After a slog to the finish for David’s end of term, and with my impending departure back to Vancouver, we decided to throw a little get-together for the graduate students in the department. In typical fashion, we quickly came up with a rather lengthy list of appetizers to try out. The menu included slow roasted pork belly (which David declares will be a staple now at any gathering), Salade Niçoise, sliced Granny Smith apples and raspberries, bleu cheese walnut tarts, spicy deviled eggs, and warm artichoke and cheddar dip. The latter three recipes I’ve provided below.
Bleu cheese and walnut tarts
adapted from Tarts
2 tbsp butter
2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped
1 small leek, trimmed and finely chopped
1-1/4 cup heavy cream
7 oz bleu cheese
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 frozen pie shells
Preheat oven to 400 F. Blind bake the pie shells for 5-7 minutes. Melt butter in a skillet and add celery and leek and cook for 15 minutes, until soft. Add 2 tbsp heavy cream and crumble in the bleu cheese and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Bring remaining cream to simmering point in another pan, then pour onto egg yolks, stirring all the time. Mix in the bleu cheese mixture and spoon into pastry shells. Bake for 15 minutes.
A few notes on preparation: A failure to closely read the recipe lead David to mix the cream, celery and leek prior to sautéing the vegetables. Thus, he simmered the cream-celery-leek mixture until the veggies were tender, then added in the bleu cheese. He then added this slowly to the egg yolk. Finally, he stirred in the walnuts to the mixture.
David noted that they were a bit heavy, and it would be nice if they rose a bit more. This recipe is originally designed for tartlets which we adapted to full-size pie shells due to their availability, which may have contributed. Otherwise, they taste delicious–the bleu cheese is very present but not overpowering. The flavour is a nice balance of nuttiness and saltiness.
Spicy deviled eggs
adapted from Food Network Magazine
6 eggs, hard-boiled and shelled
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1 tsp Sriracha (hot Asian sauce)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lime juice
Halve the hard-boiled eggs and scoop the egg yolks into a bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the egg-whites. Top each egg half with a bit of lime zest.
Super tasty! David thought they could be a touch of creamier (just adding in a little extra cream would help), but they were a nice mix of the smoky, saltiness of the bacon with the vinegary/pepper of the sriracha sauce. They had a nice kick to them, but not to spicy such that I couldn’t abide them. A hint of lime was also a nice, refreshing addition.
Warm artichoke & cheddar dip
from The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook
Makes 3 cups
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 oz extra old Cheddar, shredded
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
dash of hot sauce
corn tortilla chips or veggies for dipping
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 3 minutes. Slowly pour the milk into the mixture, whisking constantly. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cheese and artichokes, and season with hot sauce. Serve warm.
Though David was slightly worried that it would congeal if left out too long, it held its warm, gooey consistency very well. It was a good texture and flavour, though I would’ve liked a bit more cheese taste. Adding in an extra couple ounces of cheese should do the trick. Otherwise, a very quick and simple recipe for dip!