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    Smoked Mozzarella Bread Pudding

    This rustic Smoked Mozzarella Bread Pudding is made with tangy sourdough and chock full of stretchy smoked mozzarella cheese. Hearty enough for a vegetarian main dish, or serve it as a side dish at your next holiday dinner.

    Bread pudding recipes are so easy to make and satisfying to eat. I have quite a few sweet ones in my repertoire, but this savory one is really special. It’s quite good on its own for a quick lunch with a side salad, but it really shines as a dinner party side dish. Thanksgiving is next week, and if you find the idea of making scratch-made dressing daunting, then I suggest this dish – not as a replacement – but as a worthy alternative.

    Leek love.
    Leeks are the unsung hero of this dish. The comically large oniony stalks break down easily and impart mild onion flavor. But you’ll need to clean them thoroughly! Their sheaths can hold some of the sandy soil they are grown in. Split one down the center with a large knife and clean each layer individually. Then give them the ol’ chop-chop.

    Smoked Mozzarella can be found at nearly any cheese counter at well-stocked grocery stores. Go for the block variety, and not the pre-shredded stuff in the bags. Because those shreds have stabilizers in them to prevent them melting during shipping. You’ll need 8 oz. of smoked mozzarella, grate half of it. Pull apart the remaining cheese with your fingers to create 1/2-inch pieces. Set the grated portion aside – it goes on top right before baking.

    Cut a loaf of sourdough to 1-inch cubes and toss in a large bowl. Mix up the custard with the smoked mozzarella bits and lots of eggs. (Better add an extra dozen to the grocery list!) The custard has a lovely buttermilk tang to match and enhance the sourdough flavor.

    You could make this in a single 10-inch cast iron skillet, or even a 13×9 inch casserole dish. But I decided to use these little individual 14 oz. cast iron skillets. (You could also use 14 oz. ramekins.) I had purchased them when my husband wanted individual skillet cookies for his birthday party a few years ago. They were perfect for this savory bread pudding, and the serving size is generous.

    Spoon the bread mixture into the mini skillets, and place them on a large baking sheet so they’re easy to transfer to the oven. They don’t take very long to bake in individual portions. Only 20-ish minutes. If you’re cooking this as one big dish, you’re looking at about 40-45 minutes bake time.

    Each little skillet holds layers of sourdough, pockets of smoked mozzarella, and mild sautéed leek. The buttermilk custard adds richness and another layer of tangy flavor. I can’t wait for you to try it!
    If you’re looking for something sweeter with holiday flair, check out my Panettone Baked French Toast. Which is the most Christmassy bread pudding ever!

    Smoked Mozzarella Bread Puddings

    This rustic, tangy sourdough bread pudding is a meal unto itself. It’s also a lovely side for a dinner party or special occasion dinner. This dish can be cooked as one large bread pudding in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a 13×9 inch baking dish. Increase the bake time to 40-45 minutes, or until well set in the center. See the recipe notes for variations with other ingredients.

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    Prep Time 35 minsCook Time 20 minsTotal Time 55 mins

    Course BreadCuisine American

    Servings 6

    Equipment14 oz. mini cast iron skillets (6)
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 2 cups chopped leek about 1/2 of a large leek2 tablespoons salted butter16 oz. loaf sourdough bread8 oz. block smoked mozzarella cheese2 1/2 cups buttermilk5 egg yolks2 whole eggs1 cup heavy cream1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon pepperOlive oil for greasing cast iron skilletsChopped parsley for garnish optional
    Instructions Sauté sliced leek in butter in a skillet over medium heat until tender and slightly translucent. Set aside to cool, 10 minutes.Cube the sourdough loaf and place it in an extra-large mixing bowl. Set aside.Grate half of the mozzarella cheese; cover and set aside.Pull the remaining cheese apart with your fingers to 1/2-inch pieces (or cube the cheese with a sharp knife).In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks, whole eggs, and heavy cream. Stir in the cooled leeks, 1/2 inch cheese pieces, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread and stir well until all the bread cubes are coated. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.Preheat the oven to 375°F.Brush mini cast iron skillets with olive oil. Spoon the bread pudding evenly into each skillet. Sprinkle each skillet with the reserved grated mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centers of the puddings comes out clean, or with a little stretchy cheese attached.Broil 2-3 minutes to brown the tops. Let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley, if using.
    NotesWhat to expect:
    This rustic bread pudding is deliciously rich and tangy with buttermilk custard and sourdough bread. It’s hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but it’s excellent as a side for roasts, fish. It feels special served in individual cast iron skillets at special occasion dinners. See blog posts for links to the skillets.
    Bake as one big dish of bread pudding.
    Coat a 10 inch cast iron skillet with olive oil, or spray a 13×9 casserole dish with cooking spray. Place all of the prepared bread pudding mixture into the dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center is well set. Broil for 2 minutes to brown the top.
    Add this!
    Sauté one cup of fresh wild mushrooms with the leeks. This adds another layer of autumn flavor.
    Add chopped sundried tomatoes for another variation. Top each bread pudding with torn fresh basil.

    Keyword buttermilk, heavy cream, leeks, smoked mozzarella cheese

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers are perfect for parties and game day gatherings. They’re stuffed with cheesy goodness and wrapped in bacon which crisps in the oven as they bake.

    In spite of all the cinnamon-spiced, pumpkin-filled things I have on the blog agenda, this savory bake has edged them all out to be my first published recipe of Fall 2021. The reason? First of all, it’s football time in Tennessee. I don’t watch the game, but my dad is a fan. And I enjoy making, sharing, and eating all kinds of game day food. Second (and perhaps more pressing) the jalapeno pepper plants in my little garden overfloweth.

    The vegetables in my garden have been plentiful this year, but none more so than the jalapeno plants. They are so easy and fun to grow! Even now, when all the other plants are waning, the jalapenos are still going strong. I’ve let them grow on the vine too long, so now I have some really colossal peppers that need a purpose.
    This recipe is it! It’s a party staple but you don’t need an excuse to make them. They are so easy to make, not too hot, and everyone seems to love them.
    Cheese, please!

    Grate a block of good extra-sharp cheddar instead of using the pre-shredded stuff, if you can. It blends with the cream cheese better and melts like a dream! The pre-shredded stuff will work in a pinch, but you’ll love how melty and bubbly the block cheese becomes.
    Onion and garlic powders, along with freshly ground pepper add more savory flavor to the peppers. Some people leave those spices out, but they work a special magic on plain cream cheese. I say use them!

    The seeds and ribs carry most of the heat in the pepper, so put on some gloves and scoop them out. Use a spoon or a curled finger to scrape the ribs out.

    Once hollowed, fill them with the cheese mixture. Use the back of a spoon to press the mixture into the pepper cavities.

    That’s a wrap!
    Here’s my cheat. I use thin pre-cooked bacon. Hormel Black Label is what I keep on hand and it works well. It’s pliable enough for wrapping and crisps up perfectly by the time the peppers are cooked. If you prefer to use uncooked bacon make sure it’s THIN sliced.

    This classic appetizer is so simple and really satisfying. My peppers were so big, I had to use two strips of bacon per pepper half. The recipe I’ve written calls for more normal-sized peppers that you can easily find at the grocery store, for a yield of 24 poppers.

    These are so wonderful served with sour cream and a sprinkle of scallions or chives. I served these with the last of the garden’s cherry tomatoes. A fond farewell to summer.

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

    Heather Baird

    These delicious baked bites are game day staples and a classic party appetizer. Instead of uncooked bacon, I use thin pre-cooked bacon (Hormel Black Label works for me). If you use uncooked bacon, make sure to get THIN CUT. This ensures that the peppers and bacon will be cooked through at the same time.Use gloves or two plastic baggies over your hands to scoop out the ribs and seeds from the peppers. Otherwise you may experience burning fingers from the capsaicin in the peppers.

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    Prep Time 15 minsCook Time 20 minsTotal Time 35 mins

    Course AppetizerCuisine American

    Servings 24

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar block cheese preferred1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon onion powder1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper about 12 turns from a grinder1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt12 fresh whole jalapeno peppers each 3 inches long12 slices uncooked thin sliced bacon or 24 thin slices pre-cooked baconSour cream for servingScallions or chives for serving
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foilPlace the cream cheese, grated cheddar, garlic powder, onion powder, ground pepper and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir together with a rubber spatula. Fold together several times to make sure all the ingredients are well dispersed. Cover and set aside.Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise. Put on gloves and scoop the seeds and ribs out with fingers, or use a spoon to scrape them out. Place the hollowed pepper halves on the prepared baking sheet.Fill the pepper halves with spoonsful of the cheese mixture, heaping them a little higher than the edges of the peppers (don’t overfill or the cheese will bubble out).If using uncooked bacon, cut the slices in half so you have 24 pieces of bacon. Wrap each filled pepper with a bacon half so that the ends of the bacon meet underneath the peppers (seam-side-down, so to speak).If using precooked bacon, wrap one whole piece of bacon around each filled pepper so that the bacon ends meet underneath the peppers.Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon is browned and the peppers are softened.Serve peppers warm with sour cream and chives. These are also great at room temperature.
    NotesBacon can be crisped further under a broiler for 2 minutes. Watch carefully!
    Larger or smaller peppers will change the yield of the recipe. My peppers were huge, but were still fully cooked at 20 minutes.
    Bacon pieces can be secured with toothpicks prior to baking, if they don’t want to stay put.

    Keyword bacon, cream cheese, extra-sharp cheddar, fresh jalapeno peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, pre-cooked bacon

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    Throw the Ultimate Backyard Oktoberfest Party with a Feast of German Fare

    Bring Bavaria to your backyard with our ultimate Oktoberfest party guide! Here you’ll find a feast of authentic savory German fare, tempting sweets, and festive drinks.

    A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to plan and develop recipes for an entire Oktoberfest feast, at the request of my friends at My pal and colleague, Camille, ( managing editor and all-around creative whirlwind) was putting together a shoot for a huge Oktoberfest party guide. I was beyond thrilled to be invited to contribute! And if that were not enough excitement, the party would be held in my own backyard. You guys. I was completely over the moon! (Still am.)

    While Camille and her team set up a beautiful biergarten/drink station under our big poplar tree, we dressed a buffet table nearby. We donned it in Oktoberfest party pennants, blue linens, and a white tablecloth that totally gave me peasant shirt vibes. Then we filled it to the brim with the best German fare we could find and make – including a German fare charcuterie board to rival all others. Read on for links to all of the recipes.

    Party-Perfect Recipes for German Fare.

    You could say this is the German version of mac-and-cheese. My mini Käsespätzle, pies recipe is a riff on the classic German cheesy noodle dish. Here I’ve transformed it into a hand-pie for your party. Get the recipe at this link: Mini Käsespätzle Pies.

    This classic Kartoffelpuffer recipe (German potato pancakes) is easy to make as appetizer-sized mini pancakes to feed a crowd. Serve the crispy mouthfuls with applesauce and sour cream for dipping. Get the recipe at this link: Mini German Potato Pancakes.
    Brezen and Brot.

    It wouldn’t be much of an Oktoberfest party without soft pretzels! These soft, chewy twists are a frequent sight in German biergartens and the perfect salty companion to spicy mustards and beer cheese. And! This recipe shortcuts the work with pizza dough. Get the recipe at this link: Easy Bavarian-Style Soft Pretzels.

    Homemade bread bakers, this one is for you! Dense, nutrient-rich dark seeded breads are well loved in German culture. And dreikernebrot, is the perfect example of dense, chewy German bread full of aromatic grain flavors. Making it is a bit of a production, but the end result is well worth it. Find the recipe at this link: Homemade German Seeded Bread Recipe.
    Old World Sweets.

    Black Forest Cakes in miniature! This rich chocolate cake hails from the Black Forest region of Germany (you may recall my full-sized version here). It’s a layered confection soaked with Kirsch (cherry liqueur), and filled with whipped cream and Morello cherry preserves. Find the recipe at this link: Mini Black Forest Cakes.

    These individual strudels have a crunchy phyllo wrapper with a sweet interior of shredded apples, golden raisins and walnuts. Find my recipe at this link: Mini Apple Strudel Recipe.
    A Cozy Sip.

    Although Oktoberfest is ALLLL about the beer, it’s also nice to have something warm to sip on a cool fall day. Traditional glühwein, which translates to ‘glow wine’ will make cheeks rosy and keep Oktoberfest and fall fun in full swing. Find the recipe at this link: Authentic German Mulled Wine Recipe.

    Speaking of cozy! Even Cashew got in on the fun. We found some puppy lederhosen, and he and brother Biscuit crashed the party in style. (Look for Biscuit in the image gallery – he’s the one eating cheese!)

    The real Oktoberfest in Munich was cancelled this year because of :: gestures wildly at everything:: so this is a great time to take party matters into your own hands. I hope this guide will inspire you to create your own Oktoberfest party at home!
    Be sure to browse the entire Oktoberfest party gallery on, with links to all the crafty details.

    You may also enjoy: LEGGI TUTTO

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    Deep Dish Sausage and Cheese Quiche

    Brunch is served! Deep Dish Sausage and Cheese Quiche is filled with sausage crumbles and sharp cheddar, which makes a hearty bite for breakfast and beyond.

    I made this quiche last week for the first time and really enjoyed it. My work days are getting busier the closer we inch towards fall (online publishing always starts the season early!). So I’ve been looking for a make-ahead dish that is easy to grab for lunch. Quiche might just be the perfect workshop lunch. There’s plenty of things from the garden right now to add on top, such as cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. Eat a slice cold or re-heated- either way it’s a hearty and quick bite!

    Slice up some melon and berries (which are at summer peak) and you’ve got a beautiful brunch. I served this with what I call ‘Strawberry Salad’. Which is not really salad at all, but sliced fresh strawberries brushed with melted strawberry jam and sprinkled with poppyseed. It’s a great side to this quiche and really, there’s no recipe needed! I make a bunch ahead and it keeps well refrigerated.

    Start this recipe with my easy all-butter crust. However, you can absolutely start this recipe with a ready-made deep dish frozen pie crust. No judgement. My recipe is easy to make in a food processor and comes together quickly.

    To reduce mess, roll the crust between two sheets of parchment to 12-inches. Peel off the top sheet and flip the crust on the second sheet of paper onto the deep dish pan. Peel the paper away and fit it into the deep dish pan. Then, turn the excess crust under at the edges and crimp or pinch the edges. At this point, stick it in the freezer to chill while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

    Fill it up!
    Next, brown some sausage. I recommend regular breakfast sausage – not sage, not hot, not maple-flavored – just the good ol’ standard. Then, in a little of the sausage drippings, sauté onion and bell pepper. When all of this cools down a little, mix it together with shredded sharp cheddar.
    In another little bowl, you’ll combine the wet ingredients. Now. This recipe only uses three eggs which won’t seem like enough. When you pour the mixture over the sausage in the pie shell, it will disappear to the bottom. This is right. This is normal. This quiche will not have a custard-y finish. Instead, it’s a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish that focuses more on the filling.

    This provided several lunches daily for me and the two other people who dine with me. It was nice being able to breeze in and out of the refrigerator with slices of quiche, melon wedges, and sweet strawberries on the side.

    Deep Dish Sausage and Cheese Quiche is great for summer, especially topped with sun-ripened cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs (or greens like arugula!). But I’m also eyeing it for an easy Christmas Eve breakfast. I’m always looking for a good time-saver for the holidays (here’s another good one!).
    This recipe was adapted from Carolina Cooking.

    Deep Dish Sausage & Cheese Quiche

    Heather Baird

    Brunch is served! Deep Dish Sausage and Cheese Quiche is filled with sausage crumbles and sharp cheddar, which makes a hearty bite for breakfast and beyond.A frozen, unbaked deep dish pie shell can replace the scratch-made crust. This recipe can also be varied with whatever shredded cheese you have on hand.

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    Prep Time 15 minsCook Time 30 minsTotal Time 45 mins

    Course BreakfastCuisine American, French

    Servings 9

    Equipment9 inch deep dish pie pan
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric All-butter quiche crust1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt1/2 cup unsalted butter cold5 tablespoons ice waterQuiche filling1 lb. ground pork breakfast sausage1/2 cup finely chopped onion1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar1 tablespoon all-purpose flour3 eggs1 cup evaporated milk1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley1/8 teaspoon fine grain salt 2 pinches1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    Instructions CrustIn the bowl of a food processor, add the flour and fine grain salt. Pulse to combine. Cube the butter and add it on top of the flour. Pulse 2-3 times until roughly incorporated and large chunks of butter remain. Continue to pulse as you add the tablespoons of water. Pulse until the mixture forms a rough dough to one side of the bowl.Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and top with a second piece. Roll to a rough 12-inch circle. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and pick up the crust by the paper and invert onto a 9- inch deep dish pie pan. Remove the paper and press the crust into the pan. Fold under the excess dough at the edges and crimp. Transfer to the freezer while you prep the filling.QuichePreheat the oven to 350F.Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir constantly while cooking until well done, about 8 minutes. Remove sausage to a paper towel-lined plate reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings in the pan.Sauté the onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent and the pepper is tender. Let cool slightly. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and place on a baking sheet.In a large bowl, combine the sausage, onion and pepper, sharp cheddar, and all-purpose flour. Toss to combine. Spoon this mixture into the pie crust.In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour over the sausage mixture. The egg mixture will disappear to the bottom of the pan – this is normal.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Cool slightly.Slices can be served warm or chilled, but I prefer this hearty sausage quiche warmed.
    NotesThe homemade crust can be replaced with a 9-inch frozen unbaked deep dish pie crust shell.
    Reheat slices in the microwave for 1:30 seconds at 100% power, or at 350 for 10 minutes in the oven.
    Top with whatever fresh thing you have on hand – cherry tomatoes, basil, arugula, watercress -anything goes!

    Keyword all butter pie crust, breakfast sausage, extra-sharp cheddar

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    The Ultimate Southern Brunch Board

    Homemade pimiento cheese, grits waffles with peach-bourbon syrup, and buttermilk biscuits are just a few offerings on this bountiful southern style brunch board.

    Holy smokes, will you look at that?! I am obsessed with beautifully styled, bountiful brunch boards in general, but this one is special. Making this Ultimate Southern Brunch Board was pretty much my dream come true. As a born and raised southern girl I can tell you this. Everything here reflects the place where I’m from. My East Tennessee home is within the Appalachian Mountains, where food traditions have deep roots. And ‘there’s always room for one more at the table’ is practically our family motto.
    I wish I could invite every single person reading this over for a taste of this feast. But for now, the best I can do is share some of my favorite heirloom recipes. Some of which already live here on the blog. First up – my favorite pimiento cheese recipe, which is a combination of Southern Living’s and The Lee Bros. recipes.

    Pimiento cheese serves us well as a sandwich spread, appetizer, or beside a pile of pickled okra on this brunch board. Forget the pre-shredded stuff. The secret to really great pimiento cheese is a block of extra-sharp cheddar.

    Simple is best!
    The best pimiento spread has few ingredients. A box grater and an 8 oz. block of extra sharp won’t take long to break down into feathery shreds. Add the cheese to a bowl, along with some jarred pimiento patted dry on paper towels. Add a little cream cheese, JFG mayo (or other, if you must) and a coarse grind of black pepper. Stir it up and enjoy!
    You’ll find the recipe in greater detail at the end of this blog post.

    Next – eggs. What would brunch be without eggs? You can’t go wrong with boiled eggs from the deli section at the supermarket (no peeling!). A few folded up crepe/omelet-style eggs can be neatly tucked in here and there.

    Buttermilk is a magic ingredient!
    Tangy buttermilk biscuits can be made into sandwiches with salty country ham (it’s like the Appalachian version of prosciutto) or spread with another southern favorite – tomato jam. If you find yourself with a bumper tomato harvest this year, make jam!
    Buttermilk Grits Waffles is another favorite that has buttermilk tang and uses up leftover grits as an ingredient. I usually don’t have any leftover grits when I make them, so my first step is whipping up instant grits, which takes just 5 minutes.

    In addition to maple syrup, peach-bourbon syrup is a must for waffles. Make it with fresh peaches for the tastiest results. You can find out how to make it in the Grits Waffles recipe notes.

    Most importantly? Cornbread. Get my all-time favorite buttermilk cornbread recipe right here. Southern cornbread is unsweet, but that just makes it more perfect to stuff with butter and drizzle with sorghum or honey. My grandmother would crumble cornbread into beaten eggs for a hearty scramble. It’s good, especially with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
    Grandma’s silver pitcher makes a fine vase for pretty flowers!

    Get the whole run-down of everything seen here in the list below. The recipes are linked, along with some things you can pick up at the store or easily throw together, like a pot of grits!
    Homemade Pimiento Cheese with crackers (recipe is at the bottom of this blog post)Southern Buttermilk Biscuits Southern Cornbread with honey or sorghum syrupButtermilk Grits Waffles (with Peach-Bourbon Sauce in recipe notes)Cherry Tomato JamBoiled eggs and scrambled (crepe/omelet style) eggsCountry ham, bacon, and sausage linksPickled okraMaple syrupGrits with butter and black pepperSalted butter, for serving on biscuits, cornbread, and waffles

    Homemade Pimiento Cheese

    Heather Baird

    Pimiento cheese is a simple mix of Cheddar, jarred pimiento (cherry pepper) and mayonnaise. However, this spread’s ingredients are as varied as the southerners that make it. Purists only use mayonnaise as a binder, but I find that cream cheese makes it heartier and extra-creamy. Spread it on crackers or between soft or toasted white bread. This recipe serves about 8 as an appetizer or makes 4 sandwiches (1 1/2 cups of spread).

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    Prep Time 15 minsTotal Time 15 mins

    Course AppetizerCuisine American, Southern United States

    Servings 8

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 8 oz. block extra-sharp cheddar cheese3 oz. cream cheese at room temperature4 oz. jar pimento peppers patted dry on paper towels3 tablespoons JFG mayonnaise or other high-quality store-bought mayonnaise1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauceFreshly ground black pepper to taste
    Instructions Grate the cheese on the large holes of a box grater.Place the grated cheddar in a large mixing bowl. Pull apart the cream cheese and scatter over the cheddar along with the pimentos, and mayo. Add Worcestershire and a few grinds of black pepper. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients together until well incorporated. The mixture will be thick. Add more black pepper to taste. Add salt if desired, but I never need to because the cheddar adds enough salt for my taste.Transfer the pimento cheese to a jar or plastic lidded container. Store the pimiento cheese in the refrigerator. This will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.

    Keyword cream cheese, extra-sharp cheddar, JFG mayonnaise

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    Classic Cheese Fondue

    Cozy up to a warm bowl of gooey cheese fondue accompanied by plenty of fruit and vegetable dippers. It’s easy to make at home for a special night in. 

    This is a bit of a departure from the mostly sweet menu here on the blog, but I’ve always loved a good fondue and this is my all-time favorite cheesy recipe. The melted wine and cheese concoction along with the right other ingredients (dippers!) makes a lovely, intimate meal. It is easily made at home for a fraction of the cost that you’d pay at a fancy fondue restaurant.

    If the lack of a fondue pot is keeping you away from this heavenly indulgence, then I’m happy to say you don’t really need one to start. A regular saucepot and dinner forks will do just fine. And if you find that you enjoy fondue-ing as much as I do, then that’s when you should shop for your own dedicated fondue pot with a burner. I couldn’t resist using my most beloved fondue pot for this post, which was given to me as an anniversary gift from my husband years ago.

    For me, the magic combination is 1:1 ratio of Gruyere to Swiss. Don’t go for the pre-shredded stuff, because those have added stabilizers which hinder melting, and anti-caking agents such as cellulose to keep the cheese from clumping together. They won’t bubble up properly in this recipe and those fillers are not very appetizing! 

    If your grocery store has a cheese counter (most large US stores do) then purchase blocks there, and ask for them to shred it for you at the deli. Or, if you have a food processor, then the shredder attachment will make short work breaking down the blocks into feathery shreds.

    I’m including a few tips on serving and safety when firing up a fondue pot. I have several books on the topic and this seems the right place to share what I’ve gleaned from them, along with some of my own experience. These all pertain to cheese-based fondues.

    It’s best to make the cheese fondue on the stovetop in a saucepan, and not directly in your fondue pot. Transfer the mixture to the fondue pot after it’s mixed. If you’re without a fondue pot, simply serve the fondue in the saucepan placed on a trivet, or transfer it to a pre-warmed bowl. The best way to pre-warm a bowl is to fill it with hot water, when the fondue is ready, pour out the water and wipe it dry before filling.
    An overfilled fondue pot is a recipe for disaster. Fill it no more than halfway full.
    Fondue forks should be regarded as cooking implements and not dining tools. Don’t eat directly from the fondue fork. Instead, place the dipped, cheese-covered food on a plate and use a standard fork for eating. If you’re without fondue forks, use large dinner forks as your mode of dipping, and salad forks for eating.
    If you’re fondue-ing for family night, small children should be watched closely near an open flame. Provide them separate small ramekins of melted cheese away from the pot. They are also enthusiastic dunkers, so I don’t recommend using your best table linens.
    Cheesy fondues need to be stirred intermittently. This is a pleasant babysitting job, and you can help keep the cheese mixed by swirling your fondue fork in a figure 8, stirring the cheese as you dip.
    Don’t keep the burner on the entire time. Unless your fondue pot is electric, it could make the cheese too hot to enjoy. Re-light the burner when the cheese cools and bring back to melty consistency. When you’re almost done eating the fondue, turn the burner to low and allow the remaining cheese to form a browned crust. Remove and break it into pieces to eat for a crusty cheese delicacy.

    What to dip? More like what not to dip! My favorite dippers tend to be fresh fruit and vegetables, although my new favorite dipper is roasted fingerling potatoes. I love cheesy potatoes of all sorts, and this was a revelation. I also feel that no cheese fondue is complete without French bread cubes – so good! 

    Most of our fondue nights are for a party of two, which means there will be leftovers for lunch the next day. Instead of re-melting the leftover fondue, we simply cut the chilled fondue into pieces and serve it alongside crudités and light charcuterie meats. Even chilled it holds the wonderful wine notes that make fondue so delicious.

    It is always a risk to call any recipe “classic” since popular dishes like this can be made in a variety of ways and can differ across the geography of where it originated. However you slice it, this recipe uses two great cheeses of Switzerland, and makes a fine fondue. 

    [click to print]
    Classic Cheese Fondue
    Yields 6 servingsEmmental cheese is Swiss cheese with buttery notes and fruity flavor, it is traditionally used in this recipe. American style Swiss cheese (such as Alpine Lace) can also be used and is milder with nutty flavor. Purists may object, but a small amount of cornstarch is added to this recipe. It keeps the wine and cheese from separating when heated, and no one will know it’s there.1 garlic clove, halved
    1 1/2 cups sauvignon blanc wine
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1 tablespoon water
    1/2 lb. Swiss cheese, coarsely grated
    1/2 lb. Gruyere, coarsely gratedAssorted dippers: grape tomatoes, fresh celery and carrot sticks, roasted fingerling potatoes, French bread cubes, tart apple slices, small whole radishes.Rub the interior of a 4-quart saucepot with the cut sides of the garlic (discard garlic).Pour the wine into the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small condiment cup, stir the cornstarch and water together to form a slurry. Set aside. Add the cheeses to the pot of simmering wine gradually. Stir in a figure-8 and zigzag pattern to prevent the cheese from balling up. Avoid using a circular motion. Cook until the cheese is melted and creamy (do not boil).Re-stir the cornstarch slurry if it has settled; add it to the fondue and stir in figure-8/zigzag motions to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened about 5-8 minutes. Transfer the cheese to a fondue pot set over a flame and serve immediately.Notes:
    Two tablespoons of kirsch (cherry eau-de-vie) may be added to this fondue for a truly authentic Swiss Fondue. Kirsch can be hard to locate but can often be found in pastry supply stores.Almost any dry white wine can be used in this recipe, but for my personal taste only sauvignon blanc will do.

    link Classic Cheese Fondue By Heather Baird Published: Monday, February 08, 2021Monday, February 08, 2021Classic Cheese Fondue Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Triple Cheese Omelet Bake for Christmas Breakfast

    This dish is ready when you are! Layers of potatoes, cheese, eggs, and bacon make this a hearty breakfast. Prepare ahead and refrigerate it overnight for a fuss-free Christmas morning.

    Today I’m posting something savory to balance out all the sweet things I’ve been making. I’m a huge fan of breakfast casseroles (see this fave) and I’m always on the lookout for a worthwhile recipe that will make Christmas or New Year’s morning easy. 
    This cheesy omelet bake scored high marks during recipe testing and ended up being lunch for about 3 days in a row. So, if you’re a breakfast every hour person like I am, you’ll probably love this for any meal. And what’s not to love about bacon, eggs, and cheese that sits atop a layer of hash browns? It’s all good. 

    I decided to create a breakfast buffet for this post, because these Panettone Muffins are not to be missed! I’ve made them a few holidays in a row, and they are always a crowd-pleaser. 

    And for something special to sip, I mixed up a batch of Sparkling Pomegranate Punch. Here it’s made just the same as the recipe I’ve linked, except this time I topped it with some pineapple sherbet. Turns out, this was a really good idea. 

    The omelet bake is already pretty easy to put together, but I have a shortcut to recommend anyway. Pre-cooked bacon will remove the step of cooking raw bacon and it crisps up wonderfully as it bakes on top of this casserole. It requires nothing more than a quick chop.

    This will serve 6-8 hungry people, or if your Christmas morning is more intimate, then leftovers keep well and reheat easily in the microwave. It’s great for lunch with an arugula salad on the side, or even a little cup of mandarin orange segments, which I serve with breakfast often.

    [click to print]
    Triple Cheese Omelet Bake
    Yields about 8 servings2 tablespoons butter
    1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped onion
    1/4 cup (40 grams) chopped green bell pepper
    26 oz. (1 large bag) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
    2 cups (226 grams) shredded Swiss cheese
    12 slices of bacon, cooked
    8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, softened
    6 large eggs
    1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
    1/2 cup (56 grams) freshly grated parmesan cheese
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    1/3 cup chopped scallions, optionalPreheat oven to 350°F. Evenly spray the inside of a 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook chopped onion and green pepper in the butter, stirring constantly until tender and the onions turn translucent. Set aside.Evenly spread the hash browns in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with Swiss cheese. Chop the cooked bacon and sprinkle half of it over the cheese, and top with the cooked vegetable mixture.In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until softened. Add eggs and milk; beat until smooth. Scrape down sides and bottom of mixing bowl to make sure ingredients are thoroughly blended. Add parmesan cheese, salt and pepper; beat until just blended. Pour the egg mixture over ingredients in the dish and sprinkle with remaining half of the bacon.Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. Let cool 5 minutes and top with chopped scallions, if using. Serve immediately.Make ahead: This dish can be assembled, covered, and chilled overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking, or add 10 minutes to the bake time if the dish is still chilled.
    link Triple Cheese Omelet Bake for Christmas Breakfast By Heather Baird Published: Monday, December 21, 2020Monday, December 21, 2020Triple Cheese Omelet Bake Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Cherry Tomato Jam

    This sweet spread is an easy way to enjoy summer’s tomato harvest long after the season has ended. Add it to a charcuterie board for a gourmet touch, or gift a jar to your favorite epicure.I first tasted cherry tomato jam many years ago at a local brasserie, where they served it alongside grilled calamari and an array of house cured meats on a charcuterie board. What a revelation! It was so wonderfully sweet and summery, and its flavor harmonized with everything on my plate. Each time I dined there I made sure to order something that had tomato jam as an accompaniment.This year I planted cherry tomatoes in my little 6′ x 11′ garden outside the workshop with designs to replicate my favorite tomato jam. And boy, did I ever have a bumper crop!
    The variety of cherry tomato I planted is called “Sweet Millions”. I’ve planted “Sweet 100s” before, which yielded a good crop of tomatoes, but I’ve never seen anything like the grape-like clusters on the Sweet Millions plant. I counted about 32 tomatoes on just one cluster!If anyone is interested in growing this variety next year, I purchased my live plant from Grow Joy, right here. Back in March when I was planning my garden, I wasn’t doing any shopping at local nurseries or home and garden centers, so I was happy to find a company that would ship live plants. They have some unusual offerings that aren’t available to me locally, and a unique way of packing the plants so they don’t get damaged.
    My best friend also loves the brasserie’s tomato jam, and so together we worked to get the closest flavor approximation. Lots of tomato jam recipes add strong spices such as cloves or they incorporate hot peppers. This is not our jam. The jam we know and love has unadulterated sweet tomato flavor, so our recipe has very few ingredients – but each one is important!A note about canning jars – I can’t find any at the grocery store right now! This makes me think eeeeverybody is currently canning their summer harvest. Luckily I had some jars squirreled away from last year, but if you’re coming up empty handed, then consider upcycling. Used jam jars and pasta sauce jars with screw-top lids can be washed and sterilized in hot water. You won’t be able to process these in a water bath, but this jam keeps for 6 months in the refrigerator.
    If you’re like me and have cherry tomatoes coming out of your ears, then THIS! This is what to do with them! The jam is wonderful with savory fare, but it’s also good as a simple smear on a buttered baguette.Our current obsession is eating it on wheat crackers with goat cheese and a leaf of fresh basil on top, but the possibilities are endless!

    Cherry Tomato JamYields about four 4 oz. jars2 1/2 lbs. organic vine-ripened cherry tomatoes2 cups (400g) granulated sugar1 teaspoon coarse black pepper1 tablespoon lemon juice3 tablespoons water1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 teaspoon coarse black pepperWash tomatoes thoroughly and remove stems. Gently pat dry with a soft tea towel.Place the tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large stock pot. Place over medium heat and stir until tomatoes are coated with sugar. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, mashing the tomatoes with a large wooden spoon or spatula as you stir. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the salt and pepper. The mixture may foam as it cooks; when foam rises to the top, skim it off with a large spoon.Stir frequently to ensure the tomatoes are cooking evenly, until most of the liquid has cooked off. The mixture is ready when it has a glossy appearance, the tomato skins are translucent, and it has a slightly sticky consistency.Ladle the jam into sterilized canning jars and lid. Let rest at room temperature until cool. Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to six months.If canning these for long-term storage, process the jars in a water bath canner with boiling water that covers the tops of the jars. Time the jars at 15 minutes when the water starts boiling again after adding them to the canning pot. Remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to stand until the lids seal (with a satisfying ‘pop’!).Serve tomato jam over goat cheese with crackers, or alongside a charcuterie board. Serve with seafood, or use it to fancy-up fried potatoes of all kinds!
    link Cherry Tomato Jam By Heather Baird Published: Wednesday, August 26, 2020Wednesday, August 26, 2020Cherry Tomato Jam Recipe LEGGI TUTTO