The definition of ‘gullible’
Food is a big event in our newsroom. Bringing in baked goods can make you king or queen for a day. We don’t often get treats, unless it’s someone’s birthday, or we have an onerous meeting, or it’s a holiday. Even then, it’s the usual fare – store-bought cakes, donuts and chips with canned dip. So when someone brings in a homemade treat, it’s a big deal.I made brownies for the newsroom the other day, and when I opened the lid and announced, “I made brownies,” one of our reporters – who is normally quiet and low-key – leaped out of his chair and dashed over. That was the fastest I’ve ever seen him move.Last week, one of the girls in our graphics department brought in the rest of a batch of cookies she made for our softball team. (She was probably hoping a little sugar could liven up our Write Fielders; but alas, they lost again.) One of my co-workers grabbed one and exclaimed how good they were. I asked him what kind of cookies they were and he proceeded to tell me what was in them.”Let’s see … there are raisins, chocolate chips, dried cherries, and a little pesto …””C’mon, you’ve got to be kidding me. There’s no pesto in them!” I said, turning to another co-worker. “There’s no pesto in them, right?””I dunno,” he mumbled through a mouthful of cookie.Not sure whether I was being fooled or not, I grabbed a cookie for myself and returned to my desk. Later, a reporter came in and he said he could taste pesto in the cookies too. I proceeded to disassemble a cookie, looking for any sign of basil, now half-believing the pesto story.The next day, I asked the girl who made them if she used pesto in them. She looked at me like I was from another planet (a look I’m used to), and said, “No … I put dried cherries in them …”I marched back to my desk and told my oh-so-hilarious co-worker, “There WAS NOT pesto in those cookies!””I can’t believe you believed me,” he replied with a grin.Five minutes later, he said, “Oh, by the way, there’s something you should look up.”Thinking he was referring to an AP style guideline or something, I asked him what it was.”In the big dictionary, the official one, there is no entry for ‘gullible.’ You can look it up, it’s not in there!”Ha, ha. I was not amused.So this column is written in my defense. Sometimes dessert-type foods are made with weird, unexpected ingredients, and the following recipes prove it. Unfortunately, I could not find any pesto cookie recipes.Santa Fe cheesecake with cilantro pesto 1 cup toasted bread crumbs 12 cup toasted pine nuts 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 12 pound pepper jack, grated 12 pound queso blanco, grated 1 pound cream cheese, room temp. 4 eggs 8 fresh roasted, peeled, seeded New Mexico green chilies, chopped 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced 1 tablespoon minced garlic 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro 12 teaspoon salt 14 teaspoon ground black pepper Cilantro pesto: 2 cups tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves 14 cup lightly toasted pine nuts 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 14 cup grated queso blanco 12 teaspoon ground black pepper 12 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons olive oilPreheat oven to 325 degrees. To make the crust, place the bread crumbs, pine nuts and butter in a food processor, and process until thoroughly combined. Press mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside. In the bowl, beat the pepper jack, queso fresco and cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after the addition of each. Fold in the peppers, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes. (Cake should be golden and puffed, and just set in the center.) Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before serving. To make the pesto: In a blender, combine the cilantro, pine nuts and garlic, and puree on high speed. Add the cheese, pepper, and salt, and process to combine. Scrape the sides of the blender, and with the machine running, add the olive oil. Blend until well combined. To serve, drizzle the cheesecake with the cilantro pesto, slice, and serve.Serves 12-16.- Recipe courtesy Emeril LagasseFennel and chorizo strudels 34 cup butter, melted2 shallots, minced4 ounces chorizo, sliced thin, skin on1 and 23 cups diced fennel bulb112 tablespoons minced tarragon leaves 12 tablespoon minced chives1 egg1 cup bread crumbs1 teaspoon salt, or to taste14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste8 sheets phyllo dough, thawedPreheat oven to 400 degrees.Heat about 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until translucent. Add the chorizo, lower the heat, and allow some of the fat to render. Add the fennel and gently cook until tender. (You may need to reduce the heat slightly so that the chorizo and fennel don’t burn.)Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Add the tarragon leaves, chives, egg, and enough bread crumbs (about 12 cup) to lightly bind the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.To assemble each strudel, lay a sheet of phyllo dough onto a clean work surface. Place the longer edge of the dough parallel to the edge of the work surface. As you work, keep the unused sheets of phyllo covered with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle it with about 1 to 112 teaspoons of bread crumbs. Top with another sheet of phyllo dough and repeat the butter and bread crumb process until you form a stack of 4 phyllo sheets.Mound half of the chorizo-fennel mixture along the bottom of the phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border at the edges. Beginning with the bottom edge, carefully roll up the dough and filling, and seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to make a second strudel. Transfer the strudels seam-side down to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with the remaining melted butter, and make shallow cuts on a bias in the surface of the dough to indicate 8 slices.Bake in a 400 F oven until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.Makes eight 2-slice servings.- Recipe courtesy AP
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