When holiday times roll around, I find myself using fresh or dried cranberries abundantly. They are so versatile for cookies, breads, cakes and as decorations. Now if you ask my husband, he will tell you that the best way to have cranberries is in the big splat blob of jelly from the can that you just slice. He loves that! What???? I know, I know, but he can't help it! He especially loves it sliced on bread with leftover turkey and stuffing for a sandwich. Yes, another, what???? Bread on bread sandwich? Well, we all have our own tastes! He does eat my cranberry sauce made with fresh berries and oranges, but there is something about the allure of what comes in the can that he can't resist. Well, it does have its place and I have a super recipe for a cheesecake using the canned sauce. More to follow on that!
So, I will be posting a few ideas on how to use cranberries in various ways over the next couple of weeks. First up is an before dinner hors d'oeurves. This is where we start our entertaining, so that is how I chose to start this series of recipes. This is a wonderful, zesty way to whet the appetites of your guests. Be sure to use good Blue Cheese for the best flavor. These are so pretty on a platter at holiday times with the red cranberries and the green of the pear. The pear should be ripe enough to be sweet, but firm enough to hold up when you slice it. And you need a VERY sharp knife to get the thinnest slices for this dish. Or use a mandolin. Serve these with a fresh crisp white wine such as Frascati or Pino Grigio. These could also be a good after dinner offering on a dessert platter, served with an Ice Wine or Riesling. However you choose to use this, you will get rave reviews for taste and presentation!
Blue Cheese Cranberry Pear Toasts
24-1/2 inch thick slices French bread
PAM cooking spray
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 ounces blue cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup pecans (be generous)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Bosc pear, very thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray both sides of the bread slices with the cooking spray. Arrange bread slices on a large baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. In a small food processor combine the cream cheese, blue cheese, pecans, cranberries and cayenne pepper; process until just combined, but not smooth. Spread the cheese mixture onto one side of the toasts. Arrange a thin slice of pear on each toast. Bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: 24 toasts