All posts filed under: Appetizers

Taiwanese Sesame Cucumbers

I just returned from a trip to Europe–and came home to a stack of all of my new November cooking magazines.  Packed with images of pumpkins and turkeys and stuffing and pies, I was giddily jumping up and down, dog-earring the pages of all of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try.  So many options, so little Fall days to cook!  Many of the recipes I selected were heavy, soulful items.  But these Taiwanese cucumbers were a bright contrast.  One, they require no cooking.  Two, they were a welcome shock of bright green color.  Three, they were Taiwanese!  I decided to take these as a nibble, as a palate cleanser before a heavier, more traditional Sunday supper.  What a hit.  These were so crisp with this amazing smoky sesame flavor.  Even better, they were healthy.  I didn’t fill one shred of guilt gobbling them up.  The main course on the other hand, was another story (and another post to this blog.) I started by grinding up the sesame seeds, salt, and red chili flakes.  The …

Ranch Oyster Crackers

Sure, I could buy a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and love every chip (and crumb.)  But instead, sometimes I like to make these.  There’s no one I’ve served them to that hasn’t loved them.  With football season about to kick off and Summer starting to wind down, it’s time to start on the snack foods: the dips, the wings, the munchies–the stuff of food and TV and entertaining indoors. Feel free to mix up the seasonings here… but make sure you include the Hidden Valley ranch seasoning mix–I can’t be held accountable for the result if you don’t.  😉 Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Start with 2 boxes of oyster crackers, vegetable oil, spices, and 1 1/2 packets of Hidden Valley ranch seasoning mix.  Here, I’ve used one packet of original and 1/2 of a packet of spicy ranch.  Mix the oil, spices, and ranch packets first.  Once well blended, add the oyster crackers. Spread the oyster crackers on a cookie sheet–you’ll probably need 2.  Bake until slightly browned and the spices and oil …

Tomato Bruschetta

With all of the gorgeous tomatoes in season right now, my head has been overflowing with recipe ideas.  I could make a tomato/watermelon/feta/mint salad… I could make fresh tomato sauce… I could make juicy smoky BLTs.  The options are endless.  This time around, I chose to go quick and fast with Tomato Bruschetta.  With the ripest tomatoes, I find that this recipe requires no oil–just go by taste.  You want the seasonal tomatoes to shine–and this dish gives them center stage. Start with 2 really ripe but still firm tomatoes.  Any red kind will do: beefsteaks, heirlooms, even cherry tomatoes.  I like to buy tomatoes a little under-ripe, so that they have time to ripen on a windowsill, bruise-free.  Chop the tomatoes in 1/4-inch size cubes, but don’t worry about being exact.  Discard any mushy parts. Next, dice 1/4 of a large red onion (or half of a small-medium red onion).  You can also substitute in 2 diced shallots or even a 1/4 of a large yellow onion.  I prefer the red onion because it …

Deviled Eggs with Truffle and Smoked Paprika

Everyone enjoys deviled eggs.  And virtually every family across America has their own recipe.  Some get fancy and add chopped bacon to their filling, some keep it simple with just yolks and mayo.  There are 2 restaurants in Manhattan that have wonderful deviled eggs, each deliciously fancy and simple in their own ways: The Spotted Pig and Centro Vinoteca.  What I’ve tried to do here is combine the best of the flavors from each of these while keeping an eye on fat.  I kept the amount of mayo low and used the light version.  Egg yolks already have plenty of fat going for them!  My result was so creamy, so flavorful.  I will definitely be making these again.  And the best part is that I made these with ingredients I always have on hand. To get started, I used my dad’s hard boiled eggs method.  See my post on this here. Once the eggs are rinsed under cold water and cooled in the fridge until easy to handle, I peeled them, sliced them in half …

Fava Bean Crostini with Mint and Pecorino

When fava beans start arriving in farmers markets and gourmet grocery stores, you know that Spring is in full bloom.  They’re bright green and look like giant green beans. When you tear them open, these neat lima-bean-looking beans emerge, with little yellow bits holding them onto their pods. The fava bean is encased in a shell that is easily peeled away after about 3-5 minutes in boiling, salted water, and then plunged into a quick ice bath.  The ice bath shrinks the gorgeous bean inside, making the shell separate away.  A quick slit of your knife is all it takes.  The best way to enjoy fresh fava beans is simply… and in this case taking a cue from Martha, I like to prepare them with some mint from the garden and freshly shaved pecorino cheese.  A little salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil, and this beautiful puree emerges. I serve the fava bean puree on freshly toasted crostini.  The result is so fresh and cheerful. It will make you want to hold onto Spring as …