FIG & GOAT CHEESE ON WHOLE WHEAT PITA WITH HONEY & THYME
4 whole wheat pitas, 7"
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
8 dried Calimyrna figs, stemmed and cut into thin wedges)
8 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Bake pitas 6 minutes, then brush with oil while still warm. Rub with garlic. Place figs on bread, topped with goat cheese, a drizzle of honey, thyme and salt and pepper.
BELGIAN ENDIVE WATER LILY WITH FRESH HERB SPREAD
Notice the range in herb amounts. Start with first amount listed and then go from there, adding more if you like. Also delicious on baguettes, crackers or cucumber rounds. Can also be piped into endive leaves individually.
Endive leaves: 3-4 heads.
Cut bottoms from endive heads. Wash leaves gently and drain well to dry. Set aside while making herb spread.
Mix together either in food processor or mixer until well blended:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup, 1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons each fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, dill and onion chives
1/4 teaspoon black pepper or dash or two of cayenne pepper, ground
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Squeeze or two of lemon juice
Place mixture on large round plate. Shape into a disk.
Starting with largest endive leaves first, insert leaves into bottom of mound and push in about an inch, making a single layer of leaves. Keep inserting layers of leaves in alternate rows, making a flower petal pattern. This can be made several hours to several days ahead to this point. Refrigerate.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with chopped edible flowers or insert an edible flower petal into the base of each endive leave where it meets the cream cheese mixture.
Tips from Rita's kitchen: Use dry herbs instead of fresh: 1/2 t ea: dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, dill weed
Even easier: instead of making your own herb spread:
2 cartons herb spread, such as Boursin or Rondale and mix in
½ stick butter,
8-ounce. cream cheese, softened. That's it!
Lemon and lime slices
Stevia to sweeten (opt)
Edible flowers or sliced berries
Fill the pitcher one quarter way up with mint leaves, bruising them gently with a wooden spoon as you go, to release the volatile oils. Add enough lemon and lime slices to go halfway to the top. Then add good quality water and stir. Let infuse 30 minutes or so. Sweeten to taste with a few stevia leaves, again bruising the leaves gently as you add them (or buy stevia at the grocery in granulated, liquid or powdered form). Store in refrigerator, covered, for several hours. Strain if you're serving in glasses and add a fresh lemon wedge and a slice of strawberry or a raspberry and mint leaf to each glass.
CHUNKY FRUIT GAZPACHO WITH MINT BASIL SYRUP
Makes about 1-1/2 cups syrup, enough for 6 cups fruit. Cut up fruit small enough to eat with a teaspoon. Beautiful served in martini or balloon wine glasses.
Mint basil syrup:
1 cup fresh mint leaves (spearmint,
peppermint, lavender mint, or chocolate mint)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (sweet basil,
Genovese, or lemon basil)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Mint leaves for garnish
Rinse and drain mint and basil leaves. Place sugar in a large
saucepan. Add mint and basil; toss with a wooden spoon,
crushing herbs into the sugar to release their oils. Add the
1 cup water to mint mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium
heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Remove from the
heat and let stand for 20 minutes to infuse the flavors. Strain,
discarding leaves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for up to
2 weeks. . If syrup happens to crystallize a bit, reheat gently.
Gently stir cooled syrup over fresh fruit, letting flavors infuse at least 30 minutes prior to serving. If desired, sprinkle additional mint leaves over fruit.
PUREED FRUIT GAZPACHO WITH MINT BASIL SYRUP
Puree 6 cups of fruit with a couple tablespoons or so of lemon juice along with the mint basil syrup. Berries work well here along with a mango if you have one. Add chopped mint to taste – start out with a tablespoon and go from there. Garnish with berries and a mint sprig. You won't need a spoon with this one.