Monday, May 25, 2009

The Designer Jeans of Appetizers

I was trying to decide what recipe would start me off and get you to come back. Let's start with an appetizer.  I mean, first impressions are hard to shake.  It's like trying to decide what to wear to a party full of beautiful people. Well this recipe is the little black dress of appetizers.  Actually that sounds entirely too fussy for this little tidbit.  This recipe is really the designer jeans of appetizers. Jeans can go anywhere nowadays, just like this tasty combination.  It can be offered at the start of an elegant dinner party, or be thrown together for an impromptu cocktail in the early evening.  It has only six ingredients and there really isn't any cooking involved.  It's dead simple and really tasty. 

This recipe is simply a variation of the cheese-on-crackers theme.  In this case the cheese is a creamy, tangy goat cheese topped with the lemony-licorousy herbal taste of fresh basil, crunchy, buttery toasted pine nuts, the fresh zip of lemon zest, all adorned with a drizzle of sun-kissed extra virgin olive oil.  Although you could serve the cheese with its topping on slices of fresh baguette, I prefer the crisp snap of water crackers laced with just a hint of black pepper.

Goat Cheese with Pine Nuts and Basil on Black Pepper Crackers
Serves 4 (can easily be increased or decreased)

4 oz. log soft goat cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
A small stack of store bought water crackers with black pepper, Carr's brand preferred

Heat a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat for one minute.  Add the pine nuts and brown them by shaking the pan occasionally for about two minutes.  Don't walk away as this goes very quickly.  Remove the pine nuts from the skillet immediately once they are spotty brown as they will continue to cook and can easily burn.

Place the goat cheese on a small platter, top with shredded basil, pine nuts, and lemon zest.  Pour the olive oil over all and serve with the crackers on the side.

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