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.

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Elephant Chips

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The Ancient Mayan legend says that Guatemalans are “the people of the corn”. One day three gods, all water-dwelling feathered serpents, tried to create man. They began with mud, but the creation could neither talk nor dance. Second they tried wood, but the figures had no souls or blood, and destroyed all creatures in their sight. Finally, they successfully created men from maize, or dough made from cornmeal. And so, that is how the Guatemalans call themselves the people of the corn. When we think about this creation story compared with the other traditions of the world, it may not seem that far fetched.

Another Legend says that Elephants come from potatoes*. And if you look not-too-carefully at a gnarled spud you might see a resemblance (perhaps the ears and trunks form after fertilization). The story says that if the mother elephant fails to protect her eggs carefully, the greedy humans will ravage her nest and turn them into delicious mashed potatoes with garlic and chives. Alternatively, if the mother sits on her eggs too long, she will squish them, turning them into potato chips, which the humans also quickly gobble up. It is a delicate balance reproducing in the elephant world.

That must have happened here. We made some lovely, simple, healthy potato chips tonight to accompany our tuna sandwiches. However, they didn’t become flat from an overprotective momma elephant…they were just thinly sliced, tossed with olive oil, salt, and paprika, and put in the oven for 20 minutes at 425, flipping half-way through.

Elephant Chips:
3 large russet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
1 teaspoon paprika

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Thinly slice the potatoes and place in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss. Place the potatoes on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake multiple batches if necessary, otherwise the chips won’t crisp. Sprinkle with paprika, more or less to taste. I recommend experimenting with your favorite herbs and spices- paprika is always my go-to-spice for this kinda stuff. In the oven for about 20 minutes, flipping half way through, or until golden. Baking time may vary depending on your oven and how thick you slice your potatoes.

*The second myth is not a true Mayan legend. Solo tonteras.

Chilled Winter Squash Salad with Garam Masala, Walnut, and Coconut

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Initially I was going to make baked squash like my mom used to. We would have Acorn squash, halved, baked with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The closest thing to acorn sqaush in Guate is qüicoy, but the taste is very similar. But from there it took a very different turn. In place of cinnamon I used Garam Masala, and I added apples and carrots to the mix, and because I had to run some errands and then later forgot about the veggies, it turned into a cold salad with yogurt dressing. Somehow toasted coconut and walnuts ended up being tossed in at the very last minute, adding rich flavors and textures that complimented the salad beautifully. I really think they make it so spectacular.

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I imagine some chopped dates or raisins would add a nice texture and natural sweetness as well, and for certain sweet potato is another veggie that fits in with squash carrots and apple.

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Zucchini Tatziki with Pepita

IMG_2090We had a lot of zucchini laying around from nearly two weeks ago. It was one of those too-cheap to pass up kinda deals I guess. But so long ago I don’t remember. Otherwise, I don’t know what made me think we could consume that much. Perhaps it was this recipe waiting to be made. Anyway, last night was zucchini night, featuring this flavor-packed dip along with a zucchini fritata, both inspired by Almost Turkish recipes. After reading about the health benefits of Mediterranean cuisine, along with finding fresh, in-the-brine olives (probably one of my favorite foods of the world next to cheese), we have been increasingly modeling our meals after the Greeks, Turks, and Italians… as well as feeling a little less guilty about sopping up our whole wheat baguettes with generous glugs of herb-infused olive oil and roasted garlic heads.

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This recipe fits in right there. I used thick and rich homemade fat-free yogurt, sautéed zucchini from the market, some minced and crushed garlic, plenty of dill, roasted pumpkin seeds, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. All natural, remarkable healthy, and truly addictive. I served this up with some homemade crisps from leftover pizza dough I had frozen from a few weeks ago, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and paprika

Zucchini Tatziki:

adapted from Almost Turkish Recipes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup thick greek-style plain yogurt (if you can’t find greek yogurt, I highly recommend draining what you buy at the store)
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fresh chopped dil
1/4 cup pepitas, toast (or walnuts or pine nuts if you cannot find pepita)

Directions:
Grate the zucchini, salt generously, and sit in collendar for about 30 minutes to let drain. Squeeze out any remaining liquids from the zucchini using a clean dishtowel. Heat olive oil in a pan and sautee the zucchini until tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Peel and chop garlic. With a mortar, grind the 1/2 tsp salt with the garlic until it makes a paste. Mix garlic paste with yogurt and dill. When the zucchini has cooled, add it to yogurt mixture.

Toast pepitas in pan or oven on high heat. They will pop as they become toasted. This should IMG_2072only take 2 or 3 minutes. Let pepitas cool, and add to mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold on toasted pita bread or crackers.