Baked Goat Cheese with Balsamic Glazed Figs

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Did you ever notice that no matter what else you serve at a party, if you put out any kind of warm, melty cheese, it will be devoured in about thirty seconds? This Baked Goat Cheese with Balsamic Glazed Figs is no exception. It’s a serious crowd pleaser and a lighter alternative to baked Brie or Camembert. And with fresh rosemary, dried figs, chopped pistachios and a generous drizzle of honey, it’s the perfect festive appetizer for a holiday spread.

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I love fresh figs, but with their short season they can be hard to find. Dried figs, plumped up with balsamic vinegar, honey and fresh orange juice, are just as sweet and delicious.  I spoon them onto warm goat cheese flavored with rosemary and chili flakes for a spread that’s savory, sweet, and a little spicy. If you can find Mike’s Hot Honey or another spicy honey, it’s especially good drizzled over the goat cheese just before serving. 

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Serve this right from the oven (on a hotpad!) with plain crackers or crusty baguette slices. Then take a step back and watch it disappear before your eyes. In fact, you might as well make two while you’re at it! I’m making these for a Christmas brunch this weekend and am planning on doing exactly that. 

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Baked Goat Cheese with Balsamic Glazed Figs

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces plain, creamy goat cheese, softened at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried Calimyrna figs
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon shelled roasted and salted pistachios, roughly chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer) combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt. Beat for 2 minutes on medium-high speed, until smooth and lightly whipped.

Transfer to a small (7 or 8-inch diameter) ovenproof skillet or shallow baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes until puffed and lightly browed around the edges.

Meanwhile, remove the hard stems from the figs and cut them into quarters. Combine the figs, honey, vinegar, and orange juice in a small saucepan. (The figs should fit snugly in one layer.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the liquid has reduced to a thick glaze, about 8-10 minutes.

Carefully spoon the figs and any remaining liquid onto the center of the goat cheese.  Sprinkle the pistachios over the figs, drizzle the cheese generously with honey, and serve hot directly from the baking dish with pita chips or thin slices of baguette.


Blistered Shishito Peppers

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I’m so excited to be working with my friends at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, New York this summer.  The farm grows organic vegetables, fruit, flowers, and wheat and over the last few years I have loved experimenting with the different fruits and veggies that show up in the CSA box each week. This year, Amber Waves opened a beautiful new farm store, and to celebrate, I’ll be sharing recipes inspired by what’s in season and available at the farm all summer long. Wherever you live, I hope you’ll find inspiration to cook seasonally, eat locally, and explore delicious new ways eat your way through the summer!

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If you’ve come across shishito peppers, it’s likely been on a restaurant menu. Over the last couple years they seem to be popping up everywhere, and for good reason. Pan-roasted, they’re the perfect salty bite to have with cocktails.  If you haven’t heard of them, be on the lookout- they’re increasingly available at farmer’s markets and supermarkets – Trader Joe’s even carries them now.  Shishitos are generally mild in heat, but the occasional pepper (1 out of 10, or so the legend goes) packs a punch- a spicy surprise for a few lucky guests.

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While restaurants prepare shishitos with all kinds of dipping sauces and toppings, the peppers can get lost under all those flavors. I like to make them simply at home, with a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, a big pinch of sea salt, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  They take all of ten minutes to cook and with only four ingredients, they’re one of the easiest ways to start your dinner with a simple, seasonal dish.

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Blistered Shishito Peppers

  • Servings: 2-3 as an hors d'oeuvre
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Ingredients

  • 1 pint shishito peppers (½ pound)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for serving
  • juice of half a lime

Directions

Heat a cast-iron skillet or stainless steel sauté pan over medium heat. In a medium bowl, toss the peppers with the sesame oil and kosher salt. When the pan is hot (a drop of water should sizzle when it hits the pan) add the peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the peppers are blistered throughout. Off the heat, add the lime juice. Transfer the peppers to a serving bowl and sprinkle sea salt. Serve immediately.

*This recipe is easily doubled. Simple double the ingredients and cook the peppers in 1-pint batches.