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Tag: appetizers

Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup with a Smoked Paprika Cranberry Compote

This soup has yummy Latin flavors and it can be a great addition to a fabulous holiday menu…

  • 4 to 5 medium sweet potatoes, skin pierce with a fork

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet and roast till cooked, about half an hour to forty minutes. Take out and let cool. Take the skin off and roughly chopped.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Zest of a lime
  • Juice of half a lime

Heat a heavy saucepan and add the olive oil. Add the roasted cumin seeds and sauté for 20 seconds on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, chipotle pepper, brown sugar and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend the mixture in a blender until smooth. Transfer back to the saucepan and add the half and half and milk. Mix well and add salt. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and turn the heat off. Add the lime zest and juice. Mix well and check for seasonings.
Serve the soup with a dollop of compote.

Smoked Paprika and Cranberry Compote

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Bring the cranberries, orange juice, zest, smoked paprika, salt and brown sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Simmer, covered for about ten minutes or till the cranberries burst open. Check for seasonings and cook uncovered for another two to three minutes. Turn heat off and add the cilantro.

Fig and Apricot Compote

Fig and Apricot Compote I made this compote for Thanksgiving. Our tradition is to open wine sometime in the afternoon- while I am still cooking. Around 3 I take the cheese and crackers out. I usually make a fig compote cooked in red wine, brown sugar and fresh thyme. It is delicious, especially with some aged goat cheese. We also drink Kir Royale with the cheese and crackers. I love the tradition and look forward to it every year.

The other thing I did different was the compote. I made this one with dried figs and apricots. I decided to use orange and lemon juice with honey. I served it with a variety of Spanish cheeses including manchego, an aged goat cheese and another one- can’t remember the name.

Definitely make this for your next holiday get together. It is quick, easy and delicious. You can make this in advance and keep it in the fridge. Enjoy!

  • ½ cup dried mission figs, cut into thin strips
  • ½ cup dried apricots, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, add the figs, apricots, orange juice, lemon juice, honey and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and turn it down to a simmer. Reduce the liquid till the compote is thick and syrupy. It will take about 15 minutes. Taste for seasonings and serve with cheese.

Golden Beets and Asparagus Salad with Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese

Golden Beets and Aspargus Salads

  • 4 to 5 golden beets, ends cut off and wrapped in aluminum foil
  • 2 bunches asparagus, ends cut off and washed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Roast the beets for an hour in the oven. Take the foil off and peel the beets and cut into one-inch pieces. Keep aside.

Place the asparagus tips onto a lined cookie sheet. Drizzle the oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and roast in the same oven for 30 minutes or till the asparagus is soft and golden brown. Keep aside.

  • ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Pepper

Add the mustard to a small bowl. Add the white wine vinegar and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil while whisking well.

Place the beets and asparagus in a serving bowl. Pour the mustard sauce and mix well. Add the cheese and olives. Serve room temperature.

Spiced Fig Compote

This is a great appetizer for the big dinner… I always start with a simple cheese plate with a bowl of fig compote. I made this one with a bit of ground coriander and cayenne pepper. It gave it great flavor. I served it with a log of goat cheese and some delicious crackers. I also served a side of sweet spicy nuts.

  • 1 cup dried figs, sliced
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Transfer the figs, orange juice, lemon juice, honey, salt, coriander and cayenne pepper into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium low heat for about 20 minutes till the figs are cooked down and the moisture has cooked away. Serve with cheese and crackers.

Nectarine Bruschetta

Nectarine Bruschetta I love this recipe I came up with a few weeks ago. I was hosting our book club meeting and I was trying to come up with a menu. I wanted to make few summer dishes and bruschetta came to mind. When we were in Spello, Italy last year, we had a lot of different kinds of bruschetta- not the usual tomato one. I love the original but it is great to come up with something different.

I decided to use nectarines instead of tomatoes. I cut them up, added garlic, basil, salt and extra virgin olive oil. That is all- I mixed everything together and let it sit for a while. The nectarine pieces became a bit soft and married with the rest of the flavors.

I bought olive bread as well as raisin walnut bread. I thought both would go really well with the marinated nectarines. I sliced and toasted the bread.

I placed the nectarine mixture in a bowl. I then placed the sliced bread, a bowl of olives and sliced feta cheese. Everyone assembled their own bruschetta. It was all delicious.

This is a perfect appetizer to serve at a party or for a simple supper…
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Potato Cakes- Using Up Leftovers..

Potato Cakes3 This is a great way to use up leftovers. I had quite a bit of the potato salad left over from the Thai themed barbecue. I wasn’t sure what to do with so much potato salad.

As I was thinking, potato cakes came to mind- especially since I also had the leftover mango salsa.

I added panko bread crumbs, an egg and some cheddar cheese to the salad and mixed it all really well. I shaped them into small cakes and sauteed them with a little oil. It took almost no time to make- and so easy. The best part was that they tasted delicious with the mango salsa. For myself I drizzled a bit of sriracha sauce which added a nice tangy, spicy aspect to the dish.

We had the potato cakes for lunch. I made a salad on the side- perfect for a weekend meal.
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Chicken Hash- A Pantry Meal

Chicken Hash What do you do with leftover chicken? Well, I usually make chicken salad, stuff quesadillas, make soup or fried rice.
This time I wanted to make something different. I kept looking at the leftover chicken breast I had from the day before- and couldn’t come up with anything.

Somehow, after a few minutes, chicken hash came to mind. I envisioned chopped chicken paired with things that were sitting in my vegetable crisper in the fridge. I had green onions, chilies and a red pepper. I also had potatoes and tomatoes in my pantry. I chopped everything up and started cooking.  As the base flavor, I used my favorite condiment- Trader Joe’s tomato chutney. I love using it for everything including sandwiches and as a topping for eggs and meats. In this case I added a few tablespoons and it gave the dish a tangy, salty and sweet flavor. I finished it with a dusting of feta cheese and chopped cilantro.

It was such a beautiful dish- multi colored and delicious. I had some ‘bake at home’ baguettes. I baked one and served a green salad with the chicken hash. It was a big success. This meal would be a perfect for a brunch party!
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