Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Appetizer for dinner

Endive goat cheese and walnut spears, pate and apple toast points, pumpkins sage soup

The thing I like about appetizers is not, as the mother in the movie Mermaids says, that anything more is too much of a commitment. It's that appetizers have a higher proportion of gooey good stuff. They're like cupcakes that way. It's not a wonder tapas bars have been so popular.

I was in an appetizer mood when I made last night's dinner. I was also in the mood for some sort of soft, vitaminless leaf. We've all had the same damn endive salad. Janet's exciting brunch menu takes the salad to a new and exciting place, with blue cheese and pomegranate. But I aimed lower. i sliced four endive spears in half lengthwise. Then I removed as much of the centers (or hearts) as I could. I chopped the hearts and mixed them with about half a pound of soft goat cheese and half a cup of toasted walnuts. Then I spooned the mixture back into the endive "boats." If you're not an endive fan, this is a great way to have them. All that heavy walnut and goat cheese really turns them into something else.

I was at Blue Apron (a specialty food store here) buying ham for the pumpkin risotto when I noticed Jasper had a tube of veal liver pate in his mouth. Now I do try to resist the temptation to buy the meat of little baby cows kept in small, dark cages (most of the meat and animal products we buy are from free-range, grass-fed, you name it). But when your kid puts a food product in his mouth at a store you're obligated to purchase it. So we did. It's a tender shade of pink, soft and flavorful. I smeared it on whole wheat toast, covered with thinly-sliced honeycrisp apples, and cut into triangles just so I could call them toast points.

After making the risotto and pumpkin bread I still had about two cups of roasted pumpkin. I added two cups of chicken broth and some browned sage, simmered for a while, blended with a hand mixer, and that was it! Very simple soup. It wasn't the most elegant or revelatory, but it is a nice change from the usual flavors you encounter with pumpkin soup -- either curries or pie spices.

We also baked some chocolate chip cookies. I mentioned a few weeks ago the catering/takeout place in my neighborhood, Luscious. I love their chocolate chip cookies because they're so salty and none too sweet. The saltiness brings out the chocolate and vanilla. I tried this with the recipe on the back of the Ghiradelli package. While I kept the same amount of sugar I used twice the amount of salt and I used regular butter instead of unsalted. They came out as well flavored as the cookies at Luscious, but I now know why chocolate chip cookies are best made with white flour instead of whole wheat. These did not come together quite right -- they sort of separated, with chewy bottoms. Next time I'll use unbleached while flour.


Writermama said...

Yum! Those cookies sound great!

Adriana, I need some advice. What is a good, tasty thing to do with leeks, besides soup? I always give into my tempation to buy them at the Farmer's Market and then I get them home, and I just can't seem to cook them up well. Why is this!! I need your expert opinion!

Adriana Velez said...

Leeks are fairly companionable vegetables and play well with others. You could braise them with carrots, beets, or zucchini in chicken stock, then pour cream over then just before serving. Or you could grill them with pork chops or any other grilled meat. In both cases, remove the outermost leaves and cut lengthwise.

Cutting lengthwise helps leeks cook differently than if you cut crosswise, but it is also a matter of aesthetics. If you want to elevate leeks to the main part of a dish (as opposed to a supporting role in soup) cutting this way allows you to appreciate the unique form of a leek. It also allows you to play a little with it as you eat it, since you will have to cut it at your plate.

Another idea of leeks is to put them in quiche (in which case, do cut crosswise). For that matter, they're probably good in an omelette as well.