Last weekend we had a party and I served a great cheese that I found at Costco. It was in a wedge with wax similar to a Gouda, it had the creaminess of Gouda, but it was actually a cheddar with jalapenos and cayenne pepper.
After the party I had about half of the wedge left, so I decided to use it up this week.
The first thing I made was a Creamy Hot Pepper Pasta -
- Cook pasta - I used rotini - drain, and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp each of olive oil and butter in a large pan.
- Add sliced red pepper, green pepper, and white onion.
- When peppers/onions are soft, add 1 tsp flour (you may need to add a touch more butter to help with the roux).
- Add 1/2 cup light cream and bring to a simmer
- Add about 1/3 cup chopped cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick and creamy.
- Toss pasta into the sauce, season with salt if needed, and garnish with fresh cilantro.
This pasta was good, but not as hot as I thought it would be..the cheese is very hot when eaten alone! If I made this again I'd add some cayenne and red pepper flakes to the sauce to keep that kick.
Last night I made a Hot Pepper Cheese Stuffed Chicken - (and forgot to take a picture..)
- Trim chicken breasts and pound thin; I like using the thinly sliced breasts and pounding them just a bit more.
- Sprinkle each breast with salt, pepper, a dash of chili powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper
- Top each breast with a few slices of the cheese and roll. Use a toothpick to keep them closed.
- Drizzle each one with some olive oil, and then sprinkle with bread crumbs.
- Bake on 375-400 for 15-20 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked. I also turned on the broiler for the last 2 minutes.
Some cheese oozed out of the chicken creating a delicious sauce. These were excellent and so easy.
Finally, tonight I used the cheese to make a Hot Pepper Mac-N-Cheese -
- Cook 1/2 pound of pasta in salted water until al dente (tonight I chose medium shells); drain and set aside
- Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil in a pan/pot
- Add chopped peppers and onions - I used 1 jalapeno, 1/3 of a red pepper, and 1 green onion chopped into tiny pieces. Saute about 2 minutes.
- Add 1 tsp flour and stir.
- Add 12 oz of milk or cream; I used a mixture of whole milk and light cream.
- Bring to a simmer and then add cheese. I used a good amount of the hot cheese as well as some regular cheddar.
- Toss with pasta and transfer to a baking dish. Top pasta with some more cheese and bake on 375 for about 25 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
This was good, but the cheese definitely mellows out when cooked. Adding the chopped jalapenos and red peppers gave it nice color, texture, and we got some heat from the jalapenos.
The night that we had the pasta we enjoyed a bottle of Showket Vineyards Cabernet, a 2000 from Napa. It was a bit expensive for a weeknight bottle - about $50 - but we both raved about it. The wine had beautiful color, was very full bodied and complex, and had a taste similar to the oaky flavor of Cakebread Cab, another favorite of ours. I'd highly recommend this for a splurge bottle. Their website says that the 2005 has just been released and is one of the most complex wines they have ever released - we'll have to look for it!!