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Beard House Highlight: Melted Leek Toasts with Stracciatella and Pickled Fresno Chiles

Hilary Deutsch

January 07, 2016

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Photo by Ken Goodman

Melted Leek Toasts with Stracciatella and Pickled Fresno Chiles​ / Italian-Inspired California Soul​

 

The holidays may be behind us, but that doesn't mean we stop entertaining friends and family. Menu-planning for even the most casual dinner parties can sometimes feel daunting, especially when it comes to canapés. But at Michael Fiorelli's recent Beard House dinner, the chef and partner at Love & Salt reminded me that easy-to-prepare, drool-worthy appetizers are not so far out of reach.

 

Fiorelli started the evening with an assortment of toasts, crostini, and panini, running the gamut from pickled garden vegetables with radishes and lardo to chicken liver pâté with pickled cherries and cocoa nibs to corned lamb’s tongue panini with fontina cheese, pickled peppers, and tomato aïoli. Each dish contained some sort of pickle, lightening the rich, savory bites with some acidity, crunch, and brightness. But the real standout of the night was the chef's melted leek toasts with stracciatella cheese and pickled Fresno chiles. The leeks were cooked down to a caramelized spread and became the perfect base for super creamy, handmade stracciatella cheese paired with just enough heat from the chiles to balance the dish. A spectacular combination of textures and temperatures, this toast will be one of my go-to recipes for entertaining this year. 

 

Want to add this dish to your next menu? Get the recipe here.

View all upcoming Beard House event menus and book your seat at jamesbeard.org/events.

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Hilary Deutsch is editorial assistant at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram.