Archive for the 'Cheese' Category


Mezze, Meze, or Mezza… it’s all good!

I love Mediterranean food. I love the way they eat. I love that they are super healthy people. My favorite way to entertain is Mezze. The fundamental principle is taking your time, and building community… hmmm – I think this is a recurring theme for me.

The thing I love about this style of entertaining is its simplicity. The basic philosophy is contrast: hot/cold, crispy/smooth, spicy/mild, savory/sweet! If you want to try it – Trader Joe’s is the perfect place to buy everything you need without  cooking a thing! Following a list of foods that work:

  • Roasted almonds (mix them with dried fruit for added bang)
  • Olives – green, black, different sizes, etc
  • Goat Cheese (mix it half and half with cottage cheese, add some olive oil and black pepper and WOW)
  • Cheeses
  • Cold cuts
  • Small bites of grilled meats – Lamb chops, chicken, sausages, etc
  • Fresh veggies
  • Hummus
  • Baba Ghanouj (eggplant version of hummus)
  • Prawns – sauteed in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, sherry, cayenne, parsley – served in their pan juices.
  • Nice crusty bread
  • Dried fruits – figs, apricots, dates
  • Fresh fruit – whatever is in season

If you want to try this and need help, email me, send me mailbox question – I’ll feed you lots of ideas!


Sip into the perfect friday night!

Have you ever found yourself at the end of a long week feeling giddy when it’s finally nearing an end? Duh, of course you have!!!

Today is Friday, and for most of us, the weekend is brief and precious at the same time. It’s like we work all week, and once Friday night arrives, we have to figure out what we can do that matches the feeling of “finally, the week is over!”

Well, I’m not normally a cocktail person – excluding the perfect martini, manhattan, or foamy/fuzzy cocktail I can’t remember the name of – but on Friday night after a long week, nothing sounds better than something in an icy glass that’s been measured, shaken and poured into a pretty little cocktail glass. Be it a tumbler, martini, or flute I’m holding, that first sip is so good, it reminds me/us that we’ve made it – that we have time to let go, be indulgent, do something totally self-serving. Even if we have a commitment laden weekend looming, that Friday night cocktail gives us pause… a moment to simply sip, and surrender to the bliss of the moment… at least that’s the best way to explain how it makes me feel! Add a bowl of chips and salsa, or a piece of cheese and some crackers and WOW…

So, it’s mid-winter, for most of us (well maybe not those of us in Southern California) the winter chill is ever present, take a moment, make yourself that perfect cocktail (even if it’s just cranberry and soda in a pretty glass), sit back and let it all go for a moment… recharge, re-invigorate, restore your wit! We only have this life once… and it’s ours, good, bad, or indifferent!

Here’s to you, and whatever you plan to sip tonight! Oh, and forgive me all the run-on sentences in this post, I can’t help it, it’s the way I talk… write… emote… oh, you get the point!

BTW – I’d love to know what your perfect Friday sip is???


Mailbag Monday part two… moldy cheese


Question:  We found an unopened container of crumbled feta in the fridge (I forgot what its original purpose was supposed to be). Its expiration date was 12/15/09, but since it’s cheese, I assume that’s more of an arbitrary date — it’s not like it has a visible mold colony growing on it. Would you have any problem using it a month after its expiration date? Thanks – Kevin, Washington

Answer: The US Dept of Agriculture and the Mayo Clinic suggest the following. This is because of the types of mold that grow. Color is not always a good indicator for what molds are safe, however the general rule of thumb is stay away from the pinkish molds.

For Hard Cheeses such as: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, Romano, Gruyere

Safe to eat if the mold is removed. Cut off at least one inch around and below the mold spot. Keep the knife out of the mold itself so that it doesn’t cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese. Cover the cheese in fresh wrap.

For Semi-Soft Cheses such as: American, Asiago, baby Swiss, Monterey jack, mozzarella, Muenster, Gorgonzola

Safe to eat if the mold is removed. Cut off at least one inch around and below the mold spot. Keep the knife out of the mold itself so that it doesn’t cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese. Cover the cheese in fresh wrap.

For soft cheses such as: Brie, Camembert, cottage cheese, Neufchatel, feta, ricotta, shredded and sliced cheeses

Discard the cheese.

Also for dairy products like yogurt:

Discard it.

Since you say your feta isn’t showing any signs of mold, and still smells ok, I’d say it’s good to go.

Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


May 2018
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