Archive for ‘Appetizers’

June 6, 2011

Spanish Tapas | Almond Toasts

Lately I’ve been enjoying the idea of meals with lots of little bites.  Doesn’t matter the country or the culture.  Just about everybody has the concept.

Sunday, with the addition of some sage flower sangria (the sage flower syrup was from my friend Kate) we had a lovely meal of Spanish tapas.  My favorite bite was this almond toast from Steve Parle, whom I stumbled across in his terrific writings for The Telegraph.

I really love his aesthetic.  He has the dream job of researching and uncovering truly local foods from around the world.  And honestly, if I could do something everyday, it would be to travel everywhere and find out how people are cooking in their homes in all corners of the world.  I am inspired.

It’s the Belle Lorraine of Alsace, the liquor distilled from the yellow Mirabelles that are local to Nancy and Lorraine.  It’s the puffy tacos found only in San Antonio, Texas.  Or it’s takoyaki  from Japan that is now found in a little stand on the streets of Columbus, Ohio.  Or Korean bibimbap.  My plate is eternally full.  Everywhere, each day, cooks – especially home ones – are transforming local ingredients and family recipes into moments that encourage everyone to slow down, savor and remember.

This little two bite wonder is a symphony of flavor: smoke from the grilled bread, citrus, fresh mint, rich Marcona almonds and perfect umami from anchovies.  It’s perfect paired with that sangria and encourages you to do just what you’d love to do: relax.

Playlist included Lover’s Carvings by Bibio.

April 17, 2011

A Cheerful Starter | Golden Beetroot and Radish Salad

This is a joyous way to start a meal.  It’s a beautiful salad, with ribbons of fresh golden beetroot, bold red radishes, freshly picked mint, and wild and aromatic dill.  There’s an Eastern European soul in there, but those delicious and time-honored ingredients take on a brighter, more modern tone.  It’s very simple and unfussy to prepare, and it made me very happy to eat it.  All that’s left to be said is that it was inspired by a Michael Symon recipe in Vefa’s Kitchen.  Yes, that’s the Bible of Greek cooking.  No, borders don’t mean a whole lot when it comes to food.

As with any salad, there aren’t too many rules.  Peel the woody exterior off of 2 smallish golden beets.  No need to even cook them!  Then just shred them into ribbons using your peeler.  When the piece you’re holding becomes small enough, eat it.  Do the same with 2 largish radishes.  Then add your herbs: tear mint, parsley and dill roughly and in the proportion of your choosing.  Finally, make a simple dressing.  I would suggest 4 T of olive oil, 1 T of apple cider vinegar, 1 T of good mustard, a drizzle of honey or a pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix the dressing into the veg and herbs to coat evenly.  Enjoy as a starter or a light lunch.

Playlist included For What It’s Worth, by the Cardigans.

April 6, 2011

A Shared Experience | Falafel

We’ve all been to the takeaway on a Friday or Saturday night in our blissful, hungry, after-the-pub or rock show moments.  We’ve all hit the kebab stand or the middle eastern place in the middle of the night.  As we stand cradling the foil wrapped object of our desire, cucumber sauce dripping down our chins, mouth full of onion, falafel, and tahini, we mumble to our friends, “This is so good!  Why do I only have this when I’m drunk after the bar?”

As it turns out, you can recreate this shared food experience at home, because it’s pretty easy.  Not only do you not have to precook the beans, there’s not even really a recipe to it.  Feel like including some parsley?  Do it.  Don’t have any onion?  Skip it.

Simply soak some chickpeas in water over night, drain and tip into a food processor.  Add in any combination of ground cumin, ground

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March 28, 2011

Earthy Elegance | Porcini Mushroom and Chicken Liver Pâté

I have been craving pâté for a couple of weeks.

This coming from the girl who couldn’t stand liver growing up.  But as times change, so do ingredients.  With such widespread availability from so many great producers, its a great time to revisit some of the things you thought you didn’t like.  You might be surprised.

It’s a craving that makes some sense.  Chicken livers are a powerhouse of iron as well as a slew of other minerals, and they have a high vitamin content too.  So if you’re feeling a little run down, do yourself a favor and find some high-quality livers.  These beautiful ones were from North Market Poultry and Game, because honestly, they have the best chickens in Columbus, and therefore the best livers.

I followed this recipe from Gordon Ramsay, because no matter how he acts on American television, this guy can cook.  And this recipe produced, rather simply, with just a few ingredients, something that was a serious treat to eat.  Served on some crispy toasts or small slices of fresh baguette, the pâté has an earthy, forest-like fragrance to it thanks to the porcini mushrooms and woodsy thyme.  It’s a dish that evokes luxury, but if you stop to think about it, it’s quite humble indeed.

A few PK tips if you decide to make this some Saturday.  If you’re here in Columbus, use Snowville‘s whole milk to soak the livers in overnight, it elevates the dish, I think.  And while you’re at it, just buy some of the whipping cream and fix up a quick batch of butter to clarify and pour over the top of the pâté to seal.  If you’re taking care, go all the way.  Take the time and press the pate through a sieve to ensure the mixture is silky.  When you taste it you will appreciate your own efforts.  When you’re ready to serve the pâté, take it out of the fridge a bit before you’re ready to serve it.  I marveled at how the flavors blossomed as it warmed from cool to room temperature, almost like a cheese.

Playlist included Teenage Suicide Don’t Do It by Big Fun.  There is a link there, believe it or not.

March 16, 2011

Irish Cooking | Poached Salmon on Brown Bread

It’s a marvelous, make ahead kind of a lunch.

Poach a bit of salmon the night before, bring along a slice of leftover pint bread, a tiny cup of homemade crème fraîche and add a few thin slices of onion, some fresh dill if you have it, a caper or two if you want.  It is perhaps one of the healthiest things you could take for lunch, plus it’s simple, and tastes luxurious.

PK tip: this assembles in moments.  Pack the salmon along with the dill and onion, but pack separately the crème fraîche and the bread.  Yet another thought: wouldn’t this also make fabulous little quick appetizers?

Your cube mates will be jealous.

 

 

January 23, 2011

Braised Brisket Part Deux | Beef Siomai, Daikon Salad

A trip to an Asian market is so heavenly.  Those markets are filled to the brim with flavor and inspiration.  My favorite Japanese shop is Tensuke Market.  It’s where I get my yuzu and some of the most delicious soy sauce ever.  It’s where you can pick up really fresh sushi, and carefully crafted bento boxes.  It’s also where I found the shumai wrappers for today’s Philippine siomai.

The Japanese don’t typically fill shumai with beef, but it’s common in the Philippines.  So with a little nod to a couple of different cultures, I wound up with a really tasty appetizer that’s a snap to assemble and serve thanks to the leftover brisket.

Beef Siomai, makes 28

3/4 pound leftover braised brisket, very finely chopped

2 inch piece of ginger, finely grated

2 green onions, finely sliced

1 heaping t of miso paste

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January 17, 2011

Winter Kitchen | Fritto Misto, Crudités and Bagna Càuda

Traditionally fritto misto is a dish of fried seafood and vegetables.  Last night, I lightened it up by leaving the vegetables uncooked for dipping into a luxurious sauce flavored with garlic and anchovies.  Bagna càuda loosely translates as hot bath.  Intensely flavored, it heightens the fresh crunch of vegetables that have gone for a quick swim around the bowl.  This is sophisticated but familiar game day food:  bite-sized pieces of fried fish and shellfish along with crispy, seasonal crudités and a warm, creamy dip.   A nibble here, a bite here and you’ll be satisfied without having gone around the bend.

Fritto Misto and Bagna Càuda, serves 2 to 3

For the Bagna Càuda:

c whole milk or half and half

6 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and minced

8 anchovies

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