By Chef Vincent Tropepe
CRANBERRY GOAT CHEESE TRUFFLES
- 6 ounces plain goat cheese softened for an hour at room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened for an hour at room temperature
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon Sriracha
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons currants*
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries*
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins*
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- Combine softened goat cheese and cream cheese in a medium size bowl. Whisk together until smooth and creamy, then refrigerate for at least one hour or place mixture in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
- While cheese is chilling, preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Combine pecans, oil, honey and Sriracha on the prepared pan. Bake for 3 minutes then remove pan from oven and stir well. Return to oven and bake another 3-5 minutes or until pecans are golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with kosher salt. Toss and set aside to cool.
- Combine cooled pecans, dried fruit, chopped rosemary and chopped parsley on a dinner plate. Set aside.
- Scoop up 1 tablespoon size portions of the chilled cheese mixture** and roll into balls (the balls will be a bit sticky, but chilling helps make it less sticky). Drop the ball onto the plate with the pecan coating and gently roll the cheese ball around in the mixture, patting it into the cheese, until it is fully coated. At this point you can reshape your balls into nicer circles, if they have become misshapen. Place on a clean dinner plate and place in the refrigerator until 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve with crackers, crostini or pita wedges or on their own for a low carb appetizer.
CROSTINI WITH BLUE CHEESE & ROASTED GRAPES
- 12⅓-inch-thick diagonal baguette slices
- 4 ounces Cambozola blue cheese (or Gorgonzola Dolce), room temperature
- 1½ cups seedless red grapes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet. Toast in oven until golden, about 8 minutes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead.)
- On a separate baking sheet, spread out the grapes and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast grapes for about 15-20 min, until they burst and release some juice. Shake the tray once or twice during roasting. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Set aside in a bowl along with any juice from the pan).
- Spread blue cheese on baguette slices. Top with two or three grapes and sprinkle nuts over each (if using). Drizzle each slice with some juice from the roasted grapes.
- (If serving as a first course, I like to add some lightly dressed greens such as baby kale, arugula or watercress. Just toss about 2 cups with a tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar).
CRCANBERRY SAGE ROLLS
- 1 16 ounce loaf frozen white bread dough
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup finely chopped dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 tablespoons snipped fresh sage
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 12 small fresh sage leaves (optional)
- Step 1Thaw dough according to package directions. Grease a large baking sheet; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12×10-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with cranberries, crystallized ginger, and snipped sage. Starting from a long side, tightly roll up rectangle into a spiral. Cut into twelve 1-inch slices. Place rolls on prepared baking sheet, standing rolls upright with seam sides down. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 30 minutes).
- Step 2Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl whisk together egg and the water. Brush rolls with egg mixture. If desired, gently press a small sage leaf into the top of each roll; brush leaves with remaining egg mixture. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.