Pea Pesto

_MG_6162This is one of my go-to spring recipes, especially for entertaining. The pea and basil together are super refreshing (you can also use mint), and since everything gets thrown in the food processor, it only takes minutes to prepare. My favorite way to eat is with toasted bread, but since I spent hours (literally) rolling out these flat breads one Saturday, I thought they would make a nice accent. (The flat bread is SO good, but very time-consuming due to all of the hand-rolling, and if you are going to make these, you should definitely not go to P90X that morning or you won't be able to lift your arms.)_MG_6172  

_MG_6167I also served with this amazing whipped feta (all credit goes to my friend Arie for introducing me to this recipe). Seriously, the next time you have people over (or not, if you want it all to yourself), you must make this. It's like whipped gold.

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Pea Pesto (makes about 1 cup)

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen and defrosted

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/4 grated parmesan cheese

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until creamy, then season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately with bread or crackers of your choice, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days.

 

Maple-Balsamic Fig Crostini

_MG_4836This is one of my top-five appetizers. It was inspired by a lovely special at one of the best (and most underrated) restaurants in Minnesota, the New Scenic Café. A bright yet unassuming exterior with views of Lake Superior just across North Shore Drive hides wonderfully simple, local fare. Unfortunately, I don't get to make it there as often as I would like, but a version of this crostini was served as a special appetizer one of the last times I was there. Once I got home, I had to re-create it -- I love the contrast between the sweet balsamic-glazed figs and the salty gorgonzola cheese. You could also serve this as dinner with a salad (which I have definitely done)._MG_4813 _MG_4842

I'm actually in Minnesota this week (hooray for vacation!), and won't be making it up to Duluth, but I can't wait to check out some favorite restaurants, like The Bachelor Farmer (I wrote about it last summer here), Anchor Fish & Chips (best fish and chips I have EVER had), and hopefully a few more. But mostly, it's so lovely to hang out with my family, see some friends, and relax. Are you taking any trips this summer?_MG_4845

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Maple-Balsamic Fig Crostini (serves 6 as an appetizer, 2-3 as a main course)

1 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

12 figs, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

Black pepper

1-2 oz gorgonzola or blue cheese

1/2 cup marcona almonds or walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place baguette slices on a large baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until lightly toasted and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Place figs in pan, cut side down and cook for 30 seconds. Pour maple syrup, vinegar, and wine over figs and cook until liquid is reduced slightly and becomes syrupy, about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper.

To serve: spoon 2-3 fig halves on a piece of bread, then sprinkle cheese and toasted nuts over. Serve immediately.

 

Ricotta and Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

You know, I was finally ready to accept the fact that summer was over. Ready to embrace apples, crisp fall nights, colored leaves. And then of course, New York goes and throws a slew of 80 degree days at us, and I'm back to wearing shorts and eating the last of the summer tomatoes before months of squash and root vegetables. Not that I don't love squash -- I'm just not quite ready to let go just yet. I made these crostini a few days ago as a quick lunch, and I love how the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes is balanced by just a dash of fleur de sel and the creamy ricotta. In fact, the cherry tomatoes I got from the farmer's market were so sweet, I could have omitted the salt and drizzled a little bit of honey over them for another take on this easy appetizer. Ricotta and Roasted Cherry Tomato Crostini

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half if large

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 baguette, thinly sliced

6 oz ricotta cheese, preferably homemade or good-quality

1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano, julinenned

Fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, toss tomatoes with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and roast until skins begin to blister, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, toast baguette slices in oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spread 2-3 tablespoons ricotta on each piece of bread, then add 2-3 tomatoes, a few pieces of basil, and sprinkle fleur de sel over. Serve immediately.

Recently

I don't really have an excuse for my absence here over the last week, but if I did it would be that the batteries for my camera are currently dead and I left my charger at a friend's apartment. So until I get that back (I'm hoping by tomorrow) here are a few pictures from recent happenings, including a few from my trip to Minnesota (chickens! Wesley!) and from New York (trip to Rockaway Beach -- and Rockaway Taco -- a 1920's party on Govorner's Island, and movies at Brooklyn Bridge Park) as well. I'll be back soon with some great late-summer recipes, I promise.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

I think that this dish, to me, means that summer is really and truly here (as if I couldn't tell by the waves of 95 degree days). Since there are only five ingredients, be sure to use the best tomatoes you can find (or grow). My parents make this pretty much every weekend during the summer -- but since I couldn't be at home sitting on the porch, I made it for myself as a quick lunch last weekend. The recipe can be amended depending on how many people you are feeding, and also makes an excellent appetizer for an easy dinner al fresco. Just serve with a chilled rosé and imagine you are sitting on a terrace somewhere in Italy.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

2 lbs (about 4-5 large) tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup basil leaves, julienned

Salt and pepper

1 baguette, thinly sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

5-6 cloves of garlic, minced

Mix tomatoes and basil in a medium bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk olive oil and garlic together in a small bowl. Lay baguette slices on a baking sheet, and with a pastry brush, brush each slice with garlic & olive oil mixture. Roast until golden brown, about 8 minutes (watch closely as they burn easily). Let cool slightly, then top each piece with a spoonful of tomato mixture. Serve immediately.