Winter Fun: Making Cheese in my IP!

So I got this cookbook last year from my dear friend Paula who had edited it and thought it was right up my alley. I have made about 4 cheeses from it and it is sure interesting; title is “Instant Pot Cheese” by Claudia Llucero. This past weekend I made the queso blanco on the cover of it.

The Instant Pot is used for precise heating of milk and makes the process easier and more approachable. You also should get an instant read thermometer and perhaps a smaller IP metal liner; I have a 6 quart pot and I got a 3 qt liner which perches on my metal trivet in a cup of water for heating up to a half gallon of milk.

To make queso blanco it takes a half gal of whole milk, 1/4 cup cider vinegar and a bit of cheese salt; a finely textured salt that I bought about a pound which will probably last me forever. It was fun although I first used a thick rubber trivet which raised my liner pot and I couldn’t get it open for 4 hours. When I finally got it open, I dumped out the milky water in the bottom; rinsed the liner and used my skinny wire trivet which worked perfectly. Less than an hour later I had placed the cheese curds in a plastic mold and it was ready for consumption. So delicious and so fresh! Great on crackers, excellent in Mexican cooking and tasty in Brazilian tapioca rolls.

I’ve made a few different cheeses and hope to do some mozzarella sometime soon. They tell you what kind of milk to use for each recipe; stay away from ultra pasteurized and homogenized milk… apparently it doesn’t do cheese. If you are into, do it yourself and you like cheese and you have an IP this cookbook is perfect for you!

Here’s a shot of my cheese and crackers Saturday night; my Friday night snapshot didn’t pan out so it is rathe champed on!

Cauliflower Cheese Dinner Pie

If you have a nice head of cauliflower, you can put it to good use in this vegetarian entrée. I love the cheesy cauliflower flavor of it, pretty substantial served with a yam and a beet salad; a great meal. It isn’t that difficult to construct; the crust is shredded raw potatoes mixed with an egg and some salt and pressed into the pie pan. You bake it for about 45 minutes and then gently lay in some shredded cheese, then the cooked veggie filling, top it with more cheese, pour on the egg custard and sprinkle it with paprika before baking it to a crispy tender pie that should serve 6 unless you are piggish; then 5 large slices!

The no traditional pie crust makes this easy to create. Nothing tricky at all in this recipe. Just a few steps to put it together. It is pretty much naturally gluten free, just a bit of rice flour to dust the pan with; I dusted the excess right into the shredded potatoes. Just a bit of flour in the pie pan and in the crust.

Sauteed onions, herbs and garlic

Cauliflower Cheese Pie

Mixed together cauliflower filling

Ingredients:

Ready to bake; yes, that is a chunk of cheese on top! The end of the block; don’t want to grate my fingers; it will melt nicely into the pie.

POTATO CRUST: 1 tsp. sea salt

1 lg egg, beaten

1 -3 tsp. gf flour, divided

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees.  4 large potatoes; washed. I left them unpeeled but you can peel if you prefer to do that. Grate each whole potato on coarse side of a box grater. I did it right into a large mixing bowl. I like to press a couple paper towels on top to soak up any excess liquid. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Press into a pie tin sprayed with cooking spray and then dusted with rice flour. I used a big spoon to lay it around the pan and then a fork to press it into the shape of the pie tin. I left a bit above the glass/metal rim to form a nice rim of the crust. Spray the potatoes all over with the cooking spray.  Bake 40-45 minutes. Make the filling while it bakes.

CAULIFLOWER FILLING:

About 3 cups cut up flowerets of raw cauliflower

1-2 Tbsp. mild olive oil or sunflower oil

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ tsp dried thyme

¼ tsp. dried basil

Directions: Cut up the cauliflower; it was about ¾ of the head. Heat a ½ inch of water in a large sauté pan. Add the cauliflower, put a lid on and cook 5-6 minutes until just tender. Gently pour the pan into a large colander to drain well. Then heat the oil in the same pan. Add the chopped onion; sauté on low 5-6 minutes, I like to add a couple Tbsp of water to let it steam; then add the garlic, and then the dried herbs. Stir and let cook another minute. The onion should be soft, cook longer if needed.  When done, turn heat off; gently add the drained cauliflower and a quarter to a half tsp sea salt. Mix gently. While the crust is still baking make the custard.

CUSTARD:

3 large eggs

½ cup whole or 2% milk

1 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese: I used mostly sharp cheddar with a bit of Monterey Jack cheese too.

Directions: beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl until fairly blended, add the milk.

When the crust comes out turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Pour half the grated cheese into the hot crust, distributing it evenly. Gently spoon the cauliflower filling on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Pour the custard in all over the top. Sprinkle well with paprika and bake 40 minutes; until the custard looks done. Let set 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

A slice straight from the fridge; just need to warm it up in my trusty microwave! Lunch is served.

It keeps 4-6 days in the fridge; well wrapped. I heat a slice at a time in the microwave. A lovely lunch indeed!

Grilled Cheese and Fig for Lunch

 

With company last weekend, I needed a quick but tasty lunch. Figs were plentiful in my garden so how to use them. I never make sandwiches, well hardly ever. Grilled cheese; honestly I just never think of it; so little sliced bread hanging out in my kitchen.  But, for some reason it was what I wanted. I made a simple grilled cheese using Aldi’s multigrain bread as the base. I sliced mild cheddar cheese, slathered one side with some brown mustard. The secret ingredient was a couple of ripe brown figs sliced thinly added before the grilling. The cheese got gooey and the figs softened even more. It was delicate and delicious. Use the cheese you prefer as long as it is good quality; no plastic cheese!  Ditto as to your bread. My choice bought at my local Aldi’s worked perfectly. Ditch the mustard if you wish. I used it in moderation; you don’t want it to be the prevalent flavor. This is a fig and cheese symphony!

grilled cheese

Grilled Cheese and Fig

 

2 slices gluten free sandwich bread

1 tsp brown mustard

2 tsp. butter

Enough cheddar cheese to make a solid layer on one slice of bread, like 5 chunks

2-3 ripe figs.

Directions: Super easy, super quick. I use a Teflon grill pan; melt 1-2 tsp. of salted butter; lay out the two slices; one plain and one with the mustard topped with cheese slices and topped with thinly fig.  When the bottom (you gotta peek!) is browned gently lift the solo slice and carefully place it on top. I like to put a domed lid over it and cook another minute on low heat to cement the two parts into one delish sandwich. Slice in half on the diagonal and enjoy!

 

 

Southern Comfort: Cheesy Shrimp and Grits…My Version

Some people aren’t big fans of grits; this recipe could change that for ever as it is pretty easy and darn tasty.  Not diet food; we are talking cheese and cream here. Still, I promise; you and yours will love grits after you whip up this luscious entrée!

I used frozen large shrimp; don’t use very small ones, lacking real shrimp flavor.  My pantry didn’t have fancy country ham; just used some ham steak from the grocery store; was fine. My version has fresh tomatoes on it; love the addition.  This is mostly naturally gluten free; just changed the white all purpose flour for the roux to rice flour.  Use most any blend of gf flour you prefer. No bean flour though; that stuff is nasty for most things.

I ate some of it cold the next day; took it along for a lunch out.  No microwave….still tasty cold.  Enjoy!

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Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients

Shrimp:
1/2 pound (26-30 count) Wild Shrimp
1-2 tsp. Cajun seasoning

3/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
Grits:
1 cup water
1 gf chicken bouillon cubes
1 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup quick grits
1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
3 oz heavy cream  (a glass measuring cup has ounce marks on it)

1 2/3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar; shred on large grater side
Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tsp. minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons rice flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommend: Texas Pete)
¼ cup sugar-cured country ham diced

1 ripe tomato diced
Directions

First, peel and devein the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine Cajun seasoning, paprika, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the shrimp to coat well and set the shrimp aside while you get all the ingredients ready for the grits and sauce. You want the shrimp to stand at least 4-5 minutes before you fry them so the flavors soak in somewhat.

Now saute the shrimp in a large saute pan: melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add in the spice-coated shrimp, and cook only until they’re just done and tender. Don’t overcook. Remove the shrimp from the saute pan and set them aside in a bowl.
The roux is next. With all those wonderful drippings from the shrimp in the saute pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of rice flour and stir with a wooden spatula to make a roux. Start with one and add more if you think there is enough butter and drippings to mix with it. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes until roux reaches a medium-tan color, then slowly add the chicken stock and heavy whipping cream. Whisk together and cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Set aside.
Next, while the roux cooks, make your grits. In a medium saucepan, bring water, chicken bouillon cubes and 2 tablespoons butter to a boil. Slowly add the grits, whisking often with wire whisk for 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, cream, and cheese. Keep whisking for another 2 or 3 minutes until the grits become creamy. Don’t skimp on the butter and the cream, it gotta have that good stuff so you have that great taste!
And last, toppings. Cook 1 center slice of cured country ham in a saute pan, and cut into cubes. I used a ham steak from the store and cut it in small cubes and sauteed it briefly before mixing it with the shrimp. Dice the tomato up.

To serve place 2-3 heaping spoonfuls of steaming cheese grits onto a place, top with half the shrimp and half the ham cubes. Drizzle that yummy roux sauce over top of the shrimp, and sprinkle on half that chunked up tomato. Enjoy this little bit of that world famous Southern cooking even up here in Pennsylvania!
I made a few changes to this recipe – originally by Joe Barnett: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/shrimp-and-grits-recipe