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Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Crab Puffs

On occasion I find a great item through networking, a while ago I had the opportunity to get a sample of Miller’s Select Special White Crab Meat and promised my contact that as soon as had come up with something using his product I would publish the recipe and let him know. This holiday season was the perfect opportunity to try it out on friends and it got rave reviews. I think that, although there is some effort needed to make this one, your guest will appreciate your work.

The base for this recipe is Pâte à Choux which, contrary to popular belief, is rather simple to make.

You will need:

Flour — 1 cup
Water &151; 1 cup
Butter, unsalted — 1 stick
Eggs — 1 cup
Flaked Crab Meat — 6 oz as mentioned above I use Miller’s Select due to the fine flake they provide
Paprika — 2 tsp
Pepper — 1 tsp (white pepper works best here however black will do just fine)
Sea Salt

Place water and butter in a sauce pot, just large enough to hold the liquid, bring to a low boil, once the butter is melted add the entire cup of flour at one time then with a wooden spoon, for some reason metal spoons won’t work as well. Beat the combination continually until a mass is formed and it starts to dry out. Place the flour mass into a food processor and pulse a few times to break it up and cool a little. Turn the processor on to full then through the feed tube slowly pour in the egg making sure it is combined each time before you add more, set aside.

Place the flaked crab in a bowl, if it is not a fine flake break up any large pieces, toss the crab with the paprika and pepper. Fold the crab mixture into the choux base. Form the mixture into balls using a melon baller dipped in oil, this will allow the mixture to crop easily onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, space them about one inch apart as they will puff up when baked. Place the sheet into a preheated 400° oven baked until golden brown. Enjoy!

Easy Squash Ravioli with Sage/Cream Sauce

First in our Holiday Series. You can use the search box on this site to find other Holiday recipes.

Making a great squash ravioli can be a daunting task. Making homemade pasta isn’t in most peoples repetoire so here is a simple way to enjoy the great taste of homemade without the hassle.

What makes this so easy you may ask, simple we used won ton wrappers instead of homemade pasta. Won Ton wrappers after all are a flour based product not unlike Italian pasta just a tad thinner. The only thing you need to worry about is keeping them covered when using so they don’t dry out, simply put a damp towel over the exposed wrappers then when finished wrap the unused portion in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

At the bottom of this recipe see a couple of alternative seasoning options for a totally different ravioli.

NB: The ingredients list do not show quantities as the portions will depend on the size of the squash you are using.

For the filing:

  • Wonton Wrappers
  • One medium sized Butternut squash
  • Ricotta Cheese — enough to equal ⅓ the volume of squash.
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Nutmeg
  • Sea Salt/Pepper
  • Pecan Pieces

For the sauce:

  • Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Sage — chiffonade
  • Sea Salt/Pepper
  • Fresh Nutmeg

A medium sized squash should produce 3 dozen ravioli.

Using a very heavy knife cut off a small slice on the round bottom of the squash. Place the squash upright on a board and carefully cut it in half down the middle, lengthwise. Butternut squash has a thick skin so it might take a little muscle. With a spoon scoop out all of the seeds, coat lightly with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Place the squash in a preheated 350° oven and bake until it is very soft, the time needed will depend on the size of your squash. While the squash is baking place ricotta cheese in a strainer and place over a bowl to remove excess liquid. When the squash is fully baked remove from the oven and let cool completely.

In a bowl large enough to hold all of the ingredients add the squash, the cheese, ¼ cup pecan pieces, Fresh Ground nutmeg (use sparingly so as not to overpower the squash) about ¼ tsp. Mix well. On a flat surface place two rows of wonton wrappers, place one tablespoon of the squash mixture in the middle of each wrapper in the first row, with a brush or your finger coat all of the edges with water. Take a wrapper from the second row and place over filling pressing down around the filing to eliminate any air pockets. Continue with remaining wrappers and filling.

At this stage you can either cook the ravioli and add to the sauce or place on a cookie sheet, freeze for future use.

In a stock pot large enough to hold the ravioli, boil well salted water, add the ravioli and cook until they float. In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the ravioli place heavy cream and heat until it simmers slightly, add a dash or two of fresh ground nutmeg, the sage and continue to cook until the sauce starts to thicken. Once the sauce thickens add the cooked ravioli spooning the sauce over each.

Alternative herbs and seasonings.

  • Replace the nutmeg in the mixture with fresh ground ginger.
  • Replace the nutmeg and pecan pieces with crushed Amaretti Cookies.
  • Replace the nutmeg and pecan pieces with curry powder

Buffalo Chicken Clubs

Everyone has heard about Buffalo Wings, some like them hot some not so much. I like the taste yet always seem to want more of those tiny chicken pieces. I took the time tested favorite and made them a tad more satisfying.

You will need:

  • Chicken Legs &#151 3/serving
  • Flour &#151 enough to coat legs
  • Peanut Oil &#151 enough to have &#188″ coating in sauté pan
  • Frank’s Hot Sauce &#151 approximately &#188 cup
  • Unsalted Butter &#151 &#8531 cup

This first step isn’t mandatory however it gives the chicken legs a nice appearance and reduces the mess left on your guests fingers so take the time here you won’t regret it.

With a sharp knife “French” the legs. This is done by making a cut all around the bone of the leg starting at a point just below the meat. Cut all the way through the skin and fat down to the bone then scrape everything off the bone leaving a club like leg with bare bone below. There will be some sinew that might be hard to remove but don’t worry it is easily pulled off once the chicken is cooked.

Lightly dredge chicken in flour patting off any excess. In a sauté pan large enough to hold all pieces cook until legs have a nice golden crust, remove from pan, place on an oven proof pan and finish cooking in oven at 350&#176 F. In the interim put butter in a sauce pan and cook just until all the butter is melted, do not let it brown. Add hot sauce whisking vigorously to combine and emulsify. Put chicken in a bowl large enough to hold all of the pieces, add hot sauce mixture and toss or stir until well coated. Serve immediately.

Leg before frenching.

Frenched Leg

Leg after protein is pushed up the bone to form a club.

Tuna Tartare on Endive Spoons

I had been wanting to come up with a good tuna tartare for some time now. I imagined all sorts of ingredients that would compliment yet not over power a quality piece of seafood. Hopefully you know by now that I do have a strong inclination to go sweet and hot (spicey) so thought to use the balance of my stash of Peppadew Peppers along with some spicier peppers creating a gardiniera of sorts.

For the Tartare:

Sushi Grade Tuna – I used 1/4 LB. which is enough to fill on medium sized endive which should provide approximately 12 pieces. For purposes of this recipe please consider 1 serving being 12 pieces.
Fresh Endive – 1 medium sized/12 servings
One small red onion – I found one about the size of a golf ball so judge accordingly.
Fresh Orange Juice – approximately 1 TBSP/serving
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – approximately 1 TBSP/serving
Sea Salt/Pepper – to taste.

For the Gardiniera:

Peppadew Pepper – 6 to 8 each
Shallot: – one medium clove
Celery:– one stalk
Vinegar: – approximately one or two TBSP depending on your taste for sour
Sugar: – approximately one or two tsp depending on your taste for sweet
Habanero Pepper: – one or two depending on your level of heat tolerance – I used yellow ones here to provide a color contrast
Jalapeno Pepper: – one or two depending on your level of hear tolerance – the green adds an additional color contrast element
Sea Salt/Pepper: – to taste

In a non reactive bowl start the gardiniera. Finely dice all of the ingredients to about 1/8″ dice. Combine all the elements mixing well.

Prepare the tartare. Cut the tuna into 1/4″ dice. Cut the remaining elements into 1/8″ dice. Add the juice and mix well, chill for 30 minutes. Remove the stem end of the endive and carefully remove all of the leaves creating the spoons.

Combine the tuna tartare with as much of the gardiniera you desire. Put approximately one TBSP of the mixture onto each endive leaf. Serve immediately.

Artichoke/Pepper Dip

I happened upon a taste testing at my local supermarket just prior to the holidays. They were offering samples of various dips and spreads for that special holiday party. One of the dips was an artichoke jalapeno being served on sea salt pita chips. I enjoyed the taste and purchased both the dip and the pita chips, it was a delight. Being one that holds no interest in all the chemicals now found in prepared items I set to recreate the dip. I hope you will enjoy my version.

Artichoke Pepper Dip

You will need:
One 14 ounce can artichoke hearts
One cup sour cream
One cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s)
One Jalapeno Pepper
One Serrano Pepper
Sea Salt
Cracked pepper
Pita Bread
Vegetable oil

Drain liquid fro canned artichoke hearts, place half of the product in a food processor. Split both peppers open and clean out seeds and ribs rough chop and place in food processor along with artichoke and puree . Chop remaining artichoke into 1/4 inch dice, combined with pureed mixture. Place mayonnaise and sour cream in a bowl, add cracked pepper to taste and the puree mixture stir together until artichoke dice is well coated.

Sea Salt Pita Chips

Since pita by itself would be too thick to use as is you must split each in half thickness wise. I haven’t found an easy way to do this step so be patient. I used a serrated knife holding the pita bread on a flat surface start to cut through it while rotating the bread. Don’t worry too much some of the final pieces will be thicker in places than others. Brush both sides of the pita with oil and cut into 8 wedges. Place on a cookie sheet and sprinkle sea salt over each wedge on both sides. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes then turn each over and finish baking until they are a golden brown. Let chips cool before serving.

NB: If you do not have the time or the inclination to make your own pita chips there are several commercial brands that I have used with this wonderful dip.

Herb/Olive Spread

This is my rendition of the ever-popular Olive salad used by many when preparing a Muffuletta Sandwich. I think you will like this spread and use it for any sandwich you decide to build. The recipe below will give you enough to cover a 9″ Focaccia round or one 6 x 12″ Ciabatta loaf.

You will Need:
Pimento Stuffed Olives – 3/4 cup
Pitted Black Olives – 1/4 cup
Capers – approximately 2 TBSP
Fresh Garlic – 1 or 2 cloves
Fresh Basil – 1 ounce
Fresh Mint – 1 ounce
Orange Zest – approximately 1/2 TBSP
Lemon Zest – approximately 1/2 TBSP
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – use the good stuff here – approximately 3 TBSP
Balsamic Vinegar – 1 tsp

In a food processor place basil and mint in a food processor and chop to a fine past. Add both zests, garlic and half the olive oil, vinegar and process until garlic gloves are incorporated. Add both olives and capers and pulse until the olives are approximately 1/8″ dice. You might need to add some of the balance of the olive oil if the product gets too dry. This is a visual step depending on how much liquid is exuded from the olives and capers. You can make this ahead and store in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature before use.

Kalamata Olive on Foodista

Scallop Appetizer

Pan seared diver scallop with pancetta crisp and sweet corn coulis.

You will need:
Fresh sweet corn or if not available frozen sweet corn.
Heavy cream.
Walla Walla or other sweet onion finely diced.
Oil oil.
Unsalted butter.
Kosher salt/fresh ground pepper.
One diver scallop per person.
Thinly sliced pancetta (one per scallop) NB: Pancetta is sold in roll form do not unroll simply have your purveyor slice thinly.

Put a little olive oil and butter in a sauté pan, heat until butter melts. Sauté onion until translucent add sweet corn and cook until corn just starts to caramelize. Add small amounts of heavy cream until corn starts to thicken. Process mixture in a food processor until smooth and creamy, set aside and keep warm.
Cook pancetta slices until crisp. Be careful it tends to burn easily. Set aside.
Put a little olive oil and butter in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the scallops. Heat until butter melts. Dry off the scallops, season with salt and pepper, put scallops in hot pan. Sauté scallops until done. This step depends on the size of your scallops. You should get a good sear on one side (make sure you get some color here) flip scallop to finish. Press down in the center of the scallop when you get a little resistance the scallop is done.
To plate pour some of the sweet corn coulis on an appetizer plate, if you have scallop shells use those. Place one scallop in the middle of the coulis and top with a pancetta disk. Garnish with a sprig of parsley.

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