Don’t let your Game Day appetizers fall flat! These spicy, cheesy olive balls are pumped full of flavor and go great with beer or cocktails. This retro recipe is all over the internet (and in several of my cookbooks), though usually it calls for paprika instead of cayenne pepper. Boring! Also, all of the recipes I looked at failed to mention the key step of drying the olives before wrapping in the cheese dough. If your olives are wet, your dough will get slimy and sticky. You do not want sticky balls! Continue reading
There’s a lot to love about a good baked brie – golden puff pastry wrapped around a wheel of creamy cheese and a secret sweet surprise (jam, brown sugar, nuts, etc.), where the cheese and jam meld together and ooze out of the flaky crust when you first cut into it. That’s Baked Brie’s brief moment of glory, though, so you’d better eat fast. When the cheese cools, the once-elegant pastry/cheese package turns into a congealed blob, with soggy dough that contributes little more than calories. Your party guests deserve better! Continue reading
Every school’s got them, and I’m not talking about the universally-dreaded things that rhyme with “rice” (though that too would be accurate). I’m talking about super-moms – the tireless volunteers who chair almost every school committee and make the rest of us look like slouches in comparison. As a show of appreciation (and also because they’re nice people), I invited two such moms to an impromptu lunch earlier this week. Guess what? They were just coming from a meeting at the middle school. In July! (See what I mean?) Continue reading
Few things are better on a cold January day than hot soup and biscuits. Except maybe this soup and these biscuits.
I call it a chowder because of the bacon, potatoes and cream, but it’s really just fancied up chicken soup. (That tastes nothing like chicken soup.) Fresh rosemary is really key here; most of the other elements can be modified to suit your taste, cupboard ingredients or Points plan. (I.e., use an onion or shallots instead of the leeks, or make a flour/butter/milk roux instead of using the cream, or add more or less potatoes or corn, etc.) Serve with large napkins and anticipate slurping.
Corn & Leek Chowder with Fresh Rosemary
- 2 large or 3 medium leeks, chopped (white and light green part only)
- 6 slices of bacon, cut into ½” slices
- 1 heaping Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 64 oz (2 boxes) chicken stock
- 10-16 oz. frozen yellow corn, or a mixture of yellow and petite white
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1 ½ cups diced russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
Cut dark green tops off of leeks and discard (or wash and save for making homemade stock, or add to the compost pile, or shred and dehydrate for homemade Easter grass). (That started out as a joke, but now it’s got me thinking. . . ) Cut leeks in half lengthwise, then cut into ½” slices crosswise.
Add sliced leeks to a bowl of cold water and swish around to rinse. (Sand and grit will fall to the bottom of the bowl.) Carefully remove rinsed leeks to a lettuce spinner basket or colander. Repeat if the leeks were especially sandy.
In large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a strainer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; set aside for garnish.
Add chopped leeks to bacon grease left in pan (There should be about 1 Tbsp, but if the bacon is extra lean you may need to add a little olive oil.)
Sauté leeks until softened and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add rosemary and sauté one minute more.
Add wine to pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add chicken stock, corn, bouillon cube, potatoes and sugar to pot. [Here I go with the bouillon cube again; bouillon cubes are just handy packets of salt with a little extra flavor boost; feel free to use 1 teaspoon of kosher salt or a spoonful of “Better Than Bouillon” instead.]
Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream. Add freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste (a little pinch at a time, and keep tasting until it tastes good to you.) If you want a thicker soup, smash a few of the potato cubes against the side of the pot and stir to incorporate the potato starch. Garnish with reserved crumbled bacon.
Can be made several days ahead. In fact, tastes better if made several days ahead. If soup becomes too thick, thin with a little milk or chicken stock.
Easy Cheesy Drop Biscuits
Adapted from a 1999 Bon Appétit recipe for Cheddar and Stilton Drop Biscuits
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp table salt (not Kosher)
- 7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch pieces
- 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère or extra sharp cheddar cheese
- Optional: ¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk (or ¾ cup reduced fat sour cream and ½ cup skim milk)
- 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Add first 6 ingredients to food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add cheese(s) and pulse again. Transfer mixture to large mixing bowl.
Blend buttermilk (or reduced fat sour cream and milk mixture) and egg in the liquid measuring cup. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until dough is moistened.
Using a small ice cream scooper or spoon, scoop approx. ¼ cup of dough for each biscuit and drop onto parchment lined sheets (2 apart). [Sorry – forgot to take a picture of this step, but it’s a lot like making cookies.] For best results, chill in refrigerator for an hour before baking, (Or chill overnight; you can load them all onto one baking sheet for chilling and then space out onto 2 sheets for baking.) Bake biscuits 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. (Worth doing even if you have a convection or true convection oven.)
Can be made several days ahead and warmed in a low oven.
Makes about 2 dozen mini biscuits.