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Nothing like cool, fresh, tasty summer appetizers

052817Foodstrawberries

Strawberry appetizers

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By Leslie Lippincott
College of The Albemarle

Sunday, May 28, 2017

My love affair with goat cheese began the moment I tasted it with strawberries … and balsamic vinegar.

I love food parings that make us think, make us question the choice of ingredients, that seem almost counterintuitive and that ultimately open our minds and palettes.

Here is a delicious example of mixing traditionally sweet and savory ingredients in the same dish. Sweet, ripe, Summer strawberries, filled with tangy and tart goat cheese and fresh basil, with its subtle flavors of anise and pepper, a drizzle of a sweetened balsamic reduction, and finally, freshly cracked black peppercorns. We often add a little salt to melon and fruit to heighten their sweetness, but here we finish with a little black pepper “bite”.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

6 oz Goat cheese, softened **2 ounces softened cream cheese

24 fresh strawberries, cupped* 1Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

1c. Balsamic vinegar 1Tbsp sugar

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small, non-reactive sauce pan bring balsamic vinegar and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally and simmer 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Add basil to softened goat cheese and cream cheese and blend until smooth.

Into a small piping or plastic bag, fitted with a small star tip, add cheese mixture. Fill each cupped strawberry with approximately 1 teaspoon of goat cheese, depending on the size of the berry. * A small spoon can be used, if a piping bag is not available.

Arrange filled berries on a serving platter. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.

*To make strawberry cups:

- Slice a small slice from bottom of each berry to stabilize so it won’t wobble.

- With a paring knife, cut around the stem and remove.

- Using the tip of a vegetable peeler, remove the hull and widen the hole to make a well.

** Goat cheese can be crumbly, so the cream cheese helps achieve a smoother texture, better for piping.

Blue Claw Crab and N.C. Shrimp

Hey, speaking about summer and love - it’s not Summer in Eastern North Carolina without Blue Claw Crab and NC Shrimp!

East Coast seafood you are going to love meeting a delightful pink dressing developed for Dungeness crab somewhere … perhaps: San Francisco, Portland, Oregon and Spokane or Seattle, Washington. It is SO good everybody wants to take credit for developing Crab Louis with its delicious Louie Dressing sometime around 1900. Originally developed as The King of Salads, this extremely versatile recipe can adapted to serve as a canape or in phyllo cups. This recipe is for Belgian Endive lettuce cups, but Boston Bibb lettuce can be substituted.

Crab Louis

4 – 5 heads Belgian endive, leaves separated

1 pound lump crabmeat or cooked shrimp

For the dressing ~

1/2 c mayonnaise

4 T chili sauce

2 T Dijon mustard

2 T fresh lemon juice

2 t grated lemon peel

¼ c minced green pepper

3 T minced scallions

1 T fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together to blend.

Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, mix crabmeat or shrimp and enough dressing to bind together.

Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of the crab or shrimp mixture onto the root end of each endive leaf.

Arrange on a platter with extra dressing and garnish with cherry tomatoes halves, hard-boiled egg slices and avocado slices.

So this Summer, leave the romance novel at the beach and start your own love affair in the kitchen.

(Leslie Lippincott is Culinary Arts Program Coordinator,  Edenton-Chowan Campus.)

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