Category Archives: Appetizers

Faux Stowe Fruit, Nut and Rosemary Crackers

My friend Brianna sent me a recipe recently (the one below this one). It is reminiscent of Leslie Stowe Raincoast Crisps – but better – and cheaper. This recipe makes 3 loaves. Use one, keep the other two frozen till you need them, or half this recipe and make two smaller loaves. I decided to give it a try however I didn’t have all of her ingredients. I simply substituted what I had in the kitchen and came up with a really nice combination. These are great paired with any kind of cheese or used for dipping. Sorry! Not a whole lot of pictures for this recipe.

Faux Stowe Fruit, Nut and Rosemary Crackers

2 cups flour (wholewheat or white or combo of)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk with 2 tbsp vinegar)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup plump golden raisins
1/2 cup currants
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup chopped dates
1 cup chia or flax seeds, coarsely ground
3 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, stir together first four ingredients.
Add buttermilk and honey, stir slightly.
Add rest of ingredients and stir until just blended (it will be quite wet).
Pour batter into three greased bread pans. Fill each pan to about 1.5
to 2 inches deep.
Bake for 45 minutes and let cool on rack.
Freeze for at least an hour or until a loaf is needed.


Thinly slice with a bread knife and lay on a cookie
sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping crackers over halfway through
baking time. Let them cool and then store in airtight container.

OR!!

2 cups flour (wholewheat or white or combo of)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk with 2 tbsp vinegar)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup flax seeds, coarsely ground
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
Cooking instructions same as above.

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Filed under Appetizers, Breads, cheese, Cookies, Dips & Spreads, Snacks, Vegetarian

Sweet n’ Spicy Roasted Salsa

A recent  trip to Austin Texas made me revisit my love of homemade salsa. I have a good standby roasted salsa recipe that my friends love, but why not expand my repertoire? At 8am I sat on my pal Mia’s couch and chomped on chips and a salsa i found in their fridge (yes I eat chips and salsa for breakfast). It was super tasty for store bought salsa and upon looking at the ingredients I saw carrots! Carrots in salsa?? Back home now in rainy Vancouver Canada I decided to try and recreate the flavour for you all to enjoy. So here we go!

Sweet n’ Spicy Roasted Salsa

Ingredients:

1 corn cob
1 jalapeno pepper
3 hot skinny peppers (see pictures, no idea what they are called)
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion
1/2 a large carrot sliced (see pic)
5 to 6 tomatoes (have an extra fresh one to add if it gets too spicy)
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 lime juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder


Heat oven to broil. Place onion (peeled and cut in half) carrots chopped (see pic) and tomatoes on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little bit of olive oil on the carrots… Check on them every 5 minutes and turn them over to get them nice and burnt and roasted. Carrots will be done first – remove them when they look roasted.


Roast corn, garlic (leave skin on) and all of the peppers on a grill or in a frying pan (poke each pepper with a knife or they will explode while cooking). Peppers and garlic will be done before the corn, just set them aside when they are cooked.

When tomatoes and onions are all roasted and toasty put them into your food processor along with the carrots, peppers, garlic, lime juice and spices. Pulse till mixed well, but not super smooth. You want some texture.

Add spices and corn that you have chopped off the cob and the cilantro. Briefly pulse for a few seconds.

And that’s it! My favorite chips are Tostitos Multigrain. They are a little sweet and perfectly salty.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dips & Spreads, Vegan, Vegetarian

Perfect Parmesan Croutons

Nothing quite says success as when when your guest recognizes the little things. Salad was finally served. “These are real croutons… And real bacon bits!” yes – yes they are! I thought I was the only one who would notice this type of thing but apparently not, so again, the little things are always worth it. Bump up that salad with an easy personal touch.

Perfect Parmesan Croutons

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread (stale bread of any kind will work)
2 cloves garlic – finely grated
1 teaspoon dry basil
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/4+  cup olive oil
freshly ground pepper and salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes. I like to use a chewy yeasty type of bread like ciabatta.


Toss the bread cubes in a bowl with olive oil. Be sure everything is coated evenly.

Add in grated garlic, basil, cheese and pepper and mix again. Spread bread evenly on a baking tray.

Sprinkle a little bit of salt over the bread and place in a hot oven and bake until crisp and golden for 10 to 15 minutes.

These will go great in any salad or in your favorite bowl of hot soup.

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Filed under Appetizers, Side Dishes

Zucchini & Enoki Mushroom Pizza

So yes, I may be addicted to pizza. I’m always on the hunt for interesting combination’s so if you have any pass them my way. I prefer them to be on the simple and light side of things as I use a Neapolitan style crust (thin and crispy). In my quest for pizza I have done some research as of late and decided to go the extra mile purchasing Napoli tipo “00” flour. I also followed a recipe I found here and I must say – WHAT a difference. The dough was smooth and elastic, easy to spread out by hand, no rolling pin needed at ALL. I always wondered how those guys spun their dough out above their heads, but now I understand why. The elasticity of the dough was amazing. Flavor wise I didn’t notice too much of a difference from regular flour, but the texture was not the same and it was certainly easier to work with. This pizza would work great as an appetizer – cut it into smaller bite sized pieces. The julienned zucchini and tiny Enoki mushrooms make this easy to eat without dragging the entire topping/cheese off the crust with your first bite. Know what I mean? Who hasn’t had that happen?


Zucchini & Enoki Mushroom Pizza

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough recipe here*
1 small to medium zucchini julienned
1 bunch of Enoki mushrooms
Garlic con fit or olive oil and roasted garlic
Fresh sage
Parmesan cheese finely grated
Goat cheese
Salt n’ pepper

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees F.
After julienning the zucchini (I used a mandolin) and trimming the woody ends off the mushrooms, stretch out your dough on a piece of parchment paper.

Smear roasted garlic and baste with olive oil. Sprinkle zucchini and mushrooms evenly (you could definitely add more than I did) and lightly salt and pepper. Spread grated Parmesan cheese, chunks of goats cheese and pieces of the fresh sage. Slide your parchment paper onto the back of a cookie sheet and then slide onto your pizza stone in the oven. Leave on the cookie sheet if you don’t have a stone (I highly recommend getting one if you make a lot of pizza. $20 stone gives a nice crust every time!).

Cook for 8 minutes, checking for the colour you like. I like a crispier crust so I let mine go a bit longer. I like to brush my crusts with a little extra olive oil after it’s come out of the oven. Cut it up and lightly drizzle with white truffle oil (to DIE FOR on pizza!) the tiniest droplets will infuse each bite with a woody, earthy flavour.

*Note: This pizza dough recipe will give you three pizzas the size of the one above here. I cut the dough into thirds and used one for this pie. The other two are for dinner tonight, resting in the fridge.

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Filed under Appetizers, Pizza, Vegetarian

Homemade Fresh Mozzarella or Bocconcini Cheese

Bocconcini cheese? Never a favorite of mine. The cheese is often used in caprese salad (tomato, basil, bocconcini and seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil) and I have always found it dry and completely tasteless – until one afternoon lunching at a friends house in Seattle. He placed a caprese salad in front of me, saying that the cheese was out of this world. Well… it was. Smooth and creamy, a delicate milky flavour with a hint of saltiness. I’d never look at bocconcini the same way again knowing that it could actually taste amazing.

I have a little bit of a problem (some might call it a personality flaw, some might call me crazy) but I love to choose something kind of out there and master making it. Personally I just love having knowledge about a large variety of things, and when I get a bee in my bonnet about something I want to learn, I become obsessive till I have conquered it. Making cheese was the perfect avenue for this obsessiveness as you can start out soft and mild and work your way into the hard and stinky – cheese that is… After a recent invite to a wine and cheese party I decided that I would actually MAKE cheese. It took me two goes of it to get it to work and with further research I think I have figured out why. For the beginner, this is not something you can guess at while making. It is very VERY important to follow the directions or you’ll end up with a yucky pot of turned milk. After scouring the Internets for good instructions I have decided to combine a few of them here for anyone that is interested. If you make this and it works – TRUST me, you’ll have a hard time eating the store bought stuff ever again.

Equipment:

Glass measuring cup
5 liter pot, VERY clean, stainless or enamel with a lid
Thermometer, -20 to 110C (buy a cheap digital one!)
Sterile fine-weave dish cloth or doubled up fine-weave cheese cloth
8 inch strainer (pasta strainer)
1000 watt microwave oven

Ingredients:

1 gallon milk* (I used ROOM TEMPERATURE cow’s milk, homogenized, pasteurized, 3.5% butter fat)
1¼ teaspoon citric acid powder (from local pharmacy – Sweet Cherubim in Vancouver) dissolved in ½ cup cool water
½ tablet Junket rennet (from local supermarket – Bosa Foods in Vancouver) dissolved in ¼ cup cool water
1 teaspoon salt
* Ask the grocery guy to go in the back and get you the freshest milk they have. If using organic milk, be sure that it is NOT ‘ultra-pasteurized’ as too much of the good stuff has been cooked out.

Dissolve 1¼ tsp. citric acid powder into ½ cup cool water. Add to ROOM TEMPERATURE milk and stir well, up to 5 minutes.

Heat milk to 31C (88F).
Dissolve ½ tablet Junket Rennet into ¼ cup cool water. Stir thoroughly into warmed milk mixture. Let set UNDISTURBED for 2-3 hours, until a clean break is achieved. That means NO moving it AT ALL! Very important. Now here is where I have had a problem – getting this ‘clean break’. It is due to the fact that pasteurized milk doesn’t have the calcium content that raw milk has. Though I did not get this ‘clean break’ it all still worked for me, so don’t be too discouraged if it doesn’t look like the linked picture. As long as the milk isn’t sticking to your finger like yogurt would it should be OK.

Cut curd into ½ inches cubes.

Over low heat, very softly stir the curds and whey (whey – the yellowy green water that has separated from the curds) to keep the curds separated and temperature uniform until temperature reaches 42C (108F). Hold at 42C (108F) for 35 minutes, softly stirring every five minutes to keep curds separated and off the hot bottom. This is the hard part… keeping your temperature around 108F takes a lot of upping and downing the heat. I kept mine at the lowest setting my electric stove had. I would remove the pot from the element if I saw the temperature getting too high.

After 35 minutes, remove from heat and collect the curds with a slotted spoon into a fine cloth held in an pasta drainer over a large bowl and let drain for 15 minutes. You can lightly press down on them with clean hands.

Break up the curd and thoroughly mix in 1 teaspoon salt with your hands.

Place salted curd into a glass bowl. Microwave on high (1000 watts) for 45 seconds (adjust the time so that you get the desired elasticity). Separate hot curd from container with the back of a fork or hands and then knead to distribute heat evenly. It’s HOT, so be careful!

Stretch, pull and fold to make it smooth and elastic, much like salt water taffy is made. Heat it up 2 more times (30 seconds worked for me) continuing to pour off the watery whey (if there is any) each time and then continue stretching and pulling.

Shape into a soft ball or balls and place into refrigerator to solidify. I split mine into two and rounded them into balls and placed them into two bowls.

And that’s it! Let them cool down and firm up and then they are ready to eat!

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Filed under Appetizers, cheese

Parmesan Rosemary Cracker Bread – Panzanella Croccantini

Mia (an old friend of my husbands) and I met briefly 6 years ago as she packed up and moved away from Vancouver to Seattle. Over the course of those 6 years we somehow established a great friendship. She’s like me in many ways – we love to craft, cook, bake, sew etc… she’s like me in many ways except she doesn’t drink – which I will forever find strange, but I still love her. A few years back when I was down for a visit she brought home some amazing crackers from a work party. They were called Panzanella and I loved them. I’m not a big cracker fan, but I really enjoyed them. So I decided to make some today, but with a Dalyn twist. I added Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary to them. VERY easy to make, but you do have to keep your eye on them as they bake… give them a try for your next wine and cheese get together? Be sure to read through the instructions before making them…

Parmesan Rosemary Cracker Bread – Panzanella Croccantini

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
dash sugar
2 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped up
1/4 cup finely grated real Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup very cold water

Preheat oven to 450 and put pan in bottom of oven for water.

In a food processor mix up flour, salt, sugar and rosemary and cheese. Pulse to blend. Add oil and pulse. Add water in a stream till dough comes together. Run for about more 20 seconds till a ball forms.

Place dough on a floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Divide into four pieces cover with a towel and let rest 5 minutes.

Roll each section with your rolling pin as thin as you can get it before it falls apart. Cut into sheets and place on parchment paper. Spritz with water and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place pans into oven, add 1/2 cup hot water to pan in the bottom. Flip crackers front to back after about 2-4 minutes (really watch them, you want them to puff up a bit but not get super brown). Take out after about 45 seconds to 2 minutes, again watch them. You only want a HINT of brown. The crackers will still be slightly limp when taken out at the right time and harden up as they cool down. Cool on rack or flat surface. Serve with any variety of cheese or crunch them up for a big bowl of soup!

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Filed under Appetizers, Breads

Baked Cheesy Kale Chips

Hmmmp. Healthy food. Why don’t I eat more of it? I find that when I choose to make something that has a meat alternative or in this case a starch alternative, I go out of my way to ‘up’ the flavour. The result is always remarkably enjoyable… who knew? A close friend of mine has decided to become vegetarian for a year and he got me thinking again about trying to substitute in some healthier options. Another friend is revisiting her vegan roots and posted a picture of the “cheesy kale chips” she’d just made on facebook today. I thought I’d give them a try with a little Dalyn twist. This is a reworked version of this recipe. They have a very nutty/citrus/cheesy flavour to them, nothing like what I expected! These chips are pretty much PURELY healthy – AND delicious!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of pistachios or cashews soaked
1 1/2 red bell peppers chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2+ tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1 lemon juiced
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 bunches of kale stems removed (all not shown)

Soak the nuts for at least 30 minutes and then drain. In a blender combine all of the ingredients aside from the kale. Give it a taste and add more salt if you think it needs it.

Remove the stems from the kale and tear into edible pieces.

Massage the blended mixture into the leaves and place them on cookie sheets and lightly sprinkle with a little extra nutritional yeast.

Now I don’t have a food dehydrator, so I turned on my oven to the lowest setting 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for around 1 hour, turning the piece over half way through. Remove from the oven and after they cool place into an airtight container and try not to eat all of them in one sitting…

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Filed under Appetizers, Vegan, Vegetarian