December 03, 2006

The Recipe Burglar Strikes: Autumn Nachos

As I was searching for a recipe for this week's post I do as I always do, flip through my three-ring binders of recipes, think about what I feel like cooking, eating, and writing about, and then imagine ways to re-work the recipe. On the blog, I note where the inspiration for the recipe came from and then move on, with pictures and text on how to make the recipe and any suggestions that I think might help you, dear reader, in your kitchen.

Last month Food and Wine magazine printed a rather alarming article on the idea that recipes might, in the future, be copyrighted. You can read the article here. Not long after, a well-trod blog,, hosted a discussion about the issue which you can read here. OK. So enough with the links. I'll stop. But the discussion can be summed up with this quote, "If a recipe is good it should be used by as many people as possible regardless because eating is all about enjoying food."

On that note, I'll proceed. This week's inspiration came from my friend Sharon and her fabulous salad and dressing. It made its debut on my thanksgiving table, and, as with most thanksgiving dishes, leftovers from the salad could be found in my fridge the week after. Leftovers too good to toss out: prosciutto, Gorgonzola, candied walnuts, pear. The food deserved a replay. Besides re-issuing the same salad, what could I do? Why not crostini? So the the thanksgiving leftovers appeared on my plate with the help of French bread turned crostini, pears caramelized with a decent roasting, and prosciutto made crisp with a turn through the oven. With a leap of the imagination, when I plated it up it looked like nachos. So, as a stand against recipe copyrights and legal formalities, I present:

Autumn Nachos
Inspired by Sharon
--French bread, about half of a loaf
--walnut oil
--1 Cup spinach
--2 Tbs. Gorgonzola cheese
--1 apple, such as Fuji
--1 pear
--2 slices of prosciutto
--2 Tbs. candied nut, such as walnut*
--Oil dressing to taste**

To make the crostini
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2)Slice French bread on the bias, 1/2" thick.
3)Spread out in one layer on a baking sheet.
4)Lightly drizzle both sides of bread with walnut oil.
5)Salt and pepper to taste.
6)Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 8 minutes. If you want both sides crunchy, flip the crostini over and pop back into the oven, toasting the second side until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

To crisp the prosciutto
1)Place prosciutto on parchment-lined baking sheets.
2) Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 8 minutes, or until crisp.

To roast the pear
1) Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Thinly slice the pears and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
3) Bake about 16 minutes, flipping the pears halfway through to brown both sides.

*To candy the walnuts
--I Tbs. butter
--1 Cup walnuts
--1 Cup sugar

1) Butter a baking sheet and set aside.
2) Place walnuts in skillet and place over medium high heat. Stir frequently. Toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Remove nuts from heat.
3) Melt 1 Cup sugar in a skillet over low heat. Stir constantly.
4) When the sugar becomes a light brown, when it has caramelized (310 degrees F on a candy thermometer), stir in 1 Cup walnuts and mix until well coated.
5) Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Let it cool.
6) Crush the brittle into small pieces.

**Oil Dressing

--1/2 Cup walnut oil
--1/4 Cup cider vinegar
--1 shallot, minced or pressed through garlic press
--2 Tbs. lemon juice, fresh
--1 Tbs. maple syrup, use the real stuff
--1/4 tsp. salt
--1/4 tsp. pepper

1) Combine all ingredients in a screw top jar and shake (or combine in a bowl and whisk).
2) Drizzle over Autumn Nachos to taste.
Plating the Nachos

(Click to enlarge)

Tips and Notes from the Kitchen:
* Roasting pears in the oven brings out flavor that might otherwise not be there if your pears aren't very ripe.
* Brittle becomes praline when it is crushed or ground into small pieces.
* This is a perfect lunch for one or an appetizer for a crowd, just increase or decrease the ingredients depending on your needs.

Last words for this post are from George Bernard Shaw:
"If I find in a book anything I can make use of, I take it gratefully.
My plays are full of pillage of this kind."
So pillage from my table and enjoy good food.


Anonymous said...

This is fabulous! How quick and simple and yet quite beautiful. I can't wait until I cay try these at home. Yum! How long did it take to make them?

Anonymous said...

Imagine--copyrighting recipes!?! Don't we all try to add our own creativity to recipes by using what we have or what is in season?

Bekah said...

Thanks for the notes! It really didn't take me that long to make this dish since I already had the candied nuts and the dressing. I can't imagine it would take any longer than an hour to make everything. The sugar cools quickly and salad dressing is, as you know, just combine and mix.

And, anonymous #2, I know. The idea of copyrighting seems like it would create such a mess. A lot of comments I have read wonder when can a recipe be called your own...when you change 1 ingredient? 2 ingredients? And what about recipes that have been around since the beginning of time...bread or cookies for instance. It seems crazy to me.

Anonymous said...

I am SOOOOOO glad you left a comment on my blog - now I can come over here and discover yours!

And man oh man oh man, I am SO making this recipe. I can just feel my mouth salivating right now. Elegant and will disappear in about 2 minutes, if I have ANYTHING to do with them :)

Bekah said...


Thanks for the comment. When I made this for my friend Heather and me I had to take the pictures fast because the entire plate of the nachos were gone in seconds. When we realized we had eaten them all and still wanted more we started scavaging for the scraps left in the kitchen.