CtBF – Potato, feta and basil tortilla

Not something I make often, but I did enjoy the versions I made with French Friday’s. I wasn’t sure about the basil. Well, and not the feta. I’ll admit I did look back at the other recipe, you know, “just in case”.

Easy enough! Potatoes diced. Cooked to barely tender in some good olive oil, and then the green onions added.

I used 8 eggs because they were very large, and my potato was just under a pound. These get whisked with the pimente de esplette, salt, and the chopped basil. Isn’t this so pretty out of the garden? Surprisingly the only basil still here are the purple varieties. Gardening?

The egg mixture gets poured over the top, and then gets topped with some feta crumbles. Cooked fairly gently on the stove for about 20 minutes to create a bottom crust and so that the tortilla is almost set.

Popped into the oven for about 5 minutes at a high temp or under the broiler to just get the top set. Once out of the oven, it gets flipped over (or alternatively slide out of the pan).

This can be served hot, warm, room temperature or cold. Though my preference is warm or room temperature. As part of a tapas spread, or with a glass of crisp rosé.

I’d forgotten how good this is. And makes for lovely leftovers as well.

You can find out what other cooks thought about the recipe here.

ffwd – muenster cheese souffle(s)

On my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I vowed to “turn over a new leaf”. This past year, though particularly this past summer, I’ve let a few things slide. Some more visible than others. One of those things that have gone by the way-side has been my blog, and my connections to my ffwd crew. To be honest, there were a few recipes that I was a little ok with missing, but there were weeks when I didn’t even know what anyone was cooking, other than if I got a notification (and those seemed a little few and far between).

This Friday’s recipe is for a Muenster cheese souffle. I don’t really know Muenster as a cheese, but I certainly know souffles. I had to learn to make them when I was in college and they became an inexpensive, but fancy, favorite. Then I found out that they were a favorite of my Grandmother’s too. So to me, a little bit of a throw-back. But pretty doable, in any event.

I made this for myself, so I wasn’t quite as strict with the recipe, though I did search out (what I thought was) the correct cheese. Surprisingly, Whole Foods only had a few versions sliced. Go figure! The reason I always liked these when I was in college is because they take such everyday ingredients – a bit of butter, flour, eggs, milk, cheese or whatever you’re using for flavoring.IMG_2006

First, a roux is made of butter and flour, then milk added to make a very, very thick bechamel sauce. This gets seasoned with salt and pepper (I didn’t add the cumin) and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, the pan is prepped, the eggs separated, the cheese grated (or whatever!).

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Once the sauce has cooled for 10 minutes or so, the yolks are tempered and then added into the sauce (you put a bit of the warm sauce into the yolks, then add the whole thing back into the main part of the sauce). Once that’s done, you add the cheese. Full disclosure: Dorie suggests straining the bechamel. I didn’t do that. I never have. Maybe it’s important, but I haven’t really noticed any lumpiness or whatever else might result.IMG_2014IMG_2015

Similarly, egg whites are whipped until they are fluffy, but not too much so (they shouldn’t look “chunky” or they won’t mix in). Then about a quarter or so are mixed in to lighten up the sauce, and the remainder folded in. It’s of course important to make sure they stay as light as possible at this point, as this is what makes the whole thing rise so beautifully. It gets turned into the prepared pan, and placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

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Since I made one souffle instead of individual servings, I baked mine at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (10 more than the lower end of the original recipe).

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Mine stayed together for a few minutes, at least until I cut into it.

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This was pretty tasty, and the level of effort is pretty small for the beautiful presentation. Now, for this recipe specifically – well, I cut up the cheese because the recipe called for 1/4″-1/2″ cubes. While the bites with a nice bit of cheese were really good, the ones without were a little bland – I think I should have stuck to a smaller size (or grated if possible). The texture was nice, the edges were satisfyingly crispy. But I expected more from that Muenster. I guess mine was “the supermarket deli variety”. I’ll blame it on Whole Foods! Tasty, yes. Big, bold fragrance and flavor. Well, next time.

All things being equal, however, it was fun to get back to cooking with the group. If you’d like to see what the others in the French Fridays group thought, check them out here.

ffwd – lyonnaise garlic herb cheese

The stars aligned for me with this recipe. I was able to find something close to the fromage blanc called for in the recipe. I didn’t relish the idea of taking the time to drain ricotta. But there’s a fantastic market near my work, called Asiana Market. It’s an interesting mix of Asian (from Japanese to Indian) and Northern European. I always have fun going there, especially with friends because I always find new things to try! Amazing Hungarian sausages, seasonings in odd packages, fresh noodles, vegetables I can’t find anywhere else… the list goes on. It’s not fancy to look at,but it very much reminds me of markets I’ve been to in other parts of the world – so a great escape.

I thought that I’d remembered seeing some fresh cheeses, so when I stopped in, I bought some Farmer’s Cheese that’s actually made in PA. I guess that there are different  types, but this one seemed to be a soft consistency, so I thought I’d try it. The remaining ingredients are herbs (fresh from the garden up north), shallots, garlic, a bit of olive oil & vinegar and salt and pepper.

I usually just gather whatever herbs look good – I decided that it was in keeping with the general idea. I had winter savory, sage, rosemary, mint, parsley and chives. No tarragon, but I hoped that the others would be nice combination. And this is my new cool tool for garlic. It does a nice job of mincing and it’s super easy to use and clean.

Everything is simply mixed together and seasoned. Then it needs to chill for a bit. I did find that that made the flavors work together better. Also, the vinegar mellowed and really added to the combination.

Dorie suggests serving the cheese alongside vegetables, which turned out to be very good. Each type of vegetable brought out different flavors in the cheese. The same with crackers. And my friends thought that something simple, that had a bit of salt was perfect – though again, it just ended up tasting a bit different.

I will definitely make this again. Different herbs and seasonings would definitely change it up – I’m sure Dorie’s original tarragon would be great, but fresh basil… that would be good too. Plus, I felt a little virtuous, with the whole combination. Flavorful, but also good-for-you.