Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Cheese Kitty returns

We've been off line for a while as the Cheese Kitty endured a difficult, and frankly quite nerve-wracking (well, for me) couple of weeks that began with the loss of a fang.

I'm not big on going to the doctor for myself, and taking one very unhappy kitty to the vet just makes me... well, yeah... let's just say it's not a pretty sight. I spent a week researching the anesthesia methods used and the various kinds of risks associated with them. Anyone who's ever worried about getting their cat's teeth cleaned knows of what I speak. I made my husband call the vet to ask whether they were using isofluorane.

"We need to make sure that they know that he's part Persian -- they have trouble sometimes," I said, "And ask them about the induction agents too!"

"You have GOT to get off of the internet."

"Hey, if you go into the hospital, wouldn't you want someone like me researching your care?"

We arrived at the vet's and I asked at the front desk to speak with the doctor. I wonder if the people at the front desk have a special secret code for high maintenance, nervous humans.

"Uh, we have a code 26 up here -- can you send out Belinda, please?"

A lovely, soft-spoken, very calming person arrives to carefully explain the whole procedure and very gently extract the cat carrier handle from my hands.

Well, the upshot is that the cheese kitty is fine, after a woozy drunken homecoming... sans two more unhappy teeth. But he still has one fang and a serious appetite for cheese. (Above, he guards the Cowgirl Creamery's spring Farallon. Farallon is the name of their experimental cheeses which can look a little different each time. Last year, they made ash covered coins which were delish!)

As kitty recovered and sulked at the prospect of having to have antibiotics squirted down his throat twice a day, we breathed a sigh of relief and got back to cooking.

We made a lovely little appetizer out of Cuisine Mag -- Crusted Goat Cheese coins with wilted spinach and tomato salsa.

Very easy to make and VERY highly recommended.

1.5 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp minced fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup panko crumbs
1/3 cup slivered almonds
8 oz soft goat cheese (chilled til firm)
1 beaten egg
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 cups fresh spinach
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

To make the tomato salsa, combine the tomatoes, shallots, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, oregano and salt and papper in a small bowl. Then tuck that into the refrigerator to chill.

Combine the panko and the almonds in a chopper and pulse a few times til the almond pieces are crumb sized.

Slice the goat cheese (it's sometimes easiest to do this using a piece of dental floss as a cutter) into rounds of about 1/2-inch thickness.

Dip each round into the beaten egg, then gently coat with the almond crumbs.

In a nonstick frying pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and then fry the goat cheese rounds few a few minutes each side, until golden brown.

Set the cheese aside while you wilt the spinach in the same pan with the red pepper flakes.

To assemble, mound a serving of the spinach on a plate, place two goat cheese rounds on top and then top with tomato salsa.

For a weekend, I went back to see our Food Snoot friends, who recently bought a house on the Mainline outside Philadelphia. I went to school at Bryn Mawr, so we had a nice little stroll through campus and then took a day to go see the Radnor Hunt, which is a local fundraiser/steeplechase event.

Here's one of my favorite spaces, Thomas Great Hall, on the college campus. If I ever owned a castle, I'd have a room like this for my big fancy dinners.

In 1993, Danielle Voith, who came from BMC's Growth and Structure of Cities program, then founded the architecture firm Voith & Mactavish, restored the interior.

Meanwhile, over at the hunt...
We took a picnic with us, but the so-called tailgate for most people involved a huge setup with tents and tables and all sorts of crazy stuff.

All to watch some horses run by. LOL. Nevertheless, we were pleased with the discovery of a very nice cheese shop in Narberth that sold some (shhh!) Brie de Meaux.

Unfortunately, our Food Snooties haven't taken possession of the new house yet, so we couldn't cook there (do I sound like I'm anticipating?) But it's a beautiful kitchen job, with pull out pantry shelves, granite countertops and a Bosch dishwasher. What more could I ask for?

Oh! Does the kitty come with it too?

Well, so now I'm back home after all this travelling and ready to get back to the business of cooking and cheesing...

Just one more pic of my cheesy kitty -- much happier looking now and quite pleased with himself...

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