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COOK'S CORNER WINNERS OF CHEESE RECIPE CONTEST SPICE IT UP.

Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

Roseanne Torcasso of La Crescenta was one of five first-place winners in the Sargento Shredded Cheese Challenge with her recipe Cheese Herb Crisps. A teacher of 12th-grade English literature, her creation offers a taste of Italy with a mozzarella cheese blend with basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

Frances Benthin of Scio, Ore., took home the grand prize for her Cheesy Cajun Shrimp Boats. Her recipe was selected from more than 1,200 entries in the nationwide contest. The 79-year old mother of five noted that her inspiration for the recipe came while perusing the produce section in her local supermarket. She fills fresh poblano peppers with a mixture of rice, shrimp, salsa, Cajun seasonings and cheese. If you can't find fresh poblanos, substitute any color bell peppers. Of course the flavor won't be quite the same, but suit yourself.

Benthin won a trip to Napa to cook with Michael Chiarello, host of ``Easy Entertaining With Michael Chiarello'' on the Food Network, while Torcasso will receive a year's supply of cheese and an autographed copy of Chiarello's cookbook, ``Casual Cooking.''

CHEESE HERB CRISPS

(First-place winner, Roseanne Torcasso, La Crescenta)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) mozzarella with sun-dried tomatoes and basil shredded cheese blend

1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

In an electric mixer or food processor, combine flour and butter until well mixed. Add mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper and process until well mixed. Add enough milk so dough just holds together when well blended.

Transfer mixture to 2 large sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Form into 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch thick square or round logs using the paper or plastic wrap to roll mixture. Twist ends together and chill logs until firm, at least 1 hour.

Cut logs into 1/8-inch thick slices. Place slices on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 6 minutes. Turn; continue baking for an additional 6 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 6 dozen crisps.

CHEESY CAJUN SHRIMP BOATS

(Grand prize winner, Frances Benthin, Scio, Ore.)

6 large poblano peppers (see Note)

2 cups cooked rice

1 pound cooked small shrimp (OR chopped large cooked shrimp)

1 cup thick and chunky salsa

1 tablespoon Cajun OR blackened seasoning mix

1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) shredded Cheddar salsa with tomato and jalapeno peppers blend OR 4-Cheese Mexican shredded cheese

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Slice off about 1/4 of peppers lengthwise. Finely chop slices and place in a large bowl. Remove and discard seeds from pepper ``boats.'' Cook in simmering water to cover, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well; transfer to a 9x13-inch glass baking dish.

Add rice, shrimp, salsa and seasoning mix to bowl with chopped peppers; mix well. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Spoon mixture into pepper boats, mounding if necessary.

Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 20 minutes or until hot. Combine cilantro and remaining cheese; sprinkle over pepper boats. Return to oven; bake 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: If fresh poblano peppers are not available, substitute bell peppers (any color).

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1) CHEESE HERB CRISPS

(2) CHEESY CAJUN SHRIMP BOATS
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Sep 6, 2005
Words:568
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