Monday, June 11, 2012

Feeding the Fringe, Year 2 - An Evening with Scott Thompson

Getting ready to be hilarious
It's that time of year again - festival season is descending 'pon our fair city. And the one that usually kicks things off for me is the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Now, being friends with the 'second-in-command' (Festival Administrator and Assistant Producer), Bryony Etherington (@ladylovewell) comes with certain perks and responsibilities (or both in this case!). Last year, I helped her put together the food for Fringe opening party. So, being the nice guy that I am and having enjoyed the challenge of cooking for a crowd on a budget, I asked her if she needed my help again. Turns out that she needed some help putting together the spread for a June 1 benefit event featuring Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall fame doing a stand-up routine. It also meant I got to see the show!

It was one hell of a show - remorselessly crude, tongue-in-cheek humour from a Canadian comedy icon. And after the show, Scott made sure to do the rounds during the reception and talk to everyone. He was a real class act and I was glad to have helped in making the event unfold in a fun way, if only in a small way.

Now, I was given the task of creating one hors d'oeuvre and one dessert item for the event. Yup, dessert. Ugh...

But then, the ideas started to percolate... I kept thinking how you never see dessert on crostinis like you do for pretty much any other 'party food'. So, I thought of Dessert Crostinis. Now, what would you make that out of? Well, this being the year of "doughnut usurps cupcake as hip dessert food", I thought that plain doughnuts split in half and... Damn... then what? To the Internet! As it turns out, a friend of mind told me on Facebook that baking them at a low temperature for an hour or so would have the desired effect of making crunchy surfaces upon which to put sweet goodness.

The next step was figuring out what to put on top. For some reason, I'm partially obsessed with blueberries. Maybe it's because they work really well in both main dishes and desserts. They're also supposed to really good for you! So, I figured I'd make a sweet sauce to go over the doughnut bits. One more step down, but I wasn't done; there needed to be some creaminess to this concoction. For some reason my mind instantly jumped to goat cheese (or chèvre as I like to call it, call me snobby)- it's creamy but tangy at the same time and would be a good counterpoint to the sweetness of the blueberry sauce. And as a finishing touch, the whole thing needed a touch of mint. There were some creaks in putting it together, but in the end, I think it was a pretty tasty bite of sweet. I also tweaked the sauce to add blackberries, thus giving it the name "Black and Blue" Berry Sauce.

The funny thing is that I didn't actually put the appetizers together. I topped the crostini with the cheese at home, brought the whole spread in various tupperware and a giant IKEA bag and when I got there, a lovely volunteer took care of topping it with the sauce and serving the spread! Delegating, wow... I gotta do more of that!

So, today's recipe is my Blueberry-Chèvre Doughnut Crostini. At least that's what I'm calling it this week... It's split into 3 parts: the crostini themselves, the chèvre with mint and the sauce.

Blueberry-Chèvre Doughnut Crostini

Makes 64 pieces

Doughnut Crostinis


- 8 cake-style plain doughnuts
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter


- Heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice each donut in half, then cut each half into 4 even pieces.
- Melt butter in microwave or on stovetop.
- Brush tops of doughnut pieces with melted butter.
- Bake in oven for about 40-60 minutes, until doughnut pieces are crunchy. I found these were REALLY crunchy, like maybe too much so, but once topped with the chèvre and sauce, the bite is softened a little bit. Still crispy, but not REALLY crunchy.

Minted Chèvre


- 1x140 g package of goat cheese
- 2 tsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp sugar


- Leave goat cheese out in room temperature for an hour to allow it to soften.
- Using a fork or spoon to fold mint and sugar into goat cheese.

"Black and Blue" Berry Sauce


- 1 cup frozen blueberries (I prefer to use organic and wild berries, they're tastier)
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp brown or demerara sugar
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- pinch freshly ground cardamom
- pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- splash red wine
- a few drops vanilla extract (best quality)


- Place berries and water in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until bubbling, stirring often.
- Stir on sugar, nutmeg, cardamom, salt and pepper. Cook for another 15-20 minutes. Sauce should start to reduce.
- Stir in wine. Turn heat down to low (I usually go with 2) and let simmer for another 10 minutes, allowing the alcohol in the wine to evaporate.
- Stir in vanilla and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Puree sauce with a hand blender.

Putting it all together 

For the presentation, I thought it would be a good idea to serve the dessert in little paper baking cups, mostly to avoid a mess. Doughnut Crostinis tend to wobble...

About an hour before serving, spread enough Minted Chèvre on a Doughnut Crostini to make a thin layer covering the whole piece. Place in a paper baking cup and repeat for every piece. Doing this ahead of time allows the cheese to soften up the crostini a bit and makes it a much better bite.

When ready to serve, top each piece with the Black and Blue Sauce. Serve on a large tray and let the guests have at 'em!

Not everyone needed a baking cup, I guess...
As for the other hors d'oeuvres, I decided to go with Smoked Arctic Char on Sourdough Crostini (the bread was from Bread and Sons and delicious as always) with a Cucumber and Chive Yogurt Sauce (half an English cucumber, a cup of plain yogurt, 5-6 minced chives, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste).  I also noticed noticed we had some tomatoes lying around at home, so I whipped together a Bruschetta (with some red pepper added for good measure), if only to placate the vegans.


And there you go! More guerrilla catering from yours truly!


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