Monday, April 16, 2012

grilled grape and ricotta crostinis

I've been eyeing this appetizer on the blogosphere for a while now. It popped up in Bon Appetit a few editions ago. Then it was all over the Pinterest boards. After one bite, I knew what all the fuss was about.

Not only is this a beautiful dish (you eat with your eyes first), but it's addictingly scrumptious.

I roasted a bundle of grapes with some thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper (400 degrees for 12 minutes). While the grapes were cooking in the oven, I whisked together some ricotta with a generous portion of salt, some pepper, and a bit honey (1/2 cup ricotta, 1 T honey, 1 T salt, 1 t pepper).

We headed out to the grilled and threw some slices of fresh sourdough on a hot, hot grill - just a minute on each side. I carefully placed the grapes on the grill for about 30 seconds-ish, to reheat them and get some extra charring.

Throw a dollop of ricotta and some grapes on the toasted up bread. And prepare to fall in love.

Meet your new favorite Summer-time appetizer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

lemon bars

Life has been pretty crazy for the past few weeks. Like "hold on for dear life, let's just hope we make it through." Where "Stronger" and "I'm a Surviver" are on constant replay on my iPod. And red wine is a required food group for dinner time.

Yes, that sort of crazy.

I have found that lemon bars provide an immense amount of reprieve in a state like this. They're buttery and tart and creamy. They remind you that you are totally capable of kicking life in the butt.

Which brings me to this conclusion. When life gives you lemons, make lemon bars.

Yes, so totally cheesy. But oh-so-true. Lemon bars make the world a better place.

The so-called "World's Best Lemon Bars"

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
7 large egg yokes
2 whole large eggs
1 cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, separated
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9" square baking pan with two pieces of aluminum foil at right angles (to form a sling). Lightly coat foil with vegetable oil.

Mix together flour, confectioners sugar and salt. Using a food processor, incorporate 8 tablespoons of the butter until the mixture is pale yellow. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer. Bake until the crust starts to brown slightly, about 20 minutes.

While crust is baking, whisk together egg yolks and whole eggs in a saucepan. Whisk in granulated sugar until combined, then whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest, and a generous pinch of salt. Add remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly and registers 170 degrees, about 5 minutes.

Strain the mixture and stir in cream. Pour the warm curd over the hot crust. Bake until the filing is shiny and opaque and the center jiggles slightly when shaken, 15 minutes.

Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours, before removing from the pan. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.