Pear and Pepper Jack Cheese Quesadillas
1 dozen 8-inch flour tortillas
1 lb. pepper jack cheese
3 ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears
Grate cheese and set aside. Cut pears in half (lengthwise), core, and slice thinly. Lay out 6 of the tortillas. Using half of the cheese, distribute among the 6 tortillas. Distribute the pear slices among the 6 tortillas. Distribute the remaining half of the cheese between the 6 quesadillas and then top with the 6 remaining tortillas. (These can be prepared to this point well ahead of time.)
Heating Options: Heat small amount of canola oil in a pan. Add one quesadilla at a time and heat until crispy, then turn over and crisp other side. Or brush with canola oil and place in oven (400 degrees) and heat until crispy.
When heated, cut into wedges (pie-shaped)- 6 pieces per quesadilla.
Other options: Add chopped cilantro, shredded, roasted chicken, or diced avacado to the filling.
Courtesy of Chef Karla Graves, Paprika, Spokane
Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball
16 oz. cream cheese
5 oz. smoked salmon
3 green onions, diced
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 oz. Cheddar and/or jack cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. Hefeweizen ale
Mix all ingredients in mixer. Shape into a ball and chill for two hours. Garnish with fresh dill and serve with crackers.
Courtesy of Chef Angel Lopez, Grant's Pub, Yakima
Artichoke Jalapeno Dip
3 c. artichoke hearts
1-1/4 lbs. cream cheese
2 oz. chipotles (smoked jalapeno peppers)
1/4 lb. shredded Parmesan
1/4 lb. shredded Mozzarella
1 oz. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Finely dice the peppers and then combine them with the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix at low speed until thoroughly blended. Place in oven-safe container and bake at 400 degrees until top is brown and dip is completely warmed through. Remove from oven and garnish with pickled jalapenos and Parmesan cheese. Serve with chips or bread.
Courtesy of Chef David Collette, Skagit River Brewery, Anacortes
Pecan Candy Brie
1 small wheel Brie cheese
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. brown pecans
4 Tbsp. butter
1 oz. whiskey
Heat Brie in oven until warm throughout. In saute pan, make caramel with butter and brown sugar. Deglaze with whiskey and add pecans. Pour over warm Brie and serve with crackers or toasted bread.
Courtesy of Chef Tim Hunt, Bozak, Bellingham
Beer Battered Mozzarella Sticks
2 lbs. Mozzarella cheese, cut into 3" by 3/4" sticks
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 c. dark beer
1/2 c. milk
(Optional) Spicy Fruit Compote
1 tsp. butter
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 Granny Smith apple, finely diced
2 c. dried cranberries
2 c. white wine vinegar
3 c. water
2 oranges, juiced
1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Cut Mozzarella into sticks. Reserve in the refrigerator. Make batter by combining flour salt, baking powder, cayenne and black pepper in a bowl and stirring until well blended. Continually whisking flour mixture, slowly incorporate the milk and beer. Add the eggs to the mixture and whisk until they are incorporated. Place mozzarella sticks in batter and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
(Optional) Make the compote. Melt one teaspoon of butter in a saucepan. Saute onion until it is translucent, then add apple and pepper flakes and saute for one minute more. Add cranberries, orange juice, vinegar and two cups of water. Bring mixture to a boil and then lower flame. Allow it to simmer until the cranberries absorb all the liquid. Add remaining cup of water and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve compote warm.
Fry the cheese by heating 3 c. of vegetable oil up to 365 degrees in a deep, heavy saucepan. Remove cheese stick from batter one at a time and carefully place in oil. Cook, turning occasionally, until the cheese has a uniform golden brown color. Drain on paper towels. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Courtesy of Chef Christopher McHam, Alibi Room, Seattle
McMenamins Beer Potato Cheese Soup
1/2 lb. Cheddar cheese
1/2 lb. Swiss cheese
2 large potatoes
1 pint McMenamin's Hammerhead Ale (or any medium bodied ale)
3 stalks celery
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp. dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground yellow mustard
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 to 1 c. flour
1 quart water
1 Tbsp. vegetable base
1/4 c. milk
Dice the celery and leeks; saute in butter until soft. Add dill, salt, ground mustard, garlic and onion powder. Reduce heat and stir in flour until vegetables have a paste like consistency. Add ale, water and vegetable base and bring to a boil.
In a separate pot, dice and boil one potato until soft. then puree in food processor with the milk until smooth. Dice the second potato into 1/2-inch squares. Whisk pureed potatoes into boiling soup, then add diced potatoes for added texture and flavor.
Shred Cheddar and Swiss cheese and slowly whisk into boiling soup. Reduce heat and simmer until potato chunks are soft and soup thickens. Season to taste with pepper and salt.
Courtesy of Chef Forrest Kenworthy, McMenamin's on the Columbia, Vancouver
Cheddar Cheese Muffins
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. aged Cheddar cheese, grated
2 green onions, finely diced
2 medium eggs
1 c. milk
1/4 c. oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix remaining ingredients in a seperate bowl. Add dry ingredients to the batter and mix slightly to incorporate. Spray muffin tin with nonstick vegetable oil and fill 3/4 with batter
Bake for 25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Remove muffins from tin and cool completely on baking rack.
Yield 12 muffins.
Note: 2 tbsp. of chopped smoked ham can be added to the batter. Monteray Jack or goat cheese can be substituted for Cheddar.
Courtesy of Chef Kasper Donier, Kasper's Restaurant and Wine Bar. Seattle
1 c. yellow corn grits
5 c. water
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1/4 lb. butter
3 green onions, diced
2 lbs. choice cheese (smoked Cheddar preferred)
In a six quart pan, bring water to a boil. Add butter, salt and pepper in water until butter has melted. Add grits, stirring continually. Turn to simmer and cook until grits are not grainy or hard (approximately 10 minutes). Add green onions and cheese, stirring until cheese has melted. Serve hot. Yield: 2 quarts
Courtesy of Chef Hilary L. Craig, Alligator Soul, Everett