Grilled mushrooms on a cedar plank

As the snow drifts by the window I’m dreaming of making these again ….. smoky from the grill and cedar plank, and bursting with creamy cheesy goodness.

Grilled Mushrooms:Cedar Plank

  • 25 to 30 small cremini mushrooms (about 650 g), stemmed
  • 2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup water-packed artichoke hearts (about 2), drained, finely chopped and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese , softened
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green olives
  • 1 egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 clove garlic , grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

To take these over the top, sprinkle with toasted and chopped hazelnuts, they add such a delightful crunch …. as you can see in this photo I didn’t have any handy this time!

Soak one 12- x 7-inch untreated cedar plank in water for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Meanwhile, using tip of spoon, gently scrape out mushroom gills to widen cavities.

In bowl, stir together Asiago, artichokes, cream cheese, olives, egg, garlic and pepper. Spoon 1 tbsp filling into each mushroom cap, pressing to flatten slightly.

Arrange on cedar plank, filling side up. Top with hazelnuts, if using, or you can always substitute toasted Panko crumbs.  Place plank on grill over medium-high heat; close lid and grill until mushrooms are tender and filling is bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley. Serve on plank on heat-resistant surface or transfer to platter.

 

If barbecuing isn’t an option for you this can also be done in the oven …. 425 for 20 minutes.

Tomato Thyme Bacon Tart

Fresh garden tomatoes and thyme combined with bacon and cheese

Fresh garden tomatoes and thyme combined with bacon and cheese

Nothing screams summer like tomatoes! This tart is quick and easy to make, allowing the tomato to be the star of the show. Today’s tart was made with heirloom tomato – such a big tomato that it only took 3 slices along with a few cherry tomatoes to fill in the gaps.

This works amazingly well as either an appetizer or side dish.

Roll out 1 thawed puff pastry sheet in to 10 x 14 rectangle on lightly floured surface. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle on 1 1/2 cups cheese (gruyere, gouda and cheddar are good choices). Leave a 2 inch border on the long sides……

Crumble cooked, crumbled bacon over the cheese (4 slices)

Slice tomatoes and layer across bacon/cheese.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper.

Fold the long sides over to create a border, and fold in the short ends to create a seal.

Using a sharp knife, cut vent holes in the pastry and brush with beaten egg.

Bake at 400 until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with fresh basil for serving.

Sun Dried Tomato Brie

brie two ways

Brie is a favorite appeitzer, whether served hot and oozing, or cold on a cheese platter.  This is one of our favorites – always a hit to take when you need a quick easy appetizer.

minced sun dried tomatoes

generous sprinkling of fresh herbs, minced  (parsley, oregano and basil work well)

finely chopped fresh chives

finely chopped fresh fresh garlic

salt and pepper

lemon

olive oil

Depending on the size of the brie wheel you have – mince up enough of the toppings to generously cover the cheese.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, squeeze a bit of lemon over, and top with salt and pepper.

Heat in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes, just until the cheese starts to bulge against the rind.  Serve with fresh baguette, toast rounds or your favorite cracker. 

This also works really well on the grill if you have a good heat resistant container to both warm and serve in.

Sweet & Spicy Brown Sugar Pecan Brie Round

brown sugar pecan brie round

 

This recipe is so easy – I am not going to use any particular ingredient amount so that you feel free to work with your own taste preferences.

Round of brie

brown sugar

toasted pecans (roughly chopped)

butter

chile flakes (or cayenne pepper)

salt and pepper

lemon
Sprinkle brown sugar over brie (no need to cut off the top), sprinkle with cayenne pepper or chili flakes, chopped toasted pecans, and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Squeeze just a little bit of fresh lemon juice over, and dot with butter over surface.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  If you keep the rind intact, it should just start to look like the rind is bulging a bit.  Once you cut into it, the cheese will be ooey gooey, butter melted and all the seasonings are just a little bit of nirvana!

Serve with either fresh baguette, toast rounds or your favorite crackers.

Mac N Cheese

I have been making lasagne without pre boiling my pasta noodles for years now, so why did it take so long to try it with elbow macaroni?  Not sure, but I will always do it that way now!  Give this a try and let me know what you think.  

Mac n Cheese

1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 lb (450 gms) elbow macaroni

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup panko or home made bread crumbs

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400.  Melt 1/4 cup butter in large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add flour, and mustard,  cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute to allow the flour and butter to brown slightly.  Slowly whisk in milk until you have a smooth consistency.  Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, whisking often until you have a thin but glossy sauce. (around 10 min)  Stir in 1 tbsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper.

Toss dry, uncooked pasta with 1 1/2 cups grated cheese and put in 13 x 9 x 2″ baking dish.  Pour sauce over – do not stir – and cover with foil.  Bake for at least 20 minutes – check to see if the pasta is almost cooked through.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in fry pan, stir in garlic – saute lightly and toss with bread crumbs and panko until lightly browned.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over pasta, then top with bread crumb/garlic mixture.  Return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so until top is bubbling and golden brown.

This is the basic recipe – I’m pretty sure you won’t be pre-cooking your pasta before baking your own mac and cheese again!

Tonight’s version of this included:

aged white cheddar cheese and smoked gouda cheese

cubed cooked chicken

diced roasted red pepper

capers

whole grape tomatoes

The whole family loved it, and you can adapt this very easily to any leftovers or cravings in your household.  

Best Ever Cheese Ball

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

8 ounces cheddar (I like applewood smoked!)

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp hot pepper sauce

1/2 cup minced herbs

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

In food processor, combine cheeses, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and pulse until well blended – stir in 2 tbsp of the herbs.

Form into a ball, then roll in the fresh herbs and chives to coat.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least one hour to firm up and allow flavours to meld.  Serve with bread sticks or crackers.

Mile High Beef Burgers

One of the most important things to remember about making a burger is to handle the meat as little as possible!  Gentle treatment makes for a tender, juicy hamburger.  Use the best quality beef you can find, always.

2 # lean ground beef (extra lean just doesn’t have enough flavour)

3 tbsp minced basil

1/2 cup grated sweet onion

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

jalapeno jack cheese

Gently mix ingredients and form into burgers. (should make about 8 burgers)  Allow to rest in fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes to allow the burger to set.

Grill until cooked through – if you happen to grind your own meat, and know the source, it is great to have it medium rare.  Top with jalapeno jack cheese for the last few minutes, allowing to just melt slightly.

This mile high burger had fresh herb aioli on the bottom of a thin red pepper bun, the burger, jalapeno jack cheese, grilled sweet red and yellow pepper, grilled avocado,  sauted onions & mushrooms, then topped off with fresh tangy coleslaw.

Delicious and mouth watering good!  Get the napkins out …