Guacamole

April 30, 2013

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Yuuuuummm! Guacamole!!! I’ve recently been blogging about some great Mexican style dishes in preparation for Cinco de Mayo, which will be here before you know it! First there was the Carnitas Tacos and just a few days ago, I shared my favourite homemade Salsa recipe. Up next is Guacamole, that delicious avocado based sauce. It seems that in addition to Salsa, the Aztecs are also the folks who gave us “ahuaca-mulli” or avocado mix, which we know as Guacamole. Like Salsa, this dish is easy to prepare, with just a small amount of chopping, no food processor is necessary here. The big difference between the two sauces is that Guacamole must be made the day it is to be served. You really can’t refrigerate the stuff long before that yummy vibrant green begins to take on a very unappetizing brown hue. One fun trick I’ve learned is that you can save the three avocado pits and place them on top of your finished Guacamole while you are waiting to serve it. This will actually slow the oxidation which results in the unfortunate color change. The Guacamole recipe that I am sharing today is really more of an El Salvadorian style Guacamole, than Mexican. However, I’m sure you can still serve it on Cinco de Mayo without too many folks getting their panties in a bunch. Though you never know…last year I shared a recipe for one of my favourite dips, Santa Fe Dip and said it would be a great dish to serve at a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Next thing I knew I got a snippity comment informing me that I needed a geography lesson and that Santa Fe was in the United States. Clearly a dish with Santa Fe in the name could NOT be enjoyed on Cinco de Mayo a Mexican holiday!….Really?!! Perhaps we could relax a bit, it’s just a food blog here… Anyway…

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I say this is an El Salvadoran style Guacamole because it has chopped hard-boiled egg in it. I first encountered this type of Guacamole at my favourite Mexican restaurant, DiOGi’s. They serve up amazing latin style cuisine there. If you ever find yourself in Fayetteville, West Virginia, you must pay them a visit! The chef and owner, Oscar Aguilar, is from El Salvador and told us that the egg bit is an El Salvadoran thing. Now don’t scrunch up your nose like that until you try it. It is really good and while pretty subtle it really adds that extra layer of flavour. Bursting with freshness, this Guacamole is great with a basket of tortilla chips, on a taco or even a burger. It easily puts any store-bought cups of green stuff called guacamole to shame. Make a batch up today!

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Guacamole

recipe adapted from: Alton Brown and Oscar Aguilar

Ingredients

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

Directions:

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, jalapeno, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and chopped egg. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Enjoy!


Double Decker Taco Cupcakes

August 20, 2012

I had to get your attention with that title huh? Double decker…Taco…cupcakes?!! How much more goodness could you pack into four little words? I’m happy to report that these little fellas didn’t only sound good, they really delivered on taste as well. Back in February, I had tried out a recipe for Lasagna Cupcakes  which I had seen on the Girl Who Ate Everything blog. They were a huge hit. A couple of months later, I noticed that she had posted a recipe for Double Decker Taco Cupcakes. I have just been itching to try these out since then and finally had an occasion to make up a batch. I’m glad I did ’cause let me tell ya…folks went wild for them!

These Taco Cupcakes are quite similar to the Lasagna version, baked in cupcake tins with wonton wrappers, but this time filled with all kinds of taco-y ingredients like seasoned ground beef, refried beans, crushed tortilla chips and cheese. Once they’re out of the oven, you can sprinkle your favourite taco fixin’s on top such as sour cream, onions, jalapeno peppers, cilantro and avocado over the tops. They come together very quickly and easily. I assembled them earlier in the day and then baked them right before my guests turned up. They were great for dinner and would serve wonderfully as “finger food” at a larger party (perhaps a Cinco de Mayo gathering…). But don’t wait until May! Find a reason to make these soon!

Double Decker Taco Cupcakes

recipe from: The Girl Who Ate Everything

yield: 18 Taco Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1b. ground beef
  • 1 package Old El Paso Taco seasoning mix
  • 36 Wonton Wrappers
  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
  • 36 tortilla chips
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican Blend or Cheddar cheese
  • Optional Toppings: sour cream, diced tomatoes, diced onion, diced jalapeno peppers, cilantro, salsa, avocado

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. And spray 18 wells of muffin tins with cooking spray.

Brown beef in a skillet and drain the fat. Add the taco seasoning mix and water called for on the package and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

Place one wonton wrapper in the bottom of each muffin cup. Layer about 1/2 Tbsp of refried beans on top of each wonton. Crush one tortilla chip on top of the beans. Top with 1 Tbsp of taco meat and 1 Tbsp of shredded cheese. Repeat the layers again with a wonton wrapper, refried beans, tortilla chips, taco meat, and cheese.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

Gently remove from muffin tin and top with your favourite taco toppings.

Enjoy!


Mini Corn Dogs

July 16, 2012

Now what says “summer” more than Corn Dogs? The darlings of State and County fairs all across this great country, fairs which always seem to happen in the sweltering summer heat. (what is up with that!) For those of you who somehow do not know what a Corn Dog is, please allow me to enlighten you. This culinary delight consists of an American style hot dog, skewered on a stick, dipped into cornbread batter and deep-fried, served with mustard, ketchup or relish and eaten right off that stick it was fried on as you continue to stroll down the Midway. Yum, yum, yum.

Although some other versions of corn dogs can be found throughout the world, it is thought that the corn dog as I am describing it was invented in the good old U S of A sometime in the 1920′s. My husband loves Corn Dogs. How could you not…a hot dog, buttermilk cornbread batter, deep fried…it’s got it all! I have even heard tales that my husband may have survived on nothing but boxes of frozen Corn Dogs for quite some time when he was in college and his cash flow was somewhat limited. Ahhh…those were the days huh? I’m happy to say that he tells me that my home-made Corn Dogs are better than those old frozen ones from back in the day. These not only taste better than anything you’ll find lingering around in the frozen food aisle, but are pretty dang easy to make as well. And serving them up bite-sized makes them more fun. Who doesn’t love miniature sized food? They’re so small, you know there can’t be many calories in them. (what does it matter that you ate 10 or 15 of them…) And these pint-sized versions are easier to prepare than trying to fry a whole frankfurter. You’ll only need about 3″ of oil to fry  these babies up.

Although the original recipe I consulted recommended you cut the bamboo skewers in half, I left mine long (8″), the better to have the inevitable corn dog sword fight. Nah, really I was just too lazy to cut them in half and wouldn’t have minded watching a good corn dog battle should one have sprung up (it didn’t :( ). The original recipe also recommended that I cut the sharp end of the skewer off so that folks wouldn’t injure themselves. I must be somewhat less thoughtful than the original author, but if someone manages to stab themselves biting into skewered food…I don’t know…maybe it was meant to be? I’ve been to a few State Fairs and don’t remember any corn dog disclaimers posted on the vendor’s booths, nor do I remember paramedics loading folks who had impaled their soft palates into ambulances. I’m glad to report that no one here damaged themselves on the evening these were served. You’ll have to decide how cautious you want to be when you serve these little devils up, but considered yourself warned and I’ll consider myself absolved! Have fun!

Mini Corn Dogs

recipe from: Hungry Girl por Vida

yield: 42 mini corn dogs

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 packages (7 links) hot dogs, cut into thirds * I used Hebrew National…YUM!*
  • bamboo skewers – leave them long and pointy…Live dangerously!
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 ear of corn, grated on a box grater
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

Roll hot dog pieces in a light coating of cornstarch and skewer. Set aside.

In a medium, high sided sauce pan, heat 3-4 inches of oil to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels for draining.

In a large, deep bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cayenne. In a large measuring cup, mix together corn, onion, egg, buttermilk, and honey. Add to the dry mixture and stir to combine. Dip cornstarch coated hot dogs in batter and fry in batches–4-6 pops at a time–until coating is deep, golden brown. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towel lined pan. Enjoy warm with desired condiments.


Spicy Pork & Chorizo Sliders with Green Chili Mayo

May 21, 2012

Sliders! Who doesn’t love sliders?! These little baby burgers are all the rage these days. Most folks in the US know these comfort food staples from White Castle restaurants which started serving them in 1921. But now sliders are likely to be found in all manner of food establishments, from your greasy spoon diners to upscale posh restaurants.

I tell you, one of the great thing about sliders, besides the cute factor, is that they are really tricky. You can eat multiple sliders, say 4, 5, maybe shock horror even 6 and never feel that you’ve eaten a big ole burger. I mean sliders are just tiny little ole things. They don’t even really count calorie wise, right?

Not to mention, they are much neater and easier to handle in a party setting, than their big, sloppy full-sized cousins that will inevitably end up dribbled down the front of your white shirt. You can nearly eat a whole slider in just one bite! The blog which provided me with this winner of a recipe didn’t make sliders, but instead made 4 full size mega burgers, which have their merits, no doubt. This is certainly an option for you, but then you won’t be able to live in my wonderful land of denial where the smaller the food is, the smaller, to near non-existant the calorie count is as well.

Sliders are where it’s at! And these particular sliders are likely the best I’ve every tasted. No kidding. They are really fantastic. Juicy and spicy perfection! We cooked these Pork & Chorizo Sliders on the backyard grill. They cook up really quickly since they’re so small, only took about 6 minutes total. I served them on potato bread slider buns that I found at the local grocery store and topped them with the not to be missed Green Chili Mayo and a few fresh slices of guacamole. Bet ya can’t each just one! Get to grillin ya’ll!

Spicy Pork & Chorizo Sliders with Green Chile Mayo

recipe from: Just the Tip

yield: 25 sliders, or 4 giant burgers or 8 normal sized burgers

Ingredients:

For the sliders:

  • 1/2 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground pork
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of dried oregano & thyme
  • salt, black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 25 slider buns
  • 6 slices pepper jack cheese, quartered
  • guacamole slices to top burger with if so desired

For the green chili mayo:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 – 4 ounce can diced green chilis
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

For the mayo:

Combine the mayo, garlic, chilis, and lime juice in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the burgers:

Preheat the grill.

Place chorizo in food processor and pulse until finely chopped and crumbly.

In a large bowl, combine the chorizo with the pork, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and spices. Mix gently but thoroughly and form into 25 – 2 1/2″ diameter patties, about 1/2″ thick. I have a slider press that I used for this, but you could use a biscuit cutter or just shape them free form.

Place sliders on the grill and cook for about 6 minutes, 3 minutes on each side. (increase cooking time if you should choose to prepare full size burgers) During the last couple minutes, top each with a quarter slice of pepper jack cheese.

Place chili mayo on half of the slider bun. Top with pork & chorizo slider. Add guacamole if desired. Top with other half of slider bun.

Enjoy!


Santa Fe Dip

May 4, 2012

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, here you have it, the dish for which everyone who takes a bite asks me for the recipe…Santa Fe Dip. Believe me, you can’t go wrong with this on your Cinco de Mayo table! This delicious dip is chock full of onions, red peppers, green chilis, corn and spices all held together by gooey Monterey Jack cheese and topped with jalapeños for good measure. YUM!

Folks gobble this before I can even set the dish down on the table. I’m not kidding, the second I emerge from the kitchen with this bubbling hot zesty dip, people armed with tortilla chips start circling round me like sharks! But I get it, it is that good! And since you can prepare the veggie part of the dip ahead of time, it comes together rather quickly. A fact that works out great when you’re in that last few minutes crunch before your get together, you know where folks have started arriving and you’re still trying to get your party fixins out of the kitchen? Or perhaps that’s just my poor planning…Anyway, you’ve got to try this dip. I mean today. With Cinco de Mayo happening tomorrow, you’ve got to get busy and you won’t want to miss out on this treat!

Santa Fe Dip

recipe from: my mom

ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 1/2 Cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup (4 oz. tin) Ortega chilies
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
  • 1 Cup mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cholula sauce to taste (you can use any hot sauce you prefer)
  • sliced jalapeño peppers to garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet. Add corn, salt, pepper and cook until deep golden brown. Transfer to bowl to cool.

Melt remaining butter in pan and add onions, peppers, garlic and chilis. Saute until onions and peppers are soft and no liquid remains.

Add corn to mixture and let it cool. **At this point you can refrigerate the veggie mixture overnight if you wish and assemble the rest of the dip on the day you wish to serve it.**

Mix the mayonnaise, cheese, cayenne pepper together in large bowl. Add the veggie mixture and stir until combined. Add Cholula or hot sauce of your choice to taste.

Transfer mixture to a baking dish (I used an oval dish about 10″ long and 2″ deep, but have also just used a shallow round casserole dish. A 9″ pie dish would work as well.) Top with some remaining cheese and sliced jalapeños.

Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

Enjoy!


Chicken & Leek Pasties

March 5, 2012

Chicken & Leek Pasties…YUM! The origins of the pasty (pronounced pass-tee) are unclear, but it is most usually associated with Cornwall, England not Ireland. However, I ate my first pasty while living in Ireland and therefore when presented with one, warm memories of Ireland always accompany it. That’s why I thought I’d include this recipe on Day 5 of my St. Patrick’s Day offerings. A pasty is a pastry case filled with a meat/vegetable mixture, sealed by crimping the edges and then baked. Basically, a meat pie. I think I’ve mentioned before that I love meat pies, no matter what name they go by, be it pasties, empanadas, bridies, peirogis, pot pies or calzones. All of them deee-licious!

This is my favourite Pasty recipe. It is slightly adapted from the River Cottage Every Day cookbook. I doubled the amount of filling that the original recipe called for and combined the chicken and filling in the pan before filling the dough. These pasties are a good size for a meal, but you could reduce the size a bit and they would be great little appetizers!

Chicken & Leek Pasties

recipe adapted from: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “River Cottage Every Day” and Serious Eats

yield: 4 Pasties

Ingredients:

For the rough puff pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 2/3 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

For the Filling:

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5-6 Leeks, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme  leaves
  • 1 1/3 Cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons English Mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • The breast of a rotisserie chicken, shredded (if using fresh chicken – 12 ounces )

To finish:

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of milk, for glazing

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° F.

To make the pastry, mix the flour with the salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine.

Add the cubed butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add just enough ice water ( 8 – 10 tablespoons) to bring the mixture together into a fairly firm dough.

Shape the dough into a rectangle with your hands and on a well-floured surface, roll it out in one direction, away from you, so that you end up with a rectangle about 3/8″ thick. Fold the far third towards you, then fold the nearest third over that (like folding a letter), so that you now have a rectangle made up of 3 equal layers. Give the pastry a quarter turn, then repeat the rolling, folding and turning process 5 more times. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the leeks and thyme and cook gently for 5 -10 minutes, until the leeks are very tender. Stir in the cream and cook gently for 4 – 5 minutes to reduce and thicken. Stir in the mustard, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the shredded chicken to the pan and stir thoroughly to coat and combine. Let cool.

If using fresh chicken, season well and fry in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until cooked. Once it has cooled, shred and add to leek mixture.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/8″ thick. Using a plate or cake pan as a template, cut out four 8″ circles.

Brush the around the edges of the circle with the egg wash. Spoon the leek/chicken mixture on to one half of each circle. Fold the pastry over the filling to form a half-moon shape and crimp the edges to seal.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the tops of the pasties with the egg wash. Slice a couple small slits in the top of each pastie. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Eat hot or cold as you wish.

Enjoy!


Moroccan Beef Bundles

February 21, 2012

You ever just get in the mood for food that is a bit different? You know, some different flavours than those you experience in the same old run of the mill dinners. I definitely felt that way recently and was quite intrigued to see this recipe for Moroccan Beef Bundles. Hmmm….let’s see….this recipe has that familiar old ground beef, but it is seasoned with cinnamon, ginger and mint. Well, that’s a bit different. And then there was that yogurt/harissa sauce to be served along with it. Harissa? Where would one find Harissa? It seems it is a spicy chile paste which comes from North Africa. The blog on which this recipe was found claimed that you would be able to find it in the International Aisle of your supermarket, or a Middle Eastern Market. So off I went to my local Giant and though I searched high and low, there was no Harissa to be found. Then I remembered that there was a Penzeys Spices store close by. I was sure they would have it, however once I arrived there (yup…should’ve called ahead) I was informed that they did not carry it. Luckily, the salesperson was quite helpful and suggested I head down the street to a store called The Lebanese Butcher. On a mission at this point, I set right out and with the assistance of a very helpful salesperson, was able to get my hands on some Harissa.

Elusive Harissa

Clutching my prized Harissa I was all set to make these little Moroccan Beef Bundles and rushed right home to get started. Everything went quite smoothly as I prepared the Moroccan Beef stuffing. The house smelled amazing…very exotic! Then came the time to work with the phyllo dough. Having never worked with this type of dough before, I didn’t know what to expect. All I can say is God Bless anyone who has to fool with this stuff on a daily basis! It was definitely challenging to get that phyllo into the muffin tins. In the end I won out, but came quite close to losing my religion several times while fiddling around with that stuff! I am happy to say though that in the end it was worth it!

The Moroccan Beef Bundles were delicious, and that Harissa/yougurt sauce was fantastic. It really spiced things up. Oh, and just a word of advice for those of you who think there is nothing too spicy for you and are tempted to stick your finger in the harissa to get a large dollop to pop right onto your unsuspecting taste buds….DON’T! That stuff is the real deal SPICY! You know… coughing, sputtering and sweating spicy. Consider yourself warned. That being said, combined with the yougurt which mellows it out significantly, it is gorgeous! I served the bundles for dinner with some spinach and chickpea couscous. Delicious!

But these little gems would also make great appetizers. So when you’re in the mood to try something a bit different, are prepared to go on the hunt for Harissa, and are not short on patience, try these amazing Moroccan Beef Bundles.

Moroccan Beef Bundles

recipe from: In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita

Yield: 12 bundles

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped ginger
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • ½ cup jarred tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 package phyllo pastry
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, for brushing phyllo pastry
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. harissa sauce, store-bought or homemade

Directions:

In a large fry pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook ground beef until well browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add onions, garlic and ginger, cinnamon and cumin and continue to cook until onions have softened and mixture is fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Add the tomato puree and continue to cook until moisture from the tomato puree has evaporated and mixture looks dry, about 10 minutes more. Stir in the parsley and mint. Remove mixture from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut phyllo sheets into 4-inch squares and brush each square lightly with olive oil or melted butter. Place 6 squares of phyllo into each muffin cup, overlapping each layer. Spoon 2 ½ tbsp. the beef mixture into each of the phyllo cups and then carefully pleat the phyllo bundle closed. Brush tops with more olive oil or melted butter.

Bake bundles until pastry is golden brown and filling is hot, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir together yogurt and harissa sauce and serve with bundles.

Enjoy!


Purple Haze All in My Brain! – Purple Haze Stuffed Strawberries

June 24, 2011

A few weeks ago, Jay, John and I headed out to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia to see the live version of the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. We’ve been making this pilgrimage to hear Garrison Keillor’s words of wisdom and reports from his home town, Lake Wobegon for many years now. Wolf Trap is a fabulous indoor/outdoor amphitheatre which seats approximately 4,000 people under cover and another 3,000 folks on picnic blankets on their sloping lawn out under the hopefully starry skies.

We always opt for the uncovered lawn seats, willing to take our chances with good old Mother Nature in exchange for the ability to feast on a fabulous picnic meal and enjoy whatever refreshing beverages (and you are definitely right – these are usually adult type beverages) we choose to bring along. Drinking…in a National Park?!  Unheard of, I assure you! But it happens at Wolf Trap. We always have a great time.

Lea & Jay - Eating yummy snacks

John chillin out

Garrison Keillor has recently announced his retirement which will be taking place tentatively in the Spring of 2013. Oh no! Only one more Prairie Home Companion show after this! At least with our beloved Garrison. He is looking for his replacement now. We are happy for him but very saddened to think our annual ritual will be forever altered. I wanted to make some awesome goodies for this year’s Companion. As I’ve mentioned, Jay loves goat cheese and John shares this sentiment. Since the strawberries have been quite tasty this year, I decided to do fresh strawberries, stuffed with Goat Cheese and drizzled with a Balsamic Vinegar Glaze. And not just any goat cheese, but a favourite of ours, Purple Haze goat cheese from the folks at Cypress Grove Chevre.

This particular goat cheese has lavender and fennel pollen mixed in. It has a wonderful fresh taste, a little sweetness from the lavender and fennel followed with the natural tang of goat cheese. The Balsamic Glaze gives it a wonderful savory, sweet finish. They were just perfect for a summer picnic, but would look appropriately fancy at your next dinner soiree. After just one berry you might find yourself haunted by the following words:

Purple Haze, All in my brain,

Lately things just don’t seem the same..

Purple Haze Stuffed Strawberries

Ingredients:

1 pint fresh Strawberries, washed and hulled

4 oz. Purple Haze Goat Cheese

2 Tablespoons Cream, or milk if you prefer

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Vinegar glaze *

Directions:

Wash and hull strawberries.

In a small bowl, combine Purple Haze goat cheese, lemon zest and enough cream to make the mixture piping consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place goat cheese mixture in piping bag and fill hollowed out portion of each strawberry. If you don’t have a piping bag, I’m sure you could fill the berries with a spoon.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar glaze over the stuffed strawberries and serve.

Bon Appetite!

*I used a store-bought Balsamic Glaze for these strawberries and waited to drizzle it over them right before they were served. If you don’t have a pre-made Glaze, just take about 1/2 Cup of balsamic vinegar and boil it down until it reduces to a glaze consistency.


Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve

March 24, 2011

Both my husband and I love pears. They’re great anytime of the year really. So when I saw this recipe for a Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve on The Serendipity Diary blog I just couldn’t resist! This recipe is fantastic for so many reasons. First and foremost is that it is very easy to make and tastes amazing! Furthermore, it really enhances whatever food you choose to pair it with. We have put it on toast, oatmeal, scones, served it with a cheese tray and used it as a spread on various sandwiches. Yum, yum, yum!

Jarlsberg and Smoked Gouda Cheese Tray with Pear Conserve

The hardest thing about this recipe is the pears themselves. Let me clarify that, catching the pears at the exact millisecond that they are ripe. You know what I mean. You buy some lovely pears at the market and can’t wait to eat them, but they are hard as little rocks. So you put them in your fruit bowl and remind yourself that patience is a virtue. You check them diligently for days, or even hours if you’ve dealt with these little devils before. Nevertheless, they seem to go from little rock, to ripe, to pile of mush in mere seconds! Makes you feel like you just can’t take your eyes off of them!

Me vs. Pear in staring contest

I’ve tried the trick where you put them in a closed brown paper bag to accelerate ripening, with mixed results.

It's a mystery!

I tell you it is maddening! But if you can catch them at just the right moment they can be absolutely dreamy! Once you have your ripe pears, you just throw them into the pot with some sugar, molasses, lemon juice, rosemary, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients ready to go!

Then you simply let them all cook down until you have this delicious concoction. So set out to make this conserve today. Or if you’d love to try some, but are not feeling particularly motivated, buy yourself a jar from Serendipity Jams, which they sell in their etsy store.

Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve

recipe from  The Serendipity Diary

Ingredients:

1 1/5 lbs. ripe buttery Pears-like Bartlett or Warren’s

1/3 Cup sugar

1/8 Cup lemon juice

1 tsp. molasses

1 sprig of fresh Rosemary (approx. 4 inches in length)

Dash each of ground cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg

1-2 Cups of water on hand to use during cooking

Directions:

Wash, core, de-stem and cut the pears into about 2″ pieces.

In a small to medium stock pot over medium heat combine pears, lemon juice, spices, and sugar and molasses. Give the mixture a good stir and let the pears begin to soften and caramelize. (Approx. 10-15 minutes)

Add about 1/2 Cup water and the rosemary to the pot, bring the pears to a gentle boil and continue stirring.

Continue adding water to the pears when most of the moisture has evaporated, continuing until the pears have broken down and are soft and spreadable.

Once the desired consistency is reached, remove and discard the rosemary.

Ladle conserve into clean, sterilized jars. Let the jars cool and then keep them in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.


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