Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pimento Cheese Grits

As you all know well, my friend Rebecca and I are somewhat obsessed with pimento cheese everything...that being said here is another one of our cooking adventures exploring the wonderful world of pimento cheese, original recipe found here.  Since grits are a southern thing we decided to pair this meal with collard greens and the flavors ended up complementing each other very well.  My friend Rebecca and her husband just bought a big beautiful new home with a lovely kitchen so it was necessary to break it in with one of our cooking nights.  In other news 4th of July was a blast!  Two of my friend good friends visited from Florida and we had a BBQ, we went down to the north Portland bluffs and watched fireworks over the river, and we set off our own, all in all a very successful night.  During their visit we also made two river trips to cool off during this heat wave here in PDX.  Our first adventure was up to the Washougal river in Washington where the water was high and still very cold, too cold for swimming in my opinion.  Our next trip was to a secret spot I hadn't ever been to on the Sandy river, the water was warmish, and there was a very large swimming hole with a nice sandy beach (hard to find at rivers in the PNW).  Let the summer adventures continue!

Serves 6

The Ingredients
5 cups water
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups medium-grind stone-ground corn grits
4 ounces Beecher's Flagship cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
4 ounces Tillamook medium white cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/4 cups)
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup finely diced jarred piquillo peppers, patted dry
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
The Process
1.  In a large saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Whisk in the grits in a slow, steady stream. Add a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until the grits are thickened and tender, about 30 minutes.

2.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk both cheddar cheeses into the grits along with the cream cheese, piquillo peppers and cayenne; season with salt and black pepper. Scrape the grits into a serving bowl, garnish with thinly sliced scallions and serve.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Romesco Sauce

I had recently purchased a bag of red, orange, and yellow bell peppers and before I had the chance to use them they started shriveling up on me so I knew I needed to use them quickly.  I decided to adapt this romesco sauce and I served it over chicken and steamed baby artichokes, boy was it delicious.  This recipe calls for pine nuts but I know you could use cashews or walnuts too. Last weekend my boyfriend and I attended our friends beautiful wedding in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest and haven't visited this area it is a must see.  You find yourself driving for miles on end with farmland and fields surrounding you and then all of a sudden there is this massive beautiful forest in the middle of it all.  Another beautiful place to visit in the area is Opal Creek on the Santiam river, it is surrounded by ancient forest.  Summer is in full force and we have several more weddings, camping trips, and adventures ahead of us.  Enjoy!

Makes 3 cups

The Ingredients
3 cups chopped roasted red bell peppers     
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted     
1/2 large onion, diced     
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk    
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley     
Ground black pepper, to taste     
If you want to develop the flavor a little more add honey little by little to taste

The Process
1.  In a blender, purée roasted red peppers and pine nuts. Set aside.

2.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion and crushed red pepper; cook about 5 minutes or until beginning to brown and stick to the skillet. Stir in garlic and broth; cook 1 minute or until liquid has evaporated.

3.  Stir in puréed red pepper mixture and almond milk, whisking until evenly combined (this is also where you would add the honey). 

4.  Simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and black pepper.