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Entries in cheese (4)


Hungry Sam Goes to Law School; Makes Parmesan Puff Pastry Pinwheels

BAM. Hope that picture whets your collective appetite. But first, the news.

In case you hadn't heard -- and why would you have -- I am embarking on another adventure. Not, as over the summer, to destinations international; rather, I am now a law student.

Ayuh -- as they say in the land of my birth. Maybe I'll do food law. Lawyer for the chefs. Representing contestants on Hell's Kitchen in their suits for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

What this means for you, dear reader: Mostly I'll now have an onoing excuse when I'm late with posting some new delicious recipe. I'll try not to sound like a broken record.

This may also mean that my posts will have less of a "what to make when you have tons of time on your hands" flavor and a bit more of a "fast -- cheap -- awesome" vibe to them. AND SO, in that spirit:

Parmesan Puff Pastry Pinwheels with Mustard and Genoa Salami! (Click through for recipe.)

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Procrastination Tastes like Sausage, Apple, and Cheese

Help me procrastinate a little. Instead of applying to law school right now, I'm going to a) put together a fantastic and delicious snack and then b) blog about it.


This is a nice slice of peppery, garlicky, slow-cured pork sausage atop sharp cheddar cheese and a slice of apple. This snack is brought to you -- well, me -- by my impulse purchase of an Olli Salumeria sausage at Whole Foods the other day. Now I have an awesome treat.

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Shakshuka? I Hardly Know Ya!

Wow -- what a terrible title. Consider it a working title until I can come up with something better. Nope, I'm keeping it.

A long time ago, in a kitchen about eight feet away, I made a delicious dish called Shakshuka. For the sadly uninitiated, Shakshuka looks a lot like this:


Actually it looks exactly like that! Shakshuka is an Israeli breakfast dish in which eggs are essentially poached in a thick, spicy tomato-based sauce, often with a little cheese melted in, and served with pita. Much like any stew or sauce, there are myriad combinations and tweaks that a chef might bring to shakshuka to make it his or her own, but for a change of pace and because this constituted a first attempt, I stuck to a recipe. I didn't even know I could still DO that.

Except for using baguette instead of pita.

Now, for anyone who thinks Smitten Kitchen has blogging monopoly on shakshuka -- you're right. So, I worked off her recipe! It's quite easy; in fact, shakshuka falls into an excellent category of recipes I call "Looks impressive, tastes awesome, costs nothing and is super easy."

This is a super dish for brunches, because although it requires that the chef pay some attention, it's unique and will leave a lasting impression on your guests. It's heavily spiced but not overly spicy; there's rich, smoky depth of flavor, and the texture of the silky homemade sauce jives well with the egg and cheese and is perfectly complemented by crusty bread or pita. 

All you need is:
olive oil
3 jalapeños, stemmed and seeded
1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, halved
1 t. ground cumin
1 T. paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley


To start, dice up the onion and jalapenos (wash your hands and don't touch your eyes, people). In a heavy-bottomed pot or deep pan, cook the veggies over medium-high in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the onions turn golden, about 5 minutes. Don't cook 'em too long; you don't want them to totally break down in the sauce.

Then, add the spices and halved garlic cloves and cook another two minutes or so, being sure to coat everything in the paprika and cumin.

As a quick aside, I know some people stress about ensuring absolutely correct measurements for spices. DON'T. Unless you go totally nuts and dump in handfuls of cumin or something, you can't screw it up. If you add too much, you've just created a new version; shakshuka a la YOU.

Ok, now here's the fun part -- it's the cooking equivalent of finger painting. Dump the tomatoes out from the can, with their juices into a bowl then SQUISH THEM ALL UP WITH YOUR HANDS. That's right. With your HANDS.

"But Hungry Sam, I don't wanna use my hands," someone might say. "Isn't there an alternative?"

"NO," I say. Go big or go home, right folks?

Anyways, throw the hand-crushed tomatoes in with the onions et al, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 12-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes and adding up to a 1/2 cup of water if things start getting dry.

Looks like the shining orb of a star!

Once things are getting kind of saucy (wink wink nudge nudge), gently -- gently! -- add your eggs, trying to get as much distance as possible between them, like so:


I'd cover the pot at this point, if you can; I feel the eggs cook more cleanly that way. After about five minutes, the yolks will be semi-firm and good to go. At this point, turn off the stove, and carefully mix in the crumbled feta. Top with chopped parsley and dig in with some sliced bread!




Apparently, Freedom Tastes Like...Cheese

This shouldn't surprise me, but it would seem that freedom tastes like cheese.


How do I know? Well, as self-appointed office Food Czar (yeah, it's in my email signature...sometimes), I'm the "organizer" of sporadic department potlucks or food excursions. I equivocate on the term "organizer" because all I do is send an Outlook invite and come up with an absurd, poorly thought-out theme. 

For the potluck I "organized" last week -- a thank you and farewell lunch for our awesome interns -- my absurd, poorly thought-out theme for the dishes was the following: I encouraged everyone to make and bring a dish that provides an answer to "What does freedom taste like to me?"

Really, don't ask me how I think of these ideas.

Anyways, it turns out that we had an extreme preponderance of cheese. I brought freedom baguette with freedom Camembert and a homemade strawberry-thyme compote (get it? Ok, lame, but tasty), but there were pizzas (freedom to order over the internet, i.e. speech), cupcake-sized cheesecakes (I think this one was freedom to choose your own toppings), and a classic fondue lovingly crafted in a rice cooker (BRILLIANT; meant to symbolize freedom of association AND America's melting-pot nature).

To dip in fondue.

I also covered pizza in fondue, which sort of makes a First Amendment sandwich (freedom of association and speech, plus the freedom to later practice a religion in honor thereof).

It's a lousy picture, but trust me: It's pizza with a healthy glomp of Gruyere fondue

Other dishes were tasty and creative too. We had a pasta salad that, to the creator, represented freedom in that it's the first dish she could make with confidence after leaving home. One of my Yehudi brethren made a Ashkenazi charoset, the traditional apple, walnut, wine and honey dish eaten at Passover -- which is ALL about freedom. We had vegetables to be slathered in a number of different dips (freedom of choice) and chips to dip in choices of salsa.  But clearly, the focus was cheese.


All in all, we had potluck success. And each of us ate many times the recommended daily serving of cheese.