Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

h1

Caramelized Onion-Garlic Dip

January 21, 2014

Caramelized onions may take some time to cook, but the development of the sweet/brown/complex flavors is absolutely worth the time required. I love using them on pizza, in dip, on baked brie… etc. So here’s an oldie-but-a-goodie appetizer from the ATK Family cookbook that makes good use of them. I’ve made this dip many times before, but I didn’t make it last year because I tried a caramelized onion/shallot dip from Bon Appetit instead. That one was delicious, but a bit more time consuming; this year I had frozen leftover caramelized onions, making this a 5-minute recipe. And with all the other party foods I had planned, I was all about expediency wherever I could find it!

Caramelized onion-garlic dip

See recipe

h1

Hummus

January 8, 2014

Among all the cheeses, desserts, and other indulgences at our Christmas party, I try to include something healthy, and hummus has become a staple. I usually end up making it several other times throughout the year, because it’s so fast and easy (and cheap!) to throw together. I personally prefer homemade hummus to that sold at the store, and it doesn’t take any ingredients that I don’t normally keep in my pantry. The one slightly unusual ingredient, tahini, keeps for a long time in the pantry or fridge (I keep mine right next to the peanut butter), so I buy a large jar to have on hand.

Although I usually make it super-fast with canned chickpeas, this time I made what Cook’s Illustrated calls “Ultimate hummus,” made with dried chickpeas. This version requires a little more forethought because the dried chickpeas require an overnight soak plus an hour of simmering time. Was this extra time worth it? Just for fun, I also made the canned chickpea version to do a side-by-side taste test. (Actually I made it because my husband really wanted hummus RIGHT NOW and couldn’t wait until the party the next day, but we’ll pretend it was for science.) My husband actually preferred the canned chickpea variety, while I liked the one made with dried chickpeas slightly better. Final verdict? Make whatever you have time for, and don’t feel like you’re “cheating” using canned garbanzos. I’ve included both versions of the recipe below. Enjoy!

Hummus

See recipe

h1

Cheddar-Beer Spread

January 6, 2014

Cheese has always featured prominently at our Christmas open house; it’s a perfect opportunity to sample three or four kinds from the shop that I would never just buy a hunk of on my own to eat. In addition to serving blocks of various cheeses, I’ve always made a baked brie wrapped in puff pastry. But this year we skipped the baked cheese and I brought back this zesty cheese spread, which I’d forgone the past few years in favor of trying new spreads and dips. Although I never personally developed a taste for drinking beer, I love how it works in recipes. And the flavors of sharp cheddar and beer pair perfectly – picture soft Bavarian pretzels with zingy cheddar dip from your favorite brew house, yum!

This spread from the ATK Family Cookbook is super easy to throw together, as long as you have a food processor. Even if you only have a mini processor, the recipe can easily be cut in half. The Worcestershire, dijon, and Tabasco give this spread a definite kick, so it’s best paired  with a hearty whole wheat or multigrain cracker. Rye crackers would also make an excellent flavor combination. Enjoy!

Cheddar-beer spread

See recipe

h1

Cocktail Meatballs and Kielbasa

December 31, 2013

It’s been a month and a half since my last post… I suppose I could make an excuse for the silence, like the busy-ness of the holidays or some such. Honestly I’ve had the time to write, I just haven’t felt like I had much of anything interesting to say. I don’t know if it’s lingering effects of the mono, or just the fact that it’s so dark all the time, but I haven’t felt like doing much of anything lately. I’m hopeful that now that I’m finished with holiday obligations, I’ll be able to find a little more energy and motivations for the activities I enjoy. I’m certainly still cooking; we’ve got to eat! How about starting with some party appetizers?

My husband and I hosted our first Christmas open house party back in 2006, before we were even engaged. It’s become an annual tradition for us, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It’s the only time of year when we have a lot of people over at once (we’re usually the types to have one other couple over for dinner, very casual), and it’s a perfect excuse to make a ton of finger foods. Appetizers are some of my favorite foods to make, but since we rarely have dinner parties, I don’t have many occasions to serve them. I really should remedy that this coming year. In fact, I think I’ll make that my New Year’s resolution: host a more formal dinner party for 6 (or 8) twice in 2014.

These meatballs and kielbasa are perfect for an open house because they can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a slow cooker for the duration of the party. The recipe also makes a large quantity, so unless you have 50 people in your house, you’re not likely to run out. The sauce is sharp and tangy-sweet, a delicious mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, and Worcestershire. These have been a bit hit for three years in a row, so I don’t have any plans to take them off the menu any time soon. Enjoy!

Cocktail meatballs and kielbasa

See recipe

h1

Gruyere and Cider Fondue

July 16, 2013

I love fondue almost as much as I love dumplings. There’s something about dipping pieces of food into warm and creamy cheese (or chocolate) that’s incredibly appealing and makes it all add up to more than the sum of its parts. Or maybe I just like tiny food, who knows! I finally purchased a real (read: not heated by a single tealight) fondue pot a couple of months ago and I used it at a friend’s house for chocolate fondue, but I hadn’t had the occasion to make cheese fondue yet. It’s more of a dinner party food, so it seemed silly to make it for just to two of us. But then I came across this recipe on Bon Appetit’s web site (printed in the March 2009 issue) and it sounded so good that I finally said “whatever” and made it for dinner. Hey, if you dip sausage, apples, and bread in melted cheese, all that’s missing is a vegetable to make it a complete meal, right? :)

Rather than the traditional wine, this fondue recipe uses hard apple cider as its alcohol component, along with apple cider vinegar and apple brandy (Calvados). We both thought the flavor was excellent, and it was a wonderful complement to the kielbasa, granny smith apples, and (of course) bread for dipping. Although I’m looking forward to trying all sorts of different cheese fondues in the future, I’ll definitely keep this one on hand too.

This recipe assumes you have a fondue pot that’s heated by a flame, so the directions instruct you to make the fondue on the stovetop and then transfer to the pot at the end. But if you have an electric fondue pot that provides adjustable even heat, you can make the cheese right in the pot at the table. Just follow the general instructions that came with your brand of pot for making a cheese fondue.

Gruyere and cider fondue

See recipe

h1

Marinated Mozzarella

July 11, 2013

I love summer… I can just walk out into my backyard garden and have all the fresh herbs I need at my disposal! Definitely makes prepping food like these marinated mozzarella balls (bocconcini) super easy. I don’t have to remember which herbs are in my fridge, or worry about using them up before they go bad. I wish herbs were easier to grow indoors so I could have them available all winter long; unfortunately our house doesn’t have many windows that face sunlight for much of the day. (Not to mention upstate New York isn’t exactly the sunniest place on earth.) So I will continue to enjoy them throughout the summer, making as many fresh herb-y recipes as possible during the short season!

The flank steak salad I made a few days ago called for marinated mozzarella balls as a garnish, but my grocery store only had plain bocconcini in the olive bar section. I figured it couldn’t be too hard to make my own marinated bocconcini, though! A quick google search came up with this recipe on Martha Stewart’s web site, and the directions said the balls only had to marinate for 20 minutes. Perfect timing since I could start these first and then get the grill heated up and assemble the other ingredients I needed for the salad and dressing. The salad (and these bocconcini) turned out delicious! These would also make a great party appetizer as part of an olive tray. Enjoy!

Marinated mozzarella

See recipe

h1

Stromboli

June 25, 2013

I’ve wanted to post this recipe for stromboli for a long time, but the last time I made it I neglected to take a photo. Unfortunately, as you can see, this time the top of the stromboli split open because the dough was a little bit too thin. But that didn’t make it any less delicious! If you’ve never had stromboli before, it’s basically pizza dough with Italian meats and cheese rolled up into a log, then baked and sliced, served with marinara or pizza sauce for dipping. This version from the ATK Family Baking book calls for salami, capocollo, provolone, and Parmesan, and adds roasted red peppers for a bit of flavor variety.

I like to make my own pizza dough, but you can also substitute one pound of store-bought pizza dough if you’re pressed for time. The recipe can also be easily doubled to make two stromboli. Make sure you seal the edges of the roll very well before baking since you don’t want any of the cheese to leak out! Also make sure to completely grease the foil that covers the stromboli during the first half of baking – if you miss spots, it will definitely stick and tear the dough, which I think may have been part of what caused mine to split open this time.

Stromboli

See recipe