Who doesn’t love a good schmear on their bagel? Or maybe a better question would be– what kind of schmear (a.k.a. cream cheese spread) is the ultimate for your bagel? With Easter brunch menu-planning in the works for everyone over the next few weeks, thought I’d share my favorite toppings, as well as offer you my Caper, Shallot and Lemon Schmear. It’s the simplest, easiest and *tastiest* of bagel spreads you can serve up at your next brunch or holiday breakfast gathering. It’s so good…it’s sure to be a hole in one (so bad, I know). Continue reading
Sweet and tart… and pink.
Honestly, I didn’t intend for most of the ingredients to be pinky-rosey colored. It just sort of happened. I DID however want this Cherry, Rhubarb & Rosé of Pinot Noir Chutney to be a clever way to use up some fruits and veg that were a little tired-looking, and in definite need of a new lease on life before they completely conked out. The cherries had really intensified in flavor after sitting in the fruit bowl for a week. Their skins had begun to turn a much deeper red too. The rhubarb was a few lonely stalks I had picked for a friend, but then found out she’s not a fan….so in the fridge they went. I kind of forgot about them to tell you the truth. And the lovely glass of Rosé, well, that was the last glass in the bottle after having thoroughly enjoyed this local sip which had been opened a couple nights before.
Wanting to keep this chutney bright, lively with some acidity, but deep in the sweet flavors of the fruit, I opted for just a few ingredients. Cherries, rhubarb, dates, shallots, red wine vinegar and wine. That’s it. Some of you may be asking at this point if this condiment falls into the compote or chutney category. Here’s the scoop: compotes are fruits (fresh or dried) cooked in sugar syrup, whereas chutneys are fruits, again fresh or dried, that have been cooked in sugar, vinegar, and usually a few spices. I’d describe compotes as more ‘sweet’ and chutneys more ‘tangy’….due to the addition of vinegar.
Once this chutney had cooked down, the shallots proved to be the best representative of the onion family here. I almost always cook with shallots (instead of onions or garlic). I think shallots are much more mild (never seem to over-power) and taste good raw or cooked. They nicely balanced the sweet cherry and piquant rhubarb notes. Cherries (and rhubarb too come to think of it) are typically an aromatic and palate descriptor of Pinot Noir, so it seemed only fitting to use this wonderful Rosé of Pinot Noir from Tricycle Wine Partners for the acidity component. Grown in the Carneros region, this dry, but fruit-forward and lush Rosé, showed hints of strawberry and cherry so I knew it would work well with the fruit components. This wine also happens to support a great cause–read more here. By using more wine than vinegar, I still got the nice pop of acidity that I wanted without the harsh vinegar after-taste. The medjool dates were the perfect substitute for processed sugar. Their natural sugars and stickiness helped to bind the chutney as well.
Cherry, Rhubarb & Rosé of Pinot Noir Chutney
yields 1 – 1 1/2 cups | printable version
1- 1/2 cup cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted and halved
1 cup fresh rhubarb, medium diced
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted and diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 cup Rosé of Pinot Noir
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine cherries, rhubarb, shallots, and dates in a medium-size sauce pan over medium-low heat. Allow the fruit to release its juices, stirring often. Once the fruit has begun to soften and release, add the rosé, vinegar, salt & pepper. Stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes on low. Allow to cool in the pan for 1-2 hours so all the flavors can thoroughly combine. Put 1/4-1/3 of the mixture into a blender and pulse until a semi-smooth consistency develops. Mix that back into the remaining chutney. You still ought to have chunks of cherries and rhubarb throughout the chutney. Spoon into jars. Depending on how much liquid was in the fruits, you’ll get anywhere from 1 – 1 1/2 cups of finished chutney. Keeps in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks if sealed well.
Serve with roasted chicken, grilled pork spareribs, use as a spread on a roast beef or lamb sammie, or my favorite way is to add it to a cheese plate to accompany a pungent blue or ash-rind cheese. I’ve just discovered a goat’s milk from France’s Loire Valley called Couronne de Touraine (shaped like a doughnut), and me oh my, is it good! It’s a soft-ripened, pasteurized goat’s milk with a bloomy rind. Delicate, with a barnyard aroma (that’s actually a good thing, trust me). On the palate– a noticeable tang and notes of wet stone, sea salt and hay. This one is also a runner folks, so best to coral it on a small plate so it doesn’t ooze out all over the other cheeses. The sweet & tart flavor of the chutney is the perfect partner for this cheese atop a thick slice of seeded whole grain bread. And to drink? What else — but a nice glass of chilled Rosé. Enjoy!
(wine was graciously provided by winery; all text, photos, thoughts and opinions are my own).