Tag Archives: Appetizer

Calamari and Kiwi

While a crispy fried calamari is a favorite appetizer, especially in restaurants, there are a myriad ways to prepare squid as a first course.  I am trying my hand at cooking squid as it takes only a few minutes (easy for a weeknight) and is very reasonably priced (about $7.99 per pound).  Last night, I created this dish as I had a jalapeño in my vegetable drawer and a golden kiwi in my fruit bowl.

For this appetizer for two, use four medium to large squid tubes and four tentacles.

After rinsing the squid, use kitchen scissors to slice the squid bodies into rings of about 1/4 inch wide.  Roughly chop about four thin slices of jalapeño – this quantity depends on your heat tolerance! Slice the kiwi into eight slices and fan them along the bottom of an appetizer bowl or plate (I used two small antique vaseline glass bowls).

Heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and sesame oil in a wok until it sizzles.  Then, add the jalapeño and sauté for about two minutes.  Add the squid and cook for two minutes.  While the squid is cooking, move it around with a wooden spoon and coat it in the oils.  Spoon the squid atop the kiwi along with the oils and jalapeño, and season with sea salt to taste.

calamari-and-kiwi

The sweetness of the kiwi is a bright balance to the kick of the jalapeño!

Sweetbreads With Some Heat

This recipe for offal is a simple summer appetizer with a kick…

Rinse one pound of sweetbreads, then cover them with water in a large pot.  Add 1/4 cup of white vinegar and two pinches of salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a colander to rinse, then place in a bowl of water and ice to cool.  Remove the sweetbreads from the bowl and drain on a paper towel.

Use your finders to separate the sweetbreads into small pieces, removing the membrane.   Season with salt and pepper and dredge in cornmeal.  In a nonstick pan, heat several tablespoons of olive oil then sauté the sweetbreads until golden brown and no longer pink.  Add slices of jalapeño to taste as they sauté.  Arrange on an appetizer plate alongside several slides of focaccia.

Sweetbreads and Jalapeno

If you have never enjoyed organ meats, sweetbreads are a good place to start due to their mild taste and smooth texture!

Baby Bella Soup and Sesame Fennel Salad

For an Asian inspired soup and salad course or for a light lunch…

Baby Bella Soup

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons salted butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 pounds Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced

Juice of one lime

1 1/2 cups beef stock

Black garlic salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Sesame oil

Soy sauce

In a nonstick sauté pan, heat the butter along with the olive oil until the butter is melted.  Add the garlic and sauté for just a few minutes, until the garlic is slightly browned.  Add the mushrooms, and sauté until they are “al dente” – about 8 minutes.

Mushrooms cooking

Then, add the lime juice and enough beef stock to make a soup.  Bring to a boil, then add a few pinches of garlic salt and pepper to taste.  Also add a dash of sesame oil and soy sauce.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, and serve with thick slices of crusty bread.

Mushroom Broth

Sesame Fennel Salad

Ingredients:

1 heart Romaine lettuce, sliced

1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

White balsamic vinegar glaze

Extra virgin olive oil

Black sesame seeds

White sesame seeds

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

In a salad bowl, placed the fennel slices atop the Romaine lettuce.  Drizzle with white balsamic vinegar glaze and olive oil to taste.  Then, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Asian fennel salad

Creepy…Like a Snail – Escargots in Butter

Ingredients:

1 baguette

1 dozen escargots

3 tablespoons French butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Finishing salt

Fresh ground pepper

For this recipe, I use Roland escargots.  Each can is 8.75 ounces and contains 12 escargots – perfect for two servings.  The benefit of using these escargots is that they are already clean and cooked; you only have to heat them.

Preheat the broiler.  Slice the baguette on an angle, two slices per person.  Place the slices under the broiler until they are golden brown on one side.  Then turn the slices over to brown the other side.  Remove the slices from the broiler and arrange two slices on each small plate.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil.  Allow the pan to heat up and the butter to foam.  Add the garlic and scallions to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon.  Allow the garlic and scallions to cook for about 2 minutes.  Drain the liquid from the can of escargots and add them to the pan along with the parsley.  Turn the heat down to medium low and stir with a wooden spoon.  The escargots will only need to heat for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Spoon the escargots on each baguette serving, and drizzle with some of the butter mixture.

Snails

In response to Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

If You Can’t Stand the Heat

…step away from the stove, close the oven door and extinguish the grill…at least while you prepare the “cool” recipes in this summer month column.  All that you will need is fresh fruit, a blender and a few other ingredients that most home chefs have on hand.

The fruit purées below make a refreshing appetizer or dessert course, and I offer two presentations for these summer sweets.  One is to spoon a portion of each purée into a shallow soup or pasta bowl – preferably, a simple, white bowl to showcase the fruits’ vibrant colors.  The purées have a rather thin consistency, so make sure that the different colors do not run together.  Drizzle heavy cream in a circular pattern over the purées, and use a knife to pull the cream out from the center in attractive rays.

Mélange of fruit purées with heavy cream.

Mélange of fruit purées with heavy cream.

Another option for serving these colorful treats is to spoon them into clear espresso glasses.  Make the most of your herb garden by garnishing each purée with a different herb.  I used basil for the kiwi, lavender for the cantaloupe and mint for the strawberry.

Flight of fruit purées.

Flight of fruit purées.

You do not need to adhere to the flavors below.  Feel free to substitute your favorite summer fruits – cherries, apricots, plums, honeydew…’tis the season.  Each of the below recipes makes approximately 2 1/2 cups of purée.  Simply combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth, and remember to stir the purées before serving.

Cantaloupe Purée

1 cantaloupe, cut into small chunks

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of nutmeg

Strawberry Purée

1 quart strawberries, hulled

Fresh lemon juice to taste

Sugar to taste

Kiwi Purée

12 kiwi, peeled and cut into small chunks

Fresh lemon juice to taste

Sugar to taste

White Peach Purée

6 white peaches, peeled and cut into slices (If the peaches are not quite ripe, soften them by blanching.)

Lemon juice to taste

Sugar to taste

So, stay in the kitchen and start puréeing!

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2015 issue of The Journal of the Delaware State Bar Association, a publication of the Delaware State Bar Association. Copyright © Delaware State Bar Association 2015.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Grilled Eggplant and Ricotta Makes for a Simple Summer Appetizer

I recently wrote about a very simple way to prepare eggplant in my post, “Fresh from the Farm Stand”.  Most frequently during the summer, I grill eggplant as a side dish after marinating it in extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.  (The small round Sicilian eggplants are my favorite!)

The steps are simple…First, slice the eggplant into rounds of about 1/6 to 1/4 inch thick.  Then, place a layer of slices in a large baking dish and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of sea salt.  Repeat with additional layers until all slices are topped with both oil and salt.  The purpose of the salt it to extract the liquid that causes the eggplant’s bitterness.  Let the slices marinate for about one hour prior to grilling.  Grill the eggplant on medium-low heat, turning the slices with tongues so that they soften and brown.

As an alternative to a side dish, incorporate this eggplant preparation into an appetizer course.  Arrange several slices on a small plate alongside a dollop of ricotta cheese.  Drizzle the ricotta with extra virgin olive oil and top with fresh ground pepper and finishing salt.  Fresh herbs, such as basil, make for a colorful addition to this tasty starter.

Eggplant and Ricotta

Slow Down…Take the Time to Celebrate Bastille Day — Escargots au Beurre

Add a French flair to your dining experience today — Le quatorze juillet.  One of the simplest ways to do so is to prepare this appetizer of snails with butter.  It will take quatorze minutes, at most…

Ingredients:

1 baguette

1 dozen escargots

3 tablespoons French butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Additional extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on the baguette slices

5 cloves garlic, chopped

3 scallions, sliced or 1 shallot, chopped

1 handful parsley, chopped

Finishing salt

Fresh ground pepper

I use Roland escargots, which can be found in the grocery store.  Each can is 8.75 ounces and contains one dozen escargots.  This is ideal for serving three to four guests, but you can modify the above quantities for a larger celebration of La fête nationale.  The advantage to using these escargots is that they are already cleaned and cooked – you only have to heat them!

Preheat the broiler.  Slice the baguette into pieces lengthwise and then each piece in half as if making a sandwich.  Drizzle olive oil on each slice.  Place the slices under the broiler until they are golden brown on one side.  Then turn the slices over to lightly toast the other side.  Remove the slices from the broiler and place one slice on each small plate.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of French butter.  Allow the pan to heat up and the butter to foam.  Tilt the pan around so that the olive oil and butter coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the garlic and scallions/shallot to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon.  Allow these ingredients to cook for about 2 minutes.  Drain the liquid from the can of escargots and add them to the pan along with the parsley.  Turn the heat down to low and stir.  The escargots should be heated through in just a few minutes.  Place three or four escargots on each slice of baguette and drizzle some of the butter mixture so that no richness goes to waste.  Season with finishing salt and pepper to taste.

DSCN2933

 Bonne fête!

Saucisse Provencale

Last night I prepared a simple but tasty first course featuring a lamb, garlic, rosemary and mint sausage made in store at Whole Foods.  I sautéed the thin link sausage in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until it browned, only about five minutes, turning it several times.  Accompanying the sausage on the appetizer plate were some baby greens – red chard, spinach and arugula – drizzled with spicy harissa oil; a sun dried tomato; and a dollop of Edmond Fallot Provencal Dijon mustard flavored with red peppers, garlic and olive oil.  The perfect bite consisted of a slice of sausage, a leaf of green, a small piece of tomato and a touch of the mustard.