Category Archives: Appetizers

Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower seems to be under-appreciated.  I think most people think of two main things for it – raw as a snack or steamed with some butter or cheese sauce.  Not that there is anything wrong with either option (because I’m certain I have NEVER said no to a cheese sauce), but there really are so many options.  Soup, cooked and pureed for a great side, baked in a gratin, battered and fried, pickled, the list goes on an on.

For this, I roasted it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  The roasting brings out some of its natural sweetness, and then I mixed it with toasted walnuts, golden raisins, and sherry vinegar.  A great side or a nice addition to a small plates theme.

Great warm or at room temp

Roasted Cauliflower with Walnuts and Golden Raisins

  • 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • olive oil

Toss cauliflower with some olive oil and salt and pepper and spread in one layer in a sheet pan.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 10 mintues.  Turn cauliflower and roast another 5 minutes.

Roasty Cauliflower

In the meantime, heat a saute pan over medium high heat.  Add walnuts and toast for about 5 minutes or until starting to smell fragrant.  Add raisins and toss for a minute.  Reduce heat to medium and add sherry vinegar.  Stir to combine and let cook down until nuts and raisins are well coated.

Combine cauliflower, walnuts, and golden raisins in a bowl with a few tablespoons olive oil.

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Pickled Veggies

Well, the farmers’ market is done, and our garden is gone.  But, I was able to stock up the last few weeks, and with the remaining beautiful summer veggies, I made a big jar of pickled vegetables.  Though I’ll list what all I put into it, it really is just up to personal preference and what is available.  I made sure to let mine “pickle” in the fridge for at least 5 days before I started eating on them, and they should last for about a month.

You can see some other things I pickled in the background - baby cabbage with sweet red peppers and the other is cherry tomatoes.

  • 1/4 head cauliflower, chopped small
  • 1/2 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 sweet peppers, chopped
  • 5 radishes, quartered
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, 2 minced, 1 cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper corns
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • white vinegar (enough to fill half of the jar you are using) – I used a quart sized jar
  • 2/3 cup sugar (if using a quart)
  • 3 tablespoons salt

Blanch cauliflower and zucchini in a pot of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes.  Blanch beans in a pot of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes.  Drain each batch and shock in an ice bath.

Add enough vinegar to jar you are using to reach halfway.  Fill up remaining area in jar with water.  Pour into a medium-sized saucepan and add sugar and salt and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, add peppercorns, coriander, cumin, and garlic to jar.  Add all vegetables.  Pour vinegar mixture over and seal.  Let “pickle” in fridge for at least 5 days, and will keep for about a month in the fridge.

Bay Scallop Ceviche

I made this ceviche one day on vacation before heading out to the beach.  It needs 3-5 hours to marinate, so it was ready for my afternoon snack when I got off the beach.  Perfect!

Bay Scallop Ceviche

  • 1/2 pound bay scallops (or sea scallops if you have those)
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • 2-3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Tortilla Chips

Combine scallops, red pepper, and red onion in a bowl.  Add the juice of both limes, and give it all a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper.  Let marinate in fridge for 3-5 hours.  (Marinating it any longer can cause  the scallops to “over-marinate” and break down the protein too much and cause it to get rubbery).  Add cilantro and avocado and taste to see if any more salt and pepper is needed.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Okra, Two Ways – Fried and Pickled

We have okra coming in left and right, so we have been trying to use it in everything.  So, we went two of my favorite ways – pickled and fried.  Pickled okra is perfect for several things – just an antipasta platter, Bloody Mary’s, and as a side for pimento cheese .  For fried, we paired it with a roasted red pepper dipping sauce.

Pickled and fried - my faves!

Pickled Okra

This is enough to fill 2 pint jars packed full of okra

In each jar, add:

  • okra, packed in tight
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon corriander seeds
  • 2 smashed garlic clove

In a pan on the stove, bring to just a boil:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Stir until just combined and pour over okra. Put on lids and let sit in fridge for just about a week to get it’s pickled flavor.  Should keep fine in the fridge for a month.

Fried Okra with Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

  • As much okra as you feel like frying, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. (We probably did about 2 cups cut up)
  • 2 cups buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute an egg wash of  2 eggs and 1/2 cup milk)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • vegetable oil
  • Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce (recipe below)

Heat oil in a cast iron pan on stove over medium heat.  You’ll want the oil to come up the sides of the pan about a 1/2 inch or so.

Submerge okra in buttermilk (or egg wash) for about 5 minutes. In meantime, combine cornmeal and flour in shallow dish with salt and pepper (and I usually like to add a few dashes of whatever hot pepper spice I have).  Set up a breading station like so: on counter place okra in buttermilk, next to it your seasoned flour, and next to that a sheet pan or plate to place the breaded okra.  Next to your pan with oil on the stove, set up either a sheet pan or plate lined with a couple paper towels.

To  bread okra, remove okra from buttermilk/egg wash, let excess drip off, and drop in seasoned flour/cornmeal mixture. Toss around in this until coated, gently shake off any extra, and place on sheet pan. To keep things a little neater, use just one hand for the “wet” and one hand for the “dry” for the breading of the okra – this will keep you from ending up with two breaded hands!

Sprinkle just a tiny bit of flour in the oil.  If it sizzles up, you are ready to go.  Gently place okra in pan.  Don’t over crowd pan because that will cause temp of oil to drop and it won’t fry up as nice.  If you are doing 2 cups, you will have to do at least 2 batches.  Once okra has fried on one side for about 1 -2 minutes, turn them over and fry another 1-2 minutes.  Carefully remove them from the pan and place on the paper towel-lined pan and season with a light dusting of salt.  Continue until all okra has been fried. Service with dipping sauce.

Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

  • 2 roasted red peppers (I just used them from a jar – I did not roast them myself)
  • 1/2 cup mayo (I used store-bought)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Put peppers in blender and blend up until kinda smooth.  Add mayo, balsamic vinegar, and some salt and pepper.  Blend up until fairly smooth and serve with okra.

Gazpacho, Version #2

Fresh vegetables, summertime, yada, yada, yada, it’s all I talk about, I know. And I know I just did gazpacho, but seriously how can I possibly get sick of it this time of year? But I think that everyone is on the same page as me with this!

Gazpacho with Cilantro and Avocado Cream

Gazpacho with Avocado Cream

  • 8 tomatillos, halved
  • 5 medium sized tomatoes, rough chopped, set in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes
  • 2 green peppers, rough chopped
  • 3 jalapenos (remove seeds and ribs if you prefer less spice), chopped
  • 1 small red onion, rough chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeds scraped out, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, stems picked out
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Avocado Cream, recipe below

In a large bowl, combine tomatillos, tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos, onion, garlic, and cucumber. Mix all up so evenly distributed.  Add half of veggie mixture to food processor.  Process until somewhat smooth and frothy. Add 1/2 of the cilantro, 1/2 of lime juice, 1/2 of vinegar, and half of olive oil.  Season.  Transfer to serving bowl, and put all remaining ingredients (except Avocado Cream) into processor and process until smooth-ish and frothy. Combine with other gazpacho.  Chill at least 20 minutes.  Serve in bowls with a big dollop of avocado cream and a few sprigs of cilantro.

Avocado Cream

  • 1 avocado, removed from skin, pit removed
  • 2 heaping tablespoons sour cream
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix avocado, sour cream, lime juice, and cilantro in food processor.  Slowly pour in olive oil. Season with just a bit of salt and pepper.

Gazpacho with Ricotta Crostina

Ever since having gazpacho the other weekend at the Hubbard Inn and posting about it, I have been craving it.  We finally have ripe tomatoes in our garden, so I decided it was time to make a batch.  I essentially just decided to copy the whole idea and presentation from Hubbard Inn since I loved it so much.

Gazpacho just like Hubbard Inn's!

Gazpacho

About 4 servings

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
  • 1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Herbed Ricotta Crostini (recipe below)

Core tomatoes and cut in half long-wise and then into quarters.  Pull/squeeze out seeds and juicy pulp. Roughly chop, throw in a colander, and season with some salt.  Set colander with tomatoes in sink and let excess water drain from tomatoes for about 15 minutes (the salt will help to draw out the excess water).  Shake tomatoes around in colander as needed to help get out the excess water.  (Leaving all those seeds and extra watery pulp in the tomatoes just makes the gazpacho more thin and watery than what it should be).

Roughly chop cucumber, jalapeno, bell pepper, and onion, and toss into bowl of food processor.  Toss in tomatoes, too.  Process in food processor until fairly smooth, but not 100% liquified.  Mix in vinegar and olive oil.  Transfer to a bowl and whisk in salt and pepper.  The gazpacho will take a decent bit of salt as tomatoes can absorb lots of salt. (If there are too many veggies to do all at once in the food processor, mix all veggies up in a bowl so they are evenly distributed, and then puree them in processor in two batches, using half the vinegar and olive oil for each batch).

Pop the soup in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill it.

Serve in bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and the crostini

Herbed Ricotta Crostini

  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal

Mix ricotta, herbs, and olive oil, and season generously with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Toast bread slices in 350 degree oven for about 5 -6 minutes.  Smear with ricotta mixture when they come out and serve with gazpacho.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Corn Vinaigrette

I know it has not been too terribly long since I’ve last posted on fried green tomatoes, but we eat them pretty often (yes, we are that healthy!), and usually mix up the toppings/sauces we use for them.  For the most recent one, we had corn that was super fresh and sweet, and decided to make a vinaigrette/sauce of sorts with it.  Now, I like to always try to use buttermilk to marinate my tomatoes in, but if you don’t have any available, feel free to substitute an egg wash (about 2 whole eggs and 3/4 cup milk).  Plus, the tomatoes, jalapenos, and thyme were all from our garden!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Corn Vinaigrette

Fried Green Tomatoes with Corn Vinaigrette

About 4 appetizer portions

  • 3 decent sized green tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • Corn Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Slice tomatoes into about 1/4-1/3 inch slices.  Put into shallow dish and cover with buttermilk.  (You may not need all the buttermilk, or you may need a little more depending on size of your pan – you just want to make sure the tomatoes are pretty much covered with buttermilk.) Let soak at least 10 minutes.

Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in shallow dish.  Set up breading station: Tomato/butttermilk dish, next to it seasoned flour, next to that parchment (or wax) paper lined sheet pan or plate.

Add vegetable oil to a heavy skillet (I use a cast iron pan). I add enough oil so that it is about 1/2 – 1/3 inch deep.  Heat on medium until oil reaches 350-360 degrees.

Bread tomatoes.  Remove tomato slice from buttermilk and shake off excess liquid.  Dredge in seasoned flour and shake off any excess.  Set on pan.  Continue until all tomatoes have been  breaded.

Start frying tomatoes.  Depending on size of your pan, add 4-6 tomatoes to pan, but don’t over crowd.  Let brown on one side for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn with tongs (be careful to not let grease splatter!) and let brown on the other side another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pan with tongs, holding each tomato on end over the pot for a few seconds to allow extra grease to drip off.  Set on paper towel lined plate or pan.  Lightly season with salt.  Continue this way until all tomatoes have been fried.

Plate tomatoes and top with corn vinaigrette.

Corn Vinaigrette

  • 3 ears corn, shucked
  • about 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, removed from stem and just very lightly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Standing each of the ears of corn on their larger end, carefully slice off corn kernels.

In a bowl, combine corn, jalapeno, shallot, and both vinegars in a bow.  Stir.  Slowly stir in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and add thyme.  Serve at room temp.