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Just as necessity is the mother of invention, sometimes an empty fridge is the mother of inspiration. We’ve been out of town for a week, and after being home for 2 days, we haven’t made it to the grocery store, so the shelves were pretty bare. As a last-ditch attempt to avoid shopping, I pulled some goat cheese, pesto, and shrimp out of the freezer and came up with one of the finest meals we’ve had recently.

  • 5 oz log of goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 3/4 lb pasta (we used girandole [big spirals], but anything short with some texture to hold the sauce would work)
  • salt & white pepper to taste
  • olive oil to sauté

Cook the pasta. While it cooks, sauté the shrimp in olive oil over medium heat and season with salt & freshly ground white pepper. When the shrimp is done, reduce the heat to low and add the pesto and goat cheese. Stir until the goat cheese is melted. Turn off the heat and toss in the pasta. Enjoy.

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Macaroni and cheese is a classic comfort food. Recently, we’ve come across goat gouda, which is an amazing hard cheese from the Netherlands with a sweet, caramelly butterscotch flavor.  Great as a snack, even better in mac & cheese.

  • 8 oz penne rigati or other short, tubular pasta of your choice
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 Cup milk
  • dash salt
  • few grinds of white pepper
  • 4  oz goat Gouda, grated

Cook pasta until al dente. Meanwhile, make a classic bechamel sauce: melt butter in a 2 qt saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour to form a roux, then stir in milk, salt, and pepper and cook until it starts to thicken. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Add drained pasta and stir until well-coated.

The menu:

  • Melon & prosciutto
  • Tortilla Española
  • Spanish-style tuna salad on flatbread
  • Smoked salmon with cream cheese
  • Goat cheese with paprika, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers
  • Marinated olives
  • Marinated manchego

The preceding menu (and following recipes) were just the right amount for a party of around 25 folks. We served Spanish white and rose wines and Granny’s peach gin freezes to drink. Two days before, we did most of the shopping. The day before, we made bread dough and prepared the marinated olives and cheese, tuna salad, and made the garlic-goat cheese mixture. The afternoon of the party, we made the Tortilla, baked the bread, and assembled the appetizers.

The recipes:

Melon and Prosciutto

  • Honeydew or canteloupe
  • 1/4 lb proscuitto, thinly sliced (use Serrano ham if it’s available)

Seed and peel the melon and cut onto bite size pieces. Wrap with a piece of ham and secure with a toothpick.

Tortilla Española

  • 6 medium sized red potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic (or to taste)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated manchego cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dice the potatoes, then heat oilover medium heat in a nonstick, heat resistant 10″ skillet. When oil is hot, add garlic and sautee briefly. Add potatoes and cook until browned. Meanwhile, beat eggs and add 3/4 cup of cheese and salt and pepper. When the potatoes are done, pour the egg-cheese mixture into the skillet. As the egg starts to set, use a rubber spatula to lift the edges and allow egg to run under the omelet. When the center starts to set, place pan under broiler and broil until the top is browned. Let cool and cut into bite sized pieces.

Spanish-style Tuna Salad

  • 2 red bell peppers, peeled and diced
  • 4 6-oz cans tuna in olive oil, drained
  • 30 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 TBS olive oil

Mix ingredients and serve on flatbread or sliced and toasted baguette. (Note: leftovers make a great sandwich on toasted whole wheat with goat cheese/garlic/paprika mix from goat cheese tapas and a slice of tomato.)

Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese

  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • 8 oz cream cheese (or other soft cheese; next time I’ll use goat cheese)
  • Toasted baguette slices or flatbread
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

Assemble bread slices with a bit of cheese and an appropriately sized piece of smoked salmon. Garnish with thin slices of lemon.

Goat Cheese with Paprika, Garlic, Sun-Dried tomatoes, and Capers

  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • 8-10 oz goat cheese
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2-3 TBS capers, drained
  • Baguette slices

Heat oven to 350F. toss garlic with olive oil, and roast uncovered for 15 minutes or until soft. Let cool.

Add paprika to goat cheese and mix. Squeeze the garlic into the cheese and add olive oil. Mix thoroughly.

On each baguette slice, smear some cheese mixture and then add a piece of sun dried tomato and a couple of capers.

Marinated Olives

  • 2 jars pitted Kalamata olives
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sweet paprika
  • 2 TBS sherry vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Rinse olives in cold water, then combine in a bowl with remaining ingredients, stir well, and marinate at least one hour, preferable overnight.

Marinated Manchego

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 4-inch sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 8 oz manchego, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil and thyme, rosemary, and red pepper until the oil is hot (about 160F). Set aside and cool to room temperature. Place manchego in a bowl, cover with the oil mixture and marinate at least 4 hours and preferable overnight.

Dough for flatbread and baguettes

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast

Mix water and yeast, then add flour and salt. Stir to mix, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, knead and divide in half. Roll out half to fit a 13 x 18 baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Divide the other half and form into two baguette loaves. Preheat oven to 550F (use a baking stone or tiles if you have them). Brush the flatbread with olive oil and bake until golden brown. Bake the baguettes until well-browned.

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Ground cumin, to taste
  • Cabbage, thin sliced
  • 4 tsp Olive oil, divided
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 8 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • Hot sauce

Whisk together 2 tsp olive oil, garlic, and lime juice. Toss with cabbage.

Mix black beans with cumin to taste and mash slightly with a wooden spoon.

Heat remaining oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place as many tortillas as will fit in a single layer into hot skillet and top each with about 1/4 of the black bean mixture. When the tortillas start to brown (about a minute) fold in half and continue cooking until will browned (about another minute). Flip and brown the other side.

Remove tacos from skillet and top with cheese cabbage, and hot sauce of your choice. Serve with yellow rice.

UPDATE:  These tacos are awesome! Forget the dried-out gabacho taco shells you remember as a kid–these are much better. I can’t imagine what they’d be like with REAL tortillas. We’ve done them probably 4 times in the last 3 weeks. I’ve mixed shredded leftover pork tenderloin with the beans, used queso blanco instead of goat cheese, even used a mix of leftover yellow rice, leftover pork, and diced red pepper for filling (kind of a debris taco) when we didn’t have shredded cabbage.NOM NOM NOM.

Peach & Prosciutto Pizza


Peach-Prosciutto Pizza

Originally uploaded by ted_major
To start things off , here’s the peach & prosciutto pizza we cooked tonight:

1 recipe Cento pronto pizza dough (I use 2/3 c. water and 1 tbs oil)
olive oil to drizzle
1 peach, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
2 slices prosciutto, chopped
5 oz goat cheese
fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 550F.

Make pizza dough, and roll out into an appropriately sized round. Drizzle with olive oil.

Spread peach on the pizza, then sprinkle with prosciutto, goat cheese, and rosemary.

Bake until crust is golden brown.