Tag Archives: Snacks to serve with drinks

Slice and Bake Cheese Sables

with wineSome mammals develop an extra layer of insulation to keep them toasty during the winter. For mammals with fur, this extra layer consists of a thicker or longer winter coat of their fur. When spring and summer roll around they naturally shed that extra layer. Other mammals, like me for instance, pack on a cookie layer to keep them warm during the polar vortex. Sadly, that extra layer does not magically shed when bathing suit season rolls around.

 In order to help me shed my cookie layer I declared my kitchen a bake-free zone during the month of January. But, as anyone who knows me can attest, I can get a little cranky if I go too long without baking. I was having some friends over for drinks this week so I thought I would break my rule and bake some savoury cheese sables. (Sable is what the French refer to when talking about crumbly butter cookies) It didn’t really feel like cheating since these cookies are sugar free!

I came across a recipe for Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt in the January 2015 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. The dough came together very quickly and I rolled it into a log and chilled it. Slice and bake cookies make me very happy. slicingThey are topped with some rosemary salt as soon as they come out of the oven.adding rosemary salt While they looked quite beautiful, when I picked up a cooled biscuit to taste, it fell apart in my hands. I am not quite sure what I did wrong. Perhaps it is nature’s way of telling me that until I shed my cookie layer, and I need to lay off all biscuits, be they sweet or savoury!with rosemaryI carefully transferred them to a platter and served them anyways. They were messy but still quite delicious. If anyone has any ideas about what went wrong, let me know. I have a few suspicions. I used Manchego Cheese instead of the Parmesan called for in the recipe, so perhaps that was a factor. I also baked them while on holiday in Florida, on a very humid day, so perhaps that was what caused them to crumble.

Click here to print recipe for Slice and Bake Cheese Sables with Rosemary Salt.

Avocado Toasts

I’m about to confess something that may get me drummed out of the tribe. I’m sick of eating humus! Truthfully, I have only myself to blame for this unfortunate state of events. I have been eating humus with carrot and celery sticks  for lunch everyday for the past year. Seriously, everyday! I know, you must be wondering, how is that possible? She’s a food blogger, she must create all kinds of wonderful lunches, each day more imaginative and fantastic than the last. But the sad truth is that I get into a rut, it’s just easy, plus it’s healthy and fairly low cal and so then I feel justified later in the day to indulge in my daily aperitivo!

I confess my boring lunch habit not so you will feel sorry for me, but as a way of sharing with you the discovery of a fantastic and simple appetizer to serve with drinks when company comes to visit.

Every summer for the past 26 years we have been gathering at our cottage with my husband’s University housemates and their spouses. Over the years our numbers have swelled as everyone started having kids. We had our annual get together this past weekend. It was just a small group of 15 this year as several members had other commitments. Each family is responsible for one meal over the weekend. It’s fantastic because it means that I am not in the kitchen the entire weekend cooking for everyone and I can enjoy my company instead of resent them!

As I began to plan what to serve my guests with drinks before dinner, I ruled out the usual suspects: humus and pita (sick of humus, see above!), tortilla chips and salsa (too predictable), a big bowl of pistachios or peanuts (nut allergies). As I was reading my July issue of Bon Appetit magazine, the photo on the editor’s letter page stopped me cold. It was just simply grilled bread topped with ripe avocado, sea salt, olive oil and red pepper flakes. I have to say that since Editor-in-Chief  Adam Rapoport took over at the helm of Bon Appetit, I have really started to enjoy reading this magazine once again. He has injected it with a fresh modern vibe and it just inspires me to cook everything on the pages. I still miss Gourmet (a moment of silence please!), but Bon Appetit is really doing a great job to partially fill the void.

The beauty of these avocado toasts is in their simplicity. The key is to gather together the very best ingredients for this dish. There is no real cooking or recipe involved here. Think of yourself as an orchestra leader, bringing together some gifted musicians. Each on their own, sounds quite nice. Together, they create a beautiful harmony. Look for good Artisan bread that has an “open crumb structure” (that’s baker speak for bread with lots of holes – more holes means more crusty spots to give added crunch and crevices for the olive oil to drip into).

A big fat clove of fresh garlic gets rubbed onto just grilled bread.

The avocados should be perfectly ripe, so buy them a few days ahead so they have time to ripen to perfection.

Table salt need not apply for the job of topping these crostini. Pull out the Maldon Sea Salt or some Fleur de Sel. The large crystals of salt will give added crunch and provide a perfect counterpoint to the bland creamy avocado. Pull out that expensive bottle of fruity, slightly bitter olive oil that you have been saving for a special occasion. The nooks and crannies of the grilled Artisan bread will soak it up. Finally, a very light sprinkling of red pepper flakes to wake up the taste buds.

These Avocado Toasts will have your friends and family toasting you!!