Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Gorgonzola Soup

May 06, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

Gorgonzola Soup (8)

Greetings all! It’s time for the 2011Vegetarian Giro d’Italia – where the vegetarian lifestyle and Italian cuisine merge in the month of May. For those that are new to following my own grand tour at home,  I am a HUGE fan of professional cycling and I cross post these entries so that the hooligans, er, cycling fans over at Podium Cafe can enjoy the race festivities in a veg-friendly foodie way. Basta…let’s get on with cooking with the Giro!vegetariangiro

The Giro begins with a Team Time Trial in the beautiful Piedmont region in Italy. This is the area where the world-famous Gorgonzola cheese is king.

The cheese dates back to 870 AD. There are a couple theories on how it came about. The first theory is that in the autumn, cows were brought down from the northern Alps and passed through the village of Gorgonzola. The cows – having had a hard time getting serviced on the road – were badly in need of milking.  The locals were sitting around with nothing better to do, and volunteered to help in return for the milk. The locals then mixed the curdled morning milk with cooled afternoon milk. The second story goes that a ditzy dairyman accidentally left bundle of curd hang all night long and tried to make up for his mistake by mixing the curdled stuff with his morning milk…and Gorgonzola cheese was born.  So, either by Italian industry or laziness, this marvelously pungent creamy blue cheese now exists for us to enjoy.

 

Gorgonzola Soup (1)Vegetarians need to note – traditional Gorgonzola uses animal rennet. There are vegetarian versions of this cheese out there and that is what I used for this recipe.

As you can see from the recipe below, this soup is chock full of cheese and cream. When the In-house Taste Tester looked into the pot he said, “We really shouldn’t eat too much of this at one time, should we?”  Yeah, soup with a side of clogged arteries. Best to do it in stages, no?  However, once we got started, we nearly ended up eating the whole pot in one go and had to stop ourselves.  It was just *that* good.

I’m glad we saved ourselves because the leftovers of this soup handled being refrigerated and had a nice strong finish the next night for dinner.  Just like any Grand Tour, you’ve got to look out for yourself not only on that day’s stage but also consider your well-being for the next day.

With its strong “blue cheesy” flavor you’ll want a strong wine to pair with it – head towards a Borolo (tho’ some prefer a wine that doesn’t try to fight back, and look for a smoother Sangiovese).

Gorgonzola Soup
(as adapted from Bella Online)

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 8 ounces vegetarian Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and pepper; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Gorgonzola Soup (3)

Add the Gorgonzola cheese, cream, and vegetable stock; heat the cheese mixture until the cheese melts and the mixture is simmering.

Gorgonzola Soup (4)

Stir in the tomatoes (including the liquid) and basil.

Gorgonzola Soup (6)

Allow the soup to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes while stirring constantly, but do not let it come to a boil. Make yourself some toasted croutons and dig in!

Gorgonzola Soup (7)


Oaxaca Tacos

June 20, 2009 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

I think I’m in love with these tacos. Why? Well, although they are made with such simple ingredients they are packed with complex textures and flavors. They are made with a smear of mashed potatoes, sprinkled with red pepper cheese, and a dash of diced red pepper. Be prepared to  make a bit of a mess deep frying the corn tortillas, but it’s worth it. Once cooked, these Oaxaca Tacos are a perfect match with black bean stew and a little dollop of lime creme fraiche. Now, I just have to figure out how to pronounce “Oaxaca” correctly…

Oaxaca Tacos
from Cafe Flora Cookbook

1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (approx 3 large potatoes)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded, smoked mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 ounces)
(I used a pre-shredded, four cheese Mexican mix)
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Vegetable oil for preparing tortillas
8 thin corn tortillas (I had enough to fill 10 tortillas)
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into fine dice
toothpicks

Lime Creme Fraiche
1/2 cup creme fraiche (I used greek yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zet
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Pinch of salt

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the creme fraiche, lime zest and juice, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Prepare tacos.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (Note: I preheated the oven after I finished cooking the potatoes.)

Put the potatoes in a pot with water to cover. Cook them, covered, until tender, 20 to 40 minutes. (The time depends on the size of the chunks.)

potatoes for oaxaca tacos

Drain the potatoes well, and mash with the butter and salt. Cool completely.

potatoes for oaxaca tacos

In a small bowl, mix the cheese with the red pepper flakes, and set aside.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put a tortilla in the hot oil and fry until it is soft, 8 to 10 seconds; flip and repeat with the other side. Do not let the tortilla get crisp by letting the oil bubble up around its edges; reduce the heat to medium-low or low if this occurs. (It’s important for the tortillas to be oil so they get crisp when roasted in the oven.)

tortillas for oaxaca tacos

Put the tortilla on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Continue to heat tortillas, piling them one atop each other under the foil cover. (Keep the tortillas warm so they’re pliable enough to stuff and roll without breaking.)

Place each tortilla on a flat surface.

tortillas for oaxaca tacos

Using a 1/3-cup measure, put a scoop of mashed potatoes in the middle of each tortilla.

potatoes for oaxaca tacos

Pat the potatoes with your hand to flatten them a little.

potatoes for oaxaca tacos

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the bell pepper…

red peppers for oaxaca tacos

and 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture.

oaxaca tacos

Roll the tortilla into a large tube so both edges overlap (but the end s are still open), and fasten with 1 or 2 wooden picks as if you were sewing with them.

oaxaca tacos

(Ok, in the spirit of full disclosure,  I should have “sewed” the tortillas parallel to the fold because when these tacos cook they expand a bit; thus, busting the whole taco open. Most made it out ok, but a few still opened up but they were easy to close again.)

Put the filled tortillas in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet, toothpicks facing up. Bake until the cheese has melted and the tortillas start to brown and crisp around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes.

oaxaca tacos

Serve the tortillas by puting 1/2 cup of the Black Bean Stew on  a plate. Remove the toothpicks from the tacos. Drizzle 1 or 2 tablespoons of the Lime Creme Fraiche over the tacos, and top with a tablespoon of feta. (Feel free to also throw some chipotle salsa on the plate and some greens drizzled with fresh lime juice and olive oil.)



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