Beet and Goat Cheese Appetizers (Classy!)

Hold me down! Are these beautiful or what??

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They are from Wolfgang Puck’s Las Vegas restaurant, Spago. I’ve been there multiple times, it’s great, as this appetizer/small salad undoubtedly will be. Oh, I adore beets and goat cheese! And if you need something very sophisticated to serve, this recipe fills the bill. Thanks to Saveur for the recipe and the pic, and to reader/commenters for improving the recipe!

Ingredients

5 large red beets, roasted, peeled,
and cut crosswise using a mandoline, into 1⁄4″-thick slices
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup sugar
9 – 12 oz. goat cheese, softened
4 tsp. minced fresh chives
4 tsp. minced fresh parsley
2 1⁄2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. freshly ground black
pepper
3⁄4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 tsp. orange zest
1 small shallot, minced
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. hazelnut oil
Kosher salt, to taste
3 tbsp. chopped hazelnuts

1. Using a 2 5/8″ round cookie cutter, cut out 20 of the beet slices; reserve scraps for another use (like borscht or a salad). In a 12″ skillet, bring rice vinegar and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and, working in batches, cook beet slices, turning once, about 2 minutes. Transfer slices to a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Pat dry and let chill.

2. Stir goat cheese together with the chives, parsley, 2 tsp. thyme, and pepper in a bowl. Chill in refrigerator for 15 min, then roll out between two pieces of parchment to same thickness as beet slices. Refrigerate for another 30 min. Cut out shapes to match those of the beet slices.

3. Bring orange juice to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 1⁄3 cup, 4–5 minutes. Let cool. Transfer juice to a bowl along with remaining thyme, balsamic vinegar, zest, and shallots. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil and hazelnut oil; whisk until smooth. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper; let chill.

4. To serve: Put 1 beet slice on work surface. Top with a cheese slice, then top with another beet slice. Repeat to create a stack with 4 layers of cheese between 5 beet slices. Make 4 stacks in all. Slice each stack into 4 wedges; transfer to 4 plates. Drizzle vinaigrette over each plate; garnish with nuts. Serve with mixed greens, if you like.

SERVES 4

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Roasted Eggplant Rounds with Tahini, Chevre and Pine Nuts

Another easy-peasey appetizer that is delicious AND healthy! These roasted eggplant bites bring out the sweet-savory velvety goodness of eggplant, and the chevre + pine nuts give a satisfying creamy-crunchy to the topping. This recipe will be great when the eggplants in our garden reach peak production this summer! Thanks to Saveur for the recipe and the photo.

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MAKES ABOUT 2 DOZEN

INGREDIENTS

2 medium Japanese eggplants, sliced crosswise ½” thick
3 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 oz. goat cheese, softened
¼ cup tahini
1½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted, for garnish
2 tsp. finely chopped oregano, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oven to 425°. Place eggplant slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Combine oil and paprika in a bowl, brush about 2 tbsp. over eggplant, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, turning once, until golden, about 20 minutes; set aside.

2. Combine cheese, tahini, juice, honey, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup water in a bowl. Top each round with 1-2 tsp. cheese mixture and drizzle with remaining oil. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and oregano. You may or may not wish to serve these rounds atop a cracker — judge by whether your eggplant slices can easily be picked up and “transported” to the eater’s mouth without collapsing!

Chevre & Caramelized Onions atop Puff Pastry Clouds

How can an appetizer get any easier? With my friends who host large crowds of hungry neighbors in mind, I happily borrowed this recipe and pic from Comfortably Domestic! Can you wait to get your hands on ’em? I can’t!

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Makes 36 puffs

2 very thinly sliced (small) Vidalia or other sweet onion

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

¼ tsp. kosher salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

½ of a 17.3 oz. package of (frozen) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry

3.5 oz. herbed fresh goat cheese (chevre) crumbles

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove one sheet of the frozen puff pastry and set it on the counter to thaw; about 30 minutes.
  3. Place a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat, allowing pan time to warm.
  4. Add butter, onions, salt and pepper; stirring until butter melts.
  5. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring periodically, until onions are deep golden brown, and very tender; about 25 minutes total.
  6. Roll the thawed pastry out on a floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.
  7. Cut circles of pastry with a 1 ½-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter. (If you don’t own a 1 ½-inch cutter, then the rim of a shot glass will do.)
  8. Place the pastry rounds about 1-inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
  9. Dock each round with a fork by piercing the centers three times.
  10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until pastry has puffed and edges begin to turn a little golden brown.
  11. Remove the puffs from the oven and immediately depress the centers with a finger to form a small cup.
  12. Place a pinch of the goat cheese crumbles in the center of each puff (about ¾ tsp.)
  13. Top the cheese on each puff with a pinch of the caramelized onions.
  14. Serve immediately.

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Cucumber Appetizers

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This appetizer is so incredibly easy-peasy, it practically makes itself. Rather than cheese on crackers, I think it’s so smart to use cucumbers as a carrier! Thanks to rspcooks for the recipe and the photos — they are fantastic, and I want them RIGHT NOW!

Ingredients:
• 2 large cucumbers
• 2-3 slices of smoked salmon
• Green onions
• Goat cheese
• Sour cream

I used 3 tablespoons of goat cheese and a spoonful of sour cream. Mix well, add 2-3 slices of smoked salmon and 1-2 tablespoons green onions, finely chopped.  I used 2 large cucumbers cut into pieces of 4-5 cm. Scoop with a spoon (about 2/3 in depth) and cut them so as to become cubic.

Fill the cucumbers with the mixture above and garnish with dried cherries, strips of smoked salmon and coarse chopped nuts or sunflower seeds slightly roasted.

Fougasse with Goat Raclette and Garlic Tomatoes

I had some 5-Minute Artisan Bread (what, you’ve never heard of this? Well, go here and get with the program!) dough left in the fridge tonight, as well as melty raclette and oven-roasted tomatoes and garlic in olive oil. So the three ingredients came together in a molten-centered, chewy exterior mediterranean bread classic. My husband ADORES warm bread….what could be better? Details as follows, and don’t worry if you don’t have all the stuffing ingredients….put in the best two ingredients you have, and dive in to the baked goodness!

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Bread Ingredients

2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 1/2 Tbsp granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stuffing Ingredients

1/2 cup grated or sliced Goat Raclette, Gouda, Comte or Fontina

1/4 cup oven-dried tomatoes and garlic in olive oil

Or one of the following, together with your favorite grated cheese:

1/4 cup pitted greek olive

2 Tbsp. capers

4 oz. sliced portabello mushrooms, fried until brown

4 oz. steamed spinach, chopped, squeezed out and well-drained

Directions

Mix yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil with water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded food container

Mix in flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup food processor with dough attachment, or heavy duty stand mixer with dough hook.

Cover loosely (not airtight) and allow dough to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours.

Dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, or refrigerated in a lidded (but not airtight) container and used over the next 12 days.

When you are ready to bake the Fougasse, which is just a French word for a bread pocket with slits, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place an empty broiler or pie pan under the shelf you will be baking on. Grease a cookie sheet or use parchment on the sheet that will hold the bread.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated or room temp dough and split the dough into two halves. You will be using only one half for this recipe.

Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the dough a quarter-turn as you go.

Flatten the mass of dough to a thickness of about 1/2 inch on a wooden board dusted with flour. As you roll it out to achieve the right thickness, try to make the dough a long oval shape. Cut angled slits into the circle of one half of the dough, approximately 2 on each long side and one in the middle.

Place whatever two fillings you choose on the non-slitted side of the dough, trying not to overload the bread. You should have at most two stuffing items. The bread should remain the star.

After stuffing, fold the slitted half of the dough over the non-slitted side with the stuffing. Pinch the edges to seal. The dough should still be fairly sticky, so it adheres easily.

Place the Fougasse onto the prepared cookie sheet. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes on the counter, away from drafts.

Place the cookie sheet with the Fougasse near the middle of the oven. Then pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Check for doneness after 20 minutes, continuing to back, if needed, until the Fougasse is golden brown (maybe five minutes more). The Fougasse will not develop a crackly crust because of the olive oil. But it’s delicious and makes for a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats or fish, as well as soups.

Crab and Artichoke Goat Cheese Dip

This post comes from a blogger known as Gamedayr (and was improved upon by dear friend Cindee). It is further proof that any recipe calling for cream cheese can be improved by replacing the cream cheese with fresh goat cheese (Chèvre) — more tang, less fat, more freshness! Even though football season is over for this year, you can still indulge in dip while watching the Olympics, golf, or whatever else is your wintertime indoor relaxation favorite! But unless you are hosting a large crowd, consider halving the recipe as it makes A LOT!

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups crabmeat
  • 8 ounce softened fresh goat cheese (Chèvre)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • 16 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Old Bay and other seasonings to taste (e.g., pepper, salt, paprika or chipotle, worcestshire sauce), if you feel the need for a more piquant taste

Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 degrees C).
      2. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan.
      3. Combine all ingredients, other than Parmesan cheese, and mix well.
      4. Spread dip into baking pan.
      5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
      6. Bake for 20 minutes.
      7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
    8. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or toasted bread.
 

Chèvre-Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Caps

It might be my imagination, but I think not. More and more goat cheese recipes are cropping up this summer, as people figure out that they can go wild and crazy and still eat healthy meals using goat cheese. Yay, word is getting out!

Case in point: these stuffed portabella mushroom caps. Did you know that “portabella” is just the US food marketeers’ fancy name for Crimini mushrooms? So there. Go get you some of ’em and serve ’em for your next get-together. Scrumptious! Thanks to C and C Marriage Factory for the recipe and the pix, found on Yummly!

Ingredients:

20 oz portabella (aka crimini) mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed

Olive oil cooking spray

3 slices white sandwich bread
1 small garlic clove, coarsley chopped
5 oz. soft crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Coarse salt, to taste
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse bread and garlic until fine crumbs form; set 1/2 cup aside. To food processor, add goat cheese, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pulse filling until combined.
Spoon filling into each mushroom top and roll filled side in reserved breadcrumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.