Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Fig & Goat Cheese Crostini

Source: Epicurious

Introducing the final Recipe of the Week selection for 2011: fig & goat cheese crostini, an appealing appetizer that would make a great addition to any New Year's Eve menu. These tasty bites are made up of toasted baguette slices topped with savory fig jam and soft, creamy goat cheese. I made them recently for a dinner party and they were a huge success.

Thyme, shallots and port give the jam a rich depth of flavor, which pairs perfectly with the creamy, tangy goat cheese. Topped with fresh fig slices, these crostini make for an attractive, refined presentation, but if you can't get your hands on any fresh figs, simply garnish with a few leaves of fresh thyme, they'll still look great.

The fig jam can be prepared a day in advance as can the toasts (although I don't recommend the latter), which makes this a perfect dish for NYE. For an extra special something, try adding some crispy prosciutto or a few drops of high-quality aged balsamic vinegar on top.

Source: Epicurious

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Cake Pops, Pt. 2

It's the one year anniversary of my original Christmas cake pops post, and guess what... they're back! This year, instead of Christmas trees and reindeer, I went with snowmen. They're so cute, you almost won't want to eat them. Emphasis on the almost.

I know the time for holiday baking is rapidly coming to a close, but good news: these are not Christmas specific, so if you can't squeeze these in before tomorrow is over, no fear, you still have an excuse to make them all winter long. I've posted instructions below, but if you need help with cake pop troubleshooting, see my original post, here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps

It's December, which means cookie season. Around this time of year, the web and blogosphere are overloaded with cookie recipes for the holidays. Naturally, I have racked up quite the list of cookies to try over the past few weeks. But when I found these Martha Stewart chocolate coffee delights a couple of days ago, I knew I had to bump them to the top of the to-do list. Dark, rich, chewy bites with a hint of espresso? Yes, please! (Plus everyone knows Martha is the original domestic goddess.)

I had high hopes for these little gems yet they managed to exceed my expectations. They were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. A delicious blend of coffee and chocolate, these cookies taste like Christmas. I made them for an office holiday party and they were a huge hit. They're tasty and festive- what's not to love? Resist the temptation to cook them beyond the recommended baking time. They may not look done when removed from the oven, but let them sit and they will firm up perfectly.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cumin Roasted Cauliflower

During fall and winter, I love making roasted vegetables. They're delicious and super simple— even the world's worst cook could make them. Roasting veggies give them much more flavor than simply steaming or sauteing them. Almost any vegetable can be served roasted, but my favorites are cauliflower, brussel sprouts, peppers, asparagus, and tomatoes. Roasted veggies make for an excellent side dish, but also thrown together or on top of couscous or another grain, they can serve as a vegetarian main course as well.

Generally, the rule of thumb is to throw some olive oil (about 2 tbsp) and salt on the veggies and roast them between 350 °F and 400 °F for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the vegetable. The art of roasting is not an exact science, so if you're not sure about the temperature or time, just keep an eye on the veggies and watch for them to brown significantly without turning black.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Hot Chocolate Cake

Source: Tasting Table

This week's selection for Recipe of the Week comes to us from Clinton Woods of The Arrogant Butcher in Phoenix (via Tasting Table). Ever since I spotted this recipe for hot chocolate cake, I've been counting down the minutes until the weekend when I can give it a shot.

I love the idea of using hot chocolate mix to give the cake a rich and comforting flavor. I imagine biting into a piece and being transported back to the ski trips and snow days of my childhood, when hot chocolate breaks were a cherished treat. The use of olive oil is also unusual and intriguing, although not unheard of.

Also, I love food served in Mason jars, so I'm just as excited about the presentation of the dessert as I am about the recipe.

This dish would make a great finale for a holiday dinner party. Throw a mini candy cane or some red and green M&Ms on the top and you've got a dessert that's warm, comforting and festive to boot.

Source: Clinton Woods via Tasting Table