Category: Cheese

Quick & Dirty: Potato Cheese Tart

It’s World Food Day and much of the talk around food these days is about the incredible waste. Food that doesn’t look perfect or is on the verge of beginning to spoil is being thrown away by the ton. Lots of great people are working very hard to stop this… I have a friend who picks up food from supermarkets that was destined for the landfill and delivers it to groups that help those in need. My own part is much smaller in trying to reduce waste in my own home. I used to grocery shop 3-4 times a week and a portion always languished in the crisper until I finally threw it away. I now grocery shop once a week and force myself to use what I can find in the pantry and fridge.

Last night’s dinner was a great example of this because it has been 9 days since I did a grocery shop… 9 days! I volunteer for a local rescue society and this past weekend I took on another pup and didn’t want to leave her alone to go grocery shopping so I dug through my fridge to cobble together a meal. This tart came together using a few stray vegetables, 3 different bits of leftover cheese, and some meat from my freezer. It’s amazing how inventive you can get!

This is a Q&D recipe because I wasn’t planning to post this “throw together meal” until I had my first bite and knew I had to share it with you. In the spirit of World Food Day and reducing waste, I suggest you dig through your own fridge! I lined my tart pan with prosciutto to make a “crust”, then used thinly sliced layers of potatoes, vegetables and grated cheese. You could use some other potato-like vegetable such as sweet potatoes, yams, or squash. Add something aromatic for flavour. I used half a leftover onion but shallots, minced garlic, leeks, or diced green onion would also work. Then dig through your cheese drawer and use up any old bits you have hanging around. I used cheddar, parmesan, and crumbled some blue on top after the tart was finished cooking. Brie would have been good. Or feta. And dot with goat or Boursin after cooking?!…mmmmm! Use up any other bits of veg in your crisper. I had a single sad carrot that I thinly sliced but I kept thinking how delicious fennel or shaved brussels sprouts would be. You could use a real crust of frozen pastry, a frozen tart shell, or dare I suggest bacon?!?! Or nothing! What’s that, you say? Forget about a separate crust… grease your pan well and those potatoes will bake and brown forming their own lovely crust.

I started by lining my tart pan with tinfoil for easy cleanup. Let the tinfoil come up the sides to make the pan a bit higher. You want to build up the layers as the tart will collapse by about half as it cooks. Spray or oil the tin really well with cooking oil. If your tart pan has a removable bottom I recommend putting it on a cookie sheet while baking just in case it leaks. I covered the tart with a piece of parchment paper and then a lid to weigh it down while cooking for about 2 hours, then removed the lid and parchment for another 20 minutes to brown. It seems like a long time to bake but you really want those layers to cook together. I hope you try some version of this “refrigerator” tart.

Preheat oven to 350F.

5 or so medium potatoes or other vegetable as suggested above
half an onion, or leek, or some minced garlic, or chopped green onion
other vegetables as desired such as carrot, thinly sliced
about 2 cups of grated cheese
Salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil for each layer

Thinly slice all your vegetables (enough to make 5 or 6 layers in your tart pan). Grate all your cheese (I had about 2 cups in total plus some blue I crumbled on top after the tart was finished cooking). If you are using something as a base or crust, start with that in a well-oiled pan. Then build your layers of potatoes and vegetables. Season each layer with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, and top with a layer of cheese. Repeat until all your ingredients are gone. Finish with a layer of potato. I suggest covering with a piece of parchment and weighing it down with a lid. Bake for approximately 2 hours, until the tip of a sharp knife easily slips through the tart. Remove the lid and parchment and let brown for another 20 minutes. I served with a few slices of steak on the side.

Quick & Dirty: Roasted Grapes and Goat Cheese

Hey, remember that time I invited people over for drinks and all I had to eat in the fridge were some old grapes and goat cheese?…

Well, it turns out you can make a mighty fine appetizer with almost nothing. The first time I made this I used pepitas instead of walnuts (one of the guests had an allergy) and the second time I used the walnuts plus added in some fresh rosemary. Both times were delicious. I have also cut down on the oil from the original recipe significantly. And for the drizzling olive oil over the goat cheese, feel free to use flavoured oil if you have it. I used Persian lime olive oil and it was delicious. Next time I’m thinking a pinch of hot chili flakes would not go amiss. Happy appy!

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (or other nut)
3 cups red seedless grapes
2 tsp plus 2 TBS good, fruity olive oil (divided)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary (about 3″), leaves removed
1/2 tsp sea salt (divided)
1 log fresh goat cheese (250-300 grams or 8-10 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350F. Toss grapes, thyme sprigs and rosemary leaves with 2 tsp olive oil. Place on parchment covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Place in oven and roast for 45-55 minutes until grapes are soft and skins are bursting. This can be done a few hours ahead of time.

While grapes are roasting (or 45 minutes before serving), slice goat cheese in 1/4 inch rounds and arrange on serving dish. Drizzle with 2 TBS olive oil (flavoured if you wish).

When grapes are finished roasting, let sit until no longer hot (can be room temperature). Spoon over goat cheese and scatter with toasted, chopped walnuts. Sprinkle on remaining 1/4 tsp salt. I served this with crackers but you can also use a sliced baguette.

Marinated Cheese (yes, you read that right)


Happy New Year (almost)! I have a little gift for you. Marinated cheese! Ummm, helluuuu?! MAR-I-NA-TED CHEEEEEESE! It’s like the best thing ever. Spices and aromatics steeped in silky goodness and poured over cheese? Are you with me??? YES? YAAAAAYYYYY!

You probably have the ingredients for this in your fridge right now! It takes just a couple minutes to throw together. Quick enough to include with your New Year’s appetizers tonight! Set this cheese out by itself alongside some slices of baguette, crackers or warm pita, or place on a cheese and charcuterie platter with lots of other goodies. Or, if you’re some people (ahem), it may not even make it out of the fridge before fingers are dipping into the jar. NOT ME!

Ok, me.

This is a great way to dress up inexpensive cheese. I used a plain old supermarket brand of soft goat cheese but I think almost any cheese would work. Something mild will let the marinade ingredients shine but I’m dying to try it with feta. I used canola oil as the base. You can use olive oil if you would like but I find the fruitiness of the olive oil clashes a bit with the Asian flavours here. However, you could do an olive oil marinade leaving out the Asian spices and instead add some sun-dried tomatoes to the jar. Oh oh OHHHH, and when you set it out sprinkle it with toasted pumpkin seeds!!! There you go, a new idea is born! Let me know how it turns out!

UPDATE: Sigh. Do you see what I did there??? While writing about my first batch of cheese I got all excited about doing an olive oil marinade and I just happen to have a big ol’ piece of pepper jack cheese in the fridge (mine is monterey jack with jalapeños but any pepper jack will work, or any other cubed cheese that you like), so I had to do a second batch of cheese. Yup. Sheesh. So, Part 1 and Part 2 below. You’re welcome. :)

PART 1

250 grams plain goat cheese

Marinade ingredients:
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 star anise pods
10-15 whole peppercorns
1/2 – 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
couple thin slices of fresh ginger
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns

To finish marinade:
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar


To make the marinade, add all the ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to simmer. Turn heat down keeping a very light simmer and let cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add in kosher salt, sugar, and white wine vinegar. Let cool.

When the marinade is cool, break up cheese into bite size pieces and put in jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour over marinade, cap and let sit in the fridge at least a few hours or overnight, turning once or twice. Will keep for a week (or more!).

PART 2

250 grams pepper jack cheese (or try it with your favourite cheese)
small handful sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on to finish

Marinade ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
couple pieces of thinly sliced fennel
10-15 whole peppercorns
1/2 – 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (optional, if your cheese is already spicy like mine, you can omit this)

To finish marinade:
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 slices lemon peel (with as little pith as possible)

To make the marinade, add all the ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to simmer. Turn heat down keeping a very light simmer and let cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add in kosher salt, sugar, lemon peel and white wine vinegar. Let cool.

When the marinade is cool, cube cheese into bite size pieces and put in jar with a tight-fitting lid along with the sun-dried tomatoes (Ummm and wouldn’t olives be a great addition here as well???). Pour over marinade, cap and let sit in the fridge at least a few hours or overnight, turning once or twice. Will keep for a week (or more!). When you set this out a final sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds adds a very festive flair.

Pangrattato (or yummy crispy fried bread crumbs)

pangrattatoMy niece and a couple of friends came for dinner on Sunday but instead of a traditional roast chicken dinner, I was craving pasta. Such a difficult decision… so why not do both?!?!  I roasted a couple of lovely little free-range chickens which I first stuffed with lemon and parsley. When they were done I removed them from the roasting pan leaving the delicious juices behind to use later in the dish. Once the chickens were cool enough to handle, I pulled the meat and crispy skin into chunks and set the bones and flabbier parts aside to make stock. I tossed a handful of golden raisins, toasted pinenuts, and some chopped rosemary into the pan juices, added the chicken meat and crispy skin back, threw in a pound of hot cooked pasta, and tossed it all up with a handful of chopped parsley. It was a very satisfying non-traditional roast chicken dinner.

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