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Posts Tagged ‘Snacks’

Twas the night before Christmas, and my husband and I were enjoying the glorious peace and quiet of a holiday alone.  I made a lovely Italian-themed dinner, but before that, we had our own cocktail party.  On the menu, roasted olives and fennel, blue cheese cookies (cut in the shape of stars, to be festive), and negronis.

Roasted Olives and Fennel

I am a huge olive fan.  Love them.  But, there is only one thing better than olives, and that is warm olives.  To make them, I rinsed off a mix of olives from the olive bar at the store.  I then zested an orange and lemon, removing the zest in big chunks, then juiced each of them.  Toss the olives in the juice.  Then, take a fennel bulb (or part of one, depending on how big and how much you like fennel), cut it in strips, and toss that in.  Add a bay leaf and a few cloves of garlic smashed up.  Toss it all together with a drizzle of olive oil.  Preheat the oven and stick them in.  This is not an exact science, so if your oven is already on for something else, that’s fine.  In general, I’d say a good 12-15 minutes or so at 375 or so ought to do the trick.  You want to heat them up, and cook the rawness out of the fennel.  And voila, warm yummy olives.

Negroni

Now on to the drinkies.  I am not a huge cocktail person.  Wine is my vice.  But, I make an exception for these.  They are just lovely.  The Campari is bitter, but it’s cut nicely by the vermouth. Not too sweet, not too harsh, just right. To make one, put one ounce each of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a shaker with some ice, shake it up, and serve with an orange wedge.  Cheers!

 

 

 

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In the November 2010 Food & Wine, the magazine claims that vegetables are the next big thing.  Now, I love my Food & Wine, but seriously, how desperate were they when they came up with that line?  In any event, in promoting vegetables as the next big thing, they had a recipe for parsnip bacon.  I guess since bacon was the last big thing, they figured they had to work it in to help us ease the transition from one big thing to the next.  The recipe sounded good, so I thought I’d give it a try.

In a weird twist, the finished product looked nothing like the picture, but did look a lot like bacon.  However, it tasted nothing like bacon.  But it did taste like Terra Chips, which are pretty awesome, if not as awesome as bacon.  But since bacon is out, and vegetables are in, then that’s probably just as well.

Parsnip Chips

Preheat the oven to 300.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel a parsnip into thin strips.  Toss in vegetable oil (like the recipe) or olive oil (like me).  Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with smoked sea salt.

Bake at 300 for an hour and 15 minutes (like the recipe) or until they start to burn after about 35 minutes (like me).

Despite my issues with them, they were really good.  Crunchy and salty, they’d make for a nice party snack.  The long strips look really nice standing up in a glass, a lot nicer than a bowl of Terra Chips which just look like potpouri.


 

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I got some really lovely chicken from Marin Sun Farms and really wanted to make a delicious, summery meal to go with it.  I left the chicken simple, just with a bit of rosemary sea salt rubbed on it, and my husband threw it on the grill.  With it, a big bowl of pickled tomatoes and some fresh homemade cornbread

To make the cornbread, I borrowed from two recipes.  The pickled tomatoes were spicy, so I skipped the “firecracker” part of 101 Cookbook’s Firecracker Cornbread recipe, which I selected because I could use some fresh, sweet corn in it.  To make the cornbread more interesting, I borrowed an idea for honey butter from a Martha Stewart cornbread recipe.  With the chicken, the spicy tomatoes, and a cool glass of Simi viognier, I had myself a perfect summer dinner.

Fresh Corn Cornbread with Honey Butter
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used all purpose)
3/4 cup instant cornmeal (or instant polenta) or fine-grain cornmeal
1/4 cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups corn, fresh (or at room temperature if previously frozen)

For the honey butter, mix a tablespoon of honey and a pinch of salt with 3 tablespoons of room temperature butter

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, with a rack in the middle.

Just before you make the batter, in a small saucepan, melt the butter and pour into a 9-inch pie tin and place in the hot oven.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and corn.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined.  Now very carefully remove the hot pan with butter from the oven.  Brush the butter up around the edges a bit to make sure its evenly coating the pan.  Carefully fill it with the cornbread batter, pushing the batter out to the sides if needed.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the center is just set. Remove and brush on the honey butter before slicing.

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I made this ages ago for a party but have had a busy few weeks and no time to post.  Better late than never, I guess!

I was inspired by an Epicurious recipe for a corn and tomato bruschetta, though I changed it up quite a bit to make it more like a salsa.  It really worked.  It was light and summery and fresh.  Epicurious suggests serving it over burgers or quesadillas.  I think it would be nice over grilled fish as well.

Grilled Tomato and Corn Salsa
Loosely adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

2 large ear of yellow corn, husked
1 small red onion (about 6 ounces), peeled, halved through root end
Olive oil (for grilling)
1 1/2 pounds medium tomatoes (such as cluster or vine-ripened; something firm and not watery, about 5)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika*
pinch of cayenne, optional

Directions

Prepare grill (medium heat).  Brush corn and onion with oil; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place corn, onion halves, and tomatoes on grill. Cook until corn is charred, onion is just tender, and tomato skins are blistered and loose, turning often, about 12 minutes for tomatoes and 15 minutes for corn and onion. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet and cool.

The recipe then recommends coring the tomatoes, halving, and squeezing out the juices and seeds before giving them a coarse chop.  This made a huge mess, and frankly, I’m not convinced it was worth it. I think a better approach would be to core the tomatoes and dice.  Then grab them loosely and give them a little shake over a sink to get out the excess liquid.  I can’t vouch for this approach since I didn’t try it, but suffice it to say, I don’t think having a bit of extra tomato innards in the salsa is a bad thing, so if it makes things easier, give it a try.   Whatever you do, put the tomatoes into a bowl.

Cut the corn kernels from cob and toss in with the tomatoes.  Dice the onion and add that too.   Mix in garlic, lime juice, paprika, and a splash of olive oil.  Toss in a pinch of cayenne if you want a bit of heat.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The dish can be made a few hours in advance and the leftovers held up alright overnight in the fridge.

I served it up with tortilla chips and a big bowl of my super delicious guacamole.

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These.

Cut up feta, cucumbers, and watermelon into cubes.  Put on skewers.  Eat.

Make lots because your guests will gobble them up.

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We had a small group of friends over for drinks recently.  A few old friends, a few new friends, lots of wine and Hangar One raspberry vodka.  And of course, food.

Dates wrapped in bacon is sort of a party stand-by of mine, but I wanted something a little more seasonal.  I saw this idea on Epicurious and thought it would be perfect.  I skipped the use of sugar and cumin to keep it simple and substituted prosciutto for the serrano ham.  It was a lovely summery appetizer.

To make it, I cut peaches into 8 wedges.  I wrapped each with a small strip of prosciutto and secured them with a small basil leaf and a toothpick.  After I arranged them on a platter, I drizzled a splash of sherry vinegar.   They held up really well at room temperature while out for a couple hours, so I’d say they could be made a few hours in advance without a problem, though I’d probably add the vinegar just before serving.

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If kindergarten teachers watched me in the kitchen, they’d probably give me a lecture about following directions.  I’m not very good at it.  To me, recipes are usually just suggestions or loose guidelines.

So, when I found this James Beard recipe for persimmon bread, the fact that he is practically the godfather of modern American cooking didn’t really stop me from deviating from the script.  Clearly, I have no shame.

Despite my wanton disregard for Mr. Beard’s recipe, the finished product was delicious.  My husband, however, said that he would have preferred the original.  If you are like me and get the shakes if you don’t find ways to consume as much ginger as possible, my version is right up your alley.  Otherwise, I imagine the original is pretty spectacular too.

If you’ve never tried persimmon, you are missing out.  The ripe Hachiya persimmon, which is used i this recipe, is essentially this fragrant orange pulp held together by a thin skin. 

 I just had to squeeze it slightly and it burst.  I just picked out the skin and membrane and no further preparation was needed.

Ginger Persimmon Bread
Adapted from James Beard, as found on David Lebovitz’s blog

Using the higher amount of sugar will produce a moister and, of course, sweeter bread.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cognac, bourbon, or whiskey
1 cup persimmon puree (from about 2 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2/3 cup minced candied ginger

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 1 loaf pan and dust with flour, shaking out any excess.

Sift the first 6 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center then stir in the fresh ginger, butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree.  Mix gently, then add the candied ginger.  Stir until everything is combined and the ginger is evenly distributed.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The bread will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature, and should freeze well.

The bread was delicious.  Persimmons have a subtle spicy taste to them, so they worked well with the ginger, cognac, and other spices.  It was almost like a really gorgeous tasting fruit cake. 

 

 

 

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