Are you planning a romantic meal for a snowy Valentines Day tomorrow? Here is an exceptional treat to spice up your night. Nothing says “Olive You” like toast smeared with thick ricotta cheese and salty olives and pistachios. Use this recipe as a starter or a part of the meal. With good red wine, of course!
This crostini is bright green, tangy, spicy and savory with the balence of creamy cheese. I couldn’t get enoughs and it will become a regular treat for guests or single nights at home.
Crostini with Ricotta, Olive and Pistachio
- 3/4 cup ricotta, drained in a sieve over night
- 1/4 cup, chopped pistachio
- 1/4 cup, Castelvetravo olives (they are super green and less salty)
- 1/4 cup, good olive oil
- 2 tablespoons, chopped parsley
- 2 anchovies, minced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon, orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of red chili flake
- 4 thick sliced country bread, toasted
Drain the ricotta over night in a sieve over night. This will make it thick and rich. And, season it a little with salt and pepper.
Combine everything else (except the bread) and stir together. Taste for seasoning.
Toast the bread in the broiler with a brush of olive oil. Smear with ricotta and top with olive mixture. Serve immediately.
My New Year’s Eve celebration was spent with good friends in the North Carolina mountains. It was much more relaxed of an NYE than I can ever remember. We didn’t leave the house all day, had a great brunch, went on a four mile hike, napped, lounged and then spent the night playing cards, eating great food and laughing. Right before midnight we were able to do some great stargazing outside on a chilly walk with Winston.
I must admit, we made way too much food. Yet it was all adventure in the kitchen with tasty results. in the midsts of a heated card game, I served hot fried risotto balls. This recipe was a total test but turned out great. The key is buying frozen risotto from the store. The Fresh Market has two great varieties that are perfect for this use. Skipping the making of the risotto is the only way to do it.
While I know everyone is scaling back for the New Year, perhaps put this one on file for Super Bowl!
New Year’s Eve Fried Risotto Balls
- 1 box frozen The Fresh Market risotto (pumpkin or mushroom)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 small ball fresh mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups Italian seasoned pinko bread crumbs
- canola oil
- parsley, minced
Prepare the frozen risotto as stated on the box. Add Parmesan cheese. Cook until thick and allow to cool in the refrigerator for about an hour (or in our case, outside on the frozen deck).
Once congealed, roll the risotto in small golf ball sized balls. Stuff a small cube of fresh mozzarella in the middle. Roll in pinko bread crumbs. Chill again.
Heat about one inch of oil in a high-sided pan on high heat. Fry the risotto balls until brown and crispy. Place on a paper towel covered plate and season with salt and chopped parsley. Enjoy while hot!
I’m inching towards Chiristmas and can’t resist sharing a couple more recipes to tie you through Santa’s visit. In my family growing up, we were always advised to skip the cookies and milk and leave an assortment of beer and party goods for Jolly Saint Nick. So, in the spirit of Christmas Eve, I’ll leave some of my favorite snacks that are great with cocktails by the fire or left for Santa before bed.
Merry Merry Christmas to you…. And to all a good night.
This is is my favorite party standby. I’ve made at least three batches over the past week. Two for my own party and one as a last minute dish for a potluck. It really couldn’t be easier and comes out like a giant artichoke soufflé. When the back up artichoke dip came hot out of the oven around 10 o’clock in the evening – it was devoured.
It’s great with crackers, winter vegetables and any type of bread.
I typically add a couple more artichokes to the mix and an extra dash of cayenne pepper. You can spice it up anyway you like. I promise, it’ll be hit!
My Favorite Artichoke Dip
- 3/4 pound cream cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 2 scallions
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cups canned artichokes
- cayenne pepper, to taste
Assembly: Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor. I do this in a couple steps to make sure everything is in the desired size (specifically the artichokes depending on how you buy them). Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Super easy, right?
In order to have enough options for my vegetarian friends, I decided to both sun-dried tomato stuffed mushrooms and a nice cheesy artichoke dip. These mushrooms were very easy to make ahead and baked right before guests arrived. Along with the rest of the food – they disappeared before midnight. And I have a feeling the meat-eaters loved them too.
I love the tapenade like filling for this recipe. With a nice cheesy and crunchy topping! A great starter for any season!
Mushrooms Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, minced
- 1 small jar black olives, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 18 white mushrooms, stems pulled out and chopped fine and caps reserved
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup panko dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon basil, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Lay mushroom caps, stems removed, face down on baking sheet either lightly sprayed with cooking spray or parchment paper. Bake them approximately 10 minutes, or until their liquid puddles underneath. Remove from the oven. Carefully pour off liquid that has gathered in the bottom of the pan, and then again, carefully, turn mushroom caps over so they are ready to be filled.
In a small skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook chopped mushrooms stems, garlic, tomatoes and black olives – stirring until shallots are softened. Mound stuffing in reserved mushroom caps and arrange caps in a lightly greased shallow baking dish, or the same parchment-lined pan you’ve roasted your mushrooms in. Sprinkle mushrooms with bread crumbs and parmesan. Bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil!
As I mentioned on Sunday, a the whole Cedar Smoked Salmon was a big hit of the party. Every last morsel of the fish was eaten. While this is a great – and fantastically easy – idea for a big party, it is also delicious for a small gathering or for snacks throughout the week. You can purchase a small piece or a whole fish from The Fresh Market fish counter.
While some smoked fish can be overwhelmingly — fishy — this is balanced, mid and smokey. It is perfect with this Sour Cream and Caper Spread and a little red onion (if you are brave at a party!). Dig in!
Sour Cream & Caper Spread
- 1 container sour cream
- 1/4 cup drained capers
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
I’m not sure things could be more nuts right now. But, I think it’s important to plan time for friends and fun. It can me easy and less expensive to do it at home too. Flatbreads are a favorite last-minute entertainment trick for me. They are versatile and really take no time to put together (with pantry items)!
This recipe is a little bit of splurge with truffle oil but consider it optional. Midtown Olive Oil at Friendly Center sells an affordable bottle and it will last you awhile. Consider it an investment to impress your friends!
Enjoy this seasonal recipe. It’s great with red wine and crisp apples or grapes!
Truffled Taleggio and Mushroom Pizza, from Gourmet Magazine
- 1 pound pizza dough
- 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
- 3/4 pound cold Taleggio or Italian Fontina, rind discarded and cheese sliced
- 1 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)
Put a large heavy baking sheet (17 by 14 inches) on lowest rack of oven, then preheat oven to 500°F.
Stretch out dough on a lightly floured surface, pulling on corners to form a roughly 16- by 13-inch rectangle. Transfer to a tray lined with parchment paper. Lightly prick dough all over with a fork.
Slide dough (still on parchment) onto hot baking sheet. Bake until top is puffed and pale golden in patches, 6 to 10 minutes.
Remove from oven; prick any large bubbles with a fork and flatten. Scatter mushrooms over crust, then season with salt and pepper and lay cheese on top.
Bake pizza until edge of crust is deep golden and cheese is bubbling and golden in patches, 8 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with truffle oil (if using) and season with pepper. Serve immediately.
Last night I hosted some special food and wine loving friends over for a casual Sunday supper. And these folks were worth pulling out some stops for. I put together a menu of small dishes (that in reality were not that small) of Italian savory bites. Roasted tomato crostini, pan roasted lemon shrimp, fried cauliflower zeppoli, dry pickled cucumber salad and these most delicious grilled pancetta wrapped asparagus. Oh, and the most perfect almond cake.
I think this dish was my favorite out of all. Don’t be shocked by it’s simplicity. Get grilling.
Grilled Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Orange Vinaigrette from Food & Wine Magazine
- 2 pounds medium asparagus
- 1/2 pound very thinly sliced pancetta
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
Tightly wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of pancetta and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, stir the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over moderate heat, turning often, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the thyme and serve.
Wouldn’t this Goat Cheese Torte be absolutely beautiful if I was more patient and precisely layered each ingredient together while assembling? It would – but this less than beautiful one was just as tasty.
Using extra ingredients from the pantry and garden, I made several components of this torte before heading up to the mountains. Once there, during the beginning of cocktail hour, I assembled and refrigerated this torte. It’s very savory and pairs really well with crackers and vegetables.
This is an impressive starter to share with guests. Enjoy it during football season and get creative.
Goat Cheese Torte
- 8 ounce log of local (Goat Lady Dairy) goat cheese
- 16 ounces, cream cheese
- 1 cup, homemade summer basil pesto
- 1 cup, homemade tapenade
- 1 small jar, sundried tomatoes, minced in the food processor
Line the inside of a large glass bowl with plastic wrap. In a stand up mixer, whip together goat cheese and cream cheese. Layer cheese, then pesto, then cheese, then tapenade, then cheese then tomato mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Once chilled, flip onto a platter and serve with crackers and crudite.