Alyce’s Cheese Bread

Late to the date this week due to travel and weather, it seemed a good time to share something so simple and homey that it might not deserve space? But it does. Totally yummy small sides that make a thrown together meal or a bowl of soup into something you can’t wait to eat are worth knowing about. Plus! Any way I can tell you about using up the bread on your counter is well, not priceless exactly, but definitely a fun talent to have in your back pocket. Waste not, etc. I call this “Cheese Bread.” I think it’s a cooking game changer because its method will take any number of meals up the proverbial notch.

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Herbed Goat Cheese Spread (French Tarragon Class, Part 2)

Travels well!

In southern France, I’m reading they’re already cooking the first of the courgettes (zucchini) and beans while here on the edge of the Rocky mountains snow will fly tonight and we’re damned lucky to have the first of our garden’s bounty, which is always herbs. When spring is trying ever so hard to be sprung in Colorado and my herbs have just begun to come on, there’s nothing like focusing on all of them (and little else) to make an herbaceous melody of a cheese spread perfect for favorite crackers, grilled baguette, vegetables, stuffed tiny sweet peppers or cherry tomatoes, omelet fillings, and more.

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Two Cheese-Broccoli Soup

Staffordshire CALICO blue plate and bowl

Sometimes I know a couple of weeks ahead what’s coming up on the blog. Occasionally I even cook, write a recipe, take photos, and keep a post for the next season. For the last year, however, I have mostly begun working on the next week’s food within a day or two of the last post, photographing, writing, editing, and rewriting right up until my usual, but occasionally fluctuating deadline. In this case, the “Frozen Bailey’s Mochaccino” (Did you make it?!) wasn’t dry on the page before I was making this soup. I was interested in and then thoroughly inspired by a post of Nigella Lawson’s, “Broccoli and Stilton Soup” on twitter. (I’ve just looked back at it and see she’s even encouraged readers to use whatever cheeses they have on hand — just as I do here! Great minds think alike 😉 ) There was literally and figuratively a bunch of broccoli in the fridge and broccoli cheese soup of some sort, if not totally blue-cheesy, was sounding good for Meatless Monday. Well, the soup was grand if I do say so myself. I even had the recipe written and some decent photos in the can. I did, however, forget to note a couple of key elements like the weight of the broccoli, for instance. Hello, honey!! No choice: I re-ordered the ingredients, made the soup a second time (now as a first course before mushroom pork chops on date night), followed my own recipe weighing everything, and got it all straight for you.

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Green Chile Pimento Cheese

A love affair with Pimento Cheese begins, ends, and begins again at will in my house. Sometimes it’s months or a year or two in between dalliances. And then it’s over and over and over again plain old, plain old just like it always tastily was or sometimes it arrives in new captivating disguises like CHICKEN-PIMENTO CHEESE PATTY MELTS with Grilled Broccoli with Sriracha Sour Cream from the summer of 2017 here on More Time at the Table.

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Two-Cheese Walnut and Rosemary Shortbread Cookies


Whenever I run into savory little cheese cookies someone’s served with a glass of wine, I’m happy indeed.  These days, they’re usually they’re made with Parmigiano-Reggiano, but older food memories include homemade crispy little cheddar crackers that were just as good with beer as with wine.  Back in the day, these were called “Cheese Pennies” and while they were usually simply round, occasionally a creative baker would even roll them out and cut them out into shapes (suits, of course) for bridge club.

Things that grow together go together

is the saying–Cheddar and Beer being two things the British do very well and Parmigiano-Reggiano and Wine being two things the Italians do just superbly. So, whichever way you roll –to coin a phrase –these savory bits are luscious.

Checking through my top choice cookbooks for such recipes (and tooling around the internet, of course) showed me there’re just as many varieties of not-sweet cookies as there are baking (or other) books on my cookbook shelves.

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No-Cook Dinners

Food-Antipasti platter

  Antipasti platter or, in Italian, un piatta di antipasti.  A bit dear, but consummately satisfying for a special occasion. 

Every year about this time, there’s a night when we have only wine, cheese, and fruit for dinner. We eat it in the cool basement on three trays–one for each and then the cheese platter between us on the third.  An old movie plays on the tv. There’s not a salad or even a cooked vegetable and definitely not any sort of cooked meat. The wine is icy white or rosé.  Sometimes even the grill feels too much to do or too hot to light.

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Colorado Green Chile Chicken on Cheese Grits with Garlicky Spinach


Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, might have gotten out of hand once in a while in U.S. celebrations.  A margarita or two many (sic) along with endless bowls of tortilla chips and salsa sounds great in the short run, but not in the long.  Why not skip the tequila hangover (it is, after all, a work night) and invite a few friends over for my chicken and green chili with cheese grits– a supper full of freshly layered happiness? Continue reading

38 Power Foods, Week 10 — Mushrooms — Mushroom Ragù on Gruyère Toast

Slip some baguette with Gruyère under a broiler.  Saute some mushrooms with garlic, shallots, herbs, broth and wine.  Spoon the mushrooms over the cheese toast.  Dinner is served.

I grew up in a house that revered mushrooms. In any form, but mostly on their own.  Just cooked up in a big cast-iron skillet with some garlic or onions.  Eating them on their own was his favorite, but my Dad also loved them with some rice, eggs, or chicken.  He’d have mushrooms any old way.  As a little kid, I wasn’t buying.   It didn’t take long, however, for me to jump on his bandwagon.

My first mushroom love was the famous mushroom stuffed with sausage.  That gave way to (Lord) the deep-fried variety with sauce.  All the while, regular old mushrooms slowly began to take part in my kitchen pageant.  One day I saw that I was buying mushrooms pretty much every time I went to the store.  Talking with my oldest son the other day, I woke up and realized he was talking about cooking up a big pot of mushrooms.  Never know what you’ll pass on.

Mushrooms are inexpensive.  They’re healthy.  They’re adaptable. They’re widely available and come in many varieties.  They add vegetable and “meat” value to any dish.  Mushrooms are quick to prepare and can be eaten raw, fried, baked, sauteed, braised, or boiled.  They’re fine on their own, as a perfect omelet filling, luscious crowded together on top a steak or piece of chicken, and they just make gravy.  What’s beef burgundy without mushrooms?   How about a burger?  Portobellos, grilled, or sauteed, are perfect in a bun with all the fixings.   I’m sure there’s more!

  I don’t know a whole lot about mushroom nutrition, but here are a few things I’ve discovered: they’re full of B vitamins and lots of minerals.  In a nutshell:

Mushrooms provide many of the nutritional attributes of produce, as well as attributes more commonly found in meat, beans or grains. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more. Read on to discover some of nature’s hidden treasures found in mushrooms.  more info:

BTW:  If you’d like to pick wild mushrooms, be extremely careful, and get some training.  Many people become seriously ill every year eating poisonous mushrooms.  

You don’t need a big herb garden.  I just have a couple of fragrant pots right outside my front door.  A little dirt.  A little water.  Not much more.  In Colorado, we’re able to bring pots of herbs indoors for the winter.

When I realized mushrooms were up next on our 39 Healthiest Ingredients,  I began dreaming of  cooking up a big pot of them with yummy fresh herbs, shallots, etc., and spooning that over toasted baguette pieces that were topped with Gruyère.  Last night I stopped dreaming:

mushroom ragù on gruyère toast                  serves 4

  •  8 slices baguette 
  • 8 thin slices Gruyère cheese
  • 1  T each extra virgin olive oil and butter 
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper 
  • 24 oz any mixed mushrooms, sliced (shitake, button, crimini, portobello) 
  • 2 shallots sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2T minced mixed fresh herbs (tarragon, marjoram, chives, parsley, sage, thyme are good choices)  plus a little extra reserved for garnish
  •  1/2 cup each chicken broth, low sodium and white wine
  •  1/4 t  each kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
 Place baguette slices, topped with the Gruyère cheese, on a baking sheet and broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.  Remove from oven and place two cheese toasts in each of four shallow bowls. Set aside.

In a large, deep sauté pan, heat olive oil, butter, and crushed red pepper over medium heat.  Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic.  Cook a few minutes without  stirring until mushrooms are browned.  Stir to turn mushrooms and add herbs, broth, wine, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for several  minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is somewhat reduced.  Taste and adjust for seasoning. Divide mushroom mixture evenly over toasted cheese baguette slices. Garnish with reserved fresh herbs.  If desired, top with grated Parmesan.  Pass extra fresh ground black pepper at the table.

For vegan option:  skip Gruyere and brush bread with olive oil before broiling.  Exchange vegetable broth for chicken and either use vegan grated cheese for garnish or no cheese at all.

Wine?  Please serve my mushroom ragu with an Oregon Pinot Noir.  You’ll be so glad you did.  I’m partial to Ken Wright or Sineann, but there are many lovely winemakers around the Willamette valley. 

Want more great mushroom ideas?  Check out the other beautiful 38 Healthiest Ingredient bloggers:

Ansh –  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana –
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:

Sing a new song,

Bannocks — A Tribute to Marion Cunningham (Reposted from my Dinner Place blog)

A little apricot preserves…

 I never knew Marion Cunningham personally, but after my Mom, she pretty much taught me to cook and, perhaps more truly, to bake.  She died this last week (July 11, 2012–Read the LA Times obituary here) at the age of 90 after a lifetime of cooking, writing, and testing recipes for her cookbooks (Fanny Farmer, Fanny Farmer Baking Book, The Breakfast Book, etc.) and for her long-lived column in The San Francisco Chronicle.  She encouraged several generations of home cooks to… well, to just go on and cook.  Set the table and eat at home, please and thank you.

Her books and recipes were not cute, though they were entertaining.  They weren’t novelesque, though they were terribly readable.  They were always sort of like Goldilocks’ favorite bed–just right.  Accurate, concise, occasionally gently witty…above all correct, well-tested, and usable. If I couldn’t remember the formula for cobbler topping, I grabbed The Fanny Farmer Baking Book.  For goodness sake, I STILL grab it.  If I was testing my own blueberry muffin recipe, I looked no further than Marion Cunningham for comparison. Not just because I knew the recipe would work, but because her entire life’s belief in feeding oneself and one’s loved ones well was warmed up, stirred in, and firmly baked into each and every page.

Food is a topic of conversation, she said. It can be an imprint that you pass onto someone else. It can be a shared experience. Sitting down and eating together is a binding quality for a family. Eating on the run doesn’t cover all the bases it should.

She never was a star chef on “Chopped,” (though she did have a cooking show, “Cunningham and Company,” on the Food Network) and she didn’t have lots of restaurants named after her, but all who knew her work respected and loved both her and the food-at-home she championed.  She worked with James Beard as his assistant for years, traveled with Alice Waters, and claimed Judith Jones as an editor.  Why she didn’t make Gourmet Live’s list of the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food was always beyond me.  So, Marion, my very own hero, in your tasty and fine memory, I today share your great Bannocks recipe for all far and wide.  I know there are delectable aromas whispering your name wafting toward heaven from all over the world today– and always.  Thanks for the food and even more for encouraging the life that goes with it.  God speed.


 A bit about Bannocks:  A Scottish, gluten-free flat and buttery bread that can be used as a breakfast treat with butter and jam or honey, it’s also a fine cracker for cheese, and a crunchy-buttery (not sweet) shortbread for anytime.  Before home had ovens, bannocks were cooked on a a griddle, but hung over the heating surface with chains.  Bannocks were then cooked more like pancakes.  You might try it when camping.   If you’re a Dorothy Sayers fan, the British mystery writer mentions bannocks being cooked on a girdle in the book HAVE HIS CARCASE

Bannocks perhaps are a bit like scones in shape as they’re triangular, though they are not tall and bread-like, and rather only about a crispy  1/4 -1/3″ thick.  Lovely with soupI make these in the food processor in just a few minutes.  The recipe works fine at sea level and at altitude as is.

photo courtesy Gourmet

Bannocks by Marion Cunningham from The Breakfast Book

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, toss the oats, flour, and salt together with a fork. Cut the cold butter into small pieces, toss it into the flour mixture, and rub it in until coarse bits form. Stir in the water until all the flour is absorbed.  (Can be done in the food processor if desired.) 
Gather the rough dough together and put it on a board lightly dusted with oat flour. Knead about 6 times. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a circle about ¼- inch thick. Cut each circle into 4 wedges and arrange the wedges 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly colored.

 “Cooking is one of the legacies we can leave to the future, and I would like to be remembered for my baking. We all know we’re not immortal, but after I’m gone, I would like my son and daughter to be able to say, ‘Our mother made real yeast bread for breakfast.’”
  ~Marion Cunningham

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

38 Power Foods, Week 6 — Broccoli — Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie


When my kids were growing up, they all loved broccoli.  Pretty unusual.   One of them adored spinach and one of them always wanted pickles, but all of them would eat broccoli.   So broccoli it was.  A lot. To this day, when our youngest, Emily, is home from grad school, she asks for Chicken-Broccoli Casserole (a quick Chicken Divan known as “Government Girl Casserole” around the D.C area) and I don’t have to look for a recipe.

You get the picture:  I seldom make broccoli anymore.  Being a healthy (see below for nutrition information) and relatively inexpensive cruciferous ( a family of plants which have four petals arranged like the arms of a cross, as the mustard, radish, turnip, etc.) vegetable, I know I’d like to buy it more, but some days I just can’t.  I have fallen in love with broccolini (a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli) and often sauté it with large shards of Parmesan until the cheese is a golden, crispy chip-like accompaniment.  The Parm-crusted broccolini is then laid gently atop greens and tiny tomatoes with a bit of lemon, black pepper, and olive oil for a filling main-course salad.

Working on the soup cookbook for the past two months (I got an ISBN number yesterday..AHHH!!) has been one of the most positive, annoying, interesting, and P-Offing of all my cooking experiences.  Somehow, the first soup I worked on (can’t remember why) was broccoli.   Too funny.   Maybe I had a plethora in the vegetable bin for some terribly odd reason; I don’t know.  Maybe it was on sale.  Whatever; that soup is out to a couple of testers now, but I’ll share it here with you.  I’ve made it  several times shall we say.    If you make it, I’d enjoy knowing how your soup turned out.   Read this carefully as we’re in the middle of a wretchedly hot summer in the U.S. (unless you’re an Australian or Scot reader):

This soup is luscious hot or cold.  The cold version is served differently:  instead of the brie toasting on top, you put a spoonful of peppered (or you could use lemon peel) yogurt down in the middle of the soup as a surprise to your table mates.  Being sure ahead of time, naturally, everyone eats dairy.  To serve cold, make it early in the morning before the heat of the day claims your kitchen.  Let cool and refrigerate covered until dinnertime.  

Shopping note:  Fine French brie is an expensive, highly caloric treat.  While I’m crazy about it,  I wouldn’t necessarily use it in this soup, though of course you can if you like. (I like my French brie as is.)  Domestic brie, often made in the great state of Wisconsin, is sold for a great deal less and is fine here.  The Whole Foods in St. Paul, for example, sells a good-sized wedge for $2.99–a sale price, but it’s often on sale.  I haven’t checked the Colorado Springs Whole Foods for its availability.  Anyway….

Try the little preview from my soup book and have fun!



This soup is warm and filling without being heavy.  Made with puréedbroccoli and other vegetables, it appears to be a cream soup, but contains no cream. Topped with a slice of brie and slipped under the broiler for a few minutes until toasty, it’s a perfect lunch for guests arriving midday.  Ladled into tiny bowls or cups, hot or cold, it’s a first course for a birthday dinner with the surprise of a tiny spoonful of peppered Greek yogurt hidden in the middle.  While it may take a few minutes past the 30-minute mark, it’s worth it!

Still working on getting a good picture!

Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie         4-6 servings

  • ·        2 quarts low-salt chicken stock**, heated in microwave or on stove
  • ·        2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ·        Crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper, and kosher salt
  • ·        2 garlic cloves (one left whole to flavor oil and one chopped for the soup)
  • ·        1 medium onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into eighths
  • ·        3 stalks celery, trimmed, and cut into 2” pieces
  • ·        2 carrots,  trimmed, and cut into 1” pieces
  • ·        ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ·        1½ teaspoon herbes de Provence (or a mix of dried basil, thyme and rosemary)
  • ·        5 cups fresh broccoli, trimmed well, and chopped finely*
  • ·        Hot sauce, 4-6 drops, or to taste
  • ·        Zest and juice of one lemon
  • ·        6 1-oz slices of Brie
1.     Heat the chicken stock in the microwave or on the stove. (I like an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup for the microwave.)
2.     Place the chopped garlic clove, onion, celery, and carrots into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped coarsely. (Or chop by hand.) 
3.     In an 8-qt stock pot over medium heat, sauté a pinch each of the pepper and salt along with the other whole garlic clove for one minute.  Add the chopped vegetables, stir, and cook covered about five minutes until beginning to soften.
4.     Meantime, preheat the oven broiler.
5.     Add the broccoli, hot stock, hot sauce, ½ t each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and lemon zest and juice to the stockpot. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat a bit, cover, and cook until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir once or twice.  Using an immersion blender (or process in batches in food processor), puree the soup.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
6.     Ladle soup into broiler-safe bowls and top each with a piece of Brie cheese.  Place bowls on baking sheet about 4 inches under broiler and broil 3-5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. (You could also bake this soup at 350 degrees F for several minutes if you do not have broiler-safe bowls.  Alternately, simply place the cheese in the bottom of the bowl, ladle soup on top, and let sit a couple of minutes to melt cheese.)     
  7.   Serve hot or let cool, chill covered in refrigerator, and serve cold with a surprise small spoonful of peppered plain Greek yogurt hidden in the middle of each bowl.
*You could also use leftover cooked broccoli here to hasten cooking.
**Use vegetable stock for vegetarian option
Accompaniments:   Midsummer, a small plate of ripe tomatoes and peppered cottage cheese with crackers for lunch.   Add a salad and grilled salt and pepper baguette for supper anytime of the year.
Wine:  I like a California Chardonnay with this soup, but a French Sauvignon Blanc with its grassy nose would also work.
Dessert:  Blueberries and a spoonful of lemon ice cream or sorbet.

a few facts about raw broccoli

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a standard 100 g serving of raw broccoli has 34 calories with .37 g fat, 1.70 g sugars, 6.64 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g dietary fiber and 2.82 g protein. Broccoli also contributes greatly to your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. For example, raw broccoli delivers 89.2 g of vitamin C, which equates to 149 percent of your daily allowance. In its raw state, broccoli provides 9 percent of your daily requirement of potassium and 12 percent vitamin A.


Every Friday for the foreseeable future, I’ll be blogging one of the 38 healthiest ingredients from POWER FOODS : 150 DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH THE 38 HEALTHIEST INGREDIENTS by the editors of Whole Living Magazine.

38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana –
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:


in memoriam
One of my great cooking heroes, Marion Cunningham, is now cooking in that great perfect kitchen where the Tupperware bowls and lids all match and the whole world comes to the table in peace to ease their hunger….  Read my tribute to Marion on the Dinner Place Blog.


Bannocks- a simple, flat, oaty, crispy Scottish cracker-bread..from Marion’s BREAKFAST BOOK

Sing a new song; cook something of Marion’s,