Tag Archives: cheese recipes

Croque Monsieur


With my simple up bringing I didn’t know what Croque Monsieur was until I started traveling to Paris for work. I discovered this delightful sandwich for the first time on the left bank of Paris at Les Deux Magot, people watching on a beautiful fall afternoon during Fashion Week. I was in love with the city and it’s food. Daniel Boulud’s recipe captures this magnificent food moment in my life. When I take a taste of this sandwich, I’m transported far away to the glamour of the left bank! But if you are wondering what this sandwich is, I can speak to it with in the context of American cooking. Think of it like a grilled ham and cheese, but cheesy in the same way as a mac and cheese. What can be better than that???  Enjoy!

From by the bay, wishing you Parisian food memories!



Daniel Boulud’s Bar Boulud Croque Monsieur

Serves 4

For the Béchamel Sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
For the sandwiches :
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 slices high-quality Pullman loaf bread, sliced 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick
12 ounces thickly sliced Jambon de Paris (high-quality wet-cured ham)
10 ounces Gruyère cheese coarsely grated.
Cooking Directions
1. For the béchamel: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and whisk in the flour until blended but not colored. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Set aside. (May be made up to 24 hours ahead of time and stored, refrigerated, with a layer of plastic wrap placed directly on surface of sauce; gently reheat before serving.)
2. For the sandwiches: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and brush with melted butter. On a work surface, place bread slices in a single layer and spread each one evenly to the edges with béchamel; all the béchamel may not be needed. Divide ham among four of the slices, trimming it if necessary so it is within 1/4 inch of edges. Top all eight slices with equal amounts of cheese, spreading it evenly to within 1/4 inch of edges.
3. Place four bread slices with béchamel and cheese, cheese side up, on top of slices layered with ham. Transfer sandwiches, cheese side up, onto sheet pan. Bake until grated cheese topping is melted and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately. If serving as a Madame, top with a fried egg.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce ? Try these Cranberry Cheese Crostini

blog cranberry leftovers


Bring new life to your leftovers, try this tasty bit – by toasting your left over bread, add some cheese and a dap of cranberry sauce. You’ll want to make this easy appetizer through out the holidays!


Cranberry Cheese Crostini

Make 4


  • 4  round slices – 1/2 inch thick of a baguette
  • 2 ounces soft or semi soft cheese such as brie or gruyere
  • 2 teaspoons cranberry sauce


Preheat oven to 400 degree F.  Place bread on baking sheet and toast in oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove from oven – divide  cheese on top of each toast and then place a 1/2 teaspoon of cranberry sauce in the center. Place under the broiler until melted and remove and serve.





Homemade Ricotta Cheese

I would read about making my own ricotta cheese and think who needs to do that but then day I forgot to buy ricotta for a recipe I was making.  I was not in the mood to go back out to the store that day.  So with a quick visit to the internet I found a recipe using just milk , vinegar and salt, ingredients I always have at home, thankfully!  I could not believe how easy  it was to make and it tasted so good. Over time I’ve experimented with many versions and they all work. I think the recipe to use actually depends on how you are using the ricotta. If the ricotta is one of the star ingredients of your dish you might choose the richest version of ricotta using heavy cream, but it you are mixing it into something else like a salad or into a pasta you might choose the all milk or buttermilk version.  I’ve enjoyed all of these ricotta cheeses and I must say I regularly choose DIY over buying now that I know how easy it is.

From by the bay wishing you DIY food memories!


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Homemade Ricotta Cheese


  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


Line a sieve with a dampened cheesecloth and place over a bowl to strain the cheese. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. The mixture will start to separate in curds ( the thick part that is the cheese) and whey ( the thin liquid you drain off). Once that happens, pour into the sieve, catching the ricotta into the cheesecloth lined sieve. Let stand for 20 to 25 minutes letting the liquid drain off. Let drain depending how thick and moist you want. the longer it drains the thicker and drier the ricotta. Once drained, take the cheese out of the cheesecloth and store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use. This will stay 3 to 4 days.

Variations – all good and I’ve made and enjoyed each one depending on the ingredients on hand. 

  • Use only whole milk for a slightly less creamy version, this is great if you don’t have any heavy cream.
  • Replace the heavy cream with buttermilk, don’t use any vinegar for a drier textured ricotta, good for cooking

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Zucchini Salad with Toasted Pine nuts and Shaved Asiago Cheese

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Zucchini Salad with Toasted Pine nuts and Shaved Asiago Cheese
Serves Four
2 medium size zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, such as Maldon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons basil
Asiago cheese , shaved to taste
Place a dry small pan on medium heat, add the pine nuts and toast in pan until they start to brown. Remove from heat and keep to the side. Take the zucchini and cut off the ends. Use a mandolin or box grater to slice thinly the zucchini length wise. Place on platter. Dress with the olive oil,  lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving, allowing the zucchini slices to marinate. When ready to serve, top with the pine nuts, basil torn into pieces and the shaved Asiago cheese and then serve.

blog zucchini salad


Onions Celeste

Onions Celeste was a dish my mother made when I was growing up. It was a family favorite for years and then we eventually moved on. I’m not sure where the original recipe came from my mother was given this recipe from one of her friends. The original recipe called for canned cream of chicken soup. Not too long ago, I took out this recipe to surprise my mother but updated it and it is now once again a family holiday favorite. It satisfies my desire for creamed onions but with much less work. Mom was thrilled to enjoy an old favorite ! It’s a perfect side dish for holiday entertaining. Give this yummy retro classic a try!
From by the bay, wishing you celestial food memories!




blog onion celeste

Onions Celeste
Serves 6

4 oz chopped pancetta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large red onions, sliced thinly

8 oz grated gruyere cheese

1 recipe béchamel sauce ( approximately 1 ½ cups)

8 slices buttered toasted French bread


In a large heavy skillet over medium heat cook the pancetta until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. In the same pan heat the butter and sauté onion until soft and starts to caramelize which would be about 20 to 30 minutes. Spoon the onions into a butter baking dish 8” by 8” along with the pancetta. Pour the béchamel sauce over the onions , add the cheese and stir. Top with the buttered toast and bake in a 350F oven for approximately 25 minutes. You can also prepare this recipe up to a day in advance and refrigerate without the buttered toast. Bring to room temperature and top with toast and place into the oven.

Bechamel Sauce

Makes 1 ½ cups

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg


In a medium sauce pan add the milk and heat until it is about to boil. While the milk is heating, in another sauce pan , heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Cook the mixture for about 5-6 minutes until it becomes a golden color. Slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture whisking continuously. Bring to a boil and then cook for another 10 -15 minutes continuing to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and add the salt and nutmeg.


Greek Mezes


blog greek mezes

As I shared in a previous post, my mother is of Greek heritage. So to add  to the Easter Menu, I’m sharing three mezes recipes . Two of the recipes feature fresh mint – one against the saltiness of feta cheese and the other against the coolness of cucumbers and rich yogurt.  I’m suggesting them along with the herb crusted leg of lamb from last week’s post but they are both wonderful dishes for summer entertaining which is just a few short weeks away. The third mezes is a red chili hummus, a warming and smooth companion to the cool mint mezes, this is a perfect year round recipe. All three recipes are the essence of greek cooking, fresh, simple and delicious. Say “Yasou” to Greek cooking!

From by the bay, wishing you “happy greek” food memories!

blog feta dip

Feta and Mint Dip

1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
4 ounces greek feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspsoon coarse fresh ground pepper

Plac all the ingredients into a food processor and blend well. Place in a bowl and chill for at least one hour . Serve with pita chips or crackers.

blog tzaiki


1 English cucumber
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 cups greek style yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
fine sea salt and pepper to taste

Peel and thinly slice the english cucumber. Coarse chop and place into a bowl. Add the sea salt and mix. Let sit for about 1 hour. Strain the cucumbers and rinse. Shake off remaining water and place into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. When serving drizzle with a little more olive oil. Serve on the side of roasted lamb or serve as an appetizer with pita bread.

blog hummus

Half Greek Hummus

15.5 ounce can Chick Peas or Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
olive oil to garnish
sweet paprika to garnish

Combine all ingredients except the pine nuts and paprika into a food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve. Can serve cold or room temperature, Before serving drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts and sweet paprika.

Roasted Poblano Cream Macaroni and Cheese

One of my “by the bay” family traditions is the birthday dinner night. I like to come up with a food theme and decor that suits the birthday “girl” or “boy” and run with it!  My dining room has been everything from a German beer hall to the top of the Eiffel Tower. For my sister Diane’s birthday last year, I decided to create a Mexican Cantina. Most of the menu was authentic Mexican dishes, but one of Diane’s favorite dishes is Macaroni and Cheese. I went online to see how people have tackled this dish in the past but I was put off by the taco inspiration for most of the recipes.  I was about to figure out another dish when I remembered having roasted poblano crema in a Mexican restaurant. I proceeded to create a roasted poblano cream by considering the bechamel sauce as the crema and infusing it with roasted poblano peppers as the base for the macaroni and cheese. The results were great and the cantina and party were a big success ending with an impromptu musical serenade, it doesn’t get better than that!

From by the bay wishing you tasty mac and cheese food memories!


blog mac and cheese pepper

Roasted Poblano Cream Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 8

1 pound penne

2 poblano peppers

5 cups whole milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup flour

1 tablespoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup scallions, finely chopped 

5 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup grated parmesan cheese for topping

Cilantro leaves to garnish


Fill a large sauce pan with water and bring to a boil to be used to cook pasta. Preheat broiler , place whole poblano peppers on baking sheet about 4 inches below a hot broiler . Roast turning several times the pepper until they are softened and start to blacken in spots, approximately 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes in a covered bowl. Take a towel and wipe off the skin from the peppers. Remove the stem and seeds. Place peppers into food processor along with the milk and puree. Place milk and pepper mixture into a medium sauce pan and heat until it is about to boil. While the milk is heating, in another sauce pan , heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and mix until smooth. Cook the mixture for about  2-3 minutes until it becomes a golden color. Slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture whisking continuously. Bring to a boil and then cook for another 10 minutes continuing to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken. When the sauce is ready it should stick to the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt and nutmeg. Add the grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted. Place cheese sauce aside. Add penne  to the boiling water  and cook al dente according to package directions and strain through colander. Rinse with cool water. Add the cooked penne to the cheese sauce along with the scallions and mix well. Turn the pasta into a 3 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 minutes until the sauce starts  to bubble. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and serve. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Maple Roasted Sweet Potato and Arugula Salad

blog sweet potato salad


Maple Roasted Sweet Potato and Arugula Salad

Serves 4

2 cups sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 red onion, sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon dried red chili flakes

3 cups baby arugula leaves

2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Coarse sea salt to taste

Directions to roast sweet potatoes and red onion:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line with parchment a baking sheet add the sweet potato cubes, sliced red onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, red chili and salt. Mix well.  Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Directions for toasted pine nuts:

Use a small dry fry pan heat and add the pine nuts stirring until they are golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool.

Directions to assemble salad:


To a bowl or serving platter add the arugula with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss. To the arugula add the roasted sweet potatoes and red onions. Top with crumbled gorgonzola cheese, pine nuts, black pepper and finish with coarse sea salt to taste. Serve warm.


jalapeno fun!

I love spicy food – therefore , I have a burning love for jalapeno peppers. I like to figure out new ways to use these peppers and I am sharing three today! First up, I mixed my Greek background along with my love for jalapeno peppers to create jalapeno hummus. It has subtle heat and is delicious. You can add dish to start any menu. I serve this hummus with either corn chips or pita chips. Next up are my southern biscuits kicked up with cheddar and jalapeno. This is a perfect basic biscuit recipe that is easy to make and very easy to get creative with. Last up or jalapeno rounds dredged in corn meal and fried. I always keep a jar of jalapeno rings in my pantry. These rings fried up make a perfect appetizer for any one with a burning love. They are also great used to kick up the taste of your favorite burger or sandwich. I suggest you work on trying all three of these recipes soon.

From by the bay wishing you the hottest food memories!
blog jalapeno hummus better
Jalapeno Hummus
15.5 ounces Chick Peas / Garbanzos , drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Serve cold or room temperature with corn chips or pita chips.
blog jalapeno biscuits
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornmeal Biscuits
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper, seeded
1/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Next mix into the bowl the grated cheese and jalapeno. Slowly stir in the milk until you have a dough that can be kneaded in your hands. If you need more milk add a tablespoon at a time until the dough is formed. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Roll dough out to a half-inch thickness and cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter. I use a 2 inch round. Place biscuits on a ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Jalapeno Rounds
6 ounces jalapeno rings from a jar
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup canola oil
Heat oil in a medium size frying pan. Place cornmeal on a plate and dip each ring all over in the cornmeal. Place rings into the hot oil and fry quickly and turn while frying, no more than a minute is needed to brown the rings. Place onto paper towel to drain. Serve immediately.

Scallion Cheddar Corn Bread with Lime Butter

blog cornbread

Scallion Cheddar Corn Bread with Lime Butter

Serves 8

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup milk

1 egg beaten

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup scallions, chopped

¼ cup grated cheddar cheese

½ pound unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1 teaspoon lime zest

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 350F. Butter  2 – 5.75  by 3 inch mini loaf pans. In a large bowl combine well these dry ingredients: flour, salt, cornmeal, sugar and baking powder. In a separate medium bowl combine and beat milk, eggs and butter. Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir well. Fold in the cheese and scallions using a spoon. Pour the batter into the mini loaf pan. Place pans onto baking sheet and bake for about 35 minutes until the tester comes out clean. Cool on metal rack for 10 minutes. When cool remove bread from pan. To make butter, place softened butter , salt , lime zest and cayenne pepper . Combine well. Serve with sliced cornbread.