So, today’s post is sort of a copout. It might be the easiest “dish” I’ve ever thrown together. It almost doesn’t count as a recipe…but I have my reasons for sharing it with you…
It all started in February of 2013 in New Orleans. The place where so many wonderful food adventures begin. We were lucky enough to be there for the Super Bowl. Good friends of ours work for the NFL and were able to help us score tickets for the event in one of the coolest cities in the country. If you haven’t been to NOLA, you must put it on your travel list. We have vowed to go back someday soon and do it all over again. We’re in love with that city.
Not only is it super cool and funky and packed with soul, but it’s beautiful too (very Parisian). We happened to be there during a magical time: the days leading up to and during the Super Bowl…which also coincided with the beginnings of Mardi Gras. So fun. There was so much life in the city during those few days. Everything was buzzing with excitement.
While we were there, we immersed ourselves in the local cuisine. Beignets from Café du Monde, an abundance of seafood fresh from the gulf, shrimp po’ boys, speak-easy-style cocktails at The Carousel (my favs being the Pimm’s cup and old-style gin fizz), and the best raw oysters I have ever seen or eaten in my life. They were huge! So tender. So briny. So wonderful. Mmmmm.
One of the nights we were there, we were fortunate to eat at the restaurant Herbsaint. The meal was fantastic from start to finish. The first thing we munched on was a simple baked cheese appetizer. It was loaded with flavor and was so creamy and melty…it was to die for. The four of us finished it within minutes and were definitely sad when it was gone. I’m pretty sure we even contemplated getting a second order.
It was such a simple dish. But oh so good. In my book, those are the best kinds of recipes.
I have since recreated that dish at home many, many times…to the best of my ability. This is my favorite at-home version. Creamy fontina and sharp asiago make up the base. You could probably use any cheese you like, but I would recommend something that melts well. I then spice it up with garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and fresh lemon zest. A sprinkle of salt and pepper and you’re good to go. I use a handy-dandy cast-iron skillet (one of my go-to culinary tools), and depending on how many people I’m serving, I use a small or large skillet. The technique is still the same.
You simply load up your skillet with the cheese and then top with desired flavorings. Place it in a hot oven until melted and bubbly. Serve on toasted baguette slices or with veggies.
So simple. So good.
Brings me back to NOLA… and I can’t wait to go back for real.
Baked Cheese with Lemon, Garlic, & Herbs (makes 4 servings)
5 oz asiago cheese, cubed or grated
5 oz fontina cheese, cubed or grated
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
Pinch of dried oregano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
Sliced baguette, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Evenly spread the cubed cheeses in the bottom of a cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle the garlic, oregano, zest, and red pepper flakes over top. Season with a little salt and pepper.
2. Place the skillet in the hot oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is sizzling around the edges and thoroughly melted. Broil the top for 30 seconds to create a crust, if desired.
3. Remove from oven, allow to cool just slightly, and then serve the cheese with sliced baguette or veggies.