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Maple Walnut Crostini

Maple Walnut Crostini with Goat Cheese-2Note: This post contains affiliate links*

Crostini are always on my appetizer short-list when I am planning a party. For those that aren’t sure, crostini are an Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread with toppings. Crostini are great appetizers because you can toast the bread and make the toppings ahead of time. As the holiday season is upon us, I wanted to incorporate some seasonal flavors into the topping. Thus, the Goat Cheese and Maple Walnut Crostini was born!

Let me lay down the process of making these crostini for you. First, you are going to make a batch of maple walnuts. You can do this step a few days in advance of when you want to serve the crostini. To make the maple walnuts, you will combine butter and maple syrup with spices. After adding the walnuts you will stir to coat and the sauce is reduced. You will want to cool the walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Be careful transferring the walnuts from the pan to the baking sheet. They are hot! I speak from experience.

Maple Walnut Crostini with Goat Cheese-2

The second step is to slice the Chiogga beets very thinly. Chioggas are sometimes called candy cane beets, not because of their flavor but because of their beautiful red and white striped interior. You can peel and slice the beets the day before you plan to serve the crostini. If Chiogga beets are your thing (as they are mine) you may want to check out my Smoked Salmon Beet Bites too.

If you have a mandoline, slicing the beets very thinly is a snap. I love, love, love my mandoline (to be clear, I am talking about a Japanese-style slicing tool not the musical instrument). I use it all the time when I need food sliced very thinly or very evenly or both! The XOX Brand Mandolin is my favorite. It is super affordable, dishwasher-safe, and easy to store. A word of caution: the V-shaped blade in mandolins are very sharp and you should always use the included food holder to protect your fingers from the blade. Again, I learned this the hard way. Twice.

The last do-ahead tip I want to share is to make the crostini up to three days before you want to serve them. I typically buy a baguette for crostini. I like the small size of the bread. It is the perfect bite. Slice your baguette into about 1/2’’ slices. Drizzle the slices of baguette with olive oil and a sprinkle or salt and pepper.

You can either make your crostini on the grill or under the broiler. Whichever way you decide to make your crostini, be sure to keep your eye on them. They can go from just about there to burnt mess in no time at all.

How to Make Goat Cheese and Maple Walnut Crostini

Once you have all your components ready, you just need to assemble the crostini shortly before you want to serve. Place crostini on a platter, place one slice of Chiogga beet on the crostini, top with a dollop or slice of goat and top with a maple walnut. I recommend taking the goat cheese out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to prepare the crostini.

Maple Walnut Crostini pin

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Beer Cheese Soup

Beer Cheese Soup-1

You probably know that Wisconsin has the lock on any beer cheese soup recipe. Heck, Wisconsin most likely has the lock on anything to do with beer or cheese in general. But, here I am, offering up my own version of beer cheese soup with a little bit of western flair. Please forgive me Midwesterners, we just want in on some of the beer cheese soup fun.

Beer cheese soup is a fall essential. It is perfect to have on cool autumn weekends whether you have just finished raking leaves, picking apples, or watching football. I make a pot of soup every weekend and enjoy having leftovers for the work week ahead. For me, a bowl of soup is ideal for a quick weeknight dinner or equally awesome to take to work for lunch.

Beer Cheese Soup-5

Sometime during my 30s, my body decided that it no longer could handle milk or cream in any form. So, instead of using half and half to add a creamy element to the soup, I made cashew cream using this recipe. If you are not bothered by cream you can use it instead but I really do love cashew cream.

You can choose your favorite cheddar for beer cheese soup. I typically go with sharp cheddar because I love the flavor but if you or your people prefer a more mild cheddar by all means go with that. I do feel as though having some sort of bread to dip into the soup is essential.

Beer Cheese Soup-7

I was wowed by the photogenic quality of this beautiful baguette but also think soft pretzels would be fantastic to serve with beer cheese soup. I have used this recipe to make soft pretzel bites before and they were delicious and perfect for dipping. But, I am eyeballing this recipe for everything soft pretzel bites. Don’t you think they would be fantastic with beer cheese soup? I love everything that is everything flavored. By the way, have you tried the ‘everything but the bagel’ seasoning at Trader Joe’s? Recommended.

How to Make Beer Cheese Soup

Beer Cheese Soup pin

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

If you have a large pot and a few pounds of mussels, you can have a dinner party worthy meal on the tables in no time at all. Mussels are one of the easiest meals to prepare. All you need to do is give the mussels a quick scrub and soak, cook up a few aromatics for a broth to steam the mussels in, and five minutes cooking time. For Mussels with Cider, Shallots and Bacon, I decided to add some autumn flair but using apple cider instead of the more typical white wine as the base of the broth.

The website Serious Eats has a more detailed article on cleaning mussels if you would like a step-by-step guide. I have also included a video below. But, I promise, it is really easy and takes no time at all. Once you get the hang of it, you will be preparing mussels all the time!

While mussels and French fries (frites) are a popular combination in Belgium and France, I prefer to serve mussels with slices of nice bread. My favorites are a beautiful baguette or ciabatta. You will want to use the slices of bread to soak up the delicious broth.

So, let’s walk through the process. Heat a large pot over a medium flame and add oil olive and butter. When the oil and butter start to bubble, add the chopped bacon and cook for a few minutes.  Next you will add the shallots, garlics, and thyme and cook until they are soft. Finally, add the cider and mustard. Bring the broth to a boil before adding the cleaned mussels. The only need a few minutes to cook. Seriously easy, right?

Mussels with Cider Shallots and Bacon-2

If you would like a tasty beverage to accompany your mussels, I recommend either a crisp white wine, sparkling wine (bubbles go with everything), or a Belgian beer.  I love to serve this meal not only because it is delicious but it is a slow-paced meal which encourages conversation as you work your way through the mussels. Slow food at its best!

How to Make Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon Pin

Ricotta Toast with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus

Ricotta Toast with Asparagus and Morels-4

If you have become a bit tired of avocado toast, you may want to consider swapping out the avocados for ricotta. Don’t get me wrong, no disrespect to avocado toast. I love it, I eat it often, but sometimes I want something a little different. Ricotta is light and airy and perfect with so many different topping.

Ricotta toast is something that I have eaten since I was a kid. Every Italian family keeps ricotta in the fridge. You still get the rich, creamy spread you are used to from avocado toast but a whole new universe of flavors opens up for you. Ricotta can easily be used either in sweet or savory dishes, think lasagna versus cannoli.

In New York, you can find fresh ricotta at many Italian markets. Have you had fresh ricotta? It is so creamy and delicious. I die. Literally. Well, I guess figuratively but still you cannot even at how good it is. I haven’t tried making it at home although I have been told (and this video confirms) that it is really easy to make.

How to Make Fresh Ricotta

I like to use a hearty, rustic bread for the toast. For the toppings on this ricotta toast, I used morel mushrooms which were foraged from the woods near my friend Rachael’s home in Missoula, Montana. I was so excited to get a package from her with bunches of morel mushrooms. What a treat! I made this Pizza with Morel Mushrooms and Green Onions using some of the mushrooms from that same haul.

If Rachael didn’t send you any morels and you couldn’t find them locally, I would swap them out for cremini or button mushrooms. Not quite the panache of morels but still a nice meaty texture to complement the ricotta. I also used some beautiful, medium-sized asparagus chopped into bite-sized pieces to top the Ricotta toast.

Ricotta Toast with Asparagus and Morels-1

Ricotta toast with morel mushrooms and asparagus can really be eaten for any meal. I prefer savory foods in the morning and devoured the toasts on Sunday morning for brunch with coffee. But, served with a green salad or soup, the ricotta toast would also make a perfect light lunch or dinner. Plus, it is so quick and easy to make. Basically, you a few minutes to chop the mushrooms and asparagus, a few minutes to sauté them, and the time it takes to toast the bread. Brilliant when you don’t want to fuss in the kitchen on a weeknight.

Ricotta Toast with Morels and Asparagus

 

 

Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby Pancake

Who likes recipes that involve less than five ingredients, can be blitzed up in a blender, and takes under thirty minutes to bake? *raises hand*

The Dutch baby pancake meets these criteria. You simply put eggs, flour, milk, and seasonings into a blender and pour the batter into a hot skillet which contains melted butter. Let’s talk about Dutch baby pancakes. Have you ever had one?

For the uninitiated, Dutch baby pancakes come out of the oven as light, puffy, golden brown, eggy pancake. Have your cameras ready if you want to Instagram this dish because the puff of the pancake is short-lived. Within minutes, the air comes out of the Dutch baby and it flattens out to a slightly less photogenic but still absolutely delicious dish. The video uses a slightly different recipe but will show  you the process of making a Dutch baby pancake.

How-to Make Dutch Baby Pancakes

Dutch baby pancakes are typically served for breakfast or brunch. I love to eat a Dutch Baby pancake with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. But, served with mixed berries and maple syrup is also delicious. How does lemon curd and strawberries sound to you? Or, wouldn’t sauteed apples and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar be scrumptious? Let’s face it, any fruit that is in season is a perfect accompaniment to a Dutch baby pancake.

Once you make a Dutch baby pancake, you may find that your imagination runs wild thinking about the possibilities.  Please tell me that your imagination runs wild when you make a delicious recipe. I find myself thinking about what else would taste great on this light and fluffy pancake. What savory toppings can I pair with it to turn this into a savory dinner?

Dutch Baby Pancake

This recipe for a savory Dutch baby pancake from the NY Time includes fresh herbs in the batter and is sprinkled with salty, nutty Parmesan cheese while it bakes. OMG. Yum! I must try that recipe soon. I imagine pairing it with a salad and glass of crisp, white wine.

Enough daydreaming, let me encourage you to try making a Dutch baby pancake this week. You will impress yourself and your people as you take it from the oven in all its glory. I use my 10-inch cast iron skillet to bake the Dutch baby. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet then a similarly sized baking dish will do in a pinch.

Other recipes full of eggy goodness that you might be interested in:

Dutch Baby Pancake

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