Tag Archives: Parmesan Cheese

Book Club: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

Sam and I really enjoy sharing meals with our friends and family, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.  Of course, when your guests arrive they need something to nibble on before everyone eases into the meal you will be eating.  There are some great appetizers our there: chips & salsa, hummus, tomatoes with mozzarella, or roasted mushrooms.

I wanted something a little different, a dish that would linger on the table longer.  Our book club tends to straggle in as everyone is finished with work, and we all have vastly different schedules.  Instead, I opted for spinach and artichoke dip- it’s everyone’s favorite.  I figured it’d go well with my “all-american” theme- what restaurant in the U.S. doesn’t have this on their menu?

I put out Peasant Bread and fresh veggies with this dip.  To make the plate colorful (which I forgot to take a picture of!) I had red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers and celery.

Everyone seemed to like it, since there was barely any left!  This dip was easy and can be done a day or two ahead of time- perfect for a busy host or hostess!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Adapted from: Dashing Dish

1/4 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz spinach, chopped (fresh or defrosted and dried)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
14 oz can artichokes, drained & chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan, when it’s warm add the onion.  Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, until it is translucent.  Add the garlic, and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add spinach and cook until is heated through (about 3-5 min).  Next, add in the cream cheese, stirring frequently until it is melted.  Lastly, stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, artichokes, salt and pepper.

Transfer the dip into a oven-safe dish.

Preheat the oven to 35oºF.  Bake the dip for about 10-15 minutes, until the top begins to lightly brown.

Serve with: peasant bread, pita bread, peppers, cucumbers or celery

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Food Matters Project #13: Asparagus & White Bean Soup

Yes, it’s another Monday and a new Food Matter Project recipe!  Since we were visiting friends in Boston this weekend (check out our Sam Adams Brewery tour), we actually made this soup last week.  It was easy to make and very delicious!

This weeks recipe was chosen by Adrienne, of Adrienneats.  She chose the Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup with Parmesan from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook.  Check out what others did here, scroll down to the comments.

This was a great soup- the beans made it very filling and gave this soup lots of flavor.  Since I was trying to use up some other produce in our fridge, I added extra veggies- so definitely feel free to swap or add more.

I can’t seems to stop buying asparagus at our Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market– this last week I walked away with 3 bunches!  The farmer selling it was wondering what I was going to do with so much (but that’s for another post)!

Remember: when buying asparagus look for firm stalks with purple tinge tips.  The ends of the stems should be fresh and moist.  It should be used soon after buying, but if it needs to stay in the fridge for a couple of days then cut off about 1 inch from the base and set the asparagus bunch upright in a container filled with some water (up to 4 days).

Asparagus and White Bean Soup
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (page 110)

Mark Bittman suggests puréeing the soup, to make it smoother- if you prefer chunkier soups, feel free to omit this step.  I soaked and cooked dry beans, but canned beans will also work great.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 oz pancetta, chopped
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine (recommend: Bogle Chardonnay)
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & chopped
6 cups chicken or veggie stock
2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of cooked cannellini beans
1 1/2 cups of cooked navy beans
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 lb asparagus
2 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded

Heat up the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Once the olive oil is warm, add the onion.  Sauté for up to 5 minutes, when the onions become translucent.  Then add the pancetta, sauté until the meat starts to brown.  Add the carrot, garlic and thyme, allow to cook for another 2 minutes.  Then add the white wine, stir to loosen the vegetable and pancetta pieces.

While stirring add the potatoes, stock and water.  Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Stir infrequently until the potatoes have cooked (should be soft when you stick a fork into them).

Add in the beans, and cook for another 10-15 minutes.  Season the soup with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.  Finally, puree about half of the soup in a food processor, mix both halves together.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Meanwhile, put the asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.  Roast for about 15 minutes, or when the asparagus begins to brown.

Pour soup into a bowl, dress it with pieces of asparagus and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Clams and Linguine with White Wine Sauce

I know there hasn’t been a post on this blog in a week!  We have been cooking, but we’ve been having problems with the photography.  Our little space is fairly dark, especially now that summer is coming to an end, so until we have some new camera equipment (on the way!), it’s difficult to show off the appetizing food.  Until then, try out one of Sam’s newest recipes. 

I have to say that I’m super proud of this one.  I thought it up all on my own and it turned out great on the first try!  The subtle sweet flavor of the clams with the rich white wine sauce over pasta is absolutely delicious.  For those of you who might be a little timid about cooking seafood, this is definitely a good one to try; it’s really easy!

Clams and Linguine with White Wine Sauce

5 lbs, littleneck clams (should be about 50 clams)
¼ lbs pork belly, cubed (you can substitute with bacon, just not the maple kind)
½ bulb of fennel, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lbs dried linguine
1 bottle of dry white wine, room temperature (chardonnay would work great)
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (please don’t use that powdered stuff)
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper

First, rinse the clams in a colander under cool water.  Check to make sure that they are all firmly closed in their shells.  If you find any that are open or have cracked shells, throw them away.  Once they’re clean, set aside.

In a deep saucepan melt 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Then add the pork fat and cook until it begins to render a bit.  Now is a good time to start your boiling your pasta.  Next add the fennel and sauté until it becomes translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, you do not want it to burn.

Now add the clams, white wine, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and a pinch or crushed red pepper.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes until all of the clams have opened their shells.  When the clams are done, remove them with a slotted spoon and add them to the strained, cooked pasta in a large pot and cover to keep warm.

Uncover the white wine mixture and cook on high heat until it reduces by half.  Add ½ cup heavy cream and continue to cook until the mixture again reduces by about half.  Add the flour and whisk briskly for 1 minute.  Pour the mixture and the grated Parmesan over the pasta and clams and mix together thoroughly.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with a sliced baguette.  Enjoy!

Veggie Flatbread with Cilantro Hummus

As many of you have probably noticed through  most of these posts, we don’t eat much meat here at Fifth Floor Kitchen.  Our thoughts are that if we do want to eat meat, we prefer “happy cows/chickens/etc”.  The fact that we didn’t have any meat in our fridge came in handy this weekend.  Our fridge broke!  Well, the freezer was working, but the fridge was warm.  (Yes, the beer did not get as cold.)  It’ll be completely fixed today, at 5pm, when the Refrigerator Man comes by and changes a thermostat.  I guess these are the pleasures of home ownership?  Most of the food survived, except some of the dairy products such as: milk, sour cream and some half-and-half.  But we’re back to a happy kitchen. 

This accompanied the Cucumber Gazpacho for dinner one night.  Also very simple to make, and very springy.  The original recipe called for pita bread, but while searching for it at Whole Foods I was concentrating on the “whole wheat”.  So instead I grabbed a flatbread.  (to me, these two are fairly similar- pita bread is thinner, while the flatbread is a bit thicker and softer)  I would say this was similar to a personal pizza, it’s got veggies and cheese (but could have so much  more on it).  The only exception is the “sauce” is cilantro-hummus-flavored.  So as long as you like cilantro, this is defintely worth a try.  The veggies on this don’t need to be the same, feel free to add what you like on your flatbread. 

Veggie Flatbread with Cilantro Hummus
Inspired by: Vegetarian Times

1/2 cup cilantro leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
2 flatbreads (or pita’s)
2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained & sliced into strips
1 cup spinach leaves
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

To make hummus, add the cilantro and garlic into the food processor.  Turn on for about 1 minute until everything is chopped.  Then add the chickpeas, lime juice, oil and water.  Puree for 3 minutes until the mixture is creamy. 

Place the 2 flatbreads on baking sheet.  Spread each with the cilantro hummus.  Then top with peppers, mushrooms and spinach leaves.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 10 minutes, the flatbread should be crisp and the cheese should be melting.

Arugula Salad with Eggs & Mushrooms

When the weather starts to warm up (such as yesterday), no one wants to hang around the kitchen too much.  Or even turn on the oven.  We all want to be outside, enjoying the weather (or at least the first couple of weeks of spring and summer before the humidity skyrockets). 

Here, we turn to salads- arugula is our favorite.  There is something about it that is 100 times better than any other salad leaf.  It’s earthy, peppery, with hints of a nutty flavor.  Definitely adds a little spunk to a boring salad!

This one is a simple salad.  The mushrooms can be substituted for anything else you might have in your fridge (peppers, olives, tomatoes, tofu, zucchini).  And this is a great salad that can be a dinner on it own- very filling.  A slice of fresh bread and a glass of wine perfect the meal!

Arugula Salad with Eggs & Mushrooms
Adapted from: Easy Vegetarian

4 eggs
2 tsp butter
4 cups arugula
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 onion, chopped (shallots can also be used)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil

In a food processor, blend 1 cup of arugula, mushrooms and onion.   Crack the eggs into a bowl, mix with fork.  Pour the eggs, and the vegetable mixture into a frying pan.  Let it cook, making an omlette.  Once cooked, place on cutting board, and divide into pieces (strips or circles). 

Finally, divide the 3 cups of arugula between 2 large plates.  Add pieces of the omelette to the salad, mix.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and drizzle with olive oil.