Posts tagged with appetizer:
Although the tomatoes are not at their peak as yet, I couldn’t resist serving this bruschetta as our appetizer the other evening to go along with the Tuscan Style Chicken Under a Brick.
I have planted a small pot of genovese basil and some purple basil even though I will only have several more weeks to enjoy it.
However, it is already flourishing so I will be using it every chance I get in cooking before we take off for sunny California! (Can’t wait to see how basil and all the other herbs will thrive there)!
I’ve decided that with enough coarse salt, garlic, olive oil and basil in which to sit and macerate, most tomatoes can reinvent themselves to this delicious topping for grilled or toasted bread which you have rubbed with a bit of fresh garlic.
So while you are waiting for those perfect summer tomatoes you can still have your bruschetta and eat it too!
Sometimes the simplest and fewest ingredients result in the tastiest dishes. Such is the case for this Hearts of Palm Dip which I found in a Food and Wine magazine from a year ago, and made recently.
While so many of the dips and spreads that we love are filled with high fat ingredients…think sour cream, cream cheese, mayo, all kinds of cheeses… (although I use them at times the low fat versions are just not the same when it comes to flavor), I found this particular dip really satisfying and yet about as low fat as you can get.
I love hearts of palm, and will often slice them and add them to a salad. They are tasty, high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium and iron, low in fat, and have a nice texture to them.
For those, however who must watch their salt intake, the sodium count is rather high.
Blended with some olive oil, garlic, lime zest, and a bit of pepper it becomes this creamy, yet slightly chucky dip that goes great with plantain chips, pita chips, flatbreads, or just plain crudites. And, it’s guilt-free eating!
Hearts of Palm Dip ( adapted from Food and Wine, March 2012)
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt (I prefer Kosher salt)
Two 14-ounce cans hearts of palm, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
Freshly ground white pepper (If you don’t have it, black pepper will do)
Plantain chips, pita chips, flatbreads, or veggies for serving
Using the side of a chef’s knife, mash the garlic to a paste with a generous pinch of salt. Scrape the paste into a food processor. Add the hearts of palm and oil and process to a medium-fine paste.
Add the lime zest, season with salt and pepper and pulse just to blend.
Transfer the dip to a bowl and serve with plantain chips, pita chips, flatbreads, or fresh veggies.
The dip can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, began last night with the lighting of the first of eight candles over the coarse of the next eight days.
My husband and I sat down to this holiday dinner after what will be the last of many garage sales we have had over the many years in our home.
Yes, it was December 8, 2012, and we were having a garage sale! But, it was sunny and in the mid 60’s!
As it turned out we still had plenty of yard sale worthy stuff since
we, ( my husband) has been working hard at sorting through and cleaning out our large storage area in preparation for selling our home and moving.
So after a fun, successful, but tiring day I came in to fry up some latkes to go with the left-over brisket and gravy I had defrosted in the fridge the day before (thank-you), and what was remaining of the homemade applesauce my sister had brought for Rosh Hashanah which I had also frozen (thank-you).
The only thing left to do was send my exhausted husband out for some eggs which I needed for the latke batter (sorry), and within a very short time two very tired people sat down to what would be our last first night of Hanukkah in this home.
This time I tried Melissa Clark’s recipe for latkes, which came out beautifully, but I think when I make them again I would use a little less flour than called for, and a bit more onion.
It’s also the first time I ever added baking powder to the batter. The consistency of the batter was less messy to work with, and by grating the onion with the potato it prevents the batter from darkening as fast as it might otherwise.
I will be making latkes again sometime this week to freeze for my annual Hanukkah get- together with my aerobic exericse class, and to take to our best friend’s dinner on Christmas Eve.
So I will have lots of time to tweak this recipe to my liking, and I look forward to being the taste tester as well! Happy Hanukkah!
Last week with our temperatures soaring into the 100’s I was trying to come up with a light, refreshing menu to serve friends who were coming for dinner.
I wanted a menu for the most part which could be prepared ahead, and would require very little, if any, indoor cooking.
In looking through several magazines at various summer meals for inspiration, I was excited about the idea of making shrimp rolls… a take on lobster rolls, but less costly, easier to prepare, and just as delicious.
Fresh corn on the cob from the farmer’s market, and a lovely green salad brought by my friend pretty much completed our meal except for a light appetizer.
So what should I make?
Again, pouring over another selection of cooking magazines (that’s why I seem to never throw them away), I found the perfect choice in Cook’s Illustrated from August 2010. A Creamy Gazpacho ! I have made gazpacho in the past but this outshone that in many ways. As the intro to the article suggests…
Most Americans know gazpacho as a chunky liquid salsa. In Spain, the most famous version is a creamy puree. ..just about every part of Spain prides itself on its gazpacho, but most sources still point to Andalusia, Spain’s southernmost region, as the soup’s home.
...Like the chunky, liquid-salsa interpretation popular in the states, the soup combines cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and tomatoes but adds bread (for body-and historical precedent), a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil, and a bracing shot of sherry vinegar and purees the whole thing in a blender. The result? A creamy, startlingly complex soup…
Only one thing went wrong with the soup…I forgot to serve it!!!!! I had the perfect goblets chilling in the freezer and the finished soup chilling in the fridge., waiting for the last minute to be ladled into the glasses and garnished.
The problem was somewhere in between my serving a tray of melon with dry cured salami and prosciutto de parma, along with a platter of cheese and crackers,and some olives with drinks as we chatted in the family room before dinner…and giving my husband the shrimp skewers and buns to grill, and cooking the corn ….I forgot the beautiful soup in the fridge awaiting its debut on the table! Horrors!!!
And this was not discovered until I opened the freezer before serving dessert (the Triple Berry Buttermilk Bundt Cake) when there before me stood the frosted glasses!
All was not lost, though, because I packed up a container of the soup for our friends, and sent it home with them for lunch or dinner the next day. My friend reported back that they loved it and she will be making it after I post this blog.
I think the lesson here is I should have cut back on the munchies that we pigged out on before dinner, and maybe served the gazpacho along with either the melon and prosciutto or the cheese and crackers.
No real harm was done, and we all had a pretty good laugh about it, and enjoyed it the next day.
Here’s the winning recipe formulated through research and trial and error by Kenji Lopez-Alt, a writer and recipe developer for Cook’s Illustrated.
With the exception of substituting a red pepper for the green, I followed it pretty much to the tee. It’ s a perfect hot- weather, healthy addition to a summer meal or with a salad it’s a complete light lunch. The taste is sensational and I will be making it again before the summer’s over, and I’ll try to remember to serve it.
Creamy Gazpacho Anadaluz (Cook’s Illustrated, august 2010)
Note: For ideal flavor, allow the gazpacho to sit in the refrigerator overnight before serving. Red wine vinegar can be substituted for the sherry vinegar. Although we prefer to use kosher salt in this soup, half the amount of table salt can be used. Serve the soup with additional extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, ground black pepper, and diced vegetables for diners to season and garnish their own bowls as desired.
3 pounds (about 6 medium) ripe tomatoes, cored
1 small cucumber, peeled halved, and seeded
1 medium green bell pepper, halved, cored, and seeded
1 small red onion, peeled and halved lengthwise
Kosher salt (see note)
1 slice high-quality white sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus extra for serving (see note)
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley, chives, or basil leaves (I used chives)
Ground black pepper
1. Roughly chop 2 pounds of tomatoes, half of cucumber, half of bell pepper, and half of onion and place in large bowl. Add garlic, chile, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt; toss until well combined. Set aside.
2. Cut remaining tomatoes, cucumber, and pepper into1/4-inch dice; place vegetables in medium bowl. Mince remaining onion and add to diced vegetable. Toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and transfer to fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Set aside 1 hour.
3. Transfer drained diced vegetables to medium bowl and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid (there should be 1/4 cup) and soak 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to roughly chopped vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.
4. Transfer half of vegetable-bread mixture to blender (or food processor) and process 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup oil and continue to blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain soup through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, using back of ladle or rubber spatula to press soup through strainer. Repeat with remaining vegetable-bread mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil.
5. Stir vinegar, minced herb, and half of diced vegetables into soup and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours to chill completely and develop flavors. Serve, passing remaining diced vegetables, olive oil, sherry vinegar, and black pepper separately.
This classic Greek soup derives its name from the two main ingredients: egg (avgo) and lemon juice (lemoni). My husband and I were first introduced to this soup at a little Greek cafe in our Chicago neighborhood almost 25 years ago.
In the years since we have never found a version we liked as much. What I usually find is that it is lacking in lemony flavor, or the consistency is too thin.
When I was preparing my recent Greek dinner I discovered I had a batch of homemade chicken soup in the freezer. I decided to give it a whirl and make this as a first course, hoping I could reproduce that lemony flavor.
After looking at several recipes I selected this one from Martha Stewart. Since my chicken broth was already made I was halfway there.
The tricky part is to keep the broth from being too hot (absolutely no boiling) when adding the eggs so as not to curdle them. The orzo cooks in the soup so again, easy. Just remember not to overcook the orzo. It is best to serve it immediately.
I will definitely be making this again…
Avgolemono (Greek Egg and Lemon Soup) (Martha Stewart online recipe)
8 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2 cups uncooked orzo, (rice-shaped pasta)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste ( I use kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (4 lemons)
1. In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups stock to a boil. Add orzo; cook until al dente, 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
2. Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup water. Heat remaining 2 cups stock until hot; do not boil.
3. In an electric mixer, beat eggs with whisk until fluffy; add cornstarch mixture and lemon juice. With mixer on medium-low speed, slowly add 1 to 2 cups hot stock until incorporated and mixture thickens slightly. Add any remaining stock to orzo.
4. Over low heat, slowly add egg mixture to orzo, stirring constantly until thickened and creamy. Do not let it come to a boil; eggs will curdle. Serve immediately.
In looking for a vegetable soup to make to use up some veggies in the fridge I decided on this Provencal Vegetable Soup or Soup Au Pistou.
Normally considered a summer soup because of its use of summer produce such as white beans, green beans, tomatoes, summer squash and potatoes, it also makes a great wintry soup.
The pistou (which means pounded in the Provencal language) is sauce made of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, and either Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese.
This French version of pesto, (without the nuts), is mixed together in a blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle. The addition of this sauce defines the flavor of this vegetable soup.
It can be added to the soup during cooking just before serving, or offered at the table after the soup is served, or as I discovered, why not both?
While there are many recipes for this type of soup I chose to follow one from The Joy of Cooking, and adapted it to the ingredients I had. With a vegetable soup there is certainly some wiggle room as far as the veggies go, but for this Provencal Vegetable Soup the pistou is perfect as is.
And, fortunately, with the availability of fresh basil in most of the markets and grocery stores year round we can enjoy this soup whatever the season.
Provencal Vegetable Soup (Soup Au Pistou) (adapted from Joy of Cooking)
Makes about 3 quarts
Heat in a large soup pot, over medium heat:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Add and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes:
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium leek, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 large rib celery, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped
8 cups water, or a combination of water and chicken stock/broth
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
(pinch of saffron threads)
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in:
one 15 and 1/2-to19-ounce can cannellini , Great Northern, or other white beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 to 2 cups cooked beans
( I used less cause I only had 1/2 cup of beans left in the fridge, so I used more potatoes)
1 cup broken thin spaghetti or macaroni
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup 1-inch pieces green beans (fresh or frozen)
Simmer just until the pasta is tender. Meanwhile, prepare the pistou.
Pistou (This is delicious with fish and a great addition to soups and stews)
makes 3/4 cup
Combine in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
Remove to a bowl and stir in:
1/3 cup coarsely grated Pecorino Romano (you can also use Parmesan)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper ( Note: If making this to add to the soup, omit this pepper)
Stir all or some of the pistou into the soup, along with:
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Serve the reserved pistou at the table.
The pistou will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.
Colorful food and holiday parties…they seem to go hand in hand. At this time of the year many of us are either giving or going to holiday parties, or doing both.
Occasionally the participants of my aerobics dance class get together after class at each others’ homes to snack and socialize.
Yesterday I had invited everyone to my home for what’s becoming my annual aerobics class holiday party. Last year I served potato latkes for lunch, along with chili. This year I served pulled BBQ Brisket sandwiches along with the latkes. And always homemade applesauce to accompany the potato pancakes.
The entree as well as the appetizers and desserts have to be dishes that can be prepared well ahead since I literally leave class a little early to welcome the rest about 20 minutes later. ( I don’t live far from the community center where our class is).
Among the appetizers this year was an old stand-by of mine which I’ve adapted from a recipe called Everyday Caponata from Giada De Laurentiis. I’ve made a few changes, substituting zucchini and yellow summer squash for the eggplant. Sometimes I include the eggplant as well. I’ve also added some olives.
This caponata, with its wonderful sweet-and-sour taste, is a traditional Sicilian vegetable dish which can be served as a relish along with chicken, pork or fish, as part of an antipasto, spooned on toasted bread or crackers, or used as a topping on sandwiches.
It can be eaten hot, cold, or at room temperature, making it the ultimate vegetable dish for a casual party.
Caponata (adapted from Everyday Caponata by Giada De Laurentiis)
(6 side-dish servings or 12-14 appetizer servings)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 celery stalks,chopped
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
2 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (14 and 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup small Spanish olives or your choice, preferably pitted
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the celery and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and yellow squash (and eggplant, if using), and saute until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, raisins, and oregano. Simmer over medium-low heat until the flavors blend and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl, and serve on a platter surrounded by assorted crackers or toasted baguette slices.
This Smoked Trout Spread is delicious on little toasts or crackers and makes a great appetizer.
I love smoked whitefish when served for brunch with bagels and smoked salmon. I’ve also made a delicious smoked whitefish salad by adding finely chopped celery, fresh dill, lemon juice, and a small amount of mayonnaise to the flaked whitefish which has been skinned and deboned. Most commercially made whitefish salads all have one thing in common…too much mayonnaise!
So when I came across a recipe for Smoked-Bluefish Pate In an old issue of Gourmet, I immediately thought why not re-invent that into a Smoked Trout Spread?
And when I came across a package of two smoked trout fillets at Trader Joe’s, I thought now is as good a time as any to try it.
I’ve now served it to guests as an appetizer on two separate occasions, and the reviews were all favorable. It’s really quite easy to make, and can be made ahead.
Smoked Trout Spread (adapted from Smoked Bluefish Pate, Gourmet, July 2007)
(makes 1 and 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/3- 1/2 pound smoked trout fillets, skin discarded and fish flaked
3 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Serve with toasts or crackers
Stir together shallot, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then beat in cream cheese.
Add the trout, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir with a spoon until combined well. Stir in chives.
This can be made 5 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature to soften (about 1 hour) before serving. Garnish with a bit of chopped shallot and more chopped chives.
Our good friends invited us for Christmas dinner at their home this year. We especially look forward to being with them at this time. Even though they live only several houses away it is as if we have walked into a winter wonderland when we approach the path leading to their front door. With my display of Hanukkah menorahs and dreidels a distant memory as Hanukkah came quite early this year, our home is pretty much back to normal. I might mention that these same good friends were with us to share in the beauty of the candles glowing on the last night of Hanukkah.
Being able to share in the splendor and warmth of their holiday which is truly magnified by the exquisite lights, wreaths, and beautifully decorated Christmas tree that adorn their home is something we look forward to each year. And the spectacular dinner we were served just put it over the top! The holidays are wonderful, but being able to share them with good friends and family makes it so much more meaningful.
I brought two appetizers along to share as well… small potato latkes, served savory or sweet, and the caviar torte, pictured above.
The latkes, which I posted in early December, do freeze very well. Realizing I had a couple of bags stored in the freezer, I decided it would be great to serve them as an appetizer along with various toppings.
You can crisp them in a 450 degree oven in their frozen state for 5-8 minutes, depending on their size. As an appetizer, the smaller the better. I served them on a large platter with a bowl of sour cream mixed with dill, lemon juice, salt and pepper, another small bowl of smoked salmon pieces and a tiny bowl of capers, and one of fresh dill. For the more traditionalists I also had a couple of bowls of homemade applesauce. And I think we’ve begun a new tradition…serving latkes at a Christmas dinner!
The Caviar Torte is a perfect addition to the cocktail hour. I first made this when we lived in Chicago over twenty years ago. It has not surfaced in my mind or on my table for all these years, but for some reason when I offered to contribute something to the meal, and my friend suggested an appetizer might be good, out of the crevices of my mind popped CAVIAR TORTE!!!
I was able to locate what I remember to be a very similar if not the exact recipe online. What did we do before the internet and google???
This is lovely to look at, and delicious spread on a cracker or toast, washed down with a cocktail, glass of wine or champagne. It’s a great choice for the holidays, and with New Year’s Eve approaching you may want to add it to the party line-up.
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sour cream
2 cups finely chopped green onions (tops and bottoms)
7 extra-large hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped (pulse in food processor fitted with metal blade if you prefer)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (I used black pepper)
1 (2-ounce) jar black or red caviar (I used a 4-ounce jar of wild salmon roe), lightly rinsed and drained (let drain 1/2 hour)
Line a 7-inch springform pan with clear plastic wrap. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. You can blend it in the food processor fitted with the metal blade if you prefer.
Spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle green onion over cheese mixture.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Spread egg mixture onto top of green onions.
Top with remaining cheese mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap and press gently to pack cheese.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight. To serve, uncover, remove springform pan, and invert onto serving plate. Top with caviar; spread to the edges. Garnish with parsley. Serve with assorted crackers.
Serves many. Even people who think they don’t like caviar, love this!
Every year for Thanksgiving we begin the festivities by having our own extended little happy hour. I usually try to time this early enough in the afternoon so we will have time to digest and get hungry once again before the main event. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not. The turkey seems to have a mind of its own, so you can never be absolutely certain it will be done, and not overdone at the exact time that you are planning to serve it. So some years I have felt the need to rush from appetizers to dinner cause the turkey waits for no one. This is even after it has been allowed to rest for half an hour.
This year my timing was good. I intentionally delayed getting the bird in the oven so we would have sufficient time to regain our hunger pangs after having gorged on an array of appetizers. Those appetizers included a huge bowl of shrimp (that’s become a tradition) with Ina Garten’s homemade cocktail sauce. I also served a selection of cheeses with assorted crackers, dried fruits, apples, pears, and nuts, including my toasted pumpkin seeds. Along with that was several small bowls of various olives. Those salty snacks go especially well with drinks. There was a variety of crudites and a bowl of home made dill dip (a favorite of my sons). A newcomer to the table this year was this Smoked Salmon Terrine, which spoke to me when I saw it in the recent November issue of Bon Appetit magazine.
It is delicious spread on little toasts or crackers, and presents well. The photo above is what remained the day after Thanksgiving as I didn’t have time to get a photo of it sooner…sorry about that. The recipe is for a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan, and serves 24, but I made half the recipe and put it in a smaller dish. For a large party the full recipe would be perfect, and the loaf pan would make an even prettier presentation.
This dish comes with a bonus. If you’re lucky enough to have some leftover it is yummy smeared on a toasted bagel with coffee the next morning. Here it is…you might want to try it at your upcoming holiday party. It would be perfect for New Year’s Eve with some champagne!
Smoked Salmon Terrine with Dill and Capers (Bon Appetit, November 2010)
24 servings Start this one day ahead. Garnish the terrine with dill sprigs, capers, and red onion, if desired.
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
6 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup drained capers
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 ounces, smoked salmon slices; 6 ounces chopped, 6 ounces left sliced
Toasted baguette slices or crackers
Line a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving overhang. Using electric mixer, blend first 5 ingredients and chopped salmon in large bowl.
Spread 1/3 of cheese mixture evenly in pan. Top with 1/2 of sliced salmon,
1/3 of cheese mixture,
remaining salmon, then remaining cheese mixture. Cover; chill at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. Turn terrine out onto platter. Serve with baguette slices or crackers.