Saturday, July 21, 2012

Smoked Salmon and Goat Cheese Toasts -- and a Winner!

These elegant appetizers are in the "impress the boss" league. The fact that they're so easy to prepare puts them in the "no brainer" category, too.  A double whammy.

It was hard to resist eating them as I was assembling them, and it is much more an assembly job than a bona fide recipe. Smoked salmon is a rare treat for me and something I usually reserve just for company. I have to admit, it was a spontaneous purchase -- when do you find smoked salmon on sale? -- and a luxurious indulgence for just me and Mr. Rosemary.

It was really just a good excuse to have a private little cocktail party on the back porch. These pretty little appetizers were perfect for a the steamy afternoons we've had this summer. But then again, I think they'd be perfect any time.

By the way, I didn't tell Mr. Rosemary that these toasts had goat cheese spread on them.  For some reason, he doesn't like it.  But when I told him it was just herbed cream cheese, well, that was okay. Go figure.

I got the recipe from Simply Recipes, adapting it ever so slightly.  Elise Bauer advises that it is the little sliver of lemon atop the toasts that makes all the difference.  She's right.  Don't be tempted to do without it.  (It won't look near as pretty either!)

I did make the herbed cheese myself, just by adding dill and grated lemon peel.  Elise used rosemary and thyme.   But you could also just buy already jazzed-up cheese making these bites even easier.  I also used pumpernickel bread and it didn't overpower the delicacy of the salmon as I feared.  Elise used a French baguette.  Either way, a definite winner.  Anyhow, I  liked the color contrast with the dark bread.

Smoked Salmon and Dilled Goat Cheese on Pumpernickel Toasts
slightly adapted from Simply Recipes

8 ounces soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
30 slices toasts
12 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
thinly peeled strip from one lemon, cut into tiny slivers*
extra dill for garnish, if you want

* Use a sharp vegetable peeler to peel wide strips from a lemon, Probably just one half  of a lemon will do.  Take a metal spoon and scrape any white pith away from the skin.  Then slice the peel into tiny, thin slivers.

Preheat the over to 350 degrees F.  Mix the goat cheese, dill, lemon zest and pepper and set aside.

Brush oil over the bread and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet.  Bake until the bread is just crisp about 5 minutes on each side.

Spread the cheese mixture over the toasts.  Top with pieces of salmon. And garnish with the lemon peel and a tiny bit of dill.

And, now   the winner of  The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook Susan of Create Amazing Meals.  Congratulations, Susan.  I know you'll love the book . . . and I'm pretty sure I'll be posting more cookie dough recipes here!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cookie Dough Lover? Win the Book!

One of my secret indulgences -- and one I know I share with better than half the world! -- is chocolate chip cookie dough.  Any cookie dough. It's a childhood affliction I've never outgrown.

So I was a very easy mark when it came to falling in love with "The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook" by Lindsay Landis. Imagine -- an egg-free cookie dough that you can eat raw (practically) guilt-free!  Heaven!

And it's not just cookie dough, although that alone would be fine with me.There are tons of very creative concoctions that take cookie dough to new gastronomic heights. There are brownie recipes, frozen treats marshmallows, cakes, pies. . . . . you get the idea.
The cookie dough all by itself was a delightful treat but I had to try one (or three) of the new creations. First I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles.  Out of this world good.  My next treat was a little twist on this truffle.

I made chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough, flavored it with almond extract instead of vanilla and then coated the balls with white chocolate.  Very tasty, but not very photogenic, at least not in my hands.  I'm going to have to practice more to get a nice even chocolate coating on the truffle balls. I'd show you the pictures but they were pretty pathetic,  more like "a kindergarten art project,"* than the delicate confections in Lindsay's own photographs.

I also made chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, which practically disappeared before it was spooned out.  It was also one of my first ventures with my new Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment. (Thanks, Amy!) I'm already addicted to making ice cream, an addiction my hips tell me I must overcome.

There are so many tempting desserts and treats made with the cookie dough. imagine Cookie Dough Stuffed French Toast (would have been perfect for Bastille Day), Cookie Dough Cream Pie, or Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars: shortbread, caramel, cookie dough and chocolate, all in one treat!
I love the spiral bound layout of the book and Lindsay offers very helpful  step-by-step advice and delightful head-notes, too.  A practical and fun book.

It's pretty surprising that I would part with my review copy of the book from Quirk Books in a giveaway. (Thanks, Quirk.) But I'm not.  That copy got a couple spots on it that wiped away pretty well but I still didn't feel right about giving that one away.  So you have a chance at a totally clean, smudge-free, brand-new book I bought myself. As I say, I couldn't bear to give my only copy away, but I'm perfectly willing to share the wealth, spread the word and any other cliche I can think of.

For your chance to win the book you can:
  • become a Google follower here (If you already are, I know who you are! And you're enetered once)
  • make a comment here
  • Become a Facebook fan
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Follow me on Pinterest
The winner will be drawn randomly at 7 a.m. EST Friday, July 24, 2012.  Please be sure to leave me a way to contact you by e-mail so I can notify you if you win.  Good luck.  Trust me; you'll love it!.  And if you haven't already, be sure and check out Lindsay's blog, Love and Olive Oil.  There's so much more than cookie dough!

*a description I loved from Jennifer Reese's cookbook Make the Bread, Buy the Butter