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Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

Every spring my good friend Sass (@grazingingrass – follow her!) puts on a fabulous picnic to celebrate Hanami.  Hanami is the traditional viewing of the Japanese Cherry Trees, and my friends celebrate here in DC during the Cherry Blossom Festival with a picnic of Japanese foods (both authentic and inspired) or whatever people bring to share.  This picnic is an annual highlight and a great chance to break out of the mold and try cooking new things.  I definitely think these meatballs are the most successful item I’ve cooked for Hanami to date – ironic of course that I couldn’t eat them.

I did make major adjustments to the original recipe, which I found in the March 2012 issue of Food & Wine magazine.  I’m going to post below what I did as I know it was a success.  The biggest adjustment I did have to make to the original recipe was to the meat.  When I went grocery shopping there was no ground chicken, so I had to substitute with ground turkey breast.  I also baked and pan seared the balls as opposed to grilling them per the original recipe.  I had to work with the tools I have, and so that’s reflected in the delicious recipe below.

 

Turkey Meatball Yakitori (Tsukune) – 1 Knife (Adapted from “Chicken Meatball Yakitori” in Food & Wine March 2012)

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ mirin plus 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl (the bowl you’ll eventually mix the meatballs in) zest the whole lemon.  Save the remaining lemon for serving.
  3. Remove the skin from the shallot and chop into a fine mince.  Add to the bowl with the zest.
  4. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil.  This will ease clean up later – you’re welcome.

Cook:

  1. In a small saucepan combine the sugar, sake, soy sauce, and ¼ cup of the mirin.
  2. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat and cook for 3-5 minutes until the sauce reduces to about ¾ cup.  Make sure to stir well so the sugar doesn’t burn to the bottom and dissolves into the sauce.
  3. Set the sauce aside to allow to cool.
  4. In the bowl with the zest and shallot, add the turkey, salt, and 2 tablespoons of mirin.
  5. Mix the meat with the other ingredients until well combined.  I find that using your hands works best, however you can also use a spoon.
  6. Form the meatballs, making them about 1 inch in diameter, and place on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  8. After the 15 minutes carefully baste (or drizzle with a spoon) the meatballs with a little bit of the sauce.
  9. Bake the meatballs for another 5 minutes.
  10. Heat a skillet over medium and add 1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil.
  11. Once the oil is hot toss the meatballs into the skillet to brown them for about 3 minutes.  There is no exact timing here, just brown until they look good to you.
  12. Once browned pour about ¼ cup of the sauce to the pan making sure to coat the meatballs, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  13. Serve the meatballs with the leftover sauce as well as wedges cut from the lemon and enjoy!

 

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When my friends and I get together we always somehow wind up snacking in a very orderly fashion: crudités, cheese, crackers and of course hummus.  It’s a staple not only with my friends but also at home.  Once my dad realized how easy it was to make it became a staple in our refrigerator for casual snacking.  Hummus really is a fantastic snack.  I won’t make health claims (though how bad can chick peas with some olive oil really be?), but its versatility alone is compelling enough to keep it around regularly.  You can eat it with pita, pita chips, pretzels, Wheat Thins, carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini… the list goes on and on.

But what makes hummus truly special is how simple it is to make different varieties and “flavors.”  Below I’ve written the “base recipe” but have also included add-ins to make different varieties of hummus.   There are two big tips about hummus before the big show.  First, make sure to stir the tahini well before measuring it out.  It tends to get really hard at the bottom and really oily at the top – you want all of that good stuff.  Second, if you want a “thinner” hummus like what you buy at the grocery store add just a little bit more water, but do it slowly so you don’t wind up with runny hummus.

 

Hummus – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz can of chick peas
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Optional Add-Ins (just add one or a few… up to you):

  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • ½ teaspoon ground sumac (I highly recommend this one if you can get your hands on it)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chipotle peppers

Prep:

  1. Peel the garlic cloves and set aside.
  2. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a small bowl and remove any seeds that fall in.
  3. Give the tahini a big stir to make sure its well mixed.
  4. Open the can of chick peas and drain out the liquid.

Cook:

  1. Load up into the food processor or blender the chick peas, tahini, olive oil, water, garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt, pepper and any add-ins.
  2. Blend/puree until smooth.
  3. Using a spoon give it a taste test to make sure it’s the consistency and flavor you like.  If needed add more seasoning or water to adjust and blend again briefly.  Just be sure if you want to add more water that you do it slowly with one tablespoon at a time.
  4. Once it’s as you like it serve it out and enjoy!

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The other week I wanted to make peach chutney to top my fried green tomatoes.  I couldn’t find any recipes I liked online and decided to wing it.  And I really winged it. I wound up grabbing random stuff off of my shelves that “felt right.”  I wasn’t even sure it would taste good to others, and so foisted it upon objective eaters and they said it was good.  So, based on their word I’ve decided to post it.

 

Curried Peach Chutney – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1 peach
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 thin slices of white onion
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper

Prep:

  1. Remove the skin from the peach and cut in half to remove the pit.  Cut the peach into a small dice.  Do this by cutting the peach into slices, then cutting the slices into sticks, and finally cutting the sticks into little cubes.  Set these aside.
  2. Remove the peel from the garlic and chop into a mince or use a garlic press to mince the garlic, set aside.
  3. Remove the skin from part of the onion and chop off two ¼ inch thick slices.  Cut these slices then into a dice by cutting across horizontally and then vertically.  Set aside.

Cook:

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Once hot add the onions and cook 3-5 minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper and stir to mix with the onions.
  5. Add the peach to the pan as well as the sherry and vinegar and stir to combine all of the ingredients.
  6. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until the peaches are cooked through and the liquids from the sherry and vinegar are thickened, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the honey and stir well.  Cook an additional minute.
  8. Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl and enjoy!

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One of my summer favorites at the farmer’s market is the green tomatoes.  Last summer was the first time I started working with them, and I love their crisp, tart flavor.   Now one of my favorite movies is “Fried Green Tomatoes” (girl power!) so naturally frying the suckers up wasn’t even a question.

Since my first intrepid batch my fried green tomato skills have improved.  I’ve found for instance that if you don’t mind wasting little oil, having some depth – say ¼ inch of oil – can go a long way to an even browning.  I’ve also found that you should wait a minute to let them cool before shoving them in your face.  The alternative is a bad burn in your mouth.  Trust me on that one.

 

Fried Green Tomatoes  – 1 Knife

 Ingredients:

  • 1-2 green tomatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • ½ cup cornmeal (add more if you need more)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup flour
  • cooking oil like vegetable or canola

Prep:

  1. Add to a small bowl, but that is big enough to dredge (this means coat on both sides) tomato slices in, the egg and tobacco sauce. Stir well with a fork until the egg and tobacco are well mixed.
  2. Add to a second small bowl, that again an fit tomato, the cornmeal, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.
  3. Add to a third bowl the flour.
  4. Slice the tomato(es) across the entire tomato to create cross-sectional slices of the tomato, about ¼ inch thick.   Each slice should show off the entirety of the tomato.  I do not recommend using the end pieces.
  5. Set up an area to drain the tomatoes when they come out of the oil using a folded paper bag (like from the grocery store) and paper towel.  You can also use a plate and paper towel.

Cook:

  1. Dredge a slice of tomato in the flour and coat both sides.  I like to use a fork to move flour around to make sure it covers everything.
  2. Next dredge the slice of tomato in the egg mixture, making sure it completely coats.
  3. Finally, dredge the slice of tomato in the cornmeal mixture, turning to make sure both sides are evenly coated.
  4. Repeat this step with all of the tomato slices, and set them aside on a plate.
  5. Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add oil until about ¼ inch high (or less if you are more conservative, or more if you wish). Allow the oil to heat up, you will know it’s hot if a drop of water (do this carefully please, oil burns hurt) causes the oil to bubble.
  6. Add tomatoes to the pan, being careful not to crowd them.
  7. After 3-5 minutes once the tomatoes are brown but not burnt on the on side, carefully flip them with a spatula to cook the other side for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  8. Once cooked through remove from the pan and place on the drain bag/plate and blot with paper towel if you want to remove more oil.
  9. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then serve and enjoy!  I recommend serving with a fresh fruit chutney or relish.  Makes them delish!  

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I just arrived home from vacation and boy am I tired, and hungry!  I wanted something really quick that I could prepare with ingredients I had lying around and that would require little to no effort.  I was also planning a run to the grocery store to supplement if necessary (for once I have had time to run to the store for lunch food recently).  I decided to cook up this faux-caccia.  Cute name huh?  It’s like focaccia, but its faster, lazier, and could be more accurately described as a flatbread.  But I like the name, so it sticks.

For the dough you can use any store-bought pizza dough, or you could make it from scratch.  But who has time for that?  I used a “can” of the thin crust stuff from Pillsbury.  It was my first time using it, but I like the results, though I do prefer homemade usually when there is time.  Also, whichever dough you use make sure to follow the baking instructions for that particular dough.

I will also add for posterity that I happened to have sitting around a teeny-tiny can of sliced olives I had picked up at CVS, so that explains the weird measurement.  It was a 2.25 oz can, seriously!

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Faux-caccia – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (enough for one pizza)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 3-2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup medium black olives
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes (about 6 tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to the temperature indicated on the pizza dough container or recipe.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with about ½ teaspoon of the olive oil.
  3. Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and set aside.
  4. Drain the olives of their liquid and cut them in half, either direction works fine for this recipe.  Set aside.
  5. Peel the garlic and cut into a fine mince, or use a garlic press to mince the garlic, and set aside.

Cook:

  1. Spread the pizza dough evenly across the baking sheet.  The dough should be about ¼ inch think and should cover the pan.
  2. Using a pastry brush or your hands spread the olive oil across the dough.  You don’t have to use the whole amount, just be sure that all of the dough has been oiled.
  3. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the pizza dough.
  4. Spread the garlic evenly over the pizza dough.
  5. Spread the tomatoes and olives over the dough, distributing evenly.
  6. Press the toppings gently into the dough so they are imbedded a bit.  I didn’t do this, so all of my toppings jumped for freedom when I’d try to eat a piece.
  7. Sprinkle the oregano evenly over the top.
  8. Bake the dough according to the instructions.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes.
  10. Cut, serve and enjoy!

 

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I have a new obsession in DC.  It’s called “Cold Spicy Shrimp” and it’s served at J.Paul’s in Georgetown.  I cannot get enough of this shrimp.  (I would marry this shrimp if I could.)  For this week potluck is doing a “First Year Anniversary” theme.  The dishes are trending toward Mediterranean, but I don’t care, I’m making cold spicy shrimp.  It may not be Greek, but it is good.

Now to be totally honest, you can eat this shrimp dish hot or warm, you don’t have to make the shrimp cold.  I like to eat them chilled because I think it adds a little punch to the seasonings that doesn’t come through as clearly when served warm.  You can also serve these with lemon wedges for a little added zest.  If serving these in a social setting be sure to have an empty bowl ready for the shells, and a ton of napkins or wet-naps at the ready.

Cold Spicy Shrimp – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pounds raw shrimp, with the shell on
  • 4 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning or a similar seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

Prep:

  1. In a small bowl combine the Old Bay and cayenne pepper.
  2. If you bought frozen shrimp, place the shrimp in a bowl and cover with water.  Let stand for about 10-15 minutes to allow the shrimp to thaw, and then drain.

Cook:

  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and set on high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating up rinse the shrimp in cold water to clean them off and then place them in a bowl.
  3. Add half of the seasoning mixture to the shrimp and use your hands to make sure the shrimp are all well coated.
  4. Let the shrimp stand in the seasoning for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the shrimp and bay leaves to the boiling water and let cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the shrimp from the water and toss in a bowl with the remaining seasonings.
  7. Serve warm or refrigerate covered for a few hours and then serve cold.

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Spring is here!  The birds are chirping, the trees are budding and the daffodils are out in full force.  I will also add that the temperature here in DC has been perfect these last few days.  So what better way than to celebrate the start of Spring with deviled eggs?  Eggs, for those of you who do not know, are considered one of the most iconic symbols of spring.  It’s why they’re dyed and hunted for this time of year, and why they pop up on a Seder plate.

I also like that deviled eggs are a vehicle for my favorite thing: horseradish.  I am not a big egg person.  In fact, most forms of cooked eggs gross me out a bit.  But the flavors (aka the horseradish) make deviled eggs enjoyable to me.  Aside from aiding me in consuming absurd amounts of horseradish, deviled eggs also make a quick and easy appetizer any time you need to bring something to a party or are hosting yourself.  Deviled eggs are also easy to make any time.  You can boil the eggs in the morning, and then whip up the filling later in the day.

Deviled Eggs – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3-6 tablespoons mayonnaise (please use the real stuff and more of it if you want creamier filling)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons of horseradish
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • paprika

Prep:

  1. Place six eggs in a saucepan and cover with water until the water is about 1 inch higher then the eggs.
  2. Place on a burner on high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 17 minutes.
  4. After 17 minutes carefully transfer the eggs to a bowl of cold water and allow the eggs to cool for at least 10-15 minutes.

Cook:

  1. Carefully peel the shells off the eggs and discard.
  2. Cut the eggs in half the long way, and set aside on a plate.  Not sure what the heck I am talking about?  Look at the picture again.
  3. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Add to the yolks the mayo, mustard, horseradish, salt, pepper, and a pinch of paprika.  Stir well with a fork until the mixture is smooth.  If you think it needs more of any of the seasonings feel free to add until it tastes just how you want it, just be sure to add small amounts at a time.
  5. Carefully spoon the yolk mixture back into each egg.  If you want to go for stellar presentation you can place the yolks in a plastic bag, seal it shut, cut off about ¼ inch from a corner and pipe the yolks into the eggs.
  6. Sprinkle each egg with a little paprika, serve and enjoy!

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