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Some of the best dishes, I believe, come in the most untraditional and contradictory ways. For example, one of my favorite desserts is a souffle cake. It’s essentially a fallen-in souffle. “This dessert may look a little odd – but it’s delicious.” Same with the recipe I present to you this evening–a wilted salad. Even more so, a wilted dinner sized salad. For a carnivore-leaning omnivore like me, this seems just wrong. But strangely enough, this worked for me, and perhaps you might some value in it as well.

Wilted Mesclun and Chevre with Roasted Tomato and Bacon vinaigrette

Ingredients

3 cups mixed greens and 3 cups baby spinach combined in a large bowl
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced 1/2″ thick
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 large heirloom tomato, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/4 cup combination of chopped parsley and thyme
3 ounces of crumbled Ile de France goat chevre plus extra for garnish

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup roasted tomato skins
3/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup walnut oil or olive oil
2 tsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
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The first time I tried goat cheese, I was a young professional working in South Denver. I had never really been invited to a “co-worker” lunch before, and I was very excited when my supervisor asked our group out to lunch. I remember, as I recall so many of my first experiences with food, the event clearly. So clearly, in fact, that many times I can conjure up the tastes from those experiences, which I could later replicate. This is one of those times. The place was Cucina Leone, a subtle, lovely restaurant I found out later has the best soup in the entire world when you’re sick. On the specials menu for lunch, there was a wilted salad.

“It’s a warm salad,” one of my co-workers explained. On it, it had roasted red peppers, spinach, caramelized onions, and something called chevre.

“What’s this chev–rrree?” I asked.

“CHEV-re. Goat cheese,” my supervisor declared.

“Ah,” I said suspiciously. “What’s cheese normally made from?” Yes, this was before cooking school and after graduate school. The only thing I knew was there was some difference between cheddar and mozzarella.

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Dearest readers (all 2 of you by now…),

It has been forever since I have posted, and you’re right, I’ve been dead.  But I’ve come back to life (much to the surprise of the mortuary scientist, let me just say no more on that) to tell you, I’m actually going to be updating this weekend!  I know!  Why, you may ask?  Well, to be honest, I was bribed.  I was bribed with free cheese. 

People give you stuff when you have a blog?

If there was any reason to have a blog, whether food or mechanical pencils, people give you stuff.  In this case, I received a goat cheese from Ile de France.  I thought it was a scam, but it wasn’t.  I thought some strange person was going to show up at my door with a baseball bat and say, “I got’cher chevre right here” but it wasn’t.  As a matter of fact, it showed up on time and in a nice little brown box.  Not only that, but it came in an overnighted UPS package with a little cold pack in it.  Cool!  Literally.

So, yeah… updating.  With a little nostalgic story and a recipe and everything.  You can still say I never gave you anything, though.

In The Deipnosophistae, a second century BC cookbook written by Athenaeus of Naucratis, we find many references to [cheesecakes] … cheesecakes made of cheese and cheesecakes made of everything but cheese, cheesecakes boiled in oil and dipped in honey, cheesecakes devoted to Olympian goddesses surrounded with figures of lighted torches, and wedding cheesecakes baked over an open fire and drenched with honey…

Artemis P. Simopoulos

Furthering our culinary tour of Antiquity with the Deipnosophists as our guides, it turns out something modern was mentioned by all of the diners at the Banquet of the Learned: cheesecake. It’s no wonder how this combination of sweetness, cream cheese and eggs got to be so popular. Aresty writes, “The poor man probably hungered most for cheesecake.” The topic has been discussed time and again–everything from history and recipes to blogs and birthdays.

And at long last, after patiently waiting and researching and the making of cheese, I present The Deipnosophists’ Almond Cheesecake! The following recipe was mostly adapted from the New York Honey Cheesecake on the National Honey Board’s website. You can also find the exact methodology I used there.

Ingredients

4 pkgs (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature (and if you’re one of the cool geeky kids, you’ve made some yourself…)
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup flour
5 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp lemon zest, grated
1 tsp vanilla

For the topping:

1/4 cup roughly chopped whole almonds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg

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