Monthly Archives: December 2010

3rd Annual Holiday Pot Luck: Mushroom Gouda Crostini and Corn Bread w Spinach


A few years ago, after I bought my first home I thought it would be a great idea to start a cool winter holiday tradition. Since holidays are always hectic with many parties to go to and food to prepare, I wanted to do something that was easy and fun. I wanted to bring all my friends together before everyone went off to celebrate the holidays with their families. So every December, early in the month, I started organizing a holiday pot luck. Everyone would bring a little something to eat, we would make mulled wine, and then watch movies or play board games.

This year I decided to make appetizers. I like making crostini because they are very versatile and there are so many different variations of toppings – it’s like a new dish every time! :). I found this recipe in the All You Need is Cheese magazine that comes to my mailbox uninvited. This time I didn’t mind because on the front page I saw the inspiration for my appetizer – Mushroom Gouda Crostini.

The recipe called for bacon to be added to the mushroom mix, however, I ommited that since one of my friends doesn’t eat pork. I also used my leftover cheddar cheese instead of gouda, which changed the colours of the crostini a little (cheddar is a darker yellow). I made the topping a while before my guests arrived and grated the cheese. Once we were ready to eat I assembled the crostini with some topping and cheese on each, and put under the broiler for 5 minutes. The result? Hot and crispi crostini! They were gone in seconds 🙂

Since I knew I had some very hungry guests coming over, I knew the crostini wouldn’t be enough, so I asked my mom to make her famous corn bread with spinach also. Corn bread is a loosely used term in this case because it’s the closest translation I can come up with to this traditional Serbian dish. “Proja” or corn bread, or, if you want to describe the dish itself – a cross between corn bread and ricotta-cottage-cheese-egg-spinach caserolle. When I was little my mom used to make this for breakfast for us, and she still makes it to this day because it’s super quick and easy. It can be considered a ‘peasant’s’ breakfast because you can put any leftovers in the ‘caserole’ that you like. This version only has spinach, but you can add sausage bits if you want a meaty corn bread, red peppers, or anything else.

To achieve the browning at the top, I left the corn bread under the broiler for 5-6 minutes after it was done baking. This corn bread has sort of become a tradition at the holiday pot luck, so I have my mom make it every year and it usually goes quickly 🙂 Speaking of traditions, it seems that over the years another tradition has developed on its own – it seems that every year on the day of the potluck (which usually is Sunday) – we get the first major snow storm of the season. The first year, several people got stuck right in my driveway…

You may be asking yourself why I have my mom make it when I say it’s so easy to make. Mainly it’s the time, because I like to have another dish along with it, and also because everything my mom makes is always better 🙂

After we had devoured all the goodies, we made some mulled wine, which was a nice finish to a great meal. We played pictionary for the rest of the evening, laughed and had a great time. That was probably one of the most eventful and heated pictionary games I have played in a long time :).

For high resolution images, click on each photo.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

RECIPES

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Mushroom Gouda Crostini

Ingredients:
  • 4 slices crusty Italian bread ½” (1 cm) thick
  • 2 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 8 oz (227 g) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 cup (250 ml) grated Canadian Gouda
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) thyme (optional)
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
Instructions
With the rack in middle position, preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Arrange bread slices in a single layer on a large wire rack. Place rack on a baking sheet and set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp along with shallots. Add butter and mushrooms and sauté over high heat until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Season.
Deglaze with lemon juice. Adjust seasoning. Spread mushroom mixture on the bread slices. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 10 minutes. If needed, finish browning under the broiler.

…………………………………………………….

Corn Bread with Spinach

Ingredients:
  • Spinach – ¾ of big bunch – chopped
  • 1 cup white (or whole wheat) flour
  • 2 cups corn flour
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 package 2% or 4% cottage cheese (500 ml)
  • ½ package feta cheese (250 ml)
  • ½ package 14% sour cream (250 ml)
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package baking powder (14g Dr. Oetker brand or 5 tsp equivalent)  OR 1 cup mineral water (if you use mineral water use less milk)
  • Milk as needed to get right consistency
Mix all dry ingredients together. Beat eggs. Mix all wet ingredients together (except milk), add eggs. Mix in dry ingredients gradually until well combined. Add milk as needed until desired consistency achieved. The consistency should be runny but not too runny – and not too hard (not like dough for bread). Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Broil for 5 minutes for browning effect.

……………………………………………………..

Mulled Wine

Ingredients:
  • 1 lt red wine
  • 8 spoons honey
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 orange slices
Mix all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a soft boil. Flambe the mixture (i.e. set the wine mixture on fire with a long lighter or a matchstick) – wine will burn longer the more alcohol content it has. When the flames are gone, pour into mugs (wouldn’t recommend a wine glass in this case, because the wine will be hot). Enjoy!
Advertisements

Roasted Red Pepper and Boccaccini Pasta Salad


This pasta salad is my own creation and is one of my favourite things to make, because it’s yummy, easy to make and very colourful all at the same time!
This is usually something I make if I’m invited to a pot luck, or as a quick side dish if I’m having a dinner party. Once I brought this to a work related event and one of my co-workers just went crazy for it, and demands that I make it every time we have a work related pot luck or event 🙂 She is vegetarian so this dish is perfect for that, and as far as I can tell, her family really enjoys it too. Yay!
………………….

This was one of my favourite dishes to photograph also, as it lends itself so easily to the camera – the colours are so vibrant and the different textures give the plate so much depth. I love the way the fussili curves and creates shadows on itself and how its light colours are contrasted against the bright red of sundried tomatoes and black of the olives. Since this salad was something I put together in my head, the measurements are not exact and you can vary the ingredients as you like.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

You can click on each photo to view the high resolution images.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

RECIPE

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Roasted Red Pepper and Boccaccini Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
  • 1. 450 g fusilli pasta (multi-coloured if you can find it)
  • 2. 3/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 3. 3/4 cup roasted red peppers
  • 4. 1 can of already chopped black olives
  • 5. 4 or 5 regular size boccaccinni (not cherry size – although, you can use these two, just get more of them)
  • 6. Club House Pasta Salad Mix (for this you’ll need oil and vinegar)
………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Boil the pasta until it’s al dente. Cool the pasta to avoid the boccaccinni getting melted before mixing all the ingredients together. Chop sundried tomatoes, boccaccini, roasted red peppers and olives (if not already chopped). Mix all ingredients. In separate bowl prepare the salad spice mix. Pour over the pasta and toss. Makes enough for 6-8 people.