by Ryan Hayter, Chef/Owner, The Marigold Café | photo by Janis Jean Photography –
The winter months are my favourite for entertaining. Cured meats, cheeses, dippable and handheld items make for the perfect Appetizer Night shared with good friends.
Garlic is often the cornerstone ingredient in this style of fare. A wonderful way to prepare garlic is by peeling it, submerging it in oil, and cooking it slowly; this method brings out garlic’s natural sweetness and is referred to as “Garlic Confit.” Garlic Confit is soft and sweet, and can be used in spreads, aioli, and baked on flatbreads. This method also produces the most delicious byproduct – garlic oil – which can then be used in almost anything! I use it in dressings, marinades, drizzled on soup, and when making crostini (crackers) from day-old baguette.
GARLLIC, SPINACH, & ARTICHOKE DIP (8+ servings)
340g spreadable cream cheese
400ml can drained/quartered artichoke hearts
20 cloves garlic confit
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
250g Philadelphia cream cheese (room temp.)
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 bunch spinach – chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Your choice of crackers, bread, crostini, and/or tortilla chips for dipping
In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine spreadable cream cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, garlic confit, salt and pepper. Mix until well incorporated.
Add artichoke hearts and spinach and lightly mix. Check seasoning. Adjust with salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer mixture to 8″ casserole dish. Top mixture with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 30-35 minutes or until mixture has heated through and top is golden.
GARLIC AIOLI & TRUFFLE PARMESAN FRITES (8 servings)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp garlic oil (see garlic confit recipe)
4 cloves garlic confit – finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Truffle Parmesan Frites:
8 servings frozen French fries
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbsp white truffle oil
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, transfer to sealable glass container and refrigerate.
Truffle Parmesan Frites:
Preheat oven, and bake fries according to package directions. Once cooked, transfer fries to a large mixing bowl.
Toss fries in white truffle oil, kosher salt and black pepper. Toss again with 2/3 of the parmesan.
Transfer fries to serving bowl and top with remaining parmesan cheese. Serve alongside garlic aioli.
GARLIC CONFIT, PROSCIUTTO, & PEAR FLATBREAD (8 appetizer servings)
1 large bulb of garlic (approx. 20 cloves)
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 – 6 tbsp pesto
10 mini bocconcini
1 bartlett pear
3 strips fine-sliced prosciutto
15 Roasted Cashews
10 cloves garlic confit
12-15 leaves baby arugula
2 tbsp balsamic reduction
2 store-bought flatbread crusts (or make your own!)
Peel garlic cloves and place in small saucepan. Add oil so garlic cloves are completely submerged. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until oil comes to a simmer. Turn temperature down to low, and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow the garlic confit to fully cool in the saucepan before transferring the garlic/oil to a glass storage container. Garlic must remain in the oil in order to preserve its flavour. Keep refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Peel and thinly slice pear. Place flatbread crusts on parchment-lined baking sheet.
Spread pesto evenly on flatbread crusts, leaving 1/2 inch on all sides. Arrange garlic confit, pear, bocconcini, cashews and torn prosciutto evenly on top of the pesto.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until the crust has browned and cheese has melted. Remove flatbreads from oven and garnish with baby arugula and balsamic reduction. Chop into slices and serve hot.