Category Archives: Recipes

Italian parmesan popcorn

Italian Parmesan Popcorn

I worked in an open newsroom for eight years. In the movies, it’s really glamorous. There are reporters running around waving sheafs of paper and yelling about scoops as phones ring off the hook. Yes, that does occasionally happen — the 2010 Flash Crash was pretty darn exciting , as are election nights — but for the most part, there are dozens of reporters simply typing away in silence.

Until, that is, someone microwaves fish. Then there’s a ripple effect of complaining about quick-cooking smelly foods in a communal space.  (You’d be amazed by how far the odor of reheated salmon or popcorn can travel.) Yet, I love popcorn so deeply that getting a late afternoon fix sometimes actually seemed worth braving the dirty looks/comments of my co-workers.

Yet, while satisfying in a pinch, a bag of microwaved kernels just can’t hold a candle to the Italian parmesan popcorn I make in the privacy of my own home (where there’s no one to complain about the smell except for Dave.) And his only objection is when I’ve made a batch and didn’t save any for him.

Here’s what you’ll need to make a bowl for two using a popcorn maker:

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels

Popcorn kernels

(I’m partial to Urban Accents Premium White Gold Popcorn. I’ve probably tried a dozen different brands and have found that this one results in the biggest and fluffiest kernels.)

Urban Accents popcorn kernels

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter

Melted Butter

  • 1 heaping tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 teaspoon dry Italian salad dressing mix

Italian seasoning

(Note: This is not for people who are trying to limit their sodium intake. It’s crazy salty. But also soooooo good.)

Now you’re about three minutes away from snack nirvana.

Popcorn popper

Once the kernels have popped, drizzle them with the melted butter, Parmesan and Italian seasoning. Toss a few times and try not to slap everyone else’s hands away from the bowl.

Italian parmesan popcorn bowl

Larkin Housewives' Cook Book

Cheese Balls Of Yore

“It is woman’s special province to rule over the culinary destinies of the home. And potent, indeed, is her scepter, for good humor and health wait upon appetite and digestion.”

As soon as I read the opening line of the “Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book,” published in 1923, I knew I had to have it. I love rummaging through used book stores for old cookbooks. Not only are they often hysterically funny, like this one, but it’s fascinating to see what dishes were in vogue in certain time periods.

The cookbook was published by Larkin Co. Inc., a now-defunct Buffalo-based company which made pantry items like macaroni, corn starch and salt. It contains more than 600 recipes submitted by “practical housekeepers and culinary experts” alongside illustrations like this one:

Larkin Housewives' Cook Book Illustration

I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite recipes, which prove that while the book’s references to women may be antiquated, certain cheese dishes are truly timeless:

Cheese Balls

 “To two cups grated cheese, add one-fourth teaspoon salt, a few specks of cayenne pepper and the stiffly beaten whites of three eggs, or sufficient of the egg white to moisten the cheese. Form into balls, roll in bread-crumbs, fry in hot fat. Serve in nests of lettuce as a luncheon dish. The cheese may also be made softer with more egg and dropped on saltines or rounds of thin toast and baked slowly until firm.”

Submitted by Mrs. John H. Wells, Nashville, Tenn.

Cheese Straws

 “Two and one-half cups pastry flour, one and one-half teaspoons salt, one-half teaspoon baking powder, three-fourths cup water, one-half pound cheese (put through food-chopper), one teaspoon paprika, two-thirds cup shortening. Mix and roll as for pastry. Cut in strips five inches long and one-fourth inch wide. Bake eight minutes in hot oven. Pile log-cabin fashion and serve with salad or coffee. These quantities make ninety cheese straws.”

Submitted by Mrs. David Davies, Remsen, N.Y.

Cheese Potatoes 

 “Put a layer of sliced cold potatoes into a baking-dish, then a layer of cracker-crumbs, pepper and salt to taste, and specks of butter and cheese. Add another layer of potatoes and so on until all are used. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Cover with milk and bake twenty-five minutes in a hot oven.”

Submitted by Mrs. Bernice Beeson, Greenfield, Ind.

Among my favorite non-cheese recipes are Lobster Wiggle, Maple Cream Sponge and a type of cookie called a Hermit. A warning to those coming over for dinner anytime soon: we’ll be eating like it’s 1923.

Masters Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Masters Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

I don’t know a thing about golf. That’s probably because every time Dave watches a tournament on TV, I immediately fall asleep. The announcers speak in such soothing, hushed tones and a ball flying through the air without a pack of people chasing it just doesn’t inspire enough of an adrenaline rush to keep me awake.

However, I do know that the Masters Tournament began Thursday. While I could care less who ends up with a green jacket, there is one aspect of this sporting event that I find quite intriguing — the pimento cheese sandwich. It might not look like much, but apparently this $1.50 Augusta concession stand staple is both incredibly famous and controversial.

Many golf fans claim the sandwich just hasn’t been the same since tournament officials decided to move catering in-house a few years ago — and can’t get former cheese spread-maker Ted Godfrey to fork over the secret recipe, according to a 2013 ESPN article.

Since I have no plans to ever attend the Masters due to my aforementioned lack of interest in golf, I was thrilled to read that Godfrey’s Augusta-based WifeSaver restaurant (yes, that is the actual name) is now shipping the real Masters pimento cheese spread nationwide.

Unfortunately, a call to the restaurant revealed that while a 16 oz. tub costs $13, shipping to NYC could run a whopping $40-$45. That seems almost as crazy as anyone paying $1,000 a ticket to watch golf.

So what’s a girl to do when she’s stuck in New York but desperately craving a Southern sandwich? Turn to the Internet of course. Click here for the pimento cheese recipe I’ll be testing out this weekend. I don’t know how closely it’ll mimic the Masters sandwich, but it should make watching the tournament more tolerable.

Photo: Jamie Squire, Getty Images North America

Ina Garten Tomato Crostini With Whipped Feta

Tomato Crostini With Whipped Feta

I typically avoid recipes that call for what I consider to be luxury machinery — mainly a food processor or stand mixer. After all, I live in New York City. I barely have room for a stove. Take up precious counter space with a rarely used stand mixer? No, thanks.

So when my sister showed me Ina Garten’s recipe for tomato crostini with whipped feta (which you can find here), I was immediately skeptical. While I adore the Barefoot Contessa, the first step calls for mixing together feta and cream cheese in a food processor. I advised skipping the recipe and subbing in something simpler for the party Alex was throwing. But my little sister did what she often does — she ignored me.

Alex was undeterred by her lack of what seemed to me like critical machinery. Instead, she mixed together the cheeses and whipped in a healthy dose of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper all by hand, actually achieving a fairly creamy consistency. While she does have a surprising amount of upper arm strength for being such a slim thing, I think she proved that this recipe is easily manageable even if you lack the convenience of a food processor.

The cheese mixture was then spread onto crostini, forming a base for garlicky marinated tomatoes. Alex chose an heirloom cherry variety, which I think actually made her version look more colorful and appetizing than Ina’s. (I’m waiting for lightning to strike me for saying that…)

Here’s the Food Network photo:

Ina Garten Tomato Crostini With Whipped Feta

And here’s Alex’s:

Ina Garten Tomato Crostini With Whipped Feta

She eliminated the pine nuts simply because she didn’t want to buy a whole bag and only use a handful. But if you have some lying around at home, I would include them to give the appetizer another layer of texture.

Ina Garten Tomato Crostini With Whipped Feta

 

These crostini were a big hit at my sister’s party and are definitely going into my recipe box.

Tomme de Savoie

Tomme de Savoie Fondue

I only managed to make it over to Artisanal one time during its February fondue month event, but I sure picked a good night. The bistro’s fondue du jour was Tomme de Savoie, a cheese of which I’ve always been a big fan but had never tried in alcohol-spiked, melted, near-liquid form. It was just as mouth-watering as I had hoped.

There are dozens of French cheeses which have “tomme” in their names — it basically means small and round cheese. Tomme de Savoie is a semi-soft, raw cow’s milk cheese made in the mountainous Savoie region of France. It has a thick, gray natural rind with an earthy aroma and a milky, nutty flavor.

This is what the cheese looks like in its natural state:

Tomme de Savoie

And here it is in a fondue form, with wild mushrooms mixed in, that left Dave and I scraping the bottom of an empty pot searching for the last droplets. (I just wish that I could figure out how to get a brighter flash without seriously disturbing other diners. It’s so frustrating to not be able to get a picture that is as beautiful as the dish is delicious. But here’s what I have. You get the idea.)

Artisanal's Tomme de Savoie Fondue

As soon as I got home I started searching for a recipe to recreate this delectable dish in my own kitchen. Unfortunately, my admittedly unscientific Googling — and lack of ability to read/understand recipes written in French despite two years of college classes in the language — came up short on a pure Tomme de Savoie recipe.

However, I did find simple instructions here for a quick and easy fondue that combines the cheese with three other French varieties. Toss together a green salad, and this would be a perfect casual dinner to share with friends on a cold and snowy night.

Cheese-Stuffed Doritos

ABC News
ABC News

 

For weeks, junk food enthusiasts have been abuzz with news that Frito-Lay has been quietly testing a fried cheese stick coated in Doritos — called ‘Doritos Loaded’ — at a handful of DC-area 7-Elevens.

Frankly, the idea of eating anything from under a 7-Eleven warming lamp weirds me out. But then again, I do love both cheddar cheese and Doritos, so my odds of enjoying a combo of the two seem pretty darn high.

Luckily, PopSugar has come up with a make-at-home version of the gluttonous snack, saving me a trip to DC. Click here for the recipe and a really easy-to-follow instructional video. If you decide to give this a go, be sure to let me know how it turns out.

Pesto Mozzarella Crostini

The Easiest Appetizer Ever

Let me set a scene for you: I’ve invited friends over for dinner at 7 pm. I inevitably end up being stuck late at work, the subway is delayed and there’s a long line at the bakery, where it seems the entire neighborhood is suddenly clamoring for baguettes. I get home at 6:45, finding myself with zero food ready and a mere 15 minutes before my guests arrive.

Cue the pesto mozzarella crostini.

This is the quickest appetizer in my arsenal (other than throwing out a hunk of cheese and a knife, which I usually do in tandem with this app.) Plus, these little crostini are both elegant and seriously foolproof, a rare combination in the culinary arts.

All it takes are four simple ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • One baguette
  • Pesto
  • Plain or marinated baby mozzarella balls (also known as bocconcini)

Pesto Mozzarella Crostini Ingredients

Here’s how to do it:

  • Preheat the broiler
  • Slice the bread and lightly spritz it with cooking spray
  • Broil the bread till golden

(Note: Watch the crostini like a hawk. They can go from perfectly toasted to blackened hockey pucks in a matter of seconds.)

Crostini

  • Cut the mozzarella balls in half
  • Spread pesto on each crostini

Pesto Mozzarella Crostini

  •  Top with two mozzarella halves

Pesto Mozzarella Crostini

  • Sprinkle with pepper, if so desired

(Note: I only add pepper if I’m using plain mozzarella balls because they just look too naked. If I have marinated mozzarella, the herbs and red pepper provide a little extra flavor and give the balls a shot of pretty.)

Pesto Mozzarella Crostini

The whole shebang takes under ten minutes, dirtying only a baking sheet and cutting board, which I can quickly clean and stash away before anyone arrives. Plus, gobbling up these little guys typically distracts my guests from the fact that I haven’t yet started dinner. Wine also helps with that.