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Posts tagged ‘appetizer’

A Very Cheesy (and Tasty) New Year!

These past few days I just may have single-handedly kept the dairy/cheese counter at my supermarket in business.  Between making the Tall & Creamy Cheesecake, and the two following appetizers I’ve purchased my fair share of cheese.

 For this month’s Recipes to Rival we were charged to make 2 out of 3 appetizers. I selected to make the Gruyere Cheese Gougeres and the Bleu Cheese Walnut & Pear Crostinis.

The Gruyere Cheese Gougeres were from a recipe from one of my cooking idols, Thomas Keller of French Laundry.  I had a few techincal issues on these. My 3/8″ plain piping tip was M.I.A. so I tried using a smaller one, but my puffs were looking a little weird, so I changed over to using the good old school, bare bones method– put the dough in a baggy and snip off one of the corners… Perfect!  So my gougeres ended up being all sorts of shapes and sizes depending upon which method I used to pipe them.


When folks at the party asked what they were I referred to them as Cheesy Poofs (a homage to Cartman from South Park I guess…although I spared them my Cartman impersonation). These little bites were cheesy AND poofy. The platter quickly became half empty. I liked these a lot, although I thought there was perhaps a bit too much salt. The 1 tablespoon of salt that the recipe called for sounded like a lot to me. I would definitely make them again, perhaps cutting down on the salt a bit.
I assembled the crostinis at the party. Yes, I was THAT person… the person that shows up and demands usage of the oven while the busy hostess tries to put the finishing touches on the meal.
For the crostini, I brushed the sliced baguette with butter instead of olive oil. I spread the toasted bread with a smear of mascarpone cheese and then topped it with pasteurized bleu cheese crumbles (went with a pasteurized variety since a few of the women at this NYE party were pregnant) and a piece of walnut.  Once the cheese had melted a bit, I took the crostinis out of the oven and added some cubed pear.  Next time, I think I will cut the pear into small, thin slices to put on top. I think this will make a better presentation and result in a more stable crostini — sometimes when picking up one of the crostinis, the pear cube would tumble off.
The crostinis were also a big hit. I loved the flavor combo of the bleu cheese, walnut, and pear. They were pretty easy to make with most of the time spent in topping the bread with the assorted toppings.


The recipes are after the jump. Definitely try out these 2 if you are a cheese lover!

Savory Palmiers

Ina Garten’s Savory Palmiers from her Back to Basics cookbook were easy to make and were a big hit at my Christmas party. Even my super fussy brother ate them and believe me, he rarely eats any of the dishes I bring to holiday parties. *cough* It’s more a comment on his finicky eating habits than it is on my cooking, really…

Palmiers (sometimes called Palm leaves) are puff pastry dough sprinkled with fillings that is then folded several times and then cut into slices before baking.  Palmiers are traditionally of the sweet variety. These savory palmiers from Ina’s recipe are filled with pesto, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and sun-dried tomatoes.  With their red, white, and green fillings, these little bites were spilling over with festive Xmas colors.

Another winner to go in my permanent recipe repetoire!  Big thanks to Becky of Random Musings of a Deco Lady for selecting this as a Barefoot Bloggers bonus recipe this month!


Savory Palmiers

  • 1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, such as Montrachet
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Kosher salt
  1. Lightly flour a board and carefully unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Roll the pastry lightly with a rolling pin until it’s 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 inches. Spread the sheet of puff pastry with half the pesto, then sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half the sun-dried tomatoes, and half the pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt.
  2. Working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again toward the center until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press lightly. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Repeat for the second sheet of puff pastry using the remaining ingredients. Cover both rolls with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Cut the prepared rolls of puff pastry into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place them faceup 2 inches apart on sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.


Red Pepper Cheesecake

I recently got Giada De Laurentiis’s new cook book Giada’s Kitchen. The cook book is full of recipes that feature fresh ingredients and a cuisine that is Italy meets California. One of the recipes that caught my eye immediately was the Red Pepper Cheesecake. This mini savory cheesecake appealed to my inner cheese lover. It has 3 types of cheese: ricotta, cream cheese, and goat cheese. The cheesecake is cooked in a 4.5 inch springform pan, which allows it to fit nicely on a dinner plate surrounded with crackers or toast points. It is great as an appetizer at a cocktail party.  In the book, the recipe includes steps for making pita chips, but I served it with assorted crackers. My husband loved the touch of the apricot jam on top of the cheesecake. The cheesecake was easy to make and so good. I will probably make it again to bring to an upcoming holiday party. 


Red Pepper Cheesecake (from Giada’s Kitchen)

4-6 servings

  • 4 ounces ricotta cheese, room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 jarred roasted red bell peppers cut in thin strips and halved (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the outside of a 4.5 inch round springform pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil.
  2. Place the ricotta, cream cheese, and goat cheese in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the sugar, egg, and a pinch of salt and pulse a few times until well mixed and thick and creamy. Fold in the red pepper strips with a rubber spatula. Pour the cheese mixture into the springform pan.
  3. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan and pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  4. Bake until the cheesecake is golden at the edges and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 45 minutes (the cake will become firm when it is cold).
  5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour. Refridgerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
  6. TO SERVE: combine the jam and the hot water in a small bowl and stir until the jame is liquified. Remove the cheescake from the springform pan and place on a serving plate. Drizzle the jam mixture over the top of the cheesecake. Serve with pita chips, crackers, or slices of french bread.