Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Goat Cheese Alfredo Sauce - The End of My Assignment

As some of my most diligent followers may know, I gave my foods class a grocery store assignment last year.  The assignment was to go to grocery stores that they did not normally go to and find cheeses that they did not normally purchase.  To that end, I believe the assignment and my students were a success.  I am always tempting them to become more adventurous with their food choices, that is, to venture out from their usual food pattern. 

I, too, decided to complete the assignment, mostly because I never turn down a chance to eat cheese.  Well, the semester is almost over and I am still working on my assignment.  Ok, I wasn’t getting a grade and neither the boss nor Mom was checking up on me.  A goat cheese made by Beemster is my final choice.  I had never seen or heard of this cheese before my assignment.  This particular cheese is aged for four months.  My colleague and I tasted it and decided the texture was similar to Parmesan cheese.  I ran through a number of things I could make.  At first I was going to make squash ravioli and toss it with some kind of Parmesan cheese sauce.  As time got closer, I realized that was not going to happen.  What do they say about the best laid plans?  I am sure there were some other things I was going to make with this cheese, but they did not get made either. 

I finally decided to make Goat Cheese Alfredo Sauce.  It’s simple.  My ‘eating, chef’ colleague once told me that Alfredo sauce was nothing more than cream and parmesan cheese.  It sounded easy enough to me. 

Here is my version of goat cheese Alfredo sauce.

Goat Cheese Alfredo Sauce

Serves 4.


1 Tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cups 2% milk
1¼ cups (5 ounces) grated cheese, divided
2 Tablespoons less fat cream cheese
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces fettuccine pasta
2 teaspoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1.     Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Stir in flour.  Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk.  Cook until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 

2.     Add 1 cup of grated cheese, cream cheese and salt.  Stir until cheese melts.  Toss with hot pasta.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and parsley. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Working on My Wish List

It seems that all bloggers have a wish list.  There’s the old saying that if you can’t beat’em, join’em.   So join them I did.  I came up with my own wish list.  While some bloggers focus on things they want, (aka, gifts), I decided to focus on dishes I want to make.  At first I chose things like breads, cakes, and chocolate ice cream.  Well, my student helper spoke up, “Why, Dr. Jones, you don’t have any vegetables on your list.  You only have baking stuff”.  So I relented and decided to add some healthy vegetables to the wish.  And yes, these are vegetables that I really want to cook.

If you notice, I have crossed out a few things on my list, like chocolate ice cream and mac & cheese.  But ratatouille remained on the list.  So at the end of this gardening season, I finally got around to ratatouille.  I’m not sure why I wanted to make ratatouille.  Other than, I just did.  I suppose after seeing the movies, Ratatouille and Julia and Julie, I have become somewhat fascinated with French food. 

Ratatouille is an eggplant casserole originating in the Mediterranean.  It can be served hot or cold, as an accompaniment to meat or as an hors d’oeuvre.  I looked all over for a recipe.  I found some that grilled the vegetables, some that threw all the vegetables together in a casserole dish and allowed them to simmer.  Some that included basil and parsley and some that omitted them.  I was in a real quandary as to what to do.  Other than zucchini, tomatoes and eggplants, I knew nothing about making ratatouille.  So, I went to the ‘source’, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  On page 503 of volume 1, is a recipe for ratatouille.   

Here is Julia Child’s recipe for ratatouille.  I did make a few changes.  I hope she won’t mind.


Serves 6 to 8.


½ pound eggplant
½ pound zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons olive oil
½ pound thinly sliced yellow onions, about 1½ cups
1 cup sliced bell pepper, preferably green
2 garlic cloves
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, about 2 cups
Salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons minced parsley


1.     Cut eggplants into 1-inch cubes.  Set aside.  Cut zucchini into a similar size and set aside.  Toss each vegetable with ½ teaspoon salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes.  Drain and towel dry.

2.     Sauté the eggplants in olive oil, one layer at a time.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Place eggplants in a bowl and set aside.  Sauté zucchini in the same manner as the eggplant.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Combine eggplant and zucchini.

3.     In the same skillet, cook onions and peppers.  Stir in garlic.  Add tomatoes and cook until most of the juices have evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

4.     Assemble the casserole:  in a 2½ quart casserole, place of the tomato mixture.  Sprinkle one tablespoon of parsley over tomatoes.  Arrange ½ of eggplant and zucchini mixture over tomatoes.  Place another of tomatoes over eggplant and zucchini mixture.  Sprinkle one tablespoon of parsley over tomatoes.  Arrange remaining eggplant and zucchini mixture over tomatoes.  Place remaining tomatoes over eggplant and zucchini mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

5.       At this point the casserole can be refrigerated until ready to cook. 

6.       To cook, place casserole in oven at 350°F.  Cook until hot.

What I Changed:

1.      I did not peel the eggplant.  Thought I might need those antioxidants in the peel. 

2.       I also used red bell pepper, since that is what I prefer.  I also cooked mine in the oven and not on a stovetop.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Equals Apples

It’s that of year again.  It’s time to go to Nebraska City for apples.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year.  And of course I always purchase way too many apples.  There are tons of apple varieties, each with a unique flavor characteristic.  Apples are available in an assortment of colors and textures, in flavors from tart to sweet.  With thousands of varieties to choose from, it’s easy to find the perfect apple.  If you have been stuck in a red or yellow delicious apple rut, try your local apple orchard for some local varieties. 

Although apples are available year-round, they are best in autumn.  There are about 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the US and over 7,500 varieties worldwide.  The five most common varieties grown in the US are red delicious, golden delicious, granny Smith, gala, and fuji.

A Few Apple Facts for Trivia Buffs

·         25% of an apple’s volume is air, which is why they floats
·         Don’t peel your apple.  Most of the fiber and antioxidants are in the peel.
·         The science of apple growing is referred to as pomology.
·         Apple trees are not self-pollinating.  They need bees to pollinate the flowers to form the fruit.
·         Apples are members of the rose family, along with peaches, plums, cherries and pears.
With my apples I decided to make caramelized apples.  Here is my version.

Caramelized Apples

Cheese for your 'savory' friend and one for your 'sweet' friend.
Serves 8. 


4 large tart apples
½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
½ cup apple cider
1 pint frozen yogurt or
     about 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese 


1.     Peel apples if desired.

2.     In a large skillet combine, sugar and 2 tablespoons water.  Stir until sugar dissolves, bring mixture to a simmer.  When sugar turns brown (caramelized), whisk in butter.  Add apples and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add apple cider and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.

3.       Serve with ice cream or for a savory twist, try a sharp cheese such as Cheddar or blue.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Excess Zucchini?

Recently, on my facebook wall, I posted a recipe for people with too much zucchini.  And just in case you were wondering, I got two zucchini this year.  I think rabbits ate the blossoms.  My facebook friend and colleague, Joan, replied that she would gladly accept the role of taster.  One good thing about working in a nutrition department is there are always people around to eat.  

I decided to take the challenge and bake the zucchini bread just for Joan.  So I went off in search of free zucchini.  Why buy zucchini?  I attempted to get someone to pay me for taking it, but that didn’t fly.  
After tasting the bread, Joan declared, “It’s healthy”.  My reply, “What’s wrong with that?”.  If you want to join Joan in eating healthy zucchini bread, click on the hyperlink above.    
Yes, it's healthy!
If you get a chance, let us know how you are using your zucchini supply.