Baked Goat Cheese

Baked Goat Cheese - Breaded

Goat cheese always reminds me of my friend Peggy. It would be her way of treating herself after a great accomplishment, or perhaps just a long hard week. She would bake it in the oven in a bed of marinara sauce, and sco0p it up with fresh bread from a local bakery. I was always impressed with how decadent it appeared, yet how simple it was to prepare. It’s been a year or so since I’ve watch her make her creation, yet I’d never made it myself. But what better way to unwind with something rich and indulgent (yet surprisingly healthy) and so simple to prepare?

Baked Goat Cheese - EnteroBakes Goat Cheese - SlicedBaked Goat Cheese - MarinatingBaked Goat Cheese - On Cracker

When I saw this recipe I was reminded of my friend — and so, nostalgic, we went to the store and bought some to prepare. It was simple, yet you can make it more involved if you like. I chose to marinated it, as David recommended, in a little olive oil and herbs. When we were ready to eat I quickly dredged the slices in some homemade breadcrumbs (although store-bought pre-seasoned works just as well if you’re in a rush) and stuck it in the oven for a matter of minutes. Served with a warm tomato sauce and on some nice toasty bread or homemade crackers, a delicate bed of greens — it is a simple, decadent meal on its own, or it can be an appetizer or accompaniment to your main course. Now that I’m working and much too busy to spend hours on recipes, this will become a semi-frequent staple for those nights we want something special.

Baked Goat Cheese

Ingredients:
6 oz Soft Fresh Goat Cheese

Marinade (optional):
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
Fresh ground pepper
Dash of Salt

Bread Crumbs:
2 slices day old bread, crumbled (should make 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (minced)
1 teaspoon fresh sage (minced)

Directions:
1. Prepare the marinade. Mix salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, and olive oil in a dish to marinate. Slice goat cheese in 1/2 thick disks and place in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

2. Toast bread crumbs. Crumble the bread finely. Mix with 1 teaspoon olive oil until just coated. Season with salt and pepper. Toast in oven at 400ºF for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix with chopped herbs.

3. Bake. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Remove cheese from marinade, allowing excess oil to drip off. Dredge in bread crumbs and place in oiled baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese starts to ooze out a bit. Serve on fresh toasted bread or crackers.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

IMG_2261

This is a simple, healthy, Mediterranean-style salad which can be served as an entrée or as an accompaniment. The fresh ingredients stand out for themselves, so there is little need for fancy culinary IMG_2216skills. It looks like a work of art, yet it is so simple. I would have added some nice fresh tomatoes, perhaps cherry, if I had had them, or also feta cheese.

Mediterranean-Style Chickpea Salad


Ingredients:
2 cups chickpeas, soaked, cooked, and patted dry (or 1 can, drained).
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, seeded, and peeled*
10-12 fresh olives with their pits
24 cloves garlic, roasted** (more or less to your taste)
Handful of  either fresh cilantro, basil, parsley and mint (I used a mixture of all), torn.
Olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lime

Directions:
Make sure the garbanzos are patted dry. Heat some olive oil in a pan on high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beans. Sauté until the outsides become golden brown, and crispy in a few areas. Then add the chopped red onion and remove from heat. You may cook it all the way through, or leave it raw. I like it with a bit of a bite, but wanted to soften it a bit for this recipe. Heating it slightly in this way will start the cooking process but leave it with some of its sharpness. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Add a few glugs of olive oil, the lime juice, zest, and fresh herbs. Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Let the mixture marinate for at least an hour. The longer it sits the better it tastes, in my opinion. I like this at room temperature, but it is good both hot and cold as well.

IMG_2252

*Roast the bell pepper at 400ºF for about 10 minutes, or until the pepper has become soft. Seal in a ziplock bag and let cool. Once cooled, remove from bag and the skin should easily peel off.


**Roast the garlic at 400ºF wrapped in foil, drizzled with olive oil for about 45 minutes until soft.

Zucchini Fritata

IMG_2093

I love eggs — from a simple egg over-easy on top of a piece of toast, eggs with ketchup or salsa, to scrambled eggs with onion garlic, tomato, and some fresh basil. We tend to eat eggs quite often, and not just for breakfast. A very traditional Guatemalan meal which has become a part of my cooking repitior is huevitos con frijoles: refried beans scrambled with eggs. They are satisfying, healthy, enjoyable meals, but simple enough to throw together at the end of those long days when we haven’t had time to shop or put on our creative thinking caps. This mediterranean meal, too, is just as simple.

This was another recipe developed to consume our overabundance of zucchini. But what a delight it turned out to be. This is a colorful, nutritious dish, and can be adapted to any palate and awaits your creative take. Don’t like dill, don’t have it? IMG_2038Use some fresh mint, cilantro, or parsley instead. No zucchini? How about some spinach. Have some red peppers, capers, sun dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes? Those would work too. Any veggie or even meat that you would put into an omelet would work here. Its somewhere along the lines of a quiche, but with a little bit of flour and baking powder to give it a lighter fluffier texture. It went very well with the zucchini tatziki we had along side. You could serve this as an appetizer, side, or main entrée. It is delicious warm, cold, and at room temperature. You can increase the amount of cheese, decrease the amount of flour. Basically make it how you like. Its hard to mess up.

Continue reading

Urban Herb Gardening

IMG_1867

Lately I have been into fresh herbs. In the past, as poor grad student, I didn’t invest in them often. I found that they would ruin too quickly, and because my schedule was rather unpredictable, I couldn’t always use them right when I bought them. Here in Guate common herbs are quite inexpensive. Cilantro, parsley, and mint are less than .25USD for a huge bundle. When I buy a bunch specifically to make something like chirmol (Guatemalan pico de gallo), I can only use a quarter of what I buy before it ruins. And then herbs like dill, basil, and rosemary cost nearly 2USD for a measly stem. You can’t make pesto from 5 leaves of sweet basil. Sorry. We do without those herbs.

Once I tried to use all the mint and cilantro I bought before they ruin. I made all kinds of salad dressings and dips, and added them to things maybe I shouldn’t have. To be honest I was cilantroed-out. I never thought that would be possible. So I resolved to start my own herb garden.

We do have a garden area which we share with 3 other apartments, but because I am unsure of the public planting policy, and because of the neighbor’s cocker spaniel whom which she can’t seem to control, I decided that I would do an indoor container garden. Also, the avocado tree we have is infested with some type of hairy worm that builds those nests that can quickly take over and entire branch. So I didn’t want any of that getting near my babies.IMG_1870

I was going to grow them from seeds, but every time we made the somewhat inconvenient trek to Superb Agricola, they didn’t have what I was looking for. There is a Vivero (green house) just down the road from us, so last Friday I walked there with an empty backpack. I got parsley, basil (but not the sweet basil- that doesn’t seem to be available here), and mint. Then on Saturday I convinced Héc to take me to another location where I found cilantro and rosemary. Now they are all potted and looking nice in our apartment.

IMG_1800The basil, cilantro, parsley and mint are all together, and the rosemary has its own little pot. I’ve hear that mint can be overwhelming, so I potted it in a smaller plastic container within the big pot in order to tame it a bit. Every morning I open the window so they can get their 6-8 hours of required sun light. I think that the winter here may be just a tad cold for the basil (it can get down to 40º at night), so I might give them a dose of our space heater if they are looking sad.

I am determined to get dill and sweet basil. I may just have my mom illegally send me some.

Now I don’t know much about taking care of herbs, but I am researching it along the way. I’ve already repotted and examined the roots and leaves for aphids and grubs. The last plant I bought from that vivero turned out to be infested with something and died right away. Any tips anyone can offer, I’m all ears.

I can’t wait until they are harvestable. I will keep ya posted.