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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Manchego Frito: Not your ordianry Fried Cheesestick.

It goes without saying, I LOVE CHEESE. I love warm melted cheese. Sadly, when you hear "Fried Cheese" what comes to mind are those puny little pre-made frozen "Mozzarella" (an insult to a fine cheese) sticks. The good news is, a properly made fried wedge of GREAT cheese is easy to make, and SO worth it!

Manchego, Spain's most famous cheese is produced under strict guidelines with the raw milk of Manchega Sheep. It is usually aged anywhere from 3 to 12 months (though it's standards dictate that 2 months is the minimum). It has a rich golden color and can have many small "eyes" or holes. The robustness of the flavor develops as it ages. Because it's texture is semi-firm, it melts well without becoming overly gooey, which can lead to your fried cheese falling completely apart. Serving the dish with slices of Membrillo, or quince paste adds a wonderful contrast of sweet with rich and salty. You can find Membrillo in any good cheese shop, or often even in a grocery with a nice cheese selection. This dish will pair nicely with anything from a spanish Rioja or Albarino, to a sparkling Cava.

Manchego Frito
1 C Panko Breadcrumbs
½ C Flour
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Milk
½ tsp Pimenton Dulce
Vegetable Oil for frying
Crusty Bread
Mixed Spanish Olives
Membrillo, sliced

In a wide shallow  bowl, whisk together the egg , milk, and Pimenton. Slice the Manchego into wedges. Dredge through flour, followed by the egg mixture and finally coat with the panko.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Fry the cheese wedges until golden brown on each side. Transfer to a paper lined plate. Serve with bread, membrillo and olives.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fish and Chocolate. Oh yes!

So for Valentine's day this year, I taught a class at the cooking school entitled "Dip me in Chocolate" which featured 4 chocolate-laden courses. The class filled up so fast I ended up having to add 2 additional classes to accommodate the 90+ people that ultimately attended. The menu consisted of Ahi tuna tartare with white chocolate shavings; Mixed baby greens with cacao nibs, candied almonds, strawberries and a chocolate-raspberry vinaigrette; Cocoa rubbed roast tenderloin of beef with a Red wine & chocolate glaze; and then finally Chocolate Pots de Crème with Ancho & Coffee.

As you can imagine, I got a lot of blank stares at the mention of raw fish & chocolate, but it works. The sweetness of the chocolate plays nicely with the salty tang of the soy cream sauce. Feeling brave? Give it a try!

Ahi Tuna Tartare
8-10 Wonton skins, fried in vegetable oil, or brushed with oil and baked at 325 until crisp and golden
6oz. Sushi-grade Ahi tuna, cut into small cubes
1 Roma tomato, diced
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
½ ripe Avocado, diced
1 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 C Fresh whipping cream
¼ C Angostura Soy Sauce (yes, the brand matters. I’ve tried it with others and it’s just not the same)
3oz white chocolate (not chips)
Sriracha, for Garnish

In a small bowl, combine the cream and the soy.
In a separate bowl, combine the tomato, Ahi, Avocado, lime juice, ½ of the cilantro and 2 Tbsp of the soy cream. Divide among the wonton crisps. With a vegetable peeler, shave the white chocolate over the top. Garnish with Sriracha and cilantro. Serve with the remaining soy cream.