Monday, May 31, 2010

Week H - Hazelnut & Cherry Bruschetta

Yesterday at the farmers market every where I looked I saw cherries!! Plump and delicious cherries! I thought to myself what delicious early summer dish can I make with this beautiful fruit?  The signs were all there. There was a short cooking demo and I couldn't help to think what is missing from this cherry relish? Hazelnuts!! The magical nut! There it came to me, cherry and hazelnut bruschetta with no other but the Cypress Grove goat cheese...mmmmmm... This is a great appetizer for a summer BBQ, picnic or dinner.

In many European countries, such as Switzerland, hazelnuts are consumed regularly the way we obsess over almonds in the United States. Only in the past few hundred years have hazelnuts been cultivated in the Northwest of the United States.
Have you ever thought to connect the shape and health benefits of a specific a nut? Doesn't the Hazelnut look like the heart? Well it is said that Hazelnuts have been deemed the most beneficial nut for heart health. Hazelnuts are high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that helps to lower cholesterol.  Hazelnuts lower blood pressure because of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.  Hazelnuts contain cardioprotective arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels. Hazelnuts are rich in oil. It is said that 60-70 % of hazelnut consists of oil. This structure provides not only energy to organisms, but also another beneficial acid in hazelnut oil is Linoleic Acid which can be found heavily in hazelnut oil.
Now lets take a bite!

Cherry Hazelnut Bruschetta

Ingredients about 10 pieces 

2 Cups cherries, chopped small
1/2 Cup shallots, minced
2 Tbsp basil, chiffaunade (thin ribbon like strips)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 Cup hazelnuts, toasted, roughly chopped 
pinch cayenne peper, ground
to taste sea salt, fine
to taste black pepper, fresh ground fine
drizzle extra virgin olive oil

1 loaf baguette, toasted
1 round loaf goat cheese - If you are in the Bay Area I love Cypress Grove, Chevre 


1) Preheat oven to 275F. Toast Hazelnuts for approximately 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, gently toss the nuts to allow for all sides to evenly toast. 
*If you have a toaster oven it is much more energy efficient to toast the baguette and hazelnuts. For toaster oven: toast nuts at 325F for approximately 5-7 minutes, check regularly to be sure they do not burn. They can go from toasty to scorched in seconds. Toast baguette and set to side.
2) Mean while, using a mixing bowl, add the cherries, shallots, red wine vinegar, cayenne, salt, pepper and basil. Mix thoroughly and season to taste. 
3) Once the hazelnuts are toasted roughly chop and mix in with cherry mixture. 
4) Spread goat cheese onto the crostini and top with a little extra hazel nut or basil for garnish.

Bon Appetito!!