Canned chipotles in adobo sauce give this clever, creamy dip an enticing heat and smokiness. The spiced pepitas (roasted and salted pumpkin seeds) scattered over the dip are addictive and great as a snack on their own.
Scott Conant serves these tender, peppery breadsticks as a starter. He packs them into a tall glass or plates them with small wedges of La Tur cheese (a dense, buttery Piedmont cheese made from a blend of cow, sheep and goat milk), drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with flaky sea salt.
“Crudité is one trend from the ’80s I wish would make a big comeback,” says food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit. She invariably uses produce from David Kinch”s Love Apple Farm in Santa Cruz County, California; in colder weather, that might be radishes, asparagus and baby carrots, served with a simple dip like this tarragon-spiked crème fraîche. Although Pim usually serves the vegetables whole, occasionally she’ll slice them paper-thin on a mandoline and toss the strips together.
Broiled Ricotta with Olives and Sun-Dried-Tomato Relish
Broiling ricotta intensifies its creaminess: It’s ideal with both sweet and savory toppings. Here, Maria Helm Sinskey serves it on garlic toasts garnished with olives and a tangy sun-dried-tomato relish.
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Spelt Focaccia with Kale, Squash and Pecorino
Paul Kahan’s idea: a focaccia made with spelt flour, which is high in protein and gives the bread an appealingly hearty texture. Instead of using an excessive amount of cheese or meat, he tops the focaccia with tangy marinated kale, soft and sweet slices of winter squash and a few shavings of nutty, salty pecorino cheese.
There are countless ways to top these versatile flat breads. Instead of Taleggio, you can make them with other mild cow’s milk cheeses, such as Fontina, camembert or rindless Brie. Roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions or anchovies could be substituted for any of the toppings.
To make her fonduta, the Italian version of fondue, Linda Meyers uses pungent Fontina instead of the Gruyére often found in Swiss recipes. For a splurge, she recommends shaving on white truffles just before serving.