I’m a huge cheese lover (and at times a cheese snob). I probably ate more cheese than you can wrap your head around while studying abroad in Bordeaux, France my junior year of college. French cheese is simply incredible; the selections are endless, and I certainly tried my fair share (and had the body to prove it afterwards :/). While Whole Foods has a decent selection of good French cheeses, they are about 10x the price of what you will find in France since they are imported. I therefore limit myself to indulge only once in awhile, since my wallet (and body) can’t afford to live every day like I’m in France. This was one of those occasions.
Cathy and I recently had a brilliant idea to create a lobster grilled cheese masterpiece loaded with all of our favorite cheese; brie, gruyere, and chedder. Cathy had just baked a batch of her childhood wheat roll recipe, so we decided it would be perfect to fill those fluffy rolls with gooey melted cheese and decadent lobster. Can it get any better than that?! We have both recently tried the crab grilled cheese at TLT in Westwood, which is incredible by the way, and thought, why not lobster? Neither of us had ever cooked lobster before, so it was certainly an experience. We bought fresh, uncooked lobster tails, and had at it. I did a little research on the web and found that you can pretty much cook lobster any way you want; broil it, grill it, bake it, pan sear it, fry it…the list goes on. We ultimately decided to bake it in tinfoil, drizzled in olive oil and herbs. It turned out amazing. We hope you enjoy our oozey lobster grilled cheese as much as we did.
Lobster Grilled Cheese
6 Uncooked Lobster Tails
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Sprigs of Rosemary
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 Degrees F.
Rinse lobster tails in warm water and dry with paper towel. With a pair of kitchen shears, cut down each side of the tail, getting as close to the shell as possible. Peel back and remove the underbelly part of the shell. Slide a knife around the lobster meat against the shell, so that the meat is almost (or entirely) disconnected from the hard outer shell.
Keep the meat inside the shell, and place each tail on a piece of tinfoil. Brush each lobster tail meat with olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Wrap each tail separately in tinfoil and place on a tray. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the tails (Our tails were 4-5 ounces and 22 minutes was perfect).
Grilled Cheese & Assembly:
12 Whole Wheat Rolls
6 Cooked Lobster Tails
12 Thick Slices Brie Cheese
12 Thick Slices Gruyere Cheese
12 Thick Slices Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
Cut each roll in half and place bottom halves on a baking tray. Alternate cheese and lobster pieces in the following order: Chedder, Lobster, Gruyere, Lobster, Brie. Replace the tops of the rolls. Place tray in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Bread runs in the family. My mom is a bread-making machine (who owns two machines) and is always trying out new recipes — whether it’s her mild-flavored & moist cottage cheese loaf, wheat/white flour mix or a hearty, herb-infused bread. I got started young, making the recipe below. Even though I’ve made this recipe countless times, I forgot how temperamental yeast can be! I’m not sure if it was the density of the wheat flour or the lack of enough heat, the bread just didn’t rise as dramatically as I expected. Have I lost my baker’s touch?
Nevertheless, our end result was twenty, perfectly browned rolls with crispy crusts and melt-in-your-mouth centers. If anyone can help me with my bread rising troubles, I’d love get some tips!
Homemade Wheat Bread Rolls (Adapted from the Better Home and Gardens New Cookbook)
3 Cups Wheat Flour
2 3/4 Cups White Flour (note: only use as much of the white flour as needed)
1 Package of Yeast
2 1/4 Cups Skim Milk
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
Combine the wheat flour with the yeast in your mixing bowl and set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir the milk, sugar, butter and salt until the butter almost melts. It’s important to not overheat the liquid mixture as doing so might kill the yeast. Once the butter is almost melted, combine with the wheat mixture and blend at a medium speed until the wheat flour is completely incorporated. Switch to a higher speed and add as much white flour as you can. Knead dough on a floured surface for approximately 5-8 minutes, or until the dough becomes moderately stiff. Shape the dough into a ball, place in a greased bowl (we used butter) and set in a warm place for about an hour.
*To allow the yeast to activate and expand, we placed our greased bowl in a bigger bowl filled with warm water. After approximately 30 minutes, I checked on the temperature of the water added more warm water to keep a constant warmth.
After about an hour, your ball of dough should have doubled in size. Now the fun part. Punch the dough down and turn onto a floured surface. Through patting and pinching, shape your dough into bread rolls roughly the size of small tennis balls and place dough balls in a greased tin (again, we used butter). We used 9 inch cake tins as they were on hand, but any tin should suffice. After you finish creating the rolls, set aside for another 20 minutes, or until the dough rises significantly. (The recipe states that the dough should double in size … ours did not). Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes or until sound hollow when you tap on the crust.
Makes 20 bread rolls.
It’s hard to think of anything better on an overcast Sunday afternoon than snuggling up on the couch with a big blanket and a warm, hearty bowl of soup (and watching all of House of Cards Season 2…yes, I did that, but we won’t talk about it). I’ve always been a fan of comfort food (mac and cheese is definitely my favorite), but I always feel really heavy and lethargic after indulging in that sort of fare. I never knew I liked squash until recently. I definitely remember hating it as a child, but my tastebuds have definitely branched out the older I get, and now I’m hooked.
I’ve decided that butternut squash is a perfect comfort food alternative, since it’s thick and filling, but still light enough that it doesn’t make you feel sick afterwards. It also makes your kitchen smell fabulous when it’s baking in the oven. We hope you enjoy our butternut squash soup on a chilly February day cuddled indoors.
Hearty Butternut Squash Soup
3 Medium Organic Butternut Squashes
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 Boxes Organic Vegetable Broth
1/4 Tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: 1/4 Cup Organic Heavy Cream (or Unsweetened nutmilk of choice, for a creamier taste)
Pre-heat oven to 375 F.
Cut the butternut squashes in half and scoop out the seeds. Place squash halves peel-down on a baking tray, and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until insides are soft.
Scoop the softened squash into a blender or food processor. (Note: Ice cream scoops work wonderfully!). Add the vegetable broth and blend on medium speed until smooth. Once blended, add cream on low speed, and pink Himalayan salt. Serve warm.
As a kid, I had a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. I loved the over-sized chocolate kisses. I hated candy grams. I loved the frilly cards and hot pink balloons. I hated candy grams. I even loved those chalk-like candy hearts. I really hated candy grams. For the couple weeks leading up to the “big day,” my school would go all out, selling these obnoxious grams for you to send to your friends, kiddie crushes, etc., that they would then deliver to you while in class. These two weeks came to be some of the most stressful weeks in my young eight-year-old life. What if I was the only one who didn’t receive a gram? Not that I should have ever been worried as my mom always made sure to buy a few, some signed from “Mom with love” and others signed “from a Secret Admire” with suspiciously similar handwriting to good ‘ole Mom. My dear mom kept up this tradition long past the time I got over my disdain for grams.
I hope you enjoy this delicious dark chocolate-raspberry brownie that we (pardon my “cheese”) made with love.
Dark Chocolate-Raspberry Brownies (slightly adapted from the Smitten Kitchen)
10 Tbsp. Organic Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
¾ Cup and 2 Tbsp. of Cocoa Powder
1 1/4 Cup of Sugar
¼ Tsp. Salt
½ Tsp. Vanilla
2 Organic Eggs, cold
½ Cup Flour
½ Cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1 Case of Fresh Organic Raspberries
In a medium-sized saucepan, heat butter, cocoa, sugar and salt until the mixture starts to slightly simmer. If you want to speed up the process (or forgot to leave the butter at room temperature like we did), microwave the butter in 30 second intervals until almost completely melted. This will help blend the mixture more easily and quickly. Once the cocoa mixture is completely incorporated, remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Once the mixture is lukewarm, add vanilla and one egg at a time, stirring briskly after each egg. It’s important to make sure that the mixture isn’t too hot and that you don’t stir in the eggs too slowly, as you might end up with a chocolate egg scramble (yum?). After fully incorporated, stir in flour completely. Mix in half of the chocolate chips and spread evenly into your 8 x 8 pan. Top the wet mixture with the rest of the dark chocolate and fresh raspberries. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out slightly fudgy. Remove from the oven, cool, cut and enjoy!
Makes 16 brownies.
*Note: The moisture from the raspberries may add extra baking time to the brownies. Check by inserting a toothpick in several spots on the brownie and cooking in extra 3-5 minute intervals.
Earlier this week, Cathy made her delicious Nutella-inspired chocolate-hazelnut spread. I’ve been eating it non-stop; it’s so great on a slice of whole wheat toast for breakfast, and its fairly guilt-free compared to the real thing. I promise there’s hardly any sugar, just protein goodness from the hazelnuts! I will admit that I took over a jar to my Nutella-loving French friends and they (being snobs, so typically French) said “Its good but…it’s not true Nutella.” I of course explained that while we can’t mimick the stuff exactly, our version is actually good for you. Take that, France.
The great thing is that this healthy spread can also be used for so many different kinds of desserts, in addition to eating it plain. I experimented with it a little this week, and whipped together an elaborate-looking Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart with raspberries to serve for dessert… but a little secret is that it’s really not complex at all. This tart features a whole wheat and sugar-free crust, with Cathy’s homemade “Nutella” as the star of the show.
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Milk
1 Cup Warmed Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
Pre-heat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit. Combine flour, butter, salt and milk in a medium sized bowl, mixing by hand. Press mixture into two 6-inch ramekins. Pour half a cup of warmed chocolate-hazelnut spread into each ramekin.
Bake for ~30 minutes, or until each tart forms a hard shell to the touch. Top with fresh fruit.
Makes two 6-inch ramekins.