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Nigella's Basil and Goat's Cheese Dip and Rouge Limonade for Happy Hour

Posted Jan 26 2010 2:01am
Uh ohtwo weeks in a row that I haven't found enough to love for my normal Tuesday "Things I Am Loving This Week" post. I think I have had my head down and have been using up the things I have rather than finding new ones. I'll work on bringing back that lovin' feeling for next week. ;-) Instead today we have my pick for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs "Happy Hour" theme. Perusing my Nigella books the criteria was fasteasydelicioushealthy--in that order(what can I sayI am feeling lazy lately!) The two recipes I pickedBasil and Goat's Cheese Dip from Feast(page 438) and Rouge Limonade from Nigella Express(page 318) seemed to fit the criteria pretty well. Both are simplego together quickly with just a few ingredientspair well as an easy party treatand taste great.

About the Basil and Goats Cheese DipNigella says: "I know it's not all in the correct register but I love this smeared thickly over splittoasted and slightly cooled bagels. You can use feta in place of the softsour and salty goat's cheese here to balance the smoky sweetness of the nuts and mellow scent of the basil if that's easier to find or you just want something a little more pungent and less creamy."

Basil and Goat's Cheese Dip
"Feast" by Nigella Lawson

1 cup walnut pieces
2 scallionsroughly chopped
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
1 packed cup soft goat's cheese
3 Tbsp garlic-infused oil

Process the walnut piecesscallionsand basil leavesthen add the goats cheese and oil and process again to make a grainy paste. Transfer to a bowl and top with a basil leaf or two if it pleases you.

Notes/Results: Excellent! This 5-ingredient dip is full of good flavor and was perfect smeared on some multi-grain baguette and my favorite sesame rice crackers. I have been avoiding most dairy lately and was really craving cheeseplus I had some herbed goat cheese I didn't want to waste so a half-batch of the dip was the perfect way to use it up. I think toasting the walnuts first is a great way to pump up the flavor and because the goat cheese is saltyI found that I didn't need to add saltjust some black pepper--because most things are enhanced by a bit of black pepper. With the healthy fat from the olive oiland the fiberB-vitamins and antioxidants of the walnutsthe dip is pretty good for you too. I will make this again.

For the cocktailI wanted something simple that would stand up to the flavors in the dip and found the recipe for the Rouge Limonade which is simply red wine topped off with lemonade. It will probably make wine purists gasp in dismay ;-) but I thought it would be fun to tryand since I had red wine as well as some lemons and agave to make lemonadeI was able to throw it together quickly.

Nigella says: "Finally the Rouge Limonadea drink that is considered not quite 'comme il faut' (BTW: I looked it up and this means not proper or in accordance with accepted standards or conventions)in Parisbut much loved in the country. It is really just a spritzer made with red wineonly in place of club soda you use lemonade. Obviouslydon't use good red wine--and this is why this can be a major help at a party. I don't say serve the sort of wine that could double as paint stripperbut something pretty rough could have its edges knocked off with a good top-up of lemonade. It's not chicbut it's thirst quenching--and wonderfullyseasonallyhued."

Rouge Limonade or Red Lemonade
"Nigella Express" by Nigella Lawson

3 parts chilled red wine
1-2 parts chilled lemonade

Pour the red wine into a glass or tumbler. Top with the lemonade according to taste (and quality of wine)much like you would a white wine spritzer. (One 750ml bottle of wine should yield 5-6 glasses).

Notes/Results: Surprisingly tasty--I liked it better than I thought I might. It made the red wine bright and lighter and was pleasing with the dip. I used 3 parts red wine to 1 part homemade lemonade for my proportions. As Nigella mentionsI wouldn't make this drink with a special or expensive winebut I had a random bottle of Kendall-Jackson Syrah that came in a holiday gift basket and it worked well. It won't be my new signature cocktail but was quite drinkable and would be a good party beverage. Sparkling lemonade would be fun to try too.

I am very happy with both choices this week--go Nigella! You can see how our other IHCC participants celebrated their "Happy Hours" by going to the post (here) and following the links.

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