Browsing Category


Appetizer, Bread, Cheese, Gluten Free, Vegetables

Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue

bread dipped in fondue 20151224-_MG_3574.CR2

Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue

Do you need a great appetizer, party dip, or something fun for dinner on these cold winter nights? I have just the ticket: Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue.

Our family tradition on Christmas eve is to sit in front of a roaring wood fire and fix a variety of fondues for dinner. One item on the menu never changes: we take a 8” piece of aged filet that we rub all over with lots of salt and throw on the hot embers below the fire. This year we threw a lobster tail with butter and lemon in the coals too. Both were fantastic. I’ll tell you how to do this in another blog.

Over the years we’ve tried a variety of ingredients for the fondues. One of our favorites is Gouda with Sofrito and Habanero Fondue.

chili prociutto onions 20151224-_MG_3543.CR2

A sofrito is typically a mixture of onions, peppers, ham and garlic. With slight variations, it is the basis of many traditional Spanish, Caribbean and Latin American cooking. The sofrito gives these cuisines a depth of flavor. The bold flavors of the sofrito and hot peppers contrast beautifully with the smooth Gouda.

We make the fondues on the stove in heavy-bottom pots and bring it directly to the table. We don’t use special fondue pots for the cheese fondue. Early in the morning I go to the Village Baking Company, a wonderful boulangerie in Dallas, and pick out rye, multigrain and sourdough loaves. With the filet, lobster, and breads cut into bite-sized pieces, speared on a skewer and dipped in the fondues, the result is a rich, soul satisfying combination of creamy melted cheese, rich beef, briny lobster and the hit of just the right amount of heat. If you want this to be gluten free and/or want to add vegetables, try dipping bell peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes in this creamy, spicy fondue!

Gouda, Sofrito and Habanero Fondue

Serves 4 to 6 for dinner, more as an appetizer


2T          olive oil

½ lb        Gouda cheese, grated

½ lb        Monterey Jack cheese with habanero, grated

1T          cornstarch

4 oz        prosciutto or smoked ham, finely chopped

2             scallions, finely chopped. Use both white and green parts.

1             red bell pepper, finely chopped

1             jalapeno, minced. Use less for less spicy heat

1             garlic clove, minced

1t            fresh oregano, minced or ½ t dried

1t            fresh thyme, minced or ½ t dried

¾ c         lager beer, you can use gluten free beer or ale

1T          cider vinegar



 Medium bowl, grater, heavy bottom medium saucepan or an enameled pot, wooden spoon, measuring cup and spoons.


grated Gouda 20151224-_MG_3537.CR2

Toss cheese and cornstarch together in the medium bowl.

Sauté the prosciutto, scallions, red bell pepper, habanero, garlic, oregano and thyme in the saucepan until the onion is golden. Keep an eye on the garlic so it does not burn.

fondue in the pot 20151224-_MG_3571.CR2

Add the beer and vinegar. Bring the liquid to a simmer then add the cheese a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding another.

I use a medium-sized enamel pot and I just leave the fondue in it to serve. If you have a ceramic fondue pot with a candle, use it!

Note: You can use all Gouda cheese and substitute 2t of finely chopped habanero for the jalapeno.

 I serve it with different breads like rye, sourdough, and multigrain. When cutting the bread into bite-sized pieces, try to have every piece have a bit of crust so it is not too soft to dip.

 Be careful when you chop any hot chili. The oil in the chili will stay on your hands even after washing so don’t rub your eyes.





Cheese, Gluten Free, Meatless Mondays, Vegetables

Eggplant Parmigiana quick/fewer calories

Eggplant Parmigiana in less than 45 minutes

Eggplant Parmigiana in less than 45 minutes

It has been raining for five days straight. It’s cold and wet. One reason to live where it can get to 104F in the summer is that it is rarely overcast for more than a day or two at a time. After five days of this I realize I’d never manage in Seattle or Ireland.

Time for comfort food. The problem with most of my favorite comfort foods is the long cooking time and the loads of calories. Enter Eggplant Parmigiana with a Craig Claiborne trick – it is warm, with a rich tomato sauce and just the right amount of parmigiano-reggiano cheese to make it lush and satisfying. It is much lighter, calorie-wise, than the old fashioned recipe and you’ll have Eggplant Parmigiana ready to eat in less than 45 minutes.

Eggplant Parmigiana – quick with fewer calories

Serves 4


2       medium globe eggplants – look for a shiny skin

1T     kosher salt

1       14oz can of tomato sauce – I use Glen Muir

1T     olive oil

2       garlic cloves, smashed, to rub on the eggplant

2       garlic cloves, chopped

½      onion, chopped

1/4c basil, fresh, chopped (1½ T dried)

1T     oregano, fresh, chopped (1½ t dried) or substitute parsley

½ to 1c freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

¼ to ½ lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (optional)

salt and pepper


Colander, a medium saucepan, a broiling pan or cookie sheet, a medium baking pan


Turn your oven to broil.

eggplant in colander

Eggplant weeping in a colander

Slice the eggplant crosswise into ½ inch-thick round pieces. Salt liberally and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. The salt acts to pull the moisture and bitter flavor out of the eggplant.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent, then add the chopped garlic and stir for a minute. Don’t let the garlic burn. Add the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Give it a few extra grinds of pepper and don’t skimp on the salt. Tomatoes love salt. Allow to gently simmer while you prepare the eggplant. Don’t let it boil. Be sure to taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings. If the tomato sauce is bitter, add 1t sugar to help balance the flavors. This is an old Southern remedy for bitter tomatoes.

Rinse the eggplant and pat the pieces dry. Rub the smashed garlic clove over both sides of each eggplant slice. Lightly salt and pepper the slices. Place on a broiling pan and place in the upper third of your oven under the broiler. Watch closely. Allow to lightly brown on both sides.

Lightly broiled eggplant

Lightly broiled eggplant

In your baking pan spread several tablespoons of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the pan. Next add a layer of eggplant slices then add tomato sauce to cover.

layering eggplant

Add a final layer of eggplant, then tomato sauce to cover. On top, sprinkle parmigiano-reggiano and dot with mozzarella till it looks right to you.

Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is melted, hot and bubbly. Serve and enjoy.

Cheese, Great Gift Ideas

Homemade Goat Cheese – Chevre

Goat cheese final 3 20151019_MG_2904CR2

Homemade Goat Cheese – or Chevre

Making goat cheese is so simple you don’t even have to know how to boil water. It’s one of my favorite unique gifts and is a great project to do with children. You can make it your own by adding herbs and spices. You do have to plan ahead and get the ingredients – but there are only 2 ingredients.

I first made goat cheese years ago when I started having migraines. On the no-no list of foods was any aged cheese. Actually, all my favorite things in my refrigerator were on the list. I decided to make my own goat cheese. First I had to find fresh goat’s milk. You cannot use the ultra-pasteurized version – what I found in the grocery store – so I decided to find a herd of goats.

Rosie (left) and Serenity (right)

Rosie (left) and Serenity (right) at Latte Da Dairy

By sheer luck I found Latte Da Dairy just as Anne was getting it off the ground and she had extra goat’s milk to share. She has now won a number of awards locally and nationally for her outstanding goat cheeses. Unfortunately, she no longer has goat milk for sale.

Latte Da has their annual open house on November 8th. It is worth the trip to Flower Mound, TX to see her girls and boys (as she calls her goats). Definitely try her smoked goat cheese, my new favorite. Find Latte Da Dairy on Facebook, too.

I found a new source for goats milk in the Dallas Ft. Worth area at the Coppell Farmers’ Market. Check out the Hidden Valley Creamery in Argyle, Tx. In addition to goat’s milk, Hidden Valley has wonderful yogurt and my favorite, Cajeta (a traditional Mexican caramel sauce). Your local farmer’s market or natural grocery store may have low-heat pasteurized goat’s milk. For you sailors who can find goats around most ports of call go to: Ricki Carroll online and in her “ Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses” book, which has great information on pasteurizing raw milk.


more ideas for flavoring

Sautéed sweet onion, garlic with black pepper and smoked paprika, lemon zest with fresh dill and black pepper, dried oregano, sage and rosemary

So, on to the fun part:

Homemade Goat Cheese

Makes about 1½ lbs of cheese.


1 gallon pasteurized whole goat’s milk. Not ultra pasteurized. If you use lower fat goat’s milk your cheese will be drier.

1 packet direct-set chevre starter (which is inexpensive)


Large stock pot, large colander, large spoon or ladle with slots or holes, thermometer, cheese cloth (or use butter muslin) and kitchen twine.


Pour the goat’s milk into the pot. Slowly heat the milk to 86F. Watch it because it is easy to overheat. Gently stir in the chevre starter. This is great to do with children because the milk won’t burn them.

Take the pot off the heat, cover it, and let it sit for 12 hours. Your room should be above 72F.

Curds in cheese cloth lined sieve

curds in cheese cloth lined sieve

Line your colander with the cheese cloth. Gently move the semi-solid curds from the pot to your colander with the slotted spoon. The whey is the liquid left in the pot. (“Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey”)

Gather the cheese cloth around the curds and tie it so it hangs over your sink or over a pot to drain for 7 to 12 hours. Again, your room should be above 72F. The longer you leave the curds to drain, the crumblier and drier your cheese will be. After draining, your cheese will need salting. You can use cheese salt. I use kosher salt to taste. It will take more than you think.

hanging curds

hanging fresh curds

curds after hanging for 12 hours

curds after hanging for 12 hours

That’s it! Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Goat cheese topping 20151019_MG_2889.CR2


Personalizing your chevre: To add flavors to your goat cheese spread your flavoring on top of a piece of plastic wrap. Roll a log of cheese over it so it sticks on all sides. Very tightly wrap your cheese in the plastic wrap.