It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Here is a simple pasta dish that has been adapted from Bake Your Day. Whole wheat pasta makes the dish more nutritious and I’ve switched out the asagio cheese for a milder goat cheese. The goat cheese melts really well making for a creamy sauce. And the surprise addition? Dates. They add a hidden sweetness to the dish which counters the sharpness of the gorgonzola. The results? A surprisingly tasty dish that everyone in the family will love. And best of all it can go from pantry to table in about twenty minutes. Now has is that for fast?
CREAMY GORGONZOLA PASTA
12 ounces whole wheat rotini or other small pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 ounces gorgonzola cheese
2 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup diced dates
- Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and season with the red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the shallots are very soft.
- Add the white wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the wine is slightly reduced.
- Add the chicken broth, gorgonzola and goat cheeses and dates and stir to combine. Continue cooking and stirring until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is well blended.
- Add the cooked pasta and enough of the reserved cooking water until the sauce has a consistency that coats all of the pasta. Stir well.
I found this recipe in the food section of the Washington Post and was immediately intrigued. As a fan of blue cheese, and gorgonzola in particular, I was sure that I would love these crispy little crackers. And as an added bonus, the recipe seemed so simple. I tested the recipe for a party and found myself enjoying them so much that I needed to make a second batch to actually feed our guests. Yes, they are that good. Think of them as a Cheez-it for adults. Yum!
4 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
8 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the butter, salt, gorgonzola cheese, cayenne pepper, and flour in a food processor and pulse until a ball of dough forms.
- Lightly dust a work surface and a rolling pin with flour.
- Divide the dough in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll out a rectangle to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Re-dust the rolling pin and work surface as needed. Fold and roll as many times as needed to form a tidy 6 by 9 inch rectangle.
- Using a long sharp knife, slice the rectangle of dough to create 18 pieces that are 1/2 inch wide and 6 inches long.
- Use a thin spatula to transfer them to a heavy baking sheet, arranging them close together but not touching. Repeat with the remaining dough on another sheet.
- Sprinkle generously with salt.
- Bake one sheet at a time for 20 to 25 minute or until the straws just begin to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Yields: 36 straws
It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Here in Albania cuts of meat rarely resemble those we are used to in the United States. Some restaurant menus claim to serve rib eyes or strip steaks but they are often unrecognizable as such. The cuts of beef here also tend to be much leaner meaning they are missing the rich marbling that makes a steak a steak. When real beef cravings hit we dip into our stash of American cuts of beef that we imported from the Navy commissary in Naples, Italy. These steaks are little pieces of home and we savor every bite.
These gorgonzola stuffed steaks only appear complicated. In reality they can be put together in minutes so you can have dinner on the table in minutes. They are just as good for a quick Friday night meal as they are for a more formal dinner. If you want to get really fancy and mimic a real American steak house, you can top them with sautéed mushrooms. I like to serve these with baked potatoes and a green veggie. Yum!
GORGONZOLA STUFFED STRIP STEAKS
4 New York Strip Steaks, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat a grill to high heat.
- Carefully cut a large slit in the side of each steak to form a pocket. Be careful to not cut all the way through the steaks. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and stirring occasionally, saute until soft and translucent.
- When then onions are soft, stir in the mascarpone and gorgonzola cheeses and the Tabasco sauce. Heat until melted.
- Sprinkle both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper. Carefully spoon the cheese mixture into the pocket of each steak. Do not overfill. You may have extra cheese sauce.
- Secure each pocket with two or three toothpicks to help prevent the cheese from seeping out. (Some will melt out while cooking but that is OK).
- Carefully place the steaks on the preheated grill and cook 7-8 minutes per side or until done to your liking.
- Remove from the grill and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Remove the toothpicks before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Is it cheese? Is it a cake? Is it cheesecake? Yes, sort of and sort of again. If you love gorgonzola or any other type of blue cheese, this is the appetizer for you. I do love gorgonzola but often find that a little goes a long way. This recipe, courtesy of Janet Fletcher’s The Cheese Course combines pungent gorgonzola with a mild and creamy mascarpone. The result the best of both cheese worlds. In addition to tasting amazing, this appetizer makes for an impressive presentation. Yes, it looks like a layer cake and on more than one occasion I’ve witnessed guests peering at the plate before inquiring as to what it was. Cheese? Cake? A Cheesecake? Yes, yes, and yes.
GORGONZOLA & MASCARPONE TORTE
1 large wedge of gorgonzola or other blue cheese, chilled
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
1/2 cup slivered almonds
- Place the gorgonzola wedge on a cutting board and using a sharp knife or piece of unflavored dental floss, slice the wedge in half as though you are splitting a layer cake.
- Place the bottom piece of the cheese on a serving tray and spread a thin layer of mascarpone over the top as though you are filling a cake.
- Layer the remaining piece of gorgonzola on top of the mascarpone.
- Spread the mascarpone over the top and sides of the gorgonzola to resemble a piece of layer cake.
- Pat the sliced almonds along the outer edge of the cake.
- Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for several hours or up to overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
- Serve with crackers, bread slices, or ripe pear slices. This appetizer is perfect when accompanied by a nice glass of port or other sweet red wine.