Smokey Bacon Onion Dip

This recipe is based off of one from Giada De Laurentis. As the holiday season is upon us, having a good dip to take to parties is essential.  I switched it up a little bit, added some garlic and liquid smoke. Turned out pretty good according to my coworkers. Enjoy!

 

Smokey Bacon Onion Dip

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz bacon, diced small
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced small
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 package chives (usually .66 oz), finely diced.
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Directions:

In a medium sized skillet on medium heat, sauté the bacon with olive oil until brown and crispy. About 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and put it on a plate lined with paper towels to catch the excess oil.

Add the onions to the skillet with the salt and sauté in the oil/bacon fat. About 15 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Don’t leave it unattended as it can burn. You’ll want to stir it occasionally.  About 1/2 through add in the garlic. Allow the bacon and onion mixture to cool. Combine in a medium bowl with the yogurt, chives, and liquid smoke. Put in a container and allow to chill for at least 1 hour, longer is better. Serve with crackers, chips or vegies.

Raspberry Plank Cheese Wheel

OK I got the recipe for this out of a Costco magazine. It is absolutely delicious and one of my summer favorites. You can make this on a grill or in your oven, either one will work. It does require some special equipment, cedar planks, but it’s well worth it. Plus I like to use them to make salmon as well. The longer you soak the planks in water the less likely they’ll catch on fire (on the grill anyway). Enjoy

Raspberry Plank Cheese Wheel

  • 1 wheel of cheese, I use brie or camembert
  • 1 cup ripe raspberries
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbsp chopped Thyme (the lemon variety is perfect for this)
  • 1 Tsp ground black pepper

Directions

Soak your cedar plank for at least 1 hour, longer if possible. Combine the raspberries, honey, almonds, thyme and pepper in a bowl. Place your cheese wheel on the soaked plank and spoon the raspberry mixture on top.

If using a grill, preheat it on high. Turn the burner off on one section, this is where you will place the plank. You don’t want it directly over flames as the board will catch on fire eventually. Leave the other burners on. I’m assuming you’re using gas here. If charcoal, then put the briquettes on one side and the plank on the other.

If using the oven, pre-heat to 400°. Place a wire rack on a sided cookie sheets (this is going to get messy). Place the plank on the rack.

Cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese starts to ooze out of the rind. Serve with crackers and enjoy the molten goodness.

 

Parmesan Thyme Crackers

This is a nice and tasty “shortbread” cracker. It’s pretty quick, other than needing to refrigerate for 30 minutes, and not really a lot of work. I do not use pre-shredded cheese. Now I know I’ve mentioned I’m a big fan of cooking shows. One of those is America’s Test Kitchen. Well I learned, thanks to an episode of their show, that most pre-shredded commercial cheese has an ingredient added to it to prevent clumping. Unfortunately this adds a weird texture and sometimes flavor to the cheese; and can inhibit it melting smoothly. So, based on their recommendation, I stopped buying it and just grate my own. It’s really not that much extra work and I have noticed that the flavor is much better. Enjoy!

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Parmesan Thyme Cracker

  • 1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 heaping cup of finely grated cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced thyme*
  • 1/2 Tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 Tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

Using a food processor, I like to use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer with the KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater, cream the butter for about 1 minute. Turn the mixer down to low-speed and add the parmesan, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix until combined, it’ll be really clumpy and you will probably have to scrap down the bowl. Slowly add the flour and combine; it’ll be very crumbly.

Turn out onto a board and shape into a log. I like mine square but you can do round as well. It should be about 2″ in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or for up to 4 days.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 1/4″ slices and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I like to sprinkle the tops with extra grated parmesan cheese. Page for 20 to 25 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Cheesey Bruschetta

I love Italian food and bruschetta is a standard appetizer, or antipasto as they say in Italy. It’s at its simplest, toast. But there are so many variations. I like the simple garlic, tomato and basil version. Understand that I LOVE garlic, so if you don’t you may want to tone this down a bit. And I’ve added my own twist to it with cheese. This is really best with a nice smoked cheese, fontina or Gruyère; it adds a nice depth to it. But you can use any cheese that melts good, smoked or not. Enjoy!

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Cheesey Bruschetta

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 head of garlic*, finely minced
  • 1 cup julienned basil
  • Sliced cheese, enough to over each piece of bread
  • 2 Tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 Tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 Tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Sliced bread, baguette or french bread (1″)

Directions

In your oven on, or using a toaster oven, on broil; toast the bread on both sides until dark brown (not burnt). *So with the garlic try to get a bulb that has some large cloves. When you peel them don’t smash the large ones, just peel them and keep 3 or 4 aside. Now take those and rub the toasted bread with them (I do both sides but again I love garlic). Now put the cheese on the bread and put it back in the oven to let it melt. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. You might want to set the oven to bake, instead of broil.

In a medium bowl; combine the tomatoes, minced garlic, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Top each piece of bread with melted cheese with the tomato topping. Eat.

Mussels with Chorizo

I love mussels and the PNW is known for them. Penn Cove mussels are easy to come by and fresh as can be. There are multiple ways to prepare them but one of my favorites is with a slightly spicy tomato and white wine sauce with really good Spanish chorizo. I’m lucky in that there is a great import market here in Seattle called Big John’s Pacific Food Importers, which carries a great brand of chorizo. You can also find it on Amazon, I buy Palacios Spanish Hot Picante Chorizo 7.9 Ounce. And it takes almost no time at all to prepare.  Enjoy!

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Mussels with Chorizo

  • 1 lbs Penn Cove mussels
  • 1 cups dry white wine
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatos (14.5 oz)
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp crushed red chili pepper
  • 1/2 a Palacios Chorizo, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

Directions

Clean the mussels to make sure all the “beards” are removed. While you’re at it check to make sure you don’t have any dead ones. If the shell is broken or if it’s open and doesn’t close when you press it, throw it away.

In a large pot, I like my Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven, saute the onion and garlic until fragrant. Deglaze the pot with the wine. Add the tomatos, paste, red chili and chorizo. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the pot to a boil and add the mussels, cover with the lid and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mussels open. Discard any that didn’t open as that means they were dead and therefore bad.

Quick & Easy Appetizer

It being the holiday season, I’m invited to a lot of events/parties. While I love to cook, I don’t always have the time (too bad I have a day job). So, this is one of my all time favorite, go to recipes for a quick appetizer. Who doesn’t like olive tapenade? And I almost always have olives on hand. WARNING! I LOVE garlic! so if you’re not as big a fan as me you’ll want to put less in. Enjoy!

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Olive Tapenade

  • 1 bulb of garlic (told you I like garlic)
  • 2 cups kalamata olives
  • 2 heaping teaspoons capers
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

I like to use my Cuisinart Mini Food Processor for this but you could use a regular food processor or blender. Combine the garlic, olives, caper and lemon juice. Add about a tbsp of olive oil and blend. Continue to add olive oil until smooth. You don’t want too much or it’ll be runny but too little and it won’t be smooth. You’ll know, I trust you. Taste. Add a pinch of pepper and salt, if needed. The olive and capers are pretty salty.

It’s better if you can let it set for a couple of hours as the flavors really start to blend and bloom.