Chipotle macaroni and cheese.

I’ve been waiting for this day for awhile. It was too hot before, and I didn’t have buttermilk or I was down to just one shriveled chipotle pepper in the bottom of an improperly stored can at the back of the fridge. Or I was feeling self-conscious about my waistline, because I do that sometimes, and instead of joining a gym or sweating I abstain briefly from cheese.

But the stars have aligned, the sky’s clouded over, and I’m wearing lycra so that waistline issue isn’t at the forefront of my mind. And, we have all the things to make chipotle macaroni and cheese. If you’re looking for a healthy treat for this Meatless Monday, I suspect you’d be better off with Kraft, but it’s decadent, and it’s got good stuff in it so it’s not all butter fat and Cheddar.

It contains a lot of little bites of veggies; peppers, onions, and just a little tomato. You could add greens if you wanted to, or more peppers, or corn or beans, or cauliflower or broccoli, both of which are delicious, especially if you roast them first – anything you like, really. If I’m up to no good and want to make you do something for me, I might add bacon, but believe me when I say it doesn’t need it. It contains four cups of cheese.

So here you go. Possibly the world’s most decadent vegetarian recipe. Happy Meatless Monday. You may want to go for a run after this one.

Oh! I joined something called a Blog Carnival. It’s a Meatless Monday thing, and though I don’t yet know what it all means, and I don’t think there are corn dogs in it for me, it’s still sort of cool. Here it is. I’ll figure out the right way to do this soon enough. Anyway. On to the recipe!

Chipotle macaroni and cheese

(Serves four to six, probably with some leftover.)

  • 4 cups dried macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups chopped sweet or bell peppers (any colour you prefer – I had red and orange)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 to 3 minced chipotle peppers (the kind that come in adobo sauce)
  • 1 to 2 minced jalapeño peppers
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cups buttermilk (ideally full-fat)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 cups grated cheese (such as a combination of sharp Cheddar and Monterrey Jack)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 350°F, and grease a 9″x13″ pan.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add peppers,onion, chipotles, jalapeños, and garlic. Saute until onions have turned translucent and peppers are bright.

Add macaroni to the boiling water, and boil six to eight minutes, until al denté.

Add adobo, then flour to veggies and stir to incorporate. Add pepper and cumin. Then add buttermilk and regular milk, and stir frequently until thickened.

Drain macaroni. Set aside. Add three cups of the cheese to the pot. Stir to combine. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Pour over drained macaroni, and add tomatoes. Stir well, and then pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is golden.

Serve hot! And don’t worry about the volume here. It looks like a lot. It IS a lot. But you can cut it into squares tomorrow and then fry it. Fried macaroni and cheese … best leftovers ever?

Roasted tomato pizza.

We’re getting to the best time of the year now. The tomatoes that were so bright and lovely a few weeks ago are now mottled and sweet, and they beg to be roasted low and slow or stewed down for sauces, and since the air outside has cooled a bit I have no reason not to but oblige them. On Alana’s advice, I roasted a whole bunch of field tomatoes last week and stuck them in the freezer, but I still had a few romas, a hankering for bread and cheese, and a resurgence of old lady disease in my limbs, hands, back, and left big toe that made me not want to put in a lot of labour.

This post is mostly pictures, because I made my focaccia bread for the crust (all the ingredients up to the flour, plus salt – the recipe will make two pizzas if you’d prefer not to make one gigantic one), made pesto for the sauce, and roasted tomatoes for hours and hours to put on top. And then cheese. It’s also short because we made a trip to the garden … let’s just say this is a two-post night. (I know. I’m excited too.)

The aroma in the apartment was amazing, and a valid argument for always working from home. Tomatoes develop a sweeter taste as they roast down, but they smell almost meaty, with a lusty musk that is distinctive to this exact moment in the tomato season. Capture it while you can.

You can see how the light changed as the hours past while the pizza slowly came together. The focaccia crust isn’t the sort of thing you’d make on a weeknight ordinarily, but if you’re in no rush it’s perfect for homemade pizza.

There’s a lot to be said for homemade pizza, whether you dawdle over homemade, buy the dough from your favourite take-away place, or just get frozen dough from the grocery store. The advantage to using dough over a premade crust (other than not having to eat something that pretty much tastes like cardboard and has weird speckles of what you kind of recognize as “cheese” all over the thing) is that you get the smell of baking bread, which is the best thing about pizza, aside from all the cheese. Use whatever cheese you like, but (and this will seem completely out of character) I prefer low-fat mozzarella, because it’s stringier and I like my pizza cheese stringy.

The other thing about making your own pizza is that you get to put whatever you like on it, and you don’t have to feel crushing disappointment when Domino’s puts green peppers on anyway even after you told them how much you hate them. So, you get the satisfaction of the smell of bread baking, as much cheese as you want, whatever toppings you want, and nobody cries because there are green peppers.

And if tomatoes aren’t your thing, you should try this in October with butternut squash, rosemary, roasted garlic, and Gruyere. Holy crap, it will change your life. Try it and get back to me.

If you’re going to tart up your veggies with cheese sauce, do it with this cheese sauce.

Important news: Paul is back.

Last night, the team (Grace, Paul, Nick, and I) reconvened for our first dinner since Paul returned from Montreal, and we pretty much picked up where we left off.  Though it’s probably a fairly normal thing for most people, I thought we’d do something novel and have a dinner of meat, potatoes, and a vegetable – I called it a Dad meal, because it reminds me of the kind of meal you’d serve to a Dad, yours or otherwise.

It’s hard to have this many things for dinner when it’s just me and Nick, but with Grace and Paul in attendance, there were fewer leftovers and it was like a family dinner that didn’t involve any actual relatives. I made Hank Shaw’s Easy Duck Confit, a big dish of fluffy mashed potatoes, and broccoflower – straight out of 1992 – covered in cheese sauce.

As we’re heading into fall now, the temptation to cover everything in cheese is probably growing for you too. As hardier veggies start popping up in markets, I suggest bringing them home and covering them in this sauce. The sauce is most conducive to broccoli or cauliflower (or the weird genetic hybrid that is broccoflower), but you could put this over carrots, asparagus, spinach – whatever you’ve got. Also, this is pretty much the base I use when I make baked macaroni and cheese – obviously you’d add more cheese to that (obviously), but there you go. Look how versatile!

Cheese sauce

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups half and half (or cereal cream – aim for about 10% milk fat)
  • 1 tsp. grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere, sharp Cheddar, or other delicious, bold-tasting cheese (lightly packed – not pressed into a wad)
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until it foams. Add garlic, then add flour, and whisk until the three ingredients form a paste.

Whisk in wine, then half and half, then mustard, pepper, and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk frequently until thickened, about three to five minutes.

Add cheese and Worcestershire sauce, and taste at this point. Is it good? Does it need salt? Add salt if you need to. Is it too thick for your liking? Add more wine or dairy. You get the idea. Whisk in the parsley right before you’re done.

Pour into a pitcher and then serve, dousing your veggies as much as you like. It will be just like you remember, only better, because now you can have as much sauce as you want. 

Enjoy, and may the cheese-sauce season bring you warmth and please you.

Get yogurt, make cheese.

Last night we went to Zakkushi on Main Street, which for us always means gluttony, depravity, and utter disbelief when the bill comes. The thing that’s great about izakayas is that you can graze all night long while pretty young waitresses bring you large pitcher after large pitcher of cold Japanese beer, but the trouble is that while those two-dollar skewers of meat don’t seem like anything in the first place, by the end of the night you stumble and yell your way out into the parking lot, your belly is swollen and your waistband is the cruelest thing you can think of, you have the meat sweats, and you don’t know how you’re going to find the money to buy groceries or eat for the rest of the week. This all means of course that I had tons of fun and regret nothing.

And when we got home late last night (or early this morning), I was exhausted. I whined to Nick that I never get to sleep in, because the cat loves me most at 6:00 in the morning. He reassured me that he would get up with her and feed her, and that I could sleep late, and that the remainder of the weekend would be flawless and spectacular.

This is what Nick looked like at 12:38 this afternoon. Molly Waffles takes her breakfast at 7:30.

Needless to say, I had to get up and feed the cat and clean the litter box and entertain myself for more hours than I care to mention.

Fortunately, yesterday I put a 750g container of all-natural, organic, 5% milk-fat yogurt into a bundle of cheesecloth and let it drain overnight, thanks to a recipe I discovered at GrongarBlog for yogurt cheese. 750g of yogurt (about three cups) produced a little over a cup of creamy cheese. My goodness, you guys. This just improved my whole life, and why the hell didn’t I think of this?!

The cheese that resulted was creamy, like softly crumbly cream cheese – I put the yogurt up to drain around 7:00 last night, and mashed it into a bowl around 10:00 this morning. I knew at once that I would have to trudge down to Granville Island to Siegel’s for bagels and to the smokery for fish. The effort and patience required to make the cheese was minimal, and the payoff was more than was deserved for so little involvement in the process.

I recommend making this today for tomorrow. Make sure you get good bagels and smoked fish. Watercress, red onions, and capers also help, as does fresh-squeezed orange juice and good enough white wine. More information about cheese-making is available at GrongarBlog, and while you’re there, browse around. Her feta is next on my list, and we’re in the process of trying to track down a cheese press to make that gouda.

Tonight my dad and I are going to see Stompin’ Tom Connors, arguably Canada’s finest and most awesome musician (Celine Dion? Rush? The Arcade Fire? Your argument is invalid). And tomorrow, ribs. I hope you also have a fantastic weekend, and that you get outside and have fun! But first, make cheese.

Chard risotto with a soupçon of whining.

All the cool kids on the Food Internet are writing about cucumbers and zucchini today, but I’m all out of cucurbits and also incredibly uncool. Today we had chard – it’s been sitting in a vase beside a window for the past two days, getting brighter, bushier, more lovely. The trouble with buying produce at markets along my bus route home is that I have to carry the produce home on the bus where it inevitably wilts. A little bit of care and water upon arriving home does wonders, and in the meantime chard makes a very pretty centrepiece.

We had risotto, because today was unpleasant. The cat woke me up with claws, and I zoned out in the shower and forgot to shave my legs. I broke my favourite gold sandals around lunchtime and had to wander around the office shoeless, consummate professional that I always am, and then I noticed my hair had fallen apart after the fan behind my head flung everything into wild disarray and the concealer I’d dabbed on my monster pimple that morning had worn off and my mascara was running, so I looked just awesome – incredibly stable. You know you look special when everyone who comes to your office opens with “are you okay?”

I had to take the bus home wearing near-non-existent footwear, and quit on my “shoes” at my stop and walked home barefoot along a busy city street and I might have caught foot syphilis. These are first-world problems, but incredibly dramatic when one is focused entirely on herself.

So we ate comfort food, with my beautiful red chard, and Nick bought beer and pretended like I was a rational human being, and now everything is almost better. Thanks, risotto. Wine and cheese have never not helped me yet.

Chard risotto

(Serves four as a side-dish, two as a main course. Is easily multiplied.)

  • 3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb. chard (about one bunch), stalks and leaves chopped separately
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil, divided
  • Salt to taste, if needed

Heat stock until boiling, then reduce heat and maintain a gentle simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, heat oil and melt the first tablespoon of butter. Add onions, garlic, and the chopped chard stalks and cook for two to three minutes, until onions are translucent. Add rice to pan, stirring for about a minute, or until rice grains turn opaque.

Add leaves. It will look like your ratio of rice to greens is off. It will look this way for a long time, but it’ll all work itself out. Pour in wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan to ensure nothing has stuck. Add pepper and nutmeg. Cook until wine has been completely absorbed.

Add one cup of the warm chicken stock, stirring frequently until liquid is mostly absorbed. Repeat with an additional cup of stock, and then repeat again with one to two more cups as needed. Test your rice for tenderness – if it is al denté, great. If it isn’t, just pour in a little bit more stock, as needed, and let it absorb into the rice.

When rice is ready, stir in butter, Parmesan cheese, and one tablespoon of the basil. Adjust your seasonings, to taste. Serve hot, with additional Parmesan cheese and a light sprinkling of chopped fresh basil. The whole process takes about 30 minutes, but believe me, the stirring and the smells are therapeutic. Plus, who opens a bottle of wine to cook with and doesn’t dip in? Try 30 minutes of cooking with the bottle all to yourself, and tell me you don’t feel better about everything, even if you were fine to begin with.

Roasted cauliflower soup with Manchego. Also? I picked the wrong day for soup. Sweet Raptor Jesus, summer has arrived.

I know that soup is probably not what you need right now as we’re just finally hitting that heat wave we’ve been waiting for since November. And it’s not what I need, especially on a hot night when the apartment seems to have stored all the heat from last night’s marathon pressure canning session, which was necessary because we had so many trout in the freezer from Nick’s fishing expeditions that canning was the only way I could think of to conquer the fishies before they freezer-burned to death.

By the way? A pressure canner is a terrifying thing. It shakes and rattles and threatens to explode, melting the skin off your face and causing your damage deposit to disappear. The cat did not understand. But at least Nick now knows his place in the order of things.

Anyway. Soup’s not what I need. Maybe it’s what you need? (Imagine me shrugging impotently, my face oddly contorted in an expression of meek whateverness and shadowed with smeary makeup. I look like a bog monster. It’s hot. I’m not complaining, but I’m not at my best.) But soup is easy, and my fridge is jam-packed-OMG-full, and the top shelf had been taken up by two large cauliflower so what the hell. Maybe bookmark this one for, like, October or something. Or serve it chilled, like Vichyssoise.

Roasted cauliflower soup with Manchego

  • Olive oil
  • 1 1 lb. to 1.5 lb. cauliflower, cut into bite-size bits
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Spread cauliflower out on a pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.

Roast cauliflower for 25 to 30 minutes until golden, turning once at the halfway point.

Tip? You can stop right here and eat is as it is, or turn it into salad, or use it on pizza. There are so many things you can do with roasted cauliflower.

Anyway.

In the meantime, caramelize the onion in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat until cauliflower is done.

Scrape 1/2 to 2/3 of the cauliflower into the pot with the onion. Add garlic. Sauté for about a minute. Add stock.

Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a gentle boil. Boil until potato is soft.

Remove from heat and blend until smooth.

Return to heat. Stir in milk, nutmeg, and cheese. Bring back up to a simmer. Add remaining cauliflower. Let simmer for a minute or two.

Stir in cream. Add salt and pepper, adjusting seasonings as desired.

Meatless Monday. Radishes again. But this time, curried with paneer!

I love the local farmer’s market. Love it. It’s a great place to see what’s in season, to meet local vendors, and to buy nougat (the nougat people, Kalley Kandy, do wedding favours!). Unfortunately, it’s also expensive (well, not the nougat. The nougat is very reasonable). Sometimes prohibitively so – I understand why a single bag of groceries can cost $40, but I can’t really justify it for myself. (Especially now that I’ve discovered that prices are better at farmer’s markets outside the city limits.)

Fortunately, I periodically have to go to the suburbs, where there’s a farm that’s open from May to November, and they label the local food and grow much of it themselves. And it’s cheap. Yesterday we got forty city-dollars’ worth of produce for $14. There were heads of field-fresh cauliflower for 29 cents. TWENTY-NINE CENTS. There is no beating this place. We got huge bunches of radishes for 33 cents apiece.

Cheap local produce is my number-one thrill. I need to get out more.

Anyway, in the spirit of the season and Meatless Monday and because I just love radishes, here’s a recipe for radish paneer. Paneer, if you’re not paneer-savvy, is a type of Indian cheese. It’s very, very good. You can make paneer at home if you can’t find it in stores. Bear with me on this one – it’s weird but fantastic. And no throwing out the greens!

Radish paneer

(Serves four.)

  • 1 lb. paneer
  • 2 to 4 bunches radishes (1/2 lb. radish greens and 1 lb. radishes)
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp. red chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Heat one tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Cut paneer into bite-size cubes, and fry it in the oil until each side is golden. Yup, I said it. Fry the cheese. You see how this recipe is already a winner?

Remove paneer to a plate. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, and heat. Cut radishes in half, then add to the pan, sautéeing over medium-high heat until fork-tender, about four minutes. Remove from pan, draining on paper towel. Wipe pan down before returning to medium-high heat with the remaining oil and the butter.

Add onion, ginger, garlic, chili flakes, garam masala, cumin, coriander, and salt to the pan, and saute until fragrant, two to three minutes.

Meanwhile, chop radish greens and scallions.

Add greens, scallions, and cilantro to the pan, and stir until wilted. Once wilted, add water and yogurt. Reduce heat to medium, and stew for ten minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed.

Before serving, return radishes and paneer to the pan to reheat, about one minute. Serve hot, over rice with a dollop of yogurt.

Savoury strawberry salad: More awesome than alliteration!

I could not get out of bed fast enough on Saturday – it was strawberry day! And maybe I was a little too excited, because it was only the first day of the u-pick season, and there were frustrating turns of events. It all worked out in the end but the berry farm we meant to go to, Krause Berry Farms? Apparently that’s where everyone goes because they have pie and there were more cars parked there than I’d seen in a long time and three people told us we probably wouldn’t get any berries because all the ripe ones were gone. But just across the street, there was a berry farm and almost no cars, and lots and lots of berries. You win, other berry farm.

Grace, Corinne, and I set out among the rows to pluck berries, only mildly irritated that we’d have been wiser to wait a week, and collected as many berries as we could.

I ended up buying some, because we got whole buckets but decided to quit there because the day had not met our expectations of magic and grandeur, which actually happens less than you’d think. It’s possible that we’re easily pleased.

And then we went home, because some of us had jams and ice creams to make.

But before that, I desperately wanted a salad. Caprese-inspired, I wanted a heap of strawberries and burrata and basil and pepper and oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Use burrata cheese if you can find it, or if you’ve got the time and inclination to make it. If not, use the freshest softest mozzarella you can find. This is another case where I don’t have a recipe for you, but a list of ingredients, and you can play with it until it’s to your liking, or until you have enough to serve everyone who’s eating with you.

Strawberry salad

  • Fresh, local strawberries (room temperature)
  • Burrata or fresh mozzarella
  • Basil, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar (a splash)
  • Salt, if needed, and to taste

Chop everything choppable. Assemble on a plate. Sprinkle with pepper, and drizzle oil and vinegar to taste. Serve.

I love using fruit in savoury applications, because it’s not as desserty as you’d think. Strawberries can substitute nicely for sweet summer tomatoes, especially since they mimic the meaty texture of tomatoes, and because they’re as tart as they are sweet and play so nicely with the creamy cheese and citrusy basil. Try this dish with peaches, or nectarines, or plums later in the season. I promise, it will not be weird, and you will love it forever. I wouldn’t raise and then dash your expectations of magic and grandeur on purpose.

Bread pudding with spinach, feta, and ham.

Well, it’s official. This past weekend has been the laziest on record, with no signs so far of an upswing toward productivity or wise time-use. I blame the fort, which we have only just dismantled because I was beginning to worry that at a certain point, my trajectory toward the hobo lifestyle would be irreversible, and I was dangerously close to packing my crap in a bindle, crafting a few sturdy shivs, and finding a van to live in, down by the river. (You can build excellent forts around vans.)

Here’s my fort.

On Thursday night, Corinne came over in her pajamas and we sat in the fort, eating homemade pizza and watching many episodes of The Muppet Show on DVD. The cat was there, and made things difficult, so we had to lock her in the bathroom.

By Friday morning, the roof was gone (the cat also thinks forts are super fun, especially jumping on them), so we ended up enjoying an open-air fort, the kind of fort kids in more temperate climates probably build.

We came to love the fort, and even considered making it a permanent fixture; is anything more fun than doing stuff in a fort? The correct answer is no. The problem is, it was beginning to function as a vortex into which all of my motivation (and Nick’s, which has always been perilously low anyway) was completely sucked. If I hadn’t needed to go downtown in the middle of the day on Friday, I might still be in those same, smelly pajama pants, hair not brushed, and covered in food because you cannot eat sitting upright in a fort.

So we agreed that today we’d get rid of the thing, put our furniture back up like how grown-ups have their furniture, and do the dishes because a lot of mess accumulates when you’re spending all your time horizontal on a pile of cushions but still eating the same amount (if not more). We did take it down, but not before playing in it most of the day.

We spent the morning in the fort, napping and brunching. Last night I assembled a bit of bread pudding, and put out some sausages to defrost, so that breakfast could be in the oven by the time we were ready to move from bed to fort floor. It’s a recipe that I’ve played with a bit, and it comes from the December 2008 issue of Gourmet (see the original recipe on Epicurious, here). The two best things about this recipe are that it’s best if you assemble it the night before you want to bake it, and also that it’s very versatile. I’ve made it vegetarian with basil leaves, sundried tomatoes, and pine nuts, and I’ve used sausage and cheddar when I had leftover sausage and no Gruyere. Here’s my Greek-inspired adaptation, which is quite delightful and I insist you make it as soon as you can. If you end up with leftover Easter ham, well, then you’ve no excuse not to. It’s also good as a side-dish with dinner, so you could even make it for your next family feast.

Bread pudding with spinach, feta, and ham

(Adapted from a recipe from Gourmet, December 2008. Serves four, or six as a side-dish.)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 lb. ham, cubed
  • 5 cups roughly chopped spinach
  • 6 cups cubed stale bread
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Good-quality extra virgin olive oil

Night before:

Butter two-quart shallow baking dish.

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, garlic, pepper, oregano, and nutmeg in a large bowl.

In another large bowl, toss ham, spinach, bread, mozzarella, and feta. Transfer to baking dish and pour liquid mixture over top. Cover, and refrigerate over night.

Next morning:

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Remove the dish from the refrigerator, and drizzle olive oil over top the uncooked bread pudding. Cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake until golden in spots, about 10 minutes more.

Serve as part of a completely delicious brunch, or alongside a fancy dinner. Serve hot, so cheese is at its melty best. And, if desired, eat in a fort. In your pajamas.

Things like blue-cheese mousse.

On Saturday, my food had a photo shoot for a magazine it’s going to be in. I wrote the recipes, and am scurrying to finish the last of the article (lame how this is my break?), but I wanted to tell you all about it. It, but mostly the mousse.

I made a few things – bacon-maple popcorn, which was fantastic but it was my big recipe so I can’t tell you about it until later, after the magazine comes out. I’ll post a link then, so you can make it and impress your friends with how very Canadian you can be. I made a little potato tart on puff pastry, and some wonderful little cheesy puff balls. And I made a little bit of mousse, with a little bit of Stilton, a thing I am going to elaborate on a bit later, and dropped it onto endive leaves and topped with slices of apple.

It made me insufferably gloaty. I ate almost all of it after the shoot. I didn’t feel great afterward. I blame the volume of cheese I consumed, but it could have been the bacon popcorn, or one of the two magnums we drank while all the photos happened. It was probably the Filet-o-Fish I had for lunch when on the run between grocery stores, the bank, and the apartment where I was burning things and Nick was trying to help but just getting in the way.

The photographer, Duran, was very nice and knows the boy I had a crush on in high school who is now a dentist and was kind enough to not say, “You’re weird and covered in crusty bits. I think he’s out of your league and please stop stealing sips of my wine.”

But I digress. The mousse.

I tested this out with a bit of Stilton I had on hand, because Stilton tastes like magic and my aunt told me about a dish at the ill-fated Star Anise restaurant that used to be on 12th and Granville that made a mousse of it. It was like eating cheese clouds off of crunchy boats paddled by apple oars, if you can imagine that.

So why don’t I just get to the recipe then?

Yes. Let’s go.

Stilton mousse on endive

  • 1/4 lb. crumbled Stilton
  • 1/4 lb. cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided
  • 1 tart-fleshed apple, such as Granny Smith
  • 24 Belgian endive leaves (from approximately three endives)

Beat together the Stilton, cream cheese, and one tablespoon of the cream until creamy and smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form.

Fold the cream into the cheese, a little bit at a time, until fully combined. Taste, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, if desired.

Spoon into endive leaves and top with thin slices of apple. Serve cold, and as soon as you can.

Luscious. Wonderful. And there’s more where that came from. Check out the upcoming issue of LOVE. Magazine for details. I’ll post a link when it’s online.