Tag-Archive for ◊ cheese ◊

19 Jun 2011 Bloomin’ Onion Bread

You know how you read a recipe and you just KNOW it’s going to be good?  This was one of those recipes, a Sourdough bread round, cheese, butter, green onions and a sprinkling of poppy seeds, baked.  What’s not to like? I saw a picture of this delicious concoction on Foodgawker last week and immediately clicked to read the recipe at The Girl Who Ate Everything and The Changing Table. How I held off making it for three days, I just don’t know.  I am glad I didn’t wait any longer though!

The Bloomin’ Onion Bread was a showstopper; I was thrilled with it, and my nine guests couldn’t wait to tear into it.   Everyone thought it was delicious.  I served it with Bourbon-Brown Sugar Flank Steak (which was horrible), broccoli, a lovely salad, and fresh watermelon.  Quite an easy Summer BBQ.  Pity about the flank steak though.  That was another recipe that I thought would be great: marinate a flank steak in dark brown sugar and bourbon and then grill it.  What’s not to like?  Well, brown sugar on steak for starters.  The steak ended up being sweeter than the Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting that I served for dessert.  Why that recipe for the horrible flank steak was posted I just don’t know.  There were even comments posted about liking the steak!

Anyway, here’s a recipe for a side dish that does work, that is delicious, and looks lovely on the table.  Enjoy!

Bloomin’ Onion Bread

  • 1 unsliced  sourdough round (I bought mine at Le Boulanger)
  • 12 16 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced (12 oz. is plenty, 16 oz. would be a bit over-the-top, I think))
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup finely diced green onion
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise without cutting through the bottom crust. The top of the bread  should look like a checkerboard. Cutting the second way can be a bit tricky, but the bread is very forgiving, and if you have a nice sharp knife it’s not so bad.
  3. Place the cut bread onto a piece of  foil on a baking sheet.
  4. Insert cheese slices between cuts, both lengthwise and widthwise (a good job for a young family member or a guest that arrives early).
  5. Combine melted butter, chopped green onion onion, and poppy seeds in a small bowl or pitcher. Drizzle evenly over stuffed bread.
  6. Wrap the bread in the foil.  You will probably need a second piece of foil to cover the of the top.
  7. Place the wrapped bread on the baking sheet into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake  for 15 minutes.
  8. Unwrap the bread (I just took the foil off the top)  and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  9. Serve immediately.  Place a serrated knife on the serving plate,  which would be helpful for cutting hunks of bread off of the loaf to place on individual plates. I didn’t do this,  the cretins at my table didn’t seem to mind, but you might have civilized folk at your table…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Stop by again, and I’ll post my easiest recipe for BBQ flank steak, one I have been using for 20 years, and it’s always well received.  Be sure to subscribe if you’d  like to receive a notification when a new recipe posts. To scroll through the recipes already posted, just click the “In the Kitchen With Polly” logo on the very top left hand side of the page.  Enjoy!

06 Jun 2011 Flank Steak Pinwheels

As I mentioned in my previous note, I’ve had a rough few months, so last Friday I invited my girlfriends over for a BBQ.  This much I know is true: nothing heals and rejuvenates more than a gathering of kind, funny, independent women.  And when you put kind, funny, independent women in a room with good food, some of it experimental, a bottle of wine, and five desserts…WOW!!!  We didn’t get up from the dinner table until 12:12 AM Saturday morning!!! I feel MUCH better!

One of the experimental foods I tried was the Grilled and Stuffed Flank Steak from the Summer 2011 edition of Cook’s Illustrated “Summer Grilling” magazine (page 15).  Truth be told, the recipe was a bit of a hassle.  The flank steak had to be butterflied, then it had to be stuffed, then tied with string, then sliced, then skewered.  But, the recipe worked and it wasn’t hard.  I had fun making this, and the results were very pretty!  Perfect for a girlie BBQ!

I am going to make these again.  I like special, fun, and pretty, and I don’t mind a bit of a hassle to get that.

Flank Steak Pinwheels

You’ll need some metal skewers and some kitchen string to assemble the pinwheels.  The pinwheels are meant to be grilled on either a charcoal BBQ or a gas grill.

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 flank steak, 2 – 2 1/2 lbs.
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese
  1. Freeze the flank steak for 30 minutes (slightly frozen flank steak is easier to butterfly).  Meanwhile, chop ingredients, assemble the stuffing in step 2, unwrap the prosciutto and cheese, and find the skewers, the kitchen string, and a ruler.
  2. Combine the garlic, shallot, parsley, sage and olive oil in a small bowl.
  3. Lay the partially frozen flank steak on a large cutting board, with the grain of the meat running parallel to the counter edge.  With a sharp knife, butterfly the flank steak, leaving 1/2 inch of uncut meat along the top edge of the meat.
  4. Open the meat and lay flat.  It will probably look like a raggy rectangle.  Cover the top of the meat with plastic wrap and then pound the meat with a meat mallet or small pan until the meat is a uniform thickness and the steak is roughly in the shape of a rectangle.
  5. Spread the herb mixture from step 2 over the flank steak.
  6. Lay the prosciutto evenly over the steak, leaving a 2 inch border along the top edge.  Layer the cheese over the prosciutto, again, leaving a 2 inch border along the top edge.
  7. Starting from the bottom edge of the pounded and garnished flank steak, and rolling away from you, roll the flank steak into a tight log and place seam side down on the cutting board.
  8. Now use your kitchen string and tie the rolled flank steak at one inch intervals. (Hint:  Use a ruler to measure the intervals.  You don’t want the string any more or any less than 1 inch apart).
  9. Now skewer the rolled flank steak near each string.  Depending on the size of your flank steak, you should  have about 8 pieces of string, so you will probably need 8 skewers and get 8 pinwheels to grill.
  10. Now slice the rolled and stuffed flank steak at one inch (or slightly smaller) intervals.  Be sure each slice–each pinwheel–is held together with a piece of string and a skewer.
  11. Grill the pinwheels until the center of the pinwheel registers 125 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  This should take approx 6 minutes of grilling time on the first side, and 5 minutes of grilling time on the second side–but of course this has a lot to do with the heat of your fire.
  12. Remove cooked pinwheels from the grill, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove skewers and string from pinwheels, and serve!

I served the flank steak pinwheels with grilled artichokes, marinated Portobello mushrooms, and baked Hassleback potatoes.  The recipe for Hasselback potatoes is posted on my site, and in the next few days I will post my recipe for grilled artichoke and marinated Portobello mushrooms.  Send out the evite!  Have a BBQ this weekend.  Invite all your special friends and rejuvenate your spirit.

Thanks for stopping by my (outdoor) kitchen today.

P.S. This grilled entree is being added to the summer grilling link party at Family Fresh Cooking! Let’s get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, ManPans and Rouxbe!

04 Feb 2011 Mozzarella Sticks

I had no idea it was so easy to fry cheese.  I also had no idea fried cheese was so delicious.  Dang it. There’s no looking back now, unfortunately. Fried Mozzarella sticks are here to stay and they are my 2011 contribution to my Superbowl Snacks Line up (do they have line ups in football?).

This recipe is so yummy that it is all over the Internet.  I found the source recipe at Pass the Sushi and the blogger that adapted it was Michelle from Une-Deux Senses.

I changed the recipe a bit. The quantities didn’t quite work for me, and I simplified the ingredient list.  I also added on reheating instructions.  The cheese can be prepared/coated in advance (up to two weeks or more), frozen, and then fried at the last minute (without defrosting).

Mozzarella Sticks

  • 1 lb. string cheese, 16 sticks (This recipe can be adapted to make any quantity.  Directions below are based on using the entire 1 lb. package.  Adjust quantities accordingly if you are making more or less)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ½ cups Italian-style Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs dried parsley (optional)
  • Canola oil, for frying


  1. Remove wrappers from the string cheese and slice cheese into thirds (slice across, NOT lengthwise).
  2. Place the flour in a Ziploc bag. Toss the cheese in the flour, shake off any excess flour and set aside.
  3. In a shallow bowl or tray whisk the egg with the milk to combine.  Pour the Italian-style Panko into another shallow bowl or tray. Set the flour covered cheese in position 1, set the egg in position 2, and set the panko in position 3, set a baking sheet that will fit into your freezer in position (4).  You should have nice line on your kitchen counter like this:  (1) (2) (3) (4).
  4. Dip the flour covered cheese into the egg mix­ture, cov­er­ing com­pletely, then roll in the Panko-press slightly to make sure the Panko adheres-then place the coated cheese on the bak­ing sheet.
  5. Place the coated cheese in the freezer for at least  30 min­utes (overnight is fine, two weeks is fine, longer is fine as long as you remove the frozen sticks from the cookie sheet and place in an air tight, freezer safe container).
  6. Just before serving, fill a small/medium saucepan with the canola oil until it reaches a height of about 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot, about 360-375 degrees. (I have a dedicated small saucepan that I use just for frying.  I always use a thermometer to maintain the correct oil temperature, too.)
  7. When the oil is hot, carefully place the moz­zarella sticks, 4 pieces at a time in a small saucepan or 8 pieces at a time in a medium saucepan, into the hot oil. Watch the cheese closely and turn or stir to evenly brown.  It will take less than  2 min­utes to cook the cheese. Do not allow the cheese to bub­ble and leak.
  8. Carefully remove the fried cheese from the hot oil and drain on a paper towel.
  9. Serve.
  10. If you need to reheat the mozzarella sticks, place in a preheated 350 oven for 5-8 minutes.  Again, do not allow the cheese to bubble and leak.  Drain on paper towel again, and serve.

I hope  you enjoy your Superbowl Sunday!  If you stop by tomorrow, I’ll suggest some other recipes. I am not much into football, but I sure do enjoy setting out good Superbowl snacks for those ardent, noisy fans.  Superbowl Sunday is a great American holiday in my book!

31 Jan 2011 Strawberry Sandwiches

I have never seen a recipe published for this sandwich, but it’s one of my favorites (probably because it’s more like dessert than a sandwich.  I have my demons, and all of them are sweet…).  I first encountered this sandwich on the campus of San Diego State University, in the late 1970’s, then I never saw it anywhere else, except in my own kitchen. I’ve made my version a lot over the years, usually for tea (tea-the-meal, the one with finger sandwiches, scones, little cakes, and  served on fancy china).  I love tea-the-meal.  It’s a grazers delight; little bits of everything, and everything tasty and pretty. But I digress, back to the Strawberry Sandwich.  (I have never been able to spell “sandwich” without spell check…, it just doesn’t look right without another “h” in there. And I digress yet again…) With strawberries now showing up in our farmer’s markets (yes, in January!) I had a hankering for this sandwich, so I made one, or two.

Like I said, this s-a-n-d-w-h-i-c-h is a great addition to any tea, but it’s a good treat to serve at play dates (PB&J for the kids, SBS for the moms), pack for a walk or a picnic, or to pull together if someone stops by and you want to keep them around for awhile.  The trick to pulling these together at the last minute?  Keep a loaf of raisin bread in the freezer!  Pull out 2 or 4 slices when needed, by the time you get the honey and cream cheese out, the strawberries sliced, and the tea brewing, the bread will be defrosted and ready to use.  These sandwiches would also be good for a Valentine’s Day treat, or a special Mother’s Day event. My daughter had a catering gig on Sunday and I suggested this sandwich to round out a fabulous spread of finger sandwiches. This sandwich could fit in anywhere!  I really can’t understand why no one else makes it.

So, a big Thank You to the cafeteria ladies of San Diego State University for this lovely sandwich.  I hope you get your day in the sun 🙂

Strawberry Sandwich

For each sandwich:

2 slices of good quality raisin bread or cinnamon-raisin bread

approx 1T cream cheese (whatever kind you like, full fat, low fat, no fat…)

approx 1 teaspoon honey (or a little less)

3-4 strawberries, thickly sliced, rounded edges set aside for another use.

Thinly spread the cream cheese on both sides of the raisin bread.  On one side, drizzle the honey and spread evenly over the cream cheese.  On the other slice, lay thick, flat slices of strawberry.  It’s bit of a jigsaw puzzle to get them all to fit without leaving too much space between the slices, but it’s only a small puzzle, nothing intimidating.  Put the bread with honey on top of the bread with the strawberries.  For easiest slicing, flip the sandwich over.  Cut off all the crusts, and then slice as desired.  I usually get three rectangular shaped finger sandwiches from each, but in the picture above I cut in half on the diagonal.  Eat within a few hours.  The sandwich does not keep long, and definitely not overnight.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you are looking for a more savory sandwich to serve with this, check out the post for Smoked Chicken & Almond Sandwiches!

20 Jan 2011 Veggie Breakfast Casserole

Do you have a breakfast casserole in your repertoire?  Breakfast casseroles are great (but they don’t photograph well).  The bulk of the work is done the night before.  The casserole rests in the refrigerator while you sleep, and is taken out and baked in the morning. Breakfast casseroles are a wonderful thing if you are entertaining overnight house guests.  They are  convenient to make for groups of friends sharing a snow condo or the beach house.  They are a must for family gatherings such as Christmas morning and special occasion-baby shower, Valentine’s Day-brunches.  Breakfast casseroles are popular at potluck brunches.  You just gotta have one or two in your repertoire!

Here’s a good one to start with.  It’s based on a Spinach Strata recipe from epicurious.com, but I increased the spinach, added mushrooms, decreased the mustard and the eggs, and changed the method! I guess that means this recipe is adaptable.  Don’t like all that spinach? Use half and then add something else that you do like, diced and drained tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts, sauteed diced zucchini, maybe?  Want to add in a ¼ cup chopped bell pepper or spicy peppers? Go ahead!  Don’t have the specific cheese mentioned? Use what you like and what you have on hand (just don’t use all cheddar or you will have a greasy mess).  Want to saute fresh spinach instead of using frozen spinach?  Go for it! You could also add some browned sausage but I really think a few slices of good bacon on the side would be better. Be sure to add some citrus on the side, too, so that all the iron from the spinach can be absorbed!

My one problem with this recipe is that it makes soooo much! Breakfast casseroles are filling, a 9 x 13 inch pan full serves a crowd of 12 or so (variable of course, depending on how many hale and hearty men and teenage boys you have in the crowd), which is good for many occasions, but not so good for a  quiet brunch at home.  If you are making this just for you and your immediate family, half the recipe and bake it in a 9 inch square pan for a bit less than the stated cooking time.  Leftovers reheat well in the microwave and I have enjoyed this for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I think you’ll enjoy having this recipe in your repertoire.  If you get hooked on breakfast casseroles, I have a smoked salmon one to share, too 🙂

Veggie Breakfast Casserole

  • 2 (10-oz) packages frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, diced
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon  nutmeg
  • 8 cups stale cubed (1 inch) French. Italian or Sourdough bread (1/2 lb)
  • 2 cups (about 6 oz) coarsely grated good melting cheese such as Gruyère, Jack, Smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, cheddar (the combo used will affect the taste of your casserole, of course.  For the best taste, mix your cheeses.  Definitely don’t use a full 2 cups of SMOKED Gouda (overpowering smoked taste) or cheddar (too greasy).
  • 1 cup (about 2 oz.) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2  ¾ cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  1. Defrost spinach in the microwave and let cool.  Then squeeze–and I do mean s-q-u-e-e-e-e-z-e handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.  At least half your “spinach” will be green water.
  2. Cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring, for a minute or so and then remove from pan.  Add diced mushrooms and another tablespoonful of butter and olive oil to the pan.  Saute mushrooms until cooked, about 5 minutes.  Raise heat, and boil off excess moisture.  Add mushrooms to onion spinach mixture.
  3. Pour bread cubes into a very large bowl.  Stir in cooled spinach mixture and cheeses.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Pour this mixture over the bread-veggie-cheese mixture in the large bowl.
  5. Pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Spread mixture evenly into corners and smooth the top. Chill the casserole, covered with plastic wrap, overnight (8 hours or so).
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F while casserole stands at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  7. Bake breakfast casserole, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Enjoy your breakfast casserole with some great coffee, sliced fruit and a slice or two of really good, salty bacon and thanks for stopping by my kitchen this fine, fine morning!

05 Jan 2011 Blue Cheese Dip

My first post of 2011!  How exciting!

I think I’ll start with an appetizer.  I haven’t posted many appetizers in the past.  I’ve always been a bit appetizer challenged.  My Hot Bean Dip is good, but new Year’s Eve, champagne, and Hot Bean Dip?  I don’t think so.

This holiday season I  tried three of Ina Garten’s appetizer recipes from her most recent cookbook,  How Easy is That?:  Savory Coeur a la Creme, Stilton and Walnut Crackers, and Chunky Blue Cheese & Yogurt Dip.  One was OK, one was good, and one was very, very good.  The Savory Coeur a la Creme was a bit of a bust.  I took it to my Cookbook Club, and everyone liked the topping, which was purchased Major Grey Chutney, but they weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about the recipe-made Savory Coeur a la Creme under the chutney.  The Stilton and Walnut Crackers were good, and perhaps post-worthy, but I will have to give them another try first.  I think they might be better if I cut them a bit thinner, I’ll let you know. I fell  hard for the Blue Cheese Dip though.  Delicious!! It is made with Greek yogurt so it is lighter than many blue cheese dips (most of which are made with a few cups of sour cream).  I don’t know why I photographed the dip next to a sliced baguette.  I didn’t put the dip on bread. That would have been weird. I dipped celery sticks into it.  When they were gone, I dipped cucumber slices.  I finished up with the carrot sticks.  I think I had a month’s worth of veggies in the three hours leading up to New Year’s Eve 2011 🙂

I could see thinning out leftover dip and using it as a salad dressing, IF I had any leftovers…

Blue Cheese Dip

  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 7 ounces Greek-style yogurt (I used non-fat because I couldn’t find a whole milk version)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces sharp blue cheese, crumbled
  • 5 dashes Tabasco sauce (more or less to taste, but I found 5 to be just perfect)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of minced chives
  1. Start at two hours in advance (making the night before is also acceptable).
  2. Place the shallot, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, blue cheese, Tabasco, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the processor twelve times, until the mixture is almost smooth but still a bit chunky.
  3. Add the chives and pulse two or three more times.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least two hours to allow the flavors to develop.
  5. Serve with raw veggies for dipping.

Thank you, Ina!  And thank YOU for stopping by my kitchen today!  Come by again tomorrow,  I have another appetizer recipe to share!