I love it when restaurants serve you amuse-bouche. It means ‘mouth pleaser’ in French, but really it is FREE FOOD! I love it because it’s the chef’s choice and I often take it to be something the chef might be experimenting with (or using to showcase their talents). I was planning a meal for friends and wanted to make a starter to go with the limoncello I made. I found these were too small for a starter, as they had too much going on to eat more than a couple. So they are my non-restaurant amuse-bouche.
Goat’s cheese and pear on parmesan and walnut crisps with a port and balsamic reduction
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs (use Panko breadcrumbs for extra crunchy crisps)
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds (or caraway seeds)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup port wine
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 hard white-fleshed pear (such as Corella or Beurre Bosc), finely sliced with a vegetable peeler
- Goat’s cheese, finely sliced
- Pea shoots, to garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
For the parmesan and walnut crisps:
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Place walnuts, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs and fennel seeds in a food processor and process until well combined, but still a little course (not too fine, otherwise all the texture is lost), then mix through the olive oil.
- Make 8 to 10 teaspoon-sized balls and flatten on the baking paper (use the back of a soup spoon to flatten). They must be wafer-thin and bite-sized; no more than 3-4 cm diameter.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Carefully remove from tray (they will be fragile) and allow to cool completely on baking paper before serving (can make ahead and store in airtight container until ready).
For the port and balsamic reduction:
- Combine port and balsamic vinegar in a pot on the stove top and heat until boiling, then reduce heat and cook until thick and syrupy and reduced to about ¼ cup (takes about ten to fifteen minutes).
- Place a parmesan and walnut crisp on a serving plate.
- Top with a slice of pear, followed by a slice of goat’s cheese.
- Top with a few pea shoots or scatter around in a decoratively or artistic way.
- Drizzle with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of the port/balsamic reduction.
- Finally top with a few turns of cracked black pepper (or not – to taste).
Serve with a glass of ice cold limoncello.