QUESO QUESO QUESO

queso-001
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ½ a medium onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 2 jalapeños, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)*
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack
  • ½ cup of cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and jalapeños and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir briefly.
  3. Add the flour and stir until bubbly and beginning to color. Stir in the milk a little at a time, making sure to break up any lumps as you go. Simmer, stirring, until the mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. Add the tomatoes and green chiles and stir well. Lower the heat to very low.
  5. Add the cheese by the ¼- to ½-cup, stirring well to incorporate each addition and ensuring that the cheese is melted before you add more. Continue until all cheese has been added.
  6. Stir in the cilantro (if using) and the sour cream. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  7. Keep warm in a crock pot, or serve immediately with tortilla chips and/or flour tortillas.
Notes
* I used canned fire-roasted tomatoes, since tomatoes aren’t in season. I’d suggest you do the same until summer rolls around!
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Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

bourbon pumpkin cheesecake

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2003

Serves 12 to 14

For crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounce), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon (optional)

Garnish: pecan halves

Make crust: Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake: Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.

Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make topping: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 additional minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Do ahead: Baked cheesecake can be chilled, covered, up to 2 days.

Karen’s note: I modified this cheesecake recipe (2/3 portions and modified cooking time for minis) and then loosely followed this for the topping:

Topping
1/2 cup (95 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (45 ml) heavy cream and a splash of bourbon
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or a little less of a coarse salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

3/4 cup (85 grams) pecans (I coarsely chopped 1/2 cup, left the last 1/4 cup in halves)

In a small/medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick and bubbly, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans.

West African Peanut Stew

West African Peanut Soup

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch collard greens (or red chard), ribs removed and leaves chopped
  • ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • Hot sauce, like sriracha, to taste
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
  1. In a medium Dutch oven or stock pot. Sautee onion for 10 minutes until transluscent.
  2. Add ginger, garlic and salt; continue to sautee for 1 minute.
  3. Add chopped sweet potato and sautee for 1 minute.
  4. Pour in the vegetable broth, tomatoes, tomato paste. Whisk together the spices in a separate bowl, then stir into the mixture. Scrape up all the crunchy brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Uncover the soup and add peanut butter; whisk until smooth. Stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce to taste. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often. Serve over cooked brown rice if you’d like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

Mustard-Maple Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds and Candied Pepitas

Ingredients:

Pepitas
1/2 cup shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup maple syrup
generous sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 

Dressing
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Remaining Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs trimmed brussels sprouts (trim the bases and peel away the outer, darkest leaves)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions:

Place a piece of parchment paper on a plate. Place the pepitas and maple syrup in a nonstick skillet and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat and cook for 6-7 minutes. Spoon the pepitas onto the parchment in a single layer and allow to cool. When cool and crisp, break into small pieces.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

Using the slicing attachment on a food processor, slice the brussels sprouts (or, thinly slice by hand.)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the brussels sprouts, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, until browned in spots. Add dressing and toss to coat. Toss in candied pepitas and pomegranate seeds. Adjust seasonings to taste, and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm.

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Process

  1. Place cauliflower in a steamer basket in a large soup pot, season with salt and pepper, and steam until soft (about 10–12 minutes, test with a fork).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of pasture butter in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Sauté onion, garlic, and herbs until onion is translucent.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Set aside.
  6. Place steamed cauliflower into a high-speed blender or food processor.
  7. Add the sautéed onion, garlic, and herbs, along with the second tablespoon of butter.
  8. Process until smooth.
  9. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary, or a sprinkling of fresh ground pepper.

Pumpkin Mushroom Stuffing

  • 6 cups cubed pumpkin bread
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped red onion
  • 3 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Directions:

Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet, and let dry overnight. Alternatively, heat in a 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) oven until dry, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart baking dish.
Put oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute celery and onions for about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms, and continue cooking for about 8 minutes, or until tender. Season with rosemary, tarragon, chives, parsley, salt, and pepper. Fold in bread cubes (walnuts and cranberries if desired), and add enough broth to moisten. Transfer to prepared dish, and cover with foil.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove cover, and bake for 10 minutes, or until top is crisp.

Amazingly Sweet Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

These don’t look like they are going to taste as amazing as they do, and I know it might be asking a lot to have the oven on for 2 hours on a hot summer day. But it’s on low and the end result will be worth it. Lean over the plate when you bite into the tomatoes, as the juice may squirt. You can eat these as a snack or a side dish, or put them through a food mill for an incredibly sweet sauce.

1 pound small plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

Coarse salt to taste

A tiny amount of sugar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the halved tomatoes in a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Oil a rack that will fit on top of a baking sheet. Place foil on the baking sheet and oil the foil, and place the rack on top. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the rack. Sprinkle with coarse salt and a tiny amount of sugar. Place in the oven and roast for 2 hours. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. The tomatoes will look a little dry on the surfaces and the skin will be tough. But when you bite into the tomatoes you’ll experience a rush of incredibly sweet juice and pulp. If you want to use these for a sauce, put through the fine blade of a food mill.

Yield: Serves 4 as a snack, side dish or sauce.

Advance preparation: I keep these out at room temperature for a day, and refrigerate them for up to 3 days. The sauce freezes well.