Happy New Year’s Eve, eve! I thought I should get my act together and post this now in case you are hosting tomorrow night and trying to think of nibbles to serve with drinks. These are super easy to make, all of the prep is done in advance, and the combination is bloody fabulous – sweet roasted grapes and figs with salty, pungent blue cheese, peppery rocket and crunchy, golden caramelised walnuts. (A recipe I originally put together for my good mates at Dish magazine). Yum. Aaaaand in other news, I hope you had a happy Christmas! I was lucky enough to have Hoob here for two nights, which was short but very sweet, and as usual hosted Christmas brunch with recipes you can find here – bircher muesli, roast side of salmon, salad with avocado, broad beans and goat cheese and Christmas mince chocolate brownies.
Since then I have been floating around in the weird no-man’s land of having no kids at home (unlike all of my friends) and feeling very ‘spare maiden aunt’ while families go on holiday and spend time together (the city is like some kind of abandoned twilight zone). I do try and keep in touch and organise stuff but sometimes it is just a bloody effort on your own! Thank God for my four besties preventing me from falling off the radar completely – I owe them big time – to be paid back fulsomely with food and strong alcohol in the new year. (Last night case in point – lovely drinkies and dumplings and a tiny bit of bar hopping). In an effort to perk myself up I have been sticking to my lovely big walks and heading to Waiheke for beach days now and again…and have actually joined a gym for the first time in many years. I had a lovely trainer explaining exercises in huge detail to me yesterday and only just managed not to mention that I was actually a personal trainer a few years back – haha, God forbid they have any expectations I will feel obliged to meet…much better to keep it on the low down I reckon. Right time to get up – walk, Waiheke, beach and a quiet night in are on the agenda. Wishing you a fantastic, fun-filled NYE and a bloody brilliant 2018…see you next year!
½ cup sugar
1 1/4 cups fresh walnut halves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
350 grams red seedless grapes
30 dried or 8 fresh figs
1 small ciabatta loaf, sliced into 15 pieces about 1cm thick
300 grams soft blue cheese
2 cups wild rocket leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Put the sugar in a clean saucepan with 1 tablespoon of water and whisk to combine. Put the walnuts on a baking paper lined oven dish and cook the sugar and water over a medium high heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar then don’t stir again as it turns to white crystals then transforms into pale, golden amber. Pour immediately over the walnuts and sprinkle with sea salt, then leave to cool until hard. Put the grapes in an oven tray and whisk one-tablespoon of olive oil with the pomegranate molasses. Drizzle over the grapes and season with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until just starting to split. Chop the dried figs in half and remove the stalks (if using fresh figs, cut into quarters). Heat a grill plate (or you can use a large frying pan) and toast the ciabatta on both sides until golden. Slice the cheese into 15 pieces (or to match the size of the grilled ciabatta). Toss the rocket leaves with the remaining olive oil whisked with the balsamic vinegar. Top each bruschetta with blue cheese, rocket leaves, figs and roasted grapes. Break up the walnuts (give them a bit of a bang with the wooden spoon or a blunt knife) and add on top.
I left a few of my grapes attached to the stems, but for ease of eating I recommend removing most of them.