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Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Tamari Chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of my favorite vegetarian power foods.  They are loaded with protein and fiber and they soak up whatever flavorings you cook them in.  Versatile, delicious, and healthy – who could ask for more?  This dish combines two of my favorite things – tamari and chickpeas.  Holy Yum.  I love to bake it up and serve it as a finger food for little parties, but it would also be great over salads or stews, or even mashed roughly and spread on crostini.  Hmmmm… I think I know what I’ll be doing with the leftovers…

Tamari Chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup tamari
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a small casserole dish, mix together all ingredients except thyme, until well combined.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove and allow to cool slightly.  Mix in dried thyme.  Serve as a snack bite or sprinkle over salads, soups or stews.

Source: Adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton

  • Drain off remaining liquid

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This dip is a winner, pure and simple.  Rich yet light, warmly spiced, and with a gorgeous sunny yellow color… now, who wouldn’t want to sink a pita chip into a bowl of this goodness?  I threw this together for hubby’s and my “farewell condo” party and it was a huge success with our dip-loving friends.  I particularly loved the bits of caramelized onion sprinkled throughout.  They speak to my veggie loving soul.  Dipping a pita chip into this curried cauliflower goodness really is like dipping into the flavors of India!

Enjoy!

Dip Into India

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced fine
1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lowfat sour cream
dash nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper
dash freshly ground black pepper
cilantro (optional)

  • Fill a small saucepan with water, a few inches deep, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add cauliflower, reduce heat to simmer and cook, partially covered, until tender when pierced with a fork – about 10 minutes.
  • When cauliflower is tender, drain completely and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Using a fork, mash to your desired consistency – I like it a bit chunky, but you can go smoother if you want.  Who’s to stop you?
  • In a small saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and salt, and saute until tender and translucent.  When onion is cooked, add curry powder and sugar and toast until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Transfer onion and spice mixture to mixing bowl with mashed cauliflower.  Add yogurt, sour cream, nutmeg, cayenne and black pepper and stir to combine with a spatula.
  • If desired, mix in a tablespoon or two of chopped cilantro, and garnish with cilantro.

Source: Adapted from Delicious Dips

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Mediterranean Bean Dip

I made this dip on my last week in my condo, as a way to clean out my pantry a little bit (so I’d have fewer cans and jars to move, which is key) and also to have something to contribute at my last condo social event.  This white bean dip, flavored with bright lemon, sun-dried tomatoes and chives, is certainly delicious.  But I know better than to call it hummus.  After meeting Katie, I now understand that hummus is just that, hummus, and anything else is… well… something else.  It’s like Champagne, a little bit.  One of my pet peeves is when people refer to sparkling wine as “Champagne” when it’s not.  Hello, Champagne is from the Champagne region of France.  Anything else is sparkling wine.  And there’s nothing wrong with sparkling wine, as long as you don’t try to pretend it’s Champagne.  This is kind of like that.  This dip is not hummus.  So I’m going to be respectful and not try to pretend that it’s some kind of “White Bean Hummus with Sun-Dried Tomato and Chives.”  I’m going to call this what it is – a delicious, creamy, flavorful dip made with cannellini beans and sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil.  It calls to mind various Mediterranean flavors – the white beans and sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil suggesting Italy, with a little whiff of Greece from the tahini (I use a Greek brand).  Yum.  Not hummus… but delish.

Mediterranean Bean Dip

1 can white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed, liquor reserved
1/4 cup (approx.) extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons tahini
salt and pepper
3 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rough chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh (or freeze-dried) chives, plus more for garnish

  • Place beans, oil, lemon juice and tahini in the bowl of a blender and pulse to combine.  Add reserved bean liquor, a tablespoon at a time, until the dip reaches a smooth and creamy consistency.  (This is something you have to judge for yourself; I can’t tell you how much bean liquor it will take.  It totally depends on your blender and your beans.)
  • Take a quick taste and decide if the dip needs any more lemon or tahini for flavoring.  If so, add the ingredient a little at a time, tasting as you go along, to achieve the right flavor.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then blend.
  • Blend in roughly chopped pieces of sun-dried tomato – but don’t over-blend!  You want the tomato to be evenly dispersed throughout the dip, with flecks of red visible and the rest of the dip a creamy, pale pink color. 
  • Remove dip to a bowl and stir in chives.  Scoop into serving bowl and top with additional chives, if desired.

Source: Covered In Flour, method from Good Things Catered

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Tap, tap.  Is this thing on?

Hello out there!  Is anyone left?  I’m sorry.  I’m so, so, so, so sorry.  I realize that I officially take the prize for Worst Blogger Ever.  The truth is, I’ve had an incredibly hectic month – hubby and I are currently in the midst of a personal project which has taken on all the intensity of a hurricane, and what feels like the proportions of Ancient Rome.  We’re doing something completely necessary, yet completely crazy at the same time: we’re BUYING A HOUSE.  I know, right?!?!?!  We fell in love with a house back in October, made an offer, and have been in the process of buying it ever since.  If you know me in “real life,” you’ve probably heard the entire saga several times.  So I can now explain that, other than the week when hubby and I both fell sick within days of each other back in January, most of my blog disappearances have happened around the times when things were heating up in the house-buying process.  It’s been a long haul, but I finally feel that I can mention it on the blog, because our closing is in less than two weeks, our move is three days later, and we have boxes stacked up containing many (but not all – like I said, I’ve been busy) of our worldly possessions.  We received word that our sale was going through in late February, and since then it’s been a whirlwind of doing all of the things that you need to do in order to buy a house, plus numerous phone calls with our broker, discussing whether we want to sell or rent our condo.  And I’ve been dealing with the complete shock of realizing that I’m actually moving and I’m not going to be cooking in my condo kitchen anymore, which does make me sad.  Because I do love my condo, especially the kitchen.

Given all this, hubby and I decided to throw the condo a farewell party.  We had actually planned to have a party for no reason back in February, but Snowmageddon ruined our plans.  So we moved the party to early March, and it just happened to fall after we had tumbled head-first down the rabbit hole of house-buying.  I was exhausted from the whole process and making frequent panicked phone calls to my mom about how I wasn’t sure anymore if I wanted a house, like, ever… so I mostly opted for “easy,” and our friends liked it all just fine.  One of the most popular dishes at the party was a savory mini corn muffin, jazzed up with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese.  Mmmmm, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  So, in the hopes that you’ll forgive me… here ya go.

Sun-Dried Tomato-Parmesan Mini Corn Muffins

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup (approx.) chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a 24-well mini muffin tin by spraying olive oil baking spray in each well.
  • Combine dry ingredients.
  • Mix in milk, oil and egg, until just incorporated.  Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes and grated cheese.
  • Using a teaspoon, portion batter evenly into muffin wells.  (You may have a little extra, depending on the size of the wells in your muffin tin.  I got about 6 extra mini muffins out of my emergency backup Bakers Secret mini muffin tin, but my muffin tins have small wells.)
  • Bake 20-25 minutes, until muffins are just golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Source: adapted from Quaker

I promise that I am going to try to be better about blogging during this moving process.  I have some photos banked from the past few weeks, and as soon as I remember what the recipes were, I’ll post them.  However, the next two weeks are going to be a little bit difficult.  Most of my cookbooks, and a fair amount of my bakeware, are already packed.  Hubby and I have enough left out that we won’t starve, but I’m not planning to do much creative baking or cooking until we get unpacked and settled and get our condo cleaned up and on the market.  Please bear with me, and I promise I’ll be back with tons of fun new recipes from my new kitchen-to-be!

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How To Make A Cheese Board

Ah, the cheese board.  Star of the after-dinner hour.  Hero of the wine-and-cheese party.  (Oh, who am I kidding?  Beer me some Pinot.)  No, but really… the cheese board has its place.  After dinner, served in place of dessert, it’s the height of sophistication.  As much as I love to bake and serve people desserts, a cheese board can be a wonderful change of pace.  When hubby and I were traveling in California this fall, we had some fantastic cheese boards that highlighted the best local cheeses, as well as some exotic choices.  I came home itching to make my own cheese board.  It’s actually very easy, if you follow a few simple guidelines…

First, you need cheese.  Obviously.  A cheese board without cheese would be… well… kind of a non-starter.  (Nothing against my vegan friends.  But it’s true.)  I like to serve at least three cheeses on a cheese board, and I generally stick with the following ratio: one hard, one soft, one blue.  If you have an extra-large cheese board, you can feel free to add on as you desire, but one hard, one soft, one blue is a good rule to follow for a fairly universally-pleasing cheese board.  Above, I’ve chosen a Cabot cloth-aged cheddar (hard), a Hudson Valley camembert (soft), and a milder French blue (blue, duh).  If  I had the space or the crowd to feed, I might have added a creamy goat cheese (sans herbs, please – it’s dessert) or a cave-aged gruyere, or perhaps a smoked gouda.  However, you need at least one hard, one soft, one blue.

With the blue cheese, I love to add honeycomb.  I always keep some honeycomb in my pantry, for just this purpose.  The sweetness of the honey counteracts the pungency of the cheese, which hubby really appreciates.  Together, the two flavors are perfection.

I always add a few extras to fill out the cheese board.  To this cheese board, I added half of a small date-and-walnut loaf, a handful of dried black mission figs, and a pile of fresh raspberries.  When you’re shopping for your cheese board, pick out your cheeses first and then think about how the flavors will interact with each other.  The dates and the figs both went equally well with the camembert and the cheddar.  You need some extras for visual interest – to break up the cheeses – and for flavor complexity.  For dessert cheese boards, I like to add dried fruits; for appetizer cheese boards, I pile up olives, a variety of crackers, and cherry tomatoes.  Last but not least, whether this is dessert or hors d’ouvres, you’ll need of bread or crackers to serve with the cheeses.

Oh, and wine.  You can’t forget the wine.

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