Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Super Sunday Snacks

 

I don’t watch a lot of football, baseball is really more my game of choice. However, I do make an exception for the Super Bowl.

Of course the Super Bowl is just barely about football. It’s about the ads, and the halftime show, and, of course, the food. I’ve got a few suggestions for what to serve at your party.

 

If you’re looking for a Super Bowl snack that is a little more upscale, try my take on classic Buffalo Wings with this Buffalo Wing Rillettes. It taste great and can be prepared in advance (in fact it will taste even better if it sits for a couple of days) freeing you up for more game-watching enjoyment.

 

 

I like to put several bowls of snack mix all around the party room so that tasty treats are never too far away. If you fill them up with my Sriacha Soy Chex Mix plan to refill bowls a couple of times because from my experience, this gets gobbled up pretty quickly.

 

 

Lastly, I’ve never been to a Super Bowl party where a cheese ball wasn’t welcomed and devoured. This one features sharp cheddar cheese, pancetta, smoked paprika and pumpkin seeds. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, saute the pancetta until it is good and crispy.

 

Remove the pancetta from the pan, leaving behind the rendered fat, and add the pumpkin seeds. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until the are toasty brown and start to pop.

 

Remove them from the pan and sprinkle them with a little salt, then set them aside for the time being.

Next, in a medium-size bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, crispy pancetta and green onions.

 

Stir it well to combine.

 

Then turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap.

 

Gather the edges of the wrap to force the cheese mixture into a ball. Put the ball into the fridge for at least one hour.

 

When you are ready to serve, chop up the pumpkin seeds then combine them with the remaining smoked paprika.

 

Remove the plastic from the cheese ball and roll the ball in the pumpkin seed/paprika mixture.

Arrange the finished cheese ball on a plate with some crackers and enjoy.

 

Smoky Cheddar Cheese Ball
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
If you don't have pancetta feel free to substitute bacon. Or, leave it out entirely for a vegetarian option.
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces pancetta, chopped small
  • 4 ounces pumpkin seeds
  • 6 ounces whipped cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3-4 green onions. chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika, divided use
Instructions
  1. In a saute pan, cook the pancetta until it is crispy. Remove the pancetta from the pan, leaving behind the rendered fat, and add the pumpkin seeds. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until they are toasty brown and starting to pop. Remove them from the pan and sprinkle them with a little salt, then set them aside.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, crispy pancetta, green onions and two teaspoons of the smoked paprika. Stir well to combine, then turn the mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap. Gather the edges of the wrap to force the cheese mixture into a ball. Put the ball into the fridge for at least one hour.
  3. When ready to serve, chop up the pumpkin seeds then combine them with the remaining smoked paprika.
  4. Remove the plastic from the cheese ball and roll the ball in the pumpkin seed/paprika mixture.
  5. Arrange the finished cheese ball on a plate with crackers and enjoy.

 

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Sriracha Soy Chex Mix

The other day I was walking through Costco (no story starts that way and doesn’t end without spending $100) and I saw this on the end cap.

“Make Chex Party Mix. What a good idea” (I am so easily influenced, sigh).

I haven’t made Chex Mix in years (and years and years) and, I was hosting a party where I knew snack mix would be a welcome addition. I like the traditional Chex Mix recipe well enough, but I’m not a huge fan of pretzels and I wanted something a little spicier. So, I decided to switch it up a little (or a lot as it turns out). The idea of using Sriracha as the heat in my mix popped into my head, which then led me to add some other Asian flavors. Although the mix takes a little while in the oven it comes together very quickly.

Here’s the ingredients:

 

First, melt the butter in the microwave (or on the stovetop) and then stir the seasoning ingredients into the melted butter. Give the butter a little taste at this point and add more sriracha if you like.

 

Put the cereals and the toasted almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, pour the seasoned butter over top …

 

… then use a spatula to stir and distribute the seasonings throughout the cereals.

 

Place the sheet in a 250 degree oven and bake for one hour, stirring the mix every 15 minutes. Let cool completely and then enjoy!

 

Salty and spicy (and mildly addictive), all my guests raved about my mix. Try it as an addition to your next party. You’ll be glad you did.

Sriracha Soy Chex Mix
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Make this recipe gluten-free by omitting the wheat Chex and increasing the amount of rice and corn Chex to 4½ cups each.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups wheat Chex cereal
  • 3 cups rice Chex cereal
  • 3 cups corn Chex cereal
  • 1½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
Seasonings
  • 6 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon hoisen sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons sriracha
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in microwave or saucepan. Stir in remaining seasoning ingredients.
  3. Place the cereals and almonds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Pour the seasoned butter over and stir well to distribute seasonings.
  4. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely. Store in airtight container.

 

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes

 

I was going to do it. I had every intention. I was going to take a chicken, pull its skin off like a disgusting, slimy sweater and then refashion the whole thing into something that people have said is delicious.

I’ll be honest though, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. For one, the galatine looks like old food (as in not modern) and something I wasn’t really interested in. Secondly it made a lot. I mean the whole idea of this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to stretch a small amount of food into an amount to feed a group. I just didn’t want to make a bunch of food that would eventually go to waste and I just didn’t have enough free time this month to throw together a dinner party.

Then came the thing that made the whole point mute. I got sick. So sick. Nothing sounded good to eat and I had no energy for cooking.

Finally with two days to spare, I felt up to cooking, but, I still wasn’t up to full Jennifer strength. I needed my challenge to be easily completed in just a few hours. Galatine out. Rillettes in.

I’ve made rillettes before (I made the fantastic recipe from the Pork and Sons cookbook last month as part of my meal) but I’ve always made it with pork. I wanted to try something new so I thought I would use chicken. Then I started thinking about flavorings. I love the tangy flavor of buffalo wings and I thought that would be in interesting direction to take. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I combined all the ingredients except for the chicken and the vinegar in a saucepan and heated it until the lard had melted. Then I added the chicken and brought the pot to a low simmer. I stirred it a couple of times, but there was enough liquid in the pot that I didn’t have to worry about it too much.

After an hour I added the vinegar and let it cook for another 45 minutes or so until the chicken was falling apart. Then, using a slotted spoon, I moved all the meat to the bowl of my stand mixer.

Using the paddle attachment I ran the mixer for about a minute until the meat had broken apart. I tested for flavor and consistency and added a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid and a splash more of vinegar.

 

Then I packed the meat into 3 half-pint jars.

 

While I packed the jars, the cooking liquid separated into layers with the fat on top, so I was able to easily spoon a layer of fat top each of the packed jars.

 

I stashed the jars in the fridge so the fat could re-solidify and the flavors could marry.

Since buffalo wings are often served with blue cheese dressing, I thought that a hunk of good blue cheese, along with some crusty bread and a few celery sticks would be the perfect accompaniments.

The rillettes made a delightful dinner. The “buffalo wing” flavor was subtle, but delicious. I could have used a little more heat (and maybe a little more tang) but overall, this recipe is a winner.

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: three 8-oz jars
 
When checking the rillettes for seasoning, keep in mind that the flavors will not be as strong once the mixture has cooled. Season the mixture a little stronger than you think you should.
Ingredients
  • 5 ounces pork fat or lard
  • ½ Cup Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce
  • ½ Cup Water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 1 Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ Pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces, large veins removed.
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chicken and white vinegar, in a saucepan and heat gently until the fat has melted. Add the chicken and cook over very low heat, stirring often for 1 hour. Add the vinegar to the pan and continue to cook until the meat shreds easily, about another hour.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix at low speed until the meat breaks into pieces. Adjust consistency by adding a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid to the bowl (consistency should be spreadable, not runny or dry). Test for seasoning and add more salt, hot sauce or vinegar as needed.
  3. Pack the meat into a suitable jar or ramekin. Allow the cooking liquid to separate and spoon fat over the top of the meat to cover and create a seal.
  4. Serve with crusty bread, celery sticks and good blue cheese.

 

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Country-Style Paté cooked Sous Vide

 

When I saw this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge I was excited. Really excited.

I. love. pate.

There, I said it.

I don’t get to eat it very much. And it’s so rich I really wouldn’t want to, but I was excited to get to make my own. I started my research, first with Ruhlman & Polceyn’s Charcuterie, then The Art of Charcuterie. The “charcuterie challenge” specified making a paté en croute (paté wrapped in pastry) but as I started doing my research I thought that pate might be well suited to sous vide cooking. So, although I’ve been doing the charcuterie challenges so far this year, I decided to go with the “apprentice challenge”, making either Paté Campagne or a Paté Granintée (paté with an inlay, such as a pork tenderloin). As I read through a few of the recipes which featured inlays I noticed that the pate in them was generally smooth, and as I am still a little mad about grinding $36 worth of beautiful short ribs into a paste to make hot dogs, I decided a country-style paté was the way to go.

Something about the recipes I’d found so far just weren’t doing anything for me. I turned to a couple more of my cookbooks for inspiration and finally found some in Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. The recipe I came up with is really a distillation of three recipes from each of the cookbooks I used as sources. Flavoring and wrapping it in caul fat came from Les Halles, the use of a panade came from Charcuterie and the idea of using chunks of meat and fat as “garnish” came from The Art of Charcuterie. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I ran just the pork shoulder through the grinder using the large die. I took about 2/3 of the ground meat out and set it aside, then combined the rest of it with the liver, fat onions and garlic. I ran this through the grinder using the small die. I stashed this in the fridge …

… while I mixed together the brandy, cream, eggs, parsley, salt, flour and a wee pinch of allspice to make a panade.

In the bowl of my stand mixer I combined the ground meat with the panade. Pretty much all of the recipes that I read said that I should mix this together for a couple of minutes, until it became tacky. Thing is, mine was really loose, not tacky at all. I felt like at this point I had no choice but to venture onward, so I tossed my large chunks of pork fat, smoked bacon and pork shoulder into the mixer for just a few more spins.

I don’t have any fancy terrines, so I pulled out a Pyrex loaf dish and lined it with caul fat. At this point I should have had to carefully pack the meat into the dish but mine, instead, poured right in.

I further wrapped the caul fat around the top of the paté …

… then sealed the whole thing in a vacuum bag.

I had a bit of a hard time settling on a temperature for the sous vide. Whole cuts of pork only needs to be cooked to 145° but I couldn’t find any definitive information on a temperature for the liver. All of the pork paté recipes that I’d seen called for cooking to an internal temperature of 150° so I decided, for safety sake, to set the sous vide at 150° and call it good. I left it in the water bath overnight and then carefully retrieved it first thing when I woke up. As I pulled the pan from the water I had a momentary panic thinking that my bag had sprung a leak and the whole thing was ruined. Luckily, the juice in the bag was just juice that had been exuded by the paté.

I put a weight on the paté and let it cool for a couple of hours on the counter before moving it to the fridge to cool completely. Then the torture started. Days of waiting. Not only for the flavors of the paté to meld and develop a bit, but also for my guests to arrive. You see, the last couple of Charcutepalooza challenges have been a terrific excuse to throw a party.

 

                                                                                                        Photos by Dawn Jeffries

We dined on the best of the late-summer produce that I could find. Zucchini preserved with garlic and herbs in olive oil then tossed with pasta and fresh basil. A potato and corn salad with pesto aioli. A take on the classic Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes and nectarines. Cucumbers quick pickled in sweetened rice vinegar (just like Grandma used to make). Sangria with plums, melon and nectarines. And Pork Rillettes (which will be a blog post of their own some day soon because, yum).

And of course, the paté. Turns out sous vide is a terrific method for cooking paté. Moist and flavorful and full of delicious porky goodness. I served it with crusty bread, spicy dijon mustard and sour grapes. The grapes were very easy to make, basically filling a mason jar with grapes and a few sprigs of tarragon, topping them with apple cider vinegar (with a little sugar and pickling salt) then letting them set for about a month, and they were a terrific foil to the fattiness of the paté.

 

 

Country-Style Paté cooked Sous Vide
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-14
 
In addition to using small chunks of meat and fat as a “garnish” in your pate, dried fruit or pistachios would be pretty and quite tasty. Experiment to find flavors that you like.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ pound pork liver, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ pound pork fat, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 clove garlic, chopped
panande
  • 3 ounces brandy
  • 2 ounces cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2-3 Tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 pinch allspice
garnish
  • 2 ounces smoky bacon, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 ounces pork fat, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 2 ounces pork shoulder, cut into ½ inch dice
to wrap
  • caul fat
Instructions
  1. Grind the pork shoulder using a large die. Remove ⅔ of it to a smaller bowl and set it aside in the refrigerator. Combine the remaining pork shoulder with the liver, pork fat onions and garlic grind the mixture using the small die. Combine this with the previously ground pork shoulder and set it aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Whisk together all of the panade ingredients and add them to the ground meat. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix until the panade is well incorporated. Add the garnish and mix briefly. Refrigerate this mixture while you line a loaf dish with the caul fat. Pour the paté mixture into the loaf dish and wrap the caul fat over the top of the mixture. Vacuum-seal the paté and place the dish into a sous vide water bath heated to 150°. Cook for 6-12 hours.
  3. Carefully remove the dish from the water bath and place a weight on top of it to compress it and remove any air pockets. After it has cooled for a couple of hours move the paté, with the weight, to the refrigerator to cool completely. Wait at least two days before consuming. Enjoy with crusty bread, spicy mustard and pickles.

 

 

 

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Scallops with Carrot Cream and Marjoram from Good Fish Cookbook

A couple of days ago I got a call from a perspective client wondering if I was available this weekend for a dinner party for two. Happily I have the day open because I love doing these kind of intimate affairs. This particular dinner will be an anniversary celebration and my client wants to provide his wife with some of her favorite foods, one of which happens to be scallops.

However, because my husband is NOT a fan of seafood, I don’t cook a lot of it at home. I decided I better turn to one of my many (many) cookbooks to find some inspiration. Luckily, my friend Becky Selengut has just written a cook book all about sustainable seafood called Good Fish. I’ve had this absolutely gorgeous and exceptionally witty (yes a cook book can be witty) book on my shelf for a while but until now I haven’t had a great excuse to cook from it. This was my opportunity. I turned to the chapter on scallops and spotted a recipe for Scallops with Carrot Creme and Marjoram. Perfect.

The recipe has several components that are cooked separately then plated together. They include carrot cream, herb oil, pickled carrots and of course, the scallops. Looking at the photo in the book, the way that it was plated made me wonder if the pickled carrots were really necessary. They’re kind of off to the side looking very unimportant. Luckily I was able to contact Becky through Twitter (she goes by @chefreinvented) to ask if they were really needed. “Crucial” was her reply, “it’s the only acidity in the recipe”.

Okay then. I made the “crucial” pickled carrots (though I cut the carrot into tiny matchsticks instead of the ribbons Becky called for) and the rest of the components following her excellent instructions then plated it all together, piling my carrots atop my seared scallop rather than off to the side.

How was it? Really, really  good. In the headnote to the recipe Becky says “There is something about the earthy sweetness of carrots paired with the delicate pine notes of the marjoram that really works.” I have to agree. And that carrot cream, I could eat it with a spoon. Swoon. Following Becky’s instructions for cooking the scallops themselves led to beautiful caramelization on the outside with a lovely medium rare interior. Awesome.

The husband though? Yeah, he really is not a fan of scallops (though he enjoyed  the other elements of the dish). I applaud him for trying them but by the time he was done he had declared the house a seafood-free zone until at least August.

As you know, I’m not in the habit of sharing recipes from cookbooks. Those authors worked hard on their book and I’m not going to give away their hard work for free. So, get yourself a copy of this book, turn to page 89 and fall in love.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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