Recipes: 3 easy, elegant appetizers
Recipe: Radish chive fromage frais
"Homemade cheese with the taste of mild ricotta and a breeze to make – what could be better?" says Linda Haynes. "Fromage frais is a fresh, low-fat unripened cheese with a mousse-like texture and high moisture content. Without any additions, it will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. Add the radish and chives just before serving, as they tend to overpower the cheese after a few hours." Serve on fresh baguette.
6 cups whole milk
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped radish
2 tbsp lightly packed finely chopped chives
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Fromage frais: Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Cover and let sit for 2 hours.
Line a fine sieve with two layers of cheesecloth. Pour liquid, which looks curdled, into sieve. The curds (solids) will stay in the cheesecloth, and the whey (liquid) can be discarded.
Sprinkle the curds with the salt and use the cheesecloth to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Stop squeezing when the cheese starts to come through the cheesecloth. (If you squeeze too long and hard, the end product will be grainy.) Suspend the cheese in the cheesecloth in a bowl to allow more whey to drain and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the cheesecloth and refrigerate until ready to use. (Before using, discard any liquid that drains from the cheese.)
Seasonings: Place the fromage frais in a bowl and fold in the radish, chives and pepper. Season with salt to taste.
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
• Fromage frais is terrific as a base for poached or smoked salmon canapés.
• You can also create a healthy, yummy vegetarian sandwich by spreading a generous layer of fromage frais on multigrain bread, then topping it with thinly sliced cucumber, grated carrot, cooked beet slices, crunchy lettuce and a slice of ripe tomato.
• To turn this recipe into a dip, whisk in a little low-fat milk.
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Excerpted from Two Dishes: Mother and Daughter – Two Cooks, Two Lifestyles, Two Takes. (McClelland & Stewart, October 2009). Top photo by Virginia Macdonald.
Recipe: House-brand olives
"This may seem like a lot of olives," says Linda, "but they keep for quite a while and taste delicious. Friends will ask where you get them; you will smile and change the subject. Buy the largest, best-tasting olives possible, as they will make the most dramatic and mouth-watering presentation, or alternatively use four or five different shapes and sizes of olives for an eclectic look and taste."
2 1/4 lb large unpitted green olives (Green Super Mammoth, if possible)
2 1/4 lb large unpitted black olives (Kalamata Colossal, if possible)
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced
1 bunch rosemary, cleaned and chopped, reserving 3 to 5 sprigs for garnish
2 large sprigs thyme, cleaned and chopped
3 to 4 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, 1 minced, the other thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1/3 orange, reserving 1 to 2 tsp for garnish
2/3 cup (160 mL) olive oil
Mix together all ingredients in a large container. Cover and marinate, tossing occasionally, in a cool place for at least 36 hours.
Serve portions in a shallow bowl decorated with the additional rosemary sprigs and orange zest.
The olives will keep in the refrigerator for a month. Let come to room temperature before serving.
Makes 4 1/2 lb.
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Excerpted from The Ace Bakery Cookbook, (Whitecap, 2003). Top photo by Chris Freeland.
"Lovely to look at, simple to make and yummy to eat, serve these pretty crisps with drinks before dinner or as a 'hat' to a salad," says Linda Haynes. "Your friends will think you have spent hours in the kitchen. Only you and I will know the truth."
2 cups finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 tbsp finely chopped walnuts
2 tbsp minced chives and 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, toss the cheese with the walnuts (or the chives and black pepper). Place the cheese mixture on the baking trays in 2 tbsp mounds, about 3 inches apart.
Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crisps are flat and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes before carefully separating the crisps from the parchment paper.
The crisps are best eaten almost immediately but will keep in an airtight container for 24 hours.
Makes about 16 crisps (each 2 ½ to 3 inches)
Linda’s tip: Wrap your Parmigiano Reggiano in waxed or parchment paper, then in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator. Change the wrapping every four or five days to allow the cheese to breathe. Wrapped and stored this way, it will keep for up to 1 month.
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Excerpted from More From Ace Bakery, (Whitecap, 2006). Top photo by Douglas Bradshaw.