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Whole-Grain Mustard with Roasted Garlic and Maple

21 Dec

I really do love the holiday season. I think it is easier to love in the last five or so years since Dave and I decided to get out of the STUFF cycle– no more stress of finding the exact perfect thing for someone who already has everything s/he wants or needs; no more shocking credit bills in January; no more frantic trips to overcrowded shops, no more pretending to love something you know will get thrown straight into the trash bin.  But I do love the spirit of giving, and so I have managed to find a happy balance for myself by focusing on homemade gifts. Nothing is more fun (to me) than starting lemons and vodka in July in anticipation of bottling limoncello in December for my friends. Last year I made this, to rave reviews, and the mustard I am sharing with you now was also such a big hit last year I had to make it again.

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures to share of the mustard (computer issue, I won’t bore you with the details). So instead I will share a photo of Robyn and I and the fun we have been having this season, and you will just have to trust me that this mustard  is really, really good. Slather it on pork or chicken and roast away. Or add it to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, or serve with crackers and an kind of cheese.  Once you see how easy it is to make your own fresh mustard, you might never want to buy the supermarket stuff again.

Whole-Grain Mustard with Roasted Garlic and Maple
Yields about 8 cups

2 1/4 cups  whole yellow mustard seeds (see Tip)
3/4 cup  whole brown mustard seeds (see Tip)
2 1/2 cups  cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups  water, plus more as needed
1 head  garlic
1 teaspoon  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup  pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons  salt

Combine yellow and brown mustard seeds, vinegar and 1 1/2 cups water in a large bowl; cover and let stand at room temperature until the liquid is mostly absorbed, at least 6 hours (or up to 24 hours).

About an hour before you’re ready to make mustard, preheat oven to 400°F. Rub off the excess papery skin from garlic without separating the cloves. Slice the tip off the head, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle with oil and wrap into a package. Place the package directly on the oven rack and roast until the garlic is very soft, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze half of the cloves out of their skins into a blender. Add half of the mustard seed mixture and pulse, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary and adding water by the tablespoon as needed to facilitate the blending, until some of the seeds are coarsely chopped and the mixture looks like grainy mustard. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining roasted garlic and mustard mixture and add to the bowl. Stir in maple syrup and salt.

Spoon the mustard into airtight containers and refrigerate.

Rosé Sangria

11 Jun

Bonjour mes amis!  I am so happy to see June arrive, I cannot even tell you.  June is such a great month– for the first half of my life it meant the end of school and the beginning of a few months of adventure, and now it is a month of transition as the sun keeps cranking up the volume and winter fades into (what I wish was) oblivion.

It also happens to be my dad’s birthday early in the month, and there is no one the planet whom I adore more than my dad. I know I have talked about him before here, and the truth is there really aren’t words glowing enough to describe him. He is just a superstar.  So, for his birthday I wanted to have him over for a lovely dinner that he well deserves. I grilled copper river salmon, made this salad, and had plans to bake this bread (which I didn’t get around to, but luckily we have some great bakeries around here!).  I wanted to make something fun for cocktail hour, and decided that sangria would be the perfect choice because it is a rule of nature: once you make sangria, it is officially summer.

Sangria on a sunny day

I’m sure this recipe is similar to many out there (I mean, there are only so many variations of this drink, right?). This one turned out really well, was light and refreshing and really easy to make.  Plus, doesn’t all the fruit make it a health food?

Rosé Sangria
From LaFemmeCooks

1 bottle Rosé wine
1 bottle Riesling
1/2 cup triple sec/Grand Marnier/Cointreau
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh pineapple
1 cup canteloupe
1/2 cup mango
1/2 cup raspberries
Club Soda to taste

Cut fruit into bite-sized pieces. Too small and they will turn to mush; too large and they are unwieldy to eat.  Place all fruit except mangoes and berries in a large glass pitcher. Add both bottles of wine and the triple sec.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight so the alcohol has a chance to soak into the fruit.  To serve, add the berries and mangoes into glasses, then a few pieces of each fruit from the pitcher. Pour wine over the fruit, and top with club soda to taste.  You can omit the club soda if you prefer a stronger sangria. Enjoy!



Tri Color Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint & Parsley

27 May

I know I talk a lot here about my love of France, and really what isn’t there to love about that place?  But my husband and I also fell in love with a place closer to home: a small town in Eastern Washington called Walla Walla.  Now, if you know anything about wine you have probably at least heard of Walla Walla, and many of the best wines from this state are grown there.  It also happens to be an adorable town with a charming main street, dry weather (something that is a wonderful reprieve from the wet weather we have here in Seattle), and it happens to be perched at the foot of the Blue Mountains, which makes for stunning scenery all around you.

The vineyards at Abeja Cellars in Walla Walla

Needless to say, we spend a lot of time in this town.  We know the area well, love the restaurants, and just plain enjoy the slow pace of small town life.  One of our favorite things to do while visiting is head over to the Farmer’s Market that happens weekend mornings.  On a recent trip with some friends we ended up trying some new things at the market, and my husband went crazy for a bean salad we had.  While eating it I tried to decipher the ingredients so that I could make it for him again at home, and it seemed to me most like tabbouleh with beans instead of couscous.

And so, here is my re-creation, inspired by the woman from Walla Walla.  It is the perfect accompaniment to summer grilling, or just alongside a sandwich.  Beans are super healthy, and so are herbs (which happen to be little antioxidant powerhouses).   I like my tabbouleh the traditional way, which is heavy on the herbs. These are a nice reprieve from the same old potato salad or coleslaw that show up at every summer event.

The version in the picture below is one I made with basil instead of the Tabbouleh dressing, so it is less green and herby than it usually looks. It tasted great, though, so feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand.

Tri Color Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint & Parsley

15 oz can each: black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans
1 tomato, diced
3-5 green onions, diced
2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
Juice from one large lemon
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Will last in the refrigerator for about a week.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Apples

24 Jan

I have never met anyone who doesn’t like butternut squash soup.  Really, I never have.  Even picky eaters will happily gobble it up.  I happen to love it, too, and there is nothing like the smell of carmelizing squash to make your stomach rumble.

The thing that is great about this soup is that it is so versatile– it can be a starter for an Autumnal-themed meal, or can be the main dish itself.  You can spice it up with anything you like, (omit the curry powder, perhaps, or add  mint or cilantro or even thai basil).  You can make it vegan by using just the coconut milk and some water, or you can add chicken stock if you like.  You can use pears instead of the apples, or acorn/kubota squash.  So many possibilities! And of course it is delicious just as is.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Apples
Adapted From Ina Garten

2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs good olive oil
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water  (or coconut milk, which is what I used)
2 cups good apple cider or juice

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.

Add the squash, apples, ginger, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade, or puree it coarsely in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.


10 Jan

Every year  my husband and I go to my parents’ house to help them trim the tree.  This was, of course, the first year without my mom there and we tried to make as much merry as possible, hoping to lift my dad’s spirits as much as our own.  Even though it was still November (we got an early start on the tree this year!), we lit a fire in the fireplace, cued the Ella Fitzgerald Christmas station on Pandora, and Dad made us festive cocktails.

Kona loved playing with the lights

The cocktail Dad made me this year had black-strap rum in it, which I had never had before.  This set off a tiny rum obsession on my part, which has been a lot of fun “researching.”  When my friend Emma gave me a great book for Christmas with a recipe for Rumkirschen in it, I was over the moon.

In case you have never heard of it before, Rumkirschen is an eastern European liqueur made from tart Morello cherries and rum.  I adore Morello cherries, and Trader Joe’s just happens to sell them.  If you don’t have a TJs near you, you can find the cherries at eastern European markets or online.

For the rum, any dark rum will do here (anything but white).  I used a black-strap rum that I really enjoy, and it worked amazingly well for this recipe.  Once you have combined the rum and cherries, simply refrigerate for at least 3 days (though the longer it sits the more the flavors will develop).  The infused cherries are fantastic eaten alone, but the sauce is wonderful too and I like to pour them both over ice cream or pound cake.  You can also cut the liquid with soda water or cola to make a fun, light cocktail.  I like to put a cherry or two, plus about a tsp of the syrup into champagne for a fun twist on a kir royale.  Put into individual jars and sealed, this makes a great unique hostess gift.

From Jar It, Pickle It, Cure It

1 20 ounce jar Morello cherries
About 1 cup of amber or dark rum

You’ll need 2 clean, odor-free, wide-mouthed glass jars with tight-fitting lids for the infusion process (you can reuse the jars the cherries came in, if you like).  However, if you plan to give this as a gift or serving it at your next party, consider pouring the infusion into an attractive bottle with a tight-fitting cap.

Drain the cherries into a bowl, reserving the syrup.  Pour the syrup into a measuring cup; you should have about 2 cups.  Pour half the syrup into each of the 2 jars and divide the strained cherries evenly between the jars.  Pour 1/2 cup of rum into each jar.

Cover the jars tightly, label and shake gently to combine.  Refrigerate for at least 3 days, though the flavors develop more fully the longer you let it sit.  Kept refrigerated, the syrup and fruit will last almost indefinitely.

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Dip

28 Dec

I wanted to share this recipe with you before New Year’s eve, so that you have something delicious to make as an appetizer if you are having folks over.  I served it Christmas eve, and everyone here raved about it.

I looked through some different variations of this recipe before making it, and none of them had exactly what I was looking for so I came up with this version myself.  It is so easy, and of course you can roast the peppers yourself if you have the time, or you can use them from a jar if you are really pressed for time.   I served this with crackers and assorted vegetables on the side.  It really is fantastic!

Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Dip
From LaFemmeCooks

8 oz goat cheese, at room temp
3-4 bell peppers (depending on size) seeded roasted and peeled
Juice from 1 lemon
1 package of Rondele spreadable cheese at room temp
1/3 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Take the cheeses and sour cream from the fridge about an hour before you will make the dip.  Once soft, add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until well combined.  Serve.


Fresh Garbanzos with Lemon and Pecorino

18 Jul

Today was our first day to pick up our CSA shipment from Nash’s Organics.  We did so at the Ballard Farmer’s Market, which is my favorite place to spend a Sunday morning.  We got the most incredibly candy-sweet little strawberries from Nash and ate them one by one right out of their blue container.  We bought fresh chevre with herbes de provence, perfectly ripe peachy-pink apricots, and, for the first time ever, fresh garbanzo beans still in their pods.

Fresh garbanzo beans on the vine

Before today, I had never even seen garbanzo beans in their nascent form.  I didn’t even know that they are really green and not beige.  Their leaves are so pretty that I would easily consider buying a bunch of them just to display in vases around the house.  In fact, I did put them in a vase in the kitchen.  But my desire to eat them was even stronger than my desire to look at them, and so they didn’t last long on our counter.

There have been posts about garbanzos on my favorite blogs, like this one or this one, and Dana sold me recently on the idea of using them fresh.  The only problem was… where to find them that way?  I was completely surprised to find them at the market today, and they were so amazingly good I will be looking for them again next week.

The gist is that simple flavors work best with these lovely little beans, and they are well worth the time it takes to shell them.  They take about as long to shell as peas, but feel a little more like fava beans do in their pods.  They taste about a million times better than the ones in a  can.  Raw, they taste more like fresh peas with a pleasant green, grassy note.  In this recipe, they are perfectly married to some lemon and pecorino, and you could easily toss any kind of fresh herb in the mix as well.  Fried sage would knock these out of the ball park.

Garbanzo Beans with Lemon and Pecorino
From Danatreat and Orangette

2 cups fresh garbanzo beans
1½ tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
¾ tsp. kosher salt
Lots of coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup ground Pecorino Romano

Shell the beans and blanch them in boiling water.  In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and add garbanzos.  Saute lightly 3-4 minutes until color just begins to change.  Juice the lemon over the beans, add the cheese, salt and pepper, and toss to combine.  Serve warm.

Basil-Crusted Breakfast Tomatoes

14 Jul

Today was a glorious day at my local farmer’s market, because my favorite vendor, Billy’s, has finally arrived.  It is not truly summer in Seattle for me unless I have stopped at Billy’s stand and purchased as many heirloom tomatoes as I can possibly carry.  Billy has been growing vegetables since 1972, and his dedication and experience are evident in the incredible finished product.

My bounty from today's market outing

Last summer I waited patiently until Friday, when Billy and his #2 tomatoes showed up at my neighborhood market.  I filled my basket with big fat heirloom tomatoes, fresh parsley and basil, deep lavender bell peppers and sweet onions, and carried them all home to make gazpacho.  Every week.  Neither my husband nor I ever tired of that gazpacho.

I have a feeling I will be making more of that soup this summer, but this week I came across a recipe in my Edible Seattle magazine that looked too good to pass up.  If you aren’t yet familiar with  Edible Communities I do hope you will pop over to their site and take a look around.  I love their podcasts, which encompass many food-related topics, as well as author interviews and more.  The local magazine that I get from them is beautiful, well-written and for sure the one magazine I can’t wait to arrive.

This recipe makes use of the glorious tomatoes in season now, as well as the herbs crowding each other for space in my garden.  The magazine suggested this dish as a breakfast recipe and I am sure it would be lovely served with eggs scrambled with mascarpone and chives, but I served it with lunch alongside grilled baby Walla Walla sweet onions and the last asparagus of the year.

Basil-Crusted Breakfast Tomatoes
From Edible Seattle

2 large beefsteak (or similar) tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped basil
2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
2 tbs chopped fresh chives
about 1/3 cup olive oil
(I also topped mine with a little shredded gruyere)

Slice the tomatoes into 1/2′” slabs and season on both sides with salt and pepper.  Mix the breadcrumbs and the herbs together in a shallow bowl.

Heat 3 tbs olive oil in a large, heavy pan (cast iron works well) over medium heat.  Press the tomato slices into breadcrumb mixture one at a time, coating both sides of each slice well.  Fry about 4 at a time for 4-5 minutes per side., until the breadcrumbs are well browned on each side.

The crust won’t stay intact if you fuss with them, so be patient and dont try to turn them too early.  Repeat with additional tomatoes, adding more oil as needed.  Serve immediately.

Almond and Mint Cream

9 Jul

Tonight I am having a little soiree at my real job.  I am ridiculously excited to have Dana, from, catering the event.  She is one of my favorite food bloggers, and I have made more things from her site than from any other food site out there.  All of her recipes are vegetarian and many of them are sweets, and if you can’t already tell, I have a major sweet tooth.  To have her cater an event for me is pretty much like having your favorite rock star come sing at your birthday party.  I am very happy today.

When it comes to throwing parties, there is something in the Seattle DNA that pretty much precludes folks from RSVP’ing.  I have no idea why, but folks around here cannot be counted on to say whether they will bother to show up at your event or not.  I don’t know if this is because many people here don’t entertain and don’t know all of the planning and calculating and preparation that go into party planning, or if folks here just have a fear of commitment.

So, I gave Dana the catering numbers last week and what do you know, many folks have just called today to say they can make it after all.  While I am excited to have them come, I am also now nervously biting my nails over whether or not there will be enough food.  There isn’t time for Dana to make more– she has already been working hard (in 90 degree heat, no less) to get things ready.  And lord knows I do not want to turn on my oven in this heat.  So, I have decided to supplement my little soiree with an incredible dip/spread that comes from a cooking class I took in Paris with Susan Hermann Loomis.  Trust me when I tell you this dip is amazing.

This dip is a great way to use up some of the mint that might be growing wild in your garden, as it is in mine right now.  This recipe has only a few ingredients, comes together in less than a minute in the food processor, but can also be made by hand.  I have served it to all kinds of people for all kinds of occasions, and it is always a hit.  I like it best served with fresh veggies (cucumber, radishes and celery make particularly nice pairings) but it would be lovely served on top of any kind of fish or chicken.

Almond and Mint Cream
From Susan Hermann Loomis

2 tbs fresh lemon juice
fine sea salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (a nice fruity one if you have it)
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup warm water
1 bunch (about 1 cup) fresh mint

Place the lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl and add a generous pinch of salt.  Whisking constantly, add the olive oil.  Whisk in the almonds, then whisk in the warm water.  Mince the mint and then whisk it into the olive oil mixture.  Season to taste and serve immediately.

This can also be made in your food processor if you have one.  I grind the almonds in it first, then the mint, then add the liquids.

Herbed Olive Oil Crackers

6 Jul

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to make everything we eat from scratch, and I must say that I have done very well the last seven months. It wasn’t like we ate much processed or packaged food before, but I really just wanted to try to make everything by hand that I could, in order to see if it really was an impossible task. I kept thinking back to my grandmother and great-grandmother and all that they did every single day, and felt like a slacker in comparison. Feeding ourselves is the most basic and most important human endeavor, and I really wanted to take responsibility for every morsel entering my body, and also for every dollar spent in the pursuit of food.


In the first few months of the new year I made homemade cinnamon rolls, baked fresh bread (which I had never done before), fermented sauerkraut, and made my own ricotta from goat’s milk. I made ice cream and pasta from scratch, and was having a ball. I saw Michael Pollan discussing his book, Food Rules, and it just. made. perfect. sense.  And I am happy to report that I have not looked back.

Cooking for friends is something I absolutely love to do.  Cooking is how I show people I care about them, and making a glorious meal for friends and family is pretty much the best way for me to spend a day, topped only by sharing said meal with said friends.  And wine.

Rolled dough with herbs

My friends Cheryl and Bryan, who also like to cook, came for dinner recently and I couldn’t wait to put together a menu.  For appetizers I knew I wanted to serve this amazing local chevre with Herbes de Provence (from Port Madison Goat Farm and Dairy), and needed something spectacular to serve with the cheese.  Voila!  The trusty Herbfarm Cook Book had just the recipe I was looking for: herbed olive oil crackers.

The crackers turned out amazingly well, and were super easy to make.  In fact, once you have homemade crackers it is pretty hard to go back to the cardboard taste of most anything that comes preserved forever in a box.  The recipe calls for rye flour which you can find in bulk at your local grocery store, and any herbs you have on hand would be lovely. Unlike bread, you don’t have to wait for these to rise, so they are super simple and quick to make.

Fresh out of the oven

Herbed Olive Oil Crackers
From The Herbfarm Cook Book

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup medium rye flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
5 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cold water, plus more if needed
1/4 cup thinly sliced sage leaves
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt

Dough: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Stir the flours, 3/4 tsp salt, and rosemary together in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in 3 tbs of the olive oil, then rub the mixture between your fingers to break up any lumps and work the crumbs into the texture of cornmeal.  Stir in the milk (I used plain soy milk because I am allergic to cow milk) and water to form a medium stiff dough.  (I did this all in my Kitchenaid.)  If it is too dry to easily come together into a dough, add more water 1 tbs at a time.

Rolling: Line a large cookie sheet or the back of a baking sheet (about 16 x 12 inches) with parchment paper.  Roll the dough into a rectangle the same size as the pan.  Roll it up on the rolling pin and unroll it onto the parchment.  With a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough into a 6 x 4 grid for 24 crackers.  (They don’t have to be uniform.)  Brush the tops of the crackers with the remaining 1 tbs olive oil and sprinkle them with sage leaves and kosher salt.

Baking: Bake the crackers until they are browned around the edges and in spots throughout, 16 to 18 minutes.  Slide the crackers into a wire rack to cool.  If the crackers that were baked in the middle of the pan seem softer and less done, return them to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes.  Cool the crackers for at least 30 minutes before serving to give them a chance to crisp.  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


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