Goat Cheese with Pistachios and Figs in Balsamic-Maple Syrup


Spring means fresh maple syrup is on tap …. wonderful paired with figs and goat cheese!  Photo by White Point Imaging

A sweet and savory hors d’oeuvres reminiscent of Tuscany.  The balsamic-maple reduction makes this dish special.  Place a jar of syrup on the side for extra dipping and drizzling.  Serve with fresh figs if desired.

10 ounce log of goat cheese
1 cup pistachios, finely chopped plus whole nuts
1 cup dried figs, halved
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup

Macerate figs in balsamic vinegar for 1 hour or more. Meanwhile, roll goat cheese log in chopped pistachios. Wrap and refrigerate.

Place maple syrup and vinegar in a small sauce pan. Stir and add figs. Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove figs and continue simmering until 1/4th of liquid is reduced, approx. 15 – 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for 1 hour. Note: Be careful not to overcook or balsamic-maple syrup will thicken to taffy like consistency when cooled.

Sprinkle whole pistachios on the plate and serve goat cheese log with figs and drizzled syrup.

Roasted Tomato, Goat Cheese & Basil Crostini

Use garden plum tomatoes or your local farmer’s stand small heirlooms in this simple, delicious crowd pleasing appetizer.

This appy can’t be easier! Tomatoes become sweeter when slow roasted and fresh herbs add savory garden flavor. Try plum tomato varieties found at your local farmer’s market like sweet Juliet’s.

1 quart plum tomatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
garden herbs (oregano, thyme and parsley), chopped fine
extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces goat cheese
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1 baguette
1-2 garlic cloves
sea salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and place tomatoes in single rows. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Slow roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until tomatoes are roasted through but not mushy or dried out. Remove from oven and let cool.

Increase oven heat to 350 degrees. Slice baguette 1/4 inch thick, brush each side with olive oil and rub cut garlic cloves on each slice. Place on a cookie sheet and brown tops approximately 5 to 10 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. Remove from oven an let cool.

Assemble crostini by spreading goat cheese on slices and layer with basil leaf topped with a roasted tomato. For variety, leave off basil leave or goat cheese on some crostini. Serve.




Zucchini “Lasgna” Roll-Up


Garden fresh Italian. One rollup makes a great appy, two make a meal!

When zucchini is bursting out of the garden or a nearby farm stand mid summer, make these pasta-less lasagna roll-ups.

It’s worth seeking out fresh sheep ricotta at your local farmer’s market. Heirloom tomatoes brings this dish up several notches from delish to fabulous!

1 large 0r 2 medium  zucchinis
granulated garlic powder
extra virgin olive oil
2 cups ricotta
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3-4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/8 teaspoon, nutmeg, freshly grated
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1-3 heirloom tomatoes, diced
aged balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Heat grill and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice zucchini 1/4 inch lengthwise. Brush with olive oil on both sides and season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Place on hot grill and do not move to form grill marks. Flip after approximately 2 minutes and grill on the other side for 1 more minute. Remove and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta with parsley, 2 Tablespoons basil, lemon zest, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Place heaping spoonfuls of ricotta on each zucchini slice making sure that the grill marks are on the bottom. Roll up to show grill marks.  Place in a greased oven proof  glass baking dish and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until ricotta filling is hot throughout.

Place diced heirloom tomatoes in individual shallow bowls and drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Place a zucchini roll-up on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle the with chopped basil. Serve.



Swiss Chard Lemon Ginger Bruschetta


Swiss chard and ginger snaps up a classic bruschetta dish. Omit grated ginger if you can find a specialty ginger vinegar – I used Honey Ginger White Balsamic Vinegar.

An artisan baked baguette makes all the difference to make a sensational bruschetta.

But don’t forget your gluten free fans. Either offer “unprocessed” gluten free bread (cut slices into rounds with a cookie cutter then toast). Or serve separate bowls of the swiss chard “pesto” and chopped tomatoes with rice chips.

1 cup rainbow swiss chard, finely chopped with stems
2 Tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons chives, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1 clove pressed garlic
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, or cider vinegar
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped grape tomatoes, diced
salt & pepper to taste
1 baguette

Combine all ingredients except tomatoes and bread in a nonreactive bowl. Add more olive oil and/or lemon juice or vinegar to taste if too dry. Set aside.

Cut bread in 1/2 inch rounds. Dip brush in mixture to mop up extra olive oil and brush tops of each slice.  Toast slices on each side. Spoon desired amount of chard mixture on each slice and top with chopped tomatoes. If desired, drizzle a few drops of olive oil on chopped tomato and top off with an extra pinch of salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Honey Lime Chicken Sates with Chimichurri Sauce


Skewered sates ready for dipping!

Who needs fatty chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday when you can have chicken sates instead?

Pump up the chili powder and add some red pepper flakes if you want a hot and spicier dish. Be sure to use “smoked” paprika in the marinade…it makes all the difference. Fresh chimichurri sauce is a nice finishing touch.

6 organic or farm fresh chicken thighs, boned

1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
juice of 2 limes
zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut thighs in 1 inch strips. Barely warm honey so that it has a thinner consistency to blend well. In a bowl, mix the honey with the remainder of the ingredients. Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour, turning often to throughly coat each piece. Sear chicken strips on a hot grill, being careful not to overcook or sates will be dry. Remove and finish in a hot oven for a few minutes if chicken is still pink inside. Sates should be juicy and moist. Skewer chicken and serve with chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 cup firmly packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup parsley
4 garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon lime juice
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend to desired consistency, coarse or smooth. Serve at room temperature.

Feeding Your Soul

IMG_1416A kale salad with butternut squash and grated “cheddar” goat cheese, tuscan soup and chia seed pumpkin pudding was on the menu for the first community “prepare and dine” lunch in Seascape at Mercy Center. Thank you to all who attended and thank you Paula Kinney http://www.paulakinney.com for bringing this group together!IMG_1413

There’s space available for anyone who wants to join on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Next Feeding Your Soul, Tuesday, Jan 14th.