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Appetizer Recipes, page 1 

 

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Sweet Salty Flank Steak Rolls 

This recipe, despite a little mishap while preparing the marinade, was fantastic. Sometimes those little mishaps become defining moments, and this was one. A little sweet, a little salty and full of flavors, these are great set out for a buffet.

Makes about 45 rolls

MARINADE:
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder (the mishap!)
1 - 1½ pound flank steak.

¼ cup hoisin sauce
1 bunch green scallions, white and light green parts only


Sweet Salty Flank Steak Rolls
Sweet Salty Flank Steak Rolls
In a gallon sized zip-top bag, combine the marinade ingredients. Trim the flank steak of any unneeded fat and place into the marinade. Seal the bag, removing as much air from the bag as possible. Allow the steak to marinate overnight, turning once.

When ready to prepare, heat the broiler with the rack closest to broiler in place. Remove the flank steak from the marinade; discard the marinade. Using paper toweling, dry the steak before placing onto a broiler pan, or a rack set onto a baking sheet. (Line the baking sheet with foil to avoid unnecessary cleanup later.) Place the meat under the broiler and broil for about 5 minutes per side. Meat should be a little rare for best flavor and tenderness. Remove from oven and allow meat to rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Have the 2 - 3 inch lengths of scallion sliced into thin matchsticks. Place the hoisin sauce in a bowl and have a small pastry brush handy. Place the rested meat onto a cutting board and begin slicing across the grain, at a 45 degree angle, creating wide and very thin slices. Each slice can be cut into 2 - 3 individual pieces, depending on the width of the meat. Brush a piece with a small amount of hoisin sauce, then set a few of the scallion matchsticks at one end. Roll the scallion inside and skewer with a toothpick to hold the roll in place. Set the rolls decoratively on a plate to serve.

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Bean and Cheese Dip 

This delightful combination of flavors is really hard to resist. It is most delicious served with crackers, and "Wheat Thins" are the best of all. Quick and easy party fare, or just something to nosh on while watching your favorite movie.

Makes about 3 cups

1 (11.5 ounce) can Bean & Bacon Soup
1 (5-ounce) jar Kraft Processed Cheese (Bacon flavor is great)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
¼ teaspoon hot sauce, optional
1 cup sour cream


In a deep 1-quart casserole, combine soup, cheese, brown sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, onion and hot sauce (if used).  Cover and microwave at high for 4 - 5 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring twice during this time.

Stir ½ cup of bean mixture into sour cream, mix, then return all to the casserole and mix in well.  Cover again.  Microwave at medium low (30%) for 2 minutes or until heated through, stirring once.  Serve with crackers of your choice.



Bean and Cheese Dip
Bean and Cheese Dip
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Savory Blue Cheese Coins with Apricot Jam 

These are just delicious as the recipe states, or if you can find Applewood Smoked Blue Cheese Crumbles, they are even better. The smoked flavor gives these the flavor of bacon, though there is no bacon in them. These have been enjoyed by people claiming to hate blue cheese, so give them a try. If you absolutely will not use blue cheese, use all cheddar, or substitute Parmesan or other dry shredded cheese.

Makes about 90 to 100, depending on size

1½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup blue cheese crumbles (Gorgonzola, Bleu, etc.)
½ cup walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold, unsalted butter cut into ½-inch cubes
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water

½ cup apricot jam (or use fig jam, peach jam.


Savory Blue Cheese Coins
Savory Blue Cheese Coins with Apricot Jam
In a food processor, combine the first 5 ingredients an process briefly to blend. Add in the cold butter cubes and process until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Combine the egg yolk with the water and mix well, then add to the food processor. Process until the dough forms moist crumbs.

Turn dough out onto a surface, preferably marble or granite. Smear the dough with the hands and use a pastry scraper to bring the dough together, fold it over, turn and repeat: smear, scrape, turn - about 4 times. Divide dough in halves. Roll each half into an 18-inch long log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 2 or 3 days.

When ready to  make the coins, remove the log from its wrapper and slice thinly, about ¼-inch thick or less. Set these little rounds ½-inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Use a ¼-teaspoon measure and make an indentation in the center of each little coin. Insert a tiny 1/8-teaspoon dollop of jam into the well. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from pan immediately, using a thin spatula.


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Smokies in Puff Pastry 

These can be found in the freezer section of the grocery in many places, but they are so easy to make. Puff pastry is the one go-to item for making your dishes of gourmet quality, and it is so simple to use.

Makes about 75 (one package of "Lit'l Smokies")

1 (14 ounce) package "Lit'l Smokies"
1 (1.1 lb) box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets

Remove puff pastry from freezer at least 45 minutes before working with it. Remove one sheet to thaw on a flat surface. Check after about 15 to 20 minutes. If the first flap begins to lift a little (do not force it or it will break off), set the pastry up like a little tent with the flap lifted out, allowing for air flow. As the dough thaws, open the flap more and allow the inner flap to drop down. Once sheet is completely thawed, flour a large surface and roll out the sheet to about a 14 - 15-inch square.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a pastry cutter, cut strips one way a little less than the width of the Smokie. Measure length of strip needed by using one Smokie. Set it at one end and roll until there is enough to overlap. Cut the piece there, then use this as an approxiate measure for all the rest. The length will be between 3 - 4 inches.

Roll one Smokie, and moisten the far end with water, so it will adhere. Set the rolled Smokie on a baking sheet, seam side down and continue until all the Smokies are used. Bake the wrapped Smokies for about 25 minutes, or until they are puffed and brown.

NOTES: Do not try to re-roll any scraps from the puff pastry, as the dough will not puff up the same way.


Smokies in Puff Pastry
Smokies in Puff Pastry, above
How to roll and cut, below
How to Roll and Cut Pastry
 
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Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog Bites 


Mom used to make us hot dogs like this when we were little, as a lunch time dish.  She used the whole hot dog, folded a piece of cheese into a slit down the length and then wrapped in bacon and baked. These make equally great appetizers, cut into three pieces. Smokies or other hot dogs could also be used.


Makes 12 bites (multiply as needed)

4 hot dogs
2 -3 slices American cheese
8 - 12 slices center cut bacon

Cut a slit down the length of the hot dog, not cutting all the way through. Cut one slice of cheese in half. With one half slice, fold this in half ad lay it into the length of the hot dog. If it does not reach to the ends, use a bit from another slice. Cut each hot dog into three equal pieces and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Fry the bacon to about half done. It will go into the oven; this is just to ensure the bacon gets done completely. Drain the bacon and wrap a piece around the section of hot dog, keeping the cheese side upwards. Skewer with toothpicks and set onto a baking sheet with a rim. Bake the bites for about 10 minutes, until the cheese starts to get melted and the bacon is done.


Cheese Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog Bites
Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog Bites
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Cheese Ball or Cheese Ball Pops 

There are so many additions to cheese balls. Making your own is simple and quick. It took me half an hour to make the cheese ball and make three of the pops for show. This "recipe" is a suggestion of ingredients. Make a variation that you and your guests would like.

Makes two 4-inch cheese balls or one larger

BASE CHEESES:
16 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces other cheese
:
   Bleu, Parmesan, Cheddar, Romano


FLAVORING INGREDIENTS, any single category or one of each:
½ cup of:
     scallions, craisins, raisins, mango chutney
, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, 
         almonds, chopped

½ cup of meat, if desired:
     fried bacon, smoked salmon, prosciutto, dried beef - chopped
1 - 3 teaspoons of:
     dried onion soup mix, dijon mustard, curry powder, Worcestershire,
          fresh herb of choice, fresh ground pepper

COATINGS:
½ cup of:
     Chopped nuts of choice, chopped herbs of choice


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Cheese Ball and Cheese Ball Pops
Cheese Ball and Cheese Ball Pops

One possible mixture of ingredients is the pound of cream cheese, softened, half pound of shredded sharp cheddar, half cup scallions, 6 slices fried crumble bacon, 1 clove minced garlic. Using a hand mixer makes quick work. Combine the ingredients. For normal cheese ball size, make into one large or two smaller balls and roll into nuts or chopped parsley. If making the Cheese Ball Pops, make one inch balls, roll into the coating of choice and skewer with a toothpick.

Another variation on flavors would be the pound of cream cheese, half pound of shredded white cheddar, 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill and a half cup of chopped smoked salmon. Roll the large or small balls into shredded Parmesan cheese or chopped pistachios.

Start with the pound of cream cheese and add a half pound of blue cheese of choice, 1 to 3 teaspoons of coarse black pepper, a half cup chopped craisins, half cup chopped scallions, then roll the finished ball or balls in chopped walnuts.

The variations are endless. Experiment using flavors that are ones you love. This takes an exceedingly short time to put together and can be made in advance.

Green Pea, Feta and Mint Spread 

This recipe is my iteration of Michael Symon's recipe, "Sweet Pea and Feta Dip." I didn't have enough feta cheese to make the recipe the way he had it listed. Not knowing if I would like it, I chose to make a much smaller amount. This was so very good on No-Knead Bread. Oh, I would surely make this again and again.

Makes about 1½ cups


1 cup frozen peas
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
zest of one whole lemon, or 3 - 4 drops lemon oil (NOT extract)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint, optional
4 - 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Thaw peas, or microwave very briefly to thaw. You want to keep the bright green color. Place in a food processor along with the feta, lemon zest mint and olive oil. Process until well combined, but still with texture. Taste, and add salt and pepper, if necessary.
Green Pea Feta and Mint Spread
Green Pea, Feta and Mint Spread



NOTES: Feta can be salty; I added ½ teaspoon salt and it was far too salty for my taste. I had no lemons when I made this, but do have a set of three Boyajian citrus oils. The oils are very pure flavor - NOT an extract. I added in 3 drops - it is powerful. I could have used one drop more. If you have the oil on hand, but no lemons, do use it. Next time I plan to get lemons in advance and use the zest.

This makes a thick spread. Michael Symon called it a "dip", but I cannot think of many things to dip that would not break off in the finished product. It is really exceptionally delicious. I had no idea what to expect, but WOW. It is fantastic spread on very crusty bread.

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Brie and Cherry Cups 

These little appetizers are a bit fussier than some to prepare, but are so delicious. The mix of creamy Brie cheese, crusty puff pastry and sweet cherry jam are delightful.

Makes 36

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/3 - ½ cup red cherry Preserves
4 ounces brie, cut into ½-inch square chunks (about 36)
¾ cup pecans or pistachios, chopped
       
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 36 miniature muffin cups, 1¾ x 1-inch, with cooking spray. Unfold thawed
pastry and cut into 36 (1½-inch) squares. Slightly press each square into muffin cup; press center with finger.

Bake 10 minutes. Press center with handle of wooden spoon.  Bake 6 to 8 minutes longer or until golden brown.  Immediately press in center again.  Fill each with about ½ teaspoon preserves. Top with Brie cube and nuts.  Bake 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve warm.
 

Brie and Cherry Cups
Brie and Cherry Cups



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Pepper Cheese Spirals 

These little appetizers could not be easier to make. There is a lot of pepper in them, so they have a really good bite. The better quality the pepper, the better the flavors. Tellicherry is the best quality of pepper to find. Penzey's Spices is a great source.

Makes about 36 (2½-inch) spirals

1 sheet of puff pastry dough, thawed
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 - 1½ tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1½ cups grated "Stella" (or similar brand) 3-Cheese Italian Blend,
OR use one type freshly shredded cheese: Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago
¾ teaspoon Red Palm Island Sea Salt, or other slightly coarse ground sea salt
½ cup chopped walnuts, other nuts of choice, or pine nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the thawed puff pastry dough in one direction only, to about 18 inches in length. Keep the pastry with a long edge towards you while working. Leave about a ½-inch space on the opposite long edge free of any filling ingredients. Brush the sheet with the melted butter. Sprinkle on the coarse black pepper. Strew on the grated cheese. Sprinkle on the sea salt, then the nuts. Press slightly with hands. Brush a little water on the free edge opposite you.

Begin rolling the sheet into a long log. The water at the other edge will adhere the edges. With a very sharp chef knife, slice in ¼-inch slices, using the knife as a spatula to transfer the rolls to a greased baking sheet. This helps prevent the loss of the fillings. 
Allow at least an inch between slices. Bake for about 13 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp through.


Pepper Cheese Spirals
Pepper Cheese Spirals, above
Below left: Pepper on the pastry
Below Right: sliding the slice off the knife

Making and Slicing Pepper Cheese Spirals
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Spanakopita 

(Spinach & Phyllo Triangles)

Whether served as a part of a buffet of appetizers, or as the start of a gourmet 5-course meal, these are always a hit. Delicious, stuffed with spinach and feta cheese, learn to use phyllo and make these for your next event.

Makes about 30 - 40, depending on size

1 egg
½ medium onion, finely chopped
¼ pound feta cheese, crumbled
4 ounces cream cheese
5 ounces (½ of a 10-ounce package) frozen    
     chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh dillweed, chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 package phyllo sheets
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Spanakopita
Spanakopita
Folding Spanakopita

Folding Spanakopita


In a mixing bowl combine the egg, onion, and feta cheese. Beat to combine. Add in the cream cheese to combine. Add spinach and seasonings and mix until just blended. Chill for 1 hour.

Phyllo dough must be handled with great care, since it is delicate and dry to the touch. Either set in the refrigerator to thaw overnight, or set on the counter to thaw for 3 or so hours prior to use. Carefully unroll as many sheets as needed and store the remainder immediately. Place sheets not immediately in use between towels to prevent drying.  If weather is hot and dry, sprinkle a little water on the towels.

Phyllo sheets used to be 16 x 22-inches, but nowadays are about 9 x 16-inches. Stack 2 sheets together and, cutting through both sheets at once, cut strips about 2- or 3-inches wide by 16-inches long. Brush with melted butter. Place a teaspoon of filling on one end of the strip closest to you (figure a). Fold one corner of the strip over to the opposite side, forming a triangle and enclosing the filling (figure b). Continue folding away from you, as you would fold an American Flag (figures c & d) to the end of the strip, maintaining the triangle shape. Brush with melted butter.

Place these on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until golden. Best served hot. These can be baked and frozen.  Reheat on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

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Anita's Pesto 

Makes about 1½ cups

Emailing one day to my family, I asked if anyone had a pesto recipe? Anita gave me this recipe. She watched someone make it and wrote it down. Here is her recipe.

2 cups basil leaves
½ - 1 cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup olive oil

Combine all but olive oil in a food processor. Process, or pulse until chopped, scraping down sides as needed. Drizzle in olive oil while processing until well blended.


Anitas Pesto served on crusty bread
Anita's Pesto, served on Crusty Bread

If you prefer a less smooth final product, chop by hand, or use a mortar & pestle.

NOTES: My favorite way to serve this pesto is to spread it on a crusty bread, such as baguette slices, ciabatta bread or the now famous, no-knead bread. I sprinkle more grated cheese over top and broil for 2 - 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. This is a fantastic accompaniment to a nice plate of sliced tomatoes, or with a plate of eggs for breakfast!

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Bacon Wrapped Dates 

Bacon wrapped dates are a typical Tapas recipe.  A simple recipe, easy to make, and delicious.  Can there be a better combination?

Makes 24 - double or triple recipe as needed!

12 slices center cut bacon
24 medjool dates

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

Soak 24 toothpicks in water for at least 15 minutes (to prevent them burning in the oven).  Cut the bacon in half across the middle, so you have 24 short pieces.  Wrap each date with a piece of bacon, and skewer with a toothpick to hold bacon in place.  Place the dates, seam side down, on the parchment covered baking sheet.

Bacon Wrapped Dates
Bacon Wrapped Dates

Bake until the tops are browned, about 6 minutes. Turn over and bake until evenly browned and bacon is cooked and crisp, about 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from pan onto paper towels to drain. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

NOTES: Medjool dates are large, very moist and sweet. Other dates can be substituted, but Medjool are best. The dates may also be stuffed with a nut, such as a pecan, before wrapping in the bacon.

The toothpick step may or not really be necessary. It is a sort of insurance against them unraveling before they are baked. Once baked, the toothpicks can be removed, as the bacon stays wrapped in shape.

If the parchment edges stay up high enough, you may be lucky enough to be able to take the cooled grease and throw it away with the paper, leaving behind a clean pan! Always a big plus in my book!


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Pistachio and Almond Paste Filled Apricots 

One of the simplest appetizrs to make with only 3 ingredients, these can be made well ahead of your party.  They are a hit every time with the wonderful combination of flavors.  Sweet almond paste in a tart apricot with the salty pistachio for color and crunch and the saltiness to alleviate the sweet and tart flavor..

Makes about 30

1 bag of dried apricots, preferably quite soft
1 can Solo Almond Paste
1 small bag shelled pistachios.

Open the apricot along one side.  This is usually already done, you just have to find the place where it opens.  Take a small ball of almond paste; about a teaspoonful, depending on the size of the apricot. Roll the paste into a football shape and stuff inside the apricot.  Use 1 or 2 pistachios, again depending on size of the apricot, and press into the almond paste.

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Pistachio and Almond Paste Filled Apricots
Pistachio and Almond Paste Filled Apricots

Gremolata Walnut Pinwheels 

Sitting around chatting about recipes with my daughter Jennifer, and telling her about Gremolata, it popped in my head to try using the gremolata in a puff pastry as an appetizer.  These are delicately flavored and lovely, even the kids couldn't stop eating them, which, to me, signifies a hit!

Makes approximately 70 pinwheels


¾ cup parsley, chopped
2 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced (use  amount of garlic to taste)
3 - 4 tablespoons lemon
zest (about 2 lemons)
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 package Puff Pastry Sheets

Set the puff pastry sheets to thaw. This will take from 30 to 40 minutes, to thaw enough to open the sheets without breaking at the folds.

Combine the first 6 ingredients (the gremolata). Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Gremolata Walnut Pinwheels
Gremolata Walnut Pinwheels

When the pastry is thawed, first take one and roll it in only one direction, making a long piece about 18 inches long by the width of the original sheet. Spread half of the gremolata over the sheet. It will be quite sparse, but this is fine. Sprinkle ½ cup of the walnuts over the gremolata. Roll up from the long side, creating a long narrow roll. With a sharp knife, slice the roll into generous ¼-inch thick slices and lay them onto a baking sheet. If they are too distorted, press them slightly to a rounder shape, but they will round nicely in the oven.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are nicely golden.

NOTES: My daughter and I feel that these would serve as a lovely accompaniment to a nice soup such as a creamy tomato soup, or a salad, as well as an appetizer.

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Veggie Tray Turkey 

A really creative vegetable platter for Thanksgiving or any time. This idea is available elsewhere but I had to include it here after showing it in a class I gave.  Try it. It's too cute to miss, and too easy not to give it a go.

3 - 4 lettuce leaves 
1 each red and yellow bell pepper
2 green bell peppers
1 cucumber
1 baggie baby carrots
2 scallions
1 black or Greek olive

Directions: Use a round platter about 14 or 15-inches in diameter and line it with the lettuce leaves. Slice one of each color of bell pepper in half from top to bottom, clean out seeds and membranes. Slice across the halved peppers, making generous ¼-inch thick slices, which will be the scalloped border of "feathers". Slice the cucumber in scant ¼-inch slices.

Cut the bottom half off of the remaining green pepper, for the head and face. Take the two scallions, trim the ends, then slice down the bottom 1½-inch lengthwise a few times and place these into ice water in the fridge, allowing the ends to curl, for the feet.

Line the baby carrots along the top half border of the platter, making about two rows. At about low center, place the cucumber slices into a pile, for the body. Make rows of the green pepper slices against the carrots, then the yellow, then the red. Place the green pepper bottom half on top of the cucumber slices. With the trimmings from the yellow and red bell peppers, make a yellow beak and red wattle. Two slices of olive make eyes. Wedge the curled scallion feet under the cucumbers and there you have it. 


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Veggie Tray Turkey
Veggie Tray Turkey