Monday, September 12, 2016

"Yes It's True I Love Him, Serendipity and Pass the French Onion Soup?"

I met him when I was just a child and I would see him almost every day. My feelings for him were intoxicating and I craved him more and more just to pacify my addiction. He is aged, earthy, smoky, briny, toasty, mellow, buttery, sharp, milky, sweet, hot, salty, smooth and creamy and oh so much more as he is a world traveler and many versions of himself exist. He makes my mouth water just thinking about him being near me. I try to say no but I can't resist the temptation of his empowering robust scent. He leaves me to search for him in the night to share a bottle of wine and ease the troubles of the day. He takes me on a serendipitous voyage through his vortex of pleasure. He is cheese and I love him.

Through the world he is known as Ost, Formage, Queso, Kass, Formaggio, Juusto, Siers and Sir but I just call him cheese. He is so multi faceted and has many different varieties with names such as Karish, Kasserri, Brie, Aura, Kalari, Staazer, Gorgonzola, Sirene, Havarti, Saga, Mascarpone and Manchago to name drop on a few of the lovers I have had. The tastes, textures and smells really curdle my cream when I have a good portion of my lover who ages like fine wine.

The story goes something like this: an ancient Arab sets out on a journey across the desert. In preparation, he puts a ration of milk into a handy sheep’s stomach to transport it. (Those ancient Arabs didn’t waste many animal parts.) When the sun goes down, he makes camp and discovers that, due to the rennet in the sheep’s stomach and the hot sun, his milk has separated into thin, milky whey and lumpy curds of cheese. He drinks one and eats the other, discovering that the whey is refreshing and the curds are utterly delicious. 

What we do know for sure is that cheese predates recorded history. It may have originated accidentally in Arabia like the story goes, or it could be European. Wherever it happened, it does seem somewhat plausible that the practice of storing liquids in such things as the stomach of animal may really have led to the accidental invention of cheese because of the rennet, as noted. Serendipity!

I have so many favorite recipes that involve cheese I will share two of my favorites with you.

The first is my recipe for my French Onion Soup. French onion soup is a simple, rustic and delicious dish. It’s one of my favorite food items. Although it takes a bit of time to make, it is so worth it. 

So, where did French onion soup come from? Well, although not really original to France, the French did improve the original recipe. Would you expect any less? Apparently, French onion soup dates back to antiquity. The Greeks and the Romans enjoyed a soup made with cooked onions tossed in a broth. At some point in time, the French decided that the onions should be caramelized to bring out their natural sweetness. Good idea! To top things off, Gruyere and toasted bread and broiled in the oven until a bubbling brown. The cognac is added at the very end (right before the broiling).

French Onion Soup


  • 3 medium onions sliced 
  • 2 Vidalia 1 Yellow
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 sprigs of thyme tied with kitchen twine
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1tsp tarragon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 oz. cognac
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere
  • toasted baguette slices


  1. Place onions in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle with flour, pepper and salt.
  2. In a medium stock pot melt the butter and add the onions. Toss onions in the butter until they are translucent. Add the sugar.
  3. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook until onions are caramelized (a brown color). This will take about 45 minutes. Move onions around frequently to ensure even cooking.
  4. Add the stock,wine, thyme, bay leaves, tarragon, oregano, shallot and garlic. Cook for about 30 minutes on low.
  5. Turn off heat. Add cognac and nutmeg. Stir and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
  6. Portion into oven safe bowls.
  7. Place toasted slices of baguette on top of the soup. Sprinkle liberally with Gruyere.
  8. Place under the broiler until the cheese begins to sizzle. 

The second recipe I want to share is for my Mediterranean Saganaki. Saganaki is actually not the name of the dish but the name of the small pan used to cook it in. The sexy Greek appetizer made with Kasseri cheese and fried to golden brown perfection. It's ooey, gooey goodness makes this a favorite. You can use Ouzo or Cognac to flame your cheese after it has been melted to perfection and serve with warm pita wedges, whole olives or an olive tappenade, diced tomatoes, and lemon wedges. 

Greek Cheese Saganaki

1 16-ounce package kasseri cheese, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rectangular slices 
All purpose flour 
 6 tablespoons (about) olive oil 
 2 1/2 lemon 
 2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 
 tomato diced, kalamata or olive tappenade warm pita wedges


1. Rinse cheese slices under cold water (do not pat dry)

2. Coat with flour.

3. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking.

4. Add cheese and cook until beginning to brown, about 1 minutes per side.

5. Pour ouzo or cognac and flambe

6. Squeeze lemon over cheese to douse flame

7. Sprinkle with oregano and pepper.

8, Serve with tomatoes, warm pita and olives.


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