Baby, it's about to be cold outside. For the whole rest of the year. Wind chills in Minnesota are expected to drop to as much as 70 below in the next few days. Being Minnesotan means you just suck it up and and hunker down.
One of the greatest gifts to Minnesota cold is The North Face Thermal Ball jacket. Just introduced, it is a remarkable piece of technology. Here's a lightweight jacket (just 11 ounces!) that provides all of the warmth of my 650-fill Spyder down jacket. Nothing short of brilliant. No longer have to walk around looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.
Next on my list for staying warm are Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 winter trail shoes. These babies were made for sub-zero weather and all of the hazards of snow and ice. Best thing yet is their Quickfit lacing system, making them a breeze to slide on and off.
Third on my list for staying warm is a good Cognac. Sure, you can sip it by itself, but I love mine mixed in with a really strong brew of dark roast coffee. Now that's a little bit of heaven that makes your body feel like it's being warmed by the fires of hell.
Last on my list for staying warm is rib-sticking comfort food. Pot roast....braised short ribs...you name it and I'll be cooking it. But before you do, I'd suggest preparing these little umami bombs for some delicious rib-stickin appetizers. The beauty of this mushroom puree that goes on the crostini is that you don't need fancy mushrooms. Plain old white button mushrooms will do. But if you feel so inspired, mix and match mushroom types to your heart's desire. Fire up that oven. Get cookin'. And stay warm. This Williams-Sonoma recipe serves 12.
For the crostini
1/2 cup olive oil
24 slices coarse country bread, each about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter
1 garlic clove, halved
For the mushroom spread
5 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh mushrooms of your choice, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1 tsp Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup, drained oil-packed sundered tomatoes, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. To make the crostini, lightly brush olive oil on both sides of each bread slice. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake until the crostini are golden on the edges, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Using the cut side of the garlic, lightly rub one side over each slice of bread. Set aside.
- To make the mushroom spread, heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add all the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped parsley, thyme, rosemary, 1 tsp. salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.
- Transfer the mushroom mixture to a food processor. Process until very finely chopped. With the processor running, add the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil in a thin, steady stream, processing until the mixture is smooth and spreadable. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread each piece of bread with about 1 Tbs. of the mushroom mixture. Arrange on a platter and garnish each crostini with a sliver of sun-dried tomato.
Wine pairing: Pinot Noir