Posts Tagged ‘gruyere’

The best France has to offer!      

French influenced pizza

Vacation memories

Back when the economy was booming (well, right about the time it started to crash and burn), we took our honeymoon to Tahiti. All the stars were aligned in the sky – which is the only way we were ever able to afford it (in reality, it was Chase Bank -known to me forever by another, more colorful moniker –  messing up our property tax escrow for a full year and supplying us with a hefty refund when they finally got it right). The French influence abounds in the local cuisine. Of course, fresh fruit and Tahitian vanilla were everywhere. But so were Croque Monsieur and Crepes.

Our first night, we walked to a nearby restaurant on Moorea called Le Sud. My husband had a chicken curry and I had a personal pizza. Cracker-thin crust was layered with creme fraiche, thinly sliced potatoes, herbs, olives, caramelized onions, and topped with gruyere. Hot and bubbling and intensely flavorful, it was my new favorite food. I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since.  How could something so simple be so hard to produce? Perhaps it was the romance of the islands that had me under its spell.

Where to start?

Suzanne Goin has a wonderful recipe for a Wild Mushroom Tart with Onions and Gruyere in her Sunday Suppers book that seemed like a good jumping off point. From that recipe, I came to understand that her influence was the Alsatian pizza, Flammekueche. The base is puff pastry layered with creme fraiche and gruyere. What could be more French than that? While a little different than the pizza from my memories, it was pretty close.

Mexican Crema  =/= Creme Fraiche

Cause I’m cheap, I thought I could use Mexican crema in place of the creme fraiche. It worked out ok in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it cause it curdles pretty easily. In the recipe below, I replaced the crema with the creme fraiche.

Don’t forget to caramelize the onions!

The recipe also requires caramelized onions. Easy to make, just takes awhile. The longer you let them cook the better they are. I lightly sauteed onions in a combination of butter and olive oil. Then I reduced the heat and let them cook down for maybe 10-15 minutes. Finally, I popped them in the oven while I was cooking something else and let them go for another 45 minutes.  

Alsatian Pizza

Serves 2 for dinner, more as an appetizer


1 sheet puff pastry – thawed
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup caramelized onions
2 pieces bacon – crumbled
sprinkle of fresh thyme
handful of olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup grated gruyere


1. Preheat oven 400 degrees F.

2. Unfold puff pastry. Score the edge with a knife – so, about 1/4 inch from the edge, run your knife parallel to the edge all the way around all four sides of the sheet of puff pastry. This will make the edge rise up nicely.

3. You could brush the edges with an egg wash, but I didn’t…

4. Spread the creme fraiche evenly along the surface – up to the scored edge.

5. Sprinkle caramelized onions, thyme, bacon, and olives across the creme fraiche.

6. Sprinkle the gruyere on top of the other toppings

7. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cut into pieces and serve.


Ms. Pantry Raid


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Sage Butter Mac and Cheese

Sage Butter Mac and Cheese

The easiest mac and cheese ever

What? Mac and cheese again? Oh, don’t be so shocked. You obviously have no idea how much a covet macaroni and cheese. So when I saw this recipe on Food Network recently, flirting at me with it’s cheesy gooeyness, I knew I had to make it. Aida foregoes the typical béchamel – instead, the creaminess comes from mascarpone cheese and pasta water (and it’s a real time saver). The most taxing part of this recipe is the grating of the cheese – which is a breeze in my Cuisinart. The crunchy topping takes it to a higher level. Make sure to use top notch cheese, salt enough and use at least the recommended amount of sage (I undercut it a little cause my sage plant is not doing well). I halved the recipe and used a 9×9 dish – I am assuming you would need a larger one if you make the full recipe. Additionally, I went by the weights of the cheeses in this recipe, not cups.

Sage Butter Macaroni and Four Cheese
From Food Network

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
4 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
1 pound macaroni
3 tablespoons thinly sliced sage
6 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
4 ounces shredded aged Cheddar
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to broil and arrange rack in top. Butter a 9 by 9-inch baking dish and set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter and mix in a medium bowl with 1 cup of the Parmigiano and all the bread crumbs until thoroughly moistened; set aside.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for half the time indicated on package.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it starts to foam, add sage and cook until crisp and butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside until pasta is ready. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain pasta.

Return pasta to pot and place over low heat. Stir in sage butter, reserved pasta water, remaining 3 cups Parmigiano, Gruyere, Cheddar, mascarpone, and salt, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir constantly until cheeses are evenly melted and the pasta looks well coated. Turn pasta into baking dish and evenly top with bread crumb mixture. Place under broiler until mixture bubbles and top is browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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potatogalette2Does this girl ever eat healthy?

It’s all about portion control, right?

Once again, this recipe is actually about being frugal – I had some potatoes that were starting to get wrinkly and needed to be used asap. I’ve always wanted to make a galette, so thought this would be a perfect opportunity and found a recipe that would also use up the gruyere in my fridge.

My only qualm with this recipe is that the potatoes – where they didn’t have cheese on top – were so sad and soggy looking. Maybe it needed to be baked longer. Maybe it’s because I used baking potatoes instead of Yukon Gold. Other than the visual appearance of the potatoes, the taste was great. My husband kept raving about it and pretty much finished it off (but you know, how can you go wrong with potatoes and cheese?).

Yukon Gold Gruyère Galette

From Fine Cooking


1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (from about 2 large shallots)
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; plus 1/2 tsp. for the pan (or use olive-oil spray for the pan)
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 large or 3 medium), unpeeled and scrubbed
1 heaping tsp. very lightly chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about a 1-1/2-oz. piece, grated on a box grater’s small holes)
1 cup finely grated Gruyère (about 3-1/2 oz.)


Combine the shallots and 3 Tbs. of the oil in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to a low simmer; cook the shallots until nicely softened (don’t let them brown), about 2 min. Remove from the heat and let cool completely (about 25 min. at room temperature; cool them more quickly in the refrigerator. if you like).

Heat the oven to 400°F. Rub the bottom and inside edge of a 7-1/2-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with the remaining 1/2 tsp. olive oil or spray with olive-oil spray. Put the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.

Slice the potatoes as thinly as possible (about 1/16 inch) with a chef’s knife. Tip: If the potato wobbles, slice a thin lengthwise sliver off the bottom to stabilize it; then continue slicing crosswise. Discard the ends. Put the potato slices in a mixing bowl, add the shallots and olive oil along with the herbs and toss well to thoroughly coat the potatoes (a small rubber spatula works well).

Cover the bottom of the tart pan with a layer of potato slices, overlapping them slightly. Start along the outside edge of the tart pan and, making slightly overlapping rings, move inward until the bottom is covered with one layer of potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt (a generous 1/8 tsp.) and then sprinkle about one-quarter of the Parmigiano and about one-quarter of the Gruyère over all. Arrange another layer of potatoes, season with salt, sprinkle with cheese, and repeat two more times, until you have four layers of potatoes. (This is a messy job; you’ll need a damp towel to wipe your hands between layers.) Top the last layer with more salt and any remaining cheese.

Bake the galette until the top is a reddish golden brown and the potatoes are tender in all places (a fork with thin tines should poke easily through all the layers), 45 to 50 min. The bottom will be crisp and the sides brown.

Let the galette cool for 10 or 15 min. in the pan. It will then be cool enough to handle but still plenty hot inside for serving. Have a cutting board nearby. Run a paring knife around the edge of the galette to loosen it and carefully remove the tart ring by gently pressing the tart bottom up. Slide a very thin spatula under and all around the bottom layer to free the galette from the tart bottom. Use the spatula to gently slide the galette onto a cutting board. Cut into four or six wedges, or as many as you like.

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Despite the dough debacle, it still tasted great!


Apologies. That was uncalled for. But seriously, WTF. I’ve made this recipe a number of times but TWICE something very strange has happened. As I stretched the dough, thousands of tiny holes appeared. This time it was salvageable. Last time, it literally disintegrated in my hands. You can see the beginnings of the hole problem in the dough picture. Why, Signor Batali, does your dough treat me this way? Did it overproof? Was it kept too warm? Should I have stayed with white wine instead of the Vermouth? Do I not have the loving touch?

See the holes in the dough already?

See the holes in the dough already?


Tonight’s pie was topped with whatever I could find in the refrigerator – since I totally forgot to thaw the Italian sausage (and couldn’t be bothered when I finally remembered). Leftover pizza sauce was the base for one pie. Leftover pizza sauce spiked with Harissa was the base for the other (in retrospect, not sure I’d do that again). Bits and bobs from the cheese drawer: the end of a hunk of gruyere, a smidge of extra-aged gouda, the last of the feta crumbles, and the bottom third of a bag of Tillamook Italian blend cheese. The only other toppings I could find were herbs – fresh thyme, parsley and chives. Oh, and the obligatory red pepper flakes.

Serious Heat

Let’s talk a sec about the oven. You do let it preheat, yes? To at least 450 degrees? Until the buzzer goes off? I know many people let it preheat for an hour, but I’m not that patient and truthfully, I feel like it’s wasteful. So anyway, I do let it preheat for awhile. And I can’t go any higher than 450 in this tiny condo or the fire alarm will go nuts (curse you – hard wired alarm system!). And most importantly, I have a pizza stone. Love it. Cannot believe I lived without it. My friend, you must buy one.  But if you do, make sure it’s substantial. No ridges or edges. Preferably square – something you can slide a pizza peel onto. And whatever you do, don’t ever, EVER put a frozen pizza on it (and if you do, do not come crying to me when your stone breaks into hundreds of tiny pieces – not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…)

Without further interruption, here’s the recipe for the dough

• 1/4 cup light red wine or white wine
• 3/4 cup warm water
• 1 package yeast (This is where I went way wrong the first time – I used 2 packages. Don’t do that).
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 1/2 cups double zero flour and 1/2 cup AP flour, sifted together

Combine the wine, water, and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt, and the olive oil and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2-3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.

Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth, firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.

Cut the risen dough into 4 equal pieces (an interruption: please, I never get 4 pieces. I get two) and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rest 15 minutes.

Shape, top and bake for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

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