grilled blue cheese with honey and walnut pesto

have i told you that i'm, like, *kind of* a pescatarian these days?? not 100%. maybe 90%. (i'll always eat the brisket that you cook for me.) but this summer, with all of our happy vegetables and eggs, a new ful-fueled fascination with beans, and after my trip to cheese school and a first-ever branzino cooking experience, i have been having so much fun diving deep into meals that don't have a big hunk of meat at the center. i like putting the focus on vegetables, nuts, and other things that won't make me look outside and see our macaroni and feel mommy guilt. it's a great challenge and i feel like i'm eating more vegetables for it. maybe it's just in my head. i also like not feeling obsessive about cleaning all of the cooties off of every surface of my body and kitchen when i cook meat, and between the garden and our eggs i can get away with going to the grocery store way less now. 

(side note: we have two chicken breasts in our refrigerator because i'm a dirty hypocrite but i'm having trouble figuring out what to add to next week's ful burritos that will make them better than just burritos filled with mushy beans. do you have any suggestions??) 

so! i don't know where i'm going with this, i think i just wanted to tell you since friends update friends on those kinds of things. not--i repeat not!!!--that i want you to change your menu for when you have me over for dinner next. but when you come to my house we'll probably have lentils. or if we're grilling, how about a fancy grilled cheese!  

let's discuss grilled cheese! i like grilled cheeses where the inside of the bread is first toasted. it allows the cheese to get a little jump start melting, and then there is more textural excitement all up in the middle with nary a soggy bite in sight. a few months ago at cheese school, we tasted various cheese pairings and the one that blew my mind the most was honey with castello's double creme blue cheese. it was like salty/sweet but on steroids because of blue's awesome funkiness and this particular blue's uber creaminess. i knew right then and there that this combination would make one luxurious grilled cheese. so i came right home and did just that. i paired it with a second blue cheese, a quick little walnut pesto too for some oomph and bulkiness, and boom! it's the grown-up grilled cheese of my/your/our dreamz. oh and it needs wine because that's the rule about eating a grown-up version of a kid thing, so this is getting paired with the bright and rich napa cellars' zinfandel. yum. the grilled cheeses pictured here are miniature, fit for a party, but if you're making a meal out of it, go the magnum route


grilled blue cheese with honey and walnut pesto

makes 4 mini or 2 large grilled cheeses

ingredients

walnut pesto:

1/2 c toasted walnuts

1/4 c olive oil

1 clove garlic

a squeeze of lemon

crushed red pepper

kosher salt and black pepper

grilled cheese:

8 mini slices bread (pictured) or 4 slices sandwich bread

2 ounces castello double creme blue cheese

2 ounces castello traditional danish blue cheese

honey 

clues

to make the pesto, blend all ingredients in a food processor and season to taste. be careful not to add too much salt since the blue cheese is salty!

to make the grilled cheeses, toast one side of each of your slices of bread, flip them over, and then top half of them with a layer of walnut pesto, both types of blue cheese, and a drizzle of honey. top with remaining slices of bread and grill until the cheese is melty. 

serve with a pickle and zinfandel and enjoy!


-yeh!

thank you, castello and trinchero family estates, for sponsoring this post!

sweet potato curly fries with yogurt, sriracha, and cilantro

we're installing our new dishwasher today!!!! well, errrm, eggboy's installing it. i'm sitting on the couch eating a breakfast panzanella and waiting until the kitchen is cleared of all of the dishwasher-installing tools so that i can work on dirtying some dishes to christen the thing. i've got lots to make today! tomorrow my friends and i are serving a giant hummus feast in fargo, so there are chickpeas to soak, labnehs to drain, zhougs to blend, etc. etc. etc. what are you up to this weekend?? are your gardens planted? are you reading anything good? tell me tell me, just don't. mention. how. much. you. hate. the. new. instagram. logo. we're better than that. 

i have fries for you! they are inspired by a roasted squash dish from plenty more that i made for a dinner party when it was still slightly cold out. you basically roast squash in cinnamon and then cover it with yogurt, sriracha, and a bright cilantro garlic sauce that dashes all of your beliefs that a cinnamon-y squash should be exclusive to the fall. that's why i like it, its flavors are vaguely seasonally ambiguous and they work together like a well-oiled machine.

so because it's my birthday month* i've lowered the brow and adapted this experience to sweet potato fries. and they're curly, à la ali! they're crispy, salty, unexpectedly refreshing, and as flavorful as they are colorful. and fun/messy to eat, so b.y.o. wet wipes. 

*why is this month different from all other months? in this month we eat french fries with abandon!!!

for a lazier option: put these toppings on sweet potato chips.

for a baked option: put these toppings on sweet potato oven fries.


sweet potato curly fries with yogurt, sriracha, and cilantro

makes 4 servings (but it's fries so what are serving sizes really?)

ingredients

cilantro sauce:

25 sprigs fresh cilantro (stems and leaves), roughly chopped, plus additional leaves for serving

1 clove garlic

1/4 c olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper

fries:

oil, for frying

2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs), spiralized on blade c

kosher salt

cinnamon

assembly:

plain greek yogurt

sriracha

clues

to make the cilantro sauce, combine the cilantro, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor and blend to combine. season to taste with salt and pepper.

to make the fries, heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot to 360ºf. fry the potatoes in batches until lightly browned and crispy. transfer to paper towel or rack. sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and a small pinch of cinnamon. 

to assemble, drizzle with the cilantro sauce and yogurt. dot with sriracha and sprinkle with fresh cilantro leaves. serve immediately and enjoy! 

-yeh!

everything bagel cheez-its

when i arrived in tampa for cousin mia's bat mitzvah utterly famished and then was able to immediately pacman seven soft homemade chocolate chip cookies all by myself in my hotel room, i knew that it would be a good weekend. that mia totally nailed her welcome basket. and i was right, her bat mitzvah was indeed the greatest bat mitzvah ever (not just because i snuck into the kids' side of the party and got a t-shirt airbrushed with a chihuahua (?)). mia's welcome basket, in all its chocolate chip cookie and florida oranges glory, totally inspired eggboy and me to want to give our out-of-town wedding guests the same warm sweet welcome when they got to town.

in a perfect world, we would have picked up all of our out-of-town friends at the airport with a homemade lunchable and plenty of warm cookies in tow, but we were busy frosting cakes and stressing out about where to put the tractor that was taking up our entire dance floor, so mum and i did the next best thing and made up cute hotel welcome baskets that (we hope) said prepare for a weekend of fun, cheese, and sprinkles. i loved putting those baskets together! they were actually welcome sacks because they were in fabric flour sacks from the mill that processes eggboy's wheat, but if every task for our wedding was as fun as putting together welcome sacks, by golly, i would get married to eggboy a million times.

our welcome sacks consisted of:

everything bagel cheez-its (recipe below!)

sprinkle biscotti

za'atar popcorn

ring pops

blood orange hard candy

almonds

apples and oranges

little bottles of wine

my eyeballs just about popped out of my head when i saw that everything bagel cheddar exists. it is so good. i am such a fan of this movement to apply everything bagel seasoning to more things than just bagels. i basically want to sub everything bagel cheese anytime a recipe calls for cheese: everything bagel cheeseburgers, everything bagel pizza, everything bagel grilled cheese. everything sounds so good with everything bagel in front of it. so i'm starting small, with a nice cheesy cracker that highlights the flavors of this tasty cheese. it's based on my sriracha cheez-it recipe, and if you can't find everything bagel cheddar at your grocery store, you can certainly use plain cheddar and add a few teaspoons of everything bagel seasoning to the mix. 


everything bagel cheez-its

makes about 4 servings

ingredients

8 oz everything bagel cheddar, shredded*

1 c flour

a good pinch of kosher salt

a few turns of black pepper

4 tb unsalted butter, cold and cubed

2-4 tb cold water

*i hate shredding cheese so much. almost as much as i hate using the can opener. i've definitely made this recipe before by ripping the cheese up into chunks, adding it to the food processor with the flour, salt, and pepper, and processing the heck out of it before adding the butter.

clues

preheat oven to 350. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

place cheese, flour, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until combined. add butter and pulse until the mixture turns to small pea-sized pieces. continue pulsing and add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles couscous and sticks together when you squeeze a small amount in your hand. turn it onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to work the mixture together into a ball of dough. roll it out to 1/4-inch thickness and then cut out 1 1/2-inch squares. place them 1 1/2 inches apart on your baking sheets, sprinkle with a bit more salt if you'd like, and bake for about 20 minutes, until they're lightly browned.

enjoy!

-yeh!

jerusalem bagels, harissa honey labne, and a middle eastern wine & cheese party ( + a giveaway)

you know what i love about being a grownup, other than being married and being able to buy nice overalls without fearing i'll get too tall for them? getting away with a 4pm wine and cheese party. like, really partying, getting to sleep by 9, and then waking up early enough to make sweet potato gnocchi and accomplish one bread rising cycle before the sunday morning political shows even begin. i love it. i love being old. i love having wine glasses from our wedding registry and i love putting out olives with my cheese even though i don't eat them. 

(remember the 10pm party from college? how did we do that?) 

my 4pm wine and cheese party was my first ever wine and cheese party and i can't believe it's taken me this long to have one. it was so fun and grownup. we played records as the sun set, and talked about baby showers and bachelorettes. in brooklyn, my idea of a fancy cheese plate would have consisted of an oozy epoisses and some delicious old chatham... maybe a hunk of bleu des causes and a ramekin of salvatore ricotta... but here, with no cheesemonger in site, if we want to get fancy we're forced to be way more creative than going to the store and buying a wheel of cheese (not that there's anything wrong with that): marinate all the feta, strain all the yogurt, drizzle on the date honey! before long i had myself a middle eastern cheese party menu and it tickled me so. i did have to google middle eastern cheese and in a perfect world i wouldn't have driven all the way across town in a failed search for halloumi, but i'm v happy with how it turned out. v v happy. here was our menu:

harissa honey labne // it's sweet, hot, and refreshing all at the same time. i was afraid its pepto bismol-ish color would scare my friends away, and maybe i was hoping that would happen so i could have all of the leftovers to myself, but alas (or luckily) they loved it. recipe below.

marinated feta, inspired by eva // because feta is just so much classier when it's in a brick and all prettied up with herbs, no?

dates stuffed with cream cheese, sprinkled with smoked maldon salt, and drizzled with date honey // dates drizzled with date honey... is that what meta is?? major hugs to chanie for the israeli date honey hookup.

dukkah crackers // mmmm these are so good and made with chickpea flour, so they're gluten free. you can make them with za'atar or dukkah or both.

jerusalem bagels // jerusalem bagels are fluffier and way bigger than new york bagels. they're best shared with a bunch of friends on the streets of jerusalem with a little baggie of za'atar for dipping. and it turns out they're also best shared with a bunch of friends on a farm a million miles from jerusalem. recipe below.

olives, olive oil, za'atar, roasted chickpeas, grapes, nuts, and honey // noshies and condiments, noshies and condiments.

a trio of halva for dessert // classic, cinnamon, and coffee flavor, straight from the machane yehuda market in jerusalem, also c/o chanie because that girl knows the way to my heart <3 <3.

pinot noir // ok, this isn't middle eastern, but we had a ton leftover from our wedding :)


harissa honey labne

ingredients

1 qt plain full-fat yogurt

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 1/2 tsp harissa powder

4 tsp honey

olive oil

clues

line a strainer with cheese cloth and set the strainer over a large bowl. mix the yogurt with the salt and then pour it into the cheese cloth. let it strain in the refrigerator for 24 hours, checking once or twice to pour out the liquids from the bowl. 

place the strained yogurt in a large bowl and mix it with harissa and honey, spread it on a serving plate and drizzle with olive oil. serve with crackers or bread.


jerusalem bagels

makes 6 large bagels

ingredients

4 c bread flour

2 1/4 tsp yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tb sugar

1 c warm water

1/2 c warm milk

1/4 c olive oil

1 egg, slightly beaten

sesame seeds and salt, for sprinkling

clues

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. add the water, milk, and oil, and mix for about 10 minutes, until you have a nice smooth dough. transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

on a work surface, divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll them out into long pieces, about 1 1/2 feet long, and shape into ovals. place them a few inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment, brush them with the egg, and sprinkle all over with sesame seeds and a few pinches of salt.

let rise for 30 more minutes. preheat oven to 350, and then bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned.

serve warm, with za'atar for dipping.


-yeh!

this post was done in collaboration with le creuset in celebration of their new wine and cheese line!! the goodies i used for this post are their round platter with cutting boardlarge carafecompact lever (which is some serious magic), and foil cutter. it's a beautiful line that could maybe even make a night of velveeta and two buck chuck feel classy (hehe). oh oh! and do you want to win a round platter, a compact lever, and some other fun le creuset goodies??? leave a comment here with your favorite cheese!!!!!! open to u.s. residents. update: this giveaway is now closed.


p.s. (!!!) in march, i will be taking my first ever trip to north carolina for a weekend of eating, food styling, and fly fishing on cold mountain with eva and carey! it'll be the tastiest slumber party in all the land. care to join us??? right this way.