Broccoli Cheddar Soup

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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

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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.

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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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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

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

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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

Gorgonzola Herb Butter & Rosemary Parmesan Butter

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Let me be completely honest with you. This start of term has been rough. It always is. Exchanging endless, lazy summer days and strolls in the mountains for dark, hectic early mornings and long, long, days on your feet trying to pound English and German into teenage brains, just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Every September, on the clock, procrastination gets the better of me. There just are no limits to what you can accomplish when you are supposed to be doing something else. I can’t get out of bed. These blankets have accepted me as one of their own and if I leave them I might lose their trust.

It takes me about a month to get things under control again. But during the up-hill month of September, things like changing into actual clothes before dashing to the grocery store don’t seem quite as urgent as they may any other month of the year.

That is, of course, the day you run into every single person you know. And you’re all “I’m usually beautiful and glamorous… but today is my day off”, and all they do is stare at your bunny slippers and hair, which chooses this precise moment to display its unique ability to defy the laws of gravity. I’m betting Newton had some bad-ass anti-frizz shampoo, or he wouldn’t have postulated such a debatable theory.

But to the point. As I announced two weeks ago, we’ll be trying our hand on butter today. These recipes are perfect for September procrastinators and start of term franticness (That is an actual word. I checked.). They’re quick, useful, delicious, and the perfect comfort food for those first crisp fall nights. Slather these butters on toast, savoury scones, English muffins or American biscuits. Place a pad on red meat or chicken, or melt it into a boring pasta dish. Trust me, this stuff is golden.

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Gorgonzola Herb Butter and Rosemary Parmesan Butter

Servings: about 1 cups each

Prep time: 10 minutes

You will need:

For the Gorgonzola Herb Butter:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, softened butter
  • 1/2 cup softened Gorgonzola
  • 3 tablespoons fresh, or 2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 pine nuts
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Rosemary Parmesan Butter:

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons rosemary flowers, if you can get them, otherwise 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • quality salt of choice, to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

Let the festivities begin.

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For the Gorgonzola Herb Butter, place the thyme, rosemary, parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, pine nuts, salt and pepper in a mortar and grind with a pestle until roughly combined and pine nuts are broken up into little bits and pieces.

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Place the butter and Gorgonzola cheese in a bowl and mix with a fork until creamy and well combined.

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Add the herb-pine nut mixture and incorporate.

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For the Rosemary Parmesan Butter, combine the softened butter with the Parmesan cheese until well incorporated, then mix in your salt.

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I used about 1/2 a teaspoon, as the Parmesan is already plenty salty, but the level of saltiness is entirely up to you. Do use good quality salt here, though, as the taste shines out quite clearly. I used a fancy red Hawaiian salt I had on hand, but any other good sea or mineral salt.

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Fold in the rosemary flowers carefully. If not using flowers, forget the “carefully” and just beat the daylights outta that butter.

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These little butters freeze nicely if need be. I placed mine in an ice cube tray and stored them in the freezer for quick meals or snacks.

They’re best, in my humble opinion, simply slathered on hot toast.

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Enjoy!

Clara

Shepherd’s Pie

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Back when I was studying in Germany, I had this friend whom I loved dearly. We lost contact after I moved back to Barcelona, but I still think of her often. We had many a crazy adventure in the dark wilderness of the North, and I still remember snippets of a secret language, nicknames for most everyone we knew, and laughing, a lot. One thing in particular has stuck to my mind, though: She had terrible eating habits. So did I, mind you. Oh, to be a young cheesecake-devouring fiend all over again… So many fond, sugar-coma memories.

The one thing she did know how to cook, however, was Shepherd’s Pie. Well, that, and eggs on toast. While she taught me the secret winding paths that lead to the latter, we never did get around to cooking the pie.

Thus, I gathered all my knowledge and wisdom and considerable resourcefulness and hit google. Then I tweaked it a very little bit, and shazzam! I got myself a Shepherd’s Pie recipe that is to die for. If I do say so myself. I’ve made this countless times since, and it never fails to transport me back to those endless, cold winter nights spent longing for a fireplace, or the college equivalent… vodka.

Well, hey, we all have a past. Let this pie be atonement for my college devilries.

Now, I do realize the cheese is not strong with this recipe. In fact, you might even leave it out altogether, should you feel so inclined, but why in the world would you want to do that?

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Shepherd’s Pie

Servings: about 5 0r 6 people, preferably half frozen to death

Prep time: aprox. 1’30h

You will need:

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 500gr ground beef
  • 2 large diced carrots
  • 2 diced onions
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 corn
  • 3 or 4 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce
  • grated cheese to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Start with the mashed potato layer. Place the potato chunks in a deep pan and cover with water (I used broth for extra flavor). Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until completely tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them thoroughly with a fork (or if the 21st century has reached your kitchen, use a potato masher). Stir in the butter and milk while still hot, and season with salt and pepper.

 

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While the potatoes are boiling away, start preparing the filling. Cook the ground beef in a large skillet until thoroughly browned and no pink bits remain. Transfer the meat to a plate or bowl, but reserve some of the drippings in the pan.

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Add onions and carrots to the same pan, and cook until tender.

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Then stir in the peas, corn, tomato sauce and Worcestershire / soy sauce.

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Cook for a few minutes, or until the peas have thawed, then return the ground beef to the pan.

Stir well to mix the ingredients evenly.

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Transfer the filling to an oven-proof dish. Dollop spoonfuls of mashed potatoes evenly over the filling and smooth into an even layer.

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A word of caution: The mash and the spoon will have formed a deep bond of friendship. They will be loath to part, and it will take quite a bit of coaxing, shaking, scratching and/or cursing to get the mash to drop on the filling. If you feel like it and don’t want to toss the whole thing out of the window, create little peaks on the mashed potato layer to get crispy edges later on.

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Bake on medium-high for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with some shredded cheese and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese has begun to brown.

Cool for 10 minutes, then serve immediately.

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Enjoy! 🙂