FIG and WALNUT TAPENADE with GOAT CHEESE

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped stemmed dried Calimyrna figs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 5.5-ounce logs soft fresh goat cheese (such as Montrachet), each cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut halves Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
  • Assorted breads and/or crackers

Preparation:

Combine chopped figs and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid evaporates and figs are soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Mix in olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers, and chopped thyme. Season tapenade to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Arrange overlapping cheese rounds in circle in center of medium platter. Stir chopped walnuts into tapenade; spoon into center of cheese circle. Garnish with walnut halves and thyme sprigs, if desired. Serve with breads and/or crackers.

Makes 20 servings.

From Bon Appétit

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Photography by suttonhoo

CRAB and ARTICHOKE DIP

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Ingredients:
  • 1 (8.5-oz) can of artichoke hearts (in water)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced (or 1 small onion)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can of crabmeat

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°F.Drain artichoke hearts and finely chop. Transfer artichokes to a bowl and add capers.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderately low heat, then add flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Add half-and-half in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in artichoke mixture, scallions, 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon juice, and salt. Gently stir in crab. Transfer to a buttered 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

Bake dip in middle of oven until bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Broil on high for 5 minutes or until top is golden. Serve warm.

Cooks’ note: The dip can be prepared (but not baked) 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Makes 8 servings.

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Photography by SauceSupreme

SCALLION PANCAKES

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Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup boiling-hot water
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 7 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt

Soy Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Preparation:

Stir together flour, salt, hot water, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until soft and smooth, 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 20 minutes.

Roll dough into a 16-inch log on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 24 pieces. Roll each piece out into a 4-inch circle, keeping remaining pieces covered as you work. Brush with sesame oil; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon scallions. Roll each piece into a tight cylinder; pinch ends to seal. Press to flatten. Wrap each cylinder around itself to form a spiral (seam side in); pinch end. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 20 minutes (or up to 5 hours).

Place spirals on a lightly floured surface. Flatten gently. Roll out to 4-inch circles, stacking between pieces of floured waxed paper. Let stand 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for dipping sauce, whisk together all ingredients. (Makes about 3/4 cup.)

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pancakes, 2 or 3 at a time, flipping once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side (add oil as necessary). Drain on paper towels. Season with salt. (To keep warm, place in a 200° oven.) Cut into wedges, and serve with dipping sauce.

Makes 2 dozen.

From Martha Stewart Living

Photography by joyosity

DRIED APRICOTS with GOAT CHEESE and PISTACHIOS

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Ingredients:

  • 150 dried apricot halves (2 lb.)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios, 1/2 of them toasted
  • 1 lb. soft mild goat cheese, chilled

Preparation:

Toss apricots with juice and let stand, tossing occasionally, 20 minutes.

Chop all pistachios, preferably by hand, and season with salt. Drain apricots, cut sides up, on paper towels. Top each with a small chunk of cheese and sprinkle with nuts.

Cooks’ note: You can assemble these 1 day ahead and chill them, covered, but they can’t be stacked and will take up a lot of refrigerator space.

Makes 150 hors d’oeuvres.

From Gourmet September 1999

BLUE CHEESE FONDUE

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. pungent blue cheese, rind removed, cheese crumbled
  • 5 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 5 fresh chives, snipped
  • 2-3 lbs. assorted vegetables, such as blanched green beans and asparagus, peeled baby carrots and radishes
  • 1/2 loaf crusty bread, cut into cubes

Preparation:

In bowl, combine cheeses and cornstarch; set aside. In heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine wine and thyme; simmer 1 minute. Whisk in cream, cayenne and black pepper.

When cream mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low; add cheese mixture 1/3 cup at a time, stirring with rubber spatula until completely melted before adding more.

Fill fondue pot with 1” simmering water; place ceramic insert over pot. Transfer cheese fondue to insert; stir in chives. Serve warm with assorted vegetables and bread. Serves 6-8.

From Williams-Sonoma

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Photography by Heather

FARINATA (Chickpea flour pancake)

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Farinata, that deliciously rich Ligurian street food rarely made at home, is a thick pancake made with a thin mix of chick pea flour, quite a lot of olive oil and some sea salt, cooked in a pan in a very hot oven until it is gold and crusty.
Ingredients:
  • 3 3/4 cups spring water
  • 2 1/3 cups Italian chick peas flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • rosemary
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper
Preparation:
Mix the water and the flour with a wooden spoon; make sure there are no lumps, add salt to taste, and mix again. Add the rosemary and let it sit for a while (one to three hours or even better overnight).
At this point add the olive oil. Remove the rosemary and pour in a baking pan (the right one is called testo, made of “tinned copper”). It should be about an eighth of an inch thick, perhaps a little more.
Put it in a preheated oven at 190-200° C (375-400° F). Remove from the oven when one of the corners (or the edge) starts to appear dark. Sprinkle plenty of pepper and serve.

It is of paramount importance that the pan is perfectly flat and level when in the oven, otherwise one of the corners will be thicker and will be undercooked when the opposite corner starts to darken.
Serves 10 people
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Photography by Boots in the Oven