Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cleaning out the Cheese Drawer

Yesterday was one of those perfect fall days that make me appreciate the steady pace of each season as one passes and another takes its place.  Here in the northwest, we do have a predictable flow from spring to summer to fall and finally winter.  And each season seems to have its own characteristic high points.  As I looked out my office window, the giant chestnut tree, backlit by the lowering sun, was like melting gold while its branches have become a network of black veins.  The air is cool and crisp, not yet cold enough for a jacket, though we have brought in the Meyer lemon tree and the Christmas cactus.  Tonight may get into the 30’s and I don’t want to lose the fat and ripening fruit on the tree, nor lose the emerging blossoms on the Christmas cactus (which always blooms around Thanksgiving!)
Meyer lemon tree with its glorious fruit
Christmas cactus and first buds

The garden has pretty much been put to bed—or ignored now that almost everything has been harvested.  There are still some beets and the carrots (though they’ve been attacked by some underground pest), and the Russian kale is still going strong.  Maybe we can do something interesting with it for Thanksgiving, as a side dish of some sort. 
Last tomatoes

The last of the tomatoes are ripening on the counter, and I have a drawerful of them in the fridge.  I decided it was time to clean out the cheese drawer which has been sadly ignored for awhile.  Not a good thing to do with cheese!
In a past life, I managed the fine crystal and silver department at a Neiman Marcus store.  Included in my department was a small charcuterie of fine cheeses and sausages.  Why it was part of fine china and linens is a mystery, but there it was.  I had someone in charge that had been trained to care for it all.  Every day, her first task was to take each of the cheeses out of the case and carefully slice off any encroaching mildew that might be beginning.  There was nothing wrong with the underlying cheese; it just needed cleaning up.  Since those long ago days, I have continued this practice of maintenance on the cheeses I get.  Sometimes, my nose has alerted me that is was time to do some clean-up.
One of my favorite cheeses is something called Cambozola, similar to Gorgonzola but creamier.  Today, the small piece I had left got smaller as I cut away the somewhat gooey outside.  It was time to use this up.  I was also left with a tiny piece of white cheddar.  We often have quesadillas for lunch, just a little grated cheese on a tortilla with cut up tomato, onion and jalapeƱo.  Simple and satisfying and quick to prepare.
I had tortillas and three very unripe pears.  I also had a bunch of green onions.  This, combined with the Cambozola might be pretty tasty.  And I could drizzle some honey over this since the pears were so green.  Cheese and fruit go together so well I think.  Joe enjoyed this so much he literally licked his plate!

Fruit and Cheese Quesadilla
2 flour tortillas
2 ozs. Cambazola (or Gorgonzola)
2 tablespoons grated white cheddar (or other sharp cheese)
2 green onions, chopped including most of the green
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ pear, cut in fine slices
Spread Cambozola on half of each tortilla.  Sprinkle with green onions, thinly sliced pear pieces, grated cheddar and a drizzle of honey.  
Heat olive oil in large flat pan (or griddle).
Fold tortilla in half and place in heated pan.  Cook until golden on one side, and then carefully turn to cook other side.  Serve immediately.

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this! I can't wait to try this at home, I am really surprised honey is part of the recipe. You are always so creative with flavors and it never disappoints. Thanks for inspiring me to think outside the box! ~Dawn