Cheese, Bread, and Wine Tasting #1

After my catharsis, I decided to put a positive spin on my lonely cheese, bread, and wine dinners.  I’m now going to plan on cheese, bread, and wine, and explore some new flavors, textures, and regions of wines and cheeses.  Why not?

So, with my Murray’s Cheese Handbook and The Cheese Chronicles as my reference books, I’m embarking on a new adventure.

The first three cheeses that I bought (from Whole Foods) are pictured below:

Beehive Seahive in the foreground- a cow milk cheese sweetened with honey.  This was really good.  I kept slicing it and snacking and snacking.  It’s smooth, just barely sweet, and quite enjoyable.

Romao in the middle- a raw sheep milk cheese that’s rubbed with olive oil and rosemary. Again- yum.  There’s just enough rosemary flavor for you to taste the herb without it smacking you in the face the way rosemary can from time to time.

And Taleggio in the back- a cow milk cheese that, according to the Murray’s handbook, is a cheese that “despite pungent, nearly offensive aromas” actually has a “gentle, buttery, mild” flavor.  I couldn’t agree more.  This cheese was a little scary at first with its moldy, stinky stink.  But it is smooth.

So, I snacked a bit and then decided to make some crostini with Hazel Dell Mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and butter with a few slivers of Walla Walla onions (from the Boulder farmers market) and some baby swiss chard (that’s what the sign said at the market- I don’t know if that’s an actual variety of chard)

I made 2 crostini with the Beehive Seahive and two with the Taleggio.  Despite feeling full half-way through, I managed to eat all of my dinner.  Washed it down with an Arrogant Pinot Noir.  Overall, a success. 

Fall Harvest Veggie Soup

Fruits and veggies just taste better when they’re fresh, local, organic, and seasonal. That is the bottom line. I can pretty much guarantee that this soup would not have been so incredibly delicious had I purchased the ingredients at the store… especially in the middle of January.
But… that day will come. Right now, though, I will be savoring every last bite of my Fall Harvest Veggie Soup.

It was quite easy- Into a large stock pot went the following ingredients in the following order, allowing a little time in between each ingredient to bring the broth back to a boil:
  • 1 quart water (bring to a boil)
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups grilled, blended tomato puree
  • 4 carrots, quartered and chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into pieces approximately the same size as the potatoes
  • 1 pound red fingerling potatoes, cubed
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms from Hazel Dell
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
After this cooked for 45 minutes or so, I added a couple teaspoons of sea salt and some Smoked Spanish Sweet Paprika that I bought from Savory Spice Shop.
I served it with some bread and mozzarella cheese. It was really, really good soup. I’m glad I have some leftovers.

Mushrooms and Bok Choy in Black Garlic Sauce

I am finding uses for the Korean Aged Black Garlic I recently bought. It has a very unique flavor that pairs well with mushrooms and soy sauce for a complete umami experience. Have you tried cooking with black garlic yet? I don’t know a lot about it, but I’m interested in finding some new flavor combinations to play around with.

For this dish, I coarsely chopped some black garlic. You’ll see for yourself upon handling black garlic that it is easier to give it a coarse chop than a fine mince. It is very soft, yet not as soft as roasted garlic. It’s interesting. I like it. It is also black… very black.
I had some of my favorite mushrooms on hand- Hazel Dell, of course. I sliced up some cinnamon cap, cremini, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms, as well as some bok choy I received from my CSA with Ollin Farms.
This side dish is very simple to make.
Heat up a pan with 1/2 TB peanut oil and 1/2 TB butter. When this is hot, add your mushrooms and get them going. After a few minutes when they start to almost stick to the pan, add a TB of soy sauce, some chopped black garlic, and give it a stir.
After a few more minutes, add the chopped bok choy and 1/3 cup or so of white wine to get a little sauce going.
When the bok choy is bright green, it’s done. I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top.
I kept this really simple for three reasons. 1) I wanted to taste the black garlic. 2) the mushrooms and bok choy were super fresh, so I wanted to allow their flavors to show through without added spice. I just might change that if I make this again without farm-fresh foods. 3) I served it with my super flavorful Best Grilled Shrimp.

Peanut Noodles

I love making peanut sauce, and I especially like to make it in the summer when locally grown fresh veggies are available. Here’s one example of a peanut noodle dish.
I had some shiitake and oyster mushrooms from Hazel Dell.

I sliced them and sauteed them in a little butter and peanut oil with 1/2 of a yellow onion and some scallions.
While the mushrooms cook, boil some water for your noodles. I used a package of udon noodles and prepared them according to the instructions on the package. Pay attention to the instructions because over or under-cooked noodles do not make a great dish.
When the noodles are done, rinse them in cold water and drain well. Then transfer them to a large bowl and add the mushrooms as well as some other veggies. I added sliced carrots and blanched broccoli florets.
Pour on as much peanut sauce as you like and mix well.
Get creative with some seasonal veggies and enjoy.
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