Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cheese On Earth

Wow it has been a while since my last post and I promise I have a good explanation for that. As if life isn't crazy enough this time of year I have decided to add a few more extra curricular activities to my list. On top of my Wines Of the World class ending in 2 weeks, my day job, holiday parties, holiday shopping, working out, and a social life I decided to join a writers work shop group and I also took on a weekend holiday job at a local cheese shop. So you can imagine my schedule is super full. The best part is I love it all. I am having the best time. I feel like I am finally living and doing things I wouldn't have done 2 years ago when my path was clearly different.
I learned so much about wine this past semester. I have a new appreciation for wine and I am learning about varieties I didn’t even know existed such as a Pinoatage from South Africa. I also learned that I like Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand for the grassy and passion fruit smell and medium body and high acidity taste. Much different then the bready and buttery Sauvignon Blancs we have in California. I learned that champagne pairs best with potato chips and French fries and not chocolate and the smaller the bubbles the better the champagne. I didn’t even think I liked white wines before this class. Also I knew I liked red wines but couldn’t describe what I liked the most about them. I like dark red wines that are full bodied and are dirty, smokey, earthy, rich, leathery, and spicy in taste and smell. I like the wines that deliver in smell and taste and occasionally surprise me with contrast. I can’t say that if you asked me to describe the kind of wines I liked before taking this class I would have been able to do so.

The writers in the writing group I joined are amazing and creative. I know I am going to learn so much from them. The most important thing for me is getting over the fear of reading what I write out loud. What anxiety came up when it was my turn to read as they are all such amazing writers.

The part time holiday weekend job is awesome and I am excited to get up on weekends and go to work. I have always worked retail but food retail? Could this be my calling? I love cheese, and just like wine my cheesy taste buds are being defined with all I am learning and tasting.

So with all the busy activities of the holiday season, and life, my cooking is never put to the side. Speaking of sides, here is a side I think you might want to try to make this holiday season. Its beautiful in color and taste. It is made with cheese on some earthy vegetables and baked till hot. The cheese makes a light, creamy sauce on the bottom of the pan and browns the veggies slightly with a crisp. It tastes fantastic on the side of a leg of lamb, a nice juicy steak or maybe even a roasted chicken. The recipe comes from Ina Garten's cookbook Barefoot in Paris. Perfect for the cold weather. And baby its cold outside.

Vegetable Tian

(serves 4-6)

Good olive oil

2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound medium round yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled

3/4 pound zucchini

1 1/4 pounds medium tomatoes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs

2 ounces of Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use any shape 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish. Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only one layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme leaves and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top and back for another 20-30 minutes, or until browned. Serve warm.

Have a happy busy holiday season and Cheese On Earth.

1 comment:

  1. I love that recipe! It's one of my favorite of Ina's, who really can do no wrong in my cook book.