Baked Goat Cheese

Baked Goat Cheese - Breaded

Goat cheese always reminds me of my friend Peggy. It would be her way of treating herself after a great accomplishment, or perhaps just a long hard week. She would bake it in the oven in a bed of marinara sauce, and sco0p it up with fresh bread from a local bakery. I was always impressed with how decadent it appeared, yet how simple it was to prepare. It’s been a year or so since I’ve watch her make her creation, yet I’d never made it myself. But what better way to unwind with something rich and indulgent (yet surprisingly healthy) and so simple to prepare?

Baked Goat Cheese - EnteroBakes Goat Cheese - SlicedBaked Goat Cheese - MarinatingBaked Goat Cheese - On Cracker

When I saw this recipe I was reminded of my friend — and so, nostalgic, we went to the store and bought some to prepare. It was simple, yet you can make it more involved if you like. I chose to marinated it, as David recommended, in a little olive oil and herbs. When we were ready to eat I quickly dredged the slices in some homemade breadcrumbs (although store-bought pre-seasoned works just as well if you’re in a rush) and stuck it in the oven for a matter of minutes. Served with a warm tomato sauce and on some nice toasty bread or homemade crackers, a delicate bed of greens — it is a simple, decadent meal on its own, or it can be an appetizer or accompaniment to your main course. Now that I’m working and much too busy to spend hours on recipes, this will become a semi-frequent staple for those nights we want something special.

Baked Goat Cheese

Ingredients:
6 oz Soft Fresh Goat Cheese

Marinade (optional):
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage
Fresh ground pepper
Dash of Salt

Bread Crumbs:
2 slices day old bread, crumbled (should make 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (minced)
1 teaspoon fresh sage (minced)

Directions:
1. Prepare the marinade. Mix salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, and olive oil in a dish to marinate. Slice goat cheese in 1/2 thick disks and place in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

2. Toast bread crumbs. Crumble the bread finely. Mix with 1 teaspoon olive oil until just coated. Season with salt and pepper. Toast in oven at 400ºF for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix with chopped herbs.

3. Bake. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Remove cheese from marinade, allowing excess oil to drip off. Dredge in bread crumbs and place in oiled baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese starts to ooze out a bit. Serve on fresh toasted bread or crackers.

Ginger-Spiked Yogurt Tart with Coconut-Sesamee Seed Crust

Ginger Tart - Baked with Toppings

I love ginger. It has been sitting at the top of my favorite things list for quite some time. My favorite tea which I drink nearly every night before bed, is ginger. And I love when I find recipes that allow me to use ginger in a new way. Growing up I have had ginger cake, ginger snaps, and ginger bread men – all utilizing dried and ground ginger. But the flavor of fresh ginger, and the extra zing it delivers, I find more satisfying than the dried spice. This light, delicate, yet simple tart really features the fresh flavor of the ginger root. Of course you can leave out the ginger and use berries or orange zest, but when you can get the health benefits of ginger in dessert that tastes like this, why would you?

Ginger Tart - Ginger WholeGinger Tart - Pressing Ginger

Ginger Tart - CrustGinger Tart - Baked Crust

And this tart is really simple. As simple as making chocolate chip cookies – and perhaps even simpler beacuase you only need to make one batch (or you can do a few tiny tartletts if you have the cute little scalloped-rim dishes. That would be adorable). Its as simple as smushing together the crust, whisking together the filling, and baking for a half hour or so. And you’ll know its done because the filling won’t jiggle. It’s as simple as that. I believe the mystery to those fancy desserts has been solved: they’re not really that tricky after all. At least not this one.

The filling is sweet, tangy, and spicy all at the same time, accompanied by a crisp and buttery coconut-sesame crust: I have to say the combination is divine. This recipe is easy to cut in half, so if you wanna do a trial run before you commit yourself to a giant pie, go for it.

Ginger Tart

Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons honey
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
pinch of salt

Directions:
Grease tart pan or pie pan. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Toast oats, sesame seeds, and coconut until golden, just about 3 minutes on high heat. Combine first all the dry ingredients. Combine the honey using a fork, and then add the butter, mashing with a fork until evenly combined. Press evenly into tart pan, making a 3/4 inch-high edge. Poke shallow holes into crust bottom. Bake for 5 minutes, and remove.

Filling:
1 cup natural plain yogurt, strained through cheese cloth so thick
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon/lime/orange/grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon zest of lime or orange
1/4 cup ginger juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional, for stronger taste)

Directions.
To make ginger juice, simply peed a piece of fresh ginger. Grate it on your box grated on the small side. Place the grated ginger in a lime juicer to squeeze as much of the juice out as possible.

Whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Fill into partially baked pie crust. Bake for about 35-40 minutes at 350ºF, or until center is set.

Red Onion Rosemary Flatbread

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I don’t know if I would call this a cracker, a flat bread, or just an attempt to save some leftover bread dough that didn’t fit into our tiny toaster oven. After I made a loaf of my bran bread, I had a softball-sized wad of dough just sitting in the fridge. I was going to bake a mini-loaf, but then thinking about the chickpea salad we were having for dinner, realized a cracker might for spreading the garlic and the juices at the bottom of the bowl. So I rolled the chilled dough out as flat as I could get it, and rubbed it with olive oil on both sides. Chopped some fresh rosemary from my herb garden (the first harvest yet!), slivered some red onion, and sprinkled on some queso seco (finely grated parmasean or romano would work perfectly), and sea salt. Baked it for 20 minutes until crisp, and cut into finger-length pedacitos.

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I won’t post the recipe, because it’s really all to your liking. You may use a bread dough you are comfortable with, you may use pre-made pizza dough, you may even just mix together 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon instant yeast (or 1/2 teaspoon baking soda or nothing at all), 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup water, and 2 tablespoons olive oil; mix, let rest for about an hour, and roll out into a thin thin sheet. You can use whatever toppings you like. Many fresh herbs would be lovely on this, such as sage or thyme, but I just wanted to use my new rosemary plant. Be creative, or use what you have around the house.

It’s delicious with hummus, babaganoush, roasted garlic spread, zucchini tatziki, an assortment of cheeses, ect. Yum!!

Bread-base suggestions: my healty bran bread, homemade or packaged pizza dough, a simple dough of flour water and olive oil (see above), or even puff pastry.

Topping suggestions: olive oil, large grain sea salt, cumin and zest of a lime, za’atar, paprika, cayenne, sesame seeds, pine nuts (pressed in), poppy seeds, sliced olives, thyme, rosemary, sage, a variety of cheeses (shredded), thinly sliced red onion.

Bake: 400ºF for 15-20 minutes until crispy, or according to other recipe instructions.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

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The first time I tried these I had actually been a vegetarian for a few years. It was at a party catered by the university welcoming incoming graduate students. Fancy waiters dressed in tuxedos carried trays of h’orderves  around. At the beginning I was careful to inquire of the contents of the food, but it turned out to be too complicated. I grabbed one of these guys and the flavor was one I could not identify, but they were addicting. A salty crisp on the outside with a hint of maple, a chewy gooey center – the combination explosive. I fascinated over what they could be. I actually never found out. Until a few months later, at another University sponsored event with the same caterers. I was there with some friends, one a fellow vegetarian. When I saw a tray of my old friends being wielded around I almost dove. And as I was marveling yet again over the salty sweetness, my friend asked me why I was eating the bacon wrapped dates. Huh…thats what that strange flavor is…

Well, these days I am not longer a vegetarian. The first time I came to Guatemala I found myself in awkward situations denying food from Tía Emma, or Abuela Zoila – two lovely women I would never want to offend. So little by little I would try a few bites to show respect, but still considered myself a vegetarian. One day, however, just about two years ago now, we went to Zacapa. There I tried chicharrone, which I would best describe as a bacon on steroids. If I could enjoy that, I could no longer call myself vegetarian. I wasn’t going to lie to myself.

To this day I don’t eat very much meat, however I will indulge every once in a while in chicharron or these bacon wrapped dates. High quality products, a new experience, or simply a sinful craving such as buffalo wings. Those are my excuses.

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I would also like to mention that these are served at Mercat, one of my favorite restaurants as mentioned in a previous post. Mercat’s were simple bacon wrapped dates, but I have come across a number of recipes calling for blue cheese, almonds, and other similar stuffings. I thought I would try a couple different ones. Some carry walnuts, some manchego cheese, some both, some neither. They are very simple to put together and take very little time to bake. An easy way to impress some friends at a dinner party or for drinks some afternoon.

Bacon Wrapped Dates:

Ingredients:
10 strips of bacon
20 dates, pitted and whole
Additional stuffings for the dates: blue cheese, gorgonzala cheese, manchego, or other; almonds, walnuts, ect…

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Fill the walnuts with your desired stuffings. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap the bacon securely around the date. You may want to use a toothpick to fasten it, but I simply rested the tail of the bacon under the roll. Place on a baking sheet and in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the outsides are crisped to desired texture (I like mine well done) and the insides are soft. Serve warm or at room temperature (and I don’t mind them cold either).