I know, I know. It’s resolution time. Our gym is crowded with people who have good intentions, but they get in the way when I’m dancing around in my favorite step class and they just don’t get it. Grrrrrr! I can’t wait until March when they will all be gone and we can get back to the business of our “normal” gym.
And friggin' everyone is on a diet right now. Including me, but that’s my norm anyway (of course, it doesn’t help when I go to Leon’s Full Service on a Saturday after that intense, highly choreographed step class and eat my favorite fries with smoked tomato mayo, but what the hell, we won’t talk about that). Although I believe that moderation is the best strategy, for many folks, dieting still means eliminating the carbs. Sigh.
So here is a killer appetizer for those of you who eschew carbs these days. If you are like me, you could eat a couple of these for dinner and call it a day. Yeah, it’s carb-less, but that’s not the point. It’s delicious. Trust me. It comes from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook.
PARMESAN CRISPS WITH GOAT CHEESE MOUSSE
(adapted from Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry Cookbook”)
For the crisps:
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 empty egg carton
Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone liner) or use a nonstick baking sheet.
Place a 2 ½ -inch ring mold in one corner of the Silpat and fill it with 1 tablespoon of the grated cheese. Use your finger to spread into an even layer. Repeat to make 6 to 8 rounds, leaving at least 1 inch between each one.
Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove pan from oven and let cool for about 30 seconds to just firm up. Remove crisps one by one and gently press into a hollow in the egg carton to form a tulip shape. After a few minutes, remove them to a baking rack to cool completely and continue making additional crisps.
For the mousse:
6 oz. fresh goat cheese at room temperature
4 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and use a fork or small whisk to combine until smooth and creamy (alternatively, you could do this in a food processor). Taste to adjust seasonings.
Spoon or pipe about 2 to 3 teaspoons of mousse into each crisp and serve.
Yield: approximately 16 crisps
* If you want to be lazy, just bake up the crisps, cool them on a baking rack and eat "as is." A big basket of these and a lovely white wine will make any of your dinner guests happy and they will never miss the filling. Consumed this way, they are a darned good substitute for potato chips! I'm not saying these have a place at your Super Bowl spread, but they do stand in pretty well for a salty snack.
* You can also get creative with the filling. Instead of the goat cheese, think about using fresh ricotta or, in a pinch, herbed cream cheese (like Boursin). You could also add stuff like crumbled bacon, smoked salmon, caviar, slivered sundried tomatoes and basil ... whatever works for you.
* One word of caution: work quickly when the crisps come out of the oven. If you wait too long, they will not be pliable and you will not be able to press them into the egg carton (or muffin tin, if you prefer). In that case, you're back to the "potato chip" option.
So why my interest in the French Laundry? Perhaps that would be because I managed to score a reservation there next month. Woohoo and Skinny Cook be damned!!!!!!