Goat cheese is often sold rolled in herbs or ash, and while these dressed-up logs are appealing, there are even more options when it comes to choosing your own embellishments. One winning choice is a layer of bright, eye-catching, cracked pink peppercorns. Despite being unrelated to the black peppercorn, the pink peppercorn has some of the familiar pungency of its namesake, but with a much more delicate, fruity, almost floral flavor. An equal amount of fresh minced thyme and a teaspoon of toasted fennel seeds round out the flavor and texture of the rub.
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
4 teaspoons pink peppercorns
4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 (8‐ounce) log goat cheese, chilled
1/4 cup extra‐virgin olive oil
This light, silky hummus starts — surprisingly enough — with a can. We found that canned chickpeas were close in flavor to dried chickpeas, and the convenience of canned makes them perfect for a quick appetizer (ditto for jarred, roasted red peppers). We process the chickpeas with the red peppers in the food processor before adding lemon juice. To finish, whisk the olive oil and tahini together and drizzle this mixture into the food processor for a smooth emulsion. Our favorite canned chickpeas are Pastene Chick Peas.
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil,
plus extra for drizzling
2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed and patted dry
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Make this spicy and fragrant jam once and it will become your favorite condiment. After a little experimenting, we discovered a few additions that boost this jam from good to eye‐widening: Grated ginger and star anise add spice and aromatic complexity. But its an unlikely ingredient — fish sauce, which is high in glutamates (the amino acids responsible for “meaty” flavor)—that makes the jam explode with savory depth…without tasting fishy. Fish sauce can be found in most supermarkets in the international foods aisle alongside other Thai and Vietnamese ingredients. To make this jam spicier, reserve the jalapeño seeds and add them with the jalapeño.
2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
11/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fish sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 star anise pods
This recipe takes the concept of baked Brie and makes it miniature as bite-size hors d’oeuvres. Frozen phyllo pastry cups, which are readily found in the freezer section of your supermarket, are the perfect vessels to hold the filling. We tried various jams, jellies, and compotes and found that the fruity spreads that usually pair well with Brie were overpoweringly sweet in these small cups. Red pepper jelly has just the right balance of sweet and savory to perk up the cheesy bites. Continuing with the savory theme, we top each cup with chopped smokehouse almonds, which give the mild cheese a salty, slightly spicy edge. The final result: Each bite of flaky, crispy pastry yields to a gooey, flavorful filling.
1 (8-ounce) wheel firm Brie cheese
1/3 cup red pepper jelly
2 (2.1-ounce) boxes frozen mini phyllo cups
1/4 cup smokehouse almonds, chopped coarse