My husband never met a stranger and is prone to issuing last-minute invitations to our house for drinks and appetizers. That was why it was not surprising that only one day after we arrived in Paris last week—still in full jet lag mode—I found myself scrambling to make hors d’oeuvres and buying rosé to serve friends passing through the City of Light.
A new recipe I had tried on the other side of the Atlantic turned out to be the pièce de résistance of our impromptu get together. I brushed baguette slices with olive oil, toasted them quickly in the oven, and then spread then with some creamy Gorgonzola. However, it was the cooked sweet and tart cherries that I spooned on top that gave these nibbles their dazzle.
For the topping I simmered red wine, vinegar, and sugar together until thickened and then added large, sweet cherries (in season here and at home right now). Then I chilled this mixture before adding it as a finishing touch to these special tartines. You can prepare the cherries two days ahead, and toast the bread slices several hours in advance so that only a quick assembly is needed at serving time. Santé as they say here!
Summer Cherry and Cheese Tartines
3/4 pound large, sweet cherries (such as Bing), rinsed, dried, and stemmed
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
12 baguette slices cut diagonally into 3/8-inch thick slices
Olive oil for brushing on the bread
6 ounces creamy Gorgonzola (see cooking tip)
12 small rosemary sprigs for garnishing, optional
1. If you have a cherry pitter, use it to remove the pits and then halve the cherries. Otherwise, use a sharp paring knife to halve the fruit and remove the pits.
2. In a medium, heavy saucepan set over medium high, stir the wine, vinegar, and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a good simmer and cook until the mixture has thickened and is just syrupy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cherries and cook 5 minutes more. Remove and cool 5 minutes. Then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, an hour or more. (The cherries can be prepared 2 days ahead; keep chilled until using.)
3. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush them generously on both sides with olive oil. Bake, turning once, until golden and slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. (The bread slices can be baked 3 hours ahead; leave at room temperature covered loosely with foil.)
4. For serving, spread each toasted bread slice with some Gorgonzola, then spoon some of the cherries and only a drizzle of their syrup over the cheese. Arrange these tartines on a serving plate and if desired, garnish each with a rosemary sprig. Serve with cocktail napkins to catch any drips of the syrup.
Cooking tips: Gorgonzola is lovely paired with the cherries, but other creamy cheeses such chèvre, Brie, and Camembert would also work well.
Any extra syrup or cherries is delicious stirred into plain yogurt.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013
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