Posts Tagged appetizers and bites

‘Grown-Up Guacamole’: Avocado Dip with Mustard Seeds, Serrano, and Curry Powder.

Spring is, hands down, my favorite time of year. I am ready to say goodbye to winter, and am equally ready to welcome spring, with all of her charms. As winter draws to a close, I find myself chasing every ray of sunshine, like sun-starved zombie. I am ready for spring flowers and produce, sunshine and warmth. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’m ready for lemonade and porches and BBQ’s and farmer’s markets.

I think I say the same thing about Spring every year, but each year I’m truly grateful for this season. Everything feels new and wonderful, and I have a fresh appreciation for all of it.

That being said, when the sun came out for a couple of days this week, I was beside myself with joy. Honestly, I was a little bit sun drunk. I went so far as to take my laptop into the backyard, so I could work in the sunshine. (It was fantastic.)

In my sun-drunk state, I had the inspired idea to make an epic batch of guacamole. (I also decided that it would be a good idea to eat most of said guacamole in one sitting. But that’s a whole different story.) I know it isn’t exactly guac season yet (we’re still a few months away from cilantro and pepper season), but I was just too excited about the sunshine.

This avocado dip is the perfect compliment to a sunny day, and it pairs nicely with tacos and margaritas. I will say that it is unlike any guacamole I’ve ever had. It contains curry powder and coconut oil, serrano chilies and mustard seeds. It might sound like an odd combination of ingredients, but I promise you that it works. I would take this avocado dip over normal guacamole any day. It’s the perfect snack for a sunny day. Here’s hoping we have an abundance sunny days in our not-too-distant future.

Avocado Dip with Serrano Peppers, Cilantro, and Mustard Seeds | Rosemarried

‘Grown Up Guacamole’: Avocado Dip with Mustard Seeds, Serrano, and Curry Powder.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ripe avocados
  • The juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (brown seeds are preferable, but golden will do.)
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons Indian curry powder
  • 1 small serrano chile, seeds removed and finely minced

Instructions

  1. Cut each avocado in half, and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Gently mash the avocado with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and most of the cilantro. Don’t over-mash, as the dip is supposed to be rather chunky. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds. Cook the mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn them. (Note: mustard seeds pop and jump while cooking, so you may want to place a lid on the skillet for this part.) Next, add in the minced shallots and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, and diced serrano. Add in the avocado mixture, and give everything a quick stir. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. (I like to add a bit of extra lemon juice at the end). Sprinkle the last of the cilantro on top. Serve with tortilla chips, pita, vegetables, crackers, etc.

Notes

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

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http://rosemarried.com/2014/03/14/grown-guacamole-avocado-dip-mustard-seeds-serrano-curry-powder/


Sparkling Cranberry and Brie Tartines

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I just can’t. I did not come up with this idea (but I really wish that I had). No, my friend Beyth discovered these sparkling cranberry bites on Pinterest and then made them for a friend’s baby shower. I was immediately obsessed with these pretty little appetizers. They’re just so darn pretty, festive, and delicious. As if that’s not reason enough to make them, these cranberry bites are also really easy to assemble.

The original recipe is really simple, and I didn’t adapt it much. I followed her instructions to a T, and made two slight alterations during my assembly of the tartines. I used brioche toasts (from Trader Joe’s) instead of standard crackers and I used my Cranberry Sauce with Juniper and Orange as the chutney element. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe!

Rather than post my ever-so-slightly adapted version, I’ll just link you to the original recipe. If you’d like to make these sparkling cranberry bites, refer to the full recipe at Yummy Mummy. (Beware: this recipe makes a lot of sparkling cranberries. I still have some leftover!)

Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Balsamic & Honey

My level of productivity has greatly declined during the Olympic games.

I’m not sure why, but I am really into the the 2012 games. I’m over-eager and excited. I’m invested in the stories of the athletes, and carefully choose my heroes. I’m so over Michael Phelps. I adore Gabby Douglas.

Honestly, I feel like a kid again. Back in those days, my sisters and I would huddle in front of the television and cheer on our favorite athletes (the ice skaters and gymnasts, of course). Oh, how we loathed Oksana Baiul! And how we loved Kristy Yamaguchi!

I’m telling you, I’m a nerd about this stuff.

And somewhere in the midst of all this Olympics madness, I’ve carved out a little bit of time to cook. It’s finally tomato season in the Northwest, and thus this recipe was born.

I have a Sun Gold cherry tomato plant in my backyard, and it produces a lot of tomatoes. It’s a crazy little plant and I can hardly keep up with the tomato production. If there was a tomato Olympics, I’m pretty sure my plant would get a medal. (See what I did there? I brought it all back to the Olympics).

So, if you’re in the throes of cherry tomato season and need a good recipe for your arsenal: this one is a gem. It’s simple, elegant, and ridiculously tasty. It’s like a better version of tomato bruschetta (who knew it could get any better?).

As for me, I’m off to watch more of the Olympic games. Go USA!



ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO BRUSCHETTA WITH HONEY & BALSAMIC

Adapted from Cheesy Melty Toasty
Makes 1 cup of roasted tomatoes, enough for 8-10 small appetizers.

Ingredients:
1 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved (I used a mix of sungolds and red grape tomatoes)
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1.5 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil
Baguette slices
Ricotta cheese

Method:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place halved cherry tomatoes on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Roast cherry tomatoes in the oven for an hour and a half, or until the tomatoes are brown and caramelized.

While tomatoes are roasting, slice 1/2 of a baguette into thin slices. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet on the stove top. Toast bread slices in the skillet, 3-4 minutes on each side (or until golden and crisp). Set aside.

When the tomatoes are ready, remove from the oven. Remove the roasted tomatoes to a bowl and allow to cool. Once the tomatoes have cooled to room temperature, toss with the rest of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add in the honey, red chili flakes, minced garlic. Slice the basil into a chiffonade (very thin strips) and toss 1/2 of the basil into the cherry tomato mixture. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Slather each piece of toasted baguette with fresh ricotta cheese. Top with the roasted cherry tomato bruschetta, and garnish with a bit more sliced fresh basil. Feel free to drizzle a little extra honey over the top. Eat and enjoy.

Note: basil bruises easily and turns a sad blackish-brown color after awhile. I like to slice the basil right before serving so it’s bright & green & lovely!

Miniature Smoked Salmon Tartines

I’m a bit of a nomad. In my short life, I’ve lived in various parts of California (Sacramento, Los Angeles, Orange County, etc.), Alaska, Wyoming, Oregon, along with a very brief stint in Mexico.

I have fond memories of most of these places, but none of them compare to my memories of Alaska. My family and I lived in Anchorage, Alaska for 3 years – from the time I was 8 until I was 11 – and I can honestly say that there is no better place to be a kid. My sisters and I built sled runs in our front yard, we fed moose from our deck, we hiked, skiied, fished, and adventured. Alaska was a magical place for kids. I was too busy being young and wild and free to be bothered by the long, dark days of winter. I loved Alaska.

And to this day, whenever I eat smoked salmon, I can’t help but think about Alaska. During our time there, my parents bought a boat and got really into salmon fishing. One year, my mom caught a 65 pound King salmon (Naturally, we had it stuffed. His name is “Sam the Salmon” and he still hangs on the wall at my parent’s house.). Needless to say, we ate a lot of salmon in those days. We ate so much salmon that I grew tired of it. I remember thinking to myself (or whining, aloud), “Salmon for dinner? Again?”. Only in Alaska, I suppose.

(A photo of us from the Alaska days, with our giant stuffed Salmon. This was our Christmas card photo one year.)

But as much as I whined about salmon for dinner, I never seemed to grow tired of smoked salmon. Specifically, my mom’s smoked salmon. Her smoked salmon is ridiculously good, and strangely addictive. In fact, my favorite snack when I was a kid was Ritz crackers with cream cheese and smoked salmon. I ate it constantly. So, then, this recipe is really just a grown up version of my favorite childhood snack. This is my version of Ritz crackers with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Sadly, I did not use my mom’s smoked salmon for this particular recipe. The days of Alaska and salmon fishing are long gone, and so I had to resort to purchasing Trader Joe’s smoked salmon. It certainly isn’t my mom’s smoked salmon, but it worked nicely in the context of this recipe (and, it’s really affordable!).

I’ll admit, this isn’t a terribly inventive recipe. In fact, I can hardly call it a “recipe” at all: this is a few key ingredients arranged prettily on a mini toast. But, the tartines are easy to put together, they taste fantastic (who doesn’t like salmon with dill and cucumber?), and they make for an elegant holiday appetizer. In the midst of a busy season, this is exactly the type of holiday appetizer I like to make.

And, with that I’d like to wish you a peaceful and restful holiday. Happy Holidays, everyone!

MINIATURE SMOKE SALMON TARTINES (WITH CUCUMBER AND DILL)

Ingredients:
8 oz smoked salmon, sliced thinly
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus a few extra sprigs of dill for garnishing
1 package of mini toasts (from Trader Joes). You could substitute crostini, melba toasts, etc.
The zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cucumber

Slice cucumber thinly, using a knife or mandoline. If using the mini toast (or very small piece of bread), cut each cucumber slice in half. If using a larger bread/cracker base, you may leave the slices whole.

Method:
Mix together the cream cheese, lemon zest, minced dill and salt and pepper. Chill until needed.

Make the tartines immediately prior to serving, so that everything is fresh and chilled when eaten. Spread a small amount of the cream cheese mixture on each mini toast. Place a half slice of cucumber atop the cream cheese. Then, place a small roll of smoked salmon atop the cucumber slice (you could just place the smoked salmon on top without rolling it, I just think that the roll adds height and elegance). Garnish with a bit of fresh dill.

Life’s Simple Pleasures: Salted Molasses Butter

This isn’t really a recipe post, it’s more of a revelation. It’s a post about the simple pleasures in life, and about taking the time to enjoy them.

Last night, Nich was working late and I was home by myself. I had a lot of things to get done and I was generally feeling overwhelmed by life. As I stared at the sink full of dirty dishes before me, I made a choice to stop for a moment. I actually took time to sit down and eat a proper dinner. I turned off the TV, poured myself a glass of bubbly, and ate one of the best meals I’ve had in awhile. It was just what I needed.

For those curious, my dinner consisted of a baguette with salted molasses butter and a roasted beet salad. I’ll write more about salad in a few days (it was really good), but today I’m going to keep it simple. I’m just going to tell you that you need to make some salted molasses butter. Whip up a batch this weekend, spread it on a crusty baguette, and eat to your heart’s content. You’ll thank me for it.

And in case you’re wondering…salted molasses butter is every bit as simple as it sounds. Mix together softened (unsalted) butter, molasses, and kosher salt. That’s really all there is to it. (Oh, and a big thank you to Jennifer Perillo at Simple Scratch Cooking for the idea in the first place.)

So, here’s to a lovely weekend full of simple pleasures. I’m going to do my best to take the time to enjoy them, and hope you all can do the same. Happy Friday!

(p.s. I didn’t realize until just now that the salted molasses butter looks strangely like peanut butter?)

A Trio of Quail Eggs.

What do you do when a friend gives 3 dozen quail eggs?

Before I answer that, let me set the stage.

It was a Friday night, and we had friends coming over for a little Sushi dinner party. I was on appetizer duty, Nich was in charge of the sushi-making (as I can’t make a pretty sushi roll to save my life), and friends were bringing drinks and a host of other goodies.

I was originally going to make regular old sushi appetizers: edamame and miso soup. But then, that very day, my co-worker brought me a carton full of beautiful little quail eggs. I was so excited!

Immediately, I began dreaming up teeny tiny appetizers. For any of you that know me well, you know I’m a bit of a deviled egg fanatic. I own not one, but two, vintage deviled egg platters. So, it should come as no surprise to you all that I was thrilled about the prospect of making deviled quail eggs. In fact, I’d been wanting to make them for a long, long time. Since these particular eggs were going to be paired with a sushi dinner, I decided to go with a Wasabi Lemon Deviled Quail Egg:

I quickly whipped up a batch of my darling little deviled quail eggs, and I still had so many eggs left! I had to figure out what to do with the rest of them. So, I began to dream up other appetizers. Since I wanted to keep with the sushi theme (and stick within the realm of Asian flavors), my next thought was to simply fry up the quail eggs and pair them with a soy sauce reduction. But, then, I had a better idea: I was going to recreate Susan Feniger’s Kaya Toast.

For those of you who don’t know her, Susan Feniger is an accomplished chef (also a contestant on Top Chef Masters) who owns a couple of restaurants in Los Angeles — Border Grill and Street. During our last trip to LA we stopped in for lunch at Street, as we were told that we had to try Feniger’s Kaya toast. We were not disappointed…it was deeeeeeelicious! As far as I can remember, Kaya Toast consisted of a large slice of toasted white bread that was slathered with coconut jam, topped with a fried egg, and served with a dark soy sauce reduction. It was the perfect marriage of sweet and savory.

So, back to quail eggs. Once I remembered the magic of Feniger’s Kaya Toasts, I decided that I was going to make my own mini versions. The only problem: we had friends coming over in 3 hours and I had no coconut jam. Since I didn’t have the time to make my own jam, I frantically searched my local specialty grocery store for any exotic jam that might work. And, I was in luck! I happened upon a jar of ginger jam. I knew the ginger would work well with the soy and the egg, and so my own mini versions of the kaya toasts were born:

Lastly, I must credit the almighty Google for my third quail appetizer. By this point, I was dead set on the idea of a trio of quail egg appetizers. I wanted each of my guests to have 3 separate and distinct quail egg bites. Since my own brain wasn’t coming up with a third option, I turned to Google to help me out. After a quick search, I saw that Ping restaurant serves a Bacon Wrapped Quail Egg with a Sriracha Sauce. I didn’t know you could DO that — hardboil an egg, wrap it in bacon, and top it off with the best hot sauce known to man. I looked no further for other ideas: this was the perfect bite to round out my quail egg trio. I hard boiled the eggs, wrapped them in applewood smoked bacon, and topped them with a creamy sriracha sauce.

I will end this post by saying that our Friday night sushi party was the epitome of all that is delicious. These appetizers were only the beginning of a night of good food with good friends. I was grateful to be given such a fantastic ingredient (quail eggs!), which inspired me to make a few fancy little appetizers.

The moral of the story is: When life hands you 3 dozen quail eggs, make some dainty (and delicious) appetizers for your friends. It will be great, I promise.

(Note: I chose not to write out the recipes for the appetizers here, as I wasn’t sure how many of you have regular access to quail eggs. However, I am more than happy to share my recipes! Please leave me a comment or email me at lindsay dot strannigan @ gmail dot com and I’ll gladly send you the recipes!)

Lemon Thyme Bruschetta

And now, I would like to present to you: the easiest (homemade) appetizer on the planet.

Once again, the lovely folks at The Kitchn posted a recipe that I couldn’t live without making. The day they posted this recipe, I promptly went home and made it for dinner. I just had to have it! And, as usual, The Kitchn did not fail me and the bruschetta was fantastic. I don’t mean to belabor the point, but sometimes I think the editors at The Kitchn are inside of my brain. I want to make everything they post! If you don’t check The Kitchn often, you really should. Especially during this time of year, they have great gift ideas, holiday meal plans, stories, tips, tricks, and recipes. I just love it.

But, back to the task at hand.

So this lemon thyme bruschetta – aka the easiest appetizer on the planet – also happens to be really tasty and works nicely as a holiday appetizer. The ingredients are simple, fresh and elegant – and the preparation is minimal. And since this time of year tends to be hectic, I welcome a quick and delicious appetizer that will impress the masses at the various holiday parties I’m supposed to attend. Or you can skip sharing it with others altogether and just have it for dinner one cold winter evening? Not that I would ever do such a thing. :)

All that to say, lemon + ricotta + thyme + honey + bread = perfection. Happy munching!

Lemon-Thyme Bruschetta
(Adapted from The Kitchn)

Ingredients:
1 baguette; thinly sliced
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1 lemon; zested
2 tsps lemon juice
Salt (*A smoky or black Hawaiian seat salt is best, but if you don’t have any regular salt will do!)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Honey
1.5 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix together ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/2 of the thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Toast baguette slices in the oven for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned and warm. Spread liberally with seasoned ricotta. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with thyme. To make it extra pretty, grate a small amount of lemon zest over the top. Serve warm.