weeknight gourmet

Category : Appetizers

Easter Egg Overload? Time for some Deviled Eggs!

IMG_1292Lots of leftover Easter eggs?  Deviled eggs are always a crowd pleaser…or so I have heard.  I wrongly assumed I wouldn’t like deviled eggs because I didn’t care for the hard-boiled yolk.  But Tim loves deviled eggs so I decided to give them a try.  YUM!  I’ve been missing out.

I followed Emeril’s recipe (below), using my new favorite hot sauce Frank’s.  There is a nice little kick from the mustard and hot sauce!

In case you are wondering how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg, here is a good recipe to follow.  But the perfectly cooked hard-boiled egg is stickier and harder to peel.  Not he ideal solution for decorating Easter eggs, but here is a tip for easier peeling so your deviled eggs look as good as they taste.  Slightly crack the egg before you put the cooked egg in an ice bath.

Now all I need is one of those cute deviled egg trays!
Deviled Eggs
Emeril Lagasse

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled, cooled, and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Variation: add 1 teaspoon chopped canned jalapeno peppers
  • 4 radicchio leaves, for garnish
  • 3 parsley sprigs, for garnish
Place the cooked egg yolks in a bowl. Using a fork, work the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, chives, and salt and pepper into the yolks to form a smooth paste. Taste. Place 1/2 of this mixture in a small pastry bag with a large star tip. To the remaining mixture, add the jalapenos and season with Hot pepper sauce. Fill 6 of the egg halves with the basic filling. Fill the pastry bag with the jalapeno filling. Fill the remaining egg white halves. Top with paprika. Place on a platter on the radicchio leaves, and parsley sprigs.

Holiday Menu: Grilled & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

These stuffed mushrooms were a huge hit!  I am not a huge fan of Gorgonzola and I still thought these were unbelievably good.  I grilled the mushrooms on a grill pan, since it was not a night to be grilling outside, and then finished the mushrooms under the broiler.

The stuffing is so flavorful from the hot Italian turkey sausage, mascarpone, and Gorgonzola.  These mushrooms are hearty enough that you could make even these mushrooms as a main course.

Grilled & Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Giada de Laurentiis

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
12 ounces turkey sausage, casings removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 cup (4 ounces) Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
6 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the mascarpone cheese. Add the thyme, oregano, bread crumbs, 1/2 of the Gorgonzola, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir until all ingredients are combined.

Brush the mushrooms on both sides with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, stem side down, for 3 minutes. Turn the mushrooms over and grill for 2 minutes until tender. Fill each mushroom with the sausage mixture and top with the remaining Gorgonzola. Return the mushrooms to the grill and cook until the stuffing is warmed through and the cheese starts to melt, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Cook’s Note: The assembled mushrooms can also be placed on a baking sheet and cooked under a preheated broiler until warmed through.

Easy Hors d'œuvre: Baked Ricotta

Tim and I both love fresh ricotta so I couldn’t resist picking some up when I was at Whole Foods yesterday.

I decided to bake the ricotta like they do at one of our neighborhood restaurants, Corsino.  I drizzled a little olive oil on top of the ricotta and sprinkled with salt, red pepper flakes, and some chopped parsley and basil.  I baked the ricotta at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes and served with some toasted baguette slices.

It was a delicious prelude to our dinner and can be a super easy hors d’oeuvre next time you entertain!

Holiday Season Dinner Party Menu!

We had 3 couples over for dinner last night.  Our dear friends Jason and Maria are expecting their second child on New Year’s Eve so we thought it would be fun to have them over — before things get even busier for them — to see some friends.  We had a fun evening and everyone seemed to enjoy the food.

I tried to put a festive holiday menu together since it’s that time of year and many of you might be trying to figure out some menus for the season.

Cheese Platter: Brie with Cranberries and Apricots, Goat Cheese, Mozzarella with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Antipasti Platter: Parmesan, Salami, Olives, and a Feta and Olive Spread

Cocktail Hot Dogs in Mustard Sauce

Toasts with Goat Cheese, Pesto, and Roasted Red Peppers

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Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Bacon

Roasted Cauliflower with Pasta and Lemon Zest

Celery Salad with Walnuts, Dates, and Pecorino

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Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Holiday Entertaining: A couple of hors d'oeurvre ideas from Judy Jewell

For our dinner party last night, I put together a nice cheese plate with brie, goat cheese, and a mozzarella with sundried tomatoes and an platter with parmesan, salami, olives, and a feta spread. But I wanted to have a couple of other appetizers, so I turned to my mom for inspiration.

My mom always puts on an incredible spread when entertaining especially during the holidays.  Everything is always elegant and bountiful!  The number of hors d’oeuvres and desserts typically exceeds the number guests in attendance.  Everyone loves the variety of tastes and usually leaves her house stuffed.

I made her classic cocktail hot dog recipe.  I can hardly remember a party growing up without them!  They are always a hit and so easy to make.  The recipe is below.

I also made her little toasts with goat cheese, pesto, and roasted red pepper.  They have the perfect colors for the season, look pretty on a platter, and are tasty little bites.  There really isn’t a recipe for these.  Just buy little cocktail toasts or a baguette.  Spread some goat cheese on the toast, add some store-bought pesto, and top with a piece of roasted red pepper.

Hope you put these ideas to use during your holiday entertaining.

Cocktail Hot Dogs in Mustard Sauce

  • 1 jar guava jelly
  • 1 jar Gulden’s Mustard
  • 1 package mini hot dogs

Heat guava jelly in a medium saucepan until liquified.  Add mustard to the guava jelly and stir until well mixed.

Add cocktail hot dogs to mustard sauce and cook until heated through.

Serves 8-10.

Cocktail Party for 10!

As many of you know, Tim and I started an online advertising company a couple of years ago.  It’s been quite an adventure!  We’ve been lucky enough to assemble a great team.  On Monday night, we had a party at our apartment for the AdBuyer.com team in honor of a big product release.

I didn’t have a ton of time to prepare.  I shopped on Sunday but wasn’t able to start preparing until 4:30pm on Monday (party was at 7:30pm).  I decided a blend of homemade, easily assembled, and store-bought food would work best.  Plus, I needed to make sure there were some vegetarian options for one of our guests.

Italian meats & cheeses
I assembled a platter of Italian meats (proscuitto, sopressata and salami), chunks of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, and olives.  I also made little skewers of grape tomatoes, basil, and marinated bocconcini.

Sliced chorizo
I sliced chorizo and heated it in a frying pan.  I served it on a platter with some toothpicks.  People loved this!

Cucumber sandwiches
I thinly sliced an English cucumber and I mixed whipped cream cheese with chives.  I spread the cream cheese mixture on pumpernickel cocktail bread and layered on a few cucumber slices.  I topped the sandwiches with another slice of bread and cut into triangles.

Smoked salmon toasts
I bought some beautiful smoked salmon at the Lobster Place and made little smoked salmon toasts.  I took cocktail pumpernickel bread, layered on a couple of cucumber slices, some smoked salmon, a touch of creme fraiche, and a few capers.  I sliced the toasts into triangles.

Hummus in endive
I put spoonfuls of hummus in endive leaves and sprinkled a touch of paprika.

Crab salad in endive
I made a simple crab salad that I put in endive leaves.  I actually didn’t love the outcome but below is a recipe for a Thai crab salad that I’ve made before and is really tasty.

Grilled shrimp with pesto
After tossing some peeled and deveined shrimp with olive oil and salt and pepper, I cooked the shrimp on my grill pan.  I served the grilled shrimp with store-bought pesto as a dipping sauce.

Chicken satays
This was the one truly homemade dish.  I followed the Barefoot Contessa recipe below and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Sushi platter
This was totally store-bought.  I ordered a sushi platter from the Lobster Place.  I had some vegetarian sushi included (avocado and cucumber rolls) for our non-meat eating guest.  The sushi was delivered on a plastic tray but I rearranged it on a black lacquer platter I have to make it look a little less store-bought

Dessert tray
I took two cake plates and filled then with mini vanilla cupcakes from Whole Foods and dark chocolate-covered pretzels.  I also had a few dishes with dark chocolate-covered brandied cherries (YUM!).

Overall I think everyone had a nice time and we were happy to do something for the team!

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Satay Dip
Barefoot Contessa

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed
  • Satay Dip, recipe follows

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Heat a charcoal grill. Grill the chicken breasts for 10 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Cool slightly and cut diagonally in 1/2-inch-thick slices. Skewer with wooden sticks and serve with Satay Dip.

Satay Dip

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and use as a dip for Grilled Lemon Chicken skewers.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

***

THAI CRABMEAT DIP
“Terrific Pacific” by Anya Von Bremzen and John Welchman
Serves 6

  • 1 Serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon very finely sliced fresh lemongrass (3 inches of the lower stalk, tough outer leaves discarded)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce, such as nam pla
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups lump crabmeat, preferably Alaskan, picked over
  • 3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh cilantro leaves
  • 4 tablespoons canned unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred
  • 3 medium heads Belgian endive

In a large bowl combine the chile, garlic, lemongrass, lemon zest, fish sauce, lime juice, and salt. Add the crabmeat, basil, cilantro, and coconut milk and toss gently to combine.

Separate the endive into spears. Fill with the crab mixture and serve.

Baby Shower Tea: Leek Tart

This tart couldn’t be simpler — the only ingredients are leeks sauteed in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper and frozen puff pastry.  It’s amazing how much flavor this tart has with so few ingredients. And, the puff pastry leads to an elegant presentation!

Cleaning the leeks is probably the toughest part of the recipe.  Here is a link to a step-by-step guide to cleaning leeks.

When working with the puff pastry, make sure to apply some real pressure when scoring the dough and pricking the interior part of the tart so that the entire piece of dough doesn’t puff up.  Dufour makes a wonderful puff pastry.

Leek Tart
Everyday Food

  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 leeks (white and light-green parts), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, rinsed well
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll pastry to a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Halve lengthwise into two 5-by-14-inch rectangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

With a paring knife, lightly score each rectangle 1/2 inch from edges, creating a border; prick pastry inside border all over with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. (To store, keep crusts at room temperature, up to 1 day.)

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium. Add leeks; season with salt and pepper, and stir. Cover; cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Uncover; cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Spoon leeks onto crusts, cut tarts into wedges, and serve.

Baby Shower Tea: Turkey Tea Sandwiches

Here is a delicious turkey tea sandwich with a yummy scallion cream cheese.

A couple of tips to help you make beautiful little tea sandwiches…

* Make sure the cream cheese is softened before making the scallion cream cheese

* Try to find a very dense bread — like Rubschlager’s Cocktail Breads — so that the cream cheese spreads on easily and evenly.  I would focus more on finding a good dense bread than the raisin-nut bread called for below.

* Refrigerating the sandwiches before cutting will help ensure a clean cut and an elegant presentation

Turkey Tea Sandwiches
Barefoot Contessa

SCALLION CREAM CHEESE
3/4 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)

SANDWICHES
1 loaf dense raisin-nut bread, unsliced
8 thin slices fresh or smoked turkey breast
Fresh basil leaves

For the scallion cream cheese, combine the cream cheese and scallions in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Do not whip.

For the sandwiches, have the store slice the bread lengthwise on a meat slicer into 1/4-inch-thick slices. (If that isn’t possible, you can slice it crosswise with a very sharp knife.)

Lay out 8 slices of bread and spread them all with a thin layer of scallion cream cheese. Place a single layer of turkey on half the slices, cutting the edges to fit the bread. Place the basil leaves randomly on top of the turkey. Top with the other 4 slices of bread, cream cheese side down. Lay the sandwiches on a baking sheet, and wrap the sheet with plastic. Refrigerate until the cream cheese is cold and firm. Place the sandwiches on a cutting board and, with a very sharp knife, cut off the crusts. Cut each large sandwich in half crosswise, and then cut each half diagonally, twice, to make a total of 8 small triangles. (If the bread was cut crosswise, follow the assembly instructions, then cut off the crusts and cut diagonally, twice, to make 4 small triangles.) Serve chilled.

Baby Shower Tea: Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches

Here is a delicious smoked salmon tea sandwich with a wonderful herbed butter.

A couple of tips to help you make beautiful little tea sandwiches…

* Make sure the butter is softened before making the herbed butter

* Try to find a very dense bread — like Rubschlager’s Cocktail Breads — so that the butter spreads on easily and evenly

* Refrigerating the sandwiches before cutting will help ensure a clean cut and an elegant presentation

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
Barefoot Contessa

Herb butter:
2 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons minced garlic
5 tablespoons minced scallions (white and green parts)
5 tablespoons minced fresh dill
5 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Sandwiches:
5 loaves dense 7-grain or health bread, unsliced
40 slices smoked salmon

For the herb butter, combine all the butter ingredients in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until mixed, but do not whip.

For the sandwiches, have the store slice the bread lengthwise on a meat slicer into 1/4-inch-thick slices. (If that isn’t possible, you can slice it crosswise with a very sharp knife.)

Lay out 40 slices of bread and spread them all with a thin layer of herb butter. Place smoked salmon on 20 of the slices. Top with the other 20 slices of bread, butter side down. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate until the butter is very cold. Place the sandwiches on a cutting board. With a very sharp knife, cut off the crusts, cut each large sandwich in half crosswise, and then cut each half diagonally twice to make a total of 40 small triangles. (If the bread was cut crosswise, follow the assembly directions, then cut off the crusts and cut diagonally, twice, to make 20 small triangles.)

Serve chilled.

Baby Shower Tea Party: Tea Sandwiches & Tarts

Here is a delicious smoked salmon tea sandwich with a wonderful herbed butter.

A couple of tips to help you make beautiful little tea sandwiches…

* Make sure the butter is softened before making the herbed butter

* Try to find a very dense bread — like Rubschlager’s Cocktail Breads — so that the butter spreads on easily and evenly

* Refrigerating the sandwiches before cutting will help ensure a clean cut and an elegant presentation

Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
Barefoot Contessa

Herb butter:
2 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons minced garlic
5 tablespoons minced scallions (white and green parts)
5 tablespoons minced fresh dill
5 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Sandwiches:
5 loaves dense 7-grain or health bread, unsliced
40 slices smoked salmon

For the herb butter, combine all the butter ingredients in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until mixed, but do not whip.

For the sandwiches, have the store slice the bread lengthwise on a meat slicer into 1/4-inch-thick slices. (If that isn’t possible, you can slice it crosswise with a very sharp knife.)

Lay out 40 slices of bread and spread them all with a thin layer of herb butter. Place smoked salmon on 20 of the slices. Top with the other 20 slices of bread, butter side down. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate until the butter is very cold. Place the sandwiches on a cutting board. With a very sharp knife, cut off the crusts, cut each large sandwich in half crosswise, and then cut each half diagonally twice to make a total of 40 small triangles. (If the bread was cut crosswise, follow the assembly directions, then cut off the crusts and cut diagonally, twice, to make 20 small triangles.)

Serve chilled.