Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year to entertain. It is also my favorite time of year, in general. The rich, colorful fall flavors are so comforting and indulgent. I love the deep, rich hues of the season, outdoors and on my plate, they bring out the warm and fuzzies that make me want to get together with friends and family and serve up some seasonal scrumptiousness .
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a fan of (almost) all things pumpkin, (I did have to end my love affair with pumpkin spice lattes, but that’s another story) and I hadn’t created any new pumpkin-centric dishes this year so I thought this was an excellent opportunity to do so. I wanted to pair the pumpkin with something a little tangy, something to bring a little zing. Goat cheese is the ideal companion to the sensational squash perched atop a raincoast crisp…you get creamy, crunchy, zesty all in one bite.
I’ve been a fan of Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps for a while now, so I was thrilled when they offered to send me product to play with. The cracker flavors range from salty to sweet, and I chose to use the salty date and almond crisps from the line (you can always use the original if you can’t find that flavor). There are many other flavors to choose from like the original, cranberry hazelnut, pumpkin spice, fig and olive, and rosemary raisin, to name a few. They’re chock full of flavor, real fruit, nuts and other good for you ingredients. You can top them or just snack on them straight from the box, but I’ll warn you… they.are.addictive.
- 4 oz. softened goat cheese
- 7 oz. pureed pumpkin
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 medium vidalia onions sliced and caramelized
- white balsamic or champagne vinegar
- salt & pepper
- salty date and almond raincoast crisps
- Sauté the sliced onions until caramelized. To do so, set a large skillet to medium-low heat and melt a tablespoon of butter. Add in the onions and be sure not to crowd. When they are golden in color and have cooked down for 20-25 min, splash in some white balsamic or champagne vinegar. Keep an eye on them while cooking, stirring occasionally so one side doesn't burn. Set aside, let cool.
- Combine the room temperature, softened goat cheese with the pumpkin puree. (I use the plain, unseasoned can. You could always try with the spiced versions though.)
- When well mixed, grind fresh pepper over the mixture and blend. Add a light drizzle of honey and the chopped walnuts and stir gently.
- If the mixture becomes too soft when mixing, pop it back into the refrigerator for 15 min. You can also up the goat cheese amount if you'd like it to be a bit thicker.
I like to cut the onions in quarter slices so that they are smaller and easier to bite into on the crisp. I cut them in half, put them cut side down, then halve and slice.
Although we are falling into autumn, it is still
quite way too warm here in South Florida, so for a wine pairing I like to dish this up with a nice, cold, dry rosé. The crisp flavors pair perfectly with the tantalizingly topped crisps.
These are great for a dinner party appetizer or a take along for holiday gatherings. You can either serve them pre-topped or set up a crisp station so your guests can assemble their snack to their liking.
I prefer the style of setting all the ingredients out to lusciously layer one at a time. Grab a crisp and add a few strands of the sweet and silky onions, then schmear on the tangy, pumpkiny goodness. The sweet, salty, nutty and creamy topping combo will keep you craving the crunch of raincoast crisps.
If you’d like to find raincoast crisps in your area (and you most definitely should!) take a look at their store locator. Not in your area? Don’t fret, you can buy them on Amazon! So there’s no excuse. Get some, top them, and crisp on.
I was fortunate to have some time to chat with the creator of raincoast crisps, Lesley Stowe, while on a recent trip to Seattle for IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference). It was an fascinating and inspirational conversation with Lesley and a handful of lovely food bloggers.
Some more information about Lesley Stowe, from her website.
Lesley Stowe is a Parisian-trained chef who began her own catering company more than 25 years ago in Vancouver. A culinary pioneer, Lesley has helped to develop and refine the palettes of Vancouverites.
Frustrated by the lack of specialty foods in the city, she opened Lesley Stowe fine foods, offering customers a wide range of world class cheeses, breads, homemade entrees, desserts and hard-to-find grocery items. Lesley was also a frontrunner in offering tastings and classes to the public. Her specialty fine foods store was one of the first in the city providing Vancouverites the chance to sample extra virgin olive oils and 25-year-old balsamic vinegars and quickly became a destination shop.
In 1990, Lesley started selling her delectable dessert creations to the city’s top restaurants and became known for her decadent Death By Chocolate confection. The store’s success, combined with Lesley’s ability to predict and capitalize on food trends resulted in the creation of raincoast crisps, an artisan cracker that was recently featured on Oprah’s O List and in Martha Stewarts Whole Living magazine.
Following expansion of the crisps into more than 4,000 stores across North America, Lesley added a new addition to her specialty foods product family in 2011 with the launch of the raincoast cookies, a line of all-natural, wholesome power cookies. This year, Lesley also introduced wheat-free raincoast oat crisps to accommodate the growing number of consumers with gluten sensitivities.
The author of her own cookbook, The Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook, Lesley has also contributed to other popular cookbooks including The Girls Who Dish series. Lesley has been featured on many national and international broadcast programs including Entertainment Tonight Canada, CTV Morning Live, Breakfast Television and California Life, providing tips on how to create her homemade recipes as well as offering entertaining and decorating advice for a variety of different events and occasions.
Happy Dishing and Crispy Conversations to you all!
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