Category Archives: Appetizers

Mini-Smorgastarta


I wanted to make something fun for Boat Club this month, since it’s the last one before fall.

I decided to make some personal Smorgastarta, which are just basically a sandwich cake, but a fun one.

I had a couple of Hoagie Rolls in the freezer and I sliced them into thin slices, then layered egg salad and smoked salmon spread in-between the layers.   I also made up a few with egg salad and ham salad layers.

 

Let me show the fun I had…

I usually have fun in the kitchen when I’m creating, just not so much fun when it comes time to clean up, but I’m getting better at cleaning as I go.

To start with, cut the crust off of the bread.  And umm, it helps a lot if the bread is still frozen at this point, it was really hard to get the crust off the one thawed loaf.

Then slice it into thin slices.  And again, the frozen loaf worked out a lot better this time round.  I used my new Miracle Blade slicer for this.  I just bought the set, and the slicer and the paring knife are worth it in my book, both are super sharp.   Just had to say that.

I used the ham salad spread recipe I made in January, with one exception, I used some thin sliced luncheon ham for the spread.  And it worked out quite well.   I didn’t have any scallions, but I did find one lonesome looking leek in the veggie drawer, so it was pressed into service.   Leeks do tend to last a lot longer than scallions or green onions and make an admirable substitute when you want a little oniony flavour but you don’t want it to hijack your dish.

I think I’m officially in love.

With my food processor.

I placed a few slices of ham in here and let the food processor have its way with the meat.

Added a little cream cheese, mustards, and mayo along with some of the chopped leek.

Mooshed up the hard cooked eggs, and added some mayo and mustard to them.

The leeks just as I was chopping them up.

 Deviled Ham Salad all ready to go.

From the left, Egg Salad, Smoked Salmon mixed in with some cream cheese and mayo, and the Deviled Ham Spread.   In the front Leek cut up and ready to decorate.

Spread some egg salad on one slice, top it with another slice of bread which has been spread with either the ham salad or the smoked salmon spread.

 

Assembly line…

Continue until all the slices are done or you’ve run out of one of the spreads.

Place into a covered container and put into the fridge for a couple of hours.

 

This gives the sandwiches a chance to rest and recuperate and also means you get to clean up the kitchen.

After they’ve rested, you need to ‘frost’ and decorate them.
I used equal amounts of a good  mayonnaise, in my case Duke’s Mayonnaise, Creme Fraiche and Sour Cream.  Mix it together and then spread the ‘frosting’ along the sides and top of the sandwich.  Don’t worry about it looking pristine or even really pretty.   You will be decorating them a little.
I used a spoon to spread the ‘frosting’ along the sides and then spread a little on top, placed them on the serving platter and then I had fun.   And forgot to take pictures of the just ‘frosted’ sandwiches.   whoops.

I then had fun decorating.
You can do whatever your heart desires or in my case what I could find in the fridge.
I really need to go shopping, soon.
I used some of the leek I’d minced up, some of the  hard cooked eggs, some parsley out of the garden along with some ham slices and the last of my jar of fire-roasted peppers.

And there you have it.

Mini Smorgastarta, and this won’t be the last time I make them.  It’s just too much fun bringing them to the party.

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Home made Seeded Crackers


I found these crackers at  Sawsan’s blog, Chef in Disguise 
I love seeded crackers, they’re good on their own, or with a bite of cheese on top or …

OK, so they’re tasty all by themselves.

You were peeking in my kitchen, weren’t you?  You saw me just eating them, plain, without anything on them.

I did taste test a bunch of few crackers.

I baked some of the crackers according to the recipe, and then I had fun with the last half.

I also changed up a couple of the ingredients, but that’s cause the big old bottle of poppy seeds, that I knew I had, in the pantry, are MIA.

So…
Here’s my take on the crackers.

Recipe:
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup Flax Seeds
1/4 cup Chia Seeds
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 cup water (enough to moisten the dough, maybe a little more or maybe a little less).

Mix together, and let rest for about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Divide the dough into either thirds or quarters, and roll out each piece until you get it thin enough.  I made it about 1/4 inch thick, or maybe a little less.

Cut into squares and place on a baking sheet, bake for about 12 minutes, or until the crackers start to brown around the edges.
Take out of oven, taste test one, burning the tongue in the process, decide you need a touch more seasoning.

So for the next batch I grabbed my onion powder and sprinkled just a little on top of the rolled out dough and then cut out some rounds.

I reserve the right to change things up in midstream here.   Baked them off, and then for the last bit of dough, I rolled them out, sprinkled some pizza seasoning on top, and cut them into diamonds and baked them off.

 

I really like this recipe, it’s versatile, tastes great and best of all, I know exactly what is in it.

I think next time I might add some sunflower seeds as well, or maybe just toast the sesame seeds a little to get more of a nutty flavour.

I made some more last night for NPA and served them alongside a nice double cream Brie.    They were a hit.  Again.

I swear I’ll never buy the seeded crackers again, these are so outrageously good, and best of all  I know exactly what is in them.

I do live in the Redneck Riviera and umm, I reserve the right to make my own ‘Crackers’.

Deviled Ham Spread


If you’re like me, and maybe you’re not, but if you are…

You still have ham left over from Christmas and you may even be sick and tired of eating it.

I’m not, but I still have a lot of ham to get through.   I did make some lovely Split Pea soup the other day from the ham bone, and we’ve had Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches and Ham and Eggs for breakfast and a couple of sandwiches along the way as well.

Gosh it kinda feels like the everlasting leftover turkey at this point.

Which leaves me approximately 6 pounds to go through.

I’m kidding, we’ve only got 2.8 lbs left.

And even less after today.

At any rate, there are a bunch of us who gather together most Sundays and I subjected them to some of my leftover ham last weekend.

But not just leftover Ham, I wanted to have fun with it, and since I love that spread you can buy in the can.
OK, so I’ve been known to buy a can and eat it all.

So I went down to the kitchen and …

I swear sometimes you shouldn’t let me loose in the kitchen.   I have way too much fun.

Here’s my take on Deviled Ham

Recipe:

2 cups cubed cooked ham
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon Mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Yellow Mustard
2 shallots, finely minced
2 garlic scapes, or one small garlic clove minced

Put the ham into the food processor, and process until it’s all broken up.  I actually tried just chopping it with my knife, but decided to try my little processor and it worked.  Yay!!!!

Place the softened cream cheese into a bowl and add the mustard, mayonnaise and creme fraiche.

Add the minced garlic and shallots  (you can also let them have a quick whirl in food processor if you like).
Mix together and then add the ham.   Mix until all the ingredients are combined.   Taste at this point and add more mustard or creme fraiche if you like.

 

Put the ham mixture into the fridge and let it set there for a couple of hours, let the shallots and garlic get acquainted with the ham.

Serve with crackers.

And get out of the way, you don’t want to get trampled.

I’ll be making this again soon, or at least the next time I make a large baked ham.

Za’atar Pita Crisps


Have you ever tried Za’atar?  It’s an interesting spice mix from the mid-east, usually consisting of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac and other herbs sometimes.   It has a kind of lemony taste, but is so good on roasted meats, on top of greek yoghurt and various Syrian and Lebanese dishes.

A friend, Debi Jordan, musician extraordinaire, introduced me to this spice mixture the day she showed me how to make Stuffed Grape Leaves.   And then I went and bought more, just for myself.   Well, the bag I bought was quite large, so I split it with her.

The Za’atar has sat in my spice drawer for quite a while now.   I keep meaning to use it, and in fact have used it seasoning some chicken dishes, etc.

But…

As I was moving it aside the other day, I realized that I really did need to use it up, or at least use more of it in something.

Then I saw this recipe on TheKitchn.com and realized “YES” I can do this.

And in this season of conspicuous consumption, this is even semi healthy.

At least the olive oil is good for you.

Take about 1/2 cup of Za’atar, mix it with some olive oil, in other words make a paste.  Set aside.

Pull out a couple of Pita Bread rounds, cut them into wedges, and then split them in half.    Put the rough inner side up on a baking sheet, and spread the Za’atar mixture on top.

Bake in a 400 deg. oven for about 6 minutes, or until the edges start to brown a little.    ( I cut them in half before I split them, they were a little harder to cut into wedges after baking)

Serve with some Hummus and you either have a nice light snack or lunch.

I made these for NPA last night and they disappeared.

I think I’m going to keep some Za’atar on hand as well as some Pita Breads in the freezer from now on, cause this was so simple and easy to make and it just plain tasted good.

I did sample a couple or three before I took them to NPA as well.

You know I’m not going to share something unless it tastes good, right?

Home Made Mayonnaise


I made some mayonnaise the other day, and was about to do something rude to myself, cause I realized, that this is so much better than any commercial mayonnaise, and why haven’t I been making this more often?

Have you ever tried making some?   I guarantee you, it’s not hard, and the taste and texture, well, hands down I think it’s better than most commercial brands.

And with an immersion blender, so dang easy to make, I’m kicking myself I haven’t made it for myself in a long time.  And when you make your own, you can customize it, however you like.   I like mine a little on the lemony side, but sometimes I like garlic or tarragon or an herby kind of mayo.

But for your basic old mayonnaise, this is the way to go.

Just 4 basic ingredients and I bet you have them all in your house.

Recipe:
1 Egg yolk
1 teaspoon Lemon juice (half a lemon works well here)
1 cup mild Oil (I like using a bland vegetable oil, but have made it with olive oil in the past, but it takes on the flavour of the oil)

1 teaspoon Mustard

That’s it.

I have to add in a caveat here, I love my immersion blender, especially the little whisk that came with it.    I use it a lot.

First off.   Separate an egg, set the white aside, you can always add it to the omelette or freeze it or do what I did, which was add it to the dog food I was making.

Sorry got sidetracked there.

Place the egg yolk in a beaker, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little mustard.  I used some Grey Poupon Country grind, about 1/2 tsp. (sorry I didn’t measure too carefully).

Whisk the egg yolk mixture together, you’ll notice it thickening up a little, well, OK a lot.  Then start drizzling the oil in, just a drop or two to begin with.
Then the magic happens.

It starts to look a little thicker, and as you add more oil, drops at a time, it all comes together.  After you’ve managed to get about half the oil in the beaker, then you can drizzle the oil in, whisking it continually.
That’s the trick, continually whisking as you’re pouring in the oil.  And drizzle the oil in very slowly.

And after you’ve got the whole cup of oil incorporated, you end up with this luscious, velvety, smooth concoction called Mayonnaise.

Which you can use how you use regular mayonnaise, cause, umm, gee, this is real mayonnaise.

Couple of hints here.
I did say it’s been a long time since I’ve made mayonnaise, and I ‘broke’ it.  Which means it started to separate, which is not what you want it to do.
But I rescued it.
I added a tablespoon of hot tap water, whisked it through just a tad and the mayo got reacquainted and made up.
Just a little trick to keep in mind.
And if you have access to pasteurized eggs, go ahead and use them if you’re concerned with any kind of salmonella contamination.   You are using an uncooked egg yolk here, and don’t feed it to anyone who maybe be immune compromised, you know the drill.

Home made mayonnaise will keep for about three days in the fridge, but mine never lasts that long, it gets eaten.

****BTW****  Is your turkey in the fridge thawing yet?  It’s not too early to haul it out of the freezer and stick in the fridge to start thawing.    Remember for every 4 lbs. of turkey, you need to have it in the fridge for 24 hours.    So that 20 lb. turkey needs to go in the fridge today.

Orange Fused Ginger Chutney Sauce


Wow, long title, huh?

But this sauce was so good, people were using it not only on the Pork Fritters but on the fried chicken, the pound cake and I guess, just eating it.  (and I should add this was all for the Boat Club last week)

I know I liked it, a lot.

I was playing around with stuff the other day when I came up with this dipping sauce and I even measured it out, just in case it was good.  And it was good, very good.
But don’t take my word for it, make some yourself and try it out.
I’ll even give you the recipe.

Recipe:
2/3 cup Mrs. Ball’s Chutney
1/3 cup Orange Marmalade (I used some of my 3 Citrus Marmalade)
2 tablespoon Mandarin Fused Olive Oil (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (I use the ginger root I keep in the freezer)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon mustard, the coarse grind
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix it all together in a little pot, heat together and taste.

Which I did, and then I added more ginger, tasted it again and pronounced it good. Heating helps the brown sugar melt into everything.   You get little bits of orange and mango and peach all overlaid with a lovely orange flavour.

I have to say, I’m making this again and again.

** Edited to add:
I just made a second batch of this sauce and this time I added a second tablespoon of the Mandarin Fused EVOO and let it cook for a couple of minutes.   And I think it’s even better than the first batch.

Heavenly Orange Pork Fritters


I had a hard time coming up with a name for this recipe.   sigh   I had this long and wonderful and totally descriptive name for this, but then people kept calling them Pork Fritters, so they are now Heavenly Orange Pork Fritters.

I went to the ‘big city’ with a friend last week and we stopped in at this little store, called Smashing Olive.   Big mistake on my part.   I tried several of the oils and could have drunk a glass full of the Balsamic Vinegar, it was so good.

The mistake on my part?  Well, I only bought a couple of the oils and vinegars and now I have to go back and buy more.  But, I can wait for a week or two before I go back there.

maybe

At any rate, it was Boat Club this week.   We’ve had a summer hiatus, and  people are now back and chomping at the bit and ready to cook and eat and enjoy themselves.

I decided to try using the Mandarin Fused Olive Oil along with the Balsamic Vinegar to make a marinade for the pork tenderloin.   I whisked together roughly equal parts, with a little more oil than vinegar.  Then I went out to the garden and raided my oregano plant and used my mezzaluna to chop up the oregano leaves.

Added those into the marinade and coated the tenderloin and stuck them in the fridge.  After an hour, I decided that I needed to add a minced clove or two of garlic to the marinade, and then the ginger said, use me too, so I used my microplane and added about a half teaspoonful.    I love keeping ginger in the freezer, even if it talks to me sometimes, it’s just so handy.

I was trying to keep it simple.

I didn’t make a lot of marinade, so I used one of my trusty gloves and massaged the marinade into the pork tenderloins, very gently.  I didn’t want all that porky goodness to be overtaken by the orange, I just wanted a hint, to enhance.

 

After they’d rested in the fridge for a couple of hours, I proceeded to use my meat mallet on them.

You can get out a lot of frustrations that way.

I pounded them out quite thin, then did the flour dip, then an egg wash and finally  pressed them into some panko, and fried them quickly in a little hot oil.

 

When the pork is pounded out this thin, it only takes a minute or so to cook, so just go ahead and brown them on each side.  I use peanut oil to fry them, as it is a mild oil.

And you know I taste tested this as well.
There was a lovely hint of orange in finished pork fritter, before dipping it into the dipping sauce I made.  I think maybe I could have used more of the oil, and maybe next time I will.

I’m thinking of all kinds of ways to use this Mandarin Fused Oil.

I served the fritters with a dipping sauce and I’ll share that recipe with you later on.     The dipping sauce is what totally blew this away.