My Cheesy Valentine: Part Deux

15 Feb

Shortly after meeting my best friend in the world, I discovered his disdain for most things vegetable-related. I’ve since learned that while he doesn’t necessarily enjoy a veggie as the star of the show on a plate, he doesn’t mind their flavors in a dish. And to his credit, he’s become much more adventurous in our six-ish years together. Still, I was a little bit shocked the first time I made these little crostini that he found them just as delightful as I did. It’s a great appetizer for a crowd, or just for you and your sweetie.

Spinach, Artichoke and Caramelized Onion Crostini

  • 1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 3 oz. Neufchatel cheese or cream cheese
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 french baguette

Cut the baguette into ½ in. slices on a diagonal and lightly brush them with olive oil. Toast until golden brown and set aside.

In a wide pan, sweat the diced onions in olive oil until soft, translucent and sweet. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spinach and cook just until it has wilted. Set the pan aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the yogurt, cheese, sour cream, artichoke hearts, thyme, mustard, pepper, and a few pinches of salt. Pulse to combine. Add the spinach, onion and garlic to the food processor and pulse until it has a spreadable consistency.

Top each toasted baguette slice with the spread and serve at room temperature. We had ours with some thin-sliced hot soppressata on the side. In the summer, I serve it as a chilled dip alongside raw carrot slices for a cool appetizer.

So that was our Valentine’s day appetizer, and you heard about the entrée in part 1, but I know what you’re really here for: Dessert.

I made this pound cake, which baked up beautifully. It’s an easy one-bowl recipe. It took a little bit longer to cook in my oven, but not by much. Maybe 1 hour and 30 minutes instead of the indicated 1 hour and 20 minutes.

The cream was whipped with some vanilla bean paste and a few teaspoons of sugar. I kept the it fairly neutral, because the cake was plenty sweet on its own.

The coulis was my favorite part (and apparently was Joe’s as well, because I caught him eating it out of the container with a spoon, haha). If your Valentine, like mine, does not love chocolate, try this!

Mash a pint of blueberries with a few teaspoons of sugar, a few drops of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, and the juice of one lime. You can also add a little bit of the zest for a stronger lime flavor. Simmer gently until thickened and a little bit syrupy, then let it cool to room temperature.

To put it all together, spoon a few generous swirls of the coulis on a plate, and then top with a cake slice and a dollop of whipped cream. The sauce has just enough tartness to balance out the cake’s sweetness and the cream brings the whole dish together. Oh, and the cake has the most wonderful, crackly crust. Delicious.

I hope that you are all having a lovely week! Enjoy the new goodies.

Ciao for now,

Neen

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