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Red and Green Pesto Parmesan Fingers for a crunchy, flavorful appetizers for holiday season. A crowd pleaser guaranteed!cheese phyllo appetizers

 

cheesy phyllo appetizer

This holiday season is going to be a hit with those pesto (2 colors) parmesan fingers. They are easy to do and terribly fun and tasty. I’ve used 2 different pesto types; the popular green pesto a la genovese (basil) and also a red pesto (dried tomato). I thought it would be great to have both colors for the holidays. Those fingers are a nice bite for any dinner party, finger buffet or snacks. You can easily cook them ahead of time and they stay crispy and tasty forever leaving you time to work on other appetizers while the guests are gathering around the table.

The flavor

Pesto FingersI suggest parmesan but it could be any aged cheese you’d prefer. The cheese is subtil, just one layer of it is needed. The highlight of the show is really the pesto here. You can use a premade pesto or make your own, for my part, I’ve use a concentrate pesto from an Italian restaurant I love. They make such a concentrated and tasty pesto, I have to dilute it with extra olive oil for this recipe. Down in the direction I don’t specify this: because pesto can have many consistencies, so make sure it’s liquid enough to spread with a brush on the phyllo sheets in a light coating. We’ll have 2 layers (the third and final layer of phyllo) of pesto, I’ve added them inside the rolls or finger, so the color from the pesto don’t show through the fingers. They look innocent and plain from the outside but once you bite into one, they will give you a powerful punchy flavor. Plus I like the texture or those appetizers, love the contrast between crunchy phyllo and smooth pesto and cheese. A great and festive appetizer!

Instruments and technique

As for the instruments for this recipe, I suggest you use an olive oil spray instead of a brush, it results always lighter and prevent the fingers from getting too oily. As for the technique I let you some slideshow down below in the directions section to help visualise the amount of pesto I’ve used  and the rolling technique. Because if you use too much pesto your rolls will end up too oily. Last little thing which seems harmless but it quite important… don’t forget the salt before adding the finger to the oven. No salt, bad finger…

So let’s make those fingers!


Parmesan and Pesto Fingers

Makes 16 fingers | Preparation: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
  • 260g phyllcheesy phyllo appetizero sheets (2 x 6 sheets)
  • 50g of basil pesto
  • 50 g of red pesto
  • parmesan or aged cheese
  • olive oil (spray is better)
  • salt
Directions
  1. Take out the phyllo from the freezer 1 hour ahead of time
  2. Start by laying 1 sheet plus a light spray of olive oil (or brushed lightly)
  3. Makes this step 3 times, adding the sheets one over another
  4. Add a layers of pesto (red or green) and add another sheet on top
  5. Add a fine layer of cheese (parmesan or aged cheese of your choice) then another sheet
  6. Add a last thin layer of pesto (at this point I have 6 stacked sheets)
  7. Cut the phyllo stacked sheets into 5 cm large rectangle
  8. Roll them up in thin cylinders
  9. Repeat with the other 6 sheets with the other pesto color
  10. Add them to a baking sheet covered oven tray and add a light spray of olive oil on top plus salt
  11. Cook at 180°C (350F) for 10 minutes or until light golden
  12. Let cool before serving

 

Enjoy!

pesto 2 colors

*A special thanks for choosing our pesto-parmesan fingers recipe for the “15 gorgeous party appetizers” on The Kitchen Addiction site. Check it out here.

Pomegranate mousse

Pomegranate-cheese mousse with pistachio is a airy and fluffy bite! It’s a refreshing and festive dessert, perfect for this time of the year. I don’t know for you but I’m personally saturated with holidays cookies… no offence though. I love cookies, very much, but it time to get a new perspective on holidays desserts. Desserts are not well known to keep our waistline in shape… well most of them. This blog contains a few dessert recipes, most of them being fruity base and lower in fat and sugar then most. This cheesy-pomegranate mousse is no exception to the rule; yes it contain fat and sugar, but in really low amount.pomegranatemoussepin

 

Pomegranate

Pomegranate mousseSo let’s talk about that seasonal fruit; pomegranate. As you may already know, the best way to detached the grains from its membrane is to do it in water bowl. The pomegranate grains will drop at the bottom while all the membrane leftovers will come up and float. Then, once this step is done, you can keep the grain in a container for a few days easily. This unique fruit is considered a symbol for fertility from Asian to Greece, it also has been around for quite a while. It was mentioned in the Bible and even before that in 1500 BC, in one of the first medical book, the egyptians used it to treat tapeworms. Pomegranate is no new comer.

 

The technique

For this recipe, you’ll need a syphon, those are useful to make airy, light mousse like this one. They cost not much and this way you’ll be able to make any type of mousse you want. To make a good foam, a small amount of fat is necessary, in this case it’s cream cheese and a touch of cream. Also to make sure the mixture is right, because it contains low fat, I’ve added gelatin sheets to the pomegranate juice. If you are vegetarian you could substitute the gelatin for agar agar with the same quantity and procedure. Also make sure the liquid you add to the syphon cool down to lukewarm before closing it up and adding the gas. Also don’t do like I did and forget the mixture to cool in the fridge otherwise it will become a gel and be ruined. So keep an eye on it while it cools down.

Pomegranate mousse

The result of this mousse is so airy, fruity with a touch of smooth cheese. The kind of dessert packed with flavors, although you don’t need much space in the belly to find a spot for it because it’s just so light and fluffy, perfect for finishing up a sometime too heavy holiday dinner. It’s topped with a nice contrasting salty-crunchy element which is the pistachios and it bring all that sweetness a certain balance. Plus green and red just screams christmas! As alternative you can also freeze the mousse and make it a frozen version which is delicious as well.

Enough bla bla… let’s make this airy holiday Mousse!

 


Pomegranate  Mousse with Pistachio

Makes: 6-8 portions | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Waiting time: minimum 6 hours

Instrument
  • 1/2 litre syphon
Ingredients
  • Pomegranate mousse330ml of pomegranate juice (I’ve used a 70% pomegranate cut with apple juice)
  • 2 gelatin sheets or 2 tsp of gelatin or agar agar powder *for vegetarian
  • 60g of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp of beets juice *for adding color
  • 3 tbsp of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp of cream
Direction
  1. Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water to soften them up
  2. Add the pomegranate juice and beet juice to a small pan with the sugar and simmer
  3. Add the gelatin sheets and whisk until dissolved
  4. Stop the fire, add the cream cheese and the cream and whisk a last time
  5. Pass through a fine sieve to collect any residues
  6. Add the mix to a 1/2 litre syphon
  7. Let cool 20-30 minutes, close it up, add the gas, a small shake and leave in the fridge for a good 6 hours
  8. Before serving; shake the syphon a good 5 times
  9. Serve the mousse with a topping of pomegranate grains and pistachios

 

You’ll see it’s like biting into a fluffy fruity cloud. Enjoy!

Pomegranate mousse

Broccoli Swiss gratin

Swiss broccoli gratin is a touch healthier way to eat a bunch of good Swiss cheese. When I say Swiss cheese, I don’t talk here about the American swiss cheese with holes… no.. no… I talk about the two delicious cheeses types they often use in Switzerland to make their famous cheese fondue; the famous Vacherin Fribourgeois and Gruyère cheeses. Passing by Switzerland this summer, I had to make a stop at the Fromagerie (cheese store) to get some of the best cheeses on this planet.broccoligratin

Broccoli Swiss gratinThis recipe is, of course, possible to make with other cheeses, but the ultimate mix of Vacherin fribourgeois, a more elastic cheese type and Gruyère a strong and firm one is a “must try” combination. This recipe I’ve made on our way back from Switzerland, based on the traditional dish fondue moitié-moitié (cheese fondue), but a tad lighter (using less cheese) and containing some veggies (broccoli and onion). It’ s a kind of hybrid between cheese fondue and gratin dauphinois, since I’ve used the typical cheeses from the cheese fondue dish and the cream and potato elements from the usual gratin dishes. Plus some extra crumbled toast on top to keep the famous bread element from the fondue and it gives some extra crunch to the dish. I love to add a touch of green to this dish, usually this recipe uses only bread / potato and cheese which is heavy on the stomach. At a Swiss friend’s place in Switzerland they told us never to drink cold water with this cheese fondue meal, just white wine otherwise it becomes a brick of cheese in your stomach and hurts. The wine on the other hand help to make the fat slide down. But for my hybrid version there is way less cheese into the dish than in a real cheese fondue… so no worries, you should survive a glass of cold water.

Broccoli Swiss gratinThis broccoli gratin is terribly easy to make although to find the cheese could be a difficult task. I would suggest to search for a cheese store specialized in European cheeses. The Gruyere is pretty much everywhere but the Vacherin Fribourgeois could be harder to find. Otherwise you could always use a raclette cheese instead of the Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese.

I’ve used for this dish the same technique as for cheese fondue meaning; I’ve melted really slowly the cheeses in some wine, nutmeg and pepper and a sip of cream in the end (this last part isn’t in fondue though, it’s more a gratin then). For the broccoli, I’ve simple cooked them “blanchi” which means in salted boiling water for a short time then directly cooled under cold water to keep their bright color and their crunch.

 

Let’s make this irresistible cheese dish!

 


Swiss broccoli gratin

Makes 3-4 portions

Ingredients
  • 1 broBroccoli Swiss gratinccoli cut into florets
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 200g of Vacherin fribourgeois
  • 200g of Gruyère cheese (keep 50g of gruyere for the top gratin)
  • 200ml of cream
  • 100ml of white wine
  • nutmeg, pepper
  • *Optional a slice of bread toasted and transformed into sandy texture with the mortar (to sprinkle on top in the end)
Directions
  1. Start by boiling the potatoes until soft, then cut them into thick slices
  2. Add them to the bottom of a ovenproof casserole or individual small clay pots of your choice
  3. In a pot of boiling water add the broccoli florets for about 2-3 minutes or until al dente and drain and rinse them in cold water to freeze the vivid color
  4. Add the florets on top of the potatoes
  5. In a sauce pan cook the finely chopped onion into butter until soft, medium high heat
  6. Add the wine, cream, nutmeg, pepper and the grated cheeses (both) and melt the cheese, low heat, until liquid
  7. Add the cheese sauce on top of the broccoli-potato, some extra grated gruyere, salt and pepper on top
  8. Turn on the oven on the strongest grill mode, and let the gratin top turn light brown, it takes about 10 minutes
  9. Serve with a top of crumbled toast

Serve with a sweet white wine and green salad. Enjoy!

Broccoli Swiss gratin

MorbifletteMorbiflette is a tartiflette (potato covered with cream, fresh bacon bits, onions and reblochon cheese) with Morbier cheese! If you are, like me, a cheese lover… This is the dish for you! Morbier is such a unique cheese, there isn’t a comparable cheese, it’s a strong flavored one, so if you aren’t used to those… stay with the reblochon tartiflette. Morbiflette is so simple, and simply addictive… one bite is just never enough. If you are not scared of putting on the weight and feel like a sin meal… try this one! Here it’s a 20 cm clay pot, and it was a full meal but usually, in France, they eat morbiflette or tartiflette as an appetizer (10cm pot) next to a green salad.

MorbifletteThe protagonist here is the Morbier, a semi-soft cow cheese with a layer of vegetable rye in the middle. Two decades ago, the cheese was created by the cheesemakers from a calm land in the east of France, Franche-Comté region, where they would make those big wheels of “Comté cheese” and with the leftovers of the day; they would fill up half a mold, then add ash on it, to prevent the bugs from touch it over night. The next morning they would fill the mold up with the new fresh cured milk of the morning and then cure it for 45 days. The cheesemakers would keep those cheeses for themselves, since it wasn’t for the common people and even less for the aristocrats. But I believe, they’ve reached perfection without even know it. Today the roles got reversed…Morbier is seen as a “top cheese” by many.

For the ones that knows and love “Raclette”, try it out with Morbier, it’s a delight! Just make sure to open those windows… it’s a delicious although “stinking” cheese… Also in this dish, I’ve omitted the fresh bacon bits from the original recipe… I just thought… it was too much sinning for one day. But if you are not on that eternal diet, like me, go for it and add fresh bacon bits to it.

Let’s get in Cheese heaven!


Morbiflette

Makes 4 appetizers portions or 2 big main meals

MorbifletteIngredients
  • 4 nice long slices of Morbier cheese (3mm thick)
  • 10 small potatoes or 5 big ones (yellow meat kind)
  • 2 onions finely slices
  • 2 tbsp of white wine
  • 30ml cream
  • nutmeg, salt, pepper
  • *optional 30g of fresh bacon bits
Directions

Bring oven to 210°C (350F)

  1. Boil the potatoes in salty water until tender (I keep the skin, but you can just take it off)
  2. In a pan, add the onion, wine, salt and pepper, reduce the onion, medium high heat, until soft
  3. *optional: at this point, if you want the fresh bacon bits, make them, high heat, in the pan
  4. Cut thick slices of the cooked potatoes, add the onion, cream, *fresh bacon bits, nutmeg, salt, pepper and the famous slices of Morbier on top
  5. Grill in the oven at 210°C (350F) for about 10 minutes or until light brown
  6. Serve

Serve as an appetizer or as a main meal with extra caperberries or pickled onions and a great wine. Enjoy!

Morbiflette

A drunken onion soup, filled with flavors, thyme, wine and a final touch of brandy to warm us up on a cold winter day. Finishing it up under the grill to melt that tasty gruyere cheese on the crunchy piece of bread slowly getting soak with the soup. 

onion soup

To warm up our hearts before the heat comes, why not eat a tasty, french onion soup. Those are quite popular from where I’m from; Quebec… As one know, that place has an eternal winter and this soup helps them to keep warm. I find it always a bit tricky to eat those heavy soups as an appetizer, with the extra cheese on top… It’ s supposed to be a appetizer but I consider it more of a main meal. The french use quite a lot of butter in it, this version is lighter in butter. Also, in culinary school in Spain they made it slightly different, they add thyme and brandy, loved it. So my version here is a of mix from each places I encountered that delicious soup.

onion soup
That moment before getting in… is as nice as cracking into a creme brulée

This soup dates from the Roman time, it comes from a long way back, the french version is quite famous but there is other versions throughout Europe and even Asia… with miso, etc. In my mind that soup must be extra dark, a nice dark brown and it needs to contain a lot of onions… clearly… but the most important part is the stock. In most “stock” meal, I believe the stock to be the key factor to a successful meal, so make your own stock and make it tasty! Also you can freeze some stock in ice cubes tray and keep those small amount of broth for future recipes. It’s always useful.

The difference between stock and broth… I usually use the word broth, but then again, on those chefs tv’s show they always use the word “stock” and finally Googled it: A broth is mainly made of meat parts, while the stock is mainly bone parts (meaning more tasty collagen). So… as my dad would say: “I’ll go to bed less stupid tonight” (french expression)

So here is my beef stock recipe for this soup, I made it with a flair of vietnamese “pho” style. Part one of the meal; the stock.


 

Beef Stock

beef stockIngredients
  • 1 kg (2 pounds) of beef bones
  • 1 cheap cut like hooves, knuckles
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 30ml brandy *optional
  • 4 anise stars
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • laurel
  • small piece of fresh ginger with the skin (2-3cm)
Directions
  1. Add the meat in cold water, bring to boil, drain and rinse in cold water again. *optional to clean the impurities of the broth first…
  2. In your iron cast pot, add some olive oil, med-high heat, and brown the beef pieces
  3. Add the spices, vegetables
  4. Add the brandy, and scratch the bottom of the pan
  5. Add water until topping the meat by 5cm (2inch)
  6. Bring to simmer, leave on low fire for 4 hours
  7. Pass through a sieve and voilà!

 

Onion soup

Makes 4 portions

Ingredientsonion soup
  • 1-1/2 litre of beef stock
  • 250ml red wine
  • 5 big, sliced, spanish onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp flour or in my case I used 2 tbsp unsugared chocolate to thicken the soup)
  • few thick slices of old bread *optional
  • 50g grated cheese (gruyère) *optional
  • 30ml brandy
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • laurel leaf
  • a good amount of pepper, salt
Directions
  1. In a big pot, add olive oil and the sliced onions and salt, cook at low heat for about 45 minutes (yes that long), until the onion become translucent
  2. Mid-way through the onions cooking time (step 1), add finely chopped garlic
  3. When the onions are ready, add the flour (if you choose that alternative) mix (1 minute)
  4. Add the stock, wine, spices and let simmer another 30 minutes
  5. Heat up the grill from your oven
  6. When the soup is ready, add the butter, brandy and chocolate (if you choose that alternative) to thicken the soup
  7. Transfer the soup into onion soup bowl, add the bread on top plus the gruyere cheese, a touch of black pepper
  8. Grill until the cheese is melted
  9. Serve on a wood piece or resistant cover

 

Serve on a cold day to warm you up. Enjoy!

eCrepe jambon,gruyere, spinachThis is a recipe from my ancestors back in Bretagne, France. I’ve learn that the “bretons” crepe, aka thin pancake, is quite different from the normal buckwheat crepe, the breton one needs to be crunchy, thinner and filled with those minuscule holes while the normal “galette” they call in french is a soft buckwheat crepe. I saw many recipes on the web, they often turn the normal crepe while the “Crêpe Bretonne” stays on one side only. Also it must make a sizzling sound when it first touch the pan. So let’s try to make that crispy Breton crepe.

Crepe jambon,gruyere, spinachFirst of all, buckwheat is technically no wheat product…  Let me explain; it’s actually the seeds of a flower that makes the flour, nothing to do with the grass. It’s also a gluten free flour, so for those of you who are sensible to gluten, it’ s a great alternative. This flour has so many health benefits… although I can not cover the whole list here but check it out.

Egocentrically speaking though… I simply like it’s flavour, and it’s crunchier texture. Those crepes are mainly salty ones, but since there is always leftovers, I always end my diner with a crepe, white sugar and a squeeze of lemon on it, sooo delicious. Ok then, let’s start with a typical filling of ham, spinach and cheese.


Crepe Bretonne of ham, spinach and cheese

Makes about 6 crepes… because the first one is “never ever” good… it would be 7

Ingredients
Crepe
  • 300g buckwheat flour
  • 500ml of water
  • 1 egg
  • salt
Filling
  • cooked ham slices
  • grated gruyere cheese or your favorite cheese (usually emmental)
  • baby spinach (need our veggies)
  • basil leaves *optional
Directions
  1. Mix the salt into the flour
  2. Add the egg in the center
  3. Add water in the center slowly in a well and whisk from the center to the sides (to keep it smooth)
  4. Once all mixed, pass through a sieve to eliminate the unwanted lumps
  5. Let set in the fridge for 1-2 hours
  6. Bring your nonstick pan to high and add a little fat of your choice
  7. Mix your base again, add a little base to the pan in order to test your crepes, not too much (because the first one is always just a test)
  8. When adding the mix, make sure it barely cover the surface, and it’s not too thick (you’ll see the holes forming right away if good consistency, always can add water if too thick).
  9. Add the cheese, spinach, ham and basil and let cook until the bottom is brown and crispy, and toppings melted.
  10. Fold the 4 sides to make a square
  11. *optional- If you are not on a diet, brush a little melted salty butter on top.

 

Serve with a nice cider! Enjoy