Tag Archives: appetizer

Navy Bean and Artichoke Dip

Perfect party pleaser. Looking for something healthy, yet tasty, to serve your guests or bring to a party? The secret behind this creamy and complex tasting bean dip is to pair a starchy bean with a lighter legume or vegetable. By using a combination, you avoid the pastiness of dips that use only beans. To further freshen the dips, add creamy Greek-style yogurt, a healthy dose of lemon juice, and a full ¼ cup of herbs.

Navy Bean and Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: Yields 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. juice
  • 1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
  • 1 15-oz. can navy beans, 2 Tbsp. liquid reserved, beans rinsed
  • 1 scallion, white and light-green parts cut into 1/2-inch pieces, green part sliced thin on bias
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • ¼ tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • ¾ tsp.
  • Salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

  1. Combine garlic and lemon zest and juice in small bowl; set aside for at least 15 minutes. Measure out 2 tablespoons artichoke hearts, chop coarsely, and set aside for garnish.
  2. Pulse beans, reserved bean liquid, remaining artichoke hearts, scallion whites and light greens, parsley, ground fennel, ¾ teaspoon salt, cayenne, and lemon juice mixture in food processor until fully ground, 5 to 10 pulses. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.
  3. Continue to process until uniform paste forms, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl twice. Add yogurt and continue to process until smooth and homogeneous, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
  4. Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. (Dip can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Let refrigerated dip stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.)
  5. Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with reserved artichoke hearts and scallion greens. Drizzle with oil and serve.

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Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Vegan Crispy Spiced Chickpeas

When cooking chickpeas, most recipes call for roasting them in the oven, but they never really crispen up enough. And when you crave a crunchy snack, roasting just won’t do the trick.

Switching to the stovetop and frying the chickpeas in olive oil provides the big crunch factor. A quick toss in a sweet-and-savory mixture of sugar and smoked paprika makes the chickpeas incredibly addictive.

To begin with, make sure to dry the chickpeas thoroughly with paper towels before placing them in the oil. In order to get crisp chickpeas, it’s important to keep the heat high enough to ensure the oil is simmering the entire time.

After about 12 minutes, test for doneness by removing a few chickpeas and placing them on a paper towel to cool slightly before tasting. If they are not quite crisp yet, continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, checking occasionally for doneness.

Once I tasted them, I could hardly stop. What a great flavorful snack to munch on!

Vegan Crispy Spiced Chickpeas

  • Servings: Yields 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. organic sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry

Directions

  1. Combine paprika, sugar, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking. Add chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Using slotted spoon, transfer chickpeas to paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain briefly, then toss in bowl with spice mix. Serve. (Chickpeas can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours.)

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Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Florentine Dip

NYTimes Cooking writes “A good dip transcends time — especially one with fresh herbs, which makes this 1959 recipe from Craig Claiborne stand out amid other recipes from the convenience food era of the 1940s and ’50s. Studded with capers, garlic and anchovies, the dip comes together quickly, then sits in the refrigerator, ready to buy you time when your guests arrive.”

Although the title is a bit of a misnomer in the fact that Florentine recipes usually include spinach as an ingredient. But I won’t quibble over the title because it was a fabulous dip! And if you are squeamish about anchovies, they are mashed up and assist the other ingredients in bringing out a true depth of flavor.

However if you’re adamantly opposed to anchovies, try fish sauce. Don’t be put off by the name. It does not taste fishy. As a fellow anchovy hater however, I have come around to using them mashed up in small amounts as here, where they give an indefinable flavor boost.

BTW, America’s Test Kitchen has a great recipe for an anchovy substitute involving miso and nori. It works beautifully in most recipes that call for anchovies or anchovy paste.

Florentine Dip

  • Servings: Yields 1 1⁄2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. mashed or finely chopped anchovies
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped chives
  • 2 tsp. chopped capers
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ garlic clove, minced
  •  Salt and black pepper to taste
  •  Sliced vegetables and/or sturdy potato chips, for serving

Directions

  1. Using a wooden spoon, blend the cream cheese and anchovy paste together in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the sour cream, parsley, chives, capers, lemon juice and garlic, season with salt and pepper, then stir until well blended.
  3. Place in the refrigerator for several hours to season.
  4. Spoon the dip into a bowl and serve with sliced vegetables or chips, or both.

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Adapted from a recipe by Craig Clairborn for NYTimes Cooking

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey

These addictive fig bites from Fat Rice chef Abraham Conlon are very simple, so it’s crucial to use the best ingredients, from true Spanish ham to ripe, juicy figs, crunchy marcona almonds (a fave of mine) and best-quality olive oil.

Unable to source jamón ibérico or serrano, we had to resort to prosciutto. And the original recipe indicated a whole almond should be place on top as a finish. But we decided that was not practical. How would the nut stay adhered to the piece? Instead, we placed the almond on top of the goat cheese, then wrapped each piece in a slice of the prosciutto with a mint leaf as garnish.

Or better yet, crush the almonds and mix them into the goat cheese mixture. Quite a decadent little bite!

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey

  • Servings: 16 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 fresh figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup ruby port
  • Black pepper
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced dry-cured ham, such as jamón ibérico, serrano or prosciutto torn into 16 long strips
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 16 Marcona almonds, lightly crushed
  • Small mint leaves, for garnish

Directions

  1. Arrange the figs cut side up on a plate. Drizzle with the port and season with black pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using a fork, blend the goat cheese with the honey, scallion, crushed almonds and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
  3. Dollop small spoonfuls of the goat cheese on the fig halves. Wrap each cheese-topped fig half in a strip of ham and transfer to a platter. Drizzle the figs with olive oil, top with the mint and sea salt and serve.

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Adapted from a recipe by Abraham Conlon for Food and Wine

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey

These addictive fig bites are very simple, but it’s crucial to use the best ingredients, from true Spanish ham to ripe, juicy figs, crunchy marcona almonds and best-quality olive oil. That being said, we couldn’t parse any Spanish dry-cured ham, such as jamon iberico or serrano and therefore opted for prosciutto. If you can locate the Spanish types, by all means use that.

The original recipe directs you to place the almonds on top of the ham-wrapped figs and goat cheese mixture. However, we didn’t think they’d stay atop the figs once encased, so we put the almond on top of the goat cheese and then wrapped it all in the thin slices of ham.

Just a word to the wise, let your guests know that there is a nut inside, so they aren’t surprised and think it’s a pit (as one of our guests thought)!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey

  • Servings: Yields 16 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 fresh figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup ruby port
  • Black pepper
  • 4 oz. fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 4 oz. very thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 16 long strips
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 16 marcona or roasted almonds
  • Small mint leaves, for garnish

Directions

  1. Arrange the figs cut side up on a plate. Drizzle with the port and season with black pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using a fork, blend the goat cheese with the honey, scallion and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
  3. Dollop small spoonfuls of the goat cheese on the fig halves. Wrap each cheese-topped fig half in a strip of ham and transfer to a platter. Drizzle the figs with olive oil, top with the almonds, mint and sea salt and serve.

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Adapted from a recipe by Abraham Conlon for Food & Wine

Green Olives Sevilla-Style

From Penelope Casas TAPAS cookbook, comes this typically Andalusian riff on olives. One whiff of these spicy tidbits erases any doubt of their Arab origins. Dried or fresh herbs, or a combination of the two bring on the magic.

With an upcoming holiday finger food party on the horizon, we thought they’d make a wonderful accompaniment to the other appetizers being served. Keep in mind, these olives need several days to marinate, so it is nice to prepare one of the dishes ahead of time, then just plate them as the hot recipes come out of the oven.

Don’t be alarmed if the garlic cloves turn blue. It startled us at first until The Hubs googled the reason and found out they weren’t going bad, it was just a reaction caused between enzymes and sulfur-containing amino acids in the garlic. They are perfectly safe to consume and taste just fine.

The compound responsible for this reaction, isoalliin, is formed when garlic is stored at a cool temperature for several weeks, typically in the winter, when pantries are colder.

Green Olives Sevilla-Style

  • Servings: 1 Pound
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pitted Spanish green olives, drained and lightly crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fennel seed
  • 8 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 8 anchovy fillets (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the olives in a glass jar in which they just fit.
  2. Add all other ingredients, then fill the jar with water.
  3. Shake well and marinate at room temperature for several days, then refrigerate if necessary.
  4. They will keep in the refrigerator, but do bring them to room temperature before serving.
  5. Strain, discard the anchovies, bay leaves and garlic if desired, and serve in an olive boat with toothpicks.

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Recipe from cookbook Tapas by Penelope Casas

Goat-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

These bite-sized appetizers are a perfect addition to your finger food array. The original recipe from Martha Stewart was altered to streamline the process and add more depth of flavor with the addition of bacon, and swapping out rosemary and thyme for the parsley.

Martha instructs to create breadcrumbs using 3 slices of white sandwich bread. We had some already made from focaccia which not only saved time but added even more flavor. It is not recommended to make them ahead of time as the bread will turn gummy.

Goat-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Olive oil, for baking sheet
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 1 log (5 oz.) soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary and thyme, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red-pepper flakes
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
  • Coarse salt
  • 24 oz. white button mushrooms, stems removed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Reserve 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs.
  3. In a food processor, add garlic, goat cheese, bacon, thyme and rosemary, red-pepper flakes and remaining bread crumbs. Season with salt, and pulse filling until combined.
  4. Spoon filling into each mushroom, pressing down with fingers to firm up. Roll filled side in reserved breadcrumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet; bake until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.

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Roughly adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart

Warm Artichoke-and-Feta Dip

This is one of the easiest appetizers to make, thanks Trisha Yearwood! Instead of canned artichokes, we used the marinated jarred version, and we sprinkled some paprika on top for a touch of color and even more depth of flavor.

To lighten our load on the day of the party, the dish was made and put in a small casserole dish covered with foil, then refrigerated overnight. About an hour before it went into a 350° oven, it sat on the countertop to warm up. Make sure to uncover the dish before popping it in the oven.

Artichoke-and-Feta Dip

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • One 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
  • 5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2-oz. jarred roasted red peppers, drained and diced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • Paprika for topping, optional
  • Sea salt pita chips, for dipping 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the artichoke hearts, feta, mayonnaise, Parmesan, red pepper and garlic until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle paprika on top, if desired.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a small casserole or glass pie plate and bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  4. To serve, place the dish on a larger platter and surround with pita chips.

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Adapted from a recipe by Trisha Yearwood

Sausage-Cheddar Balls

Party time! While these look amazingly like mini-meatballs, they are actually biscuits! This reinterpretation of meatballs combines breakfast sausage, cheddar cheese, and onion for a very flavorful holiday appetizer, enough for a crowd of hungry folks.

You can opt to serve them alone or with your choice of dipping sauces, such as mustard or barbecue sauce. Our opinion was that they packed enough flavor by themselves, so a dipping sauce didn’t seem necessary.

The only change we made was using one small onion as opposed to half of a large one. Unfortunately, the balls sat in the oven a bit too long while we tended to other things so the bottoms got a touch crusty—which some guests actually preferred!

Sausage-Cheddar Balls

  • Servings: 60 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar (1/2 lb.)
  • 1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, grated on large holes of a box grater
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and baking powder. Add cheddar and toss to coat.
  3. Add sausage, onion, and butter. With your hands, mix until well combined and roll mixture into 1-inch balls.
  4. Place balls, 1/2 inch apart, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until balls are golden and cooked through, 25 minutes. Serve warm.

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Recipe by Martha Stewart Living

Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs

These babies are lickety-split fast, extremely simple, and so freakin’ yummy! In fact, keep this marinade in mind for poultry as well. You may decide to try other herbs in place of the basil, like oregano, tarragon or chives; or also give them a sprinkle of fresh herbs at the end.

It was the perfect appetizer to bring for a small dinner party at our friends, Mr. and Mrs, Z. The evening could not have been lovelier as we were sitting outside sipping some wine and marveling at the well-manicured gardens. We transported the soaked wooden skewers, marinating shrimp and a sprig of basil leaves along with the perfect sized platter. All that needed to be done when the four of us were ready for a nosh, was to preheat the grill and thread the 20 shrimp onto the skewers—evenly distributed at 5 apiece.

Within minutes on the grill, the shrimp were done and the feast could begin… Speaking of feast, I have to give a shout out to our hosts for the fantastic meal! Mrs. Z. made a leg of lamb that was to die for, accompanied by a tasty potato salad, an incredible watermelon and arugula salad, asparagus, green bean and tomato salad, and a wonderful summery dessert of nectarines over blueberry compote topped with vanilla ice cream all artfully presented in parfait glasses. A dinner to remember for sure…

But I digress, back to the original post which is the featured shrimp kebabs…

Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
  • ½ tsp. grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp, tails left on

Directions

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2.  Soak four 12-inch wooden skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the orange juice, lemon or lime juice, orange zest, garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper until well blended. 
  4. Add the shrimp and mixture to a large ziploc bag, seal and mush around to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the broiler or grill. Skewer the shrimp, dividing them evenly between the skewers. Discard any remaining marinade. Broil or grill for about 4-6 minutes total, turning once as they brown, until they are just cooked throughout.

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Adapted from a recipe by Katie Workman

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

More fun than the American classic, the Mexican take on the dish has a whole lot more personality, so says Cook’s Illustrated. Cóctel de camarón offers an incredible mix of flavors and textures: plump, tender poached shrimp; crisp bites of raw onion and cucumber; and cool, creamy avocado are all coated in a tangy, spicy-sweet tomato sauce.

“Eaten ice‑cold with a spoon and saltines, it’s like a festive, shrimp‑packed Bloody Mary or gazpacho.”

Cook’s Illustrated

V8’s blend of tomato and vegetable juices and lack of added sweeteners give the dish a welcome savory balance. To round out the dish, cut a ripe avocado and half an English cucumber into bite-size chunks. For savory crunch, add finely chopped red onion to the mix. Finally, a smattering of chopped cilantro contributes freshness.

For a fun presentation, I served the cocktail in margarita glasses accompanied by a long handled spoon and a basket of nacho chips. Son David and girlfriend Vikki joined us for dinner that evening and absolutely loved their appetizers. They scarfed it down in no time!

If you don’t have margarita glasses, another serving option would be a martini glass. In the end, no matter what you serve the shrimp cocktails in, your guests will gobble them up!

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ lbs. large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • ¼ tsp. table salt, plus salt for cooking shrimp
  • 1 cup V8 juice, chilled
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice (2 limes), plus lime wedges for serving
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce, plus extra for serving
  • ½ English cucumber, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Saltines (or tortilla chips or thick-cut potato chips)

Directions

  1. Bring 3 cups water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in shrimp and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and let stand off heat until shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes, shaking saucepan halfway through.
  2. Fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Transfer shrimp to ice bath and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Once cool, cut each shrimp crosswise into 3 pieces (or more if using larger shrimp).
  3. Combine V8 juice, ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce, and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Add cucumber, onion, and shrimp and stir until evenly coated. Stir in avocado and cilantro.
  5. Portion cocktail into individual bowls or glasses and serve immediately, passing saltines (or chips), lime wedges, and extra hot sauce separately.

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Recipe compliments of Cook’s Illustrated