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Breads and Spreads

Posted On November 6, 2017

A Timeless Winter Treat

By ANNE WOLFE POSTIC  »  Photos by CARTER WADE


Rob Patterson didn’t return to his hometown from New York in the late nineties to be the culinary mastermind behind a tiny bistro. A larger restaurant was opening, and he was hired as chef to create a sophisticated menu to delight locals and visitors alike.  

The menu Chef Patterson created is legendary. Though the restaurant has been closed for more than ten years, regulars still wax nostalgic over the filet mignon with gorgonzola cream spinach, the pork chops stuffed with crab cakes, the fish specials that were always perfect, and everyone’s favorite first course, breads and spreads. The various spreads were served with grilled sourdough and sweet black bread that had been brushed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and no one could resist them. It was hard to choose a favorite, which was why a lot of tables ordered three, four, or even all six.

Any one of the spreads could also be added to cream or marinara sauce and served with pasta, giving diners plenty of options. Their versatility is what makes them so perfect for the home cook. Serve a couple of spreads with cocktails as an appetizer one night, and mix up a batch of pesto cream sauce with the leftovers the next. Enjoy them during a cozy night in, or to take one to a neighbor’s the next time you’re asked to bring a dish to share. You could always make a few of them and call it dinner. Here’s to the memories—and some easy appetizers to get you through winter!

Mushroom, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Duxelles

1-13 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup white wine

½ cup water

2 teaspoons fresh oregano

1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder

12 oz. fresh mushrooms

Olive oil

1 cup roasted red peppers

1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Salt and pepper

  1. Combine artichoke hearts in a pot on the stove with wine, water, garlic powder and oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.
  2. Turn off heat and allow to sit in liquid for 30 minutes. Drain.
  3. Toss mushrooms with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them on a baking sheet. Roast at 450° until brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Mince mushrooms in a food processor, then set aside in a bowl.
  5. Combine artichoke hearts and roasted red pepper in food processor and mince.
  6. Stir all ingredients together, including parmesan, and adjust seasoning to preference.

Crab and Caper Cream Cheese

10 oz. cream cheese

½ cup chopped scallions

2 teaspoons capers

Dollop of sour cream

½ lb. lump crab meat 

Salt and pepper

  1. Combine cream cheese, scallions, capers, and sour cream in food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Add crab meat and pulse to incorporate.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach, Gruyère, and Sun-dried Tomato Spread

1 cup spinach, cooked (about 6 cups raw)

½ cup gruyère cheese, grated

3 oz. dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes

White wine

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic purée

Salt and pepper

Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

  1. Sauté spinach in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper until fully wilted.
  2. Chop cooked spinach and set aside.
  3. Reconstitute sun-dried tomatoes: Add tomatoes and enough white wine to cover them to a pan on the stove and heat to simmer. Turn off the heat and cover pan. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Make sun-dried tomato purée: Drain tomatoes and blend in a food processor until almost smooth. Add olive oil and pulse just until blended. 
  5. Sauté garlic in a little olive oil.
  6. Combine spinach, cheese, one teaspoon sun-dried tomato purée, garlic purée, splash of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl and mix together.

Note: You will make far more sun-dried tomato purée than you need. It’s delicious! Use it in any recipe in place of tomato paste.

Chipotle, Basil, and Walnut Pesto

4 cups fresh basil

1 cup gruyère cheese, grated

½ cup fontina, grated

½ cup parmesan, grated

¼ cup walnuts

1 scant tablespoon chipotle peppers

1 tablespoon garlic purée

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste (start with ½ teaspoon each)

  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Add olive oil and pulse to combine.

Note: Basil pesto can be frozen and used later to season sauces and soups. Freeze it in ice cube trays for convenience.

Smoked Oysters, Clams, and Gouda Spread

1-3 oz. tin smoked oysters

1-3 oz. tin smoked clams

½ cup smoked gouda cheese, grated 

8 oz. cream cheese

Juice of 2 limes

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. (Really. That’s it.)

Roasted Garlic, Feta, and Bacon Spread

1-16 oz. package bacon, cooked (reserve grease)

1 cup garlic, peeled and roasted

6 oz. feta cheese

olive oil

Salt and pepper

  1. Cook bacon in oven according to package directions.
  2. Toss garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 450° until golden brown.
  3. Combine garlic, bacon, feta and salt and pepper and purée in food processor until smooth.
  4. Add olive oil and/or a little reserved bacon grease to thin to a spreadable consistency.

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