Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Saturday our gaggle of gals gathered at Bev’s house for a great summer evening on the deck. As usual Bev is the consummate hostess and terrific cook.  Each of us brought a dish to share and we enjoyed a great dinner of chicken and salmon on the grill accompanied by broccoli salad, asparagus and pistachio fluff and then followed by some sweet ice cold sorbet and fruit compotes.  Yum! 

We started the evening with Bev churning out a limoncello slushy concoction from her blender and moved to a couple of great refreshing sangrias.  A little wine - a nice warm breezy deck and good food and friends and we couldn't have asked for much more.

My contribution to dinner was the appetizers.  A trip out to the farm market where I found a nice bunch of fresh beets and a tub of locally produced goat cheese from The Ornery Goat farm, a quick stop at the grocery for a whole grain baguette or two and a small wedge of Cambozola and I was in business!

I took inspiration for the Beet Crostini from the wonderful Beet and Goat Cheese Dip I ordered at The Burgundy Room on the Short North while we were in Columbus over this past Easter weekend. A browse through the internet scored the following recipe using the beets I found at the market. Once you have the beets roasted and cooled, putting this together was a snap as was the other crostini I chose to make. 


This makes a stunning appetizer. The beets are roasted then pureed with goat cheese for a creamy ruby-red spread. If you've bought beets with the stems on, you could easily sautée the tops with olive oil and garlic for a topping adding more nutrition and color to this appetizer. 

2-3 small to medium sized fresh beets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 ounces creamy goat cheese
16 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette, preferably whole-grain, cut on the diagonal

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Roll the washed and dried beets around in the olive oil.  Using a piece of aluminum foil large enough to loosely wrap the beets completely, place the beets in the foil with a couple sprigs of rosemary and thyme, cover with the foil and crimp edges to seal the packets.  Put in the oven and roast until beets very tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the beets. Uncover and let cool. The skins should slip off or easily be peeled from the beets once they're cool. 
Peel the cooled beets and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place 3/4 cup beet pieces, goat cheese,salt and pepper in a food processor and puree until fairly smooth.

Place the baguette slices in the oven set at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes to toast, or grill them slightly on the outdoor grill (which I did Saturday since Bev was already heating the gill for the main course). 

To assemble crostini, spread about 2 teaspoons beet-cheese spread on each slice of toasted baguette and garnish with a leaf or two of fresh thyme.

As a second appetizer offering, I also put together another of my favorite combinations, bread and cheese, in the form of a Cambozola Cheese and Walnut Crostini with Honey Drizzle. The combination of salty cheese, crunchy walnuts and sweet honey hits all the right notes.

I’m also pleased that the honey I used for my drizzle came from one of my favorite local businesses, Becker’s Cottage Herb Farm. Aside from the greenhouse plants Jan sells in the spring, she sells eggs from her 4 pretty little hens in the back coop and honey from her beehive. Even though the greenhouse is closed for the season, you can still find Jan selling her honey, herbs and flowers at the Springfield Farm Market on Friday nights and the Barberton Farm Market on Wednesday's. I'm a huge honey fan and generally buy it whenever I see it from local purveyors. Honey flavors range from light and mild to dark and robust and I love them all.  This appetizer worked very well with the mild honey I got from Jan's busy bees.

Anyone not familiar with Cambozola should quickly recitfy that situation.  Cambozola is a combination of  french triple-cream cheese and an Italian Gorganzola.  A marriage made in international heaven, this cheese is soft and creamy and has the tang of a blue cheese.  Great just served with whole grain crackers and some fruit, this cheese also works really well with the sweet honey and crunch of the walnuts in this crostini.  You'll have to search a bit to find this in a specialty cheese case like at Kreiger's or West Point Market or a more upscale grocery.  This is well worth seeking out if you love cheese as much as I do.


4 oz. cambozola or a good blue cheese
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped coarsly - I used some glazed walnuts for added sweetness
16 1/2-inch-thick slices baguette, preferably whole-grain, cut on the diagonal
mild flavored honey

Toast the baguette slices in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or grill on a preheated grill until they are slightly toasted. 

Spread a small slice of the cambizola cheese or crumble a tablespoon of blue cheese over the warm bread.  Sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and drizzle with the honey.

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