Posts Tagged ‘Appetizers’

Tahoe Day 2 – Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 by virginia

After a long, exhausting day on the slopes (10,000+ feet altitude really does get to you!), Claire and M still managed to put together a huge and lovely spread for the New Year’s Eve gathering we had at our house. There were about 20 of us altogether and there was so much delicious food that I couldn’t stop filling my fat belly. Claire really outdid herself in preparing some really interesting appetizers and I hope she’ll share the recipes!

As promised, she made pickled watermelon rinds wrapped in bacon.

Pickled watermelon rind wrapped in bacon

The pickled rind was sweet and sticky, tasting a bit like honey bbq sauce, and the bacon added a nice saltiness and smokiness that complemented the rind very well.

Close up shot of the pickled rind/bacon

Claire also made dates stuffed with manchego cheese wrapped in bacon. These were also sweet and salty and oozing nutty cheese from the center. I couldn’t wait to have one and ended up burning my tongue on the molten cheese!

Dates stuffed with manchego cheese and wrapped in bacon

Another interesting appetizer was roasted sweet potato pureed with orange rind and orange juice. The puree was placed on crackers and topped with smoked almonds.

Sweet potato puree with orange juice and orange rind on crackers, topped with smoked almonds

Surprisingly, however, one of my favorite appetizers was slices of brie on pita chips topped with clementine chutney. I don’t really like brie, and would typically not eat such a huge chunk of it at once, but combined with the chutney, it turned into something entirely different. It was creamy and sweet and just lovely to eat.

Brie on pita chips topped with clementine chutney

M made her specialty cheese gougeres, which were light, airy, and addictive.

Cheese gougeres

She also made a simple but awesome tomato bruschetta.

Tomato bruschetta

Other appetizers included cucumber slices topped with smoked salmon and a lemon/scallion mixture…

Cucumber topped with smoked salmon

And the same with pieces of crab.

Cucumber topped with crab

We also had garlic bread, which paired perfectly with our main course of spaghetti and meatballs.

Garlic bread

Sean was the one who made all the meatballs and the red sauce a few days before our trip. The sauce, which takes several hours to simmer, was really fantastic, and the meatballs were tender and flavorful.

Spaghetti with meat sauce and a meatball

The feast didn’t stop there – Claire went all out on the dessert. First was red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, which she placed on a cupcake stand and stuck candles in them in honor of her friend’s 30th birthday. The cupcakes were really yummy and moist.

Red velvet cupcakes

Next were huge platters of mince pies, which Claire had been preparing for over a year – that’s how long it takes for the fruit in the mincemeat to soak in alcohol!

Mince pies

And last, but definitely not least, we had slices of Claire’s Christmas pudding. It was also chock full of fruit and very dark and rich.

Christmas pudding

We all had a great time eating and drinking the whole night. Josh and I celebrated New Years twice, first by watching the Times Square ball drop on TV and calling our family on the east coast, and then celebrating with everyone at midnight Pacific time. It was hard to stay up but so worth it. Thanks very much to Claire for organizing everything, it was definitely a New Years celebration to remember!

Tilapia Cakes

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 by virginia

Tilapia cakes are a great stand-by recipe for Josh and me. We always have some frozen tilapia filets on hand, and this makes a quick, cheap and simple appetizer or meal. The ingredients vary, depending on what we have on hand. Basically, you just need tilapia (2-3 filets for two people), garlic (or garlic powder), any form of onion (regular, scallion, shallot), peppers (any color, or leave out entirely), lemon or lime, breadcrumbs, an egg, and salt and pepper.

Poached tilapia, lime zest, garlic, lime, egg, onion, green pepper, bread crumbs

Poached tilapia, lime zest, garlic, lime, egg, onion, green pepper, bread crumbs

I just poach the filets for a few minutes in salted water, then drain and flake in a mixing bowl. I like garlic, so I usually mince 2 cloves, but the amount is really up to you. Then I finely dice the onion (one small or half a large is plenty) and pepper (same amount as the onion), zest one lemon or lime, and reserve the fruit for squeezing over the top of the cakes after they are cooked. Mix it all together, and season with salt and pepper.

All the ingredients mixed up together

All the ingredients mixed up together

Since the fish is cooked after poaching, this is when I taste for seasoning. Then I throw in an egg to bind it, and some breadcrumbs if it needs some filler to hold it all together. Mix well, then form and shape into patties. The size is up to you, but usually we’ll get four hamburger-sized patties from the mixture. We’ve also made smaller appetizer portions, and even smaller bite size portions for a cocktail party. To cook, cover the bottom of a pan with a thin layer of neutral oil (i.e. vegetable or grapeseed), and heat over medium high heat until it is shimmering and just starting to smoke. Then simply fry the patties until they have a nice golden crust.

Pan fry the patties until golden brown on each side

Pan fry the patties until golden brown on each side

To make a quick sauce for the cakes, I mixed together whole grain mustard, sriracha and mayo. Josh also sometimes mixes sesame oil and mustard for an Asian flare. Again, it’s up to you. Spread the sauce on a plate, place the cake on top, and squeeze the lemon or lime over the whole thing. Dressed up or dressed down, it’s really an easy meal to make and can be fancy enough to entertain with.

Bon appetite!

Bon appetite!