Brie and Fig Fondue

Brie and Fig FondueTake a Dip
The 70s were a funky time, man. We had bell bottoms and disco. There was a lot of plaid and polyester–tragically sometimes at the same time. (Yikes!) We had 8-track tapes of Abba and the Bee Gees. And let’s not dare forget the abundance of macramé. Be honest, you all had a macramé owl on your wall at some point. As a child of the 70s, I survived all of these. One thing I didn’t experience? Fondue…

It seems strange, really. As a food family, you would think, given its popularity, that fondue would have been a regular occurrence. You would, however, be very wrong. And, apparently this is something that has been missing in my life. That would be the only logical explanation I could come up with that would explain why I quite randomly used a gift card I received for the holidays to purchase two, yes, two, fondue pots, very much out of the blue.

To be fair, I did not order two of the same fondue pots. Why make this wackier than it needs to be? I instead ordered an electric one and the more traditional fondue pot that you keep hot with tea light candles. Why the two versions you ask? Because, and I had no clue this was the case, fondue is not just a pot of melted cheese. One can also Fondue with hot oil or broth. (Mind blown.) For the oil or broth version it is best to have an electric fondue pot so it is easier to control the temperature. Makes perfect sense.

The arrival of said fondue pots—and, of course, the requisite library of fondue cookbooks—was way more exciting than it should have been. (This is what happens when you’ve been locked up with your family for entirely too long and have reached the end of Netflix.) We had to try it out immediately. We opted for a hot broth fondue as well as a cheese fondue. I went with broth because we’re all a little twitchy right now. And, I found the idea of hot oil to be potentially problematic. You will be happy to note that no people were harmed in the making of this fondue. In fact, I was pleased to note that doing fondue this way is essentially like having Asian Hot Pot. (I know, but this was a revelation for me.) The recipe I chose was good but I would like to find another one that has a bit more oompf. When I do, I will make sure to pass it along.

For the cheese, I went with a brie fondue that was so, so good. The original recipe called for fig preserves to be mixed into the melted brie. I thought this would make it too sweet. So, I left it out and served the preserves on the side as a dipping sauce. I think it was better that way, but feel free to try both versions. The cheese “dippers” were a traditional variety of cut bread, veggies and fruits. But, we all agreed the absolute best combo was dipping a crunchy red grape into the cheese. Divine!

Since stormaggedon is upon us and it looks like rain is in the forecast for the next week, now would be a great time to enjoy some hot, melty cheese when the temperatures are chilly outside. Can you dig it?

Brie and Fig Fondue Recipe
Yields 2 to 4 servings
Recipe adapted from The Essential Fondue Cookbook Read more…

The Cheese Plate

The Cheese PlateThankful
Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to celebrating the blessings in our lives. It is not about tangible gifts but rather the gifts that cannot be seen. Thanksgiving is about spending quality time with friends and family to appreciate all that is good and to reconnect while seated at a table for a feast to remind ourselves what is the most precious.

The circumstances surrounding this year’s celebration have not changed the basic premise of the holiday. We will still celebrate and give thanks for all that we have but this year we celebrate friends, family, and the other blessings in our lives by not getting together. We are showing how much we care about the families we were born into and the families we choose by staying safe at home so that next year we can all come together to gather around the same table in good health.

This reality is not what we would choose, nor what we would prefer, but it is the right thing to do. So whether you’re a party of four, or two, or one for turkey this year, take heart that your are not alone. We are all in this together and together we will all get through it. So raise a glass to toast those whom you are missing at your table and to the hope that at this time next year, we will all be together around the table again.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from your family at Piedmont Grocery.

The Cheese Plate
A cheese plate is an easy appetizer to throw together and with some simple rules of thumb, you can create one that is delicious and varied. Cheese plates can be artful, with lots of room for improvisation. Read more…

Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot
What do you eat when it feels like you’re living on the face of the sun? I have lived in California my whole life and yes, in August and even into September, we typically will get days that are in the 100s. The lightning show we had over the weekend is definitely not typical nor is the humidity that went with it. I don’t know how people who live in hot and humid locations do it. Personally, I don’t handle it well.

My sister and her husband lived in Atlanta for a few years and I remember visiting them and felling like I was going to pass out—and it wasn’t even the height of the summer! You walk out the door freshly showered and you’re immediately sticky. I’ll take the dry heat, thank you. Even without the humidity just the thought of making something for dinner in the hot weather makes me sweat.

I am not a salad person per se. I like salads but they are not my go-to first choice for an actual meal. I usually have them with a meal so that I don’t go looking for a snack an hour later. The exception to that is when it’s hot outside. For the past week I have been enjoying a number of heartier salads including a couple of chef’s salads as well as various tomato salads. My tomatoes are loving the weather even if I am not. So, we have been trying to eat them as fast as we can.

Salads work for me in the heat for two reasons. First, not having to turn on a hot stove, oven or even the grill is an obvious benefit. Second, I tend to not eat as much in the heat so what would normally leave me hungry in an hour, actually fills me up just fine.

This recipe for Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad is perfect for summer weather because it combines some of the best produce of the season with cheese. How could you possibly go wrong? The original recipe calls for peaches but I prefer nectarines. (Mainly because I’m not a fan of the fuzziness of the peach skin.) I have made this according to the original recipe many times, but I have also made it with the addition of fresh mango and/or cucumber to the mix. It’s tasty and cooling at the same time…

Nectarine, Tomato & Burrata Salad Recipe
Yields 4 Servings
Adapted from Bon Appetit Read more…

Mushroom Poblano Tortas

Mushroom Poblano TortasMushroom Motivation
As someone who loves to cook, it doesn’t take too much to get me excited enough about something to give it a try for dinner. Right now I feel like I’ve reached the end of the culinary internet.

I make dinner almost every night—I would say 95% of the time. But, in the past, whenever I felt like I just couldn’t muster the strength, I knew we could hop in the car and go out to eat or to pick something up. In the past almost 5 months, that hasn’t really been an option. Sure, takeout has been available, but that can get pricey quickly. All of this adds up to me having done a lot of cooking. I mean A lot of cooking. And, for the first time that I can remember, I am not very excited about cooking anymore.

My sister is in the same boat and she cooks more than I do. Both of us have cooking fatigue and I am sure we are not the only ones out there feeling this way. The arrival of summer produce has helped. But, it still feels like an ordeal to come up with what to have for dinner—or any other meal. And the other mouths in the house are not always helpful when it comes to ideas.

Over the weekend I made a Mushroom and Poblano Torta recipe that stoked my cooking flame because it was something I never made before; and if you make enough of the filling, you have options for meals the next day. It’s always good to have options. The original recipe called for coriander in the beans, I tried it that way and I also tried it by swapping out the coriander for cumin. I prefer the cumin version. The coriander was just too strong for me…

If you decide to give this a go I would recommend doubling the mushroom poblano and onion mixture. It makes great quesadillas or tacos for lunch or would be super in an omelet or egg scramble for breakfast.

Mushroom Poblano Tortas
Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Milk Street Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball Read more…