Foodies

The Miracle of Cheese

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

A few weekends ago on a whim, I signed up for a cheese making class.  I don’t know why it’s taken me over 35+ years to do so, because one thing is true.  I revere cheese.  Or should I say, cheese is my Kryptonite.  It weakens me.  Yes, chocolate is tempting, champagne and wine are equally desirable (and quite frankly necessities), but the reason I will never be a Size 2 can be summed up in one word.  Cheese. 

There are several things in life that go hand in hand.  Hot dogs and baseball.  Peas and carrots.  Bert and Ernie.  Bo and Luke.  Around these parts, the two delectables that go hand in hand are wine and cheese.  It’s just how I was raised. 

wine country pt reyes blue

 

I showed up a few minutes late at this ‘advanced’ artisan cheese making class, and they were doing that ‘icebreaker’ thing where they ask everyone to introduce themselves.  Quickly, it became evident I was out of my league. 

To my left was a distinguished Frenchman who’d been making cheese for a decade.  To my right, a Dairy Queen who knew everything there was to know about butter, eggs, and dairy products.  Then it was my turn to talk.  I was the self proclaimed rookie in the room.  All I could muster after a long awkward pause was this:  “Well.  I’ve never met a piece of cheese I didn’t like!”  They laughed.  I don’t think it was at my joke.  It was at my ignorance. 

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Wild Mushroom Bisque

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

It’s been raining off and on for days around here.  That pitter patter on the roof every night puts me in the mood for tasty soups!   Yesterday I made this delicious version of Wild Mushroom Bisque.  In the past, I’ve called this Cream of Wild Mushroom soup, but since it’s puréed, I’m getting all fancy on ya and calling it a ‘Bisque’.

I’m one of those people who gets a craving, then has to run to the store just to grab the ingredients.  It’s a bad habit, one I refuse to break.  The other day, I was craving homemade creamy mushroom soup, so I whipped up a batch of this yumminess. 

cream of wild mushroom

 

Wild Mushroom Bisque

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp butter

2 medium shallots, thinly diced

20 oz. of a medley of cleaned, trimmed, and sliced mushrooms

(I used 8 oz. button mushrooms, 6 oz. portabella, 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, but you can substitute oyster, crimini, porcini, whatever is available.)

1 cup dry sherry

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ tsp tarragon

2 ½ cups half and half

½ tsp white pepper

Salt to taste

Sauté diced shallots in butter and olive oil mixture over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, add sliced mushrooms and sauté 3-4 more minutes to soften, stirring frequently.  Add dry sherry to mixture and bring to a low boil.  Reduce liquid on low boil for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add chicken (or vegetable) broth and tarragon, bring to low boil, then simmer on low another 8-10 minutes, reduce heat.  Fully purée mixture in a blender, or with an immersion blender. 

Return to soup pot, then add half and half, pepper, and salt to taste, reheat on stovetop on medium for 5 minutes, do not boil or burn.  Serve hot with croutons & shaved parmesan, crackers or crunchy sourdough.  Serves 6. 

Here are five more savory soups I’ve made in the past that I also love.

Slurp! 

I mean Bon Appétit ! 

 

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