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Feta Cheese Mousse and Summer Fruits

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I shrieked at the grocery store. People were staring, a look of pity on their faces for the poor, crazy girl shrieking over produce. Or maybe their look was of concern for the two children in the crazy girl’s care. But I promise there was good cause for shrieking. Honest, there was.

You see, I had gone to the store to buy watermelon for today’s recipe. My grocery store likes to play a game with its customers by constantly rearranging the items in the produce section. I swear that if I walked from the produce section to frozen foods and back again, the apples would be someplace different. Anyway, I found the watermelon. Score one for me! And then I spotted the sign; the sign which read Fresh Figs. Fresh Figs!!!  My heart skipped a beat. My eyes went into overdrive scanning for the aforementioned fresh figs! They landed on their target and that’s when the shriek escaped from my mouth. First fresh figs of the season!

I told you there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for my reaction!

Figs make me think about Greece and a lovely dinner my husband and I enjoyed on the patio of a restaurant that sat on one edge of a huge town square. As we were preparing to pay the bill, the waiter brought over two glasses of ouzo, on the house. We were delighted. Moments later, the owner of the restaurant appeared, carrying a plate full of fresh figs and other fruits. It was the first time I’d ever tasted a fresh fig. The owner, whose English was excellent, chatted with us for a while. He then proceeded to plan our wedding, which was to take place the next morning at the church across the square, excitedly claiming that he knew the priest and could arrange everything for us. Just come back tomorrow morning and you get married, he instructed. We did not take him up on his offer to marry that next morning, though part of me wishes we did. But that was well before our marrying days. Good memories though, which make figs taste extra sweet to me.

Thankfully, fresh figs fit beautifully into my existing plan for today. I’ve been thinking a lot about cheese mousse since making the mixed berry mousse last week. I’d tentatively decided that I would make a goat cheese mousse this week. Well, after yesterday’s Farfalle with Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts, I’ve got a tub of leftover feta cheese in my fridge. So, Feta Cheese Mousse it is! My plan was to pipe the goat cheese mousse into cubes of fresh watermelon. We’ll still be doing that. But now we’ll also be piping the mousse onto fresh figs! Oh, glorious summer treat!

Serve these little snacks as a first course appetizer, an hors d’ oeuvres, or even as a lunch over some mixed greens!

Feta Cheese Mousse

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Feta Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup Heavy Cream, divided

Directions

Whip 1/2 cup of the heavy cream until it begins to form firm peaks.* Set the whipped cream aside. Use a food processor, blender, or immersion blender to combine the feta, cream cheese, and 1/4 cup heavy cream until smooth.  Blend a bit of the whipped cream into the cheese mixture. This will lighten the mixture. Then, gently fold in the remaining cream. Do not over-mix or you will lose the fluffiness of whipped cream.

Refrigerate while you prepare the fruits.

*When whipping cream, it’s important to keep the cream and equipment cool. Place your whipping bowl and whisk in the freezer for a few minutes before beating the cream. Then, set the bowl in an ice bath as you beat the cream. The bowl with the whipped cream can stay in the ice bath while you blend the cheese.

To prepare the watermelon, cut the heart from the rind. Then, cut the watermelon into your desired shapes. Small cubes or tiles work well. You can also use a cookie cutter to create circle or star shaped tiles.

Use a melon baller to remove a portion of the cubes.

I’m sure you can find a use for the leftover watermelon scraps.

This is curious...

Satisfied Watermelon Face

Spoon the mousse into a pastry bag and pipe it onto your watermelon and figs. To create a makeshift pastry bag, cut off the corner of a ziploc bag. Insert your pastry tip. Fill the bag with the mousse and pipe it into your fruit. The mousse would also be delicious on vegetables, crackers, bread.

Ziploc Pastry Bag

Watermelon with Feta Cheese Mousse and Mint

Sweet Summer Treat

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Cinnamon Apple and Brie Quesadillas with a Side Salad of Spring Greens with Prosciutto, Figs, and Walnuts

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So, if you’ve been following this blog for the past few weeks, you may have started to notice some trends.

  • I love cheese.
  • I love to cook foods that I can eat with my hands.
  • I like to keep things pretty simple.

Don’t get me wrong…I love nothing more than to spend the day in the kitchen cooking up elaborate meals on special occasions, for dinner guests, or anytime I’ve got someone else to watch the kids. But, most of the time, I like to keep things simple. Just a few fresh ingredients, a little mixing and heating, and voila!  A delicious meal! (We’ll just save the boeuf bourguignon for Christmas!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this adorable little bistro we visited during our stay in Clearwater Beach.  It was a small place with wine-lined walls. There was a long bar for wine tasting, a few indoor tables, and a large outdoor patio. The menu was simple but interesting; mostly salads, sandwiches, and pizzas, prepared behind the long bar. On Friday nights, they featured live music.  We even walked by a doggie happy hour (a yappy hour, if you will), taking place on the patio one night. I’m pretty sure that if I ever had the good fortune to open a little place of my own, I’d want a place just like that. Simple, but elegant menu in a casual, inviting atmosphere.  I’d feature fresh baked artisan breads and cheese from local farms, seasonal produce, and wines from the Finger Lakes region. I’d personally welcome each guest and offer complimentary wine tasting. And, I almost forgot… it would be spring all year long and I’d wear pretty skirts every day. Wouldn’t that be lovely??

But, I digress. Tonight’s dinner is inspired by one of the menu items at that adorable Clearwater Beach bistro. I love, love, love brie! Hands down, it’s one of my most favorite cheeses. I especially love brie when it’s paired with something fruity, like fig preserves or dried apricots. So, when I spotted the Cinnamon Apple and Brie Quesadillas on the menu, I stopped reading and just ordered. They’ve been on my mind lately, so I decided to whip up my own version.  On the side, I’m serving Spring Greens with Prosciutto, Figs, and Walnuts in Balsamic. Though I was hoping to find fresh figs at my grocery store, they’re not in season until later in the summer/early fall.  So, I picked up a bag of dried organic Calimyrna figs.  Dried Black Mission figs would do the trick too.

Enjoy with a glass (or two) of your favorite wine!

Cinnamon Apple and Brie Quesadillas

Cinnamon Apple and Brie Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 8 soft taco-sized Flour Tortillas
  • 1 wedge Brie, about 8 ounces
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • Honey

Directions

Peel the apples, remove the core and finely dice. In a saucepan, melt butter.  Add apples and cook over medium heat, for about 4-5 minutes, until apples are slightly softened. Add cinnamon, stir and cook for another minute. To compose the quesadillas, sprinkle cinnamon apples onto a flour tortilla.  Top with very thin slices of brie.  Cover with another tortilla. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted and tortilla is slightly crispy.  Use a pizza cutter to divide the quesadilla into 4 parts. Drizzle with honey. Serves 4

Not too much to say about the salad…  Chop up some prosciutto and thinly slice some figs. Toss some mixed spring greens in a little balsamic or balsamic vinaigrette. Top with the prosciutto, figs, and some walnuts.  This salad is fantastic with crumbled goat cheese or gorgonzola!

Cinnamon Apple and Brie Quesadillas with Spring Greens, Prosciutto, Figs, and Walnuts in Balsamic

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