Tag goat cheese

Parties That Cook Gears Up for Cooking Farm to Table: Classic Crostini Recipe

As we gear up for our first Cooking Farm to Table Class this weekend, I think it’s time we give everyone a “taste” of what’s in store. No, we cannot send you a care package of ingredients used! (Though Canvas Ranch, the family-run farm where we are hosting this class, offers a Summer Season CSA program.) What we can do is open your eyes to one of our classic recipes to be featured this Saturday: Crostini of Goat Cheese and Tomato Jam – YUM. You can find this recipe in our Appetizer Recipe Library, and can find the tomatoes at Canvas Ranch this weekend!

Crostini of Goat Cheese and Tomato Jam

Tomato Jam:
1 1/2 pounds ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, peeled and chopped, reserving any juice
3/4 cups sugar
1 orange, peeled and sectioned, roughly chopped, reserving any juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon (or regular) thyme, chopped

1 baguette, sliced diagonally into slices 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
7 ounces goat cheese at room temperature

Thyme sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Make Jam: Place tomatoes, sugar, orange, lemon zest/juice (including tomato and orange juices) and salt in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour tomato mixture into a large-sized sauté pan over moderate-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until a jam-like thickness is achieved, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and add thyme. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until it is cool to the touch, about 15 minutes. Alternatively, place bowl in freezer for 5-10 minutes.

Make Crostini: Brush the bread slices on one side with olive oil. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and cook until the slices are golden around the edges and crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Rub one side of each crostini with a clove of garlic.

Assembly: Spread 1 Tablespoon of the goat cheese evenly over the toasts. Top with a dollop of tomato jam on the goat cheese. Garnish with a sprig of thyme. Serve immediately.

Parties That Cook’s July Cookbook Club: Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen

This past Monday, the Parties That Cook office staff got together to take a culinary journey to one of PTC’s cities in the Pacific Northwest. Can you guess which before the next sentence? Without leaving the office, we were able to enjoy Italian food, Seattle-style! It was Carolyn’s turn to pick the book for July’s cookbook club meeting, and with a little help from Bibby, she chose New Italian Kitchen. Ethan Stowell, named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in America in ’08, put this cookbook together featuring mouth-watering pastas, meats, soups, salads and desserts.

The photos are beautiful and really inspire you to jump in the kitchen! For the most part, the recipes are pretty simple. Steps are clearly laid out, and there is little guessing involved except when it comes to seasoning. We decided that seasoning is specified less in cookbooks that come from restaurant chefs. Still, the recipes in New Italian Kitchen are easily executed (and executed well) by home cooks. There’s even a “Building Blocks” section with recipes for kitchen staples!

We had 11 people in attendance, including two guests: Laura, a great sous chef out in the field, and Liz, our new PR contact in San Francisco! Boy, were they in for a treat. Get ready for a recap of this feast of smaller proportions!

Antipasti Platter: Cassandra was originally going to redefine “off-roading” by selecting a recipe from another MAGAZINE. But prior commitments got the best of her weekend, and she so nicely offered to supplement our meal with a delicious antipasti platter of assorted meats.

Heirloom Tomato Soup: Melissa, our NEW Warehouse Manager, participated in her first PTC cookbook club this month! She brought in Heirloom Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons, and with the guidance of Cassandra, found the courage to off-road on the very first step in the recipe. Rather than using raw tomatoes, she opted to cook them before puréeing. They weren’t the ripest to begin with, which left Melissa a bit disappointed by the final result.

Swiss Chard with Golden Raisins: Michelene selected this recipe, which originally contains pine nuts, despite being allergic to pine nuts! An easy fix: she left them out. The resulting sautéed chard was delicious! Most, if not all, of the bitterness chard is known for disappears in the process.

Lentils with Pancetta: Rebecca chose this recipe in a mad scramble the Friday afternoon before our meeting, and she chose well! Everyone loved this simple recipe that differs from “normal” preparation in that the lentils are pre-cooked with veggies, and served with fresher, non-mushy vegetables and pancetta.

Bruschetta with Fresh Ricotta and Pine Nut Salsa Verde: Crissy stole the show with this dish! Her homemade Ricotta was addictive and the Pine Nut Salsa Verde was the perfect addition! Trust me, the photo looks exactly like the book’s!

Grilled Polenta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Pounded Anchovy Sauce: Rosie’s dish was fantastic! Nobody would have guessed that there were sardines present in the recipe until Rosie told us – a good sign.

Frittata with Morels and Savory: With this dish, Carolyn proved that Savory is more than just a flavor. Her frittata was delicious, and there was no evidence of a struggle despite the Stowell’s warning that skillet size and frittata thickness is everything.

Penne con Pomodoro e Aceto Balsamic (Penne with Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar): Bibby called Cassandra’s bluff and literally off-roaded, as she went car camping this weekend. For the trip, she made a dish Cassandra introduced us to back in May. ‘Twas a crowd-pleaser then, remains a favorite now!

Blueberry Basil Sorbet and Cardamom Sablés: Beth selected the dish that sparked a heated debate over the pronunciation of sablés. The accent mark says it all: Delicious. The sorbet was a crowd favorite – not too sweet, not too savory – and paired perfectly with the cardamom cookies!

Goat Cheese with Chestnut Honey and Hazelnut Dust: Erin brought in this delicate dessert, and being the “civilized” bunch that we are, we loved it! The combination of a light goat cheese and an Italian honey that was not overwhelmingly sweet (a substitution for Chestnut Honey) was AMAZING. A great choice from the section titled “Cheese for the Civilized and Desserts for the Rest of You”!

Though some of the dishes felt like they belonged on a winter menu, the general consensus was that with so many delicious recipes to offer, New Italian Kitchen is a great cookbook for home cooks. Keep an eye out for a potential themed cookbook club in the future: French Laundry, anyone? Just a thought: maybe we should take a day off from work to make those recipes a reality.