Happy Hour: Figs, Cheese, Sherry

Happy Hour: Figs, Cheese, Sherry

International Happy Hour
Mission Figs/Cambozola/Oloroso Sherry

Fresh figs from California, creamy cheese from Germany, and semi-sweet sherry from Spain together create an amazing food synergy. They enhance each other in this simple yet stellar international happy hour fare.

Our cherished dark purple California figs were brought to the New World in the 1500s and got their name from the Franciscan missionaries who brought them up from Mexico and planted them in the mission gardens along the Pacific coast in the late 1700s.

  • Black Mission Figs have a honeyed-earthy-fruity flavor and creamy lusciousness. They are available fresh from mid-May through November.
  • Cambozola is German cow’s milk cheese reminiscent of a combination of French Brie and Italian Gorgonzola…triple creamy with that distinctive bleu cheese flavor.
  • Oloroso Sherry from Jerez, Spain has wonderful aromas of nuts, vanilla and caramel plus rich nutty semi-sweet creamy flavors. Oloroso sherries offer a terrific balance between sweet and dry.
  • A chewy rustic bread brushed with good olive oil is key, be sure to grill the bread over an open flame rather than toast it, that smoky char adds an important element to the combination.
  • Fresh thyme sprigs add another earthy layer.

Enjoy figs warmed in adorable cast iron pans with bubbling cambozola on grilled bread with a nip of oloroso sherry for a rich, savory, smoky, and sweet happy hour. Cheers to Fall!

Fresh Figs and Melted Cambozola Recipe

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Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne #glutenfree

Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne with Fried Sage #glutenfree

Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne with Fried Sage
Green Lentil Lasagne Noodles
#vegetarian #glutenfree

It was our pleasure to serve Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne with Fried Sage at last weekend’s successful benefit “Sip & Savor: A Gluten-Free Experience” to support the Celiac Disease Foundation on behalf of Explore Cuisine.

A pumpkin ricotta mixture seasoned with warm complex pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves) is layered with gluten-free green lentil lasagne noodles, plenty of gooey mozzarella, and nutmeg-scented béchamel. Fresh sage leaves fried in butter enhance the seasonal flavors. Due to its overwhelming popularity, I promised to share the recipe here on Taste With The Eyes.

The Celiac Disease Foundation Board of Directors held Sip & Savor in a design center at the state-of-the-art Custom Design & Construction in El Segundo, California – it was a terrific venue for this event.

Design Center in El Segundo, CA

Event proceeds benefited Celiac Disease Foundation, the internationally-recognized non-profit organization that drives diagnosis, treatment, and a cure through research, education, and advocacy to improve the quality of life for individuals affected by celiac disease and non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity.

Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne with Fried Sage #glutenfree

Explore Cuisine makes an extraordinary noodle for lasagne recipes. It is produced in Italy of green lentil flour (50%), green pea flour, and brown rice flour. These no-boil noodles soak up sauce to two-and-a-half times their size to a perfect al dente texture.

The noodles are full of plant-based pea protein, a lovely pale olive-green color, organic and gluten-free. They are also higher in fiber and lower in carbs than traditional lasagne noodles.

Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne with Fried Sage Recipe

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Top 8 Allergen-Free Rice Noodles

Rice Noodles with Lemon Ginger Sunflower Seed Sauce Grilled Nectarines, Fresh Berries, Mint and Basil

Top 8 Allergen-Free Rice Noodles
Lemon Ginger Sunflower Seed Sauce
Grilled Nectarines, Fresh Berries, Mint and Basil

This ambrosial rice noodle dish was created to have broad appeal to both those with food allergies and those without. In addition to being gluten-free and vegan, it is also free from the Top 8 Allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish. These eight foods (and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them) account for an estimated 90 percent of allergic reactions.

The rice noodles are manufactured in Thailand in an allergen free and dedicated gluten-free facility. The sunflower butter is a product of the USA and processed in a facility free from the top 8 allergens. Explore Cuisine Brown Rice Noodles are tossed with a tasty sauce made with lemon, ginger, garlic and SunButter Sunflower Butter in this summer-y dish with smoky grilled nectarines, juicy berries, and fresh herbs.

Each year, millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food. Although most food allergies cause relatively mild and minor symptoms, some food allergies can cause severe reactions, and may even be life-threatening.

There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens — and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food — are important measures to prevent serious health consequences. (From FDA here)

Top 8 Allergen-Free Rice Noodles Recipe

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Strawberry Caprese Salad with Burrata

Strawberry Caprese Salad with Burrata

Strawberry Caprese Salad with Burrata

Not that our favorite Caprese salad (tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil) needed any improvement, but here, the classic savory summer salad is transformed by adding sweet strawberries & balsamic syrup. The combination is stellar.

Super-juicy and seductively aromatic, strawberries highlight the what is most memorable about this time of year’s produce. Tomatoes and strawberries have a curiously delightful affinity for each other. A light drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar adds a touch of sweet acid that brightens the entire dish. Creamy rich burrata takes the mozzarella to the next level.

By choosing only the best ingredients – fresh picked Italian basil, the juiciest most flavorful heirloom tomatoes, ripest organic strawberries, and high quality olive oil & aged balsamic vinegar – this salad can stand alone as a most satisfying evening meal. Serve with a good chilled rosé, and this dinner more than anything will evoke the pure taste of the season. No better way to enjoy a hot summer evening…

Strawberry Caprese Salad with Burrata Recipe

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Everything But The Bagel Vinaigrette, Farro Cucumber Date Salad

Everything But The Bagel Vinaigrette, Farro Cucumber Date Salad

Everything But The Bagel Vinaigrette
Farro Cucumber Date Salad

I like to make my salads from scratch, using the freshest ingredients dressed with a homemade vinaigrette. Today I took a short-cut.

Trader Joe’s sells a snappy seasoning blend with a clever name called Everything But the Bagel made with black and white sesame seeds, sea salt, garlic, onion, and poppy seeds. I put a scoop of the seasoning blend into a mixture of olive oil, vinegar, and agave syrup. It was a surprisingly good vinaigrette with sweet and savory flavors and a nice crunch. The dressing paired perfectly with my farro cucumber date salad. It was visually stunning too, with contrasting black and white seeds; ribbons of cucumber swirling around the platter; and just a few scattered edible flowers that made the neutral brown-green palette come alive.

Farro Cucumber Date Salad Recipe

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Semi-Frozen Vegan Cheesecakes

Semi-Frozen Vegan Cheesecakes

Semi-Frozen Vegan Cheesecakes
Cashew Coconut Filling
Date Walnut Crust, Frozen Berry Topping

I really like the idea of having an elegant little dessert on-hand. One that is homemade and ready to serve simply by thawing for 10 to 15 minutes. Beyond tasty, this recipe is also gluten-free and vegan so it appeals to all my guests!

The icy cold dessert would be great any time of year, but it is especially nice for summer entertaining topped with fresh berries that have been frozen to get that cool frosty look.

Semi-Frozen Vegan Cheesecakes Recipe

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