Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tomato and Pepper Salad

3 medium vine tomatoes
1 small jar piquillo peppers
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a large plate around the edge.
Place the piquillo peppers in the middle.
Season with salt and dress the whole thing with a little alioli.
Sprinkle with freshly chopped chives or parsley.

Pimientos a la Catalana

3 - 4 large red peppers
6 cloves of garlic
olive oil
black pepper
The day before serving, bake the peppers whole in a hot oven for 30 - 40 minutes. (You can also cook over a barbecue)
During cooking, turn the peppers regularly.
When you notice the skin beginning to peel away, turn off the oven but leave the peppers for a further 10 minutes.
The following day, chop the tops off the peppers and remove seeds and then peel away the skin. Cut the peppers into slices and place in a large bowl.
Peel and crush the garlic and add to the peppers.
Season with salt and pepper, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and mix well.
Place in the fridge for an hour before serving.
Serves 4

Friday, May 22, 2009

Antipasto Kabobs

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
40 pimiento-stuffed olives
40 large pitted ripe olives
3/4 cup Italian salad dressing
40 thin slices pepperoni
20 thin slices hard salami, halved
Fresh parsley sprigs, optional
Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the tortellini, olives and salad dressing. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Drain and discard marinade. For each appetizer, thread a stuffed olive, folded pepperoni slice, tortellini, folded salami piece, ripe olive and parsley sprig if desired on a toothpick or short skewer. Yield: 40 appetizers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mini Panamanian Beef Empanadas

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon achiote seeds (also called annatto seeds)
1/4 pound ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped, seeded tomato
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Make the Dough: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat the eggs with the wine and vinegar and drizzle over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough just comes together. On a lightly floured work surface, gently knead the dough until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Prepare the Filling: In a medium skillet, heat the oil. Add the achiote seeds and cook over moderately high heat until the seeds darken and the oil is orange, about 1 minute. Discard the seeds. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no pink remains, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and bell pepper and cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato, tomato paste and chicken stock and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
On a generously floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. With a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible (you should have about 24). Reroll the dough scraps and stamp out additional rounds if possible. Brush the excess flour off the rounds. Working with 1 round at a time and keeping the rest covered with plastic wrap, form the empanadas: Spoon 2 teaspoons of the filling on one side of the dough round. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Cover with plastic wrap while you form the remaining empanadas.
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a deep skillet, heat 1/2 inch of oil to 350°. Fry 4 empanadas at a time, turning once, until browned and crisp, 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a baking sheet. When all of the empanadas have been fried, reheat them in the oven and serve.
Make Ahead
The filled, uncooked empanadas can be frozen on a baking sheet, then transferred to an airtight bag. Bake them in a 350° oven without thawing.
Alternatively, you can bake the empanadas: Preheat the oven to 350°. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of milk. Evenly space the uncooked empanadas on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper and brush with the egg wash. Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

2 pounds medium asparagus
1/2 pound very thinly sliced pancetta
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
Tightly wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of pancetta and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, stir the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over moderate heat, turning often, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the thyme and serve.

Shrimp and Water Chestnut Toasts

3/4 pound medium shrimp—shelled, deveined and coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 canned whole water chestnuts, drained and cut into 1/8-inch dice
2 large scallions, sliced crosswise
1/4 cup Shao-Hsing cooking wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 baguette, sliced 1/3 inch thick on the diagonal (24 slices)
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 450°. In a food processor, combine half of the shrimp with the butter and process until pureed.
In a large bowl, toss the rest of the shrimp with the water chestnuts, scallions, wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and sugar. Blend in the shrimp butter. Spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the shrimp mixture on each baguette slice.
In a large skillet, heat 1/8 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Put the sesame seeds in a small bowl. Dip each shrimp toast in the sesame seeds to coat the shrimp mixture. Fry about 8 toasts at a time over moderately high heat, shrimp side down, until the shrimp mixture turns pink, about 25 seconds. Using tongs, transfer the toasts to a large rimmed baking sheet, shrimp side up. Repeat with the remaining toasts, adding more vegetable oil to the pan as needed. Bake the toasts for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp mixture is cooked through. Serve right away.

Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Caviar and Dill Cream

1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon snipped chives
2 medium baking potatoes (1 pound), peeled
1 small onion
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 pound thinly sliced smoked salmon
2 ounces caviar
In a small bowl, stir the crème fraîche with the dill and lemon juice. Season with salt and black pepper and sprinkle with the chives. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a food processor or on a box grater, coarsely shred the potatoes and the onion. Transfer to a large, clean kitchen towel and squeeze dry.
In a medium bowl, mix the shredded potatoes and onion with the egg, flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
In a large nonstick skillet or on a griddle, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Drop 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten with the back of a spoon to make a 3-inch round. Make about 5 more pancakes and cook over moderately high heat until golden on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture; you should have 12 pancakes.
Arrange the potato pancakes on a platter. Serve warm, with the dill cream, smoked salmon and caviar.