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Posts tagged as appetizers

Tostones (Fried Plantains) with Pineapple Salsa

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jul 16, 2013 at 3:00pm

Tostones with Pineapple SalsaI had such a hard time deciding what to focus on for this post. The pineapple salsa, so gorgeous with fish, also gorgeous made with ripe-right-now peaches? Or the tostones (twice-fried plantains), which are so easy to make, although if you’d rather have fresh corn tortillas, those would be heavenly too? Or the black bean spread, which was supposed to be guacamole, but my avocados were hard as rocks, therefore black bean spread? I was (am) all over the board, tempted to suggest in effect several of my favorite foods, all in one post.

So let me present them all as options and let you decide which combination of sweet, salty, spicy, crispy, chewy, and creamy hits the spot. Mix and match:

Tostones or fresh corn tortillas
Black beans or guacamole
Crab, halibut, or shrimp
Pineapple, pineapple + peach, or peach salsaTostones with Pineappple SalsaPictured are tostones topped with black beans, pineapple salsa, and crab meat. It’s a pretty killer combination. I devoured them for dinner, but at two bites apiece (by my wolfy measure), they’d make a terrific party appetizer. Given canned lump crab meat, seasoned with ground cumin, fresh lime juice, and a bit of minced serrano chile, they’re ready in less than 30 minutes. If you rolled the goods in scorched fresh tortillas…15 minutes, easily. Heck, you could even pile it all atop store-bought tortilla chips, a flavor-crunch-explosion of an easy hors d’oeuvre if ever there was one.

That said, if you’re grilling anyhow, why not toss a couple of skewers of shrimp on ahead of time? Brush with garlicky oil, sprinkle with salt, and when they’re done, finish with squeezes of fresh lime juice. The guacamole angle would be pretty dreamy here. As would peach salsa.pinapplesalsasalsaWhen I make the halibut, which I most certainly will get around to soon, I’ll pan roast it and top it with pineapple salsa and nothing else. It’s hard to improve upon the perfection of crusty-silky halibut.

You have the idea. Get started with the pineapple salsa and tostone recipes and have some spicy, crispy fun!

Recipes for Pineapple Salsa and Tostones at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Morel Flan

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jun 2, 2013 at 9:48pm

morel flanSometimes, when the weather is dark and cold, and so is life in general, one just needs to get the hell out of town. Both circumstances were true back in April, when my lovely friend Kathy Yerich suggested a road-trip down to southern Indiana for the Brown County Morel Mushroom Festival. I’ve written about Kathy before and the glorious treats that she and her husband Fred forage and pass along to friends. She’d heard through her mycological grapevine about Brown County’s morel haven status and given our mutual love of devouring morels, and my desperate need to steal time away with a good friend, off we went.morelfestwoodsWe drove away from sheets of sleet, and through sheets of rain, to cross the winter-spring transition line, somewhere around central Illinois. As green slowly sneaked into the landscape, we grew positively giddy with the anticipation of tromping through leafy woods, gathering enough morels to smother scrambled eggs (Kathy brought farm-fresh eggs) and to haul back home to share with friends like you.morelfestcups2Devil’s UrnmorelfestkathyphotoKathy snapping Devil’s UrnmorelfestturkeytailTurkey TailmorelfeststumptGnome Home (Right?)

Except. It was just as damn cold in southern Indiana as it was in Minnesota! Spring was two weeks or more late in Brown County too and despite our cute wellies and contagiously good spirits, morels did not come out to play.morelfestsign2morelfestgraffititreeNot that we cared. Oh my gosh we had so much fun hiking, chatting with morel enthusiasts, wandering sort of accidentally into the Story Inn for restorative bubbles and a blessedly hot meal, and adventuring our way home with unplanned stops at Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington, IN, for lunch, and the Mark Twain Hotel in Peoria for dinner and a good night’s sleep.morelflanvertAfter arriving home morel-less yet refreshed, I decided to postpone this post until morels made their appearance in Minnesota. Which they most certainly have! I’ve been feasting for a week on a combination of a Minneapolis Farmers Market haul, not one but two glorious morel tasting dinners at Corner Table, and a generous gift from Kathy and Fred. I made the Morel Burger with Ramps below, and finally got to prepare this Morel Flan, which I’d been dreaming about since Indiana.morelflanvert2So here it is! This baby is uber-rich, eggy and creamy and a gorgeously decadent way to showcase our favorite spring treat. Bonus: when morel season is over, which is probably in a few minutes, move on to other mushrooms. This flan works all year long. I do hope you get a chance to enjoy it with morels, though, in honor of road trips and dear friends.

With bubbles.

Cheers!

Morel Flan
Serves 6

4 Tbsp. soft butter, divided
1 oz. package dried morels
4 ramps, chopped (substitute one large shallot if you can’t find ramps)
1 c. cream
1 c. whole milk
1 large egg
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. sea salt
generous grating of fresh nutmeg
1/4 lb. (or more) fresh morels, cleaned
1 Tbsp. sherry
freshly ground black pepper

Butter 6 4-oz. ramekins with 1 Tbsp. of the soft butter. Set aside. Set out a large glass baking pan, large enough to hold ramekins without touching.

Put dried morels in a plastic bag and crush into small pieces with a rolling pin. Pour cream and milk into a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot but not simmering. Remove from heat and stir in crushed morels and chopped ramps. Let morels and ramps steep for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Strain cream into a clean, medium bowl, pressing down on solids to extract all the liquid. Discard crushed morels and ramps.

Whisk egg, yolks, salt, and nutmeg into the morel cream. Taste and adjust seasoning (add perhaps a bit more salt if you like). Pour mixture into buttered ramekins. Set ramekins in large glass baking pan and fill pan with hot tap water until water reaches half-way up ramekins. Place pan in oven and bake for 40 minutes or until flans are just set.

Remove pan from oven and using tongs, remove ramekins from water. Let flans cool for a few minutes while you saute the morels.

Heat remaining 3 Tbsp. of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is bubbling and hot, add sherry and stir for a minute until sherry has boiled away. Add morels to the pan. Add a pinch of salt to the morels and saute until just starting to brown, turning a few times, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

To serve, run a knife around the edges of each ramekin. Invert the flans onto serving plates. Holding the ramekin firmly down on the plate, give the ramekin and plate together a good side-to-side shake until flan releases. Divide warm, fresh morels over and next to flans. Top with a grind of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Baked Garlic with Rosemary & Blue Cheese

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:31pm

Roasted Garlic with Rosemary & Blue Cheese

I’ll confess, I meant to get this recipe to you before New Year’s Eve. But in the crush of the holidays, and illness, it did not happen and…well, Happy New Year? The good news is that New Year’s Eve is not the only winter night to invite friends for dinner, and this easy appetizer is meant to share with friends.

This is a pretty old school recipe at this point, given roasted garlic’s heyday (perhaps even Kardashian-level overexposure?) around the turn of this century. I think it’s fair to say that we all know that garlic becomes gorgeously sweet and spreadable when roasted; but add fresh herbs, tangy cheese, and a splash of broth and you create a rich swiping sauce that elevates the whole to party food that stands the test of time.

I first copied this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, onto a recipe card, as a newlywed party thrower and it quickly became a much-passed-around favorite. Forgive me the nostalgia of feeling like my mom, circa 1972, sharing her recipe for her creamy dried beef dip. Except that my mom had way cool hostess kimonos and I tend to entertain in jeans. (I definitely need a hostess kimono…)

You can roast the garlic ahead by a couple of hours and hold it at room temperature. Then, when your guests threaten imminent arrival, crumble on the cheese and set it in the oven to melt. You’ll want to serve this warm, with good bread, and a glass of bubbles.

Recipe for Baked Garlic with Rosemary & Blue Cheese at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Cheese Crackers with Rosemary & Black Pepper (Gluten-Free)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 27, 2012 at 4:09pm

Cheese Crackers (Gluten-Free)

While you’re busy baking holiday sweets, don’t forget a nod to the savory. Homemade crackers are a thousand times tastier than their boxed counterparts (just like cookies!) and are a breeze to whip up. The cheesy, nutty crunch of these almond-meal cheese crackers needs no topping, just a measure of discipline to not inhale a panful in one serving. A salty corner here, a browned edge there, and snip, snap, gone.

Cheese Crackers (gluten-free)

This recipe is a terrific base recipe, delicious as is as well as highly customizable. The best part of cooking is making a dish your own, right? If you’re new to cooking, it’s important to follow recipes exactly while you get a feel for how things work. But as you taste and learn and understand the basic science, I’m all for playing around with seasonings, experimenting, whether to use the ingredients you happen to have on hand or to try something completely new. I happened to be feeling nostalgic about the rosemary in my fridge, as it’s the last taste of my garden, so I added minced rosemary – and several grinds of black pepper – to the mix.

Lovely.

Recipe for gluten-free/grain-free Cheese Crackers with Rosemary & Black Pepper at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Party Popcorn!

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 6, 2012 at 2:59pm

popcorn fresh tart stephanie meyer

As we head into holiday entertaining and craziness, don’t forget about popcorn! I am NOT talking about microwave popcorn, I’m talking about the real deal, popped in a pan, which takes about 5 minutes to make and tastes 50 million times – maybe 100 million times – better. When you’re done, you have a bowlful of fragrant crunchiness ready to be tarted up for a party (or plopped in front of the TV with a glass of wine aka dinner).

When I was a kid, we were butter-and-salt purists, preferring plenty of both. Don’t get me wrong – browned butter with sea salt to this day makes up 80% of my popcorn consumption. I make it for my son’s friends, I set it out at our pool for swim parties, I make a batch after a night out with the girls. But it’s great fun, and almost as easy, to play around a bit with creative flavor combinations, which are both addictive and gorgeous, and tend to blow guests away for very little effort.

popcorn fresh tart stephanie meyer

Recipe(s) for Pumpkin Seed/Brown Butter/Crispy Sage, Bacon/Caraway Seed/Bay Leaf, and Curry Powder/Honey/Lime Zest popcorn (and other ideas too) at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Frico (Parmesan Crisp) with Zucchini

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Oct 23, 2012 at 1:03pm

Frico (Parmesan Crisp) with Zucchini Fresh Tart Stephanie Meyer

Do you invite people to your home for dinner or do you break into a January-in-Minnesota sweat at the thought? I love eating in restaurants, but the nights spent with friends and family in our home, or in theirs, are the best of all. When I was a newlywed, I was so excited to be a grown up that I almost killed myself preparing elaborate dinner parties in tiny kitchens. I don’t regret those experiences one bit, but these busy days, I prefer to keep it simple. I think my guests have more fun and I know that I do.

Especially when the dinner party is spontaneous! I just love a last-minute dinner party, when guests pitch in with the chopping, and setting the table, and we all sit around chatting and relaxed. Hear this Minnesotans – there is no need for fancy appetizers before dinner! Sometimes I think the pressure of fussy appetizers kills a party more than the dinner itself. Pop some bubbles and set out some salty nuts, raw vegetables, and a slab of good butter. Delicious. Done.

Or make frico! If you keep a block of Parmesan cheese in your fridge, you’re ready to impress in mere minutes. Frico is basically fried grated cheese, toasted in a pan to a crisp wafer of whoa, ready in five minutes or less. Slide the golden crunchy cheese onto a plate and let your guests break off pieces to devour between sips of wine.

zucchini frico stephanie meyer fresh tart

It’s lovely to fry a bit of sage in the pan before sprinkling in the cheese. Ditto stirring around a bit of garlic. This Melissa Clark version from the New York Times jumped right out at me a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t the scorched zucchini pretty? It’s also a nice foil for the richness of all that toasted cheese. Clark’s introduction didn’t put me off either: WHY there is no cult devoted to crunchy fried cheese is beyond me. It’s as rich as bacon or pork belly, as crisp as chicken wings, and as tempting as a foie gras doughnut.

I couldn’t agree more!

Recipe for Melissa Clark’s Zucchini Frico at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Andrew Zimmern’s Baltimore-Style Crab Cakes

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:40am

andrew zimmern baltimore style crab cake stephanie meyer fresh tart

Along with my father-in-law’s famously fabulous crab cakes, my other favorite is Andrew Zimmern’s version, via our mutual friend Carol Mack. Both recipes have in common a very, very small amount of breading. Crab cakes should be mostly crab! Really, really good lump crab, in fact.

Recipe for Baltimore-Style Crab Cakes at Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures/Food & Wine Magazine.

Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls)

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Aug 28, 2012 at 10:29am

arancini (fried risotto balls) stephanie meyer fresh tart

Like some sort of mad fryentist, give me a pan of hot oil and I will riff on and on an on… See below – Fried Cheese Curds – for what was really Part II of my latest fry tear (and a delicious one at that).

Part I began last Friday night, when my cousin Kelly and her husband Jomo came for dinner, and I spied leftover risotto in the cooler. The vision of arancini leapt into my head and while I really didn’t have time to make them, I did anyhow, and gosh were we glad that I did. Risotto is lovely fried (le duh), especially with a little square of mozzarella cheese pressed into the middle (le duh), and just beautiful to snack on with a glass of prosecco.

In fact, I would happily have just that for dinner, with sliced tomatoes and a light salad to finish.

arancini (fried risotto balls) stephanie meyer fresh tart

I made mine gluten-free by using Udi’s white bread ground into bread crumbs in the food processor. Stir some of the bread crumbs into cold, leftover risotto to hold things together a bit, then roll risotto into 3/4-inch (or smaller; small is better, in this rare case) balls. Press a small cube of mozzarella into the center of the ball (optional), then roll the ball in more bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the risotto as you go. You want a sturdy coating to hold the filling in place as the balls fry.

Use peanut oil or safflower oil to fry them (not canola which tastes disgusting when heated to high heat). Serve hot.

Fried Cheese Curds

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Aug 28, 2012 at 10:27am

fried cheese curds stephanie meyer fresh tart

You probably don’t want to know this, but it’s seriously easy to make fried cheese curds at home. In fact, in the time you spend in line at the Minnesota State Fair, sweating your brains out while standing on a smushed-curd covered floor, you could have whipped up a batch at home and EATEN it. Kablam!

So in case you couldn’t hack the line, or your kids got too cranky before the cheese-curd portion of the day, I offer this fast tempura version for your kitchen. A combination of rice flour and corn starch yields a shatteringly crisp exterior (that just happens to be naturally gluten-free).

Assuage fried-food guilt by dipping a few sliced vegetables in the batter too. I had fried mushrooms for breakfast just this morning, in fact, as a quick test to make sure that I could recommend the batter for vegetables…all good. I suspect strips of bell pepper, zucchini, onions (of course), dill pickles, or asparagus would all work beautifully. I guarantee that little balls of leftover risotto and mashed potatoes are crispy-gooey fabulous. (Breakfast of champions for me today, oy…)

Recipe for Fried Cheese Curds at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Rhubarb Mostarda, Little Foot Farm: Outstanding in the Field 2012 Prep, Part I

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jun 12, 2012 at 10:03am

little foot farm scott pampuch stephanie meyer fresh tart

Let’s call it summer and make plans to eat outside, preferably as often as possible. Dinner al fresco pretty much anywhere feels special, but dinner on a farm is particularly divine for us city dwellers, away from cubicles and concrete, with time to learn about, discuss, and savor food prepared at its source.

In fact, one of the best meals I enjoyed in all of 2011 was an Outstanding in the Field (OITF) dinner, at Riverbend Farm near Delano. I realize that a setting so gorgeous can work strange magic (farm goggles?), but I’m quite sure that aside from the view, the bounty of family-style platters, piled with fresh salads, cheeses, and wood-fire grilled meats, would blow my mind in the dingiest of rooms. When the night ended with chanterelle mushroom ice cream – a dish at once delicious, clever, and just plain fun – I knew I’d had an unforgettable meal.

scott pampuch mike phillips stephanie meyer fresh tart

little foot farm stephanie meyer fresh tart

If you missed last year’s event, no worries: OITF is circling back to the Twin Cities on August 9, this time landing at picturesque Little Foot Farm near Afton. Given OITF’s stated mission to “re-connect diners to the land and origins of their food and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it,” there will most certainly be discussion about how Little Foot owners Karen Weiss and Sally Doherty found their calling, especially given they were inspired to raise hogs in general and Berkshires in particular after being served “awesome” Berkshire pork by chef Lenny Russo at a 2005 OITF event.

little foot farm mike phillips karen weiss scott pampuch stephanie meyer fresh tart

little foot farm stephanie meyer fresh tart

little foot farm stephanie meyer fresh tart

little foot farm mike phillips karen weiss stephanie meyer fresh tart

Weiss and Doherty sell their heritage-breed Berkshire and Gloucestershire Old Spot hogs directly to food enthusiasts and a few local chefs, including chef Mike Phillips of Three Sons Meat Company (formerly Green Ox).

I tagged along with Phillips and chef Scott Pampuch – the two are this year’s OITF host chefs – as they scouted the farm for the event and chatted with Weiss about Little Foot’s sustainable philosophy and their careful practices for humanely raising and selling best-quality, highly-prized pork (as well as chickens, eggs, produce, and bedding plants).

little foot farm stephanie meyer frest tart

little foot farm berkshires stephanie meyer fresh tart

little foot farm karen weiss berkshires stephanie meyer fresh tart

little foot farm stephanie meyer fresh tart

little foot farm scott pampuch stephanie meyer fresh tart

As we talked, there might also have been a fair amount of piglet cooing going on, even by the charcuterie boys (the pic up top might be one of my favorites, ever). Oh my goodness the Gloucestershire Old Spot piglets are adorable with their snuggly snorting and flirty sly smiles. We were smitten!

little foot farm karen weiss mike phillips stephanie meyer fresh tart

You’d think it might have been tricky to move from petting pigs to planning the menu but alas, it was a seamless progression. Both Phillips and Pampuch are known for their pork mastery, so it goes without saying that the meal – which will also include piles of gorgeously prepared vegetables – will be at its essence utterly porktastic. The charcuterie was begun the very next day, in fact, with the butchering of two hogs.

Picture a dinner table set with a colorful variety of snappy, custom-made condiments to sample with each course, including the spicy-tangy-sweet Rhubarb Mostarda pictured below. Serve the mostarda as a foil for rich pork belly, pork terrine, or pork rillettes.

Buy tickets for this year’s dinner at the OITF website. See Little Foot Farm’s website if you’re interested in purchasing heritage-breed pork, chicken, eggs, produce, or bedding plants.

See you on the farm!

rhubarb mostarda stephanie meyer fresh tart

Chef Matt Morgan’s recipe for Rhubarb Mostarda at TC Taste/Minnesota Monthly Magazine.