roth cheese Archives

Philadelphia-Style Roast Pork & Rabe Sandwich

Philadelphia-Style Roast Pork & Rabe Sandwich | Big Girls Small Kitchen

A sandwich with meat, cheese, and a real vegetable inside? I should know about this.

That’s what I thought when, in researching a piece on Philly Cheesesteaks, I got extraordinarily distracted by the discovery of the steak hero’s porky brother, the Roast Pork Sandwich. While most sandwiches claim a couple tomato slices or some lettuce as all their vegetables, this sandwich has a heap of sautéed broccoli rabe inside with the pork and the cheese. That makes it, in my book, a complete meal, and therefore a dish I should know about.

Chickpea & Fennel Gratin

Chickpea Gratin | Big Girls Small Kitchen

I love beans for a lot of reasons, but my affection definitely derives from their price. Beans are cheap. Even the best beans are cheaper than almost anything else you can buy to eat. And they’re such a great reminder of how inexpensive cooking for yourself is, if you stay aware. Eliminate some of the frou frou trendy ingredients you see in the magazines, and notice, at the grocery store, that quinoa’s price has doubled (!), and you can feast almost every day for a couple of dollars per meal, a price that might allow for an occasional culinary splurge, whether in the kitchen or out.But it wasn’t long before I started loving beans for their taste and easy prep. Cooking up a pot from dried almost doesn’t feel like cooking, your pot’s just simmering there in the background, barely any of your attention needed to make all sorts of meals possible. If you’ve never made hummus from total scratch, that’s a great place to start with bean cookery.

Caramelized Onion & Kale Soup au Gratin

Caramelized Onion & Kale Soup with Roth Alpine-Style Cheese | Big Girls Small Kitchen

This is the soup that needs no introduction. The dish that launched (maybe?) the soup and grilled cheese pairing. Plus kale.

The best thing you can do for onion soup is decide yesterday you’ll probably crave a bite today. If you make broth, caramelized onions, and, for this particular rendition, kale when you have that realization, then when you–surprise!–want the soup, you can actually have it in almost no time and with almost no work. Now this is cooking.

I can’t remember a time I didn’t love onion soup. The sweetness of the onions and the richness of homemade broth (usually: beef; here: chicken) is perfect together from the start.

Even more perfect? The way that good bakery sourdough bread absorbs some of that goodness right from its toasty underside. On its crispy top, the final flavor note is rich, nutty alpine-style cheese–I use the aged Wisconsin cheese, Roth Grand Cru. I didn’t invent the combination, but I could easily celebrate it weekly.

Though I’m accustomed to serving a rich, whole-meal soup like this with a green salad alongside, here I added garlicky kale right into the soup, turning classic French Onion Soup into a truly current one-pot/four-crock meal.

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli with Crispy Bread Crumbs

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli with Crispy Breadcrumbs

I’ll do anything for vegetables, but I won’t do that.

That’s how I feel when I see veggies that have been completely drowned in cream or béchamel. I like cream and béchamel, but I don’t like drowning. So though gratins and casseroles always sound good in theory, when I go to make them, I never fail to change my mind. I’ll save my half and half for the morning’s coffee, thanks.

Here is the main argument for why I am probably wrong.

Melting a little bit of cheese on top of a veggie meal feels quite restrained, by contrast.

In this dish, which plays off my love for crunchy bread accoutrements and reusing stale slices, you roast broccoli florets until they are delicious, then make them more delicious still by sprinkling nutty, aged Roth Grand Cru on top. As the cheese (which comes from Wisconsin and tastes like it’s imported from the Alps) oozes into the florets, it simultaneously fastens butter-crisped bread crumbs to the vegetables, in another gratin-like move.

Cheesy Winter Squash Bake

Cheesy Winter Squash Bake | Big Girls, Small Kitchen

Look, I dug through all the sugar and found us some vegetables!

One of my favorite tricks to play on myself during seasons of vegetable apathy is to bury greens (or oranges) under melting pats of butter, generous pours of olive oil, or mountains of melted cheese. This is not a sabotage, a cop-out, or a rejection of salads or carrot sticks. It’s just self-imposed bribery.

Of course vegetables aren’t chores and fat isn’t bad, so my bribery is hardly treachery. Really, making a wild thing taste good is probably smart in the long run.

The vegetables involved in this particular production include a whole acorn squash and two carrots. The cheese? It’s Roth Grand Cru, a nutty, aged cheese from Wisconsin that adds tremendous depth to the vegetables in this dish. The cheese, cured in copper vats as the Swiss alpine tradition dictates, melts beautifully on top and within the rice-and-vegetable bake.

As for the dish itself, you’ve seen a version before. Somewhere between a frittata and a soufflé, this baked casserole centers on vegetables (you already heard about those), eggs, rice, and cheese. No one part overwhelms the others, and the resulting wedges present themselves as viable, yet humble breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

The dish is as good at room temperature as hot or cold, and though I got into to talking about this as some way to disguise vegatables with cheese, that’s really not that point. The Cheesy Winter Squash Bake is best understood as an elegant hodgepodge, a nutritious and wholesome way to merge the foods we should eat with the ones we really want to–with the result that we remember how great carrots, squash, and their vegetable brethren are. Almost as good as cheese.

This post is sponsored by Roth Cheese, an alpine-style cheese crafted in Wisconsin. All opinions, as usual, are mine. Thanks for supporting BGSK’s sponsors!