Cooking with Cocktails
This recipe is the pinnacle of farm-fresh opulence.
Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur that marries softly with fresh summer fruit. Combined with the bold flavor of the “king” of blue cheese, these little crostini are something to be served at any spe- cial event—weekend brunch, a wedding shower, or even something as simple as a gathering of friends on a Thursday night.
Serves: 6 to 8
Blue cheese can have a very strong flavor due to the mold that producers inject or stir into the cheese, but there’s varying degrees of the stuff. From mild (Danish Blue, Gor- gonzola) to strong (Stilton, Roquefort), experiment to see which your palate prefers.
If you can’t bring yourself to eat blue cheese at all (silly, reader), a soft, fresh goat cheese would work here, too.
You Will Need
Pour the vinegar and Chambord into a small saucepan over medi- um-high heat. Bring to a light boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens, reduces by half, and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside. If it thickens too much as it cools, just add a couple of tablespoons of water and reheat. Note: Watch it once it starts to reduce; it can do so quickly and if you reduce too far, you’ll end up with a hard candy and a ruined pot.
Once the syrup cools, remove the tops from the berries, dice the fruit into 1-inch cubes, and toss them in the cooled reduction along with 1⁄2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Depend- ing on your berries, you may find you have a high liquid content in the bowl a er this time; strain most of it out. You don’t really want more than 1⁄4 cup of strawberry juice in the bowl.
While the berries marinate, set your broiler to low heat and arrange your oven rack to the middle position. Slice the baguette into 1⁄2-inch pieces and place on a shallow baking pan. Lightly brush the tops with the oil and season to taste with coarse sea salt and pepper. Place in the oven and toast until golden. Note: Again, watch them—they can quickly go from toasty to burned. I’ve done that hundreds of times.
Place the Stilton crumbles, cream cheese, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of coarse sea salt in a bowl. Using a whisk, whip until smooth and airy.
Assemble! You can serve this as a platter and let people assemble their own bites or you can finish them off for a fancier presentation: Take a toast and slather a healthy amount of cheese on the base. Lightly press a basil leaf into the cheese and top with a heaping tablespoon of the strawberry mixture, and if desired, a light sprin- kling of Maldon sea salt. Enjoy!