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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: 2015 Q3

Warm Figs with Goat Cheese

Marc J. Sievers

Fresh figs are such a luxury this time of year!  Their normal season begins the first few weeks of June, then they come back to greet us from August through October.  While you can certainly find dried figs year round—they are fabulous to serve with cheeses, in pastas, or just eaten right from the container—fresh figs add such an elegant touch to a party.

In the past, I have written a few recipes using these luscious fruits, but my Warm Figs with Goat Cheese may just become your new favorite way to enjoy fresh figs this time of year!  How can you go wrong with fresh figs drizzled in earthy honey, rosemary, pistachios, and goat cheese?  The aromatic and savory rosemary adds a bit of an autumnal vibe, perfect for the start of this transitional time of year. 

Presentation is very casual as guests can literally spoon the warm figs onto slices of toasted bread.  Or, serve as a salad!  Best of all, you can assemble this dish one hour head of time and allow it to sit at room temperature (no need to take up precious fridge space).  Add the pistachios just before you are ready to bake and then bake as your guests arrive and are greeted by a fabulous and sophisticated aroma that will surely get them excited for what’s to come.

I like to bake and serve this dish in a cast iron skillet or pie plate—from oven to table!  Summer coming to an end isn’t so bad after all!  This is only the beginning of the fabulous fruits of Fall!


Warm Figs with Goat Cheese

Ingredients (serves 6 as an hors d’oeuvre, 4 as salad course)

  • Fresh Figs – 1 pint, stems removed and cut in half

  • Honey – 1/3 cup

  • Rosemary – ¾ teaspoon, finely minced

  • Goat Cheese – 3 ounces, at room temperature

  • Pistachios – ¼ cup, roughly chopped

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • *Baguette or crackers for serving as a hors d’oeuvre

  • *Arugula for serving as a salad

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Arrange the figs cut side up in a single layer in an oven proof dish or cast iron skillet.

  3. Drizzle the honey over the figs and sprinkle evenly with the pistachios, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over top.

  4. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese begins to soften.

  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

As an hors d’oeuvre – allow guests to spoon the warm figs onto toasted slices of baguette or simple crackers.

As a salad – arrange handfuls of washed arugula onto salad plates (or onto a large platter for family style) and top with the warm figs.  The honey and natural juices from the figs will act as the vinaigrette.

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Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Marc J. Sievers

There is something very satisfying about simple food that is less about the fuss and all about the flavor.  From the ingredients, to the preparation, to the taste, some of the best-tasting dishes can be the simplest to make.  My Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions have only five ingredients, take hardly any real kitchen effort, and just roast away in the oven, giving your kitchen an aromatic hint of sweet onions and tangy vinegar. 

Besides my Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions being so incredibly simple to make, they can be served in a variety of very savvy ways.  Give these few ideas a try:

·         As part of a roasted vegetable platter,

·         As a side with a French Omelettes and green salad,

·         As part of cocktail hour alongside Roquefort cheese, slices of baguette, roasted cashews, and other little nibbles.

If you decide to serve as part of cocktail hour, have some small cocktail forks on hand so guests can pick up each onion with ease.  And make sure to invite guests to savor the luxurious balsamic syrup with pieces of baguette.

Sometimes the most flavorful and enjoyable dishes can come from the simplest of ingredients, like pearl onions.  And what a benefit that this is also one of the easiest!


Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Golden Pearl Onions – 10ounces, fresh

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Balsamic Vinegar – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a small oven-proof dish with aluminum foil. Set aside.

  2. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer. Drop in the whole pearl onions for 5 minutes to help loosen their skins. Drain the onions. Using a small knife, cut off the ends and peel each onion.

  3. Add the peeled onions, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the prepared dish.. Toss to evenly coat.

  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes, tossing 3 times during the cooking process, until the onions are tender and the vinegar has reduced to a think syrup.

  5. Serve hot or room temperature.

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Basil Pesto Risotto

Marc J. Sievers

Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods, and is probably one of the most versatile things you can make at home.  The base is always Arborio rice—an Italian short grain rice with a creamy and chewy texture—and brought to life with stock and other fresh ingredients.  If in your pantry you have Arborio rice, fresh herbs, left over vegetables (raw or cooked), and a bit of stock or broth, then an easy and cozy dinner can be ready in under 30 minutes (I love that!).  This would also make a fabulous side dish when paired with something like Crispy Eggplant - Oven Style.  

For my Basil Pesto Risotto, I chose to make a version of homemade pesto, swapping out some of the olive oil for heavy cream.  Using all oil made the finished dish too oily, but the addition of heavy cream made the risotto slightly creamy and more elegant.  Because fresh basil and peas are available in most grocery stores year round, take the extra time to make the pesto from scratch, and shuck the peas by hand—you will be amazed at the difference it makes when it comes to flavor and satisfaction!

Happy risotto-making!


Basil Pesto Risotto

Ingredients for the Pesto

  • Basil Leaves – 1½ cups, fresh, lightly packed

  • Garlic – 1 clove, peeled

  • Sliced Almonds – 3 teaspoons

  • Heavy Cream – 3 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

Directions for the Pesto

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the glass jar of a blender and puree until mostly smooth. Set aside.

Ingredients for the Risotto (serves 2)

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Yellow Onion – 1 cup, ¼-inch diced

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Italian Arborio Rice – ½ cup

  • Vegetable Stock – 1 ½ cups, barely simmering

  • Basil Pesto – *Recipe above

  • Green Peas – ½ cup, freshly shucked

  • Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon

  • Parmesan Cheese – ¼ cup, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

Directions for the Risotto

  1. Place the fresh (or frozen) peas in a bowl of very hot tap water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a small Dutch oven heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the Arborio rice and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes, until lightly toasted.

  4. Next, pour the hot stock over the onion and rice mixture and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 18 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Once almost all of the liquid is absorbed by the rice, turn off the heat and stir in the pesto sauce, peas, and lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Idea:  If you do not have a small Dutch oven, any 10-inch skillet with a tight fitting lid will work just fine. 

Tip:  If you want to make this ahead of time and serve it later, reheat over low heat with a few tablespoon of heavy cream.  This will allow the rice to be warmed through without becoming dried out.

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Radish Tartine

Marc J. Sievers

All over Paris, there are tartines on almost every menu – from little bistros, patisseries, and even some of the more elegant hotel bars.  Some were very complex with layered ingredients, while others were as simple as homemade butter and luscious fig jam.  A tartine is essentially an open face sandwich using hearty crusty bread like a French Boule.  They can be served warm or room temperature, sweet or savory, and the possibilities of flavor combinations and layering are endless!

My Radish Tartine—inspired by a recent trip to Paris farmers markets—is a perfect combination of spicy radishes, fresh herbs, delicate butter, crunchy bread, and it finishes with a bright lemony freshness.  This elegant yet rustic tartine is perfect for cocktail hour when cut into bite-sized pieces, and is fabulous with a glass of dry Champagne.  If you add a simple pile of dressed greens and a cup of homemade soup, a tartine becomes a lighter lunch or even a casual dinner.  While there are no official rules as to what a tartine can be topped with, my rule (and as the French!) is it must be made with fabulous bread and butter!


Radish Tartine

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature (European-style recommended)

  • Chives – 1 tablespoon, fresh, finely chopped

  • Dill – 1 tablespoon, fresh, finely minced

  • Lemon Zest – ½ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Honey – 2 teaspoons

  • Radishes – 1 1/3 cups, diced ¼-inch

  • French Boule – 4 large slices (you can also use Sourdough, Wheat, or Tuscan Pane)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, add the butter, chives, dill, lemon zest, sea salt, black pepper, and honey. Mix together until fully incorporated. Set aside.

  2. Next, toast the bread slices in a toaster until lightly golden brown.

  3. While the toast is still warm, spread the butter mixture evenly onto each slice and arrange 1/3 cup of diced radish on top of each slice. Sprinkle with more sea salt and black pepper to taste.

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