Category: appetizer

Brie En Croute

By , December 7, 2013 1:02 pm

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I went out on a date a while ago to this very trendy small plate restaurant. Although the date ended up yielding a friendship (which I’m ok with, too.  making friends is always good!), the food was unforgettable. This dish left me with a foodgasm that was hard to quell.  I NEEDED TO RECREATE THIS!! So I did! I made this for our Thanksgiving Eve get-together, and my brother-in-law (who is a very discerning food critic, to say the least!), LOVED it!! The kids even liked it, but that is definitely not saying much.  They’ll pretty much eat a warm truck tire if you put bacon, sugar, or chocolate on it ;)  This is a simple, yet delicious and easy way to woo your dinner and party guests away from those gross ass chips and dip!!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Frozen Puff Pastry Sheet, thawed
  • 1-7oz wheel of Brie
  • 1/4C bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/8C chopped pecans
  • 2-3Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 large grannysmith apples, cored, halved, and slivered (keep these in cold water with 2T of lemon juice until service)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 375*

 

  • Unfold puff pastry sheet onto lightly floured surface.  Gently press bottom of brie container into pastry just enough to indent and mark where the brie will sit.  This will act as a guide to lay the rest of the ingredients down.

 

  • Spread the brown sugar evenly around the inside of the circle guide. Then add the nuts and bacon.  Lay the brie on top and gather the puff pastry up around the whole package.  Make sure each gap is pinched together to prevent oozing during the baking process.
  • Flip the brie over so that the folded part is on the bottom and brush the beaten eggwash over the pastry. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown all over.  Drain apples, lay out on a dry paper towel to remove excess water and arrange in a circle around a medium serving platter.  Remove brie from oven, place in the center of apple slices and serve warm.

 

 

Meatballs

By , October 15, 2012 9:24 pm

I usually make these bad boys to go with some spaghetti or penne and my crockpot merlot marinara sauce(baked with whole milk mozzarella over the top), but they are really good to use as party appetizers as well! Quick and easy. Just how I like it. Well, for culinary adventures, that is ;) This is what you’ll need:

•1lb ground meat (I usually use ground beef, but I have been known to use a mix of beef, veal, and pork, sometimes turkey, for the pseudo vegetarians)
•2 large eggs
•1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
•1 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
•1tsp each of the following spices:
• Italian seasoning
• Onion Salt
•1/2 tsp Nutmeg

1. In a food processor, add breadcrumbs and seasonings and pulse a few times to combine (or you could just whisk them in a bowl together.)

2. In a large bowl, knead the ground meat (I go bare handed on this. It’s the only way to ensure that everything is incorporated nicely) with the eggs until well combined.

3. Add breadcrumb mixture and knead until evenly distributed throughout the meat.

4. Using an ice cream scoop (I use the #50 Crate and Barrel scoop), scoop a ball of mixture and hand roll into little balls and place on wax paper.

5. Sear those suckers all around in a pan on medium high heat!! The #50 scoop makes mini meatballs, so they will cook faster. If you want larger meatballs, I would sear them and then bake in a sauce (or use a crockpot) to ensure thorough cooking and thus, less possibility of contracting a food borne illness. I, however, like my meatballs medium, which probably goes against standard procedure, but hey!! I’m eating them!!

6. Eat those little meat nuggets like its your job!! Or you could freeze them for a later date, for a quick weeknight dinner.

Chicken Minestrone

By , December 5, 2007 6:16 pm

Last week we had dinner at Casa de Luca in Beverly. It’s a great neighborhood Italian restaurant with generous portions and reasonable prices. The minestrone soup was to die for as were the fresh garlic bread sticks. I was inspired. I’ve only made a minestrone a few times before. I was never impressed with how they came out. So I figured I’d invent one of my own.

Traditionally, minestrone is a thick Italian soup made with vegetables, often including beans, pasta or rice. I wasn’t in the mood for a bean soup and I was really craving chicken. I went to the store and grabbed a bunch of things that seemed to go well in making an Italian chicken stew. Here’s what happened …

  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken (I used one that was already cooked at the store)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Italian green beans (the flat kind), roughly chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, roughly chopped
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chicken base paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable base paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
  • 2oz salt pork, finely diced
  • 1½ cup Ditalini pasta
  • Fresh Italian flat leaf parsley

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Let the oil heat through and add the diced salt pork. Slowly render the fat and flavor from the salt pork then add the chopped onion. Stir till the onion is well coated with oil. After few minutes add the shallot, chicken and vegetable base pastes, garlic and Italian seasoning. Stir often. After another few minutes add the carrots, celery, Italian green beans and chicken and vegetable base pastes. Stir well and cook for five minutes or so then add the canned crushed and diced tomatoes. Stir and cook for another five minutes then add the water and chicken broth.

Crank the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about half an hour. Carve up the rotisserie chicken. Remove as much meat as you can from the chicken leaving behind any fat and skin. Break up the meat with your hands and add to the stew. Simmer for another half hour or so. Stir often.

I like to get those rotisserie chickens quite often. They don’t cost much more than buying a raw whole chicken. Even if I don’t plan on eating them that day, I carve out the meat and set it aside in case I need to add it to any recipe in the near future. Sometimes I just sit on the couch, watch TV and chow down on crackers, cheese and cold shredded rotisserie chicken meat.

Anyway, add the chopped zucchini and cook for another five to ten minutes. Turn off heat and add the ditalini pasta. Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Serve in wide flat bowls topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and chopped fresh Italian parsley. Trust me, you’ll love it.

Mine came out a bit salty, but I like it that way. I used salt at first when I added the chopped onions. Judging by how salty it was, I omitted the salt from this posting. The soup will get plenty of salt from the chicken and vegetable base pastes. That stuff is potent, but I love it. I’ll never go back to dried bouillon again.

Zuppa-dupa!

Yankees suck! Oh, and the Ravens are bunch of cry babies.

Garlic Infused Rice

By , June 18, 2007 9:54 am

My trick for cooking rice in a rice cooker is to add one teaspoon of salt, one smashed garlic clove and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per cup of rice to the water and rice in the cooker before cooking. Every now and then I use chicken broth instead of water for a nice flavor twist.

A good rice cooker should reside in the kitchen of every self-respecting cook. They make rice quick and easy. I use rice in at least half of my dinners. Below are a few links to some good rice cookers, varying in price. Yankees suck!

Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

By , March 6, 2006 10:49 am

Often served as tapas, croquetas are most well known as a Spanish dish. This recipe comes from my Cuban influence. The best Cuban ham croquettes I’ve had on the west coast were at Felix Continental Cafe in downtown Orange, California. Dip these into a side of Cuban mojo and you’ll be in heaven.

Filling

4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups room temperature milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
4 cups of smoked ground ham, about one pound
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Coating

2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup dry bread crumbs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

In a large pan sauté the butter and onions until the onions are translucent. Slowly stir in the flour and make a roux. The roux needs to be very smooth with all the flour dissolved. Add more butter if necessary. Gradually whisk in the milk. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. The sauce needs to be very thick. Add the nutmeg, sherry, and parsley. Fold in the ham and bread crumbs. If you can’t find ground ham, you can finely mince it yourself or grind it in a food processor. Allow the mixture to simmer for five minutes on low heat. Taste the mix and season with salt and pepper if necessary. The ham has quite a bit of salt in it already, so be careful. Spoon the mixture into a baking pan and refrigerate at least one hour. The mixture needs to be firm enough to form into rolls. If your mixture is too soft or sticky, add some additional bread crumbs.

Shape the ham mixture into three inch long logs, ¾-inch thick. Make an egg wash by beating the eggs with water until frothy in a small bowl. Combine the bread crumbs, flour, salt and pepper in a second bowl. Dip the logs in the egg wash and roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Dip the rolls in the egg wash a second time and re-roll in bread crumbs. Cover logs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two to three hours. This is very important!

Sauté the croquettes in hot vegetable oil, a few at a time, for three to four minutes, turning occasionally until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. You can also deep fry them if you like. Serve immediately.

One variation of these croquettes is making them with chicken. You can easily substitute a pound of cooked chicken for the ham, white or dark meat, or a combination. Finely mince the chicken or grind it in a food processor. Add a dash of fresh lime juice to the chicken. You can also grind in a small handful of chopped cilantro instead of the parsley for a nice flavor twist.

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