Cantal Rye Bread Soup

Soup season has been slow coming, this year. It's not the first time, though, we've eaten dinner of soup at night with the doors open, just to make it a bit cooler in the house!

One of my favorite soups is made with Cantal and Rye. I describe it like a French Onion, only with more bread, cheese and cream on top! It's from a fantastic book called The Soups of France by Lois Anne Rothert. It's survived decades of book purging because it's just that great!

  • 10 OUNCES CANTAL CHEESE

  • 3 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER

  • 4 MEDIUM-SIZED ONIONS, FINELY CHOPPED

  • 1-1/2 QUARTS WATER OR VEGETABLE BROTH, BOILING

  • 1 TEASPOON SALT

  • FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER

  • 1/2 POUND STALE DARK RYE BREAD, VERY THINLY SLICED

  • 1 CUP CRÈME FRAÎCHE OR HEAVY CREAM

Carefully cut the cheese into very thin slices. Using a vegetable peeler may give you the thin slices needed here. Or you may grate the cheese.

Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the boiling water or broth and the salt, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed and black pepper to taste. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F

Using all the bread and cheese, layer the slices alternately in the bottom of a flameproof 3-quart earthenware casserole. Pour in the onion broth. Cover the casserole with its own lid or with aluminum foil, place in the oven, and bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. (Individual ovenproof soup bowls may be used instead; baking time is then reduced to
15 minutes.)

Take the casserole out of the oven, and turn on the broiler. Remove the lid from the casserole and pour the crème fraîche or cream over the soup. Place under a broiler for a few minutes until golden brown, then serve immediately.

Tomato Stuffed Peppers

Every week, Karin hits the library with the boys and we get new books. It's a time for them to see how important reading is, but also a time for me to explore new cookbooks- new to me, that is! April Bloomfield's "A Girl and her Greens" is a fantastic take on classic recipes using seasonal vegetables. 

We recently had Louie and Regan Colburn over, from Ohana Island Kitchen, and Rob made the best dinner from ingredients from the garden. The standout was the stuffed peppers. We thought it could use more white anchovies, but we say that about most things. Here's the recipe:

  • 8 small red bell peppers, halved, lengthwise, seeded and deribbed. Green stem nubs left intact
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 salt-packed, whole anchovies (we used the white anchovies from the shop. we recommend using 16 anchovies, placing two in each pepper instead of one.)
  • 16 large basil leaves, plus extra, torn for finishing
  • 16 small to medium tomatoes, peeled and cored
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt, fancy and flaky as possible
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450F

Find a heavy, enameled baking dish that will fit the peppers snugly and arrange them cut sides up. To each half, add 2 or 3 slices of garlic [2] anchovy fillet, a basil leaf and finally a tomato.

Sprinkle on the salt, add several grindings of pepper, and evenly drizzle the olive oil over everything. Pop the dish in the oven and cook until the edges of the peppers go wrinkly and a bit toasty and the flesh is creamy, 45 minutes to 1 hour. After 20 minutes and every 10 minutes or so thereafter, give the tomatoes a gentle press with the back of a spoon so a little juice squeezes out, then baste the peppers. 

Remove the peppers from the oven and let them rest in the baking dish until they're just a bit warmer than room temperature. Baste them once more, then carefully transfer the peppers to plates or a platter, drizzle on the liquid remaining in the pan and sprinkle on the torn basil.

Serve warm to room temperature.

 

Italian Easter Cake- "Pastiera Napoletana"

We love any holiday where cakes are involved, but Easter is a great time to gather with family and friends for a Springtime celebration. 

This recipe comes from Foods 52, which is a fantastic resource for unique recipes with unique ingredients. I have copied the recipe here, but you may also find it on their website HERE.

Author Notes: Whole wheat berries are cooked in milk until creamy, then mixed with ricotta, sugar, eggs, candied citron and a heady mix of spices and scents -- cinna (…more) —Emiko

Serves 10

For the pastry: 

  • 1 stick (125 grams) unsalted cold butter
  • 2 cups (250 grams) of flour
  • 1 whole egg, plus one yolk
  • 3/4cup (100 grams) of powdered sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Chop the cold butter into small pieces and pulse together in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and lemon zest and knead just until the mixture comes together. If you find it a bit dry, add some cold water, a tablespoon at a time until it forms a dough; if it's too wet, add a bit of flour. Cover in plastic wrap and rest at least 30 minutes or overnight.

For the filling:

  • 10 ounces (280 grams) of cooked wheat berries or about 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of uncooked wheat berries
  • 1 cup (230 milliliters) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of butter
  • 12 ounces (350 grams) of fresh ricotta (a combination of cow's milk and sheep's milk ricottas are traditionally used)
  • 1 3/4 cups (320 grams) of fine sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, plus two yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) candied citron, finely chopped
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

[Cook the Farro according to package instructions.]

Place the cooked wheat berries in a saucepan over medium heat with the butter, milk and lemon zest. Bring to a boil gently, stirring occasionally until it becomes very thick and creamy like oatmeal, about 15 minutes. Let cool until needed.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and extra yolks with the ricotta, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and orange blossom water until creamy. Leave this mixture to rest several hours (better if overnight) in the fridge.

Fold the cooled wheat berry cream and the rested ricotta mixture together with the finely chopped candied citron.

Roll out about two thirds of the pastry and place in a 10 inch (25 centimeter) greased springform tin. Cut off any overhang and add to the remaining pastry, roll out again and with a pastry crimper wheel, cut long strips about ¾ an inch wide.

Fill the pastry base with the ricotta mixture and even out the borders of the pastry to the level of the mixture. Lay the long pastry strips gently across the top to form a a criss-cross diamond pattern (not square), pressing the strips on the edge of the pastry very gently. If desired, you can brush the lattice gently with some egg wash to make it shiny.

Bake the pastiera for 1 hour at 390ºF (200ºC) until the pastry is golden and the pastiera is amber-brown on top.

Allow to cool completely inside the springform pan before removing or chilling. Ideally serve the pastiera the next day (remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating to take away some of the chill) with some powdered sugar sifted over the top. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Nduja Didn't

If you’re like me you’ve never heard of ‘Nduja until now. I was a bit skeptical of a “salami spread.”  Working in this cheese shop with so many foodies and incredible products I tend to throw caution to the wind in regards to trying some of our provisions, especially the meats. Here at the Truffle our products are all thoughtfully chosen, tasted and approved. Of the hundreds of products we’ve carried in my stay I can count on one hand the items I didn’t love. With much aversion I gave the ol’ ‘Nduja a shot and was pleasantly surprised. It’s great on it’s on but has the ability to take everything to the next level. I recently read a Wall Street Journal article on ‘Nduja which inspired me to also write about this understated, versatile product. The author praises the salami spread so eloquently and accurately I had to include her quote:

 “The spreadable salami is my favorite cook’s cheat. In a hot pan, it melts into a piquant oil that adds oomph, complexity and a bit of fire to all kinds of savory foods, from tomato sauce to vinaigrette. At room temperature, it can be smeared on good bread and served alongside a salad as dinner, or layered on grilled cheese, even a burger. The result rarely fails to raise the pulse rate. If Joan Jett were an Italian, and a sausage, she’d be 'nduja.” 

As a fan of both Joan Jett and sausage I have to say I agree! The author and culinary graduate, Jane Black, continues her praises of ‘Nduja’s versatility in amplifying seafood, pasta, pizza, breakfast sandwiches and even burrata. 

'Nduja (pronounced en-DOO-ya) is a specialty of Calabria, Italy’s most southern region. Its origins are a bit murky, but most thought of it as a poor-man’s andouille sausage brought to the area after Napoleon conquered Naples in 1806. Calabria’s 'Nduja was originally made from pork fat, ground lung, kidneys and other random bits, then seasoned with local hot chilies. The sausage was then smoked, aged or both. Today, 'Nduja is made with finer stuff, grinding up prosciutto, speck and coppa with chilies. Alle Pia, the San Diego purveyor of salumi we buy our ‘Nduja from, seasons their version with cayenne and smoky Aleppo pepper. 

Whether you’re looking to cook more effortlessly or creatively give ‘Nduja a try and see what new uses you can come up with for it!

Todd's Tuna Tapenade

Have I told you lately that I love our customers? Todd is great. He and Shannon come in regularly and get a selection of cheese, bread and olives. Recently Shannon told me about this tapenade she was making and I had to have the recipe. Here it is! It is simple and perfect for parties.

castelvertrano.jpg
  • 1 6-oz can of good tuna packed in oil (drain, but save the oil)
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Castelvertrano Olives- pitted
  • 4Tbl soft butter (Rodolphe's would be great!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (your choice- basil, thyme, dill, etc.)

Put all ingredients in a food processor (or you can do by hand). Pulse, but don't over mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Also, you can go lighter on the herbs and see how you like it. You can use a mix of different olives if you want. The Provencal are nice because they add a natural saltiness.

A quick way of pitting olives is to place them on a cutting board and use the broad part- the widest part near the handle- of a chef knife and smash the pit out.

I would recommend adding some of the oil from the tuna jar if you want to play with the consistency a bit. Serve with warmed baguette slices or Nita Crisp crackers.

Pasta and Lentils

One of Rob’s favorite cookbooks is Pasta by Vincenzo Buonassisi.    This is one of his prized cookbooks.  Each recipe is flawless.  When we had some leftover lentils in the refrigerator, he opened this book and found the perfect recipe!  The English translation leaves a lot to be desired, but I’ll print it just as the cookbook writes it with my notes in brackets.  You may have to read it a few times, but you’ll get the idea!

  • 1 lb. tubettini or other tubed pasta [any short, tubed pasta is fine]
  • 3/4 lb lentils [can be leftovers]
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 stick celery
  • salt and pepper
  • stock [vegetable or chicken]
  • olive oil

Soak the lentils for at least 12 hours and cook with plenty of salted water, chopped garlic or whole cloves of garlic which you discard before serving [We used leftover lentils that were in the fridge], and the chopped celery.

Cook over a moderate heat, adding more liquid if necessary. When almost done add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Put all the ingredients in a serving bowl and add fresh olive oil and freshly ground black pepper; you should have a good thick soup.

Another way of cooking the lentils is to boil them without the vegetables and when they begin to soften remove from heat and carefully drain off most of the water.  Add fresh boiling water, return to the heat and after a few minutes add the rest of the ingredients. [This is how we would recommend proceeding]

[We also put in some carrot, leeks, fennel and onion.]

Classic Cheese Fondue

  • 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup good dry white wine or hard cider
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kirsch
  • One pound of great cheeses from Switzerland, such as
  • 1/3 lb Fontina val d'Aosta, shredded; 1/3 lb Gruyère , shredded;1/3 lb 'Wild Card' cheese of your choice, shredded

(We like one of the cheeses to be a work-horse- Fontina- one to be nutty- Gruyere and one to be a bit unusual or smelly.

Suggested accompaniments; cubes of French bread, prepared sausages, cornichon, boiled or roasted potatoes.

Shred the cheeses.  Rub inside of a 4-quart fondue pot with the cut sides of garlic, add wine or cider to pot and bring just to a simmer over medium low heat on your stovetop.

Stir together cornstarch and kirsch in a cup.

Gradually add the cheese to the pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern to prevent cheese from balling up, until cheese is just melted and creamy (do not let it boil). Stir cornstarch mixture again and add it to the fondue.  Continue to simmer, stirring the fondue until it becomes thick, 5 to 8 minutes.

Transfer to fondue pot set over a flame and serve with your accompaniments for dipping.

Makes 6 servings.

Tartiflette

The recipe is surprisingly simple for the amount of flavor that is produced. A traditional Tartiflette uses Reblochon cheese, which by French AOC standards is always raw milk, therefore we cannot get it in the US.  We can get pasteurized versions which are delicious.  This recipe calls for a choice of cheeses: either Puigpedros from Spain or Capra Staggionata.  These are washed rind cheeses that are creamy, buttery and slightly strong:  perfect for Tartiflette!

  • 5-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, julianned
  • 4 Thick slices Bacon (Tender Belly is perfect)
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 wheel Rebluson or another stinky melting cheese

Butter a gratin dish.

Boil the potatoes in salted water until a sharp knife can be inserted easily. When finished, drain and set aside.

Cook the onion in a bit of oil for 5 minutes.  Add the bacon and cook until the onion is translucent and slightly caramelized.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut half of the potatoes in thick slices and place on the bottom of the gratin dish.  Top with half of the bacon and onion mixture.  Pour in half of the cream.

Place the rest of the potatoes, which have been cut in think slices, on top and finish with the onions, bacon and cream.

Cut the cheese in half lengthwise and place on top of the dish.

Bake in a very hot oven: 450-500 degrees until the cheese browns and is bubbly melted.

 

Parmigiano Reggiano Flan

I love flan. It's like eating pudding for dinner. Whenever I can put cheese into a custard, I am a happy girl!

This recipe comes from Yvette Van Boven and her book, Home Made Summer. I love picking up new cookbooks from the library, especially ones with such stunning photos and recipes that actually work!

  • 3/4 cup + 1 Tbl Cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (This is about 1/4 pound of whole cheese)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt and Pepper

Generously butter 6 1/4 cup ramekins. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat the cream and milk to a gentle boil. Add the cheese to the hot milk and let it rest for about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, yolks and spice. Temper the liquid into the egg yolks by slowly pouring into the eggs while whisking. (You don't want to get scrambled eggs!) 

Place ramekins in a water bath and bake 45 minutes. 

For a special treat, try topping with: Fresh basil pesto, Tomato Mostarda or Spicy Harrissa

Summer Vegetable Gratin with Fresh Chevre

Sometimes I come home and Rob will have made the most amazing meal. Actually, that happens all of the time! The other night, I came home from working at The Truffle Table and he had picked fresh zucchini, basil, parsley, tomatoes, lettuce, and berries from the garden. The result was dinner. Salad with berries, tomatoes and fresh chevre. Along side was the most delicious gratin. Here is the recipe. I haven't put any quantities here because you can make it as big or small as you want. We had a small tart pan filled with the goodness. Also, try adding fresh fruits like peaches or plums for a sweet/savory treat. The options are endless- just trust in the flavor of the ingredients and your dish will be delish!

  • Zucchini
  • Tomato
  • Basil, chopped or whole
  • Fresh Chevre- Avalanche Cheese Company or (for a fancy tart) Smoked Chevre from Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy.

Combine sliced vegetables in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the cheese and combine. Place in your baking vessel and bake in a 300 degree oven until cooked- the vegetables will be slightly liquidy and just al dente. 

  • For the topping: mix breadcrumbs with butter or olive oil, parsley, and salt and pepper. Generously place on top of the cooked vegetables. You want the bread to absorb all of that delicious vegetable liquid.
  • Bake in a 400 oven until golden brown.

Grilled Pizza

Our shop manager, Janet, is creative, innovative, artistic and all-together clever. She is one of those people with so many fantastic ideas who you truly want in your life. Grilled Pizza is one of those ideas: "Why didn't I think of that?" Raised in a matriarchal, Italian family, this is one of those recipes you wished you had tried earlier. 

From Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas

  • 1 ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 3 ½ cups white flour (the ‘oo’ flour from Naples is superior)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbl olive oil

Stir the yeast into the warm water and dissolve in a medium bowl.  You should see tiny bubbles on the surface when yeast is ready.

Stir in 1 cup of flour, stirring constantly in the same direction.  Add another cup of flour and stir about 1 minute, to help develop the gluten.  Cover the dough with a damp towel and let stand for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.

Sprinkle the salt and oil over the dough and add flour, stirring it in 1/2 cup at a time. When the dough becomes too hard to stir, turn it out onto a well-floured surface.  Knead, adding extra flour to your work surface as needed, for 10 minutes or until smooth and easy to work.

Clean and oil the bread bowl lightly, then place the ball of dough into the bowl.  Cover and let rise until more than doubled in volume, about 3 hours.

Place on a well-oiled grill and turn once. After turning, place toppings. As a tip, add pepperoni or other meats after you remove the pizza from the grill. This will ensure the fats aren't lost onto the pizza.

Panna Cotta with Fresh Ricotta

Anytime it is this hot outside, but you still need something sweet....Panna Cotta is the answer. At our Cheese Bar, The Truffle Table, we make a similar Panna Cotta, only with Avalanche Cheese Company's Chevre. 

From Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen

  • 1 cup fresh Sheep Milk Ricotta from Fruition Farms (can substitute Cow Ricotta)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2Tbl. sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 4 sheets gelatin
  • Honey, Fruit or Nuts for Garnish

Whisk the ricotta and 1/2 cup milk in a large bowl until the ricotta is smooth and lump free.

Place the gelatin sheets in a separate bowl of cold water to soften them.

Place the heavy cream and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk and place over medium heat until just at the boiling point, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat.

When the gelatin is soft, remove it from the water with your fingers.  Add the gelatin to the cream mixture, whisking it in thoroughly to dissolve it.  Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup milk.

Gradually pour the liquid into the bowl with the ricotta, whisking constantly until the mixture is completely smooth.

Strain the mixture through a fine meshed sieve.  Divide the liquid among 6 dessert glasses and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Before serving, top the surface of each dish with fruit, nuts, honey, mint or herbs…get creative!

Tomato Chipotle Jam

This is the most simple recipe! We eat this with cheese and bread, grilled cheese sandwiches, on top of soups, spread on a bagel for breakfast! The possibilities are endless.

Right now at The Truffle Table, this jam is on our bestselling Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Provolone Piccante and Tender Belly Bacon.

Tomato Chipotle Jam

  • 4# Fresh red tomatoes cut to 1” dice (a good quality, canned tomato can be substituted)
  • 2 lemons juice and zest
  • 1 oz ginger cut into slices
  • 2 Cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ of a 7oz can of chipotles en adobo
  • 1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine everything in a wide saucepan and simmer until thick.

Let cool completely and fold in ¼ cup chopped mint