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.”

Get Thee to Whole Foods!

Food & Wine Magazine shared the tip that, today, Whole Foods announced it’s bringing back its popular 12 Days of Cheese promotion. Because Whole Foods loves us and wants us to be happy, 😉 from December 12 to 23, we can eat our way through a choice of high-quality artisanal cheeses at ridiculously prices!

Each day from December 12 to 23, Whole Foods’ will make a different one of its “highest-quality cheeses available at a generous discount, from artisans like 2019–20 World Cheese Award–winner Rogue Creamery.” That discount: 50 percent off—with an additional 10 percent off if you’re a Prime member. This is reason enough to renew my #AmazonPrime membership! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Here’s a cheat-sheet of the 2019 sale lineup – bonus, Whole Foods loves to let you sample:

Dec. 12: Roth Pavino
“Rich, earthy, medium-firm Alpine cheese with notes of sweet hazelnut. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 13: Istara P’tit Basque
“Aged a minimum of 70 days, this creamy and smooth sheep milk cheese has a mild, nutty flavor with a subtle, sweet finish.”

Dec. 14: Uplands Cheese Pleasant Ridge Reserve
“A cow’s milk Alpine-style cheese modeled after favorites like Le Gruyère and Beaufort, with flavors ranging from milky to nutty and grassy. The Pleasant Ridge Reserve is America’s most awarded cheese.”

Dec. 15: Neal’s Yard Dairy Keen’s Cheddar
“This cheese is dense yet creamy with complex flavors ranging from fruity to sweet butterscotch. Each wheel has been hand selected by our experts.”

Dec. 16: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog
“A goat’s milk soft-ripened American original with a beautiful ribbon of edible ash through the center. Floral, herbaceous overtones, buttermilk and fresh cream flavors.”

Dec. 17: Emmi Cave Aged Le Gruyère
“A firm, almost crumbly Alpine cheese. Robust, deeply flavored, with tangy fruit notes and classic nuttiness.”

Dec. 18: Sweet Grass Dairy Thomasville Tomme
“Raw cow’s milk, handcrafted cheese with a semi-firm texture. Rich, earthy flavors with a finish of light salt, grass and tangy cream.”

Dec. 19: Mitica Cordobes
“Made with Castellana and Merino sheep milk from Spain. Rich and buttery flavors balanced by bright acidity and nutty undertones. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 20: Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue
“Aged at least 90 days in Roquefort modeled caves, this organic cheese has briny, earthy flavors with notes of sweet cream and huckleberry. Rogue Creamery recently made history by producing the first American cheese ever to win top honors at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy.”

Dec. 21: Klare Melk Truffle Gouda
“Rich, flavorful, semi-firm cheese. Velvety notes of sweet cream and butter, generously laced with earthy truffles.”

Dec. 22: Cellars at Jasper Hill Harbison with Prosecco
“Soft-ripened, buttery, woodsy and sweet with balanced tones of mustard. A wash in Presto prosecco brings out bright citrus flavors. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 23: MonS Mary dans les Étoiles
“Stunning, ash-coated geo-rind goat cheese. Creamy and grassy, finished with light citrus notes. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Beyond the “5 Mother Sauces”

While I’ve managed to learn to make passable Béchamel and Hollandaise sauces, the other 3 “essential ‘Mother Sauces’ that all serious cooks should master,” just haven’t been at all essential to meals I prepare. However, the 5 sauces Food & Wine Magazine featured in an April 2019 article are definitely featured much more prominently in my favorite home cooked meals!

  • Chimichurri – Comprised of herbs, olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and garlic and/or minced shallot, Chimichurri is a quite versatile, and eminently adaptable sauce that’s great paired with grilled meat or vegetables, or used as a dressing tossed with greens or pasta salad.
  • Hollandaise – F & W’s Justin Chapple shared his secret to making the perfect hollandaise: A blender. Instead of using a double boiler to cook the yolks, Chapple purees the egg yolks in a blender and then streams in hot melted butter, thickening and cooking the hollandaise.  I love this sauce spooned over eggs benedict, steamed or grilled asparagus or as a compliment to a perfectly grilled piece of salmon or steak.
  • Pomodoro – Marinara’s thick, easy, cousin made by simmering crushed tomatoes with a touch of olive oil, garlic, and salt, until it’s thick and a deep rich red. As a sauce for pasta or chicken/veal/eggplant Parmesan, this sauce can easily have some pizzazz added to it by stirring in chopped capers and anchovies, or fresh basil and crushed red pepper.
  • Béchamel – This easy, roux based, sauce is the flavor stepping stone for layering in a lasagna, smearing on a croque madame, or adding cheese so it becomes a mornay sauce for macaroni and cheese.
  • Romesco – Pureed Spanish sauce, made with chilies, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, toasted nuts and olive oil that tastes good on anything from pasta to seafood, grilled vegetables, or even as a spread on a hearty sandwich. Just thinking about these bold, flavorful revisions to the traditional “Mother Sauces” gets my creative culinary juices flowing! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Hummus

You know you need something to let people snack on before the big meal, but you don’t want them to be too full to eat the meal you’ve been slaving over for days…

This recipe, from November 2015’s Food & Wine Magazine, takes the edge off but won’t ruin anyone’s dinner! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

How to Make It

In a food processor (I used my Vitamix), combine the chickpeas with the pumpkin, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and 1/3 cup of water and puree until smooth. Season the hummus with salt and pepper and serve with pita chips or crudités.

Make Ahead

The pumpkin hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

maple-leaves-mixed-fall-colors-background-david-gn

For those of us hosting big family meals, at just over a month before Thanksgiving, we’ve officially reached the “almost the holidays” panic time.  That time when we revisit what we did last year to determine:

  • What dishes served had the most leftovers
  • What dishes got rave reviews
  • What dishes had no leftovers (for adjusting amount prepared)
  • What dishes were too much effort and underwhelmed

It’s also the time when we take a look at new recipes that we might want to add to this year’s menu, which means we get to make our families Guinea pigs for the next few weeks while we’re trying them out.

I already have one sweet potato recipe that my family loves, but this one (from the December 2005 issue of Food & Wine Magazine) looks pretty good, it’s easy, serves 10 – 12, and can be made the day before which frees up time on the big day, another bonus.

vbwhippedsweetpotatoes

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 pounds medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 TBLS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and bake for about 35 minutes, or until tender.  Let cool slightly, then peel and transfer them to a food processor (I actually use my stand mixer). Puree until fairly smooth.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream with the butter and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean.

With the processor (or stand mixer) on, carefully pour the vanilla cream into the sweet potatoes and process until smooth. Season the sweet potato puree with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

I’d definitely consider doubling this recipe to make sure there were plenty of leftovers for piling on a turkey sandwich or frying up as sweet potato pancakes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

This isn’t your grandma’s banana pudding and it certainly isn’t the “off the back of the Nilla Wafer box” banana pudding recipe either!  Thumbing through the pages of the October 2009 Food & Wine Magazine, I found this different, may I even say elegant, spin on a truly classic Southern comfort food!

vanillapudding

Banana Pudding with Vanilla Wafer Crumble

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons banana liqueur (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vanilla wafer cookies (about 15), coarsely ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bananas, coarsely chopped
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. In a bowl, combine the wafers, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of sugar and a pinch of salt.
  3. Stir in the melted butter.
  4. Spread the crumble on the prepared baking sheet; bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch, the 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  6. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
  7. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolks until smooth.
  8. Transfer the pudding mixture to the saucepan and add the banana liqueur.
  9. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the pudding is thick, about 3 minutes.
  10. Scrape the pudding into a bowl and whisk in the cold butter and vanilla.
  11. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.
  12. Spoon the chopped bananas into bowls.
  13. Top with the pudding, sprinkle with the crumble and serve right away.

Yum! #ThisGirlLovesToEat