Batter Licker

July 16, 2010

goat cheese marinated with thyme, lemon juice and kalamata olives

Filed under: appetizer,cheese — Tags: , , , , , , — Kristen @ 10:19 pm

When it comes to appetizers, I plead guilty to several counts of merely unwrapping a cheese or two and plonking it on a plate with some crackers and a cheese knife. Not quite “voilĂ .” But sometimes, life is just too busy to spend an hour – or even thirty minutes – preparing an appetizer when cheese will do just as well.

Though it requires just barely more effort than the unwrap-and-plonk method, this marinated version looks and tastes much more impressive. Just toss thyme and olives in a pan with some olive oil for 5 minutes, add lemon juice, and pour the mixture over a cute three-inch round of goat cheese.

Spend the next 10 minutes either cutting up cucumber slices, arranging crackers, and doing last-minute cleanup, or enjoying a hostess-only, pre-party glass of light, crisp, almost bubbly Vinho Verde (Recommended: Opala for only $7 per pretty, summery bottle at Whole Foods).

Alternatively, if you’re a lucky applicant to the State Bar of California like me and The Exam You Desperately Need To Pass is less than two weeks away, you can spend that extra time flipping through constitutional law flashcards in a desperate attempt to learn the ins and outs of equal protection, privileges and immunities, and due process. But I can vouch that flashcards on a Friday night aren’t as fun as they sound.

In other words, go with the Vinho.


March 7, 2010

The Olive Press cooking competition: 4 extra virgin olive oils, 4 extra vivacious courses

It’s finally that time. Time for me to unveil the results of a few excited weeks of learning about olive oils of various intensity and brainstorming fun ways to use them, all while recovering from a nasty accident involving an immersion blender and an index finger (but I won’t go into that, except to say that I eventually became remarkably adept at nine-fingered typing, shampooing, and cooking). So when The Olive Press invited me to partake in their cooking competition (please vote HERE), I was incredibly thrilled about the opportunity to experiment with the Sonoma, California-based company’s award-winning oils. The Olive Press sent me four different bottles of their extra virgin olive oils – Arbequina, Mission, Italian Blend, and Blood Orange – and challenged me to create a four-course meal using one of the oils in each course. Drum roll please …

Appetizer: Roasted Tomato and Garlic, Kalamata Olive, and Feta Bruschetta, featuring the robust Italian Blend olive oil.

Any time there’s an excuse to do so, I love coming up with different versions of bruschetta. Yes, it’s a relatively simple appetizer, featuring just a handful of complementary, fresh ingredients that can easily be adapted to use whatever you have on hand. But when done right, each bite packs so much flavor and texture. And crunch. (There’s something infinitely more satisfying (to me) when a dish comes with a little bit of crunch, probably because I consistently deprive myself of those pre-made, boxed-up salty snacks that others inconsiderately munch on during my Commercial Contract Writing class.)

For this version of bruschetta, I went a Mediterranean route because the intense flavors of the roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and feta stood up to and were well-complemented by the incredibly robust (dare I say spicy?) Italian Blend olive oil.

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Main Course: Walnut-Crusted Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper Harissa, featuring Blood Orange olive oil.

This dish is near perfection. The halibut is enhanced but not overpowered by the relatively mild Blood Orange olive oil. Both the walnuts and the panko give the fish’s crust a nice crunchy texture, and the walnuts add a rich, buttery flavor while still keeping the dish healthy. (more…)

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