Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

The most popular post on this blog, hands down, is My Ultimate Pumpkin Bread post, and one of my personal favorites is my Zucchini Bread post, so now that it’s October, I thought, why not do a mashup? The spices for pumpkin and zucchini bread are so similar, it seems like a marriage made in heaven. And, I’ve been getting a lot of zucchini in my weekly produce box from Full Circle lately.

This version came out perfectly moist. Make sure you squeeze the excess water out of your shredded zucchini. Just press between paper towels before adding to the mixture. I used this kind of grater to prepare the zucchini:

Play with the sugar to meet your tastes. I’ve tried it with 2 cups and it’s perfect for folks who don’t like their quick breads too sweet. I prefer it with 2 1/2 or even 3 cups of sugar.

This recipe makes 2 loaves!

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread
 
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My two favorite quick breads – in one!
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1½ cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
  • 1 15 oz can of pureed pure pumpkin
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray 2 9-inch loaf pans with cooking spray.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl (including the sugar).
  3. In the bowl of a large standup mixer, cream the butter. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated. Add the milk and beat until mixed. Add the pumpkin and zucchini and mix on medium until blended.
  4. Take bowl away from standup mixer. Add bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until all is moistened. Do not overmix.
  5. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until top is golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

 

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Cajun Rock Shrimp with California Strawberry Salsa

Cajun Shrimp with CA Strawberry Salsa

Cajun Shrimp with CA Strawberry Salsa - Photo courtesy of CA Strawberry Commission

The California Strawberry Commission has been hosting events in both Northern and Southern California that feature strawberries in ways you’ve never imagined, like this recipe, created by Chef Rui Wang of Palihouse Courtyard Brasserie in West Hollywood, CA. Combining a smoky spice rub, with the a spicy-sweet strawberry salsa that packs a punch with jalapeño peppers, lime juice and even mint, this light, summer dish will keep your taste buds dancing.

Cajun Rock Shrimp with California Strawberry Salsa
 
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Cajun spices meet the sweetness of strawberries for the perfect summer appetizer.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Spice Mix
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Shrimp
  • ½ pound rock shrimp or small tiger shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Strawberry Salsa
  • ¼ cup finely minced strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ medium avocado, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tortilla or pita chips
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, stir spice mix together and place in a shaker.
  2. In a medium saucepan on medium high heat, sauté shrimp with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle the spice mix on the shrimp as desired.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine strawberries, jalapeno, onion, avocado, cilantro and mint. Toss with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place spiced shrimp on a plate and top with strawberry salsa. Serve with tortilla or pita chips

 

California Strawberry Salad

Strawberry Salad

California Strawberry Salad - Photo courtesy of the CA Strawberry Commission

Last week the California Strawberry Commission hosted an event for bloggers and food writers in San Francisco. Cheryl Sternman Rule was on hand discussing her amazing book, Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables. After the event, the CA Strawberry Commission shared recipes that I am privileged to share with you. One of my favorites is the California Strawberry Salad, a recipe developed by True Food Kitchen. True Food Kitchen is a restaurant with several locations in Southern California and Arizona. It was developed in partnership with Andrew Weil, MD and their goal is to make mouthwatering food that is also great for your health. I hope they have plans to move to the Bay Area!

For more great strawberry recipes, check out the recipe collection at the CA Strawberry Commission website.

Strawberry Salad

California Strawberry Salad - Photo courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission

California Strawberry Salad
 
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A savory salad courtesy of True Food Kitchen and the California Strawberry Commission. Used by permission.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups snap peas, cleaned
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 4 oz baby greens
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup goat cheese
  • 1⁄2 cup toasted walnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Blanch the snap peas in salted boiling water for 30 seconds. Refresh in ice water immediately after cooking to lock in the bright green color and to keep from overcooking.
  2. Lay out the fennel on a sheet pan. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast snap peas at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 45 minutes.
  3. Arrange strawberries, baby greens, blanched snap peas and roasted fennel in a large salad bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the agave nectar and balsamic vinegar with the olive oil to create the vinaigrette. Whisk until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide on four plates and drizzle vinaigrette over the salad. Top the salad with equal parts goat cheese and walnuts.
Strawberry Salad

California Strawberry Salad - Photo courtesy of the CA Strawberry Commission

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Strawberry Caprese Salad - photo courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission

Last week, the California Strawberry Commission hosted in an event in San Francisco highlighting strawberries and featuring Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of the new book, Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables. Ms. Sternman Rule is a Silicon-Valley based food writer who writes the amazing blog, 5 Second Rule. I am always inspired by her writing and her photography alike. If this blog is not on your radar screen, it should be. Add it to your list. Stat.

The California Strawberry commission generously shared some amazing recipes with me which I am excited to share with you, like this Strawberry Caprese Salad. What a great combination to mix the sweetness of strawberries with the tanginess of a balsamic reduction and the creaminess of Mozzarella. If it seems strange at first, don’t forget, tomatoes are fruit too!

I feel so lucky to live in California in the heart of Strawberry country. Did you know that California produces 88% of all of the strawberries in the US? We benefit from a year-round growing season. In Southern California, there is harvesting of strawberries in April, May and June as well as October, November and December. Northern California sees its peak growing season in late spring and early summer, but also continues to harvest into November.

To keep strawberries fresh once harvested, they are rushed to a cooling facility where the heat from the fields is drawn out quickly and then they are kept at 32˚F until they reach the market.

For more great strawberry recipes and recipes for everything else in your CSA box or in your bag from the Farmer’s Market, don’t forget to order:

Strawberry Caprese Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh California strawberries, stemmed and halved
  • 2 cups bite-sized fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini), drained, halved
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, finely diced
  • 3-4 mint leaves, chiffonade, finely diced
  • Salt, pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. To make balsamic syrup, in nonreactive pot, simmer vinegar over low heat until reduced to one-half its original volume (1/4 cup).
  2. In serving bowl, toss strawberries and mozzarella balls with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add basil and mint; toss again.
  3. Drizzle balsamic syrup over and around salad. Grind more pepper on top.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 350 Fat: 23 Carbohydrates: 25 Fiber: 5 Protein: 18 Cholesterol: 40

Summer Picnic Salads – Perfect for the 4th of July

Lemony Lentil Salad With Couscous and Arugula

As some of you know, I started blogging a bit for Mollie Stone’s Markets, my favorite grocery store. They have an amazing new line of infused olive oils that I have been experimenting with. This latest recipe makes use of the Lemon Infused Olive Oil. I made this lentil salad for a going-away party for friends of ours who are moving to Europe. Just when we’re going to have healthcare here after all. Oh well. To see the entire recipe, check out the post on the Mollie Stone’s Blog!

I equate summertime picnics with these kinds of salads: lentil salad, orzo salad, corn and bean salad and so on. They travel well, hold up during a picnic and are nutritious. They also take advantage of what’s in season. Here are just a few from the archives:

Lentil Salad Three Ways

Lentil Salad Three Ways

Heirloom Tomato Orzo Salad

Heirloom Tomato Orzo Salad
Wild Rice Salad

Wild Rice & Cranberry Salad

Wild Rice, Cranberry and Almond Salad
Fresh Corn Salad

Fresh Corn Salad

Fresh Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

Classic Caesar Salad – Mad Men Style

Caesar Salad with Shaved Parmesan

Whenever I watch Mad Men, I wish I could be transported back in time to the New York City restaurants featured on the show. Of course, many of them are still open and thriving, and NY Eater has indexed them beautifully, here. But alas, I live in San Fracisco, and my time machine is in the shop, so I am reduced to trying to recreate the recipes of the day here at home.

I worked at a restaurant in the early eighties that made Caesar Salad table-side. It’s definitely food as theater when the waiter cracks the egg over the salad and mixes it in or lifts his arm high in the air to drizzle in the olive oil. Entertain your family at home with a similar preparation. It was in Season 1, episode 2 (The Ladies’ Room) that Betty and Don Draper dine with Roger Sterling at the restaurant Toots Shor, where a Caesar Salad is prepared table-side. Also in Season 3, Episode 4 (The Arrangements), Pete Campbell, Don Draper, and a potential client, Horace “Hoho” Cook dine at Keen’s where Caesar Salads are prepared table side even today.

Betty and Don Draper at Dinner

Betty and Don Draper at Dinner

Nowadays, people are a little spooked by the raw egg mixed into the dressing, but I’m someone who has eaten raw cookie dough my whole life and never -knock on wood – suffered from salmonella poisoning. This Caesar Salad recipe also calls for a coddled egg (boiled in rapidly boiling water for 40 seconds) which may comfort those who are nervous. The US Department of Agriculture measures the risk encountering a contaminated at 1 in 30,000. Coddling doesn’t quite bring the temperature of the egg to the 160˚F required to kill the bacteria, but it makes for a creamier dressing.

And what about anchovies? They weren’t a part of the orginial Caesar Cardini salad recipe, so I haven’t included them here, but if you want to add them in, just chop a few of them finely to mix into the dressing and then garnish with a few more on top.

For more about the food of Mad Men, check out The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, available at Amazon.com:

Watch Mad Men on AMC, Sundays at 10/9c.

Caesar Salad
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

Dressing:
1 clove garlic crushed
1 egg yolk that has been coddled (boil in rapidly boing water for 40 seconds)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper

2 heads romaine lettuce
Great croutons (if you have to make them yourself, toast cubed bread in olive oil and minced garlic until golden brown).

Method

1. In a large wooden bowl, spread the crushed garlic around. Crack a coddled egg into the bowl. Add mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire Sauce and salt. Beat with a fork. Pour the oil in a steady slow stream while continuing to beat the mixture. Tear the lettuce into the bowl and toss. Grind fresh pepper on top. Add the croutons and freshly shaved Parmesan. Toss and transfer to plates. Then shave additional Parmesan on top.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Crunchy California Avocado Fritters

Crunchy California Avocado Fritters

With Cinqo de Mayo around the corner, what better way to celebrate the flavors of Mexico than to try out new recipes featuring the avocado, now back in season, here in California.

This year, Americans will consume 81 million pounds of avocados on Cinco de Mayo alone! That’s more than 160 million avocados in one day. Get in on the fun by trying this recipe, created for the California Avocado Commission by celebrity chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, known as the “Too Hot Tamales,” and co-chef/owners of the popular Border Grill restaurants in Santa Monica, Calif., Downtown Los Angeles and Las Vegas. This dynamic duo were Food Network pioneers when their show “Too Hot Tamales” premiered in 1995. They’ve gone on to compete on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” and have now partnered with the California Avocado Commission to create innovative, fresh recipes featuring California avocados.

I love how this recipe is new and different and yet reminiscent of food I love. It reminds me of falafel of course, but there is also something very sushi maki about it too – like, if you were to take a california roll and fry it. Hey wait a minute. I think I’m onto something.

The recipe uses quinoa (pronounced “KEEN wah”), the high-protein, ancient Andean grain everyone is eating these days. It also calls for Cotija (pronounced “ko-TEE-hah”) cheese, a Mexican cheese with a grainy texture used as an accent by adding a tangy saltiness to dishes when grated on top. If your local grocer doesn’t sell Cotija cheese, order it on Amazon or substitute grated Parmesan.

Crunchy California Avocado Fritters
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup white or black quinoa, rinsed and well drained
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup grated cotija cheese
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 4 green onions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch Italian parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ cup canola or grape seed oil for frying
  • 1 ripe, fresh California avocado, seeded, peeled and cut in ½-3/4 inch dice
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Aji Amarillo Aioli (see make-ahead recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Place a small, dry saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and toast for about 5 minutes, shaking and stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Transfer to a large saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, flour, cheese and salt. Add onions, parsley, egg and yolk. Stir thoroughly with a spoon until the mixture has the consistency of soft dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, season avocado with salt and pepper to taste and toss gently to coat.
  5. Using hands, create round fritters about the size of a walnut shell with a piece of avocado in the center of each fritter.
  6. Working in batches, gently slide fritters into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning as necessary. Drain on paper towels and serve warm, topped with Aji Amarillo Aioli.
Notes
If cotija cheese is not available, parmesan cheese can be substituted Yields about 24 fritters

Aji Amarillo Aioli

Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp aji amarillo chile paste
1 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

1.    Combine ingredients in small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Not sure where to get Aji Amarillo Chile Paste? It is available on Amazon:

Halloween Party Starter: Jack O’Lantern Puking Guacamole

Halloween Party Dish

Halloween = parties for me, so I’m always on the lookout for inspiring buffet food. I can’t remember where I first saw the idea of having guacamole come out of pumpkin as if the Jack O’Lantern is throwing up, but I thought it was hilarious. If you know the source, please tell me and I will attribute it. **Update: I first read it in the book, Extreme Halloween: The Ultimate Guide to Making Halloween Scary Again by, Tom Nardone. Check out his website, ExtremePumpkins.com. **

The recipe for guacamole here is a little different than what you might usually see. Here, it is prepared the Guatemalan way (our Guatemalan friend showed me how to do it). She leaves the avocado in big chunks and chops the tomatoes in large cubes. This approach seemed particularly appropriate for the presentation and turned out to lend great flavor. Now when I make guacamole at home, I always do it this way. Luckily, the pumpkin vomiting guacamole doesn’t inspire any real vomit.

Guacamole the Guatemalan Way
 
With the avocado in big chunks, this guacamole really stands out and is perfect for the puking pumpkin rendition.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Guatemalan
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe but not mushy avocados, chopped in large cubes
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped in fairly large chunks
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 fresh green chile, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Bag of Multicolored Tortilla Chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, gently toss (so as not to mush the avocado), the avocado, tomato, red onion, green chile, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Leave the pit in until you are ready to transfer to the platter. Chill in the fridge until 15 minutes before guests arrive.
  2. For the presentation: Carve a small pumpkin to have a face that looks like it is puking. Haha. Place it on a large platter with a candle inside. Spoon the guacamole onto the platter in front of the jack o’lantern’s face. Distribute multi-colored tortilla chips around the perimeter of the guacamole. Enjoy! Happy Halloween!

 

Lentil Salad Three Ways

Lentil Salad Three Ways

Buy a bag of lentils at Safeway for $1.49, or spend $8 for a fancy box of French Le Puy Lentils at Whole Foods. Either way, you can create a myriad of healthy salads that will keep in the fridge for about a week and work as main dishes, sides or snacks. Put the lentil salad on top of a bed of lettuce or the add arugula for bite. Roll the lentils up in a whole wheat tortilla for a healthy bean wrap. Serve warm with fish, like Salmon or Mahi Mahi. The possibilities are endless.

To prepare the lentils, follow the directions on the side of the package. Do not pre-soak lentils. They cook pretty quickly. Typically, for a 16 oz bag of lentils, bring 8-10 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Add the lentils and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes. For salads, you want the lentils to maintain a little bite so that they don’t get too mushy. Start checking them at 25 minutes to get the texture just right. A 16-oz bag of lentils will yield about six cups of cooked lentils.

Heirloom Tomato-Basil Lentil Salad

Heirloom Tomato-Basil Lentil Salad

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

2 cups cooked lentils
1 large or 2 small heirloom tomatoes, diced into small cubes.
2 Tbsp minced shallots or scallions
1/4 cup minced fresh basil and additional leaves for garnish
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tbsp of Crumbled Feta (optional) – I left it out because I like to try to be vegan when I can

Method

1. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar into an emulsion. Toss lentils, tomatoes, shallots, minced basil, and oil vinegar to combine. Season with pepper and garnish with basil leaf and feta if using. Serve chilled.

Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette Lentil Salad

Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette Lentil Salad

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp minced shallot or scallions
Salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp minced tarragon

Method

1. Whisk together the vinegar, shallots, salt, pepper, olive oil, mustard and tarragon. Toss with red bell pepper and lentils to combine. Garnish with tarragon leaves. Serve chilled.

Lemon Dill Lentil Salad

Fresh Lemon-Dill Lentil Salad

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients
2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced
2 Tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced shallot or scallions
Salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Whisk together lemon juice, shallots, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss with lentils, red bell pepper and fresh dill to combine. Garnish with sprigs of dill.

Rosemary Focaccia

Rosemary Focaccia

I am totally into this focaccia. This recipe has been tested and tested. Use fresh rosemary. Don’t hold back on the oil and salt and eat it while it’s still warm.

Rosemary Focaccia

Ingredients
1/2 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil
2-4 whole cloves garlic, cracked
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 (1/4-ounce) package rapid rise dry yeast
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
2 tsp table salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Method

For the garlic-rosemary infused olive oil:

1. Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil, the rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until just starting to bubble, remove from heat and allow to sit and cool for at least 30 minutes or longer.

For the focaccia:

1. Stir together 1 2/3 cups lukewarm water and yeast in bowl of mixer. Add 4 cups flour, 1/4 cup of the rosemary-garlic infused oil, and the table salt and beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at high speed until soft, smooth, and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in 1 – 2 more tablespoons of flour for about a minute then transfer to an oiled bowl and turn to coat it with the oil. Let rise, covered with plastic wrap, at warm room temperature, until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3. Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15 x 10 inch baking pan. Let dough rise, covered with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 500°F. Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons oil. With a fork, make shallow pin pricks all over the dough, then brush with rosemary oil. Sprinkle sea salt over the focaccia. Bake at 500˚F for 5 minutes and then reduce to 475˚F for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Remove from oven and invert onto a rack and flip over. Eat immediately, if possible.

giggle
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