Broccoli Cheddar Soup

broccoli cheddar soup 1

L’estiu de segon de carrera vaig decidir que volia aprendre anglès, però del de veritat, del d’anar pel carrer i entendre la gent, no del de “fill in the gap” i de “will or going to”. Per sort, tinc familiars a Estats Units, i vaig pensar que passar l’estiu allà, en plan immersió lingüística de dos mesos, seria una bona experiència. Així qu,e tot just acabats els exàmens de juny, vaig fer la maleta (pot semblar trivial, però empaquetar-te tot l’estiu en una maleta de 23 kg no és una feina fàcil), em vaig renovar el passaport i apa, vol en destinació Atlanta.

I sí, va ser un molt bon estiu. Vaig aprendre que els Estats Units supermolons de les pel·lícules no tenien res a veure amb la realitat, que al mig del camp l’Amèrica profunda és molt profunda, que conduir un tractor tallagespa pot ser molt divertit i que enlloc esmorzaràs com a la International House of Pancakes. Vaig aconseguir un anglès relativament fluid (almenys més del que tenia abans), vaig convertir-me en la reina de Say yes to the dress, de Bridezilla, de Super Sweet Sixteen i de tots els realities que vaig trobar (tot sigui per millorar la comprensió auditiva) i vaig descobrir la meva nova sopa preferida, la sopa de cheddar i bròquil.

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One year ago on May the Cheese Be With You: Spinach-Bacon-Goat Cheese Quiche

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Adapted from my new favourite blog Six Sisters’ Stuff

Servings: 2

Prep time: 45 min

You will need:

  • 1 small broccoli (about 400 g) cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

broccoli cheddar soup prep 1

In a small pot (large enough to contain the entire soup later) sautée onion and garlic for a coupe of minutes, until soft and slightly translucid. Add butter and flour, and stir until light brown and bubbly.

broccoli cheddar soup prep 2

At this point, resist your temptation, do not eat the onion roux, and add chicken broth. Stir for a couple of minutes, until the roux is fully dissolved in the broth, and add broccoli, salt and pepper (Note: be careful with the amount of salt, specially if you’re using dehydrated chicken broth, as they tend to be quite salty).

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Cook at medium heat for about 25-30 min, then add cheeses and milk, and keep stirring until the cheddar is totally melted. And that’s it, warm comfort almost healthy cheesy soup.

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Enjoy!

Annie

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Crispy Cheddar Fish

crispy cheddar fish 2

Avui això va de Cheddar.

He descobert que, com passa amb el Roquefort, el Cheddar és originari de la vila de Cheddar, a Anglaterra. El nom ve de ceodor, que en anglès antic vol dir algo així com cavitat fosca i profunda (que ja em diràs, quin nom per posar al teu poble, no? “Tu on vius? Jo a cavitat fosca i profunda”. Mal rotllo). El tema és que a Cheddar hi ha unes coves com les que hi ha a Roquefort, on deixen madurar els formatges, i suposo que d’aquí ve el nom.

Aquest formatge es produeix des del s.XII (com a mínim), i sembla ser que els Romans van portar la recepta a Anglaterra des de França. D’Anglaterra va passar a Irlanda, Austràlia, Nova Zelanda, Estats Units i Canadà, i, de fet, pràcticament a tot el món. Actualment és el formatge més popular al Regne Unit, amb un 51% del mercat del formatge en aquest país (això vol dir que mengen MOLT de Cheddar), i es calcula que el seu consum anual per càpita a Estats Units és de 4,5 kg (que vol dir que cadascú menja 375 g de Cheddar al mes, o 12 g al dia).

cheddar cheese

I per què és taronja un producte fet amb llet de vaca (que, per anar bé, hauria de ser de color blanc)? Bé, d’entrada hem d’aclarir que, de fet, hi ha Cheddar de molts colors diferents. El més famós (possiblement perquè és el que més es diferencia de la resta de formatges) és el de color taronja, però n’hi ha de diverses tonalitats blanques-groguenques. Dit això, i després d’un extens treball d’investigació, he descobert que el color taronja del Cheddar és per l’addició d’un colorant (natural, però colorant igualment) anomenat annato, que s’obté d’un arbre tropical. Així que els que esteu en contra dels additius i aquestes coses, els que mengeu menjar bio-pijo, que sapigueu que el Cheddar taronja porta una bona dosi de colorant. Fins aquí tot queda clar, però, per quin motiu algú hauria de decidir pintar un formatge de color taronja?

Ara això és molt divertit. Es veu que antigament els formatges anglesos eren, en general, força més groguencs que els actuals, degut als beta-carotens que ingerien les vaques (quan corrien lliures i alegres pel camp i no menjaven pinso, vaja). Llavors, per allà al s.XVII, un pagès anglès molt llest va descobrir que podria fer més diners si separava la nata de la llet per vendre-la per fer-ne mantega. Però clar, llavors bona part del color se n’anava amb la nata, i el formatge, que el feia amb la llet desnatada que li quedava, li quedava molt més blanc. Per mantenir els clients londinencs contents (i enganyats, que suposo que devien ser com l’equivalent anglès dels pixapins), va decidir posar-hi una mica de colorant i arribar al groc-ataronjat a què estaven acostumats. A partir d’aquí, als molt burros els hi van colar que com més taronja era el formatge, de millor qualitat era, i apa, vinga a tirar-hi colorant! I els pagesos, vinga a vendre nata!

I per això el Cheddar és taronja, perquè és possiblement un dels primers fraus de la indústria alimentària. I serà un frau, però és boníssim.

One year ago on May the Cheese Be With You: Parmesan Potato Wedges

Other Cheddar recipes: BBQ Chicken Apple Quesadillas, Beef Enchiladas, Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese, Triple Cheese Quiche, Cheddar Cookies

Crispy Cheddar Fish

Prep time: about 45 min

Serves: 6

You will need:

  • 6 fish fillets (I used hake, but feel free to use any type of fish you like)
  • 200 g grated Cheddar cheese
  • about 6 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • about 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

First of all, place the fish fillets in an oven proof dish lightly coated with olive oil. If you like challenges, use a 4 servings oven proof dish when you’re cooking for 6, and spend 10 minutes playing tetris with your fish, as I obviously did. If not, just choose the correct size of dish (or send part of your family to the nearest McDonald’s).

crispy cheddar cheese prep 1

Now spread your mayo all over the surface of the fish. Don’t be lazy and make your own home-made mayonnaise, it’s much better and extremely easy to prepare:

(this is not me, she is on youtube, so don’t look at me like I was messing with copyright and these sort of things!)

Finally, sprinkle the cheese and the breadcrumbs on top, making sure it’s all well distributed.

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Place in a preheated oven at 180ºC until the cheese-bread mixure is all crispyly golden brown and the fish is cooked to the point you like it (I’m not particularly fan of under-cooked fish, but most of you probably are, so adjust the cooking time to your needs).

crispy cheddar fish

And that’s it. Serve it with any side dish you like (I used steamed potatoes sauted with butter and some freshly chopped chives, and the combination was simply perfect).

butter chives potatoes

Enjoy!

Annie

Triple Cheese Quiche

three cheese quiche

L’Albert s’ha independitzat. Això a molts de vosaltres ara mateix no us diu res, perquè no el coneixeu, però és tot un què que ho hagi aconseguit.

L’Albert és químic i després d’una carrera i un màster va decidir que li agradava el món de la investigació i que s’hi quedava una temporadeta fent el doctorat, però no trobava una beca que li assegurés un sou mentre investigava. I és molt maco això d’investigar, ui sí. Curar malalties i tal, ets un heroi, com mola la Marató de tv3, estàs posant el teu granet de sorra al progrés de la humanitat i etcètera. Però l’Albert no és la mare Teresa de Calcuta, sabeu?, i l’únic que demanava era un sou per fer la seva feina, que és la cosa més normal del món. Però no, es veu que tenim una crisi econòmica al damunt i s’han hagut de retallar per totes bandes les beques doctorals. I l’Albert ha estat treballant, fent “pujar el país”, sense veure ni un duro durant gairebé dos anys. Perquè sí, per amor a l’art, perquè li van assegurar que li aconseguirien una beca que no arribava mai, perquè és jove i encara té ideals. I ara finalment ha aconseguit una beca i ha començat a cobrar per treballar. Miracle. Trist, però al nostre país això és un miracle.

I el millor de tot és que mentre l’Albert buscava finançament públic, els senyors que s’encarreguen de repartir-lo estaven tranquil·lament asseguts al seu cotxe oficial, lluny de tot això. Lluny d’entendre que el futur passa per fomentar la investigació i l’activitat intel·lectual, lluny de veure que no sortirem de cap crisi si només ens dediquem a vendre paelles dolentes a turistes sense criteri, lluny de bellugar un dit per reformular uns pressupostos molt injustos i, evidentment, molt molt lluny d’estar treballant sense cobrar.

I tot això no depèn de canviar un partit per un altre, aquí hi ha un problema d’arrel, un problema de concepte que algú s’hauria de plantejar molt seriosament.

I tal i com estan les coses, ja ens podem esperar asseguts.

I posats a esperar, posem una quiche a taula.

Triple Cheese Quiche

Prep time: 1h

Servings: 1 regular-sized quiche, I’d say 4-6 servings

You will need:

  • 1 sheet of pastry dough
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 leek (optional, but it gives the quiche an interesting extra flavour)
  • 200 ml whole cream
  • 250 g different grated cheeses (I used emmental, mozzarella and cheddar, but the type and number of cheeses are up to you)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper and any other spices (such as nutmeg or oregano) to taste

Start by preheating your oven to 180-200ºC. Wash, peel and cut the leek into slices, and cook it in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil until nice and soft. In a bowl beat the eggs and mix them with all the other ingredients (cream, cooked leek, half of the grated cheese, salt, pepper and spices).

three cheese quiche prep 1

Now line a pie mold with baking paper and press in the dough, making sure it covers all the edges of the mold. In an ideal situation, the mold should be about 28cm diameter, but if yours is not that big (like mine in this case) don’t worry, you’ll have leftover crust and that’s all. Pour in the filling and cover it with the remaining grated cheese.

three cheese quiche prep 2

Finally bake for about 30-45 min, or until the pastry is golden brown and the quiche is set.

three cheese quiche 2

Enjoy!

Annie

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

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I cannot believe we’ve been hosting a cheese blog for nigh on a year now, and have not uttered a word on Mac and Cheese. I’m half American, for crying out loud. This is a comfort food staple if ever there was one. This is not the first time this has happened (see the grilled cheese incident). It is high time we remedy that.

Brace yourselves, lads.

Macaroni and cheese had been around for centuries, literally, before it spread throughout the US, imported by none other than Thomas Jefferson himself. Believe it or not, it was an upper class delicacy for a very long time – until factory production and widespread recipes made it more accessible, naturally obliterating it’s fancy appeal along with it.

Their loss, our gain, I say.

The fur has been flying ever since, arduous debates tearing the country apart. I jest, of course, although there seems to be a fair amount of competitiveness as to which pasta, cheese, extra ingredients or whatnots to use. Rumors have reached my ears of (gasp!) deep fried mac and cheese being sold at fairs. Even mac and cheese pizza. Lord save us.

Please don’t go there. Mac and cheese is glorious as is. Creamy, cheesy, hearty, comforting.

As crisp fall nights prowl the streets, leaves fade to breathtaking hues of gold and fire, and sweaters and warm socks sneak their way back into our everyday lives, so does comfort food become a necessity.

Trust me on this one. Next time you feel bone-tired and chilled the bone and any other fall-induce bone-related discomfort, whip this up, curl up on your couch with a good book or movie, and simply enjoy the magical healing powers of comfort food.

For other pasta recipes, check out one of these wonderful ideas:

Pasta with vegetables and ricotta cheese

Goat cheese and leek pasta

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Vegetable Cannelloni

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Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Servings: 6 to 8

Prep time: 25 minutes

You will need:

  • 500 gr elbow macaroni, or any other type of short-cut extruded or decorative cut pasta
  • 1l, or 4 generous cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 750ml, or 3 cups water
  • 200gr of cheddar, or mozzarella, or 100gr each, grated
  • a dash of cayenne pepper and garlic powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a shot of tabasco, optional

Macaroni and Cheese 1-horz

Combine the pasta, milk, butter, cayenne, garlic and water in a large pot.

Macaroni and Cheese 6

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often and adding water as needed to avoid drying out.

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When the pasta is tender enough for your taste, remove the pot from the heat.

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Stir in your cheese, or cheeses, immediately.

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Season with salt and pepper to taste, and, if so inclined, add a shot of tabasco for a extra little kick.

Feel free to play around with this. Switch out the cheddar for something more fancy and exotic, top with breadcrumbs and brown in the oven, add bacon, onions, mushrooms, or any other extra ingredient you think might pair well with the cheese. There are infinite variations, and don’t rule out a second appearance of this, modified, of course, on our blog. Stay tuned further recipes 🙂

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Enjoy!

Clara

Beef Enchiladas

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If you’ve been following this blog for any time at all, you’ll know that plain old boring stick-to-your-country’s-traditions cooking just isn’t our thing – mostly because choosing what to call “your country” isn’t always quite as easy as it seems. As I mentioned in this post, having multiple cultural backgrounds and dual nationalities is both an extraordinary gift and a bit of a pain in the backside, since being the eternal foreigner can be fairly taxing at times. All the time, really. You’ll find yourself thinking, please, someone, anyone, accept me into the fold of your people and, for once, stop looking dumbstruck when I am able to speak your language fluently. Please let me blend in, and be invisible, just this once.

I guess it is futile for people like me to wish for such a thing. We need to face the fact that we are ultimately too much of everything to ever truly be anything else. And I won’t lie to you: growing up, my life was hell because of it. But neither failure to understand what made me so different, nor loneliness, nor pretending to be what I was not, ever managed to change what I am. And it killed me inside, until one day I woke up and found that I didn’t want to change what I am. That I am blessed, after all. Because these people, those who smiled and turned away, these people taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, who your parents are, your ancestors, your language, your blood, your roots. That it does not matter who you are when you are born. All that ultimately matters is who you grow up to be.

A blessing in disguise, indeed. To be honest, I think it’s time for blessings that are not in disguise.

While we wait for that to happen, I dip my German lebkuchen in Irish black tea, while the smell of TexMex enchiladas made with virgin olive oil and Edam cheese wafts from the oven.

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Beef Enchiladas

Adapted from the lovely Julie from Table for Two

Servings: 8 to 10 enchiladas

Prep time: about 1 hour

You will need:

  • 1 pound, or 500 gr, ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 jalapeños, seeds removed and chopped, optional
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup monterey jack cheese, if you can find – otherwise subtitute with Edam cheese
  • 8 to 10 corn tortillas
  • olive oil

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Preheat your oven to high and grease an oven-safe casserole dish.

Beef Enchiladas 1

We will begin with the enchilada sauce. Sauté the onion and jalapeños, if using any (it will make your enchiladas that much more hot – go for it if you like really spicy food!) until soft and translucent, then quickly stir in the garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and sugar, sauteing for another 30 seconds.

Beef Enchiladas 2

Beef Enchiladas 3

Add the tomato sauce and water, give it a good whisk and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Beef Enchiladas 4

While the sauce is bubbling away, cook your ground beef in olive oil until no pink bits remain, then mix in about half the enchilada sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Microwave the tortillas for about 30 seconds, until they are nice and warm. Place them on a flat surface, one at a time.

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Sprinkle some of both cheeses along the middle of the tortilla, top with the enchilada beef mixture and roll up tightly.

Beef Enchiladas 8-horz

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Place in the casserole dish with the seam facing down. Repeat these steps until all your tortillas are used up and the casserole dish is full.

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Paint the top of the enchiladas with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the tops begin to brown nicely.

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Pour the reserved enchilada sauce over the top, along with any leftover beef.

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Top with the remaining grated cheeses, then cover the dish with aluminium foil and place back in the oven for another 20 minutes. If you want to brown your cheeses, remove foil once the 20 minutes are up, and place the dish back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

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They don’t look pretty, but they sure are good.

Give it a few minutes to cool and settle.

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Then devour.

Enjoy!

Clara

BBQ Chicken Apple Quesadillas

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 6

Here’s the deal: While I am a true Barcelona gal, born and bred, I certainly do not look the part. I look like some Swedish reindeer spit me out on its flight across the skies on Christmas Eve. I look sort of, well, squeaky, like birds help me get dressed in the morning. Well, they don’t, and mark my words, sometimes it’s the squeaky looking girls that can blow the roof off the barn.

Mostly, my outlandish looks translate into being considered purely ornamental in most serious situations, but also people speaking to me in pigeon English and then short-circuiting when I answer in Spanish, let alone Catalan. Watching their gobsmacked faces is all good fun, just as long as it stays at that. But sometimes, ah, sometimes they will ask the dreaded question. Alas, that this should be my fate. “So… where are you from, then?” they ask. “Wow, you look like you’re [insert Nordic country of choice here]”. Or the very popular, “But you’re so pale!”. Or even, “Are you sure?”

I’ve lost track of how many times a day I’d like to turn to someone and say, “You can’t seriously be this freaking stupid.” Other times I just think, to hell with this, I’m going to Narnia.

So being American-Catalan-German-French isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Except when cooking. When cooking, it totally rocks. I know all the good stuff from all those different cultures. And I can bring them together to create one glorious riot of globalization. And then I eat it.

This recipe is the brainchild of one of those fusion-crazed moments. We’re basically talking about quesadillas, but Mediterranean style. But with BBQ-sauce. And Cheddar, for good measure. When I make these, I of course have to wear my old cowboy boots, which are a subtle nod to my Texas forbears. I truly believe you should wear them, too, or the result just might not be the same. Also, try singing a random national anthem, just to mess with people’s heads.

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 8

BBQ Chicken Apple Quesadillas.

Servings: about 8 quesadillas

Prep time: 30 mintues

You will need:

  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cups (500gr) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2  cups (300gr) bacon, cooked until crisp
  • 3/4 to 1 cup (200-250ml) BBQ sauce, or more, to taste
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • salt and pepper, to taste

We will begin with the chicken. Using your kitchen scissor, or if you’re feeling particularly primitve, your bare hands, shred the chicken, making sure to catch all those yummy rotisserie juices. Season with salt and pepper if you feel it needs a little kick. Combine the shredded chicken with the BBQ sauce until coated. Add more, to taste.

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 4

Before you start cooking, make sure you have all your ingredients handy. Place them in bowls around your workspace so you can access them quickly.

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 1

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 3

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 2

As you can see, my grocery store was all out of Cheddar. All they had was sliced Cheddar, which took about as long as the original Ben Hur movie to shred.

Now, place your pan on the stove, but to not preheat it just yet. Prop up two tortillas against eachother, thus…

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 5

…then layer with cheese, then chicken, apple, top with bacon and finish with a final layer of cheese. The exact amount of each is entirely up to you. If you want and XXL quesadilla, you can go crazy witht the stuffing. I wanted to keep mine light and crispy, so I went for a single layer of each.

Now you can fold over the quesadilla so they look like semi-circles, and turn on the heat. Cook on one side until golden brown and crisp (go ahead and lift the edge of a tortilla to check whether Mr. Golden Brown has arrived yet), then flip carefully and cook on the other side until, you guessed it, golden brown and crisp. Repeat the process with the remaining 6 tortillas.

Set aside for a few minutes so the cheese can melt into the other ingredients.

Serve with rice or a green salad, and some extra BBQ sauce.

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas 7

Cheddar Cookies

cheddar cookies

A casa tenim un ritual cada Nadal, que és el de fer galetes. M’encanta fer galetes. És la combinació perfecta de desconnexió, relaxació i creativitat, perquè la massa, que és molt fàcil, és la mateixa cada any, així que no et cal ni pensar quan la fas, pots posar el pilot automàtic tranquil·lament.

Quan la tens estesa sobre el marbre de la cuina, ve aquell moment de pel·lícula nadalenca enganxosa de diumenge a la tarda, que consisteix en reunir els més petits de la casa, agafar els motllos i entre tots anar tallant formes diferents en plena harmonia. El que passa és que nosaltres som menys Trapp i més tirant cap a Adams, així que això sol començar amb una baralla per ser el primer en retallar el ninotet, o perquè “ell ja porta tres cotxets i jo només en porto un i no m’està deixant espai”, o perquè “m’ha trencat la cama del senyoret que estava fent i em poso a plorar i li estampo el que queda del meu ninotet mutilat a la cara i inicio una batalla campal”, i sol acabar amb una sola persona (habitualment jo), tallant frenèticament floretes per tota la massa perquè porto dues hores fent fornades de galetetes i no s’acaben mai. Té el seu encant, tot plegat.

I finalment, quan estan cuites i tens un poblat sencer de ninotets repartits per tota la cuina, ve el moment creatiu per excel·lència: la decoració de les galetes. Això també acostuma a desencadenar un conflicte armat perquè “m’has embrutat els pantalons del meu ninotet i ara et sabotejo el teu i te’l pinto tot de color verd” i situacions semblants, a més de deixar la cuina completament coberta de boletes de sucre i de glacejat de colors que no hi ha manera de desenganxar, però s’ha de dir que és la part més divertida de tot el procés. I així, amics meus, és com, després de 4 hores de feina, múltiples baralles i sucre per tot arreu, acaba el mític dia de fer galetes de Nadal.

I per què us estic explicant tot això en ple mes de març? Doncs bé, perquè l’altre dia, en un moment de nostàlgia, vaig decidir fer galetes. Però clar, no podia fer galetes de les de sempre, perquè són les de Nadal, i això és sagrat. I buscant buscant vaig trobar aquesta recepta de galetes de Cheddar, que és com la fusió perfecta entre galetes de mantega i molt de formatge.

cheddar cookies prep 1

Cheddar Cookies

Servings: about 20 cookies (it depends on their size)

Prep time: about 45 min + 1 h standing

You will need:

  • 230g Cheddar, shredded
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp ice cold water

Combine cheese, butter and salt in a large bowl. Mix well (I used my hands, it’s more fun than using a mixer and when you’re done you can lick the delicious butter-cheddar mixture off your fingers) and then add flour. Mix again and you will obtain a dry dough. Now add the water, mix again and form a ball with the dough. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to about 190ºC and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

On a well floured surface, roll out the dough (or a part of it) until quite thin (4-5mm). Now my favourite part: grab all your cookie cutters and create as many cookies as you can. Let your imagination go wild! Or you can do what I did, and realize at this point that you don’t acutally have all your habitual gazillion cookie cutters at hand, and end up using only one, which is shaped like a bone, thus giving your lovely cookies a distinct dog-food-like appearance.

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When you are done with all the cookie cutting rave party, all you have to do is bake them for 12-15 minutes, or until they look good enough to eat and you can’t keep your hands off them any longer.

Enjoy!

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