Avocado Crostini

by Jennifer

These were out-of-this-world good!  So good, you don’t want to stop eating them, and you don’t care if you’re not hungry for dinner.  That good.  Recipe comes from Food & Wine magazine.  Serves 6 – 8.

  • 1 large baguette, thinly sliced (I bought mine at Panera and asked them to slice it for me)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 oil-packed anchovies, drained
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 avocados, halved, pitted, and thinly sliced to fit the crostini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat baguette slices with cooking spray and bake until golden and crisp, 8 – 10 minutes.  When cool, transfer to a serving dish.

Combine olive oil through pepper in a blender

and puree until smooth.  (The parsley pesto can be made the day before and brought to room temperature before serving.)

Immediately before serving, top each crostini with some avocado

and spoon the parsley pesto over each one.

Fried Plantains

by Jennifer

The greener the plantains, the less sweet/more starchy they taste;  all I could find at my supermarket were more ripe plantains, which had a subtle sweetness that went well with the salt.  Serves 4 – 6.

  • 4 plantains
  • vegetable oil safe for frying
  • salt

Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy pot over moderately high heat, until it shimmers.

Meanwhile, slice the plantains, peels on, diagonally, then remove peels (gently pop plantain flesh out of ring of peel).

Fry the plantain slices in batches until golden, then remove to paper towels to drain.

Gently smash the fried plantains with the bottom of a glass, then fry again, in the same oil, until dark golden brown.

Transfer to clean paper towels to drain, and season well with salt.  Serve hot.

Goat Cheese and Balsamic Onion Phyllo Pouches

by Jennifer

This recipe is adapted from one on Food.com.  Take advantage of the long, slow cooking time for the onions to multi-task;  after the onions are finished, this appetizer comes together quickly and easily, and is fantastic.  Though I don’t have photos, I used some of the extra phyllo dough to make pesto “cigars”:  brush olive oil over 4 layers of phyllo dough (one on top on another);  cut in half lengthwise;  spread pesto over both halves, leaving a little margin all around;  roll up lengthwise, then cut each roll crosswise into 4 equal pieces;  transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil, then bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.  These, too, were delicious.

  • 1 TBS unsalted butter
  • 2 medium-large Vidalia onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 phyllo sheets (thawed)
  • butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 3 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

Add onions and cook over medium-low heat until

very soft and caramel-colored, about 30 minutes.

Add balsamic vinegar and honey and cook for another 20 minutes,

or until the mixture is thick and syrupy.  Remove from heat and stir in thyme.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a sheet of phyllo dough with cooking spray;  repeat with remaining three sheets, one on top of another.

Cut stack of phyllo into 6 equal pieces.  Divide onion filing among pieces,

then top with cheese.

Bring corners up and twist together to form a pouch;  transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and coat with spray.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until lightly golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

by Jennifer

I’ve adapted this recipe from Cooking Light.

  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in two
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat broiler;  line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the tomatoes (one of my plum tomatoes went bad so I substituted a regular tomato), garlic, peppers and onion on it.

Broil for 8 minutes;  turn all the vegetables over and broil another 8 minutes.  Let cool.

Peel the peppers and garlic;  process to a paste in a mini-processor (or a large food processor, if you like) and transfer to a bowl.

Cut the onions into smaller pieces, and use the processor to chop into small pieces;  transfer to the bowl.

Peel the tomatoes, add them to the bowl,

and use a potato masher to smash the tomatoes into coarse pieces (watch out for spurting juice).

Stir in cilantro, lime juice and salt.  Serve with tortilla chips.