I received a review copy of The Complete Best of Bridge Cookbooks, Volume 3 from Robert Rose Inc. Nevertheless, all opinions in the following post are my own.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my cheesemaking adventures, which left me with about two pounds of chèvre. I used some of it for the ice cream I made, but that took care of less than a quarter of it. Candy reminded me about the torteau de chèvre, a cheesecake unlike any other I’ve had before. My chèvre, you might remember, was a little softer than it should have been, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. This treat was as good as I’d remembered it being.
My bowl of chèvre was getting down to a manageable size, so I turned my attention to the other cookbook I’d taken for review from Robert Rose, Volume 3 in the Best of Bridge series. This is a spiral-bound edition, which lays flat when open – a handy feature when you’re bringing it into the kitchen with you. The font (what seems to be Comic Sans in all caps) cuts down on readability and the jokes throughout are dated. The recipes, though, are solid. The reputation of these books is well-deserved.
You won’t find innovative or fashionable cuisine here, but you will find a mixture of old-fashioned recipes and new millennium favourites. There’s also a good mix of dinner party and weekday meal fare across cuisines. The methods are easy enough for new cooks, but there’s still enough variety to keep the attention of more experienced ones. In some recipes, there is a reliance on canned or pre-prepared pantry staples that doesn’t mesh well with today’s focus on fresh, homemade ingredients, but it’s easy enough to make substitutions. It’s the kind of all purpose, old fashioned cookbook that I like to have on my shelves. I’ll likely never make the tuna casserole or the molded salads, but the Citrus Crisps have already made an appearance for a holiday cookie exchange this year and I can also tell that I’m going to find some more new favourites in this book.
Speaking of new favourites, I was pleased to find a recipe that would help me with my abundance of chèvre, an onion and goat cheese pizza that sounded delicious. My niece J, one of the stars of our Baking With Julia endeavours, was on hand and agreed to do the heavy lifting on this dish. She made pizza dough, using the recipe found elsewhere in this cookbook – it’s a great, simple crusty one. Then, she vetoed the pine nuts and spent the next half hour in front of the stove, on a comfortable chair with an iPad in one hand and a spatula in the other. By the time she was done, the onions were dark and jammy. She spread the chèvre on the unbaked pizza crust, added the onions, and ground some pepper on top. After a short time in the oven, it was ready.
Even without the pine nuts, this was a complexly flavourful dish. I’d love to serve it in small squares as an appetizer, though it made a great main for dinner that night, too. It reminded me a little of Pissaladière and could easily be dressed up with olives, bacon, or even something sweet like figs.
Robert Rose, Inc. has been kind enough to let me share the recipe with you, so if you experiment with it, let me know. It’s great as is, though.
Caramelized Onion and Chèvre Pizza
1 12-inch (30 cm) pizza crust, homemade or purchased
Olive oil to brush crust
3 medium onions, thinly sliced (use all 3!)
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) butter
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) olive oil
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. (45 mL) balsamic vinegar
2 cups (500 mL) crumbled chèvre (goat’s cheese)
1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted pine nuts
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush crust with olive oil. In a large frying pan over low heat, combine onions, butter, and olive oil Cover and cook, stirring often, until onions are very soft, about 30 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and continue cooking until vinegar evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Place cheese on crust, leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) border. Sprinkle with pine nuts, top with onion mixture and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until crust is golden.
After the tourteau and the pizza, I was left with just enough chèvre to improvise a goat cheese and mushroom quiche, inspired by a suggestion from Betsy and a fridge full of mushrooms. It was a nice way to finish off the batch of precious homemade goat cheese and the mushrooms, fresh thyme, and onions set off the tangy goat cheese nicely.
A week of rich eating was at its end and with the help of some friends and a couple of cookbooks, we were well-satisfied.
The Complete Best of Bridge Cookbooks, Volume 3 came out in Fall, 2013. You can find more details here, along with a link to purchase the book.