We have friends who built a pizza oven in their back yard - and host the most fun and fabulous pizza baking evenings.
You can never go wrong with a bread base and toppings, including some kind of cheese. So even though these crust and cheese combinations don't come close to the masterpieces turned out during the parties, they are tasty bites all the same.
PARMESAN BLUE CHEESE TOASTS WITH GREEN ONIONS
1 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
3/4 cup sliced green onions
Combine mayonnaise, garlic, ground pepper and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to blend. Mix in cheeses, season with salt.
Heat oven to 400F. Brush bread with olive oil and bake until golden brown on both sides. Spread each toast with cheese mixture. Bake until cheese topping starts to bubble, about 8 minutes.
Transfer toasts to platter, sprinkle with green onions and serve warm.
PIMENTO CHEESE AND BACON CROSTINI
In a mixer fitted with the paddle, combine 2 1/2 cups each of shredded extra-sharp white and monterey jack cheeses. Add two 4-ounce jars of pimentos, drained and finely chopped, along with 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, blend at low speed.
Season with cayenne. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Spread the pimento cheese on toasts, top with chopped bacon and bake in a 400F oven for 2 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, December 2009
PEPPER GLAZED GOAT CHEESE GRATIN
1 pound goat cheese, softened
6 tablespoons apricot preserves
4 peppadew peppers, finely chopped
1 pickled jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced cocktail onions
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dry sherry
toasted baguette slices for serving
Heat oven to 400F.
Spread the goat cheese in a 5 by 8 inch dish. In a small bowl, whisk the preserves with the peppadews, jalapeño, onions, mustard and sherry. Spread the mixture over the goat cheese and bake on the top rack of the oven for about 5 minutes, until warm. Turn on the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, until the topping is bubbling and lightly browned at the edges. Serve hot, with toasted baguette slices.
Recipe adapted from Food & Wine, April 2012