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Posts Tagged ‘appetizer’

For reasons I don’t quite understand, fresh washed, bagged baby spinach costs an arm and a leg in Berlin.  I guess it hasn’t caught on in trendy circles yet.  If only the hipsters with painted on jeans and hideous shaved haircuts had an inkling of the green deliciousness they’re missing.

Anyway.

Here’s a simple recipe for a yummy spinach-potato soup.  The shortcut involves using frozen creamed spinach, which is all my discount grocery store (the U.N. refugee-camp-style Netto) had.  Topped off with some homemade croutons or a drizzle of cream, it makes a nice lunch or starter.

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Years ago (more than I care to admit), I was an exchange student in Vienna, Austria. It was there I had my first kiss, my first martini, and my first taste of Liptauer. It’s hard to say which of these made the biggest impression on me. Needless to say, I spent many a balmy night in the Heuriger (wine gardens), drinking the season’s new wine and noshing on German rye thickly slathered with a creamy, salty spread laced with mustard, paprika, and garlic.

Try Liptauer with a soft pretzel or three, and soon you’ll be singing the praises of the Austro-Hungarian empire (at least culinarily).

Swept up in Austria

This spread balances the tangy bite of pickles and capers with lots of creamy goodness. It is excellent on everything from crudités to crackers. Serve it at your next holiday party and brace yourself to explain—repeatedly—what the heck makes it so addictive. It’s that good. You might as well make a triple batch, as I did.  Just think of it as exotic pimento cheese ;).

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caviar dip

Sounds fancy, right?  But this dip is a cinch to put together and makes a nice hors d’oeuvres with some champagne or prosecco before a holiday dinner.  It plays off the classic combination of caviar and crème fraîche, swapping out the traditional blini base for root vegetable chips.  Salty, creamy, slightly decadent…what’s not to like?

caviar dip

Although there has been a lot of (justified) talk about saving money and scaling back expenses this holiday season, the tiny bit of caviar in this recipe is worth the splurge.  Not sure where to find it in stores? Look for little jars near the seafood section (often with the smoked fish).  Whole Paycheck…er…Whole Foods almost certainly carries it.

caviarWhat possessed the first person to eat caviar?

-3/4 c. crème fraîche
-1/2 c. sour cream
-4 tsp. caviar (I used generic German black caviar, but whatever suits your fancy/wallet), plus a little extra for garnish*
-1 small bunch chives (about 3 Tbsp. total when snipped)
-1 1/2 tsp. minced shallot
-1 tsp. minced red onion
-salt and pepper, to taste

To serve:  1 bag of root vegetable chips, such as Terra Chips, or kettle-cooked potato chips

1.  In a medium bowl, snip most of the chives, reserving a few for garnish. (more…)

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spinach dip

I’m excited to introduce a new guest blogger, Chris Ferrera, whom I’ve known since we were gangly teenagers wearing braces and carrying ugly purses (me, at least). We’ve been best buds since the time when a big night out was meeting at the mall to gossip over virgin piña coladas and spinach dip.  Ah…the days before calories counted.

It’s no surprise, then, that Chris’ signature appetizer today is a cheesy spinach artichoke dip.  This one is a classic.  Without further ado, here she is to explain how it’s done:

My name is Chris, and I’m married to a football addict.  My husband loves all sports, but football season holds a special place in his heart. Right around June, he starts talking incessantly about how he can’t wait for cooler weather, the pre-season games, and his fantasy leagues’ drafts.  (Yes, leagues, plural.)

I, on the other hand, am not the world’s biggest football fan, so the period of time between August and February every year has required some negotiation in our marriage.  To avoid spending Sundays in separate rooms, watching separate TVs, we needed to find some common ground—a way to make football (almost) as enjoyable for me as it is for him.

Turns out, that common ground is food, and more specifically what we like to call Football Food—basically anything cheesy, meaty, carby, or fried.  I love to eat and enjoy nothing more than a built-in excuse to indulge in delicious, savory snacks each week.  One of our favorite go-to football snacks is my mom’s Spinach Artichoke Dip.

There are countless spinach dip recipes out there, but I firmly maintain that this is the BEST, as long as you don’t have a problem with butter, cheese, and cream…

cheese sauceThe holy trinity

Spinach Artichoke Dip

-8 oz. heavy cream
-1 stick butter (4 oz.)
-2 Tbsp. flour
-4 oz. sour cream
-3/4 c. parmesan cheese (shredded)
-1/4 c. Monterey jack cheese (shredded), plus a bit more for sprinkling on top
-2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
-1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (more…)

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    chicory     

The poor Belgian endive gets little love. You know it, right? Crunchy, crispy, slightly bitter?

Vaguely overpriced?

Yeah, thought so.

 

Anyway, this appetizer was inspired by a tapa I had at Jaleo. Crunchy, creamy, toasty, sweet, and tart—it’s a wonderful contradiction of flavors worth a little splurge.  Not too heavy, and eaten with the hands, this might just be the perfect starter for your Valentine’s Day dinner. (more…)

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Last New Year’s Eve, my boyfriend and I rang in 2008 in a Russian-themed bar, Pravda, in New York City. In addition to fanciful vodka cocktails, we had an amazing caviar cream dip served with homemade potato chips. I was hooked, and a year later, I found a similar-sounding recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.  I’m dying to try it.

Serves 8 to 12.

-1 c. sour cream
-1 c. creme fraiche
-7 ounces paddlefish caviar, plus more for garnish
-2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. finely chopped chives
-Root-vegetable Chips or kettle-cooked potato chips

Stir everything but 2 tsp. of the chives together. Chill one hour, then garnish with remaining caviar and chives. Serve in a bowl set in a larger ice-filled bowl, with chips on the side.

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