When you make toasted cheese bread, the cheese you use matters. Why?
When you melt cheese, the heat is kneading and stretching what is called protein casein bonds (number-one building block in cheese) rather than breaking them down to a liquid form.
The kneading and stretching of cheese when placed in heat, allows for moisture and fat to escape the casein.
After cheese has been added to heat, the end results is the feeling of gooeyness as you bit into that cheese topped hamburger or those tacos, grilled cheese sandwich, pasta, Mac and cheese and that slice of pizza.
You can have that same gooey feeling when bitting into a slice of Toasted Sourdough Garlic Cheese Bread.
The right cheese to use is a younger cheese, or less aged, as it well melt easier under heat.
The older the cheese or aged for a long period of time, the clumpier and harder to break down.
Choose a cheese that will melt into gooey goodness.
Here is a list of cheese choices for toasted cheese bread that will melt easily.
Parmesan – grated
Poor melting cheeses include: mozzarella, feta, and provolone. Though you could use these, but they should be paired with a cheese that melts easily.
How Cheese Is Made
Cheese is made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo.
Good bacteria is used in the fermentation process to break down the fats and proteins into a larger molecules.
The flavor and texture of the cheese depends on the bacteria used.
Toasted Sourdough Garlic Cheese Bread
Here is what you will need and what to do for a Toasted Sourdough Garlic Cheese Bread oven toasted cheese bread.
• Butter or olive oil
• Good melting cheese
• garlic cloves, minced
• After Toasting Toppings: parsley, cilantro, Basil, or chives
Try sourdough for a tangy flavor, or an airy bread like ciabatta if you like the cheese oozing through the holes.
Mince 2 gloves of garlic and place in small bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mash garlic with a fork. Next, add a few shakes of Harissa seasoning and mix in.
Spread garlic-oil mixture over bread. Next add slices or grated cheese you have chosen to use.
Place bread onto a cast iron skillet and put pan under preheated broiler. Wait until cheese melts and is bubbling.
Use caution, watch bread as it is toasted. Toasting of bread and melting of cheese under broiler can happen fast. You don’t want a piece of burnt bread and cheese.
Once cheese has melted, remove from oven and sprinkle cheese toast with either chopped cilantro, diced chives, torn basil leaves, or chopped parsley.
You love the gooey delicious flavor of melted cheese? Then you’ll like these recipes as well.
The most popular varieties sold at your local market are, Covington Sweet Potato, O’Henry Sweet Potato, and the Japanese Sweet Potato.
The popular food magazine, also found on line, Saveur says that shopping for sweet potatoes, particularly during the Thanksgiving holiday (USA), you can came across a surprising range of varieties, 16 to be exact.
They go on to say that a consumer can find both heirlooms and new hybrids alike, all which are being grown in the United States.
Our feature recipe – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs – uses three different types of sweet potatoes, which are the speckled purple sweet potato, which is named because of their flecked magenta flesh.
An heirloom variety with pale orange skin and flesh, and not to forget theHannahs varity which has tan skin and an off-white interior. When roasted the flesh takes on a yellow cast, a lightly sweet flavor, and a dry texture.
Here is what you will need to prepare – Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs in your own kitchen.
12 scallions or green onions (white and green parts), cut into 1 1/2 inch segments
1 red chili,halved, seeded, thinly sliced
My mother had two fig trees in her garden, both a black and green variety. Fresh figs can be very fragile, and need to be eaten within a day or two of harvesting. We used dried figs in our recipe because they are just as versatile as fresh figs when re-hydrated.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Scrub potatoes and slice each one into wedges.
Toss wedges with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, s teaspoons of Himalayan salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle and roast until soft, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the dried figs in a medium saucepan with lemon zest, juice, ginger, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover with fresh water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until figs return to plump fig pose.
Scoop figs from saucepan with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels. Let dry, and quarter the figs, cutting away the stems.
In a small saucepan, stir together the balsamic vinegar, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes.
Arrange roasted sweet potatoes on a serving platter. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a sauce pan and heat. place in onions, and chili. Fry for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Spoon the oil, onions, and chili over the sweet potatoes.
Nestle the figs among the wedges and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Suggested to serve at room temperature.
Maybe you are wondering what to do with the water solution that was used to dehydrate the figs? Put it into your Nutri-Bullet or blender, and blend for about 30 to 40 seconds and drink down a nutritious anti-inflammatory drink.
Herbs and spices are used to enhance the flavor of food, either it be for cooking Spaghetti Carbonara or baking an apple pie.
An herb or spice can be a seed, fruit, root, bark, berry, bud or leafy part of the plant. They are principally used for flavoring food among other uses. They can be used fresh or dried.
Herbs And Spices Through The Ages
It is said that by the Middle Ages,the most common spices and herbs being traded and used were black pepper, cinnamon (including the alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.
Herbs and spices are useful for many things, among others are medicinal uses, cosmetic or perfume production uses, and of course they are used add flavor to a meal.
By 1000 B.C. medical systems based upon herbs were found in China, Korea, and India. Also the Egyptians used herbs and spices for their embalming practices and their demand for exotic herbs and spices helped stimulate world trade.
The flavor of an herb or spice is derived by exposing the volatile oil compounds of the seed or leafy part, that oxidize or evaporate when it comes in contact with air.
As an example, fresh ginger is usually more flavorful than its dried form, but fresh spices are more expensive and have a much shorter shelf life.
Flavor of herbs and spices can be maximized by storing them whole and grinding when needed, as grinding greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation.
If you decide to use dried spices, be sure to use them within 6 to 8 months of purchase. Ground spices are better stored away from light, as it also increases the oxidation of the volatile oils.
How To Use Herbs And Spices
When using herbs and spices you’ll want to pick flavors that complement each other, such as the spice mix known as “pumpkin pie spice.”
The ratios of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg add great flavor to the pie, and each spice doesn’t over power the other.
The key or rule of thumb to spicing things up is that less is more. Avoid adding too much all at once. Instead, add a little at a time and add more to taste.
A good example of over spicing and unable to fix it, is when you use oregano or cloves. Their volital oils are great for flavoring culinary and pastry dishes, but they are strong in flavor, and only require a small amount.
When using spices to flavor your meat or vegetables, use only 3 different types at a time.
You can even use herbs and spice to replace salt. Choose your spice or spices, add a little lemon juice and unsalted butter.
Which spices pair well together for the best culinary dishes you can make?
Let’s examine some of the most commonly used spices and which spices pair well with them. LINK HERE
We all enjoy good aromas in our kitchen. But let’s face it, there are just some smells which we can’t avoid while cooking and are hard to get read of after making dinner.
If you made some fish, then you know how hard it is to get to eliminate the smell from your cutting board or the air? Even preparing onions on cutting surfaces and your hands leave you with that unwanted onion smell? We’ve all been there.
But there’s no need to fret, as there are simple ways without synthetic chemicals to tackle common kitchen odors. And if you want to go – “Green” – you will like employing these ideas.
General odors – Baking soda is not just for baking and cooking, it can also be used for removing odors from all over the kitchen. Just as baking soda placed in your fridge will remove odors, but it will also remove odors from your hands.
You can also create a paste with a little water and baking soda and apply to your cutting board or other cooking services to remove any unwanted smells.
You can even wash your garbage pail with a mixture of water and baking soda. Also remove odors from dishrags and sponges by soaking them in baking soda and water as well.
Fish Odors– Slice a lemon in half and use the lemon flesh down on the cutting surface and your hands to cut that fishy odor. You can also chose to mix lemon juice with water to rinse your hands and cutting surface.
The citric acid in the lemon turns agroupof decaying organiccompounds called amines. When the lemon juice makes contact with the compounds that are causing that “fishy” smell, they are turned into ammonium salts which are less offensive to your nose.
Garlic Odors – Coffee ground are great at removing garlic smells. Wash your hands and then scrub with the coffee grounds. This exfoliates the skin, removing the dead tissues which is where the stink resides.
Onion Odors– Use some organic made toothpaste, like Dessert Essence made with natural tea tree oil and ginger oil or fennel oil . This will work for any of those strong fish and garlic smells as well.
More Techniques To Removing Fowl Odors From The Kitchen
Have you ever used parsley to combat your garlic breath? Rub it on your hands to remove that garlic smell as well. Not only parsley, but any fresh herb will absorb those odors. Just tear the herb into pieces and rub between your hands.
Most herbs are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Meaning they kill germs, and with the germs gone, so is the odors they can cause.
Food crops harvested in winter months with the use of hoop houses or hot houses (such as used in California, USA) and other methods that extend the natural growing season, and old-fashioned storage vegetables like cabbages and potatoes all mean that there are plenty of winter produce to choose from.
What winter produce that is available, is sufficient to enjoy delicious winter salads along with great homemade dressings and vinaigrette’s.
The different crops available in the winter months include among others:
Broccoli: Thisand all othercruciferous vegetables can be grown year-round in temperate climates, but broccoli tastes best when harvested in the cooler temperatures of fall in most climates.
Warm Winter Salad with Apples Spinach Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Brussels sprouts: These vegetables are part of the cabbage family. They grow on stalks, and they last somewhat longer than when sold packaged or removed from their stalks.
Cabbage: This vegetableis crispy when raw with bitter flavor, though it mellows and sweetens the longer it’s cooked.
Sweet Potatoes: This root vegetable is often referred too or interchangeable with yams. The two vegetables are different though.
Most yams in the USA are sweet potatoes. Yams are dry and starchy, and grown mainly in Africa and Asia. They can weigh up too 100 pounds.
Sweet potatoes store very well and are available year round in warmer areas. Though their season is from late summer through winter.
Other vegetables available in fall to winter months include, radicchio, radishes, turnips, winter squash, rutabagas, parsnips, chard, collard greens, cress, spinach, kale, carrots, leeks, fennel, and celery among others.
There are also a verity of fruits in season during the winter months that you can enjoy in fruit salads, or as a snack. To view the available in season winter fruits link here: Fruits Info – Seasonal Fruits.
Salads To Enjoy In The Winter Months
Chilly temperatures, and dark winter days are traditionally suited to cheese, meat, and vegetable casseroles, including pastas. A salad filled with raw vegetables may not seem appealing in the cold winter.
But what if you could prepare a warm winter salad, like this one – Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts. This recipe is offered by a professional chef, author, recipe developer, educator and certified health coach at A Food Centric Life.
Warm Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
1 large bunch of organic kale (Tuscan, Lacinato or Dinosaur)
Image Credit: A Food Centric Life
1 large shallot
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
Handful of dried cranberries
Small handful of chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar (suggestion: infused balsamic fruit flavored variety like dark cherry)
Salt and pepper, to season
Bring a large pot (5 quart/liter) of water to a boil while you are trimming the kale leaves and slicing the shallot. Trim the ribs out of the center of the kale leaves, and then cut the leaves crosswise into ribbons. Slice the peeled shallot crosswise into thin rings.
When water boils, add 2 teaspoons salt, then drop the kale leaves into the water and cook for 2 minutes (called blanching). Drain well through a sieve and place kale on a clean kitchen towel. Alternatively you can steam your kale for 2-3 minutes, and then proceed with the recipe.
In a medium sauté or fry pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat until warm. Add the shallot rings, then the garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until softened. Be careful not to let them burn. Add the cranberries, walnuts, and vinegar. Stir and cook for a minute, then add the cooked kale. Toss the kale ribbons to coat and warm, season up with salt and pepper, and then serve.
Make this a even more warm winter salad by either serving the warm salad as a side dish with roasted chicken, as Sally the author of “A Food Centric Life” explains, or as a foundation for roasted salmon. She also suggests placing the warm salad over a bed of quinoa for a vegetarian or vegan entree.
Sally says you can use a fruit flavored infused balsamic vinegar like dark cherry or fig when making the vinaigrette.
Another great warm winter salad you can enjoy is: Sweet Potato, Kale and Shrimp Skillet
Just because the weather is cold shouldn’t keep you from enjoying in season fresh produce. Nature gives us a collection of its best winter vegetables that have proven to be flavorful. Winter root vegetables can contribute an interdependent, sweet flavor to a hearty winter soup recipe, like carrots, or sweet potatoes.
Roasting most winter vegetables brings out their best flavors. Even using complementary herbs and spices helps add some extra exceptional tastes.
Available In Season Winter Vegetables
Although Brussels sprouts are available year-round, their peak season is from September to February.
When looking to purchase them, remember to look for small firm sprouts with compact bright-green heads, and the smaller the head the sweeter the taste. Roasting Brussels sprouts lightly caramelizes their edges but keeps them tender inside.
To view a few recipes using Brussels sprouts one of the following links:
At All Recipes (allrecipes.com) they call Broccoli the star vegetable in stir-fries, soups, salads, and casseroles.
Broccoli can be purchased year round. But when in season, as a winter vegetable when roasted retains its entire flavor and even gains deliciously crisp bits when.
When asked the question – How Do You Describe Broccoli? – to a community of online people at answers.com, one member answered saying, “Broccoli is good chopped into small pieces or cut into larger piece and cooked until tender.
It’s delicious to eat as it is when cooked naturally and also in recipes.
The popular dish, broccoli and cheese is made with cooked, tender broccoli before draining and stirring in cheese until it melts and mixes in with the broccoli.
You can also make cheese sauces, which you serve, poured over the broccoli on a plate.
Either way it is cooked or served, broccoli is a favorite among vegetables and nutritionally powerful” (Answers).
The Sweet Potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the Convolvulaceae family.
This species of plants are known commonly as the bindweed or morning glory family, which has more than 1,650 species of mostly herbaceous vines, but also trees, shrubs and herbs.
The sweet potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root. There are about 1,000 species of sweet potatoes, with some varieties sold at market for food, while others are not for consumption, as they are poisonous.
The sweet potato is only distantly related to the common potato, though it is not part the nightshade family.
The website – “The Worlds Healthiest Foods” – has this to say about sweet potatoes when preparing to eat them, “It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable.
Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. Of course, this minimal amount of fat can be very easy to include.
In our Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe, for example, we include 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and with just this one tablespoon, each of our 4 servings for this delicious recipe provides 3.5 grams of fat (whfoods).
To view a few recipes using sweet potatoes click one of the following links:
Leeks are winter root vegetable that looks much similar to onions, and to which they are also related. Their flavor is onion-like but much milder, mellower, and not overpowering, as onions sometimes can be.
The darker green parts have plenty of flavor. They can either be cooked longer then the root parts to tenderize them, or used when making homemade soup stock, like chicken broth base soup along with potatoes, carrots, and herbs.
They can also be eaten raw or joined with a salad of leafy greens to divulge a wonderful crisp crunchy flavor.