder,etc) to the flour.”

Boudin ballsHer advice got me off to a good start.  I deviated only a bit by dipping the balls in an egg wash  and then in bread crumbs after they were floured.  That seemed to give them a touch more body, and, I thought, would result in the slightly crispy outside as on the ones I had sampled.

boudin ballsSince I use peanut oil for frying shrimp, that seemed a good way to go with the boudin balls.  The oil was heated over medium high heat in my trusty old iron skillet and the balls fried to a golden brown.

boudin ballsAll done and we couldn’t wait to sample.  I don’t know whether or not they are as good as the ones that inspired me to make them, but they are pretty darned tasty and, best of all, simple to make.  They will be a Thanksgiving appetizer, and the son-in-law and his mom will have to be the final judge!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

To Market, To Market

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Who doesn’t like European markets? They are such happenings that draw huge crowds of people, some there to buy the morning’s fresh pastries and handcrafted cheeses, others there to just enjoy the spectacle of it all as was the case at the Sunday market in Amboise.

20130506-085634.jpgWant beautiful fresh vegetables or seafood, it’s there.

20130506-090342.jpgOr maybe a colorful and fragrant soap or handmade basket or something new to spice up your wardrobe is what captures your eye to say nothing of an already prepared food too tempting to pass up.

20130506-172456.jpgVendors stay busy, and it is such fun watching them chat and laugh with their customers as if they are so enjoying the exchange.

Now just how do we Foodie Adventurers benefit from these trips to the market? For dinner this night we used cheese, shrimp and pear in our first course. Oh so good!

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Chef Michael’s Stilton Cheese and Shrimp Tartlet with Pine Nuts and Pear

1 batch pastry dough (recipe follows)
Vegetable oil
1 T unsalted butter
12 large shrimp
4 oz. cream cheese
5 oz. Stilton cheese
2 egg yolks
2 t. Chopped Italian parsley
3/4 c heavy cream
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
1 batch Chive Beurre Blanc (recipe follows)
Cut 6 inch rounds of parchment paper. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 6 5 1/2 inch circles and cover bottom and sides of 4 inch tartlet pans with removable bottoms that have been coated with vegetable oil. Place a round of parchment paper on the dough and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake in preheated 350 oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and take out weights and paper.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add butter and cook shrimp for 1 minute on each side, searing them but not cooking all the way through. Remove shrimp to a plate and season with salt and white pepper.
Combine Stilton and cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add egg yolks, 1 t. parsley and heavy cream. Mix well. Season with salt and white pepper.
Divide the cheese mixture among the tart crusts and place 2 shrimp on top of each. Place tartlets on a baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes.
To serve, place the tart in the middle of a serving plate and surround with a few tablespoons of Chive Beurre Blanc. Arrange 3 thin slices of pear against the tart and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and parsley.

Pastry Dough

1 1/3 c. All purpose flour
3/4 t. Kosher salt
4 T chilled unsalted butter
1/3 c vegetable shortening
1/4 c cold water

In a mixer bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut the butter into fine cubes and mix into the flour until it resembles fine meal. Add the shortening and mix 30 seconds. Add water and mix only until it combines. Do not overwork. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Chive Buerre Blanc

2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 t canola oil
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 c white wine
1 T white wine vinegar
1/4 c heavy cream
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
1 T finely chopped chives
Dice the butter and bring to room temperature. Heat oil in a 2 quart saucepan. Sauté onions over medium heat for 2 minutes, but do not allow them to brown. Deglaze with white wine and vinegar and reduce over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated being careful not to brown. Add heavy cream and reduce the mixture by half, whisking occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat, whisk in the butter. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Season with salt and white pepper and stir in the chives. Keep in a warm place until serving.

OK, there you have it. Though there are several steps to the recipe, it’s not as difficult to prepare as you might think. If you don’t have individual tart pans, I believe it would work fine to use a single removable bottom pan and slice the baked tart into wedges and serve as described with the pears and Chive Buerre Blanc. The recipe makes 6 generous first course servings. With a lovely mixed green salad, I think it would also make a very satisfying casual dinner. You can be sure this is a recipe that won’t be forgotten at our house!

I so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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On the Menu Monday

Grits You Won’t Believe!

Trying a new recipe at a dinner party is always a little risky, but one with grits?  Well, that’s really taking a chance!  This one, however, is a sure-fire winner and had everyone begging for more.  Fortunately, the recipe made a generous portion.

I served this dish as an appetizer, but it could easily be a side with a pork roast, beef tenderloin or chicken.  Heck, you could use it however you wish.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Sautéed Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits with Black Bean Salsa

2 c. milk

3/4 c. water

3/4 c. quick cooking grits

3/4 c. choped smoked Gouda cheese

1/2 t. salt

2 T. butter

2 c. flour

2 T. salt

2 t. black pepper

1 c. beer

butter

olive oil

Stir together milk and 3/4 c. water over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.  Stir in grits, cheese and 1/2 t. salt; cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about 9 minutes.  Stir in 2 T. butter.  Pour grits into lightly greased 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Cover and chill until firm, about 3 hours.

Combine flour, 2 T. salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Pour beer into a small bowl.

Cut grits into 2” squares.  Dip squares into beer and dredge in flour mixture, repeating twice.

Melt 1 T. butter in a large skilled over medium heat; stir in 1 T. oil.

Cook grits squares in hot butter mixture 5 minutes on each side or until golden, adding butter as needed.

Spoon Black Bean Salsa over grits and top with sour cream.  Sprinkle with tomato, parsley or cilantro and green onions.

Black Bean Salsa

2 T. butter

1 medium onion, diced

2 minced garlic cloves

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2/3 c. picante sauce

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 t. chili powder

1 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1/4 t. ground cumin

3 T. parsley or cilantro

3 T. chopped green onions

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add onion and garlic; saute until tender. Stir in beans and next 6 ingredients; cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated. Stir in parsley/cilantro and green onions.

This recipe is linked to Foodie Friday.

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