Category Archives: Appetizers

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

There is a Korean restaurant near where we live that we visit whenever we get the chance.  They make a kimchi pancake that is fantastic; even the small Things love it.  The only problem is that when we get takeout, the kimchi pancake is cold and slightly soggy by the time we get it home.  The idea of my beloved kimchi pancake cold and soggy makes me sad… so we decided to try our hand at a home version.

Ingredients

Ingredients

These vegetable pancakes make a pretty nice substitute.  They have the flavor of the different vegetables and the use of rice flour makes them nice and light.  Even better, the batter comes together very quickly so you can have these on the table in less than 20 minutes.  They make an excellent side to Korean-style ramen noodle soup or to some beef and broccoli.

Pancake batter

Pancake batter

If you wanted to make these more like traditional kimchi pancakes, you could increase the kimchi to two cups, substitute 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup liquid from the kimchi, and omit the carrot, scallion, and cilantro.  You could also add some cooked and shredded pork to make these more hearty.

Cooking the cake

Cooking the cake

Korean-Style Vegetable Pancakes

Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rice flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbls neutral oil, such as peanut or canola

5 scallions, green parts only, finely diced

1 tbls fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/4 cup of cilantro

1 large carrot

1 cup kimchi

To Make:

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, eggs, 1 tbls oil and 1-1/2 cups water until a smooth batter is formed.  Let the batter rest while the veggies are prepped.

To prep the vegetables, coarsely grate the carrot and finely chop the scallions and kimchi.  Chop the cilantro.  Once the vegetables and cilantro are ready, add them to the batter and stir gently until just combined.  The batter will be thick, like pancake batter.

Heat a griddle or large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.  When hot, ladle a quarter cup of batter and spread it out into a circle.  Cook until the bottom is browned (turn down the heat to medium if needed).  Flip and cook the second side until it is lightly browned, about another 5 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

As the pancakes finish, remove them and, if necessary, store on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm, cut into triangles.  Dip in a sauce made with soy, rice vinegar, and a bit of sesame oil

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-free, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Salmon Rillettes

 

Salmon Rillettes

Salmon Rillettes

It is hard to believe that 2010 is almost at a close.  It has been a very busy year in our household.  Between raising two growing girls, starting a new business, and dealing with the day-to-day of life, we haven’t had as much time to blog as we would like.  Hopefully, 2011 will mean more frequent blogging!

 

Poaching the salmon fillet

Poaching the salmon fillet

So, to help you celebrate the New Year, here is a delicious little appetizer to add to your party spread.  It can be made a day in advance to ease pre-party preparations.  It is quick to put together but looks rather sophisticated on the table.  Pack it in a pretty container and serve in the same dish.

 

Salmon, onions, and butter

Salmon, onions, and butter

The best part, the flavor… I love salmon (especially smoked salmon) and when you combine it with lemon, wine, onion and capers, it is extra delicious.  The combination of two kinds of salmon mixed with butter makes the texture very smooth.  The capers, onions, and spices add a nice little kick of flavor.  For the best taste, allow the dish to come to room temperature before serving on toasted slices of crusty bread or crackers.  Happy New Year!

 

Almost ready

Almost ready

Salmon Rillettes

Adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients:

1/2 lb skinless salmon fillet

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 lb thinly sliced smoked salmon, finely chopped

4 tbls butter, softened

1/4 – 1/3 cup shallots (about 2.5 oz), minced

1/8 – 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tbls fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp drained capers

2 tsp Cognac or other brandy

Zest of one lemon (freshly grated)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To Make:

In a shallow skillet large enough to hold the fresh salmon, bring 1.5 cups water and 1.5 cups wine to a gentle boil.  Add the fresh salmon, reduce the heat, and poach at a bare simmer until the salmon is just cooked through (about 4 minutes).  Remove from the poaching liquid and let cool.

Flake the fresh salmon, chop the smoked salmon and add both to your serving dish.  Stir in the butter, shallots, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, capers, Cognac, and lemon zest until well blended.  The final dish should be well mixed but with some texture to the fish.  Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight, until firm.

To Serve:

Serve spread on toasts or hearty crackers.  Allow the dish to come to room temperature before serving.  Makes about 2 cups.  Recipe can easily be doubled.

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Filed under Appetizers, Fish, Gluten-Free

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Fried Green Tomato Bites

I tried to grow cherry tomatoes again this year.  The plants started out promising, bursting with healthy foliage and small green tomatoes just a few weeks after I planted them.  But then the chipmunks came and every morning I would come outside to find half-eaten baby tomatoes littered on the ground.  I cried a little each time it happened.  Then the very hot and very dry weather hit and we couldn’t keep up with the watering.  My plants got dry and brown and the chipmunks started to get more picky about eating only the nearly ripe tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Fast forward to mid-September.  The poor little green tomatoes still on the vines were not getting any bigger or any riper in the cool weather.  Since I love fried green tomatoes and I hate watching produce go to waste, I started the ponder the idea of frying my small green cherry tomatoes.  This morning I picked my plants clean and went for it.  I decided to use panko crumbs to add extra crunch.  Since the cherry tomatoes are so small, there isn’t the crust-to-tomato ratio of the larger slices so I figured extra crisp would only help.  I also opted for flour instead of the more traditional cornmeal.  I don’t always like the grittiness of cornmeal but you could certainly swap the two if you prefer.  Finally, I double dipped the tomatoes (milk-flour mixture-milk-flour mixture) in hopes of getting the crust to stick as much as possible.  Next time, I will add a little bit of rest time after the breading so the crust can really set.  I am please to report that these little cherries were every bit as delicious as a traditional fried green tomato with the added bonus of being totally snackable.  Even better, none of my tomatoes were wasted.

Frying the Tomatoes

Frying the Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomato Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup green (unripe) cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup whole milk or buttermilk

To Make:

Wash and dry your tomatoes.  Set a medium, deep sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Fill with a neutral cooking oil (safflower or peanut are good choices) to about 1/8″ deep.

While the oil is heating, mix flour, bread crumbs, spices, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour milk into a separate small bowl.  Dip the tomatoes, a small handful at a time, in the milk.  Scoop out, let drain for a second, and toss them in the flour mixture until well coated.  Put the tomatoes back into the milk for a minute, and then toss in the flour a second time.  Continue until all tomatoes have been double dipped.  Let them rest for a few minutes before cooking.

Once the oil is hot (a few drops of water should dance and sizzle when added to the pan), add the tomatoes, in batches if needed so you don’t crowd the pan.  Let them cook until golden on the first side, 30-60 seconds.  Turn the tomatoes until they are golden on all sides.  Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with a little more kosher salt and pepper.

To Serve:

Enjoy while still hot.  Conceviablely you could serve 2 with appetizer-sized portions but I don’t think you’ll want to share.

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Sometimes, you want snack time to be more than just goldfish crackers, you know?  If you have little ones, then you know that snack time at play dates usually hits all the major kid food groups… crackers, juice boxes, and grapes.  While that’s menu gold for the kids, I think the adults deserve something a little more special.

Getting Things Ready

The ingredients

For example, maybe something with parmesan cheese, and butter, and with delicious hints of lemon and pepper.  Now that sounds like a grownup snack worthy of any play date.  Even better, the dough for these crunchy little gems can be made made the night before the get together and baked right before everyone arrives.  So whip together a batch of these crackers and be the star of your next playgroup.  These are so tasty that you might just have to wrestle them away from the kids.

The 11 inch Cracker Log

Cracker dough

Lemon Crackers

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

4 tbls cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 1/2 tbls water

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

To Make:

Whisk together the parmesan, flour, lemon zest, and black pepper in a mixing bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and toss in the cheese-flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender (or two knives), work the butter into the cheese flour mixture until the result looks like coarse bread crumbs.  Add in the water and lemon juice.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly until a dough ball is formed.  Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper.  Handling the wax paper (not the dough), roll the out the dough to a uniform log, about 11 inches long.  Wrap tightly in the wax paper and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Cut the log into 1/4 inch slices and place on a baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.  Cook only one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, or until the edges start to turn to a golden color.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

These make yummy little vessels for your favorite dip.  Or just eat them plain and enjoy their cheesy, mildly lemon flavor.  Makes about 40 crackers.

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Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

I bet you all think today is a special occasion, with back-to-back blog posts happening.  Well, it is eggplant time in these parts, which is definitely cause for a little celebration.  When the eggplants start rolling in it means I get to make (and eat) one of my all-time favorite dips, baba ganoush.  Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t even like eggplant.  Whenever I had it I found it to be either tasteless or bitter.  So I pretty much kept away, frequently using the “no thanks, I really don’t care for eggplant” deflection whenever it was offered.  But then we joined our CSA and I suddenly had a lot of eggplant in my possession.

Eggplants ready for grilling

Eggplants ready for grilling

Since Marc lives to smoke things, we decided to break out the smoker and try our hand at baba ganoush.  I figured that I liked hummus, so maybe I would enjoy this Middle Eastern dip too.  After I had my first taste, I was in love.  Fast forward three years… this recipe for baba ganoush is on the menu every summer.  Even the kids like it.  When Thing 1 was a baby, she used to call it “gaba noush”.

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

Eggplants, transformed by smoke and heat

The key to truly good baba ganoush is smoking the eggplant.  You can make this recipe by roasting the eggplant in a 400 degree oven but it won’t have the same smokey, slightly sour flavor that wood chips impart.  Luckily, it is easy to create a “smoker” using your gas or charcoal grill.  Get some smoking chips (they are easy to find at big box stores or your local hardware store) and soak them in water for at least an hour (you can leave them overnight if you want).  Make a packet with the chips in the center using heavy duty aluminum foil, poke a few holes in it so the smoke can get out, and toss it directly on the charcoal or flames.  Voila, your very own smoker, easy as pie.  Just make sure you close the lid while you cook so all the smoke doesn’t escape.

Almost ready

Almost ready

Baba Ganoush

Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

~2.5 lbs eggplants (any color will do)

1 large clove of garlic, chopped

juice of one large lemon

1 1/2 tbls tahini (this is sesame paste and can be found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores)

1 tsp salt

To Make:

Soak smoking chips in bucket of water for at least one hour prior to grilling the eggplant.  Heat your gas grill to 400F or a charcoal grill to medium-hot.  Put wet wood chips in a packet made from aluminum foil with holes poked in it and lay the packet directly on the flame tamers (or the coals).  Pierce the eggplants all over, place on the grill, and close the lid.  Let the eggplant roast until is it soft all over and the skin is nicely charred, about 45 minutes. Make sure to keep half an eye on your eggplant.  Depending on the size, yours may cook slower or faster than ours did.

When the eggplant is soft, remove it from the grill and allow it to cool until it can be handled.  Cut the eggplants in half and scrape the flesh into a colander, allowing any excess liquid to drain.  Discard the skins.  Put the eggplant flesh into a food process along with the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and salt.  Process until smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

To Serve:

Right before serving, drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.  There are endless ways to serve this dip.  I like it spread on warm pita breads, on pita breads that have been baked until they are crisp, as a dip for fresh or roasted veggies (especially tomatoes), dolloped on a grilled lamb chop, etc.  Makes about 2 cups.

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Smoky Peanuts

Smoky Peanuts

 

This Sunday is Easter Sunday (if you’re of a certain faith).  It’s a family day.  A day for Easter egg hunts, family brunches, and that sort of thing.  However, for those of us in Red Sox Nation, we know this day by its other name, Opening Day.  Not only is it Opening Day, we’re playing host to the Evil Empire.  Like Boston Mayor Menino said in 2004, “‘Much like a cookie, I predict the Yankee dynasty will crumble and the results will be delicious for Red Sox fans.”  (gotta love the food reference). 

Smoked Tea Leaves

 

Baseball has me thinking snack food for watching the game.  Want to put out something special for this special Sunday night game?  Try these quick and easy smoky peanuts.  Baseball and peanuts go hand and hand.  The sugar and salt make for an irresistible sweet and savory combination.  The hints of smoke from the tea leaves haunts your mind.  Personally, I’m a big fan of smoked foods and have almost become desensitized to most mildly smoked foods.  When I make this again (and there’s no question that I will make these again), I’ll double the amount of smoked tea leaves to enhance the smoke flavor. 

Peanuts and Peanuts Tossed in Goodness on the Baking Sheet

 

Smoky Peanuts 

Adapted from Gourmet Today 

Ingredients: 

1 tbls lightly beaten egg white 

1 tsp sugar 

3/4 tsp Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, crushed with the side of a large heavy knife if coarse 

1/4 tsp salt 

1 cup salted cocktail peanuts 

parchment paper 

To Make: 

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Whisk together egg white, sugar, tea, and salt in a small bowl.  Stir in peanuts and spread in one layer on baking sheet. 

Bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are dry, about 10 minutes.  Cool on baking sheet on a rack for about 20 minutes.  Nuts will crisp as they cool. 

To Serve: 

Do I really need to tell you how to serve peanuts?  I thought not.

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Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

The weekend is almost here.  Do you have any big plans?  If you are doing any entertaining and need something that is both easy and impressive, look no further than these delicious appetizers.  

Golden and delicious butter

These cheesy, crispy puffs are French so they add instant panache to your appetizer spread.  Plus, they have bacon and everything is better with bacon.  They are light and airy with fluffy insides and, the best part, they are really easy to pull together.

Dough ball

Boil (yes, boil) some butter and water, stir in flour until you get a dough ball that somewhat resembles a thick roux, and then beat in eggs until you get the most beautiful and glossy batter you have ever seen.  Fold in grated Gruyere cheese and crispy hunks of  bacon and you are nearing appetizer nirvana.

Batter after beating the eggs in

Once these beauties come out of oven, all golden and crispy, do your best to wait until your guests arrive before you devour them.

Unbaked puffs

Gougeres (aka French Cheese and Bacon Puffs)

Adapted from The Bacon Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup water

8 tbls (1 stick) butter

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1/2 pound slab bacon, rind removed, finely diced

1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

To Make:

In a heavy saucepan, combine the water, butter, and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, and beat with a wooden spoon till a ball of dough forms.  Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating with an electric mixer on high speed till the batter is just thick enough to hold soft peaks.  Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill briefly.

In a large skillet, fry the bacon dice over moderate heat till crisp and drain on paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Butter a large baking dish.  Fold the cheese and bacon into the prepared batter till well blended, then drop by tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake the puffs for 30 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the stand till they are golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Serve the puffs warm.

To Serve:

Makes about 36 puffs.  Serves 8-10 as appetizers (or 2 people who can’t stop eating the bacon-y deliciousness).

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Recipes