Tuesday, July 27, 2010

PESTO and an Economical Gourmet Treat from "the Long Quiche Goodbye" for Two for Tuesday

A little flatbread, a little sliced tomato, a little fresh made Basil Pesto and Chevre Cheese!

Dress it up a little, and you have an "economical gourmet treat".   BTW, Chevre Cheese is a fancy name for goat cheese (3 is a magic number).

That was the ingredient list and instructions for the first mention of food in a NEW murder mystery series.  I can't imagine anything more exciting than an authors first published book.  Avery Aames has authored, "The Long Quiche Goodbye".  That's the first in a planned series of books set in the cheese shop (Fromagerie Bessesse is the actual name, but everyone in town calls it "The cheese Shop").

I was very excited when I first heard of Avery's book.  First, she is "one of us".  Some of you may know her as one of the Six merry murderesses from The Mystery Lover's Kitchen.  All six of the contributing authors of the blog are published authors, all mysteries, and all their books have food themes, most with recipes included in their books.  The blog posts daily, with recipes and glimpses into their lives.  Fun daily read (and for contest whores fans among us, they have more give aways than any other blog I know of... but I digress).  My fellow bloggers out there, if/when you get a book deal, sign me up as the first to buy.  We should support our own!

But my new found blog buddy's setting for the series really turned my crank.  I am pretty good with basic cheese knowledge.  I no longer buy bags of shredded cheese (the more air that gets to the cheese, the faster it losses it's taste and goes bad, shredding adds surface area, so more air gets to the cheese... buy the bricks and shred yourself, cheaper, tastes better and stays fresh longer... but I digress).  I also buy "real" cheese, and not the low fat versions (half the amount of "real" cheese will add a fuller flavor than twice the amount of the less tasty substitute.  Half the amount is the tastiest way to cut the calories, not pretending you are getting the same taste... But now I am ranting and digressing... Back to "the long Quiche Goodbye").  But aside from the basics, I still buy most of my cheeses from the tiny cheese section of my store.  My knowledge of better quality cheeses is lacking.  Much the way people of my generation still hum "3 is a magic number", soft education is a great way to learn without the burden of schooling (extra points if you caught the "Schoolhouse Rocks" reference.  That's where I was gently educated about math, while watching the Wonder Twins powers activate.  Think the "Cheese Shop Mystery series will do for cheese what Schoolhouse Rock did to teach me how a bill becomes a law???).  

And sure enough, in one of the recipes Avery provides in the book, I traveled to the only cheese shop on the island and found a new (well, it is at least 11 centuries old, but new to me) cheese... Taleggio Cheese Polenta is on my menu plan for the week, and you will be seeing that soon.  3 IS a magic number!

Let's take a look at my lunch I made from an idea I got from the book...

Oh wait... One quick story... Why, you might ask, am I making a dish from a line in the book, instead of one of the several recipes printed in the book... Why, because I am a dummy and couldn't find the recipes.  My fault, I never flip to the back of a book to see ahead.  But I do know that often in "foodie" mysteries, the recipes are either included in the body of the story, or are at the end of the book.  I did flip to the last page, saw it was text and not a recipe, so I went back to the beginning, and assumed I would hit a recipe soon.  Well, 200 pages in, I found out that the last few pages are a preview to her next book in the series, "Lost and Fondue".  the recipes are indeed at the end of "the Long Quiche Goodbye" story, but before the preview.


But, that was a happy accident.  As I felt inspired by the throwaway line of a snack Charlotte (the owner of the shop) had planned for her Grandfather...

Inspired to see what I could do with this...

For a couple of the ingredients, I needed to do a bit of research.  First, Flatbread...

Flatbread is usually unleavened bread (but not always).  There are hundreds of flatbread recipes, but it boils down to bread that has a small rise, and is served... flat (Duh again).  I found an Italian flatbread recipe that sounded awful familiar.  It was the recipe I use for my PIZZA NAPOLETANO dough.  I had a batch of the dough in my freezer, so that part was solved.

Next, a little research on pesto.  Pesto is very easy to make, the usual recipe is Parmesan cheese, LOTS of Basil, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts.  Well, I refuse.  Not the idea of pesto, but the idea of pine nuts.  Even in the under-priced grocery store I shop at in Kansas, and ESPECIALLY at the over-priced grocery stores here in paradise, the price of pine nuts is... NUTS.  Especially considering pine nuts do not have a very distinctive taste.  Maybe buying pre-made pesto makes this an economical treat, but buying pine nuts to make your own pesto is a budget buster for me.

So, more research later, I found "permission" to use walnuts!  I LOVE walnuts.  Besides being on my "always have in the pantry" list, they have a very distinctive taste.  BUT, even better, Charlotte (remember, the heroin of "The Long Quiche Goodbye") and the Cheese Shop is located in Ohio.  Ohio is famous for their black walnuts, Charlotte prides herself on supporting local farmers and local small business owners (like pesto makers).  So, it makes sense to me that Charlotte's pesto would indeed be an...

 Ohio pesto...
2 cups fresh Basil Leaves
4 cloves Garlic
1/4 cup Walnut pieces
1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive Oil
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Combine the basil, garlic, and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

I like my pesto less wet than most people.  You may prefer to add more EVOO so that it is wet and spreadable.  Mine is more dipable.

Add the sliced tomato, and the goat cheese, and you have a pretty impressive snack.

Charlotte did say it would be a gourmet treat.  So, without the benefit of photos or clear instructions, I did fancy it up a bit...

First, I divided the dough into 4 equal amounts.  Three of the balls I made into mini-pizza size.  They were @1/2 inch thick.  Thick enough to be chewy instead of crispy when cooked, but still considered flat.  I baked these until they are al dente done... only about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

While that is cooking...  The 4th ball I rolled much flatter.  These I cut into leaf shapes.  Freehand, it is easy, one parenthesis shaped cut about 1 inch long.  Close the parenthesis with the tips touching.  A few simple accent cuts and it should look like a leaf.  If you have a mini cookie cutter set, you can use that for the decorations.  I have a set of Noah's Ark figures, African animals and a boat.  those would look fun ringing the treat.  Be creative.

Once the pizza shapes are cooked slightly, pull them out of the oven, top with sliced tomatoes, and the pesto (I like roasted pesto, instead of the fresh "raw" version Charlotte had planned for Grandpere (French for Grandfather... see 3 is a magic number, soft education).  Ring with the decoration, and brush the sides of the dough with an egg wash.  The egg makes things shine nice, as well as allows the decoration pieces of dough to stick.  Brush the decoration pieces bottom sides with the egg as well, and arrange in an attractive (gourmet looking) manor.  Brush the tops of the decorative pieces with the egg.

Return to the oven for another 10 minutes and top with a dollop of goat cheese..

Chevre Cheese Flatbread Snacks
with Ohio Pesto and heirloom Tomatoes
An economical gourmet TreatFrom "The Long Quiche Goodbye"

I am 200 pages into the book, and am really enjoying it!  I plan to finish today, cook the recipe for the Taleggio Polenta and do a proper review on Thursday for my weekly post to Our Krazy Kitchen!  But at the least, the idea for this recipe was worth the price of the book!

Thanks Avery, and congrats on the first book!  

It's Magic!

I am linking this to the 2-4-2sDay roundup... "Two for Tuesday" (Click HERE), the only instructions were to post about "real Food".  I think the Pesto qualifies as "Real Food"!  And Charlotte's attempt to stock her store with locally produced cheeses and specialty items certainly makes The Cheese Shop a place 2-4-2sDay fans should want to hang out!


  1. Awesome dish. Thanks for the reminder about shredded cheese.

  2. Great combination of ingredients! Thanks for the trip down memory lane with schoolhouse rocks! I haven't thought of the Wonder Twins in ages.

  3. This looks delicious Dave; I'm loving your Ohio Pesto! I won't buy pricey pine nuts either, so I like your use of walnuts.

  4. Wow, yum, you did a great job recreating this recipe!!!! Without any of the instructions. Wow! I'm so thrilled to see it in your photos and hear you enjoyed it (and the book). yes, those pesky recipes are tucked at the back. I'll see if I can have my publisher make sure that people know where they are. Maybe a different colored page? An index? But this is fun and I'm thrilled that you honored me so!


  5. That looks crazy good!

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  6. I DOOOOO want to hang out there! Culinary mysteries are some of my favorite reads! This sounds absolutely deeeelicious, Dave. I'm gonna have to look for that title! Thanks for sharing with Two for Tuesdays =)

  7. Looks good! I think I'd eat goat cheese on anything. Thanks for linking up at Two for Tuesday.

  8. I am a late-comer to the pesto bandwagon, it just didn't look or sound like something I'd like. BIG mistake--I love the stuff, but am still buying the pre-made kind. Finding pine-nuts is difficult if not impossible in my small town, but walnuts I could do! Thanks for the easy "gourmet" treat!

  9. You are getting so darn creative with your food. Your lunch looks beautiful with the cut outs! I love culinary mysteries too and will look for this one. Had to laugh at your comment on my blog. The flank of a mole would have been a unique game dish. Maybe I need to get a shotgun. Yeah to 3 more weeks!

  10. Sounds like a great new foodie book! Bring on the cheese....looks terrific!

  11. Looks divine and I just love that Ohio Pesto!

  12. Wow, Ohio pesto in the islands! Your bread looks so beautiful with the leaves and I am sure it was delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this on the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! :) alex@amoderatelife

  13. Beautiful snack!!! Your leaves are better than cookie cutter ones. They look just like palms. If the appetizing photos weren't enough....It even sounds better than it looks. Great recipe and post!

  14. Nice job - and a special "awwww" for the nod to the Paul Simon-esque Schoolhouse Rock video - one of my personal favorites!