Grape and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

I mean seriously, have you ever seen the cooking show Naughty and Delicious? There is a wonderful Brit gal that is as charming as the English countryside…for me, that means the city of London… I’ve been watching her for a while now and hoped to bump in to her on my three day layover in London last year! Alas, that didn’t happen. But to satisfy all of us until I do meet her, here’s a great easy on the cook Bruschetta, reminiscent of her.

Dodge those raindrops outside!Appetizer Grape Goat Cheese Bruschetta
1/2 small sourdough loaf, cut into six 1/2″ slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup green seedless grapes, cut in half lengthwise
6 fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup soft goat cheese, room temperature
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400°.
Brush both sides of bread slices with oil.
Toast on middle rack 1 minute.
Turn and cook another minute until bread is crispy on both sides.
Rub each slice of hot bread with cut garlic clove as it comes out of the oven.

Add 3 Tbs oil to skillet over medium heat.
Add red grapes and sauté until warm and softened, about 3 minutes.
Add green grapes and toss just to warm. Remove to a bowl.

Add mint leaves to the hot oil and fry until crisp, 15 to 20 seconds.
Remove to paper towel to drain.

Spread goat cheese over one side of each piece of toast.
Top with mound of warm grapes.
Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Top with a mint leaf.
Zest the lemon generously over each slice.

Strawberry Brunch/Tea Sandwiches

Brunch Strawberry Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches.jpgYummy…All the Way Down the  Throat. No joke. This is a total software update for your palate…and speaking of which; it totally looks like the palette for a still life…calling Kristin!! Since strawberry season is in full swing here, I’m taking it straight to the kitchen. Hope that you do the same. With the marinade in this recipe, any strawberry will work if you live in an “off berry season”!

1 cup thinly slices strawberries
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 t honey
Pinch of salt and pepper
Vegetable cream cheese, room temperature (I prefer light)
Bunch baby arugula
8 slices white bread, edged, and cut in half

Toss together berries, balsamic, honey, and salt.
Let sit 30 minutes, then drain.
Spread cheese on all bread slices.
Season 8 bread halves with salt and pepper.
Layer strawberries across these halves.
Top with arugula.
Top with remaining bread slices.

Makes 8 tea sandwiches.

Apple, Brie, and Thyme Crostini

It’s a dance party on a piece of bread folks! It’s totally over the fence, sorta like Big Papi and his famous home runs.  And it’s simple. Listen. This is not a maybe; this is a MUST! From one of my new and all time favorites, The Love and Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Matthews. Here’s what you need:

8 slices Ciabatta bread
8 slices Brie
1 Honey Crisp apple
Olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh thyme leaves, removed from sprigs
Honey, for drizzling (I use Matt and Judy’s local honey)


Preheat oven to 350°.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place ciabatta slices on baking sheet.
Top each with slice of brie, then 2 apple slices, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake 8 – 9 minutes until cheese melts and bread is toasted.
Remove from oven.
Top with thyme.
Drizzle with honey.

And then it turns out like this!

The combination of sweet, savory and “herby” is undeniably fantastic! Email me if you want to try Matt and Judy’s Beelicious Honey. I’ll hook you up with some. And they will ship as well. They make it right here in Pitt County from local bees. Yep. That’s right.


Chilled Corn Soup

Happy “After Labor Day”…which means fall IS coming and this heat will finally go away! As an appetizer feature at Peggy’s Mae Lew Farm Jubilee we served this yummy soup shooter! There is pure magic in these details. The rooster reminded us that we were on a farm, albeit, one glorious farm! Go grab some fresh white corn while it’s still available and make this great soup. It’s excellent for a light lunch as well. Use it people!

Soup Chilled Corn Chowder Shooters1 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 green onions, white and tender green parts, chopped and separated
3/4 t ground coriander
3/4 t ground cumin
3/4 t chipotle chili powder
3 cups fresh corn kernels (if not available, use frozen white shoepeg corn, thawed)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 t salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat.
Cook garlic, white parts of onion, coriander, cumin, and chili powder.
Stir until garlic and onions are tender, about 3 minutes.
Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes.
Transfer mixture to blender.
Add buttermilk, water, and salt.
Purée until smooth.
Chill at least 1 hour.
Serve chilled, garnished with green parts of onion and cilantro.

Makes 6 – 8 lunch serving sized bowls.
Or 20 soup shooters.Soup Chilled Corn Chowder II

Cheese Please!

I adore cheese…and if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. So grab a mixture of sheep, cow, and goat cheese offerings. Serve it up with fresh seasonal fruits, dried apricots and cranberries, and a ginger snap or two. Crossing borders here with Humboldt Fog, a California goat milk cheese, followed up with Port Salut which is a semi-soft French cow’s milk cheese. Also served here is Brenton’s favorite, the semi-hard Manchego, made from the milk of sheep in the La Mancha region of her beloved Spain. For this particular tray, I rounded it out with a Dutch yellow cow’s milk Gouda. Rather spectacular. This presentation was for the umpteenth* one of my Mother’s 90th (XC) Birthday Jubilee Celebrations. Appetizer Cheese Tray

  • Umpteenth literally means an indefinitely large number in succession. And that’s precisely how she celebrated this special birthday, party after party. Kudos to her…and us for the endless prepping of said parties! Self patting self on back…yep, that’s what my dear sister-in-law Su-Su and I are doing now that, after three full months, the celebrations are complete. Flowers and more yummies later! And that’s a promise, ’cause I’m gonna improve your future outcomes!

Chocolate Drizzled Chips

Call your best friend! This is your childhood favorite ridged chip, all decked out in a little black chocolate dress. This has stood the test of snacking with girlfriends, couples, and even a five year old while playing go-fish. It’s a cinch to make, although you may not want to cinch that belt afterwards; it’s the weekend, do you really care?

Snack Chocolate Potato Chips

1 bag of ridged chips (due to their sturdiness)
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate morsels
1 Tbs instant Espresso powder

(Although you should omit the espresso if you are serving your children, unless you want them bouncing off the walls all night!)

Melt the chocolate in small sauce pan over low heat, stirring often.
Add espresso powder (if using).
Place chips on serving tray.
Drizzle melted chocolate with spoon over chips.

Alternatively, dip half of a chip in the pot of melted chocolate.
Shake off excess.
Place on parchment paper to cool.

Snack Chocolate Potato Chips II

Allow chocolate to cool and harden on chips.
This may take an hour.
If you just can’t wait to dig in, simply pop the tray in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Try to stay out of this oppressive heat, and have a great weekend!

Crostini, starring Ricotta!

Appetizer Bruschetta Variety

Here’s a little pick me up for a snazzy weekend appetizer…

Grab a baguette and slice it thinly.
Place slices on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Bake it on both sides for 3 or so minutes in a 350° oven.
Remove and let cool.
Place slices on a serving platter and top each with a teaspoon of ricotta cheese.
Then top that with basically anything that you have on hand…
craisins and apple slices, homemade apple conserve (or store purchased jam),
sliced tomatoes, or salt pepper and citrus zest.

Straight down the hatch with crunchy and creamy goodness all the way.
I’m Happy to be Your Destination for Inspiration!
Happy Weekend Good People!

Baked Brie and Strawberries

Just when you thought you were clueless regarding a cool new appetizer for this celebratory Fourth of July weekend, I’ve come out of hiding to save you from dull and boring. It’s always a good time for berries and Brie and this is easy peasy with just 3 store bought ingredients (assuming everyone has honey and oil in their pantry!). Go ahead; be fabulous. Enjoy this wonderful holiday; and as always, be safe out there!Appetizer Baked Brie and Strawberries

24 Wonton Wrappers (3” x 3”)
1 to 2 Tbs canola oil
24 small to medium strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 Tbs honey
6 oz Brie (double cream if possible)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place half of berries in small bowl.
Add honey, stir to combine, and set aside.
Cut Brie (leaving rind on) into generous 1/2″ pieces.

Coat 2 mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
Lightly brush both sides of the wonton wrappers with canola oil.
Gently press each wrapper into a section of the muffin tin so that it forms a cup.
The corners will stick out a bit.
Bake until lightly browned and almost cooked through, approximately 7 minutes.
Remove from oven.

Place 2 honey coated strawberry pieces in bottom of each wonton cup.
Place Brie piece on top of each berry cup.
Return to oven and bake 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese is gooey and wonton cup is browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack 5 minutes.
Remove from muffin tins; place on serving platter.
Top with 1 or 2 strawberry pieces.
May sprinkle with cracked black pepper if desired.

Makes 24.

NOTE: The original version of this recipe is by Chef Mary Payne Moran. I changed the pastry cup (she called for puff pastry, but I like the crispness of the wonton wrapper). She also topped hers with pistachios. While a lovely touch, I have a dear friend allergic to nuts, and I have learned never to serve nuts when entertaining. If I use them at all I always offer them on the side. No need to go to the hospital tonight good people!!

Rosemary Cashews



TD and I found ourselves at the Ritz, Amelia Island a couple of years back. And each night the bartenders rotated the one in charge of taking care of the nuts for the evening…I know, I know…you’re thinking the human nuts, but this time it was literally nuts. This was a fav and we snagged the recipe. Like they say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”!


1 lb unsalted roasted cashews
2 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t light brown sugar
1 Tbs salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º.
Spread cashews on baking pan.
Toast 5 minutes, until warm.
In large bowl, combine all other ingredients.
Stir in cashews and toss to coat.
Return nuts to pan and heat 5 minutes.
Transfer to wax paper to cool until the rosemary mixture dries on the cashews.

Fried Brie

Gathering the Goods! ©PEGhardee

Gathering the Goods!

Hunting for a bodacious appetizer to wow the fam this holiday? Brenton and I bagged this at a lovely little Mayfair bar in London. I came home determined to crack the code. Mighty Tasty…Just Saying. Softly melts that cheese and is delicious all the way down the hatch!! Not much prep work. But…please dispose of the used oil properly. Just trying to do my minuscule part to protect our earth and its’ waters.

1 small wheel of Brie*
1/2 cup Panko
2 egg whites
1/2 cup olive oil

Cut Brie into quarters.
Pour Panko into shallow bowl.
Beat egg whites together in small shallow bowl.

Heat olive oil in small sauce pan until hot.

Dip cheese wedges in egg white, and then in Panko, coating thoroughly.
Place 2 or 3 wedges at a time in hot olive oil 1 minute on each side.
Place on paper towel to drain.
Repeat with remaining wedges.
Serve with crackers or apple slices.
*This also works well with wedges of Manchego cheese.