Grilled Goat Cheese Crostini with a Tangle of Marinated Roasted Peppers

Servings: 8
Preheat: 0
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Source: Fine Cooking Issue 87

Goat cheese speckled with fresh thyme is the perfect creamy counterpoint to the sweet, tangy roasted peppers in this recipe. Serve these crostini as an appetizer or paired with a simple green salad for a light lunch.

Ingredients: 

3 medium bell peppers (1 red, 1 orange, and 1 yellow)
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Grilled Garlic Bread
One 4-1/2- to 5-1/2-oz. container of soft, spreadable goat cheese (such as Chavrie), at room temperature

Directions: 

Prepare a medium-high grill fire. Grill the bell peppers, turning occasionally, until the skin chars all over, 15 to 20 min. Put the charred peppers in a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 30 min.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 tsp. of the thyme, salt, and about 5 grinds of pepper. Mix well.
Remove the pepper skins and seeds and cut the peppers into thin strips. Add the peppers to the vinegar mixture and let them marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. (Refrigerate if making more than a few hours ahead and return to room temperature before assembling the crostini.
Spread each slice of the grilled garlic bread with a generous layer of goat cheese, sprinkle with some of the remaining thyme, and top with a tangle of the peppers and a small grind of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Crostini with Brie Dates and Toasted Walnuts

Servings: 8
Preheat: 425
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Source: Fine Cooking

This nibble builds on the classic pairing of cheese, dried fruit, and nuts. A splash of balsamic vinegar helps bring together all the flavors. The crostini are best served right out of the oven, though they can also hold for an hour or two at room temperature.

Ingredients: 

1 medium baguette (about 1/2 lb.), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (about 24 slices)
2 Tbs. olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup Medjool dates (about 6 to 8), pitted and coarsely chopped
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. brie, rind trimmed and softened to room temperature
2 Tbs. thinly sliced chives

Directions: 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Set the bread slices on a large baking sheet; dab both sides with the oil and sprinkle one side lightly with salt (about 1/4 tsp. for all the bread). Bake until the bread starts to brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the walnuts with the dates, honey, and vinegar.

While the bread is still warm, spread with brie and then top with the date and nut mixture. Sprinkle with the chives and serve.

Smoked-Trout Spread

Servings: 8
Preheat: 0
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Source: New York Times, FLORENCE FABRICANT

The guests are trickling in, and soon the table will be overflowing. But not just yet. What to do? Several days in advance, you may want to whip up your own smoked trout spread to pack in a bowl and offer with bagel chips or squares of pumpernickel. Those impatient stomachs will thank you.

Ingredients: 

6 ounces skinned, boned smoked trout, about 2 fillets
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
Ground black pepper

Directions: 

1. Break up trout into food processor, add chives and grind until finely minced. Pulse in lemon juice and yogurt. Season with pepper.
2. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Add additional to thin

sauce for cocktail meatballs

Servings: 8
Preheat: 0
Prep Time: 
Source: Fine Cooking, # 125

Ingredients: 

For the sauce

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dry oregano
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 26- to 28-oz. containers diced tomatoes, preferably Pomì brand
Kosher salt

Directions: 

Make the sauce

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, 6 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced by about a third, 40 to 60 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with salt. Keep warm, covered. (The sauce can also be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for 1 month.)

Smoked Salmon on Belgian Endive with Crème Fraîche & Chives

Servings: 40
Preheat: 0
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Source: Fine Cooking, Issue 75

To get ahead, you can prep everything in advance, but for best results, assemble just before serving.

Ingredients: 

4 large heads Belgian endive, preferably a mix of green and red endive
1/3 cup crème fraîche (available in the specialty cheese section of some supermarkets)
1/4 lb. thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium lemon (ES AND DHO do not use lemon)
1 small bunch fresh chives, sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch segments

Directions: 

Discard any damaged outer endive leaves. Trim the root end and separate the leaves. You should end up with 35 to 40 large leaves (save the small inner leaves for a salad). Arrange the leaves on a baking sheet.

Put the crème fraîche in a squeeze bottle or a small piping bag. You can also make a piping bag by trimming one corner of a small zip-top bag). Pipe a small dollop of crème fraîche on each endive leaf. Gently arrange a small pile (about 4 strips) of the sliced salmon on top of the crème fraîche. Season the salmon with some black pepper and a little squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle a few chives on top (you may not need them all), arrange the leaves on a platter, and serve.

Dates with Goat Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto

Servings: 8
Source: epicurious
These rich nibbles only taste decadent. Soft goat cheese is naturally lower in fat.

These rich nibbles only taste decadent. Soft goat cheese is naturally lower in fat.

Ingredients
1/3 cup soft herbed goat cheese
16 Medjool dates, pitted
16 large basil leaves
4 wide, thin slices prosciutto di Parma, each cut into 4 long strips
16 toothpicks, soaked in water 10 minutes

Directions
Heat broiler to low. Spoon 1 teaspoon cheese into each date; wrap with a basil leaf, then a prosciutto strip. Secure with a toothpick. Broil until cheese bubbles, about 3 minutes. Serve warm.

Shredded Egg Balls (Tung Po Hsiu Ch’iu)

Servings: 6
Source: Gourmet 1/1979

Ingredients
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
6 dried Chinese black mushrooms
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
imported sesame oil
salt, white pepper
¼ teaspoon sugar
¾ pound ground pork or ground beef
1 tablespoon’ minced scallion
3 eggs
10 ounces spinach
3 tablespoons peanut oil
½ cup Chinese chicken broth or tinned chicken broth
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Directions
In a small dish let 1 tablespoon dried shrimp soak in warm water to cover for 45 minutes. In a small bowl let 6 dried Chinese black mushrooms soak in warm water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms well; remove and discard the stems, and mince the caps. In another small dish combine 1 ablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1 taspoon imported sesame oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon sugar.

Drain the shrimp well and mince them. In a large bowl combine ¾ pound ground pork or ground beef, the soy sauce mixture, the mushrooms, the shrimp, 1 tablespoon minced scallion, and 2 teaspoons peeled and minced gingerroot, throw the mixture lightly against the inside of the bowl to compact it, and form it into 12 balls.

In a small bowl beat 3 eggs lightly with tablespoon water and ¼ tsp salt. Brush a well seasoned skillet or a nonstick skillet with peanut oil and heat the oil over high heat until it is very hot. Remove the skillet from the heat, let it cool for 1 minute, and add one third of the egg mixture, tilting and rotating the skillet to form a thin even layer. Cook the egg sheet until it is just set, turn it, and cook the other side until it is just set. Transfer the egg sheet to a plate. Continue to make egg sheets with the remaining egg mixture in the same manner. Let the egg sheets cool, stack them, and shred-them finely.

Coat the meatballs as much as possible with the shredded egg, arrange them on a lightly oiled heatproof plate 2 inches smaller in diameter than the rack of a steamer, and drape any remaining shredded egg on top of the meatballs. Put the plate in the steamer and steam the egg balls, covered, for 20 minutes.

Have ready 10 ounces spinach, trimmed, washed, and patted dry with paper towels. While the egg balls are steaming heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat until it is very hot, add 3 tablespoons peanut oil, and heat it until it is very hot. Add the spinach and stir-fry it for 5 minutes, or until it is limp and one fourth its former volume. Arrange the spinach around the edge of a platter and keep it warm. In a small saucepan combine ½ cup Chinese chicken broth or tinned chicken broth, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 teaspoon cornstarch and ½ salt, ½ teaspoon imported sesame oil, ¼ teaspoon white pepper and heat the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, until it is thickened. Arrange the egg balls in the center of the platter and pour the sauce over them.

Savory Roasted Nuts

Servings: —
Source: Fine Cooking 12/2001 pg 62
If there’s one thing I always keep on hand during the holidays, it’s a stash of roasted nuts, seasoned in a variety of ways. When friends drop by, a bowl of Spicy Maple Walnuts, Malabar Pecans, or Parmesan Almonds makes the perfect snack with cocktails. I also like to pack the nuts into decorative tins or jars and give them as gifts.

Make it a cardinal rule to start these recipes with high-quality nuts. Search out a bulk purveyor, like a natural-foods store, where you can see if the nuts look shriveled, meaning they’re old. Nut oils are especially perishable and can quickly turn rancid, so try to taste before you buy. If you’re not using the nuts within a few days, refrigerate them for up to two weeks or freeze them for up to six months.

The challenge in making seasoned nuts is getting the seasonings to stick. Egg whites do a thorough and even job of this, although the resulting heavy and opaque coating somewhat obscures the look of the nut. Melted butter is the other option; the result is a glossy, oiled nut with a lighter dusting of seasoning. The butter option also gives you the flexibility to either roast or microwave the nuts. The microwave is quicker, but the oven gives you crisper texture and richer, toastier flavor and color. Either way, once you try my recipes, you can vary the flavors and create your own signature savory nut.

Ingredients

Directions
Spicy Maple Walnuts

These nuts continue to toast a bit from the intense heat of the glaze, so don’t overbake them. Leave the ginger slices in the nut mixture for a delicious surprise. Pecans or hazelnuts are also great this way.

Yields 4 cups.

4 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger, halved
1 Tbs. water
I tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Tabasco, or to taste
1 lb. (4 cups) shelled walnuts

In a conventional oven – Heat the oven to 300°F. Combine all the ingredients except the nuts in a small saucepan and slowly simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 min. Put the nuts in a bowl, pour the glaze over them, and stir and toss to coat them with the glaze. Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spread the nuts in a single layer on it. Bake for 30 to 40 min., stirring at 1 5- and then 10-min. intervals. When the nuts look light and almost dry as you toss them, they’re done. Don’t touch them; the caramelized sugar is extremely hot. Slide the foil onto a rack and let the nuts cool completely.

In a microwave – Put the butter in the largest shallow dish that fits in your microwave. Heat on high for 1 min. to melt the butter. Add the remaining ingredients except the nuts and heat for 3 min. on high. Stir to combine. Add the nuts, stirring and tossing to coat them with the glaze. Microwave on high for up to 9 min., stirring at 2-min. and then 1 -min. intervals to redistribute the coating and prevent scorching. When all the liquid has caramelized, they’re done. Don’t touch them; the caramelized sugar is extremely hot. Carefully slide the nuts onto a foil-lined rack to cool.

For either method-Store in airtight containers or plastic freezer bags.

Malabar Pecans

All nuts burn easily because of their high oil content. Be vigilant and test frequently for doneness. The beckoning aroma of well-roasted nuts will signal their rescue. Taste the nuts when they’re cool and adjust the seasonings with a final light dusting of spices. Yields 4 cups.

4 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. Madras curry powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
I lb. (4 cups) shelled pecans

In a conventional oven-Heat the oven to 300°F. Heat all the ingredients except the nuts in a small saucepan over medium heat to release the flavors and dissolve the salt. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the nuts. Toss and stir the nuts to coat them thoroughly. Spread them in a single layer on a foil-lined jellyroll pan. Bake for 30 min., stirring well every 10 min., until the nuts are deeply browned. Slide the foil out of the pan onto a cooling rack and let the nuts cool completely.

In a microwave-Put all the ingredients except the nuts in the largest shallow dish that fits in your microwave. Heat on high for 1 min. to release the flavors and melt the butter. Stir to combine. Add the nuts, tossing and stirring to thoroughly coat them. Toast the nuts on high for 6 min., stirring well at 2-min. intervals to redistribute the seasonings. Rotate the dish occasionally if your microwave doesn’t have a carousel. Spread the nuts on a length of foil to cool.

For either method-Store in airtight containers or plastic freezer bags.

Almonds with Parmesan, Rosemary & Fennel

A combination of blanched and skin-on almonds gives this mix great eye appeal. Yields 3 cups.

Olive oil for the pan
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fennel seed
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 egg whites
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. (1 1/2 cups) blanched almonds
1/2 lb. (1 1/2 cups) skin-on almonds

Heat the oven to 300°F. Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spray or brush lightly with olive oil.

Grind the rosemary, salt, fennel, and pepper in a spice mill to a fine powder, or mince the rosemary and grind the mixture in a mortar and pestle. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they foam. Add the spices and cheese. Whisk again to combine. Add the nuts, stirring and tossing to thoroughly coat them.
Spread them in a single layer on the foil-lined pan. Bake for 45 min., stirring every 1 5 min. to redistribute the coating. The nuts will stick to the foil at first and need to be gently pried loose to expose them evenly to the heat. Slide the nuts, on the foil, onto a rack to cool.

Store in screw-top jars or airtight tins; plastic may cause the crisp coating to soften.

Spiced Pecans

This recipe makes enough for the stuffing, with extra to serve as nibbles before the meal.

Yields 4 cups.

4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. each ground white pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice (or 4 tsp. quatre épices)
4 cups pecan halves (about 12 oz.)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup dark maple syrup (or 1/2 cup regular maple syrup)

Up to two weeks ahead:

Heat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, toss together the salt, cayenne, white pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Add the pecans and toss well. Drizzle the melted butter over the pecans and mix well. Turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet, scraping any spices and butter from the bowl and spreading the nuts into one layer. Bake until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally, about 9 min. Drizzle the maple syrup over the nuts, stir to combine, and bake about 10 min. longer, until the nuts turn glossy and slightly dark. Let the nuts cool in the pan for 30 min. and then scrape the nuts and any maple drippings into a bowl; break up any large clusters. Reserve 2 cups of the nuts; chop the remainder very coarsely. Label and store the chopped nuts (for the stuffing) and the whole nuts (for nibbling) separately in the freezer in zip-top bags.

Salt-And-Pepper Edamame

Servings: 20
Prep Time: 35 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Source: Gourmet 12/99 pg 176
Edamame are fun to eat – the slightly fuzzy bright-green pods tickle your lips as you gently suck the beans into your mouth. Provide bowls for the empty pods.

Ingredients
½ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
4 (1-1b) bags frozen edamame

Directions
Toast salt in a dry, small, heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until salt turns light tan, about 7 minutes. Transfer salt to a bowl. Toast Sichuan peppercorns in skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer toasted peppercorns to a sheet of wax paper to cool. Using paper as a funnel, pour toasted peppercorns into an electric coffee/spice grinder or a mortar. Add pink peppercorns and pulse or pound with a pestle until finely ground. Pour through a coarse sieve into bowl of salt and stir together.

Cook edamame in 4 batches in salted boiling water until tender, about 4 minutes, and immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Return water to a boil between batches. Drain in a colander and pat dry.

Toss edamame with some peppered salt to taste and serve with remainder on the side.

Cooks’ notes:
· Peppered salt may be made 1 week ahead and kept in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
· Edamame may be cooked 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before tossing with peppered salt.