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Archive for the ‘Apéritif’ Category

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun playing a sort of cooking puzzle: the kind of game where I look at everything in my fridge and try to come up with interesting and delicious ideas which are not necessarily based on any pre-existing recipes (at least that I’ve seen). In this particular case, the first time I made this appetizer I had beets and goat’s cheese, but no hazelnuts. I have since then recreated this appetizer with hazelnuts and it gives it even more unique flair.

Beets are one of my favourite root vegetables, and in the fall I often crave their rich colour and taste. The great thing about them is they can be stored for an extremely long period of time.

My first time making this was for a work-related dinner party, which was a lot of fun. I happily discovered they were a success! But while they’re quite wonderful, they are a bit finicky too.

Ingredients – appetizers for 6

-4 medium red beets
-300g goat’s cheese (plain, herb-crusted, or pepper-crusted)
-1 Tbsp 35% cream
-1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
-1 Tbsp herbes de provence
-1 tsp cracked pepper
-pinch salt
-olive oil

Directions

Trim ends off beets until only 1 inch of the stems remain. Use leaves for something delicious. Wash the beets thoroughly, then boil for 20 minutes whole. Remove from water, and let cool while you prepare the goat cheese mixture.

In a bowl, mix the cream, hazelnuts, herbes de provence, pepper and salt. Add the goat’s cheese and mix into cream mixture using a fork, until everything is well incorporated. Add a small drizzle of olive oil if it is too firm.

Now comes the difficult part: peel the beets, and then create ribbons of beet as wide as possible and as long as possible. Ideally, use a very sharp vegetable peeler on the beets which you’ve cut in half across the centre (not top-to-bottom). If you do not have a sharp vegetable peeler or have a peeler that removes too thin a strip, simply use a sharp knife and cut around the beet until you have basically unwound the beet. Spread the beet ribbon out, and slather with the goat’s cheese mix. Roll it up neatly, and then place on a baking dish greased with a bit of olive oil. Do this with as much of the beets as possible (once you get too close to the middle though it’s too difficult and so you can just eat that part). You should end up with around 10-14 rolls or more. Drizzle a drop of olive oil over top of each roll, and bake at 400F for 10 minutes, until the rolls sizzle a bit.

If you have a really sharp knife, slice the rolls in 2 or 3 and place them each on round sesame melba toast. If you are unable to slice them, simply serve them as-is with a fork and knife on a small appetizer plate.

Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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Today’s post comes to you like a blast from the past. I have just left for a bit of an adventure…

…in Latin America. I needed to take a break from things here, and explore.

So I prepared a few posts in advance of my absence. I will also try to post about local dishes where I am visiting, so you can play “where is Sitelle” in addition to travelling vicariously through my culinary anectdotes! But I’m not sure how often I’ll have access to the internet, so you can experience the rest of my exam-time cooking adventures I have yet to describe.

This cracker recipe, as many others we have posted, comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French table – as she calls them, “cheez-it-ish crackers” (p 10).

I admit I’d never made savoury crackers before, but these immediately caught my attention, being full of cheese, for which I can’t think of a time I’m not game for. And I always like to try new things. The great thing about them is they’re super easy to store in their raw form in the freezer for a simple apéritif to begin at future dinner parties, or for a quick snack if you’ve got some waiting in the freezer.

Ingredients

-8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
-1/4 pound extra old (I like 4-year old) cheddar, or gruyère or comté, grated
-1/2 tsp salt
-pinch of cayenne (optional)
-1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
-parmesan to sprinkle on top (optional)

Process the butter, cheese, salt and cayenne with a pastry cutter or a food processor, until small curds form. Add the flour, and work in quickly, using your fingers, until the dough forms larger curds.

Turn the dough out on a clean surface and knead it until it can be formed into a ball. Divide the dough in half, and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and place in a fridge for at least 1 hour. I like to form them actually into cylinders the diameter of the crackers, and freeze them.

Preheat the oven to 350F, and remove the dough cylinders from the fridge (or better yet the freezer) and use a knife to slice it into crackers, 1/4 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, until slightly golden and firm. Cool on a wire rack and serve as a snack or with a glass of wine!

-Sitelle

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I often find myself reading cookbooks for fun, as I’m sure I’ve already mentioned.  This often leads me to have cravings for things I have never tried, just from the descriptions and photos I have seen.  That is exactly what happened this morning.  Puff pastry smothered in mustard with poppy seeds for breakfast?  Why not.  They completely blew me away they were so delicious.

Puff pastry is often associated with sweet flavours, but the mustard here brings it to a new dimension (il y a que Maille qui m’aille, just for those who are French).  While it was delicious for a non-conventional breakfast, I’d actually recommend this more conventionally as an apéritif accompaniment rather than something to start the day off with.

I admit I have always wanted to make puff pastry myself, but I have not yet had the opportunity to do so.  Perhaps a challenge for this summer?  I’ll keep you up-dated on that one.

The beauty of this snack is that it takes no time to make (if you use ready-made puff pastry, that is) and I guarantee it will win over all your guests at your next dinner party.  This recipe came out of the oft-quoted cookbook, Around my French Table, by Dorie Greenspan (page 15).

Ingredients

-1 package defrosted puff pastry (leave it out in the fridge the night before)
– 1/2 cup dijon mustard
-1 large egg
-poppy seeds
-All-purpose flour

Directions

Roll 1/2 the puff pastry out into a large rectangle on a floured surface.  Using a pastry brush, brush half of the mustard onto the sheet, leaving the edges bare.  Fold the rectangle in half, so the mustard is sandwiched in the middle.  Cut it into strips (you can leave the strips long or cut them into 3 inch lengths), and place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.

Brush the tops with the egg that has been beaten, and then sprinkle poppy seeds over top.

Bake in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy with a glass of wine, or whatever you like for your apéritif!

-Sitelle

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