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Conversation With a Cheesemonger

A conversation with Derrick Sanders, Cheesemonger at the Nob Hill La Montanita Co-op.

Derrick Sanders, Cheesemonger @ La Montanita Co-op | mjskitchen.com

The other day I was perusing the cheese section at the Nob Hill La Montanita Co-op looking for a particular cheese. When I couldn’t find it I asked Derrick, the cheese clerk for help.  You know what it’s like having a sommelier help you select a wine to go with your meal?  Well, that’s how I felt with Derrick helping me select a cheese.  This guy knows his cheese!  So rather than keep Derrick’s knowledge of cheese to myself, I thought I would share some of it with you.

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The Quintessential Green Chile Cheeseburger

The quintessential Green Chile Cheeseburger | mjskitchen.com

 

New Mexico’s chile season is upon us!  Yesterday I went over to one of my favorite local suppliers, Sichler Farms, and bought my first 10 pounds of chile for 2014 – 5 pounds of medium and 5 pounds of hot.  When I got home I couldn’t wait to try it, so I lit up the grill and started roasting and peeling.  For supper we made the Quintessential Green Chile Cheeseburger.  Both of us agreed that, even though we’ve eaten A LOT of green chile cheeseburgers in our lifetime, this was the best hamburger we had ever made and possibly ever eaten.  Every bite was a burst of spicy, meaty chile complemented with the sweetness of Golden Jubilees picked fresh from our garden.  A burger can’t get much better than this.

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Mixed Berry Pudding (aka Summer Pudding)

Mixed Berry Pudding (aka Summer Pudding) - just fresh berries, a little bread, and sweetener. mjskitchen.com

 

Before you head on down to the recipe, let me go ahead and tell you that this Mixed Berry “Pudding” has no dairy and no eggs and no bake time.  It’s simply fruit simmered for 2 minutes with a sweetener and a little bit of water, poured into a bread lined ramekin and weighted down overnight to allow the fruit, juice, and bread to all come together as one.  It’s best served cold with a bit of warm berries on top.  It’s amazing!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Jello

Strawberry Jello made with the water from stewed rhubarb mjskitchen.com @MJsKitchen

 

This Strawberry Rhubarb Jello is such an easy dessert that I hesitated posting it and also because it’s jello. :) However, since I have made it several times and we love it, why not?  About once every 2 to 3 months I get a craving for jello ( I guess it takes me back to my childhood), and this is the one I’ve been making for a couple of years now.

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Spice it up with Fiery Chocolate Shots

Chocolate shots with ginger, chile, and Baileys Irish Cream mjskitchen.com

 

Chocolate “shots” might not be the best name for this chocolate delight, because “shots” are normally drank all at once, in one shot.  That’s not what you’ll want to do here.  This sweet and spicy, chocolatey beverage is best sipped so you can enjoy all of its goodness several times over.  These Fiery Chocolate Shots are made with chocolate, milk and cream, a bit of ginger, urfa biber chile powder, and Baileys Irish Cream.  A great after dinner delight for date night.

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Thai Tea Pudding

A creamy pudding made with Thai tea, milk and a little condensed milk.

 

This Thai Tea Pudding is a pudding version of the Thai iced tea that is served in many Asian restaurants.  It’s creamy, it’s sweet (but not near as sweet as the iced beverage), and quite addicting. Every time I serve it, it doesn’t matter what I had served for the main meal, this pudding steals the show.  It’s a great finish to any meal!

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Chocolate Pudding, New Mexico Style and the Museum of International Folk Art

A chocolate pudding seasoned with red chile powder, cinnamon and ginger

 

Before I get to the New Mexico Style Chocolate Pudding recipe, I want to share our visit to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  There were three exhibits that we wanted to see and all three exceeded our expectations.

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Amish Quilts Exhibit

The first exhibit we visited was a display of Amish Quilts.  Many of the quilts displayed were more than 100 years old and were still vibrant and richly beautiful.  The museum allows photography as long as you don’t use a flash; therefore, I’m able to share some of this lovely quilts with you.   Having been a quilter at one time in my life, I never tire of looking at quilts, old quilts, new quilts, contemporary quilts.  Knowing the amount of time and love that goes into making one, I’ve never found a quilt I didn’t like.  The artistry and craftsmanship in these 100 year old quilts blew me away.

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Peach Pecan Ice Cream

A no cook fresh peach ice cream with toasted pecans

 

Oh the many, many fond memories of making fresh peach ice cream out in the back yard. I have always loved peach season, not only for the juicy, ripe peaches, but also for the peach ice cream.  Growing up, we made it a tradition to make several batches of peach ice cream during peach season. Whenever we picked up a bushel of peaches, I knew some of them would end up in ice cream.  Bobby and I were able to continue that tradition for many years due to our lovely peach trees.  During peach season, our friends would gather on the back porch and we would all take turns churning the ice cream bucket.  Those were the days when ice cream was made outside in a 1 ½ gallon container surrounded by ice and rock salt, and everyone had to work for their serving.  Now a days ice cream is made on the kitchen counter and in much smaller amounts.  With my ice cream maker, I still have to manually churn it, but that’s o.k.  It doesn’t make near the mess and the clean up is a whole lot easier!

This summer we’ve been able to get some really, really good peaches, so a batch of this fresh Peach Pecan Ice Cream each week has been a regular menu item. The first couple of batches didn’t have pecans, but then a few weeks ago I decided to thrown in some toasted pecans that were leftover from brunch. With the first bite we both knew that it was going to be very hard leaving the pecans out of any future batches.  If my big batch ice cream maker weren’t rusted out from years of ice and rock salt, I can guarantee that I would be making a HUGE batch of this.

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Mixed Berry Jam – Quick and Easy

Mixed Berry Jam - quick & easy, no pectin. mjskitchen.com

 

When it comes to making jam, the days of torturing my feet with a 12 hour day processing the fruit and making 20 jars of the same jam are over.  Now I make jam one jar at a time and as needed or whenever I have a little excess fruit that needs to use before it becomes compost material.  Because we eat a lot of berries, we almost always have a jar of Mixed Berry Jam in the refrigerator.

This recipe for the perfect jar of Mixed Berry Jam is one I’ve been working on since last spring.  I’ve been looking for the ratio of fruits that yielded the flavor of “mixed berries”.  What I mean by that is one of my earlier batches tasted like blueberry jam with a hint of other berries.  Another batch, with matching amounts of blueberries and raspberries, tasted like raspberry jam.  The recipe I’m sharing with today isn’t dominated by any individual flavor. You’ll be able to taste “hints” of each berry used – a little blueberry, a little raspberry and a little blackberry.  If you don’t have blackberries, you can substitute strawberries with the same mixed berry jam result.  Both versions are delicious!

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