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.

Cabrales Phyllo Rolls with Sherry Dipping Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/2 cup for brushing and frying
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 pound cream cheese
2 ounces Cabrales or other blue cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup sweet sherry
1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
8 sheets of phyllo dough, plus more in case of breakage
In a skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the leek and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cream cheese and Cabrales and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape the filling into a bowl; let cool.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sherry, beef broth and raisins and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Stir the cornstarch mixture, whisk it into the sauce and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
On a work surface, stack the phyllo sheets and cut them crosswise into 4 strips, each 4 inches wide by 12 inches long. Arrange 4 strips on a work surface with the short sides facing you; keep the remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Brush the strips lightly with olive oil. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the cheese filling at one end of each strip and roll them up, making about 3 turns to create small cylinders, then fold in the sides. Brush the folded sides with olive oil and continue to roll up the cylinders. Set the rolls on a plate. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and filling.
Place a wire rack on a large baking sheet and cover with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Add 10 to 12 of the rolls and fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the rolls to paper towels to drain while you fry the rest, adding more olive oil as needed. Transfer the phyllo rolls to a platter and serve with the sherry dipping sauce.
Make Ahead
The phyllo rolls can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Fry directly from the refrigerator. The sauce can be refrigerated overnight.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Appetizers

1 (12-oz.) can Pillsbury® Golden Layers® Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 oz. (1/2 cup) crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried pesto seasoning
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Separate dough into 10 biscuits; separate each evenly into 2 layers, making 20 dough rounds. Press each in ungreased miniature muffin cup.
2. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, goat cheese, tomatoes, onion flakes and pesto seasoning. Spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise mixture into each dough-lined cup. Sprinkle each with Parmesan cheese.
3. Bake at 375°F. for 10 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from muffin cups. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft) Bake at 375°F. for 12 to 16 minutes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Smoked Salmon Crisps

4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 chilled large egg white
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
4 ounces sliced smoked salmon, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons very finely chopped chives, plus a few snipped, for garnish
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup crème fraîche
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the egg white and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter until smooth and creamy.
Spoon teaspoons of the batter 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and spread to 2-inch rounds. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake in the upper and middle third of the oven for about 15 minutes, shifting the pans from top to bottom and front to back, until the tuiles are golden and fragrant. Let cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the salmon with the shallot, chopped chives, lemon zest and a pinch of white pepper. Spoon the salmon onto the tuiles and top with a dollop of crème fraîche and a couple of snipped chives. Serve right away.
Make Ahead
The tuiles can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
SERVINGS: makes 3 dozen crisps

Creamy Mushroom Phyllo Triangles

3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 3/4 ounce)
1 pound button mushrooms
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
24 (18 x 14-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
Cover porcini mushrooms with boiling water in a bowl. Let stand 1 hour. Drain well; chop.
Place half of button mushrooms in a food processor; pulse 8 times or until finely chopped. Remove from processor. Repeat procedure with remaining button mushrooms. Add onion to processor; pulse 8 times or until finely chopped.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add button mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid evaporates (about 10 minutes). Stir in porcini mushrooms, oregano, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cheese; stir until cheese melts. Stir in parsley.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large cutting board or work surface (cover remaining phyllo to prevent drying). Cut sheet in half lengthwise; lightly coat with cooking spray. Fold each phyllo piece in half lengthwise to form a (3 1/2-inch-wide) strip. Spoon a level tablespoon of mushroom mixture onto 1 short end of each strip, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold 1 corner of edge with 1-inch border over mixture, forming a triangle; continue folding back and forth into a triangle to end of strip. Repeat procedure with remaining phyllo, cooking spray, and mushroom mixture. Place triangles, seam side down, on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat tops with cooking spray.
Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

Mini Quiche

Mushroom Mini Quiche
1 pkg. refrigerated pie crust
1 large portabello mushroom
8 oz. button mushrooms
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Let pie crusts stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, then gently roll out to 12" circles. Wipe mushrooms with damp cloth and chop in food processor or with chef's knife. Place butter and olive oil in a medium skillet and cook mushrooms over medium heat until all liquid is evaporated and mushrooms are brown and tender.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 dozen 1 3/4" muffin cups. Using 3" cookie cutter, cut 24 circles from pie crust (12 from each crust), rerolling crusts if needed. Press into prepared muffin cups. Divide mushrooms evenly among lined cups. In small bowl, combine egg, cream, salt and cayenne pepper and beat well. Pour egg mixture over mushrooms; 2 tsp. per each muffin cup. Sprinkle each with grated cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until center of quiches is set. To serve warm, cool 5 minutes before removing from pans.
To freeze, cool on wire rack and freeze in single layer until solid. Place in air tight freezer container in single layer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coconut Shrimp with Maui Mustard Sauce

18 unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beer
1 (7-ounce) package sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs (commercial)
Peanut oil
*Maui Mustard Sauce
Peel shrimp, leaving tails on. Butterfly shrimp by making a deep slit down the back of each from the large end to the tail, cutting to, but not through, inside curve of shrimp.
Stir together coconut milk, cilantro, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add shrimp, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Drain shrimp from mixture (do not pat dry).
Whisk together flour and beer in a small bowl. Combine coconut and breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dip shrimp into beer batter; dredge in coconut mixture, pressing onto shrimp. Place shrimp on a baking sheet; freeze 20 minutes.
Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven, and heat to 350°. Cook shrimp, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve immediately with Maui Mustard Sauce.

Maui Mustard Sauce
1/3 cup pineapple preserves
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup stone-ground mustard
Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.
Makes 1 Cup.

Greek Shrimp Bruschetta

1/3 cup olive oil, divided
3/4 pound small fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
1 French baguette, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch-thick slices
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté shrimp and garlic 3 to 4 minutes until shrimp are cooked. Transfer to a small bowl and chill. Combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Place bread slices on a baking sheet; brush bread with remaining olive oil. Bake at 375º for 8 minutes. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon shrimp mixture onto each bread slice.

Yields 2 dozen.

Crunchy Shrimp Wontons with Green-Onion Dipping Sauce

1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves and tender stems from 24 sprigs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
24 large shell-on shrimp (20 to 24 per lb.)
Vegetable oil for frying
24 square wonton wrappers
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup soy sauce, chopped cilantro, lemon zest, 2 tbsp. ginger, and 1 tbsp. sesame oil.
2. Peel shrimp, leaving tails on, and devein. Add to soy mixture and marinate, covered, 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature. Drain shrimp in a colander, spread out on paper towels, and pat dry.
3. Pour oil into a deep, heavy pot to a depth of 3 in. and heat to 375°. Meanwhile, spread out wonton wrappers. Working with one wrapper at a time, put several cilantro leaves and stems along wrapper edge nearest you. Top them with a shrimp, arranging shrimp lengthwise so that tail extends beyond wrapper. Fold the wrapper edge opposite the tail over shrimp. Brush far edge of wrapper with water and, starting with near edge, roll wrapper loosely around shrimp, forming a package. Press seam firmly to seal.
4. Preheat oven to 200° and put a shallow rack in a baking pan. When oil reaches 375°, fry wontons in several batches so as not to crowd them, flipping midway through cooking, until medium golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Lift shrimp out with tongs, draining excess oil, and transfer to baking pan; keep warm in oven.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp. sesame oil, the orange and lemon juices, marmalade, green onion, and 2 tsp. ginger. Serve wontons hot, with dipping sauce on the side. Makes 24 Wontons.

Bacon-Blue Cheese Salad With White Wine Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 medium cucumbers, peeled
3 cups mixed baby greens
2 cooked thick-cut bacon slices, halved
1/3 cup shredded or matchstick carrots
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*White Wine Vinaigrette
1. Place chopped pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.
2. Bake at 350º for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.
3. Using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, cut cucumbers lengthwise into very thin strips just until seeds are visible. Discard cucumber core.
4. Shape largest cucumber slices into 4 (2 1/2- to 2 3/4-inch-wide) rings. Wrap evenly with remaining cucumber slices. Stand rings upright on 4 serving plates.
5. Fill each cucumber ring evenly with mixed greens, next 3 ingredients, and toasted pecans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle each salad with 1 Tbsp. White Wine Vinaigrette, and serve with remaining vinaigrette. Makes 4 Servings.
White Wine Vinaigrette
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Whisk together 1/4 cup white wine vinegar and next 3 ingredients until blended. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 1 week. Makes about 2/3 cup.

Potato Nests with Sour Cream and Smoked Salmon

1 1/2 pounds large russet potatoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced smoked salmon (2 oz.), plus a small amount for garnish
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch black pepper
Small parsley leaves, optional
In a large saucepan, bring unpeeled potatoes and enough cold water to cover to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer potatoes until just cooked, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, let cool and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until cold.
Meanwhile, pulse smoked salmon and lemon peel in a food processor, scraping down bowl. Add sour cream and process until combined. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease 32 mini-muffin-tin cups. Peel and coarsely grate potatoes. Gently toss potatoes with salt and pepper in a bowl. Place about 1 heaping Tbsp. potato mixture into each muffin cup and press against bottom and up sides, allowing some mixture to extend above rim. (Do not spread mixture too thin or holes will form while baking.)
Bake potato nests until edges are dark golden, about 25 minutes. Coowwl nests in pans for 10 minutes. Carefully remove nests from pans and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to set. (Nests may be made up to 4 hours ahead; leave at room temperature.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place potato nests on a clean, large baking sheet and bake until heated through and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer potato nests to a platter. Using a small spoon, dollop about 1 tsp. sour cream mixture into each potato nest and top each with a tiny strip of smoked salmon and, if desired, a parsley leaf. Serve right away.

Warm Rosemary Olives

6 cups mixed olives, such as Niçoise, Spanish, Picholine, and Greek
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Combine the olives, rosemary, and red pepper flakes in the center of 1 or 2 large sheets of aluminum foil. Fold the foil to enclose the olives in a pouch. (Recipe can made to this point 1 day ahead, Refrigerate.) Heat oven to 400º F. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Note: Heating up olives with herbs and spices is an easy upgrade of a familiar party food, and it perfumes the house with a heady, exotic aroma.
Yields 6 cups, or enough for 30 guests

Zaatar Straws

About 1/2 cup flour for rolling pastry
1/2 pound chilled puff pastry (see Notes)
About 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 tbsp. zaatar (see Notes)
Egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 tbsp. water)
*Garlicky Yogart Dip

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Set puff pastry on surface, sprinkle lightly with flour, and roll out into a rectangle about 8 in. by 12 in. and 1/8 in. thick. Arrange pastry so that it's horizontal and trim edges even.
2. Brush pastry all over with olive oil. Sprinkle left half of pastry liberally with half of the zaatar and fold right (unsprinkled) pastry half over zaatar, like closing a book. Lightly sprinkle top of pastry with flour and roll back out into a rectangle almost as large as the one you began with. As before, brush pastry with olive oil, sprinkle half with remaining zaatar, and fold unsprinkled half over zaatar. Roll with the pin a few times to seal.
3. With a sharp knife, cut pastry lengthwise into 1/3-in.-wide strips. Twist each strip loosely a couple of times and put on an ungreased baking sheet (push ends onto sheet to keep straw from untwisting; you may need 2 sheets). Dab tops of strips lightly with egg wash.
4. Bake straws until medium golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool 1 minute, then loosen gently from sheet with spatula. Serve warm or cool, with Garlicky Yogurt Dip.

Makes 12 Straws

Shrimp Mojo de Ajo

24 unpeeled, large raw shrimp
1/2 cup *Mojo de Ajo
24 (6-inch) wooden skewers
Garnishes: lime wedges, fresh cilantro sprigs, coarse sea salt
1. Peel shrimp, leaving tails on; devein, if desired. Combine shrimp and Mojo de Ajo, tossing to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes.
3. Remove shrimp from Mojo de Ajo, discarding marinade. Thread 1 shrimp onto each skewer.
4. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Garnish, if desired.

Mojo de Ajo
3/4 cup olive oil
3 whole guajillo chiles*
3/4 cup bottled minced garlic
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1. Heat oil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat to 350°. Using tongs, submerge 1 chile into oil, and cook 5 seconds; remove and drain on paper towels. Let cool 5 minutes or until completely cool. Repeat with remaining 2 chiles. Remove and discard stems. Process remaining portion of chiles in food processor 30 seconds to 1 minute or until crumbled into small flakes.
2. Cook garlic in hot oil in same saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes or until golden. Let stand 5 minutes.
3. Stir in chile flakes, lime juice, and salt. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days. Allow mixture to come to room temperature before using.
*2 Tbsp. sweet paprika may be substituted. Omit Step 1; proceed with recipe as directed, stirring in paprika with lime juice and salt in Step 3.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Bacon-wrapped Shrimp with Basil-Garlic Stuffing

1 pound large shrimp
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
16 pieces thinly sliced bacon
1/2 cup prepared fruit-based barbecue sauce
Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on. Butterfly shrimp by cutting a slit along the back and gently pressing open.
Combine basil, Parmesan, and garlic in a small bowl. Place basil mixture evenly in shrimp openings; press shrimp closed.
Cook bacon over medium heat until partially cooked. Drain on paper towels.
Wrap each shrimp with 1 slice bacon, and place on greased baking sheet. Brush barbecue sauce over shrimp, and bake at 400° for 8 to 9 minutes.
Makes 16 appetizer servings

Artichoke and Parmesan Crostini

8 slices (1/4 inch thick) baguette
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 jar (6 1/2 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make crostini: Brush baguette slices on both sides with a total of 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet, and bake, turning over once, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool.
Meanwhile, make topping: Finely chop artichokes, and combine in a bowl with Parmesan, parsley, and remaining tablespoon oil.
Dividing evenly, spoon topping onto crostini, and garnish with additional Parmesan, if desired.
Makes 8

Mini Caprese Bites

1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
10 to 14 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, cut into thirds*
32 (4-inch) wooden skewers**
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1. Thread 1 tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto each skewer. Place skewers in a shallow serving dish.
2. Whisk together oil and next 3 ingredients. Drizzle oil mixture over skewers; sprinkle with basil and salt and pepper to taste.
*1 (8-oz.) package fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, may be substituted.
Makes 8 appetizer servings

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meat Balls

1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple
1 egg
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 cup Pure Cane Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Dijon-mayonnaise blend
Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Place pineapple and 2 tablespoons juice in a large bowl (set the remaining juice aside for glaze). Add the egg, bread crumbs and pepper to pineapple. Stir in sausage and beef. Shape into 1-in. balls. Place meatballs on a greased rack in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 450° for 12-15 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, combine glaze ingredients and reserved pineapple juice. Add meatballs. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 5-10 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 4 dozen.