blue cheese + chive biscuits

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! Are you still recovering from a day full of over-indulgence coupled with way to much Black Friday shopping and topped off with a few lingering house guests? Yeah me too. And while the best part of this post-Thanksgiving weekend is undoubtedly the leftovers, it somehow feels a bit too easy to just pop open a few Tupperware containers and call it dinner. Instead I try to offer a little something freshly made along with those leftover holiday favorites. But let’s be honest, the best part about Thanksgiving leftovers has to be the sandwiches and while any type of bread will do, Blue Cheese and Chive Biscuits are my favorite. They can turn a simple turkey and leftover cranberry sauce sandwich into something truly outstanding.

I make these biscuits fairly frequently (if you’ve ever been to our house for smoked ribs then you’ve definitely had them) because they’re delicious right out of the oven, they’re fantastic toasted alongside eggs for breakfast and they take simple leftover Thanksgiving turkey (or Easter ham) and turn it into something you could proudly serve guests.

I know hosting for the holidays is a big undertaking… but next time consider doing it for the leftovers!

Blue Cheese + Chive Drop Biscuits
These biscuits are wonderful anytime… along side your morning eggs, as an accompaniment to your summertime bbq or as the vehicle for an amazing turkey sandwich. But the fact that they can be made ahead and frozen really makes them stellar.

t-day sandwich4

2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
4 oz. buttermilk blue cheese, crumbled
1 large bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
1 cup light buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in blue cheese and chives. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined.
  2. Drop dough in 10-12 equal mounds on the cookie sheet. Bake until golden, about 16 to 20 minutes.

*To make and freeze: Follow the instructions above, drop them onto the baking sheet and slide the baking sheet into the freezer. Once the biscuits are firm, place them in a freezer bag or airtight container until you’re ready to bake them. They can be baked straight from the freezer, just add a few minutes to the baking time.

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the penicillium roqueforti blues…

I am not a subtle girl. I’m invariably drawn to strong flavors, strong opinions and strong personalities. So it probably comes as no surprise that I’ll take a sharp, pungent and complex blue cheese over a mild cheddar any day. Blue cheeses are those that have been exposed or “needled” with a kind of mold, usually Penicillium roqueforti, and allowed to age and develop gorgeous blue-green veins. Blue cheese may seem too tangy for some, but in reality it’s the perfect accent to nearly any dish it’s added to. Blue cheese with a simple drizzle of honey… Perfect. Blue cheese on a spinach salad… Yum. Blue cheese in a turkey and fig panini… Amazing. Blue cheese with any type of beef…. Fantastic. Blue cheese with caramelized onions, sweet red peppers and toasted walnuts… sensational and as it happens this weeks recipe!

Making pizza from scratch is a pretty common occurrence at our house, but it generally only takes place in the winter months. I would prefer not to crank up the oven during the summer heat and while I’ve thought about trying to make grilled pizza, until recently I never actually attempted it. I don’t know why, maybe I thought that if things went awry I would have a giant hard to clean mess on my hands. Or maybe I was suspect that it would actually turn out as good as traditional oven baked. Whatever my reasons were, they couldn’t have been more off base. Grilled pizza is easier than oven baked and actually believe it or not, takes less time. As long as the grill is crazy hot the dough will immediately form a crust and puff up beautifully. Then you layer on some lovely toppings, pop it back on the grill and presto— pizza is served!

We’ve tried a lot of topping combos since first discovering this new style of pizza making. I’m still experimenting but I’d have to say the front-runners appear to be a simple sausage and tomato for the kids and a caramelized onion, red pepper, blue cheese and walnut for the adults. I’m thinking next week we’ll try shrimp and pesto with crumbled bacon. I’ll let you know how it turns out…

Caramelized Onion, Red Pepper & Blue Cheese Grilled Pizza
Not only is this pizza delicious but making it on the grill is much easier than making it in the oven. Give it a shot, become a convert!

blue cheese pizza slice++**

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 huge sweet onions, thinly sliced into half-moons
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 large red bell pepper, cut into long thin strips
1 lb. pizza dough (homemade or store bought), at room temperature
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
4 oz. buttermilk blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup walnut pieces

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sugar and cook until golden, about 45 minutes, stirring frequently. (Caramelizing onions is a slow process that can’t be rushed. This recipe calls for more oil than ordinarily used, but you need it to keep the pizza crust moist.)
  2. Transfer the onions to a bowl and set aside. Place the bell pepper in the same pan, sprinkle with salt and cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the walnuts to the pan and quickly toast, set aside.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, gently stretch the dough into an 18-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a rimless cookie sheet or a pizza peel dusted with flour and let sit for 10 minutes. Preheat your grill to 400°F.
  4. Dip paper towels in olive oil and carefully wipe them on the grates of the grill to grease them. Slide the circle of dough onto the hot grill; close the lid and let cook until it puffs up and brown grill marks form on the bottom, about 2 to 4 minutes. (As you transfer your circle of dough to the grill it may become more of an amoeba shape than a circle. Don’t worry, it will still taste delicious.)
  5. Transfer the crust back to your pan and with the grilled side facing up, begin layering on your toppings. Start by spreading on the onions as evenly as possible, then add the mozzarella, red peppers, blue cheese and finally top with the walnuts.
  6. Return the pizza to the grill and cook (with the lid closed) another 2 to 4 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is crisp. Transfer to a cutting board, slice into wedges and serve.

*adapted from weber

Hello world!

My name is Jan Greco, welcome to my kitchen…

I come from a long line of women who show their love through food. It’s probably not a coincidence that my interest in cooking really took off after my son was born. I don’t consider myself a “foodie”; in my opinion that term rings of pretension and elitism. Rather I’m a girl who enjoys making and eating good food. I love going to the farmers market with my family on Saturday mornings and I just recently discovered the joys of raised bed gardening. So if you’re like me and enjoy shopping for the ingredients almost as much as preparing the meal, then greetings soul-sister. (But be forewarned… If we should meet in the store one day and both reach for the last wedge of Wensleydale, I’m not above throwing elbows to get it!) However having said all that, if store brand is the best you can do, then that’s perfectly fine by me as well. I think the act of cooking; the time, thought and care that you put into creating something delicious for someone you love is more important than using the finest San Marzano tomatoes or Madagascar Bourbon vanilla.

I’ve been told in the past that I should open a restaurant or start catering, which made me think “maybe I actually do have something interesting to say about food and some recipes to share.”  My plan for this blog is to post weekly about the kind of food I enjoy thinking about, preparing and eating. Food that’s simple, delicious and looks much more involved than it actually is.

In my mind the perfect example of simple, easy and delicious would be a salad of roasted beets, toasted walnuts and creamy blue cheese.

And so a blog was born…

Roasted Beets with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
I often make this salad with a mix of golden and purple beets,
but it’s just as delicious if you choose to use all purple instead.

2 1/2 lbs. of beets
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup walnuts, toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Remove the greens from the beets, scrub well and place in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil. Gather sides of foil together to make a little beet package and place on a baking pan or cookie sheet. Roast beets until a fork easily pierces them, approximately 1 1/2-2 hours.
  2. While beets are roasting toast the walnuts and set aside. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt.
  3. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into small wedges.
  4. Gently toss together the beets and blue cheese and add in the walnuts (breaking up any overly large pieces). Drizzle with vinaigrette (you may not need it all), give another gentle toss and serve immediately or chill.