Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gouda & Gruyere Macaroni & Cheese

Most of you know, my day job is a Cheese Monger and a local grocery store, ok my official tital is Cheese Master, but I don’t like to throw that around. (I worked 23 years to earn the title of master, I’m keeping it!)  So throughout the day, I am recommending different cheese to people, from Cheese plate to recipes.  I was motivated to make a macaroni and cheese, with some of our great cheeses.

A little more about the cheese I used:

Murray’s Brand Boerenkass Gouda-(Boar-en-Kaux) Boer means 'farmer' and kaas means 'cheese', in Dutch. The curds are made from raw milk and then rinsed of the acidic, watery whey before getting pressed into large, flat spherical wheels. This special treatment cuts out sharpness and allows butterscotch and cashew flavors to prevail over an 18-24 month aging period.

Cave Aged Gruyere-(Gree-Air) Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small cracks which impart a slightly grainy texture.


Craig’s not a fan of elbow noodles, so I used Penne, but use what you like!


Now let me tell you….I don’t think I could have made a better Mac & Cheese if I tried!


Gouda & Gruyere

  Macaroni & Cheese


 1 stick Butter
       ¼ cup Flour ( I didn’t measure)
       1 box (32oz?) Chicken Broth
        1 pint of cream (you can use regular milk, again I didn’t measure, so add a little at a time until you get the consistency you like)
        ½ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
        Salt, to taste
        Pepper, to taste
        16 oz Penne, (or another pasta you prefer)
        12 oz Gruyere, shredded ( I used Cave Aged), reserve ¼ cup for topping
        12 oz Gouda, shredded ( I used Murray’s Boerenkass) , reserve ¼ cup for topping
        1 cup pasta water, as needed.

While your preparing the pasta, melt the butter, and add the pepper and nutmeg.  Whisk in the flour, cooking it until it is no longer pasty tasting.  Add in ½-3/4 of the chicken broth, and whisk until the broth is smooth and thick.  Add in the cream to increase the creaminess of the sauce.  If the sauce is too think, add more broth.  Slowly add in the cheese, stirring constantly to ensure it is melted thoroughly.  Drain pasta, reserving some of the water, in case you need to thin out the cheese sauce. Mix together with pasta, and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  At this point, you could bake the mac and cheese, but I didn’t, to preserve the moisture.

Serve and Enjoy!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tandoori Chicken & Indian Rice

While I was recently on vacation I was checking out Pinterest, and came across several great recipes, one in particular was Tandoori Chicken.  Now Craig and I have discovered Indian & Persian food a few years back, and we both SO love the flavors, so I knew this would be an easy sell….But I had no idea how easy!  In addition to this I came across a recipe for Indian Rice.  So of late I haven’t been blogging, because, well the recipes I’ve been trying, just haven’t been trying.  I’ve been following them, taking pictures…and alas…reviews are, “don’t make this again!”.  So figuring that this, might or might not work, I decided to not take pictures.  Well that was a mistake. When dinner was served, there was a resounding “Can you put this on the regular rotation”?

Tandoori Chicken Recipe

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp sweet (not hot) paprika
1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
4 minced garlic cloves
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 whole chicken breasts


1 Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat, then cook the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and paprika, stirring often, until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes). Let cool completely.

2 Whisk in the cooled spice-oil mixture into the yogurt, then mix in the lemon juice, garlic, salt and ginger.

3 Cut deep slashes in 3-4 places on the chicken pieces. Just make 2-3 cuts if you are using separate drumsticks and thighs. Coat the chicken in the marinade, cover and chill for at least an hour (preferably 6 hours), no more than 8 hours.

4 Prepare your grill so that one side is quite hot over direct heat, the other side cooler, not over direct heat. If using charcoal, leave one side of the grill without coals, so you have a hot side and a cooler side. If you are using a gas grill, just turn on one-half of the burners. Use tongs to wipe the grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Take the chicken out of the marinade and shake off the excess. You want the chicken coated, but not gloppy. Put the chicken pieces on the hot side of the grill and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes before checking.

5 Turn the chicken so it is brown (even a little bit charred) on all sides, then move it to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes, up to 40 minutes (or longer) depending on the size of the chicken and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is done when its juices run clear, and it 160°-180°F.

Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. It’s also great at room temperature or even cold the next day. 

Indian Style Rice Recipe


2 cups Basmati rice
8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves
2 cardamom pods
One 2-inch piece of cinnamon
3 Tbsp vegetable oil (or ghee if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon dark mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon turmeric


1 Place rice in a sieve and run cool water through it to rinse it until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in cool water for 30 minutes. Drain.

2 Using a spice basket (large tea ball), place the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon into the basket.  Bring 8 cups of water and the salt to a boil in a large pot, add the spice ball and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir. Taste the rice, and test if it is done to your taste; rice can take more or less time to cook depending on how old it is. If still too firm, cook a few minutes longer.

3 When the rice is cooked to your liking, drain the rice into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop if from cooking. Remove the spice ball and discard the contents. Set the rice aside to drain.

4 In a pan large enough to hold the rice, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and the chile flakes. Cook until the mustard seeds start popping, then add the onion. Sauté until the onion begins to brown, about 5-7 minutes.

5 Add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and mix well. Sprinkle the turmeric over the rice and mix well. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Smoked Salmon Spread


A week ago, a friend gave me a bag FULL of smoked salmon, and said he has a ton and will have more soon.  Well, I love salmon, so who am I to refuse?  First I used some of it for a Smoked Salmon Caesar Salad, and last night we had company for dinner, so I decided to make some Smoked Salmon Spread. 


Here is my recipe:

8 oz Cream Cheese
1 Tablespoon capers
4-6 oz Smoked Salmon
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 Teaspoon Dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste (heaver on the pepper than the salt!)

In a food processor, soften the cream cheese, add the Worcestershire sauce, seasonings and capers, blend until smooth.  Add Smoked salmon, and pulse to mix, but not enough to puree the salmon!

Serve with sturdy crackers.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Picnic at the beach

A day at the beach……One thing I love to do is head for the beach, every chance I get.  So recently, when my partner, Craig and I had a day off together, we decided to pack a lunch, grab the leash and head for the closest island!  (We live in the Puget Sound area, so islands, while not tropical, are not that far off)

As you can see from the picture our dog, Zoey joined us on our journey to Whidbey Island’s great Double Bluff Beach.  It’s an “off leash” park, so she was really able to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the beach.


Craig loves to search of seashells, so I was excited to find this little gem!


After our walk to the end of the beach and back we decided to enjoy our picnic.  For our lunch, I made a Turkey and Smoked Gouda sandwich on Ciabatta roll, with a “quick” pasta salad.


Quick Pasta Salad


Need something for lunch, or a last minute picnic?  Here is what I make whenever I need to make an unplanned side dish.


8 oz Pasta ( I used leftover stars, but any kind can be used)

¼ Cup pre-julienned Carrots

¼ Cup red pepper, julienned

¼-½  cucumber, peeled and deseeded

⅓ Cup Salad Dressing (I didn’t measure, and I used a sundried tomato vinaigrette)

¼ Cup Crumble or shredded cheese (optional, I used feta)


While the pasta is boiling, get the vegetables ready.  When the pasta is done, rinse in cold water.  Then add all vegetables to pasta, and toss with salad dressing.