Sunday, September 30, 2012

Make Your Own Boursin Cheese

When I first went to college I was NOT a cheese eater. Okay, maybe a slice of American Cheese (yellow only -- at that point I had never even seen white American cheese), but that was it. Ah, but the mid-70's were rife with Wine and Cheese parties, even among the college crowd striving for sophistication. What was a girl to do? Enter Boursin Cheese (pronounced boor-SAHN)

 According to Boursin is a modern, creamy, rind-less fresh cow's milk cheese of cylindrical shape with added garlic and herbs or black pepper. The cheese was created by Francois Boursin in 1957. It has a rich, sweet flavor with a hint of acidity. This cheese is sold in an corrugated-foil wrapper and is used as a table cheese for spreading and baking. 

Boursin became a staple in my dorm room fridge. Served with Triscuits or Wheat Thins, it was my gateway drug. I lost track of it over the years as my taste in cheese grew from Boursin to Brie to Blue. The stinkier the better is my cheese preference now, and yet at times there is still a place for a creamy, herb-y addition to the cheese plate.

Here is an easy, adaptable recipe for homemade Boursin cheese. It's a great way to use up the herbs in your garden, but dried herbs from the pantry work well too. Use what you like, or what you have on hand. Its fun to experiment with different herb combinations. Enjoy it with crackers, spread on a wrap in place of mayo, or stuffed between the skin and meat of a chicken breast before roasting.  Here's to the 70's!!

Homemade Boursin Cheese (herbs and amounts are merely suggestions)

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 oz butter (1 stick), at room temperature
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 t  fresh basil, chopped; or 1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t chives, chopped
1 t fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 t dried
1/2 t chopped sage, or 1/4 t dried sage
1/2 t chopped rosemary leaves, or 1/4 t dried rosemary
2 T minced fresh parsley

Combine cream cheese and butter with a fork, Add garlic and thoroughly combine.

Add herbs with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Taste. Add more herbs to taste.

Store in fridge for 1-2 weeks, or freeze.

I put mine in small containers, perfect for moving from fridge to table.

Bring on the Wheat Thins!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How to: Separate An Egg

Just got this video from a friend.  A unique way to separate an egg, and a chance to recycle a plastic bottle!! A win-win....

Monday, September 10, 2012

Shoo Flies

Unfortunately this post is not about Shoo Fly Pies, that delicious Amish treat. No, it is about the current bane of my existence: Fruit Flies. Both my onboard and onshore galleys have had fruit fly infestations this year. We've all dealt with fruit flies before -- typically I just clear the counters of all fresh produce (it pains me to put tomatoes and bananas in the fridge, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do) and, a few days later, no fruit flies.

This year though, the flies seem to have become more tenacious. My first infestation while we were onboard, sent me to the Google where I found a number of helpful suggestions, most employing vinegar, dish soap, a small dish and patience. The first three are easy, the fourth, not so much. But. if you follow these instructions and give it a few days you can wave those flies goodbye:

Shoo Fly Trap

1) Fill a small saucer or cup with red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2) Add a drop of dish washing soap
3) If desired, add a small piece of ripe fruit (strawberries and banana peels work well)
4) Set dish on kitchen counter and let it be. The flies will hover around the edge, and eventually take the plunge.  The dish soap gives the solution some weight and speeds the drowning process. Be patient, this could take 3-4 days to get rid of all the flies.

Two options -
1) A small cup:

A saucer:
You can see more action in the saucer photo, where I was using apple cider vinegar, but I have found that the cup with red wine vinegar is more efficient. Look very closely at that photo and you will see the flies on the bottom. Gross, I know. But flies on your food is worse.

Full disclosure:

I empty and refill the dish every day or two.
The flies also seem to be drawn to wine -- red in particular. Personally, I don't want to use perfectly good wine on the fruit flies, but the last drop in the bottle can always be added to the vinegar.
Be sure to remove all baskets and paper products from the area -- the flies seem to be drawn to fibers.
Empty your trash and recycling often while doing this.
Keep your garbage disposal and drain clean. Make a volcano in your drain with baking soda and vinegar, then rinse thoroughly.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bacon Jam

Pop Quiz:

Q:When carnivores go vegetarian, what do they miss most?

A: Bacon.

Seriously, who can resist that aroma??  Not me. And although I don't eat it as much as I might like, and when I do it is usually made of Turkey, I LOVE BACON!

Sooooo, when I saw a link to Bacon Jam, I swooned.

Typically when you think of Bacon and/or Jam you think of breakfast. At least I did!

I mixed up a batch of Bacon Jam last night and went to sleep dreaming of toast and bacon jam and  maybe a dab on my eggs. And yes, it was delicious (I did have one inner debate: Do you butter the toast before smearing on the jam or is that gilding the lily? I tried it both ways and the jury is still out.)

The sliced tomatoes and avocado on the side brought a little color to the plate and were perfect with the jam.  The smooth avocado was the perfect foil to the smoky-sweet, textured, chewy jam. All in all, though, I am thinking Bacon Jam might be better suited to lunch, dinner or the cocktail hour.

Ohhh, the possibilities: Slathered on chicken breasts or salmon fillets, just before you take them off the grill. Dolloped on crackers topped with Brie or Smoked Gouda. A BJLT  sandwich anyone? Smeared on corn on the cob. Maybe with a roast beef and provolone on rye sandwich. Yum , Diddy, Yum Yum!

Make some of your own, and let me know how you serve it....

Here's the recipe:

Maple Bourbon Bacon Jam

1 lb thick bacon
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
3/4 C strong coffee
1/4 C light brown sugar
1/4 C maple syrup
1/4 C bourbon (see note below)
2 chipotle chilis in adobo, chopped
1/2 t cumin
pepper, to taste

Cook the bacon in a sauce pan over medium heat until bacon just starts to get crispy. Remove bacon and drain on towels.
Once cooled, chopped bacon into 1" pieces.
Remove all but 1 T of bacon fat from pan.
Saute onions in pan until tender, then add garlic and saute until fragrant (do not allow to brown)
Deglaze the pan with vinegar, being sure to scrape up all the flavorful bacon bits on the bottom!
Add remaining ingredients, including the reserved bacon,  reduce the heat to low and cook for 1-2 hours until the liquid is syrupy, stirring from time to time.
Let jam cool a bit, then place in food processor. Pulse until ingredients are chopped but not pureed.
You can store it in your fridge for up to a month. But, seriously, it will never last that long
Makes about 1 1/2 - 2 C.

Full disclosure/Recipe Alterations

I used regular sliced bacon -- no problem.
I measured the vinegar and bourbon together ( always read the recipe twice before proceeding!), so I deglazed the pan with both -- no problem.
I did not have a large onion, so I used 2 small ones.
You can chop the bacon before you cook it, but I don't like how the pieces all stick together when I do that, so I prefer to cook them whole -- or depending on the size of your pan, cut in half.

The Jam has a bit of a kick. If you don't like spicy, either eliminate the chilis or use just one. OR: if you don't want to open a whole can of chilis, just add a shake of red pepper flakes.
No bourbon? It's worth buying the smallest bottle you can find (or borrowing a 1/4 C from your neighbor)because it does add to the flavor profile of the Jam.
Not a drinker? No problem - substitute with apple juice. (I know, "they" say the alcohol will burn off in the cooking process, but I don't agree. Even if it does, the flavor remains and that can be a problem.)