Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life is Gouda

    I had to get my cheesy joke out of the way in the title (Get it. Cheesy. That one was like a two for one in the joke department!) otherwise it'd be haunting me throughout this entire posting, begging to be used, insisting I tell you how gouda this meal was and other similar uses, but do not fret, panic, or remain flabbergasted: the joke shall be laid to rest.

doesn't that look gouda?

    The question is already on your mind, "why gouda?" I know these things because this morning I drove by a business running a 'psychic special: $10 readings' so I figured anyone can assert their opinion about things and say they know what's in your mind. That'll be $10 please.


    To answer your burning question, I must tell you about my weekend. This weekend I went to two weddings for two of my dear friends (Congratulations to Yvette and John and also Kirstin and Kurt!!) and while the ceremonies are always lovely and the dresses are breathtaking, my favorite part is naturally the food. What caught my attention most of all was not the meal itself at one of these, it was a simple cheese and cracker appetizer. How wonderfully simple and amazingly delicious. This is where the gouda comes in: if I had my way I would have eaten my weight in this delicious cheese, but the amount of wine I would have had to consume to make this socially acceptable would have been ridiculous thus I decided to forego the aforemetioned plan.

    At home on Monday, I wanted to make a simple yet fabulous dinner that included this food of the gods, so as I racked my brain to figure how I could use gouda as a star ingredient, I had to think of what paired best with it. After a short brainstorming session, I went back to one of my favorite meals as a kid: ham and cheese. I like to think of this as my Grown-up Ham and Gouda Croissant. This meal really was a great dinner but could also easily be used as hors d'oeuvres at any party.  Here's the plan of action:

Grown-up Ham and Gouda Croissant

makes 8 croissants
prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes

One roll of Croissants
    (like the Pillsbury pop-open kind in the grocery store next to the dinner rolls)

1/4 lb. of thinly sliced ham, about 6 slices

Gouda cheese, thin slices or chunks

and that's all: 3 ingredients. I'll get to the rest of the meal in a moment (please take note of the fancy tied asparagus bundle with if you can see it through the hollandaise) but for now, the croissants.

Preheat the oven to 375º

1. Put parchment paper on your cookie sheet. If you don't have parchment paper, don't try to substitute anything else. This is one of my favorite kitchen tools because it makes clean up THE EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD. Unroll the croissants so they are long triangles and lay them on the cookie sheet.
parchment paper also hides discolored pans.

2. Slice ham to fit on croissant and put on as much as fits your taste (or budget.) Very few people ever say "Oh my stars! I just can't eat this it's just TOO MEATY." Except of course vegetarians, which of course should do this recipe without the meat, because cheese makes everything better. Even croissants.

3. Lay your pieces of cheese parallel to the butt end of your roll. This makes the process of rolling it much easier.

did anyone else eat Ham and Cheese loaf as a child?
I promise this tastes better than that.

4. Roll them up (but not too tight) going from the fat end to the tip.

ready for the oven!

Throw them in the oven and remove them when the croissants are a beautiful golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

WASN'T THAT EASY? I did that on a Monday night and it was easy prep and easy clean-up with great flavor.

"but Dan, the rest of it looks sophisticated and elegant. How do I do side dishes like that?" said the imaginary comment I got in my inbox as I was typing this. I already said this was a Monday night kind of meal, so they weren't hard at all! The only plan-ahead is boiling the damn potatoes. They may say it only takes 20 minutes to get them "fork tender when pierced" but I swear it was closer to 25 or 30... anyway, here's the rest.

Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise

Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes (WITH THE CROISSANTS! TWO FOR ONE!)

The bottom of the asparagus hard and white, so you always have to discard that part as it's nearly inedible. The best way to figure out where the cut should happen is take a spear that is average sized and bend it to feel where it goes from hard to soft and breaks. Line up the rest of the spears and slice them at the same place. If you still see white on the bottom of one, take it out and cut it a little shorter until all you see is green.

Step 1: put asparagus on baking sheet. I think 6 spears per person is a decent serving size.
Step 2: drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Step 3: put in oven with croissants.

And the hollandaise? People are scared of it but it's super easy and takes just a little over 5 minutes. It's also an easy way to impress guests and trick people in to thinking you're a good cook if you add hollandaise. I told Dustin last night how lucky he is to have a boyfriend that can make a hollandaise and he believed me. Sucker. Here's how easy it is.

2 egg yolks from room temperature eggs. Didn't plan ahead? Just soak them in warm water for 5 minutes like I did.
1 stick of butter, 6tbsp melted, 2 tbsp cold
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cold water
salt and white pepper
a wire whisk

1. Gently heat the yolks until they're smooth but thick AND I MEAN GENTLY. MEDIUM AT THE HIGHEST. If you go too quickly you'll scramble the yolks and then it'll taste like you're having a lemony asparagus omelet. The thought of it made me want to vomit too. That should take about 2 minutes

2. Whisk in 1 tbsp cold butter and let it melt in to the warm yolks. They're absorbing the buttery goodness and holding it in suspension in a delicious way every time you add butter which is why we can't do it too quickly.

3. Add lemon juice and cold water, whisk until combined and let warm as it thickens. The cold ingredients keep it from heating up too fast, so just go with it. And don't stop whisking.

4. In a gentle trickle, add the 6 tbsp of melted butter. You don't have to see each individual drop, but again to help the yolks hold the butter correctly you can't go too quickly. Season it to taste with the salt and white pepper (that just helps it hold its color... you can definitely use black pepper if you like the look of it or just don't have white pepper). If you like it with a little kick like I do, after it's plated put a dash of Cayenne Pepper on the top.

And finally: boil potatoes until they're "fork tender when pierced." drain. in that warm pan you just cooked potatoes in, add 2tbsp of butter and let it melt, add the potatoes back in and generously coat, add  chopped scallions, salt, and pepper and serve!

    This menu was made for 2 people, so you might need more if you're cooking for more (that's enough hollandaise for about 4 people, realistically) but there's an easy Monday night meal. And I still have 3/4 block of gouda, so be prepared for a couple more recipes with it.

Gouda Luck!


  1. mmm... definitely going to try this...Also I'm going to send you my mayonnaise dipping sauce for cold aspargus! Thanks for the new recipe and your extremely entertaining food blog!

  2. Awesomely tasty. Made 24 for a BBQ on the 4th. They were half gone within 5 minutes. :)