Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crostini with Chevre, Sun-Dried Tomato and Onion Jam

Mimi, a friend of many and all-around good gal was generous enough to open her house and host a pot luck for friends Kata and Anton's departure from our small mountain town to the warmer climate of the southern states.  I was excited to attend because I knew there'd be good friends, food and wine, all in attendance.  I ran three or so options through my head and settled on one of my favorites. This crostini goes together quickly and pairs nicely with red wine. I cannot take credit for creation of this recipe as it belongs to Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network.  She refers to it as bruschetta, while I say's all about the bread texture. I have tweaked it over the years to suit my tastes, but feel free to review her version as well.

Crostini with Chevre, Sun-Dried Tomato and Onion Jam

makes 20 or so crostini rounds

Sun-Dried Tomato and Onion Jam:
1 (8oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and chopped, oil reserved
2 tbsp reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes
1 onion, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 vegetable boullion cubes, preferrably non-gmo
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 baguette, cut into 1/2" slices
2 or more tbsp extra virgin olive oil
thyme sea salt, preferrably from Boja Farms, however Fleur de Sel will work
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature, preferably Amaltheia

Jam Preparation:
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes. Add onion and lightly saute. Add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook until the onions are soft and beginning to brown at the edges. Add the sugar, vinegar, water, vegetable boullion, thyme, salt and pepper. Brind the liquid to a boil, reduct heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes.  Remove the cover and continue simmering until most of the liquid is reduced and the mixture is the consistency of jam. Remove from heat and set aside.

Crostini Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the baguette slices on baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the baguette slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme sea salt. Bake until lightly toasted.

Spread the crostini with goat cheese and top with the Sun-Dried Tomato and Onion Jam. Transfer to a serving platter, serve and enjoy!

I also put together an anti-pasto platter of pickled gems (cornichons, kalamata olives and caper berries) found at our local gourmet store, Babcock and Miles...the baguette and sun-dried tomatoes were purchased there as well. As for the wine, the bottles were a present from my sis in Washington state...she knows my tastes well...Terra Blanca Syrah and L'Ecole Recess Red...thanks sissy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Maple Syrup Dressing

I rediscovered the recipe for this salad while I was trying to find another recipe I had made for Thanksgiving several years past.
I keep my recipes electronically in Excel file format. I have separate files for each category..desserts, salads, etc. For me it's an easy way to capture a recipe that sounds appealing while perusing various culinary internet sites. Now having just made that statement, I've realized this is an untruth. I must confess that my recipes are not in the stellar order I would like them to be. I have a book with hand written "keepers" along with typed recipes loosely stuffed inside the front cover, with no particular order. Yet another folder exists with canning recipes, and the list goes on. One day I envision my recipe collection to be in order. Ok, there's another "untruth"...if it hasn't happened now, chances are I probably won't get "it all together". These thoughts bring back fond memories while perusing old cookbooks at an auction, garage sale or antique store....most times the book will have a random recipe cut from a newspaper, magazine or a handwritten card with a smattering of smears and stains stuffed inside the front cover. I find comfort in knowing someone will appreciate my hodge-podge of recipes after I'm long gone!

And yes, I have digressed...back to the recipe.  Inspiration for my salad came from a like named recipe from Emeril Lagasse. His salad had rye bread-goat cheese croutons, of which I did not want to make. I made my version smaller along with a few other each one and decide what version piques your culinary interest!

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Maple Syrup Dressing

serves 2

Roasted Squash
1 small acorn squash, cut in half, seeded & cut into crescents
1/2 tsp Essence
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss squash crescents with Emeril's Essence, brown sugar and olive oil. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast 30 minutes, turning squash at 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Maple Syrup Dressing
1 tbsp plain yogurt (Emeril's called for creme fraiche, of which I did not have)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp horseradish
kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper

Make the dressing by whisking the first four ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The yogurt in this recipe is the fat and emulsifier...beautiful!

Salad accompaniments
2 oz goat cheese (I used Amaltheia Chevre)
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4" strips, cooked til crisp (I used Silver Tip Bacon)
4 cups organic mixed greens

To make the salad, place greens in a medium bowl. Add enough dressing to lightly coat greens. Divide greens amongst two plates. Top each salad with roasted squash, chevre, walnuts and bacon. Drizzle with additional dressing if desired.

I served my salad with strips of thyme sea salt scented grilled ribeye steak. This sea salt is produced by Boja Farms. The flavor is exceptional. Check out Boja Farms Facebook Page for more information.

PS. I paired my dinner salad with a glass of this wine my sister brought to me from Washington far one of my faves from Terra Blanca Winery.

PSS. I never found the braised pheasant recipe I was looking for to begin with...whatev...four hours is not an unusually long time to be sidetracked, right??