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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Smoked Salmon Canape's


Smoked Salmon Canape's

These appetizers are quick, tasty, easy to prepare , and easy on the waistline.  I serve the smoked salmon dip on cucumbers, because I like crunch and taste, but you could also put it on crackers, (per request from husband, H).

Ingredients:
8 ounces fat free cream cheese or Tofutti Better than cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbls creamy horseradish (more if you like it a bit more spicy)
1 large shallot, minced
3 Tbls capers, rinsed and dried
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced into rounds
2 Tbls minced fresh dill, plus more for snipped garnish
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Just so you know: Tofutti has no butter fat, no milk; just soy and other good stuff.

When you're trying to cut down on fat and calories, you can go with the fat free / light/ soy substitutes, as long as you have big, powerful flavors to offset what can be bland tasting diet plate dishes. Like we have here with the salmon, capers, shallots, and horseradish.

Here's how it's done:
With your vegetable peeler, peel lengthwise slices of peel off of the cucumber, making stripes around it.
Slice the cucumber into rounds, approximately 1/2 - 1 inch thick. (It has to be thick enough to hold a spread). Lay the cuke slices out on a stack of paper towels and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Let this hang out for a good 20 minutes, blotting with dry paper towels as the moisture comes to the surface.
This does two things; first, it seasons the cucumber. Second, it helps eliminate some of the moisture in the cuke. If you put a dip or spread on top of an unsalted, wet cuke, it will slide right off. Probably into your lap. Or, your mother in law's lap. Or your boss's lap. No bueno.

While the cukes are giving up some of their excess water, get out your hand mixer and go to town on the spread. 
Chop up the smoked salmon into small pieces.
Rinse the capers under cold water and drain.
Thinly slice the green onions, on the diagonal, just because it looks pretty.
Mince the shallots.
Finely chop the dill.

Into a bowl, put the cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, dill, and shallots. Mix it up until smooth and creamy.
With a soft spatula, fold in the salmon, capers, and green onions.
TASTE and re-season, as necessary.
Line a bowl with a gallon size zip top bag.
Put the filling into the bag.
Zip it up, squeezing out the air. Now, snip off a corner of the bag so you can pipe the spread onto the cuke rounds.
If this step sends you into panic mode, no worries. You can skip it and simply spoon the spread onto the cukes.
If not panic stricken, go ahead and pipe some filling onto the now blotted dry cukes.

Top with fresh chopped dill, fresh cracked pepper, and serve.


Ingredients:
8 ounces fat free cream cheese or Tofutti Better than cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbls creamy horseradish (more if you like it a bit more spicy)
1 large shallot, minced
3 Tbls capers, rinsed and dried
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced into rounds
2 Tbls minced fresh dill, plus more for snipped garnish
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Method:
1. Peel lengthwise slices of peel off of the cucumber, making stripes around it. (Just because it's pretty).
2. Slice the cucumber into rounds, approximately 1/2 - 1 inch thick.
3. Lay the cuke slices out on a stack of paper towels and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
4. Blot cukes with dry paper towels as the moisture comes to the surface.
5. Chop up the smoked salmon into small pieces.
6. Rinse the capers under cold water and drain.
7. Thinly slice the green onions, on the diagonal.
8. Mince the shallots.
9. Finely chop the dill.
10. Put the cream cheese, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, dill, and shallots into a bowl. With a hand mixer, mix it up until smooth and creamy.
11. With a soft spatula, fold in the salmon, capers, and green onions.
12. TASTE and re-season, as necessary.
13. Line a bowl with a gallon size zip top bag. Put the filling into the bag. Zip it up. Squeeze the air  out.     14. Snip off a corner of the bag.  Pipe the spread onto the cuke rounds.
15. Top with fresh chopped dill, fresh cracked pepper, and serve.




Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Clementine, Avocado and Pistacchio Salad

 Clementine, Avocado and Pistacchio Salad

Easy enough for everyday dinner; tasty enough for a holiday dinner. Clementines and avocados are in season, beautiful, and delicious. Pistachios are always welcome, and a delicious, nutritious, addition to any salad. Whip up a simple tangerine pomegranate vinaigrette, and you've got yourself  one heck of a delicious salad.


Let's start here, with the base.


 Lettuce. I like a blend of butter lettuce and arugula. But, you can use whatever you have on hand. Spring mix, spinach, etc. This is a salad that does well when the lettuce doesn't overpower the other ingredients. Softer lettuces work well.  Lay down a bunch of clean, dry greens.
Zest 2 clementines into a prep bowl. Just the orange part, please. White = pith. Pith = sour; no bueno, no good, makes you want to spit it out. 
Add 2-3 clementine tangerines, sectioned, into the salad bowl. (May sub Mandarin oranges).
Halve and seed 1 large avocado. Dice and add to salad bowl.
Thinly slice 2 shallots or 1/4 small red onion. Sprinkle over salad.
Crumble up 1/2 of a package of Boursin cheese over the salad. Any flavor.
Toss a big handful of roasted, salted pistachios over the salad.
Season with Kosher (or sea) salt, and fresh cracked pepper, and finish with the Clementine zest.

Vinaigrette: 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbls tangerine pomegranate vinegar (or raspberry vinegar, or pear vinegar, or heck, even some plain old sherry  or white wine vinegar).

Juice of 2 Clementines


Whisk


Slowly whisk in about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil to emulsify dressing.



                                           Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

                 Taste!  If too tart, add a bit more olive oil,  or agave nectar or honey to taste. 
                       You  could also put all the ingredients in a jar and just shake it up.

Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad, and serve immediately. 
Dressed salad will not keep in the fridge. It will become a slimy mess overnight. If there are those at the table that do not want or like vinaigrette, serve the salad naked, and pass dressing on the side.

Ingredients:
1 head butter lettuce, washed and chopped
2 cups Arugula 
5 Clementines: 2 zested and juiced for dressing; 2-3 segmented into salad
1 large ripe avocado, chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup roasted salted, shelled pistachios
1/2 package Boursin cheese, crumbled over salad
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Vinaigrette:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbls tangerine pomegranate vinegar (or raspberry vinegar, or pear vinegar, or sherry or white wine vinegar).
Juice of 2 Clementines
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
 If too tart, add a bit more olive oil,  or agave nectar or honey to taste. 


















Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not yo' Mama's Green Bean Casserole

French Green Bean and Wild Mushroom Casserole
Just in time for the holiday, it's time to re-think yo' momma's green bean casserole. Sure, it's super easy to open a few cans and put that hot mess in the oven. Let's take this traditional casserole to new heights with Haricots Verts, an assortment of beautiful wild mushrooms, shallots, and really yummy, creamy sauce.
Let's start with the beans. In the grocery store, or your  favorite big box giant, like Costco or Sam's, are these little French green beans, called haricots verts. (Pronounced "arico ver", like "very"). These gems are packaged in cellophane and ready to use. No prep needed. Just make sure to check the expiration date and look at the beans to ensure freshness. 
First, bring a big pot of salty water (we need to season every step of the way), to a rolling boil. Carefully add the beans to the boiling water. After the beans are in the pot, make a shock pot. Ice; water; Kosher salt (one real good pinch).
When the beans are bright green, fetch one out and taste it. If it's too tough, keep on boiling. We're going for crisp/tender here, not fibrous tough; not mushy mush. When tender to your liking, fish them out with a large spider. (Not the furry eight legged kind, just so you know).
Then plunge them directly into your shock pot.

Give them a stir. Then leave them alone in the icy bath.
When cool, drain them on a stack of paper towels.
Let's talk mushrooms. I kinda like some of the fancy schmancy shrooms out there, so I went with 1 pound total of oysters, cremini (baby portabellas), and Shitake. If you don't like or can't find the above, just slice up a pound of white button mushrooms. They'll be just fine.
Chop them up.
In a large skillet, (I like cast iron), heat up 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter.
When the skillet is hot, add the mushrooms, 2 large shallots (or 1/4 chopped red onion), a good pinch of Kosher salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Don't touch them, don't stir them until they have enough time to brown on the skillet side down. Then, you should stir them around. Not before. Thank you.
Saute the mushrooms until beautifully brown and caramelized. Throw in 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/4 tsp nutmeg while the mushrooms are getting really happy.
Add 2 Tbsp all purpose flour (I use whole wheat).

And whisk it up. We need to cook out the raw flour flavor without burning it. Cook for about 3 minutes on medium to medium high heat.
Whisk in 1 quart chicken stock. I used home made, but, box-o-stock will be just fine.
Throw in a few sprigs of fresh thyme tied up in a bundle, and just let it ride.

When smooth and thick, stir in 1/2 cup light sour cream. This is one of those dishes that you can go light and not sacrifice flavor. Fish out the thyme bundle.
Put your beans back in the skillet with the mushrooms. Fold it all together.
Grate up some parmigiano reggiano right over the top.

 Place in an oven safe casserole dish. Top with a big handful of French's French Fried Onions.

 Place in an oven safe casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
 If you really want to go for the gusto, you could slice up some shallot rings, dunk them in seasoned flour, then fry them in oil until crisp, and top the casserole with that. Too much work and mess for me. French's work just fine.
Thank your Grandmama and mama for introducing you to a tasty holiday tradition. Then make it better.

Recipe
  • 1 1/2 pounds Haricots Verts, (If not available, use fresh green beans, trimmed and de-strung)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound mixed gourmet mushrooms, such as shiitakes, creminis and oyster, cleaned and quartered
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied up in a bundle
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 big handful French fried onions
Method:
  1. Bring a big pot of salty water to a rolling boil. Carefully add the beans to the boiling water. 
  2. After the beans are in the pot, make a shock pot. Ice & water, & Kosher salt.
  3. Cook to desired tenderness.
  4. Plunge them directly into the shock pot.
  5. When cool, drain them on a stack of paper towels.
  6.  1 pound total mushrooms: oysters, cremini (baby portabellas), and Shitake. Chopped.
  7. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter.
  8. When the skillet is hot, add the mushrooms, 2 large shallots (or 1/4 chopped red onion), Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  9. Saute' the mushrooms until brown and caramelized. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/4 tsp nutmeg while the mushrooms are browning.
  10. Add 2 Tbspb all purpose flour to the mushrooms. Whisk and cook about 3 minutes.
  11. Whisk in 1 quart chicken stock.
  12. When smooth and thick, stir in 1/2 cup light sour cream.
  13. Remove thyme bundle.
  14. Put beans back in the skillet with the mushrooms. Fold it all together.
  15. Grate 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano over the top.
  16.  Place in an oven safe casserole dish. Top with a big handful of French's French Fried Onions.
  17.  Place in an oven safe casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until bubbly and golden.







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About Me

Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I'm a home cook that can put some good tasting food on the table, most of the time. My family knows dinner is ready when the fire alarm goes off.