Archive for September 29th, 2010

September 29, 2010

Cheese of the Week!

For the past month or so, i’ve been buying a different cheese each week to sample.

they make a great snack or breakfast accompaniment with a plate of fruit and nuts. yum yum. not to mention an effective and tasty way to learn about all the different types of cheeses out there.

with this strange little hobby of mine, along with the ever present tub of Fage greek yogurt in my fridge, you would never guess that i’m lactose intolerant.

anyway. i digress.

I regret not writing down the types that i’ve already tried, but i guess it’s never too late. I’ll start with what i remember:


  • the one that’s been all over my recipes lately. good for grating.
  • french, cow’s milk
  • firm, hard, and nutty. almost crumbly. slightly sweet. mildly strong.
  • creamy yellow color.

Blue Brie

  • according to my new friend the local cheese monger, both blue and brie go well with apples. and i had apples abound at home. i’ve also tried several kinds of both blue aND brie. so i figure i’d try a blue brie. and it’s exactly what you’d expect.
  • strong stinky taste of blue, but VERY creamy and rich like a brie. super soft.
  • and this sounds gross, but it’s made of white mold on the outside like a brie, but blue mold on the inside like a blue! food factoid of the day.

Chimay a la Biere

  • firm but not hard. creamy but not soft. it’s complicated. your finger wont sink into it like a brie, but it’s definitely got give when you poke it. (yes, i poke my cheese.)
  • it’s made with beer! belgian beer.
  • just got this one today and only had the sample the cheese monger gave me. will update my review as i finish it of this week.
September 29, 2010

Tomato Seitan Ragu with Rapini and Basil Gnocchi

i am not a spontaneous person.

90% of the time when i set out to make a dish, i do mental preparation. at the least, i research existing recipes. at the most, i research technique, ingredient pairings, make and remake shopping lists. then spend way too much time at the grocery store buying shit i don’t need. but that’s another story.

70% of the time out of that 90%, the dish never turns out how i imagined.

i inTENDED to do a baked broccoli rabe and italian sausage casserole-like dish. in a basil-y tomato sauce. mmm.. perhaps with some ricotta and melted mozzarella on top. then i realized i don’t have a casserole dish and my le creuset doens’t come in until next week (and a week is so sO long when waiting for a le creuset…). so i decided perhaps i’ll do a cavetelli or ricotta gnocchi and screw the whole low carb business. but sadly enough whole foods HAD no ricotta gnocchi. or cavetelli. OR basil (wtf man.). so i got basil gnocchi. ok. fine. good compromise. but thEN i remembered i don’t even LIKE italian sausage. so i got me some seitan with italian seasoning. (if i’m gonna be eating carbs tonight, might as well cut back somewhere else, right?)


this was the result.


  • 1 pack frozen gnocchi *
  • large batch of broccoli rabe/chinese broccoli**
  • 1 pack (8 0z) of italian seasoned seitan.
  • 1 can tomato sauce (pre-seasoned)
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • thyme, parsley (optional)
  • comte cheese* **
  • salt

*shelf kind is powdery and gross.

**6 inch diameter, or roughly 25 small individual stalks. keep in mind, less flowering = less bitter. so says Mother Chen. i hack off the stems. leaves have more nutrition anyway.

***or whatever cheese floats your boat. but i find parmesan does not melt very well…i like comte because the nutty, slightly sweet flavor offsets the bitterness of broccoli rabe and the acidity of the tomatoes.


  • dice tomatoes and mince garlic
  • if using sausage, remove from casing
  • pan fry sausage in some olive oil, making sure to break up the pieces evenly.
  • add tomatoes, sauce, garlic, stir and simmer until tomatoes disintegrate.
  • wash broccoli. cut off stems and chop leaves so no piece is larger than ~ 3 inch
  • blanch for 1 – 2 min until just wilting. remove into ice bath.
  • check on sauce. add milk and sugar. stir and continue simmering.
  • re-boil the water and cook gnocchi as per package instructions.
  • drain broccoli and stir into sauce.
  • salt to taste. add more milk/chicken stock if sauce is too thick. add any other seasonings you like. (i added thyme and parsley)
  • plate sauce and grate on a generous topping of cheese. i mean like melting all over the place. this is not a garnish, folks.
  • top with gnocchi.
  • serve and EAT.

the gnocchi is kinda grey and ugly, but it tasted nice and basil-y! i think i would’ve been happier with a lighter, fluffier ricotta gnocchi. guess i’ll have to make some from scratch next time. you knoW… i DID find a rather promising recipe… perhaps i’ll start planning take II.