May 1, 2010

It has been awhile, it really has and yet it’s not one of those things that you forget about. It’s not like some things, where the memory seems to be so much better than the reality when you finally experience it again. The simple enjoyment that you get from heading into the kitchen grabbing the kitchen aid, tying on an apron and getting started. That enjoyment remains the same no matter how long you stay away.

I have fallen back into old habits, after a long hard day at work, when I’m so tired all I seem to be able to manage is to snap at the Husband (poor man) I head into the kitchen and after half an hour I’m “normal”. My method of communication reverts back to the way it should be and I feel I can be nice to the man who’s boundless patience puts up with my tired grumpiness all of the time (bless his cotton socks).

I have decided to take a bit of a different approach to my kitchen experiences though, I was doing Flavour of the Month and I probably will do it again sometime. But looking back I noticed a pattern forming. A sweet pattern! And I really am trying to be a bit more health conscious since returning from my travels, and unfortunately for me that means a lot less sugar in my diet – if I want to function without migraines at the very least. So I thought I’d try to do a bit more of the savoury side of cooking.

I love to bake (ergo – grabbing kitchen aid) but I do like to cook as well. It’s the art of creating something in the kitchen that soothes me. In mind with that I decided to delve into Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites as my muse so to speak.

There are 106 recipes, and I plan to do them all. I have no time limit on this I have time I am more than certain that I will have the inclination to bake/cook the lovely things found within. And, I will admit that yes, the reason I chose it simply was because I had such fun eating in Italy I didn’t want it to stop completely. I’ve never been shy in saying that Italian food is my favourite cuisine in the entire world!

So – first cab off the rank was actually first recipe in the book. Fresh Tomato & Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil. It’s a simple dish really, with a strong flavour that I quite enjoyed. I hoped fervently that the husband would enjoy it just as much as I, since he has been regaling everyone with tales of the cheese delights he experienced overseas, alas, Goat Cheese doesn’t seem to do it for him. Strong in a bad way were his words. I’m sure I could sub in a soft feta or even a ricotta and he’d enjoy it so perhaps next time?

Fresh Tomato & Goat Cheese Strata with Herb Oil

Goat Cheese Filling

(half-ish recipe)
125g goat cheese, at room temperature
1/8 cup heavy cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup walnut pieces
2 ripe tomatoes cored and sliced

Herb Oil

(full recipe – the leftovers can keep for a day or two and drizzled on a variety of things)
¾ cup fresh mint leaves
¾ cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

To make the filling, combine the goat cheese and cream in a medium bowl and beat together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Season with salt & pepper.
To make the herb oil, combine the herbs in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop them. With the machine running, add the oil in a slow stream and process until very smooth visible flecks of herbs remaining and season.
Toast the walnuts and then allow too cool slightly.
Get yourself a slice of good crusty bread; place some of the goat cheese filling on this, topped with a slice of tomato, then a bit more of the goat cheese. Drizzle with the herb oil and sprinkle walnuts over the top.
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