Appetizers V/Stuffed Cold Cuts, Tofurkey/Marinated Mozzarella, Tofu

These heartier, filling "appetizers" should be used to fill a spot when a meal is missed.

These heartier, filling “appetizers” should be used to fill a spot when a meal is missed.

In Appetizers IV, I gave a few heartier version of what is a bit more than an actual “appetizer” should be, and here are a few more! These should be used more as a latter offering to take the place of a small meal, rather than as a pre-meal appetite-whetter.

Using Hummus as I spoke about in my last post, I added to it sautéed peppers in some cases, peppers and onions in others and sautéed mixed vegetables in others.

Simply take over-lapping layers of finely sliced deli turkey or chicken,( oven-roasted, mesquite or Cajun are best), roast beef,(add a little prepared horseradish sauce to the mix), or spiced ham. Add a dollop of prepared hummus and fold the ends of the meats over the top, close with a toothpick. If you can get Tofurkey, (soy-based meat substitute), or Seitan,(a wheat-based one), large enough and thin enough, it should work as well.
I used the same principle here with cooked Spinach leaves, You could substitute romaine or endive, instead.

I first blanched the Peapods, (plunge then into boiling water until just wilted),or you could steam them until tender. Slit the top without going through to the bottom and fill with humus prepared as you wish.

The Cheese Balls are fresh Mozzarella that I purchased at my local grocery store. I drained them,(they come in small tubs of brine), and marinated them in a mix of olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar,(you could use any type, but I suggest if not balsamic, then apple cider vinegar.
(Any nut oil would work well, too, instead of olive.) To the mix I added: garlic, salt, basil, marjoram, parsley, rosemary and black pepper. You could use “Italian Seasoning”, which is basically the same mix, and/or add oregano.(or use any combination of the above.) let them sit is a tightly –sealed container for at least days in your refrigerator. Turn the container twice a day. These will last for weeks in your refrigerator, so they are easy to make ahead. You can add black olives to the container as well. Drain to serve. (You can use the marinade to mix with Neufchatel or cream cheese to fill the olives, or use for other, upcoming appetizer recipes.

Use cubes of firm Tofu for a vegan-version.

I do hope his series is giving you ideas and courage to serve your guests and families.

 

Appetizers IV-Stuffed Mini-Peppers/Hummus/Fresh Fruit

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

 
Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute
Mini-peppers are now readily available in most supermarkets in the U.S. I find them in bags of red, yellow and orange mixed. They have a very sweet and gentle flavor and are beautiful in salads or sautéed in butter or oil and added to any vegetable, pasta, grain or rice dish. Roasted gently in the oven, they can be slit and seeded, then stuffed and made into lovely, somewhat heartier, appetizers. Fresh fruit served with these is a bit of a respite from the heaviness of them.
[TIP: To keep non-citrus fruit fresh,dip them in citrus-fruit juice,(lemon or lime are very tart; I like to use pineapple or grapefruit juice), or any citrus-based soda, such as lemon-line (Sprite) or Mountain Dew.]

The peppers above are just a tiny example of what one can do with the darling vegetables.
Above I have some meat-filled with taco-ground beef and cheddar cheese. Others are filled with cream cheese with parsley chives, onion powder and topped with crumbled bacon.
One has spiced pork, (cooked pork ground with a hint of cloves and nutmeg, or you can do herbed pork with fennel, parsley and chives). You can use finely chopped beef mixed with prepared horseradish; top with a cherry tomato half.

Sauté tiny shrimp with leeks, (shallots or chives), thinly sliced celery and cooked spinach and use the mix to stuff some.

The others are stuffed with Roasted Chickpeas [Garbanzo beans], or hummus.
You may use canned, cooked chickpeas, (or to cook your own, see my August 24, 2012 post: You Know Beans.)

Place cooked beans on a baking sheet and roast in a 375F oven for approximately 10 minutes, stir to turn and cook for about 8 more. Crush these and mix with crushed pistachios, almonds, preferably smoked…or my new obsession, wasabi almonds. Fill the roasted peppers.

If you don’t know hummus, it is a food made from ground chickpeas and usually tahini, which is a roasted sesame-seed paste. You may use any of the prepared bands, as hummus has become quite common as a dip in the U.S., and much of the rest of the Western parts or the world, (the East always knew its glory.) There are many brands,(beware, one does not mix as well with other foods as it contains a great deal of chili powder in its ‘regular’ formula).Many types are to be found with roasted garlic, tomatoes, etc. You can use these, but I make my own with a slight change; I use sesame seeds instead of tahini. Feel free to try this using canned chickpeas.

My Hummus [Vegan, gluten-free]
½ pound of chickpeas cooked in a slow-cooker with
1 Tbsp. of Olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. finely diced onion
½ tsp white pepper
3X water to cover the chickpeas
When the chickpeas are soft, reserve some water and drain the rest. I run them through a food processor, then add:
2 Tbsp olive oil,
salt to taste
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½-2/3 cup white sesame seeds
I process them again until completely smooth, and add more of the reserved cooking water if too dry.
For the peppers in the photo, I added chopped, sautéed vegetable mixed, as described in “Appetizers II”.

I do hope that you try any of the above combinations, or any of your own.

 

Appetizers III Savory Fruit/ Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan-optional

“Savory” and “Fruit” may not come to mind as being compatible, but when it comes to appetizers,the combination is perfect. Sweet and spicy or tart, plus pairing of textures, give a surprise spark to the taste buds and leave  guests wanting to experience more.

Stuffed dates, figs  and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising  appetizers

Stuffed dates, figs and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising appetizers

The stuffed dates, figs, apricots and grilled fruits above are quite easy and quite eye-catching.

To start, the easiest:

Grilled fruit:
Heat butter in a frying pan until slightly brown. Add slices of firm fruit, such as pineapple, peach, pear, plum,  apple, apricot.

On high heat, brown quickly on each side.You may sprinkle with spices, such as nutmeg or cloves, or you can go  hot, with a little white pepper, ginger, Indian  hot pepper, (be careful!) or paprika. Sugar is unnecessary as the caramelization of the fruit sugar in the pan-frying makes them particularly sweet.

Skewer with a toothpick.

Stuffed Dried Mission figs: slit, filled with hazelnut-chocolate spread,(Nutella), a smoked or wasabi almond, glazed walnut or any of the suggestions below.

 Stuffed Dates and Apricots
With a short,sharp knife, slit the fruit and open the cavity gently with a dull knife, (or a clean finger!), and insert any of the following:

sweet coconut, with or without nuts, or dried fruit bits,(mango, pineapple, crasins, cherries,(dried or Maraschino),

or with sweet cheese [ricotta, mascarpone or Neufchatel mixed with honey, sugar, stevia or other sweetener, plain or with the options of  nuts and/or spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, etc. Silken tofu or “vegan cream cheese” can be used as well.]

Top these with a piece of dried fruit or  nuts.

These will also have to be skewered or placed in candy paper cups, or , easier, mini cupcake papers.

 

Note: Pre-made sweet coconut can be used or prepared with stevia or other sweetener as I suggested in the NuNaturals promo post of September 11, 2014.  Although I developed those recipes with  the product  in mind, ANY stevia product or sweetener of choice can be used. (I found that wasabi almonds are a fantastic mix with sweet coconut…I can’t get enough of the combination!)

Please see all of the September 11 post for more (sugar free)  sweet appetizer ideas.
Again, please feel free to use
  ANY sweetener of your choice.

It’s crunch-time for the holidays.I will post again in a day or two to get in as many appetizers as I can before most of the holiday season.

 

 

Appetizers(III) vs. Party Foods

I have found confusion among some people concerning the difference between “Party Foods” and “Appetizers/Hors d’oevres.”

Appetizers are party foods, make no mistake, but not all party foods are appetizers. There is a time and a place for both. Dips, nuts, cheese boards and rolled sandwiches are wonderful party foods, but do not belong where you would serve appetizers.

Appetizers and Hor d’oevres are usually used in a less casual atmosphere, but they don’t have to be “stuffy”. I hesitate to use the rather old-fashioned terms “Cocktail Party” or “Open House” because I have found them to be something negative in people’s minds, just as I found the term “Dinner Party” is to many. That was one topic I suggested on my shared blog “Four Foxes, One Hound” here on WordPress and nearly everyone seemed to have thought that they had never been to one or that they have to be terribly uncomfortable experiences. A dinner party does not have to be a formal affair with oyster forks and starched collars any more than an “Open House” needs to mean pseudo-sophisticates making inane conversations.  Any time there are guests for dinner it is technically a ‘dinner party’; some are just more formal than others. Appetizers can be served at any of them.They are especially  handy when some guests will be arriving some time before  the others.

An “Open House” is a drop-in, casual  party that are usually held on weekends, often during any holiday or holiday season when many folks have other obligations and cannot stay for any length of time at one function. The host(s) simply state a starting time and are prepared to have guests in and out for several hours,(at least 4-5), or for most of the day.These are often held on a Saturday mid-day into the late afternoon or on a  Sunday  afternoon into the evening.Some are bold enough to hold them on Christmas Eve. New Year’s Eve  Open Houses usually go until the wee hours of the morning. Drinks are served, and usually a punch is kept going and the food will be light hors d’oeuvres.

[“Cocktail parties” are early evening affairs where hors d’oeuvres are served along with…you guessed it, “cocktails”. I don’t know if they are ever held under that name any more.]

Appetizers/hors d’oeuvres need to be one-two bite individual servings, without sauce and never to need any ‘work’ on the part of the guest, (no dipping, layering or cutting, for instance.) They are to be used to lead into a meal, or be served at a late gathering/lead into a function afterward, not to substitute for a full meal, as “party foods” often are.

You will find a variety of just how much or how little work you feel you want to do in this series.

Please try one more complicated one at a time if you feel you don’t have the time or the skill…you do have the skill. Try them when you aren’t pressed for something to serve and you’ll find you can easily follow my instructions. Most can be made in advance or have make-ahead components which can be put together closer to serving. Have fun trying them for yourself or w family and friends when you don’t have to worry about making an impression and you’ll gain confidence and knowledge in the making of all of the recipes and ideas I offer, which I hope will inspire more ideas of your own. A few will need to be served warm, so chose these to serve in your home; others can be taken to be shared elsewhere.

I will be back in a few days with more, but will leave you with a few adapted party-foods-turned-appetizers:

This "Party Food" can be made into mini appetizers

This “Party Food” can be made into mini appetizers

Baked Brie en Croute: (more complicated; vegetarian)
1: Make Old World Crust, [“You Can Make Pie Crust and Savory Pastry/(Vegan)/Chiffon
November 2013 Archive]
OR
Use ready-made pie crust
2: 1 Baby Brie
3:Small amount of Topping
[I often use Cranberry Relish,November8, 2012 Archive]
Or Use a jarred all-fruit
Or pie filling ,(added nuts optional)
Or Butterscotch/Caramel ice cream topping with added nuts

Roll and cut small rounds of pie crust.  Place very small portions of brie in the center; top with a very small amount of topping of your choice. Fold the crust around the cheese and topping and pinch to close. (Try to keep them closed or at least, keep the opening on the very top.
Brush with egg wash,(beaten egg mixed with 1 tsp water.) to create a nice golden brown.
Place on a greased baking sheet,(can use oil spray), or sue parchment paper.
Bake @375F until golden brown. Serve warm. May be made ahead and re-heated carefully.

Easy salad stuffed mini tomatoes can be a refreshing appetizer

Easy salad stuffed mini tomatoes can be a refreshing appetizer

Mini Stuffed Tomatoes (easy; pescetarian; dairy-free,low-carb, gluten-free)
1:Cherry or grape tomatoes, cored:
Stuff with:
2:Seafood Salad made with
Drained canned tuna (or salmon),
Or Flaked crab or imitation crab
Or tiny cooked shrimp
Or hard-boiled eggs
3: thinly sliced celery
4:finely minced green onions, white or yellow onion, leeks or shallots
5: celery salt or onion salt
6:mayonnaise or veganaise
Place small amount in tomatoes, top shrimp salad with a tiny shrimp; the egg with green or black olives; salmon or tuna with a cooked asparagus tip…or use your imagination.

I will be back very soon with more to finish this before the holiday entertaining season is over.

Any questions?

Appetizers II

I am quickly going to get out the promised appetizers here for the holiday season, although they can be useful at any time. All of these are gluten-free,low-carb and all are vegetarian; they can be made dairy-free and vegan.

A selection of appetizers

A selection of appetizers

The selection pictured above go from a little preparation to pull-‘em-out-of-a-jar. I simply stuck toothpicks in jarred pimento-stuffed green olives and those are fine for an addition to a plate, but please, don’t just serve those!
The tomatoes I prepped with a melon baller:

A handy tool:the melon baller

A handy tool:the melon baller

(A famous TV chef recently described this item as a “mini ice cream scoop”!)

The tool is used to ‘ball’ melons, but they also make a useful tool to hollow-out grape and cherry tomatoes.

The grape tomatoes above to the right in the picture are miniature versions of my Italian Baked Tomatoes [ October 15, 2012 archive], served on fresh spinach leaves.

The cherry tomatoes in the middle and the black olives to the lower right in the photo are stuffed with herbed cream cheese. I use Neufchatel, (reduced fat cream cheese) and usually add a few drops of olive or any nut oil, then I add herbs. “Vegan cream cheese” or silken tofu can be substituted for the Neufchatel cheese.

Some suggestions to mix into the filling are:
Italian seasoning , or mix any of the following{ parsley, marjoram, basil, garlic, oregano
Thyme and cracked pepper
Ground rosemary and parsley
Chives, celery salt, turmeric,paprika
Onion and pepper flakes
Cilantro and ancho powder,(be careful!)
Mesquite
Celery seed and saffron
Dill weed
Or use flavored, spreadable cream cheese from your grocer. Kraft has everything from pineapple to smoked salmon and everything in between. You can do the stuffing!

The black olives to the left in the picture have marinated chick peas (garbanzo beans) in them. Prepare as directed,{ You Know Beans, August 24, 2012 archive),or use drained, canned chickpeas. Marinate in olive oil and your choice of herbs or in Italian salad dressing for at least 3 hours .Drain and push into pitted olives.

The grape tomatoes to the left in the picture are fresh and filled with a vegetable mix that is easy and very useful. I served them on pieces of Romaine lettuce.
Frankly, I am not sure what was in that particular mix! I often fully cook whatever vegetables I have in the house,(at least 5-7 of them) along with some herbs and spices.

Use any or all of these, chopped finely:
Onion, chives, leeks and/or shallots
Celery, swiss chard, Romaine or any type of lettuce
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach,
Bok choy, Chinese, red and/or green cabbage
Carrots, turnips, parsnips
Sweet peppers
Yellow squash and or zucchini
Green and/or wax beans, (canned or fresh)
Garlic
Opt: Parsley, ginger, celery seed, turmeric, paprika, salsify, saffron, thyme

Cook in olive oil or nut oil, stirring often. This mixture is very useful and makes a wonderful spread when mixed with cream cheese, silken tofu or to mix into or top hummus or polenta. (Recipes for both upcoming.)

I hope the picture and the recipes inspire you to try them or branch out on your own.
I will be posting more in quick succession.
Any questions?

Guest: Author Patricia Kiyono /Antipasti

I promised appetizers and antipasti, but things have been hectic here at Casa di Familia, (The Family House), so when I saw that my friend and partner on another blog, Patricia Kiyono, posted a great recipe, I knew it would make wonderful antipasto. I asked her to do a guest spot to get  me up and running again and she has graciously obliged. Technically, these would be  the salada, not antipasti, but we’re not quibbling here!

So I will turn this over to my Friend, who will discuss Food and Family.

Thank you for lending me a hand,Patricia!

 

 

Although I read blogs of all kinds, the last place I ever expected to

write a guest post would be a food blog! I love to eat, but my time in the

kitchen is very limited. You see, my hubby and I have a rather unique

distribution of labor. Because of his work hours (3 AM to noon), he came

home long before I got done with my teaching job. And although I CAN

cook, it made more sense for him to prepare the meal and get it on the table

than wait for me to do it. So I’ve always done the cleanup.

Since he’s a mixture of Scottish, Dutch, and German, his idea of a

meal is meat and potatoes – and not much else. I need my veggies – for one

thing, my Japanese mom ALWAYS had lots of veggies on the table, and for

another thing, the heavy food did awful things to my waistline. So I learned

to prepare and keep a variety of veggies on hand that I can quickly assemble

when needed. Sometimes I make a bunch ahead of time. Tonette asked me to

share a few of my favorites. My go-to vegetables are cucumber and tomato,

so I’m sharing a few ways I serve them:

First, here’s a simple and delicious way to serve cucumbers. My mom

used to make this all the time. Cookbooks and online recipes call for

Japanese or Persian cucumbers (they’re skinnier and have fewer seeds), but

since specialty food stores weren’t around back when I grew up we used

regular ones, and it tastes just fine.

Sunomono:Japanese Cucumber Salad

Sunomono:Japanese Cucumber Salad

 

Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

2 large cucumbers, sliced as thinly as possible

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon sugar (or substitute)

¼ teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Sprinkle salt over cucumber slices and let sit for five minutes, then squeeze

out the water (I set them in a colander then cover with paper towel and push

down, but mom had a special veggie press like THIS ONE)

Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce until sugar dissolves. Add to

cucumbers and top with sesame seeds. The picture here has wakame

seaweed added, which is also good – but I don’t always have wakame in the

house – it’s still good!

Doesn’t that sound easy? Another easy veggie that my kids love is

Caprese Salad, especially in the fall when our family and neighbors share

An Italian  Antipasti

An Italian Antipasti

their over-abundant gardens with us. I was first introduced to this delicious

and simple side dish when I went to Italy over 40 years ago.

Caprese Salad

1 large tomato cut in quarter-inch slices

4 to 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in quarter-inch slices

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

basil leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Arrange slices on a large plate or platter, alternating between tomato and

cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to

taste. Garnish with basil.

Really, nothing to it – and it’s delicious. I call it a non-recipe recipe.

So for a bigger challenge, try combining the tomato and cucumber in a

Greek salad. In 2008 my youngest daughter did a semester abroad while she

was in college, and she chose a program on the beautiful Greek island of

Paros. I brought a friend with me to visit (gotta make sure the kid is eating

right!), and we fell in love with the cuisine. And almost every day we had

one of these delicious, simple salads.

Patricia Kiyono's Greek  Salad

Patricia Kiyono’s Greek Salad

Greek Salad

(two large servings)

1 medium tomato, cut into cubes

1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into pieces similar to tomato

¼ medium red onion

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

a bit of oregano

Most recipes call for kalamata olives, but since I don’t like those I leave

them out.

Combine veggies and cheese. Combine olive oil and vinegar and pour over

the top. Garnish with oregano.
I really hadn’t planned it this way, but I see that these recipes are from

three different countries I’ve visited and loved. And I noticed that the people

in these countries don’t suffer from obesity the way we do here. I’ve

skimmed through all sorts of articles about why Italy, Greece, and Japan

have fewer problems than Americans do, and I think it boils down to a

combination of diet and lifestyle. So now that I’ve adopted some of their

foods, all I have to do is copy the rest – as soon as I find some mountains to

climb, ruins to investigate, and canals to row through!

In addition to adding to my dinner menus, my travels have sparked

my imagination, resulting in some of my published romances. After visiting

Greece, I wrote Aegean Intrigue, published by Astraea Press in February

2012. And as a tribute to my Japanese heritage, I wrote The Samurai’s

Garden, published by Astraea Press in November 2012. I’d love it if you’d

click on the titles to learn more about them!

 

You  can learn more about Patricia and her work  at these sites:

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Website

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Blog

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Facebook

You can see more through Goodreads, Amazon, Astraea Press and she is with me at

Four Foxes, One Hound

(She’s the Monday Fox; I am the Friday Fox; we have a couple of other Foxes and a Hound there, as well! Please  drop in sometime.)

Again, thank you,Patricia Kiyono!

Appetizers 101(Beginning of Series)

Appetizers. What image comes to mind? Many people have no idea what an appetizer actually is.
The word “appetizer” actually means the obvious, something to whet the appetite. These are intended as a not-too-filling taste of foods to get your body and mind in gear for a really big meal, usually a sit-down, formal dinner. The phrase “Hors d’oeuvres” has the same meaning. But few people now use them that way.

(We’ll discuss finger-foods, as well.These are more, eat-as-you-go, munch and socialize. They are more hearty, more of a meal…more like tapas.)

“Tapas” has entered the world as the Spanish version. However, tapas and the New World version, ‘Bocas’ and ‘Botanas’ can also be combined to make a full meal, more on the order of a light buffet.

“Anitpasto”,(literally:before [the] pasta), is a light food served while sitting at the table as a first course in a big Italian meal. It is also meant to stimulate the appetite. We’ll see examples in a later post.

Every canapé is an appetizer, but not every appetizer is a canapé. “ Canapé” comes from the same root word as “canopy”, and so a canapé consists of something on top of something.

Examples: Caviar on a water cracker is a canapé; a skewered bean curd ball is not. Squirt cheese on a Ritz is a canapé; a cocktail wiener is not. (NONE of these will be discussed in this series, I can assure you.)

Everyone needs to know how to come up with a few decent appetizers. You don’t see yourself having a sophisticated cocktail party? Maybe you never will, but you don’t ever have to, and you never know when you might be in the position of having guests who gather and need something to either tide them over until you all eat,(your place or going out), or just need something on which to nibble to keep them from fainting while you talk or have a meeting.

Think of family and friends in your house or others for the holidays. Everyone smells the food cooking, but not all is ready or you are waiting for the family members who are late coming in…and there are always family and friends who are late. Tide the early ones over and wow them simply with the ideas I offer.

You may sometime be invited to a gathering where you are asked to take an appetizer and as I brought up before, you don’t want to take a plate of brownies like a non-foodie friend did.
Keep these in mind:

Idea #1: Keep it simple. Don’t think you have to use caviar or paté de foie gras. In fact, never use caviar and paté de foie gras.

Idea #2: Look into your own repertoire of recipes…is there something that can be made in a smaller version or cut-up or spread that can be a single or two-bite offering?
[Examples in past blog posts here include the recent Coconut Chicken (Sept. 2014), Fish Tempura or Mini Codfish Cakes (March 2013),Worcestershire Chicken (Oct. 2012) or Ranch Chicken (Sept.2012), Mini Baked Tomatoes (Oct. 2013), Mini Twice –baked Potatoes (March 2013)]

Perhaps you have another seared meat recipe, meatball or meatloaf recipe that is a hit?  Marinated tofu? Anything that is tasty and can be skewered on a toothpick? Think outside the roasting pan.

Idea#3: Unless you know for certain that everyone gathering will have the same dietary needs and tastes, make an assortment or appetizers that include low-carbohydrate and nut, dairy and/or gluten-free offerings. It can be easy with the guidelines I will offer.

Are there any questions or any type of recipe you’d like to see?

I will be back very soon with recipes and pictures. I was told by several readers that my post on the NuNaturals Give-Away was too long and so it was ignored by them. I’ll keep the posts shorter and closer.
I want to thank everyone who entered and stopped by to comment here or on the Food ,Friends, Family Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TonetteJoycefoodfriendsfamily?ref=hl
 

See you soon!