Easy Cheesy

27 02 2013

Like we did last year, Nick and I have again given up cooking meat at home for Lent.  Since all Catholics know that fish isn’t meat, our omega-3 levels are rising as we incorporate more fish into our diet.  But what is a meatless couple supposed to do with a jar of homemade olive salad, leftover from a Mardi Gras party?  In a flash of brilliance it hit me.

before the oozing mess

Olive salad tuna melts!  I ran to the shop downstairs for supplies, picking up cans of tuna, two kinds of cheese (emmenthal and mozzarella) and Poilâne bread.  The beauty of using olive salad in your tuna is that you don’t even need to chop an onion, and you can use a lot less mayonnaise than usual.  I made these twice last week, and I expect to see them on the regular weeknight rotation for a while.  But truly, I would eat this no matter the dietary restriction, because a hot, crunchy, melty sandwich with tangy, savory bits of olive inside appeals year-round.

On this day in 2008: Fauchon, or, I May Have a Problem

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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A Hot Sandwich For A Cold Night

13 11 2008

Those of you who have been paying attention the last couple of weeks have probably noticed a proliferation of meals involving Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese.  Normally, I would use La Fête du Fromage as an excuse to try something funky and new (although who needs an excuse, really?), but this time I’m going to wax rhapsodic about my favorite cheddar cheese.

Started in 1909 as a dairy farmers’ cooperative to ensure the continuing high quality of cheese produced in the region, the Tillamook County (Oregon) Creamery Association now includes over 100 dairy farmers and produces a gamut of dairy products from cheese to ice cream.  Pretty much everything you could want to know about them can be found on their website.  (And no, I am not a member of the fan club.)

The cheese itself, in case you are unfamiliar, has a firm, bordering on crumbly texture.  It melts like a dream, and has a distinct tang to its robust, smooth cheddar flavor.  It’s great for snacking as well as cooking.  I’ve already made chili and macaroni and cheese with it, but this time I wanted a sandwich.

Nearly there

Specifically, a tuna melt.  Using my standard tuna salad recipe (red onions, celery, and mayonnaise – no pickles) and some tasty bread from Du Pain et des Idées, I built a solid base for the thick slices of Tillamook.  Into the pan the sandwiches went, with a thin smear of butter on the outsides of the bread.

Cooking the tuna melts

And out they came, gooey and delicious as ever.  Nick took about a million pictures of the beautiful cheese oozing out the side of the crispy, toasty sandwiches.  And then we sat down to eat them while watching the Daily Show.  It was a good night.

Personally, I think this borders on obscene.

Don’t forget to stop by Chez Louloufor the Fête du Fromage roundup on the 15th!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Les Fernandises

17 04 2008

Last Friday I had the pleasure of dining in a charming little bistro, Les Fernandises.  From the moment we walked in the door, the place felt inviting and homey, and the entire staff were welcoming and friendly.  The food was delicious and inexpensive – only 19.50 for a three-course dinner!  The only fault this place has (if it can be considered a fault) is that the light was dim, and got dimmer as the night went on.  Which is my way of apologizing in advance for the quality of the pictures.

Amuse-Gueule

The meal began with an amuse-gueule of croutons(French for crostini) and roasted garlic spread.  The salt was unnecessary.  If you like roasted garlic, and I do, this was a winner.  Simple and enjoyable.

Wild Mushroom Crème Brûlée   Terrines Maison

Next came the appetizers.  There were three of us dining, but two of us got the mushroom crème brûlée (top photo).  There was no question that I was ordering it as soon as I saw it on the menu.  I love mushrooms, I love crème brûlée, how could I not love this?  And I did love it.  The top was crisp and freshly caramelized, as any good crème brûlée should be.  The custard was savory and smooth, and had a satisfyingly high ratio of sautéed wild mushrooms baked into it.  Delicious.

The terrines maison, or house-made terrines (bottom photo), were also impressive.  Three different terrines – one fresh and herbal, one studded with hazelnuts, and one straight-up pâté de campagne–  each distinct and well-prepared, were served on a single plate, garnished with cornichons and tomatoes.

For the main course, we each chose something different.  I had the thon à la basquaise:

Thon à la Basquaise

A seared hunk of tuna over a bed of rice with a tomato and pepper sauce.  The tuna was a little more cooked than I would have liked, but otherwise the dish was good.

Chorizo Pasta

Nick opted for the chorizo pasta.  Simple – chorizo and tomatoes with pasta in a creamy sauce – but well executed and quite tasty.  He cleaned his plate.

Ducklicious!

Our friend went with the duck confit with duck-fat potatoes.  Again, simple but delectable.  I mean, who doesn’t like a good duck-fat roasted potato?

By the time dessert rolled around, the place was too dark for any photography to succeed, but the vibe was convivial and fun.  We got two desserts for the three of us to share, the nicely done tiramisu and the surprisingly good pineapple skewers.  The tiramisu was just right: light sponge cake with creamy (but not overly so) mascarpone filling.  For the skewers, big, juicy chunks of pineapple were grilled (or broiled) to perfection, allowing the sweetness of the fresh pineapple to punctuate its deeply caramelized exterior.  A great finish to this delightful Southwestern (French Southwestern, that is) meal.

A note to anyone who ends up dining here: at the end of the meal, they will offer you a tiny glass of sweet liqueur (I think it’s chestnut) as a digestif.  They may leave the bottle on the table.  They may encourage you to drink it all.  Don’t.








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