Three Pepper Cacio de Pepe

Recipes like this are why it’s so damn hard to stay Keto. 😂😂😂 Food & Wine Magazine just keeps enticing me to #TheDarkSide!

Three Pepper Cacio e Pepe

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground Tellicherry pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper
  • 12 ounces uncooked bronze-cut fusilli col buco pasta (such as Giusto Sapore) or bucatini pasta
  • 1 1/2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 cup), plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 cup)

When is it OK to Eat Food With Mold On It?

In this season of food gifts and party leftovers, this article, previously published by My Recipes, is particularly important and worth sharing & re-sharing. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

“We’ve all let something languish in the fridge a bit longer than we realized. It’s not unreasonable to look at a single patch of mold on a strawberry and wonder if the whole lot has to be tossed. But what about a block of cheese with a quarter-sized fuzzy spot? Is that safe to trim and eat? Or does it have to go, too?

Fortunately, this handy guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture can have the final say on what stays and what goes when you spot mold on your food.

4 Moldy Foods You Can Eat:

Hard salami or dry-cured country ham

It’s A-OK for hard salamis to have a thin white coating on the outside of the meat. This mold is put there on purpose: to produce flavor and protect the cured meat from bacteria. It’s safe to consume, as is any mold that grows on dry-cured country ham. Large slabs of the super salty pork are often used in restaurants as part decor, part conversation starter (and also a tangy topper to everything from pasta to avocado toast). If you buy one of these delicacies, don’t fear a little mold growth on the crust. Scrub it off (be sure to dry the ham well) before eating. 

Cheeses made with mold

The mold in blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert is to be expected. After all, these cheeses are injected with mold before they ripen—that’s why they’re so funky and delicious. But not all molds are made to eat, so you can’t assume all molds on cheese get the approval. Hard cheeses, like Gorgonzola and Stilton, aren’t harmed by a little extra mold. Cut the spot away—half an inch to one inch all the way around—and enjoy. Softer cheeses, like Brie and Camembert, have to go if you spot mold growing on them. The fingerlike organisms of mold can reach deep into these softer cheeses and may develop into toxic substances.

Hard cheeses

Even cheeses that aren’t made with mold veins are safe to eat if you spot a speck of mold growing on them. Cheddar, for example, just requires you to trim an inch around the moldy spot (some experts argue you only need a half-inch buffer; do what feels safest for you) and toss that before diving in. Be sure to use a clean knife, and keep the blade away from the mold to prevent cross-contamination. When you’re finished slicing for your sandwich or burger, be sure to rewrap the cheese in a fresh covering so you don’t reinfect with mold spores.

Firm fruits and vegetables

Tough vegetables and fruit, like carrots, potatoes, and turnips can take the mold in stride. The mold threads have a hard time penetrating deep into these dense plant foods. Trim off an inch around the mold, and eat or cook as you planned. Softer fruits and vegetables, like cherries, strawberries, and corn, should be tossed. Mold can easily spread to nearby areas, even if you can’t see the spores with your naked eye.

When can molds be toxic? 

All molds can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. That doesn’t mean they’re toxic. However, in the right conditions, some molds can turn into mycotoxins, poisonous substances that can make people physically sick. These substances are produced by certain molds that are most commonly found in grain and nut crops. However, they’ve also been known to show up in apples, grape juice, celery, and other fresh produce. That’s why, when in doubt, throw the moldy foods out.

Which moldy foods should I always toss? 

The USDA says these foods are no good when you spot mold. Their high moisture content or porous nature makes them prime for rapid mold development. Don’t risk getting sick just to finish up Tuesday night’s pot roast. Toss it, and fry up a grilled cheese instead.

Foods you should always toss:

  • Luncheon meats, bacon, and hot dogs
  • Cooked leftover meat and poultry
  • Cooked casseroles
  • Cooked grains and pasta
  • Soft cheeses, like cottage cheese, chevre, cream cheese, and Neufchatel
  • Yogurt and sour cream
  • Jams and jellies — Mycotoxins can spread in these foods easily, so it’s not enough to scoop out a mold part and keep going deeper into the jar.l
  • Soft fruits and vegetables — They’re porous, which means mold can spread rapidly, even if you can’t spot the spores.
  • Baked goods and bread
  • Peanut butter, legumes, and nuts — Any foods processed without preservatives are at a high risk of developing mold spores. Be extra cautious and keep them stored appropriately.”

Baked Cheese Puff Appetizer

My grandma called these cheese puffs, but if you prefer the French name, Bon Appétit calls them Gougères.

These delicate cheese puffs always impress. The dough takes a couple of times to get “just right,” but this is now one of my favorites to make for a crowd.

  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 ounces (1½ cups) grated Comté cheese or Gruyère
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Bring butter, salt, nutmeg, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add flour, and stir to combine.

Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring vigorously, until a dry film forms on bottom and sides of pan and dough is no longer sticky, about 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat and let dough cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole eggs one at a time, incorporating fully between additions. Mix in cheese and pepper.

Scrape dough into a piping bag fitted with a ½” round tip (alternatively, use a plastic bag with a ½” opening cut diagonally from 1 corner). Pipe 1” rounds about 2” apart onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Whisk egg yolk and 1 tsp. water in a small bowl; brush rounds with egg wash.

Bake gougères until puffed and golden and dry in the center (they should sound hollow when tapped), 20–25 minutes.

Tip** These go FAST!  I’d advise you make a double batch.  

Dough can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.  Gougères can be baked 2 hours ahead; reheat before serving.

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Creamy Poblano Chicken Soup

chickenpoblanosoupAfter another Southern California winter week with temperatures over 80 degrees, I was looking for any excuse to make soup.  Today the Santa Ana Winds blew in and dropped the temperature to a “Brisk” 69 degrees so I rushed to get the pressure cooker and Vitamix working so I could enjoy my favorite cool night meal:

Creamy Poblano Chicken Soup

  • 2 Roasted Poblano Peppers
  • 1 Roasted Sweet Potato (or Yam)
  • 1 Roasted Small Yellow Onion
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 32 oz Chicken Stock (I use Emeril’s)
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic Finely Chopped
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese (Room Temperature)
  • 1 lb diced chicken breast
  • 2 Cups Shredded Colby & Monterey Jack Cheese
  • Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Roast the sweet potato in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes on high.  Remove and set aside.
  2. Using the Brown function on the pressure cooker, roast the Poblano peppers, the quartered onion and the garlic in the olive oil for 10 minutes after the cooker comes up to temperature.  Remove from pan when done.
  3. Add the chicken to the pressure cooker pan and again set it to the Brown function.  Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  4. Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers.
  5. Add peppers, onion, sweet potato, garlic, 1 Cup of the broth, and cream cheese to the Vitamix container.  Process on low to medium speed until well combined and smooth.
  6. Add the chicken to the Vitamix container and process on the low setting until chicken shreds and is no longer in chunks.
  7. Pour contents of Vitamix container back into the pressure cooker pan.  Add remaining 3 cups of stock, the shredded cheese.  Stir until well combined.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired.
  8. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and select the Stew/Soup function.  After the machine reaches cooking temperature, cook for 10 minutes.
  9. When cooking is complete, release pressure, stir and serve soup while hot.

Serve with buttered toasted sourdough croutons, a dollop of sour cream and sliced avocado if desired.

**Vegetarian Option:  Don’t add the chicken if you would like to serve this as a side or keep it meat-free.

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Roasted Jalapeno Avocado Bacon Pie

Because Thursday is the slowest day at my “real job” I usually have time to fool around in the kitchen to try to create a new dish to serve for dinner.  This week was no different except that I needed to come up with something healthy because I am (BOO – HISSdieting i.e., not eating anything that even resembles Halloween candy or that I can pick up at a drive-thru window, have delivered to my front door, or comes out of a can or box.  No Bueno!

jabpieings Determined to stay on track, into the kitchen I went to make a healthy meal that would taste good, keep me full and make my digestion work hard (and burn calories) all night long.

aha-cartoonHappily I found some of my favorite spicy, salty, satisfying flavors there!  Bacon, fresh jalapenos, a forgotten Roma tomato (thankfully still firm), some ripe avocados from my backyard, green onions, eggs, and a wedge of aged gouda.  AHA Moment: I’d eat breakfast for dinner!

Roasted Jalapeno Avocado Bacon Tortilla Pie

  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sour Cream
  • 4 Slices of Bacon (cooked crisp, drained, cooled and chopped)
  • 3 Green Onions
  • 1/2 of 1 Large Roma Tomato
  • 7 Corn Tortillas
  • 1 Medium Avocado
  • 1 Cup Shredded Aged Gouda Cheese
  • 1 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Freshly Ground Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9.5″ Pyrex pie plate with the Olive Oil Spray.

In a small non-stick frying pan heat each of the tortillas until just lightly browned on both sides.  Lay one in the center on the bottom and then layer the rest around the pan overlapping to make sure there is a “crust like” coverage.

In the same pan roast the whole jalapenos until the skin bubbles and begins to blacken.  If you want a bit less spice, remove the seeds and stem first.  Combine both of the cheeses: sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the bottom of the tortilla crust.  When peppers are roasted, chop them and scatter over the first cheese layer.

Chop and quickly dry saute’ the whites only of the green onions (chop the greens and set aside) and the Roma tomato with a bit of salt & pepper.  Distribute the onion/tomato mixture over the jalapenos then cover with 1/2 of the remaining cheese.

Chop the avocado then layer it with the bacon over the second cheese layer.

Mix the 4 eggs and the sour cream until well combined and beginning to thicken.  Add cracked salt and pepper then pour carefully over the pie surface taking care not to overflow the edges of the exposed tortillas on the sides. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and put pie pan in the center of the pre-heated oven.  Bake 40-45 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown and a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out with no egg mixture on it and center is cooked through.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing into wedges to serve.  Top each wedge with the reserved chopped green onions.

jabpie2     jabpie3     jabpie4

To make this a complete meal serve with a salad of Romaine, the reserved 1/2 of the tomato, and any other fresh produce you’d like (I chop a green apple, some jicama, and add a shredded carrot) then dress lightly with olive oil, combined with salt, pepper and some lemon juice to keep it healthy.

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