Category: cheese

Sweet Potato Gnudi

Ah, pasta dumplings. One of life’s simplest pleasures! I saw this gnudi recipe a while back in Chatelaine magazine, and I (in my old-school ways) marked it with a post-it for later. I stumbled upon it again recently, and I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to make these. You really don’t need to be an expert chef to whip up your very own batch at home, impressing your entire household along the way. The recipe comes together quickly, making it a perfect weeknight meal. What’s more, their neutral flavour lends beautifully to a variety of sauces, toppings, & even soups. While the boy ate his portion topped with some osso buco, I enjoyed mine on their own, tossed with a bit of crumbled goat cheese. The cheese melts and sticks nicely, creating a beautiful burst of flavour in every bite!

Sweet Potato Gnudi
inspired by Chatelaine magazine

400g sweet potato (about 1 medium)
200g potato (about 1 small)
3-4 tbsp oil, as needed
3 egg yolks
1 cup flour
pinch sea salt

Prick potatoes with a fork all over and microwave whole potatoes until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes each. (Or, if you prefer, cut into cubes, boil until very tender, and drain.) Let cool about 10 minutes. Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash by hand, adding oil to make them extra smooth. Mash in egg yolks and salt. Add flour, a bit at a time, until fully incorporated.

Boil a large pot of water. Fill a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag, with some of the dough. Cut off the tip. Holding your bag over the water, pipe out into 1-inch sections, cutting with kitchen scissors and dropping into pot. Gnudi are ready when they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve warm.

Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Fall is just around the corner – which means it’s time for pumpkin EVERYTHING! Last year, I showed you how to make your very own pumpkin spice latté, and some homemade pumpkin alfredo pasta. This year, pumpkin season kicks off with a super easy weeknight meal that requires very little prep and comes together in less than 15 minutes. Happy *almost* autumn!

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Ingredients
2 tbsp butter
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup milk (or cream, for a richer sauce)
1 brick cream cheese (250g) cut into cubes
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
pinch salt, black pepper, and clove, to taste

Method
Prepare your favourite pasta according to directions. (I used a herb-speckled pasta, but you can use anything you desire!) Drain, reserving some of the water for the sauce. Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add milk. Add cheese, a little at a time, until melted. Add pumpkin. Mix together until homogenous. Continue stirring for about one minute, until mixture comes together and is hot. If mixture is too thick, add a few tbsp of cooking water until desired consistency is reached. Add salt, pepper and clove. Toss with pasta. Serve warm.

Vegan Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms

With summer in full swing, I find myself craving all things light and refreshing. All the most delicious local produce is in season right now, and I’ve been stocking up on berries, leafy greens and whatever else the market has to offer each week. Though I haven’t used my stove at home in what seems like ages (for fear that it might add to the smouldering heat wave that is just now starting to dissipate), I decided to turn on my oven today to make something that I’ve been craving for a while – stuffed mushrooms. I wanted to serve something a little bit fancy pants to munch on while we sat and enjoyed my beau’s homemade Bloody Caesars. (For all of you Non-Canadians, a Caesar is like a Bloody Mary, but with Clamato instead of Tomato, and with about 10x the flavour.)

Holy cow, did I ever impress myself tonight. Not that stuffed mushrooms are compliqué or anything. Completely the opposite actually, they’re ultra simple. But I made a vegan version that is just ah-mah-zing. And, let me tell you, the boy wasn’t even able to tell the difference!

I made two versions, so for those of you who are all like “but I need me some cheese!”, I’ve got you covered. But I urge, urge, urge you to try the vegan ones. The creaminess, the flavour, the explosion of deliciousness in the mouth. Ok, ok, enough with my foodgasm, I’ll get straight to the recipes. 

Stuffed Mushrooms, Two Ways
two original recipes by allison sklar
1: Creamy Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms
2: Creamy Brie Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
what you’ll need
START with this:
1 pint mushrooms, stems removed
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives or garlic scapes
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
THEN, choose a version:
1. VEGAN VERSION
1 1/2 tbsp vegan mayonaise (I prefer Vegenaise Brand) 
4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
(OR)

2. DAIRY VERSION
1/4 cup cubed brie (or crumbled blue cheese)

how to do it
Remove the stems and keep only the caps of your mushrooms. (You can use the stems in a stir fry or something else later!) Flip them over and put a sprinkle of thyme, chives and black pepper in each one. 
  • Vegan version: mix the Vegenaise with the nutritional yeast and scoop into mushroom caps. 
  • Dairy version: cut the brie into pieces small enough to fit into the caps and place over the herbs. 
Mix together the breadcrumbs and the oil. Spoon over tops of stuffed mushrooms. 
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 20 minutes, until tops are crispy and golden brown and mushrooms begin to soften. 
Let cool slightly before serving. 

Mediterranian Escape (Couscous with Kale and Feta)

Cheese – it’s my biggest weakness. Cheese is the reason I haven’t been able to stay on vegan wagon. Cheese is also the reason that I look forward to coming home after work. There’s something so comforting about letting a nice piece of aged cheddar melt on my tongue. Have you ever tasted a dish and thought to yourself “Mm, this is good, but it could use a little something!” HOLD THAT SALT SHAKER! I’ve seen so many people just salt up their bland dishes. You’re doing it wrong. My friends, cheese is often the answer to those blah-dish-woes.

Feta cheese in particular has a special place in my heart – growing up, my mother often made Greek-style salads to go along with our summer meals – the saltiness created a perfect balance with the acidic tomatoes and the refreshing cucumbers. Unfortunately, feta has always been salad-zoned in my kitchen. I’ve always found that the salt and the strong taste often overpower other flavours, so I’ve shyed away from using it in anything other than, well, a salad!

And then, this recipe came to me in the most recent issue of Canadian Living: curried spinach and kale hand pies with feta. An interesting combination, I thought, so I tried them out – omitting the turmeric and replacing it with cinnamon.  My, oh my, what a pie! Unfortunately, I miscalculated the amount of greens mixture that I needed for the filling, and found myself with a pretty substantial bowl of spinach and cheese mixture that I couldn’t bear to toss. So I kept it, thinking the leftovers would inspire me. And that, they did! I stacked them on top of a bowl of plain couscous that I was keeping for a quick snack/dinner and when I opened my fridge this evening, the combination seemed perfect!

This is a hearty meal, perfect for the type of weather we’ve been seeing here lately – oh, and for those of you not in Montreal, just picture the most disgusting wintery mix of slush and sleet and ice and everything cold and wet that you can muster, and you’ve got a pretty accurate representation of our outdoor conditions. So here, I present to you, Couscous with Kale and Feta.

Cousous with Kale and Feta
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 bunch kale, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese*
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cup plain couscous, cooked according to package directions
Kalamata olives for garnish, if desired

how to do it
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (Do not fill all the way to top as you need room for the kale!) Toss in kale and garlic, until kale becomes bright green (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and drain well. toss into large skillet brushed with olive oil, and heat over medium until mixture begins to reduce and water is almost all evaporated. Add mint, oregano and cinnamon, mixing well. Add the couscous to the pan, a little at a time, until it is all combined. Add feta just before serving. Garnish with olives, and another drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

*If you can find it, buy yourself some feta marinated in oil. There is a brand called Apetina that is in my opinion the tastiest feta that you can get at a conventional grocery store. If not, go to the cheese counter and ask for Greek feta, Goat feta, or Double Cream feta. (If you’re in Montreal, the absolute best place to get your feta is Adonis!)

Warm Up (Mushroom Risotto with Thyme and Cheddar)

It’s that time of year again, Montreal! You know, that season that isn’t quite a season? For those of you who don’t live here, let me fill you in. We’ve had the kind of days that’ve started off in cozy sweaters and boots, and have ended off in shorts and flip flops. We’ve seen the kind of weeks that have offered us weather reminiscent of Melbourne – rain, sun, frost and heat all within 24 hours.

One certainty in all of this is that Autumn has officially arrived! The general drop in temps has offered us a much needed break after our wildly humid summer, so we can put our hair down and lace our boots up. Because, let’s face it – the best part of fall is the fashion… Oh, and of course, the other best part is the comfort food!

So, without further adieu, I present to you the rich, the tasty, the creamy mushroom risotto! Inspired by a deliciously rich dish that I recently ate at a small resto (in the suburbs, who’d have imagined!?) I decided to create my very own version.

It does take some time to make, but don’t let that stop you – it’s totally and completely worth it.
Now go get cooking!


Mushroom Risotto with Thyme and Cheddar

what you’ll need
1 cup white wine
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp chopped marinated garlic
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmiggiano cheese
1 cup water + more as needed

how to do it
Sautee mushrooms and green onions in oil in a medium saucepan. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring rice and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat and stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until rice absorbs the liquid. Slowly add in one cup wine. Simmer and stir until absorbed. Add one cup of stock at a time, waiting until absorbed before each addition, and constantly stirring. (Note – If rice is not fully cooked – tender, but not crunchy – after three cups of stock, continue the process with water or wine.) Once rice is tender, stir in mushroom mixture, garlic and thyme. Fold in cheeses. Sprinkle a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper into the mixture. Serve immediately, sprinkled with extra cheese if desired.

A Fine Toast (Mushrooms with Thyme)

Dear: Mother Nature,
I would like to formally thank you for the incredible tease that you laid upon our wonderful city this week. You showered us with mild temperatures, sunshine and the smell of dog crap spring in the air, and then proceeded, as you often do, to throw upon us a blanket of snow, slush and cold. What gets me through winter in times like these? Two things: The Nuit Blanche festival, and good food. 

As I prepared myself to spend a night prancing around in the snowy abyss that our city has become, I decided that the best way to begin would be by indulging in a little bit of comfort – food, that is. I’m not talking Kraft Dinner (that was Wednesday), and I’m not talking grilled cheese – I’m talking about something real, something with substance, and something that will keep me satisfied.

Enter Mushroom Toasts!
I now present to you my favourite appetizer of all time.
This stellar simple recipe combines four wonderful things: olive bread, mushrooms, thyme and goat cheese. Oh, and did I mention butter? You can omit the butter, if you’re going the healthy route, but come on, this is comfort food we’re talking about here! You want it to stick to your ribs and warm you from the inside, remember? Now that that’s settled…

Mushroom Toasts with Thyme
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp salted butter
5 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed (about 2 tbsp leaves)
3 tbsp herbed goat cheese OR Boursin cheese
Sliced fresh ciabatta bread or olive bread
how to do it
Coat a medium sized frying pan with olive oil. Add butter and mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms and thyme on LOW heat until softened, continuously stirring with spatula. While mushrooms are cooking, toast bread. Stir 2 tbsp cheese into softened mushroom mixture, tossing to coat. Spread toast with remaining goat cheese, and top with mushroom mixture. Enjoy!

Easy As Cheese Pie

So… you know that feeling when you’ve got so much going on that it feels like you’ve got no time to think of cooking, let alone baking, but all you really want to do is eat cheesecake? Or maybe, you just generally want to eat cheesecake? In either case, I’ve got the solution for you! I present to you my super easy, five ingredient cheesecake. Though, technically, this is more pie than cake, as it’s baked in a pie shell. In any case, it’s delicious, and you should probably go ahead and drop whatever you’re doing and make it. Now.

Easy As Cheese Pie
an original recipe by Allison Sklar

what you’ll need
1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
1 block light cream cheese (250g), at room temperature
2 eggs
1 can light sweetended condensed milk
topping: 1 can pie filling of your choice
note: to make this pie even EASIER, you may substitute a ready-to-bake deep dish graham crumb shell (available at most supermarkets in the baking section.)

how to do it
combine crumbs and butter. Press into 9” deep dish pie plate.
combine cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Beat until fluffy. Add in eggs, beating well after each addition. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 310F for about 45 minutes or until set. Note: oven times and temperatures may vary. Let cool. Top with your choice of any of the following; canned pie-filling, jam, chocolate sauce, spiced nuts, whipped cream or fresh fruits. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.