Where’s My Cheese?

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“What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?”  ~ Bertolt Brecht

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”  ~ G.K. Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions

 

I was sure I put a wedge of cheese on the kitchen bench last night while I was making dinner.

I popped outside for a moment to pluck some herbs from the garden, and when I came back the cheese was gone.

I looked in the fridge.

I looked in the pantry.

I even looked in the bin.

No cheese.

What had I done with the cheese?

Harry, I asked, have you seen my cheese?

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Harry pretended I had woken him up. No, he hadn’t seen my cheese.

He did look a bit guilty though…

Bert, I asked, have you seen my cheese?

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No, Bert hadn’t seen it either. But Bert did look decidedly uncomfortable with my question.

Hours later, after Ben and I enjoyed a cheese-free omelette dinner, the dogs began bounding round excitedly. I went to investigate. There was the cheese, more than slightly nibbled, and no longer appealing at all. Bert had concealed it by lying on top of it until I forgot about the missing cheese and moved on to other things.

They quickly gobbled the last of it to hide the evidence.

Scientific studies say that the tryptophan in cheese is proven to help you sleep.

I think they’re quite pleased about that!

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Simple Baked Camenbert Recipe

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
~ C. S. Lewis

Our little farmhouse is as popular as any Byron Bay bed and breakfast come weekends,especially on Market Weekends! I’m returning home this morning, after a very big week of psychic work in Brisbane, and this afternoon guests arrive to spend a few nights with us.  It doesn’t give me much time to get ready, in anticipation of feeding the hungry hordes.

Afternoon drinks on the veranda is a much-looked-forward-to Friday ritual in our neck of the woods, and I know my visitors will be hungry after their long drive.  I won’t have had much time to whip up anything very spectacular – so my fallback treat today is Baked Camenbert.  Baking camenbert is so simple, and the result is a rich, melty fondue-reminiscent cheesy heaven! You can scoop it out onto bread or crackers, and there is always a fight to eat the ‘skin’ at the end of the cheese-dipping session.

Our beverages of choice will be Hendricks Gin and Tonic (thanks to my dear friend Rachel for putting me on to this gin), Stone and Wood Pacific Ale (a locally brewed and quite excellent beer) and perhaps a bottle of bubbles or a crisp dry white wine.

Now, to the business of baking camenbert.  I have some splendid, meal-worthy variations of this recipe but for today let’s just start with the basics.  You’ll need a wheel of camenbert (more if there is a crowd!), and some good quality crackers, crispbread or mini-toasts.  A good fresh bread, ripped into chunks can also work well.  I like the camenberts that come in the little wooden boxes.  The box helps the cheese stay in shape as it bakes, but if you can’t get hold of one like that don’t worry.  It will still work out fine!

If you want to make your own crackers and crispbread, I thoroughly recommend the recipes from the fabulous Darla Cooks blog. Just click on the link to visit cracker recipe heaven. Here’s a picture from Darla’s blog of her own crispbread making efforts:

This image courtesy of the amazing Darla Magee-Price

Anyway, back to cheese….

Using a sharp knife (serrated ones work very well for this) carefully cut the top rind off your wheel of cheese.  Then score the inside of the cheese lightly to help it cook through evenly.

If you have some sprigs of fresh rosemary, and a little fresh garlic to hand, these will turn your camenbert into something magical.  It’s so easy.  Just skin a few garlic cloves, cut in half if enormous, and poke into the cheese.  Poke a few sprigs of rosemary in the cheese as well.

Now place your cheese on a baking tray and pop it into a very hot oven for fifteen to twenty minutes. If you don’t have a nifty wooden box for your cheese, and the rind is quite soft, you can place the cheese in a small oven proof bowl or ramekin, or make a little paper and aluminum foil collar to keep your cheese in shape.  Or live on the wild side, put a piece of baking paper under your cheese and be prepared to eat it sloppy if it doesn’t hold its shape.

Check in with your cheese every so often.  You want it browned and bubbly but not burned.

To serve, simply slide your cheese onto a serving platter, surround with crackers, provide a knife if that’s your kind of entertaining style, and watch it be demolished!

Cheesy Mexican Bake with Home-made Coleslaw

All my clients and friends keep telling me they want to eat better but have no time to cook! In response to this I’ve decided to post some quick-to-prepare recipes that will allow you to eat well, and get food on the table fast, with a mimimum of fuss.

This recipe is embarrassingly easy and I have endless variations of it, but here goes:

Note: For vegans, use a butter and cheese substitute. This is a vegetarian meal, but carnivores could easily add in a few handfuls of bacon, ham, chicken or sausage. Like I said, endless variations…

Ingredients: potatoes – washed but skin on ( you could also use pumpkin or sweet potato if you choose), an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a few cups of mixed vegetables, some ripe tomatoes (or a can if you’re really pressed), and a tin of baked beans, some cheese, coriander (cilantro – or fresh herbs of your choice), cumin, black pepper, paprika (smoked is good!) and a little chilli.

Fresh tomatoes from my garden!

Method:

Heat oven to moderate, 180c, or 350f.

Find a big baking dish or pan to serve your meal in and grease well with butter. (I use an old enamel dish I found at an op shop many years ago. It’s still one of my faves and it cost $2!) Cook up enough potato cut in rough big chunks, unpeeled, to cover the bottom of pan with a hearty layer. (I often use pumpkin or sweet potato or a combo too.) While the spuds are cooking grease your serving pan and chop the rest of your vegetables, and then get started on your slaw. Ten minutes should be more than ample time!

When the potato is cooked dump into bottom of pan. Feel free to smash down a bit to get that coverage. Cover with a layer of baked beans. 1 tin ought to do it. Then add various chopped vegies – for ‘Mexican’ (this is hilarious considering I am an Australian…) I use chopped capsicum (bell peppers), raw onion, green onions (shallots) a few cloves of crushed garlic, fresh corn (you could used tinned), fresh coriander and then season with lots of cracked black pepper, cumin, paprika (smokey is good!) and a little chilli – or just use a mexican spice mix. Cover with a layer of sliced fresh tomatoes and then with grated cheese and place in hot oven for about 20 mins or until golden brown on top. Devour, with a garden salad or coleslaw. Easy and yum!

Variation: For something a little fancier slather some guacamole and sour cream on top, and add more fresh coriander (cilantro).

Coleslaw – finely slice or shred a quarter wedge of red cabbage and a white one, add some finely chopped celery, capsicum (bell pepper), onion and apple, grated carrot, and a little fresh corn if you have it. Add coleslaw dressing and mix well. (Confession – I will usually use store-bought dressing when I’m in a hurry) I often add walnuts or diced pineapple to my coleslaw too, depending on the day, and what I’m serving it with.

PS – You can cheat with the coleslaw if you need to by buying a bag of pre-chopped coleslaw vegetables from the supermarket, then adding a few of your own touches (like the onion and apple). That’s still going to be way better than the pre-bought tubs of mush that imitate the real thing.

Coles pre-made coleslaw vegetables – Image from coles.com.au

I often use whatever vegetables are in my cupboard/fridge or growing in the garden for my cheesy bakes. If I am feeling energetic I will cook beans from scratch, or use leftover chilli from a previous meal. It is a great dinner to reheat for lunch or supper the next day too 🙂

Tips: Cook double your usual quantity of potato at one night’s dinner, and make this recipe up to serve the following night.  Refrigerate and then bake when needed, but give yourself a good 30 minutes cooking time to make sure it is heated right through. Faster than take-away and a fraction of the price! Or make two trays and freeze one to serve on those nights when you are too tired to care.

And while you’re waiting for this to brown in the oven, and with the coleslaw all made, you’ll have time for a minute’s meditation….

Life’s too short to eat bad food! I hope you enjoy this easy meal xx