I’ve been reading through so many food magazines, I can’t even remember where I saw the recipe for these cool little parmesan cups. But they looked like little intricate (and tasty) lace. They are simple enough… just grate some cheese, put it into little piles on parchment and bake until they get nice and and melty, and then drape over the bottom of a glass to create little nests.
It took a couple of tries to get these right. My first batch turned out too crispy, and weren’t flexible enough to drape. They just stayed flat, like really thin crackers. On try #2, I tried fresher parmesan as well as some guyere. I tried one of each cheese as well as one mixture of the two. I’ll tell you quickly, I don’t recommend the guyere for these. It’s too greasy, and you’ll end up mopping up a ton of oil and very chewy rather than crispy cups. The parmesan-only cup turned out well though, so I got to finish the dish on round 2.
Then, came the filling. I’ve been out several times over the past couple of weeks and had some amazing fruit and tomato salsas and sauces. I had a pear on hand, so decided that a tomato and pear compote might just work. The fruits with a bit of onion, fresh fennel, black pepper and fig balsamic vinegar was wonderfully tart and sweet, and a nice balance for the nutty slightly salty nest. The onions I used were a tiny bit overpowering, so I’d recommend using one that was very sweet and mild, or even using green onions instead. Otherwise, this was a really nice combination.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grate a fresh parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup per nest. Pile onto parchment on a baking sheet, and spread out into about 4 inch discs, leaving at least a 1/2 inch between them. Bake until slightly bubbly. Remove from oven, and cool just until you can lift the discs off. Don’t wait too long, or they will be too crispy. Drape over a glass, dabbing off any excess oil with a paper towel if necessary. Allow to completely cool before removing.
Tomato Pear Compote
(measurements per nest)
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup firm pear
1 T onion
1 T fennel leaves
2 t balsamic vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper
Finely chop the tomatoes, pear, onion and fennel leaves. Mix together in a small bowl, and add 1 teaspoon of the balsamic and some pepper to taste. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Scoop into a nest, and top with the remaining vinegar and a sprig of fennel.