Monday, December 12, 2011

2 Appetizers from the Parties That Cook Recipe Deck

If you read last weeks post about the Parties That Cook Recipe Deck release party then I am sure you have been waiting with bated breath to see which two appetizers I whipped up this weekend.The wait has ended!I chose the Bacon-Wrapped Dried Plums w/ Roquefort & Balsamic Honey as well as the Honey & Orange- Braised Fennel Tartines with Mascarpone. I got to share these two tasty treats with some of my friends up in San Francisco as we had a lovely dinner party together. After tasting the Bacon Wrapped Dried plums at the party I knew those would be a hit, but I was nervous about the Tartines. Not everyone loves fennel (I have actually only recently come around to it) so I was really curious to see how it would turn out. It ended up being a major hit! After cooking it down for almost an hour combined, half that time simmered with wine, Fresh squeezed orange juice and honey, It had such a lovely fresh flavor everyone devoured them!

Bacon-Wrapped Dried Plums with Roquefort & Balsamic Honey
Recipe Courtesy of the Parties That Cook- More Sumptuous Small Plates Recipe Deck

12 Strips of Bacon
2 oz. Roquefort (I cheated and used some crumbled Salem Blue Cheese I already had)
3 oz. Cream Cheese (Cheated again. I subbed Mascarpone, once again cause I already had it)
1/2 tsp Thyme Leaves - Plus more for garnish
Pinch of kosher salt
24 Pitted Dried Plums (Prunes)

Balsamic- Honey:
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp Honey

Pre-Heat the Oven to 350 F

Bacon: Cut bacon strips in half crosswise. Lay the cut bacon on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Transfer to the oven and partially cook the bacon for 5-7 minutes. Remove bacon and preheat oven to broil.

Filling: In a small bowl, mix the Roquefort and cream cheese together using a hand mixer or fork. Add the thyme and salt. Chill in the freezer for 5 minutes. Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4 inch tip, stuff each plum with 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Wrap with a piece of partially cooked bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Broil: Place plums on a sheet pan (I suggest lining it with a sheet of parchment paper) and broil on one side until the bacon starts to brown (about 2-3 minutes). Turn and finish cooking until the bacon is crisp(another 2-3minutes). If left too long under the broiler, the cheese will melt and run out. Transfer to a platter and garnish witha few sprigs of thyme.

Balsamic Honey: Combine balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saute pan and simmer for 2 minutes to reduce. Drizzle or brush over plated plums

These are the perfect one bite appetizer. Sweet and chewy with a  nice little tang from the blue cheese and wrapped in bacon? Who can resist!

Honey & Orange- Braised Fennel Tartines with Mascarpone
Recipe Courtesy of the Parties That Cook- More Sumptuous Small Plates Recipe Deck

Braised Fennel:
2 large fennel bulbs
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp chopped thyme
1 Tbsp chopped parsley (I left out the parsley.... mostly because I was being cheap and didn't feel like buying any, partly because I don't  really like parsley)
1 1/4tsp kosher salt

1 baguette
1/3 cup olive oil

8oz mascarpone
1/4 tsp orange zest (I put more like 2 tsps)
1 tsp fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp chopped thyme (again I put more like 2 tsps)
1 Tbsp chopped parsley (skipped it)
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Fennel: Remove stems and core from fennel bulbs then slice very thinly into 1/4 inch thick slices. Reserve the fronds for garnish. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute fennel until it starts to soften and brown, about 25 minutes. Add wine and reduce to a syrup. Add the orange juice, stock, honey, and vinegar.
Braise over medium heat until the fennel is caramelized, about 15- 20 minutes. Add orange zest, thyme, parsley, and salt. Set aside.

Bread: Slice baguette on an angle into 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush the bread with olive oil (or spritz it if you have a cool olive oil sprayer like me! buy one HERE)  Arrange slices on a baking sheet and cook until crisp and golden around the edges, about 10 - 15 minutes (I flipped them over half way through just so they were even). Cool Slightly

Mascarpone: In a small bowl, mix the mascarpone, orange zest, orange juice, thyme, parsley, and salt together witha  fork. (since I was assembling the appetizer elsewhere I scooped it back into it's original container for travel purposes)

Assemble: Spread 1 heaping teaspoon of mascarpone mixture onto each crostini. Spoon 1 tablespoon of fennel mixture on top, garnish with fennel frond or parsley leaf and serve

While mine wasn't quite as pretty as the picture I was so pleased with how this turned out. After all that braising the fennel really takes on the fresh flavors from all the components and is nice and soft. Next time i will definitely try to chop it in thinner pieces (some I actually pulled out and cut again cause they were just too big). This dish was a great success and every piece was eaten, we found ourselves later digging in to the left over mascarpone spread with some bread because it was so delicious!

After witnessing first hand what crowd pleasers these were I can't wait to attempt more recipes from the deck!


  1. For the bacon wrapped dried plums: do you have to serve them right away or can they be at room temperature?

  2. Wow, thanks again for another great post! We're so glad the recipes were a hit at your party, and LOVE that you're sharing them with friends and followers. Have fun with the rest of the recipe cards in the deck!