Pimiento Cheese

Now this post is near and dear to my heart. I doubt you’ll find many southern families that don’t have a bowl of pimiento cheese in their fridge from time to time. It’s just one of those things we love without question or hesitation. While Darcie is a yankee-girl, we forgive her that failing because she spent some time in New Orleans, where she developed a love of pimiento cheese, among other staples. (I kid, I kid; we’ll always hold it against her.)

Darcie’s recipe is brilliant because it replaces most of the mayo that standard recipes call for (which is a completely insane amount, generally speaking) with cream cheese, so it’s a lot creamier and less greasy. The fat content still isn’t all that great, but this isn’t exactly a salad; use lowfat cream cheese if you must. I’ll look the other way, but may lift my eyebrow of judgement slightly.

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Pimiento Cheese

Allergy Milk
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
If Southerners know anything, it's how to make food that'll keep you coming back for more. Count this Pimiento Cheese as one of those foods.

Ingredients

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 8oz cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
  • 4oz jar pimiento peppers (drained, juice reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pimiento pepper juice
  • 1 tablespoon chives (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (such as Lowry's)

Optional

  • hot sauce or cayenne pepper (to taste)

Directions

Using an electric hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, mayonnaise, dijon, pimento juice and seasoned salt until creamy. Fold in the remaining ingredients, refrigerate and allow to sit for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to come together.
Serve in hollowed out mini peppers or with crackers. Also makes a great grilled cheese sandwich or burger topping.

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan crisps are usually found in salads, where you’ve likely encountered them over the years without giving them much thought. But I think these crisps are a delicious snack on their own — delicate and lacy, but aggressively flavorful — and pair incredibly well with champagne or other sparkling wines, making them a perfect bite for parties at this time of the year. That they’re a snap to make doesn’t hurt, either. Just make sure to use parchment paper or a silicone pan liner for success. Find Darcie’s post on the subject here.

Parmesan Crisps | Amy Roth Photo

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Parmesan Crisps

Allergy Milk
Meal type Appetizer, Snack
Parmesan Crisps — delicate, lacy and flavorful — are a welcome addition to any party snacking table.

Ingredients

  • 1 wedge aged Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F (about 200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (Do not attempt this recipe without one or the other.)
Grate the Parmesan cheese finely, then drop tablespoonfuls on the lined baking sheet, leaving space between each. Spread the mounds into thin rounds. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and slightly browned. Remove from the oven, let cool, then carefully remove with a thin spatula.

The Last Hurrah

Happy New Year! Did you pave the way for luck and money to enter your life in 2015 with black eyed peas and greens or is there something else that’s a little more traditional for you? Gil and I met friends in the city for BBQ yesterday and enjoyed Hoppin’ John fritters and collard greens side dishes there, so there was no need to rush home and cook another meal simply to allay my superstitions.

I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions and resolutely avoid making them, but the time is right to start making some dietary changes. Now that the parties are over, the travel is done and life is returning to normal, I can stop making allowances for “just this once” or justifying another wheat or fried food-laden meal with this twisted logic: “I’ve already eaten bread (or fries) this week. How much worse will I feel if I do it again?” (For more classic excuses — a few more of which I made — check out Gretchen Rubin’s piece on self-sabotage.) Starting today, I’m getting back to the Primal Blueprint plan with its 21-Day Challenge and look forward to feeling good again, healthy and strong. I know a lot of people are skeptical about primal/paleo generally and gluten-free diets specifically, especially when there’s been no celiac diagnosis, but I know how my joints ache and pop when I eat wheat, I know the number it does on my stomach, and how much older I feel when I indulge even a little bit. And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to ditch sugar after the sheer number of cookies and other desserts I ate over the last two weeks!

But before I start posting all of our nutritious primal dishes, here’s one last carb-y hurrah for you:

Mac & Cheese from Modernist Cuisine | Amy Roth Photo

Mac and cheese is the world’s most perfect comfort food, don’t you think? Even bad boxed versions are tolerable, but when you start it from scratch, there’s nothing better. So when a friend posted a link to a recipe that promised the creamiest mac & cheese possible — and without a bechamel — I took notice. I don’t find the task of bechamel-making too onerous, to be honest, but if anything could get me one step closer to mac & cheese nirvana, I was willing to try it.

The recipe was originally published in Modernist Cuisine at Home and uses calcium citrate to keep the cheese’s oil and milk solids mixed when heated instead of allowing it to separate into a big greasy mess without the benefit of some medium (such as bechamel) to hold it together. SCIENCE! Chemistry was not my strong suit (she says, in the understatement of the year), but I needed to try this, so I ordered the Modernist Cuisine-recommended WillPowder Sodium Citrate from Amazon, which turned out to be the best value for the money I could find online.

I used a combination of cheddar and gouda and found it very creamy and quite rich, as you’d expect from a recipe that so revels in cheese. The only drawback is that you must eat it right away or it will solidify into a block (à la melted Velveeta) as it approaches room temperature. But you can always adjust the proportions to make just what you need. I reheated leftovers with a little added milk, but they just weren’t the same.

Find the recipe here. Playing with your food has never been so satisfying.


Oh, well, ok. I guess I do have a little more to share since the pictures are taken, anyway. As everyone knows, Christmas season is fueled by cookies, so I whipped out my favorite paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe to make a special batch just for us. I like to top them with Maldon sea salt before baking to give them a little extra pop, but otherwise stuck to the recipe as written. Gil devoured about 85% of them, but I got to enjoy a few. So many other cookies found their way into my mouth when I was in Louisiana that these don’t even tempt me now.

One the one hand, it’s a sad state of affairs. On the other, this sweets aversion will make my life relatively easy for the next 21 days as I go full primal. I haven’t decided if I’ll post my progress daily or just in bi-weekly digest form, but I’ll be sharing good primal-friendly recipes here, either way.

Happy New Year! Are you doing any sort of month-long challenge, too? Let me know in the comments so we can hold each other accountable/cheer each other on!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies | Amy Roth Photo

 

Gluten-Free Cookie Dough | Amy Roth Photo

Cherry Clafoutis

I know a lot of people are impatient for farmers’ market darlings tomatoes and corn to make an appearance, but I’m just happy to experience the seasons as they unfold and enjoy each week’s new arrivals. Cherries came to market two weeks ago and I’ve been shoving them in my face with a speed rivaled only by Ru at his bowl. But I managed a little restraint as well, because what’s the start of cherry season without a clafoutis?

If you’ve never had clafoutis, you’re in for a treat. It’s a simple, homey French dessert with a custardy base and fruit baked in. Cherry is very popular, but you can use just about any fruit you’d like, really. The traditional recipe isn’t gluten-free so I haven’t made it in a while, but when I saw a recipe by Kimberley Hasselbrink at Cookbooks 365 that used a mixture of almond flour and brown rice flour, I knew clafoutis’ time had come again for me. Visit Cookbooks 365 for the recipe and stick around for a bit for delicious, wholesome recipes and gorgeous photography.

French Feta with Cherries | Minimally Invasive

Because I pitted more cherries than I needed for the clafoutis, I tried something a little different with the extras. To go with a luscious French feta I bought on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Corrado’s, I tossed halved sweet cherries with a touch of honey, some chopped rosemary, toasted and chopped pecans, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of kosher salt. The sweet-tart cherries balanced the salty creaminess of the feta so perfectly, I may or may not have eaten a quarter pound of cheese in one sitting that day. I’ll never tell.

All this talk of cherries has me hungry for more. Lucky me, I loaded up at the market again this weekend. Yum.

Field to Feast: Tomatoes

Tomatoes are here! I went a little overboard at the market as I tend to do with all produce that has such a short, shining season, but every tomato went to good use. So welcome to tomato week! I hope you enjoy.

Gluten-Free, Paleo Tomato Tart | Minimally Invasive

Starting things off, I have a hearty gluten-free/Paleo tomato conserva tart that’s bursting with fresh flavor. Because tomatoes release a lot of water as they’re cooking, I made each element of the tart separately, then assembled them at the end to avoid a big, soupy mess in the oven. The gluten-free tart shell was based on the Paleo Pie Crust at Elana’s Pantry with some Parmesan cheese and a handful of fresh herbs — basil, of course, plus rosemary, sage, thyme and chives — thrown into the food processor. The herbs turned the dough a beautiful shade of green, but if you’d rather a dough studded with herbs, just mince and stir them in by hand when you’ve finished mixing. I pressed the dough into a nine-inch tart pan, then covered the bottom with foil, weighed it down with dried beans, and blind baked it for 20 minutes at 350° F. At that point, I removed the foil (and beans) and baked it for 10 minutes longer to dry the bottom of the shell.

The middle layer, which isn’t visible here, was a blend of chèvre from Edgwick Farm, about two tablespoons of cream cheese, a hefty grating of parmesan cheese and the roasted garlic cloves and some oil from the tomato conserva, which you can find at Fine Cooking. I used a mix of tomatoes for the conserva, thinking of the end product visual, but use whatever you like. To assemble the tart, I spread the cheese mixture over the cooled shell and layered the tomatoes in a ring, overlapping, from the outside-in. I didn’t do it for the picture, but just before serving, drizzle the top with reduced balsamic vinegar and a sprinkling of fresh herbs, and maybe a little more grated Parmesan if you love it as much as I do.

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This week, Kasha posted a wonderful mid-season recap of our Field to Feast posts at The FarmGirl Cooks. If you’re a newbie to this series and want to see all of the seasonal goodies we have to offer, head over there and dive right in!

A New Look + The Winter Market

It’s done! Nearly eight years after starting this blog, I gave it a major design overhaul last week! And thank goodness; I just couldn’t look at that raggedy old thing any longer. My lack of anything resembling technical knowledge kept me from tackling it for all those years, but I figured I’d give it a stab, because how hard could it be with one of WordPress‘s highly-praised themes? But still, I couldn’t do it alone, so here’s a big thank you to Gil for setting up a test site and to our friend Jason, who helped me get this behemoth up and running yesterday.

There are a few new features here that I’d like to tell you about. First of all, there’s a top nav to help you get around and a proper home page with some fun features! I’ll likely add some functionality to it in the future, but for now, you can find recent blog posts as well as projects there. Think of the Projects page as a portfolio-lite; it has a few selected images from projects I’ve worked on (mostly cookbooks) along with descriptions and external links to each. To see more of my photography, just click on the Portfolio link in the top nav.

You can sign up to receive an email when new posts are published by using the subscribe box in the blog side navigation or in the footer. Connect with me on social media via the links above the main logo or write to me (I’d love to hear from you!) from the Contact page. There’s also an honest-to-goodness About page now; I figure it’s about time you know a little more about me, and maybe see a picture, even.

Anyway, take a look around — I hope you like what you see! (And if something isn’t working, please let me know.)

Now for some food!

I’m not sure why I gave up the Farmers’ Market Feast series when our weekly market moved to a monthly one over the winter because I never miss one, even though I don’t get to load up on local vegetables at it. So this is my inaugural Winter Market post, and also the last until November because I’ll be back to a weekly schedule in May! Hooray!

Aged Goat's Milk Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

This lovely specimen of aged goat cheese comes from our friends at Edgwick Farm. There was a bit of give around the edges which promised a creamy interior; it was all I could do to hold off from cutting into it before taking this shot.

Aged Goat Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

Just look at that gooey loveliness! The slight goatiness was offset by a drizzle of local honey from Nina’s Red Barn Farm. I’ve consumed a little over half of the cheese in the past two days, which is why I don’t buy it too often; I simply can’t resist the temptation it throws my way.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Now this little slice of heaven was my Sunday morning breakfast. In my 20s I really loved brunch or brunching; it seemed like such a civilized way to start the day and served as a good excuse to have a bloody mary at an outrageously early hour. (So naughty!) But after years of consuming lord knows how many mediocre egg dishes and entire fields of lukewarm fried potato chunks, I realized I really was in love with the idea of brunch. Now that I’m older, I find I can make a better meal than most brunchy restaurants offer, so it’s a good excuse to indulge.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Wiltbank Farm is new to our market, selling flavorful oyster and shiitake mushrooms. I wanted to feature the oysters without much interference, so I tossed the mushrooms with some olive oil, a hefty amount of thyme and red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and threw in a few whole garlic cloves for good measure. After 15 minutes on a roasting pan in a 425 degree oven, they were deliciously schlumped and caramelized, so I smashed the garlic cloves into a paste, tossed the paste with the mushrooms and the angels sang.

This was an ideal nest for a perfectly fried duck egg from Edgwick Farm. After trying them for the first time this weekend, I feel sure they’ll be on the menu for as long as I can find them. The flavor isn’t so different from a chicken egg, but they’re much more substantial, and if you’re a yolk lover like I am, you’ll love the ridiculous size of these. I felt I ate like a queen.

And here’s a little yolk porn, just cuz. Have a great week!

Yolk Porn @ Minimally Invasive

Day 19, Fig & Blue Cheese Savouries

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 19

While it may seem that all we do is consume sugar around here, salty or savory foods are what really do it for me. When I do want a little sugar, though, I’m happiest at the intersection of savory and sweet, which is exactly where today’s treats are located.

A few weeks ago, I was looking over my copy of the new Food52 Cookbook before its launch party when these beauties jumped off the page and demanded to be made. As always, I adapted this stellar recipe with gluten-free flour, but this time it took a little coaxing to get the results of regular flour. Still, this minimal extra work was rewarded with flaky, delicate pastries, so don’t let it scare you off.

(And how’s this for a shameless plug? Be sure to check out my recipe for Short Rib Ragu in the winter chapter of the Food52 Cookbook!)

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Day 19, Fig & Blue Cheese Savouries”

Day 13, Pear Pizzas

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 13

There will be more DIY gifts and desserts to come, but for now, kick back, hang out with the family (or friends, or pets), and make some pizza. Maybe put on a movie and some comfy loungewear and enjoy an evening in.

I was inspired by both the arrival of the new Cup4Cup Pizza Crust Mix in stores and this recipe, though I changed it up pretty significantly. I kept the pear base but played around with nearly everything else.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 13

Pears and gorgonzola are a beautiful thing, but add a drizzle of honey (truffle, if you have it), and the whole thing sings.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 13

If you’re worried about gorgonzola or blue cheese being gluten-free, you need to check into it, but you certainly can find GF versions of them both. This page is old, but lists commercial options for each. Or, if you get the good stuff, your cheesemonger should be able to steer you in the right direction.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Day 13, Pear Pizzas”

Happy New Year!

or, my pre-teen self is looking on with pride

I think most of us could say we’d like to believe we’ve changed for the better in some essential way over the years, whether in quality of character or by simply by growing into our selves. My husband is vexed whenever he’s immediately recognized by someone who hasn’t seen him in 20 years, but with good reason, I’d say. (Proof: Gil then, Gil now.) I have no illusions on that front, but at least the bad perm years have passed me by. Still, some things never change, and as evidence, I’ll point you to my new year’s day breakfast: pizza. If that pimply, awkward girl could’ve eaten pizza every morning for breakfast without hearing a lecture, believe me, she would’ve.

kale, smoked cheddar, prosciutto, egg

But this was a far cry from the Pizza Hut of my youth. I kept it simple, starting with dough already resting in the fridge, then adding whatever I had on hand: kale (sautéed in olive oil), smoked mozzarella, prosciutto and an egg. The egg makes it breakfast-y, you see.

from Beecher's
The smoked mozzarella of my dreams.

But a little more on the mozzarella… I’m sure you’ve been lured by smoked mozzarella at the grocery store and came to regret buying it, as I have. The prepackaged stuff is oddly insipid as part of a larger dish, while the smoke flavor overwhelmes on its own. But this was an entirely different beast, as you probably can tell from the picture above. I saw it in the case at Beecher’s last week and had to give it a try based on looks alone. It tastes of bonfires and woody, ashy smoke and winter in the best way possible, if that doesn’t sound too strange. If you’re around the Flatiron district, please make the trip to Beecher’s (and while you’re at it, Eataly) and enjoy the experience.

gluten-free pizza

The pizza started with a wonderful, complex gluten-free dough from Shooting The Kitchen that had been resting in the fridge overnight. It’s incredibly sticky right out of the bowl, but a liberal dusting of rice flour makes it easily workable. I always form the dough by hand instead of rolling it out because of counter space issues, but you’ll end up with a prettier, more uniform pizza if you take that extra step.

gluten-free

After forming the dough, you can brush it with olive oil (though I forgot to, and it was fine), then add your toppings. Here, I layered smoked mozzarella and sautéed kale before baking it for five minutes at 500 degrees. At that point, I cracked an egg over the top and baked for about six minutes longer, or until the egg was set, but still runny. Once it was out of the oven, I topped the pizza with prosciutto and shaved parmesan, added a little salt & pepper and a drizzle of truffle oil before tearing into it.

gluten-free piazza

I’ll approve of this breakfast at any age.

Triple-Garlic Pizza

Or, the whole of the pie is greater than the sum of its alliums.

gluten-free white pizza with garlic

We visited the last monthly winter market this weekend to find the very first sign of Spring — wild garlic — at Nina’s booth. She’s my go-to source for fresh eggs and local honey, but she always has some lagniappe I appreciate — last year it was callaloo and micro greens and last month, freshly smoked jalapenos. But as soon as I saw this month’s wild garlic offering, I knew it was destined for spring’s perfect pizza. You can keep your ramps; I’ll stick to locally-grown wild garlic for $1 a bunch! (Sadly, we don’t have any growing in our yard or it’d be even cheaper.)

Locally-grown — a beautiful sign of Spring

Since I’m pathologically incapable of making anything the same way twice, I subbed in a gluten-free crust and added layers of flavor with garlic oil and garlic confit. Frankly, I wouldn’t know where to draw the “too much garlic” line, but this wasn’t even close. On this pie, at least, it’s all mellow and sweet and borderline addictive.

garlic, olive oil, black peppercorns

Garlic confit, like creme fraiche and sofrito, is one of those things that’s nice to have on hand to add a little something to a dish. Whole cloves are slow-cooked in olive oil until they’re soft and sweetly caramelized, which is nice on its own, but as a bonus you get that lovely oil to use for drizzling, dipping, salad dressings, etc.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic, truffle oil

The gluten-free pizza crust is the best I’ve yet tried, but I’m still on the lookout for something less…squeaky. (Those of you who’ve had the heavily starch-based crusts know what I mean.) Something a little breadier would be really nice in this application.

gluten-free pizza with garlic oil, confit, wild garlic and truffle oil

Not that I’m complaining — far from it. These toppings just deserve the very best base you can give them. I’m doing it for the garlic, you see.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Triple-Garlic Pizza”