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Archive for the category “Appetizers”

Pretzel Crisps Make Fun Appetizers

Check out new Pretzel Crisps by the makers of New York Style Bagel Chips and Pita chips!

They’re perfect for fun appetizers.  Above left is smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill atop an “Everything”-flavored pretzel crisp.  Above left is jalapeno cheddar and salami atop an Original flavor.  More pairing ideas on the website.

I’m not a huge pretzel person, but I preferred this shape (and ease of adding other flavors) compared to regular pretzels.  I served them with a cheesy sage dip at a recent dinner party and people seemed to enjoy them.  Thanks to Shaina for sending some samples my way.

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Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

The following recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup is just one of many delicious entries in a new cookbook of recipes using apples by Philip & Lauren Rubin called The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite.

This recipe was sweeter and richer-tasting than my usual butternut squash soup, while still being cream- and butter-free.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper
½ cup walnut halves
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced in ¼ -inch rounds

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the squash, apples, carrots, stock, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Ladle the vegetables and half of the broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the remaining broth, one ladleful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place a few walnuts in the center of a soup bowl. Shingle 2 slices of goat cheese on top of the walnuts and ladle the soup around the goat cheese. The idea is to have the goat cheese visible atop the soup. (Hint: it may be easier to ladle the soup into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour from there.)

Serves 6

Fondue in Vermont Last Autumn

Lately I’ve been missing being outside.  Scurrying among buildings and subway stations in the cold does not count.

So this photograph is a lovely escape.  I took it in September when we were in southern Vermont, visiting our good friends Emily and Ellen who had moved there from New York City two months prior.

The weekend was packed with beautiful sites, good conversation and delicious eats- including this table of appetizers one evening before dinner.  Ridiculously rich gouda fondue, homemade croutons, organic apple slices from the orchard we’d visited that morning, green olives, and a full-bodied red wine.

All this we enjoyed around a fire in their backyard as their labradoodle, Scout, begged for samples.  Aaaahh.

These days I’ve nearly forgotten what it’s like for daylight to stay past 5pm.

Recipe: Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Balls

Gourmet Thanksgiving in Advance (described here) Recipe #3

Gorgeous, easy to make, and ridiculously delicious. Be sure to make these! Bet you can’t eat just six.

Pecan-Crusted Goat Cheese Balls

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine‘s Pecan and Goat-Cheese Marbles

1 cup pecans (1/4 lb)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 (11-oz) log soft goat cheese
2 teaspoons minced rosemary (I used dried)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed with side of a large knife, then chopped
About 50 to 60 large flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in upper third. Toss pecans with butter, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then toast in a 4-sided sheet pan until fragrant and a shade darker, 8 to 10 minutes. (Watch them very closely. If some happen to get a little burnt/dark, don’t worry- I thought it added a “smokey” taste and we still gobbled them up.) Transfer to a plate and cool completely.

2. Chop pecans rather finely, then transfer to a wide shallow bowl.

3. Stir together goat cheese, rosemary, coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until combined well. Form teaspoons of cheese mixture into marbles between your palms, then roll in pecans to coat and roll between your palms again briefly. Transfer to a plate.

4. Put a parsley leaf over each cheese marble and spear together with a wooden pick.

Recipe: Rosemary Roasted Pecans

Some dear friends threw us an engagement party last Saturday. One of the couples in attendance, Lilo & Tom, gifted us a large jar of “Lilo’s Southern Love Nuts.”

They are now gone. Yes, gone.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday- three days. Really, is that all?

Well, they’re that good. Enjoy.

Lilo’s Southern “Love Nuts” (Rosemary Roasted Pecans)

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
4 cups pecans

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil.

2. In a small saucepan, heat oil, rosemary, salt, garlic powder, and pepper until warmed through. Pour mixture over pecans in a bowl and toss. Drain excess oil using a colander.

3. Quickly spread in even layers on cookie sheets. Roast nuts for 15 minutes. Cool and pack in tins. Store in cool place.

Recipe: Bacon Gorgonzola Dip

There are two types of people: those who put healthy ingredients into almost every recipe and those who figure that healthy foods should stay in the vegetable kingdom.

I figure I’ll be prepared when I have kids someday because I have already perfected the art of “sneaking” healthy foods into everything from muffins to, well, bacon Gorgonzola dip. This recipe (secretly) features sauerkraut. Fermented foods like sauerkraut aid digestion and overall health. I figure as long as I’m trying to eat nutritional powerhouses I may as well prepare them in tasty ways.

Bacon Gorgonzola Dip

Adapted from Great Lakes Kraut

6 slices bacon
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 blocks (16 oz) cream cheese, softened (low-fat or nonfat okay)
1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 small tomato, diced
2 Tbsp milk (low-fat or nonfat okay)
1/3 cup chives, finely chopped
1/3 cup sauerkraut, drained (reserving 2 Tbsp of juice)

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut bacon strips in half and cook over medium high heat until crisp. Remove from pan and crumble. Discard bacon drippings, leaving only enough to sauté garlic. Add garlic and cook until soft.

    2. In medium bowl, mix cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add sautéed garlic, cheese, diced tomato, milk, chives, and bacon. (Reserve some chives and bacon for sprinkling on top.) Mix until well blended. Add the sauerkraut and reserved juice.

    3. Spread evenly in an 8″ x 8″ ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the remaining chives and bacon on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.

    Serve warm with crusty bread, bagel chips, or raw vegetables.

    Recipe: Parmesan Garlic Flax Crackers

    There are two types of people: those who make their own crackers and those who do not.

    Based on purely anecdotal evidence, I am the only person in the former category, aside from the creator of this recipe. It is the recipe I have been asked for more than any other. It is a recipe that it is delicious and healthy. It is even gluten free. And Atkins-friendly. And makes you popular. It may save the world. So let’s get to it:

    Parmesan Flax Crackers

    Adapted from Laura Dolson

    1 cup ground flax seed (either golden or brown, which determines cracker color)
    1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
    1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup water (truthfully, I never measure; I just add water until a paste forms)

    1. Heat oven to 400 F.

    2. Mix all ingredients together.

    3. Spoon onto sheet pan which is covered with a silicone mat or greased parchment paper. Cover the mixture with a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Even out the mixture to about 1/8 inch (I use my hands, but a rolling pin or wine bottle would work too. The important thing is not to let it be too thin around the edges or that part will overcook before the center firms up.)
    4. Take off top parchment paper and, using a butter knife, cut where you want the cracker edges to be. You can make long skinny sticks, big triangles, little squares- whatever.

    5. Bake until the center is no longer soft, about 15-18 minutes (or for me, sometimes it’s longer). If it starts to get more than a little brown around the edges, remove from oven. Let cool completely – it will continue to crisp up. Sometimes I will remove the individual crackers that are done and continue baking the rest for a few more minutes.

    Recipe: Green pea thyme dip

    There are two types of people: those who follow recipes exactly and those who don’t.

    I don’t think I have ever followed a recipe exactly. Ever. Inevitably I change an ingredient or two or five, I swap the spices, I change the cooking method, or I change the final presentation. I view recipes as a jumping off point.

    This style of cooking is intimidating to many people. I think it becomes easier the more you cook as you get comfortable.

    This pea thyme dip was, typically, an adaptation. It is delicious and pretty, too.

    Green Pea Thyme Dip

    Adapted from Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

    2 cups peas: fresh, thawed frozen, or canned

    1/2 square vegetable bullion (I love Rapunzel’s vegan version), dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water

    2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    1/2 Tbsp dried thyme

    2 Tbsp finely grated Pecorino Romano (sheep’s milk cheese)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    If using fresh peas, steam in a saucepan with a bit of water for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Put peas in medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Blend with immersion blender. Alternatively, use a food processor or traditional blender. Serve as a dip with fresh vegetables, crackers and baguette rounds.

    Recipe: Portobella Pizza Appetizers

    There are two types of people: those who like mushrooms and those who don’t.

    I have always loved them. As a child I would beg my mom for raw mushrooms to snack on whenever she was cooking them with dinner. Thankfully, mushrooms are one of the few “exotic” foods about which I did not have to proselytize my fiance; he has always realized their amazingness.

    Portobella Pizzas

    Recipe by Hilary

    8 portobella mushroom caps

    1/3 cup tomato paste (I like Bionaturae)

    1/3 cup ricotta cheese

    1/2 Tbsp roasted garlic (I like the prepackaged kind)

    1/2 tsp oregano

    1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, chopped

    1/3 cup salsa

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 350F. Saute onion with oil or water until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix with salsa and oregano. Mix roasted garlic, salt and pepper with ricotta cheese. Wash mushroom caps and arrange on cookie sheet or baking dish face up. Spread tomato paste evenly on each cap. Then spread cheese mixture evenly on each cap. Top with onion/salsa mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are soft but not wilted.

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