Techniques at Williams-Sonoma: Crostini with Humboldt Fog and Pear Chutney

In this class we learned to use Humboldt Fog, a subtly tangy California goats’-milk cheese with a beautiful gray-blue line of ash running through it, is the perfect counterpoint to a mildly sweet chutney made from fresh pears. If you can’t find Humboldt Fog cheese, try Morbier, a French cow’s milk cheese, or a fresh California goats’-milk cheese. The chutney can be prepared a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the crostini.

1 lemon
1 orange
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 lb. (1 kg) pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch (6-mm)
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) pear brandy or cognac
1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) firmly packed brown sugar
Arugula for serving
Toasted baguette slices for serving
Humboldt Fog cheese for serving
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemon and orange in large strips. Juice the lemon and set aside 2 Tbs. lemon juice. Juice the orange and set aside 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) orange juice. Wrap the lemon and orange zest, rosemary, bay leaf and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth and tie closed with kitchen twine.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots and pears and cook until the pears begin to release their juices, 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully pour in the brandy and deglaze pan, stirring with a wooden spoon, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by a third, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, reserved orange juice, reserved lemon juice and the herb sachet. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid has reduced, about 25 minutes. Transfer the chutney to a bowl and remove the sachet. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

To assemble the crostini, place a few arugula leaves on top of a baguette slice and top with 1 or 2 thin slices of cheese. Top with a dollop of chutney. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, arrange the crostini on a platter and serve. Makes about 2 dozen crostini.


Knife Skills 102

I added to the corporate course offerings at Williams-Sonoma in Bridgewater NJ by adding two classes; Knife Skills 101 and Knife Skills 102!  Both classes allow me to work with customers and teach them how to use their new knives.  Im so grateful for the students who took the course as the first group!  It went incredibly well.  Ive heard so much great feedback.  The store manager has asked me to run them again in November.  Here are some great pictures from the prior classes:

Look at this student chef go!
Look at this student chef go!
Fabricating a chicken
Fabricating a chicken
Frenching the wing bone
Frenching the wing bone
Removing the wishbone
Removing the wishbone