Beer Cheese Dip

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This one isn’t so healthy.  But then again, you can pair it with some veggies, so it kind of (sort of balances) out.  Also, as we are nearing Super Bowl time (a bona fide food blogger’s holiday, right?), I can’t stop thinking about recipes having to do with a lot of cheese.  After a dilated beer cheese fondue attempt at New Year’s, I was bound and determined to get a similar flavor profile in a slightly less fancy, more casual dish.

A few things about this recipe which I discovered while making it: you really should try to keep it warm during serving, if at all possible.  Mine was delightfully melty and gooey for about 5-10 minutes after I removed it from the sauce pan, and then it definitely took on more of a dip-like texture.  It still tasted fantastic, and if you are looking for a thick, dip-like texture, then here you go.  But, if you are looking for more of a smooth, creamy fondue texture, I recommend either heating/serving it in small batches or even using a small fondue pot/crockpot for serving.

And, as far as flavor goes, if you want a bold, cheesy taste, then go with the sharpest cheddar you can find.  I also used a nice Pale Ale for a distinctive beer taste. (this is the one I used.) But play around with this.  Adjust the heat factor by adding/omitting the Sriracha.  I paired it with vegetables, but the pretzels were my favorite.  (surprise, surprise.)

 

Beer Cheese Dip

Servings: makes about 2 cups

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk  (I used skim.)

3/4 cup beer, preferably an ale

1 teaspoon ground dry mustard

2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (use a vegetarian/vegan-friendly one if this is a concern)

1-2 teaspoons Sriracha, or to your own taste

12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

For serving: vegetables, pretzels, chips, etc.

 

Instructions

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes (it will be crumbly).

3. Slowly whisk in the milk and the beer,  increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently (it might be a little lumpy still-that’s ok.)

4. Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Sriracha (if using) and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Add the cheese in small batches, stirring until each batch of cheese has melted completely.   Serve immediately or transfer to a small fondue pot/crockpot for serving.

 

Source:  Barely adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

January 16, 2014 - 10:09 am

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - I could totally dip my face in this! LOVE this!

January 16, 2014 - 6:51 pm

Joanne - I have a strong desire to add a bit more liquid to this and turn it into a soup! Or just…drink the dip.

January 16, 2014 - 11:10 pm

Aimi - This looks like the perfect consistency to me! Have you tried the beer cheese at Honeypie? Mmm best ever. Maybe this one will top it!

January 17, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Roasted Balsamic Beet Salad - Eating Made Easy - [...] Recipe and photos courtesy of Shanon Lacy, a physician, food lover, self-taught photographer, and blogger at The Curvy Carrot. On her blog, you’ll find all sorts of incredible photos and recipes…like this Beer Cheese Dip!! [...]

Earthbound Farm Spinach Salad with Beans, Beets, and Halloumi

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I’ve got some exciting news to share.  I’m actually really proud of it.

If you read this blog, you’ll remember that I visited Earthbound Farm last October, learning all about how they operate as an environmentally-conscious, honest company as well as how they actually grow and harvest all of their products.  And, if you know me as a “food-blogger-who-does-this-for-fun-not-for-profit”, you’ll also know that I’m really not that big on plastering my site with widgets, ads, and endorsements.  I’m not really into the self-promotion that I constantly see in this little realm of the internet or keeping up with what anyone else is doing.  What I am into is having fun making food, taking pictures, and then writing a little bit about it.  I want you to come to my site for those things and to enjoy a good meal-not because I can make money off of you.

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That being said, when I visited Earthbound Farm, it was kind of like love at first sight (well, at least on my end.)  I love this company.  And that’s honest-no frills-no B.S.  This is a company that truly cares about what it is doing-not because they can make a huge profit, but because they actually care about what positive things they can contribute to the earth, to the environment, and to our health.  And I honestly believe that this is one of the main reasons why they are so successful (they have pretty much revolutionized organic farming on a large scale-which was something in the past that many “haters” said couldn’t be done.)  And, of course, when you are passionate about something, put a lot of love into it, and work really hard at it, good things happen.

 

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So, all that being said…and..in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I have been extended a partnership with Earthbound Farm (along with my other blogging friends that attended the inaugural trip) for the next six months.  I do have contractual agreements with them, but, these agreements are things that I would choose to make/do even without a signed contract. (This is a major win-win situation.) So, I’ll be posting some great recipes in the next coming months and regularly contributing to their Organic Bound program as a guest blogger (I’m already in the process of creating an indulgent Valentines Day post for them which makes my mouth water just thinking about it.)  I’m so happy to do this with a company that I truly feels has a similar outlook on things (probably life in general) as I do.  Do your own thing, work hard, and have integrity.

This recipe is one of Earthbound’s own.  Did you know that they actually have a huge catalog of recipes on their website?  And, contrary to what many people may think, it’s not all salads.  There’s even a recipe for mini corn dogs on there (I’m going to try that one out.  No worries. With veggie dogs, of course. Just in time for the Super Bowl.)

 

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So, first things first.  As I didn’t do a full inventory before I went to the store, I didn’t realize I was out of white (cannellini) beans (shocking, considering I felt like I had about three cans in there that I hadn’t used in about a year. I still don’t remember what I did with them.  It’s a mystery.)  So I just used chickpeas (garbanzo beans) instead.  No big deal.  If you want a vegan version of this salad, just omit the cheese.  And speaking of the cheese, if you can’t get your hands on some halloumi, just substitute in your favorite type of cheese (some crumbly goat cheese or feta would be good here, too-you want something a little salty to match the sweetness in the walnuts.)  And don’t skip the caramelized walnuts, either-they are fantastic.  Just make sure that once they caramelize, you remove them from your skillet before they cool (unlike me…because then they all stuck to the pan and it was a near-acrobatic maneuver to remove them from the pan.)

 

To see the original recipe, follow this link back to the Earth Bound Farm website.  And enjoy.

January 14, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Joanne - Woohoo congrats girl!! That is awesome. It always feel good when a product you really love and believe in, loves you back. This is totally my kind of salad – full of fun mix-ins!

January 15, 2014 - 7:26 pm

Colleen ~ - Yay, Shanon, wonderful news, and congrats so much!!!! :)
This salad looks amazing: caramelized walnuts YES PLEASE!
Colleen
Austin, TX

January 15, 2014 - 9:23 pm

Ker - Congratulations, Shanon! This is fantastic and exciting news! Your enthusiasm jumps off the page, and I am really excited to read your new Earthbound Farm posts.
High five!
Ker

Eggplant Parmigiana

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I’ve always had this weird distaste for eggplants.  They’re purple, they’re oblong, they have this sponge-like texture.  I just kind of avoid them if at all possible.  I remember when my mom would make dishes like this when I was a kid and I would totally make up an excuse as to why I shouldn’t/couldn’t eat them.

This recipe is a testament to two things: I’m trying to branch out as a food lover, and, while I love to photograph food, eggplant parmigiana isn’t the most photogenic of dishes.  Kind of like a lasagna, kind of like a casserole-it can’t really make up it’s mind.  You can see how I am really trying here.

But this is a damn good recipe.

Taken from one of my favorite cookbooks in the whole world, I figured I would trust Sophie’s take on such a classic Italian dish.  Made with pretty simple ingredients (and also a lot of buffalo mozzarella-which, now I realize why fresh buffalo mozzarella can be so freaking expensive-it’s pretty amazing.  Almost a close second to burrata.), it was relatively simple to throw together.  And the leftovers were a nice thing to look forward to during the work week.  You can be pretty liberal with the ingredients here-add in some ricotta, add in some extra spice, and play around with even incorporating some extra veggies.

I might be trying some more eggplant recipes soon.

 

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Eggplant Parmigiana

Servings: 4-6

 

Ingredients

2 medium-sized eggplants

Salt, for sprinkling on the eggplants

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon more

1 yellow onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Three 14.5-ounce cans of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (do not drain)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Balsamic vinegar, to taste (use the good stuff if you have some on hand)

2 cups fresh basil, chopped

2 large balls of buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

 

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Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut the eggplants into 1/2-inch thick slices, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt (sprinkle generously-you want to draw out the excess moisture here).  Let the eggplant slices lie flat for about 20 minutes and let the salt do its work.

3. For the sauce: Meanwhile,  in a sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering.

4. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.

6. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and brown sugar, stirring to combine.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or so.

7. Once the mixture has simmered, add the balsamic vinegar, adjusting to taste.

8. For the rest of the dish: ***Lightly brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. (***I did try to dab up some of the excess moisture from the eggplants with a clean towel first.)

9. Use the remaining olive oil to brush a large baking dish (I used a lasagna pan.)

10. Place the eggplant in a single layer in the prepared baking dish (you will end up layering the rest of the eggplant).

11. Sprinkle the eggplant with some basil, layer it with some mozzarella followed by some of the sauce, and sprinkle generously with Parmesan.  Repeat this process until all of the ingredients have been used.

12. Bake until the cheese is melted and the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

 

Source:  Slightly adapted from Sophie Dahl’s Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights.

January 9, 2014 - 2:45 pm

Beth - Another great eggplant recipe for the skeptical eggplant eater (I’m one, too!) is this Pasta alla Norma recipe from the NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/1014832/pasta-alla-norma.html

January 9, 2014 - 3:01 pm

Katrina @ WVS - Eggplant parm is one of my favorite meals!! Your recipe looks perfect!

January 9, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Maria Tadic - This looks so good! I love eggplant parm like this – not fried. It’s super delicious! I’m glad you’ve found a good recipe you’ll enjoy! Yum!

January 9, 2014 - 7:23 pm

Joanne - Eggplant is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it kind of food. I, personally, love it so you won’t have to ask me twice to make this!

January 12, 2014 - 1:50 pm

Chrissy - I love your blog, and these pics are gorgeous!! You did a great job making it photogenic :)

January 22, 2014 - 7:18 pm

Fresh City — Eight Easy Eggplant Recipes - [...] Eggplant Parmigiana – The Curvy Carrot [...]