Surpisingly Easy Hors D’oeuvres That Don’t Involve Opening a Chip Bag.


I don’t know about you, but I typically go one of two ways when I’m on hors D’oeuvres duty; Chips and dip or stress with what will impress.

I like entertaining and I quite like the reputation that guests don’t need to eat before a gathering at my place. Lately I’ve found a few speedy plates that are quick to keep everyone happy and you chatty while you catch up with company.

The eggplant caviar only takes a bit of prep time with the roasting but with a food processor, everything was so speedy quick that I also threw together some whole grain flat bread in the meantime. Sure, you could buy crackers but this way, you not only know what’s in them, but it’s up to you and your taste buds to add what goes on them. Roll them out and cut them into dainty shapes or go fast and fun and leave them just so. They’re thin and crisp and cracking a piece off to spread some paté just lays things back a little.


Continue reading Surpisingly Easy Hors D’oeuvres That Don’t Involve Opening a Chip Bag.

Latkes With Pomegranate Quince Chutney


I love latkes. It’s almost bad, how much I like latkes. A holiday tradition usually brings sharing and that might be my biggest problem. To date the best solution I’ve had is to make them smaller so I have more. That way it takes me a little longer to eat them and gives others a chance to snag one.

Usually served on their own with a choice of apple sauce or sour cream on the side, I wanted to offer something with them to dress them up, especially when served as an appetizer. Slathered on a plate, I like the sour cream option, but there’s something about the salty grease that goes so well with a little tartness.

For platter passing, otherwise known as sharing, I conjured up my own applish sauce, just a little fancier for the Hoildays. I added the glimmer of pomegranate to quince to make this tart and spicy relish.

It was pretty good. I ate the whole plate.
… But after I was done, I thought I might just make another batch, maybe even double it – to share.
The relish in a little jar tied with a red bow, might just make a pretty sweet hostess gift.


Continue reading Latkes With Pomegranate Quince Chutney

Sushi Nights & Wasabi Fights


Back when I was younger and maybe a little more daring, dinners at home were sure tear jerkers.

My room mate and I at the time would frequently bring home or make our own sushi. In fact, it was our equivalent to most other twenty something’s macaroni and cheese.

About a bottle of sake later, the games would begin….
Starting with a fleck, then working up to a gob, we would up each other’s wasabi intake. For those unfamiliar with the powers of the great green Japanese horseradish, wasabi most closely resembles a spicy hot mustard sensation.

Serving our sushi with it’s typical Wasabi-joyu, soy sauce combination for dipping, we embraced the festivities, upping the ante with the additional blob atop the sushi itself. You see, when wasabi is a even a little over loaded, the sensation is nothing like the burning tongue of a pepper. Starting with a tingle, it continues, flurrying up your nasal passage, stopping only at the bottom of your eye, usually finishing with a tear and a jolt of adrenaline.

Watching someone suffer is not only entertaining, but addictive, which, I suppose is why we did it. As juvenile foodies, I’m sure there is much more mischief we could have been getting ourselves into. But oh, it hurt so good.


Continue reading Sushi Nights & Wasabi Fights

Preserving The Summer


Wouldn’t it just be the way, when I was confronted with this and a box of dusty, old canning jars:
“I’m presuming I can finally recycle these?”

We were down in the basement purging of it’s overwhelming accumulation to free up movement to the laundry and the like. By the dust streaks, one could obviously conclude I hadn’t done much in the way of preserving for some time. As fate would have it, upon conceding to the disposal, my neighbour showed up with more jars. Then the strawberry season was heavenly, peach baskets were sweet and overflowing and the Mennonite farmer at the market, had the crispest, greenest basket of miniature cucumbers I’d seen.
They were calling my name – I swear to you, they were.

As far as I can remember back I’ve been a bit of a pickle connoisseur. Kosher Dills, Polski Ogorkis, Baby Dills, Cornichons… I even remember the market unveiling of Vlasic’s extra crunchy pickles.
Man, what a breakthrough.
I can clearly recall a monstrosity of a pickle found, I believe Strubs. Being about six, it was probably the size of my foot, I kid you not. This of course encouraged me to dig this, the largest pickle I’d ever seen, out from the jar. Besides, if anyone was going to go down as conquering this cuke, it would be me. Slowly but steadily, I devoured the soft, briney interior. My temporary embalming only ceased by my bedtime and the numbness in my mouth. I even recall carefully wrapping that treasure, carefully, and storing it away for morning.

Since then, the best pickles ever were from the same family who sold me the cucumbers this year to begin with. Even with pickles, good ingredients are still important. Size is also important, as I’ve long since abandoned volume for numbers. A perfect pickle is garlicky, dilly, crisp, small and must applaud all grilled cheese sandwiches they accompany flawlessly.
I’m just beginning to be able to open my stock of pickles and enjoy the harvest. Preserving is great fun. It’s really not the mess you’d imagine it to be. Plus a payoff that continues months on, is so worth it.

If you’d like to read of other savory preserved summers, visit The Passionate Cook for a round up of sealed greatness.

Whole Grain Crackers


WHOLE GRAIN FLAT BREAD CRACKERS

1/2 Cup Whole or Twelve Grain Cereal
1/2 Cup Boiling Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/3 Cup Vegetable Shortening
1/3 Cup Soy Milk, or water
1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

Pour the boiling water over the cereal to soften
Let sit 20 – 30 minutes.
In a food processor combine flour, salt, sugar.
Cut in the shortening until it is blended into a crumb consistency.
Add the moistened cereal then through the feed tube, drizzle in the milk, bringing the dough together into a soft ball.
Cut the dough two disks and quarter each of those leaving you with eight pieces.
Heat the oven to 400ºF.
Roll each piece as thinly as possible between two pieces of parchment paper.
If desired, lightly spray the rolled dough with oil and top with any desired combination of truffle salt, sea salt and rosemary or parmesan and black pepper.
Bake for 8 – 9 minutes; until crisp but barely golden, watching as they brown quickly.

Five Things And A Basket Of Peaches – Part Three


After so many sweet peaches I wanted something savoury. To get over the top of the mid-week peach, I decided on a chutney. Perfect along side anything roasted, grilled, atop some chèvre on a cracker, or as individual tarts with pistachio and parmigiana. You can make it as spicy as you’d like, or even double the recipe, it’ll last for a while in the fridge.

SPICED PEACH CHUTNEY

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Red Onion, finely chopped
3 Slices Candied Ginger or 1″ fresh ginger, grated
1 Clove Garlic, minced
Juice and Zest of One Lemon
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
3 Peaches, peeled
1 Green Scallion
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Coriander Seeds
1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes, or one dried, red chili
3 Peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon Dried Cumin

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan.
Peel and finely chop the onion and sauté until translucent; about 3 – 5 minutes.
Peel and cube the peaches into small, bite sized pieces.
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the ginger, coriander, chili and peppercorns.
Add the garlic, spices and salt to the onion, followed by the peaches and sugar.
Once the peaches have begun to release their juices, add the vinegar and finely chopped scallion.
When the chutney has thickened, remove it from the heat and adjust any necessary seasonings.
Cool slightly and store in a seal able container or jar in the refrigerator.