From Bavaria with love – Obazda cheese spread with pretzels

Your days of wondering are finally over. For a long time you were searching for the perfect snack for a hot day that ideally complements your cold beer or glass of chilled white wine. The Alpine region of Germany, Bavaria, has the answer for you: Obazda cheese spread. Some of my favorite “When in Bavaria” moments are connected to sitting in a beer garden on a warm summer evening, having a cold, dark Radler beer (which is 2/3 dark beer and 1/3 lemonade) and a Bavarian pretzel (crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside) with Obazda. Obazda is the Bavarian word for mashing together with your hands. Now why is Obazda such a magical food, you might wonder. The answer: it is not just cheese, it’s this wonderful mix of spices that form this inseparable union with the cheese where each ingredient compliments the others and serves its own unique purpose that could never be compensated by leaving one out or exchanging it. I recommend this dish (pretzel and Obazda that is) as a perfect picnic date snack to win anyone’s heart. It works best with beer, but white wine is an almost equally great fit.

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces (250 grams) of ripened camembert cheese
  • 3 tablespoons of soft butter
  • 3 tablespoons of wheat beer
  • ½ cup of cream
  • 1 medium-sized red onion
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • A little bit of caraway
  • 6 medium-sized pretzels

Chop the camembert into tiny dices. I know this can be a bit of a hassle, since camembert can get a teeny bit runny. Continue by adding the butter and beer to the cheese dices in a large bowl and whisk it all together with a fork. Cut the red onion into small dices and add that as well until evenly distributed in the mixture. Last, add the spices. This gives the Obazda its classic orange color. Let the cheese rest in the fridge for a few hours to allow the spices and the beer to enhance the aroma of the spread.

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Grilled Mac & Cheese sandwiches with tomato soup

This dish is one of those hidden champions for days when you don’t feel like leaving the house again to go food hunting at the grocery store, yet you feel like some soul food. Now anyone can have a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup to dip or Mac & Cheese any day when you need a quick dinner fix. But how about elevating your impromptu dinner game to the next level and combining the three and thus creating an exciting new twist. The recipe makes 4 servings as a main course or 8 smaller servings as a starter. My favorite idea for this dish: 16 amuse-gueule/hors d’œuvre if you serve the soup in tiny cups and cut the sandwiches into 4 pieces or use thin baguette slices. It’s simple, yet I doubt your guest will have ever had this exact, mind-blowing combo.

Ingredients

For the sandwich

  • 1 cup of Mac & Cheese sauce (for my version of the recipe, please click here)
  • 1 cup of elbow noodles
  • 8 slices of sandwich bread or 16 thin slices of baguette
  • Butter

For the soup

  • 20 fresh tomatoes
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon of ground pepper

I suggest starting with the tomato soup: chop the onion, garlic and tomatoes into dices. Then melt the butter in a pot and add the garlic and onion. Fry for 5 minutes at a medium temperature while stirring. Then proceed by adding the tomatoes and let everything cook for another 5 minutes while continuing to stir. Afterwards, add the vegetable broth and tomato paste, as well as the spices. Let everything simmer for 15 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and use a blender to smooth the soup until you reach a texture you like (since there are two types of people in this world, those who prefer smooth as silk when it comes to tomato soup and those who like chunks in it). Lastly, add the cream to your soup. You most likely won’t need extra salt, as the vegetable broth will provide that.

As for the sandwich, cook the noodles for 7 minutes and prepare the Mac & Cheese sauce. Ideally, this should be a thicker sauce, just like for a Mac & Cheese dish that you would bake in the oven and that would be a bit stiffer. For a recipe to follow, check out the recipe for my version of Mac & Cheese, which is the one I use for this dish. Mix the sauce with the cooked noodles in a bowl and set aside.

Butter each bread slice on one side (and don’t be stingy with the butter) and get a pan to medium heat. Place a generous load of Mac & Cheese on the non-buttered side of 50 percent of the bread slices and place a second bread slice on top, the buttered side facing upwards. The Mac & Cheese layer should be about as thick as a finger. Fry the bread until golden brown and press a spatula on it ever so gently to make everything glue together nicely.

Enjoy!


Lasagna Rolls with Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Filling

I am willingly admitting that I have a slight addiction to Alfredo sauce, it is just soooo tasty. This recipe therefore ticks that box and also perfectly coincides with my love for lasagna in all possible varieties. Two soul food options in one, if you will. It serves 4 people as a main course. The recipe uses chicken, but vegetarians can easily substitute this by replacing the meat with 1.5 cups of sweet corn.

20180428_205609-1862710015.jpgIngredients

  • 10 fresh lasagna plates (standard size)
  • 2 cups of my Alfredo sauce (for the recipe click here)
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • ½ (roasted or cooked) chicken
  • 1 cup of shredded Gouda cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded Mozzarella
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • A little bit of butter or oven pan spray

If you opt for homemade Alfredo sauce, start by making the sauce first and set it aside. Then cook the broccoli for 8-10 minutes and in the meantime shred your roasted chicken. If you happen not to have fresh lasagna plates at hand, let your plates cook for 6-7 minutes until they are soft enough to be rolled up. Al dente is desirable, as the noodles will continue to soften in the oven. Chop the broccoli into smaller bits and mix it with the chicken in a large bowl. Add Gouda and ground pepper until well mixed. Afterwards, add half of the Alfredo sauce.

Take a large pie skillet and either rub a little bit of butter on the floor or use oven pan spray to avoid the noodles “gluing” themselves to the skillet. Cut the lasagna plates in half along the long side of the plate. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the broccoli-chicken-Alfredo-mix onto the lasagna plate slice and spread it out to cover approximately 2/3 of the pasta. Then roll it up and place the result in the skillet. Repeat until all the rolls are tightly packed. Proceed with drizzling the remainder of the Alfredo sauce and shredded mozzarella on top. Let the lasagna bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes.

P.S. This dish does not include salt. I generally use as little salt as possible, as I believe the food we consume on average already contains enough salt as per the ingredients (e.g., cheese, roasted chicken in this case) and so there is normally no need to add extra. Our hearts will thank us in the long run to opt for lower salt in our diet.

P.P.S. As per its nature of consisting of lots of tiny rolls, this dish also lends itself as a nice buffet food option for parties and also stays tasty even when served after it having cooled down.