Posts Tagged ‘snack’

Fresh from the Farm

May 19, 2013

During a recent visit to my favorite place, I stopped by the Valley Shepherd Creamery to try some cheese and drool over the yummy goodness they stock. A hand-written sign in their cheese display case caught my eye: fresh goat cheese. My taste for chèvre was ruined in France where cheese is not pasteurized and therefore tastes rich beyond belief. By contrast, much of the cheese here just tastes bland and boring and sad.

When I see cheese that is "raw" or fresh or otherwise not normally bland American cheese, I get excited. When I asked Valley Shepherd Creamery what made the goat cheese with the handwritten sign "fresh", the response made the cheese impossible to resist: it was milked just 4 days ago!

Goat Cheese Tomato Sandwich

a bruscetta style sandwich made with goat cheese, tomato, and crispy kale

The pressure was on though: what to do with the tasty, fresh, lovely hunk of goat cheese? Besides the obvious answer of eating it all straight away. Nearly any combination of food would taste well from dates to figs to melon to grapes… After stopping at my favorite stand in my favorite place and getting some gorgeous tomatoes, this snack just came together naturally.

Goat Cheese Tomato Sandwich

created on-the-fly by Sarah Johnson

Note: measurements are not included and are entirely up to your discretion and tastes.

  • fresh goat cheese
  • tomato
  • kale
  • 1-2T olive oil
  • 1-2T balsamic vinegar
  • toast
  1. Chop kale into bite-size pieces and toss with olive oil.
  2. Spread the kale on a baking sheet, avoiding as much overlap as possible.
  3. Bake at 400F for about 5 minutes, until the kale becomes crispy.
  4. Slice the tomato into wedges.
  5. Slice the cheese into small rectangles.
  6. Layer as follows: toast, cheese, tomato, kale.
  7. Top with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Notes and Variations

I had enough goat cheese to try this a few different ways with toast, without toast, with basil instead of kale, with microgreens, and all of them were good. This is a recipe that cannot go wrong unless your ingredients go bad. I ate it as a sandwich, like bruscetta, but it can be served in pieces as large or small as you like. Have fun with it!

Goat Cheese Tomato and Greens

a bruscetta style sandwich made with fresh goat cheese, microgreens, and tomatoes on toast


Faster, Higher, Stronger

October 31, 2011

Ok, I’ll admit the Olympic motto doesn’t quite fit what I set out to do here. There are no illicit substances in these nuts so they won’t get you higher but they were made faster and taste stronger. I prefer to cook without a recipe in front of me, instead, following my instincts and vague recollections of recipes past. I did a pretty good job of replicating my own version of spiced nuts this time, adding a step of toasting the nuts first for best flavor and using a pre-mixed version of the spices. The only time-saver remaining is making the syrup. I think starting with a more even ratio of water to sugar will help.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Pecans coated with an assortment of spices and sugar.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

created by Sarah Johnson
inspired by Santa’s Spicy Nuts

  • 1c pecans
  • ¼c brown sugar
  • 2T chinese five spice
  • 2t chili powder
  • 1t ginger powder
  1. Toast pecans in a pan over medium-high heat until slightly browned. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle spice powders over pecans and stir to combine.
  3. Combine brown sugar and same amount of water in a pan over medium heat until thick, slow-bursting bubbles form.
  4. Pour the sugar mixture over the nuts, stir to combine.
  5. Let the sugar harden over the nuts before eating.

Notes and Variations

The sugar mixture needs to be cooked to the "hardball" stage, also known as the "fish eye" stage. I took this picture when my sugar mixture was nearly at the hardball stage. The problem here is that the bubbles were bursting too fast which means that the syrup was too thin still, but the bubbles are a good size.

Hardball Stage

Brown sugar and water boiling near the hardball stage.

The biggest issue with this dish is getting the sugar to harden on the pecans. I never do it right, don’t want to wait, and so just eat the nuts with a spoon while they’re still sticky. If you want to do this properly, you should spray a baking tray with oil, maybe even cover it with parchment paper then spray with oil, and bake the pecans for a few minutes on low heat so that the sugar hardens. I have not tried this, again, an issue of patience and hunger! It should work in theory though.

One more note about variations: nuts! I used pecans cause they absorb the syrup well, taste good with the spice and sugar, and were on hand. This would also taste good with peanuts, probably cashews, and most other nuts. Perhaps even a mixture of them all!