Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Prosciutto, fig and blue cheese rolls with balsamic glaze

French term amuse-bouche literally means mouth amuser. It is a bite-sized treat to prepare guests for the first course. It is usually served with aperitifs and is not ordered from the menu. Chefs serve amuse-bouches as a preview of the upcoming three course meal.
Prosciutto, fig and blue cheese rolls are my favourite.  These decadent bites of flavour will tingle your guests’ mouths with surprisingly distinctive balance.  Saltiness of prosciutto, fruitiness of figs aromatized with rose water and bitterness of blue cheese.  They all come together in a heavenly harmony, drizzled with tangy but sweet balsamic reduction that gives your amuse-bouche that glorious glaze. It is a perfect way to start any dinner party. I like serving my amuse-bouches on a heavy wooden cutting board with few types of hard cheeses.
6 strips of prosciutto, 2 fresh figs, few drops of rose water, a drizzle of honey, ¼ cup of crumbled blue cheese, 4 mint leaves, ½ cup of balsamic vinegar

Cut figs into wedges and place them in a small bowl. Add few drops of rose water and a touch of honey and let them rest for 10 minutes.  Lay out 6 strips of prosciutto horizontally on a plastic wrap so they create a sheet for your rolls. Lay figs in one horizontal line at the bottom of your prosciutto sheet. Crumble blue cheese and let it rest near figs. Chiffonade some mint leaves and spread them over figs and cheese. With the help of plastic wrap, roll the prosciutto into a long roll. Refrigerate it for 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife cut the roll through the plastic wrap into small bite size pieces. Remove the plastic wrap. 
Balsamic glaze:
Pour half a cup of balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Let it reduce by half so the liquid becomes syrup like. Let the balsamic reduction cool and then drizzle it over the rolls.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Fig and Olive Tapenade

This recipe was developed by one of my Home Cookin’ guests, Amanda Garbutt. Amanda and I share passion for elegant recipes that bring family and friends together. This fabulous tapenade caresses your mouth with perfectly balanced flavours. Saltiness of olives rounded out by sweet chewy bite of dried figs. Balsamic vinegar adds some delicate acidity and the liquid gold (olive oil) gives the tapenade that beautiful velvety texture. Amanda spreads goats’ cheese on crostinis and then tops it with the tapenade. I like to crumble some cheese over the tapenade. I serve this hors d'oeuvre with aperitifs. Garnishing it with a shrimp or a basil leaf takes this appetizer to the next level.


Extra-virgin olive oil , 10 Green olives, pitted, 12 dried figs, 6 basil leaves, 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 garlic clove, 12 slices baguette, ½ cup packed goat cheese or blue cheese, salt and pepper.


In a food processor combine the olives, figs, basil, balsamic and garlic and pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped. Season with salt and pepper. With the motor running drizzle in olive oil until the tapenade has a smooth, spreadable consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the slices of baguette lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Assemble: Spread a layer of tapenade on the crostinis. Top with crumbled goat’s cheese or blue cheese and an extra sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.