Scallop, shrimp and asparagus terrine

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Scallop, shrimp and asparagus terrine:  Starting with Julia Child’s fish terrine, I came up with this simpler and  show stopping version.  If you love scallops this is one of the greatest way to enjoy essence of scallop, but you need to use the best scallops you can find.


Start by heating up your oven to 350 degrees ?. Place a large oven proof dish in the oven which is big enough to hold your terrine and ½ filled with hot water. I used a lasagna pan.


Take a pound of scallops (minus 2 large scallops that you’ve set aside) and an egg and puree them together in a food processor for several minutes until very smooth.  Meanwhile chop up the scallops and 5 large shrimp into a coarse 1/4 inch dice.  Blanch ½ pound of asparagus and slice them in half if they are thick. 


Back to the food processor:  add ½ cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2 and  a small pinch of saffron that you’ve soaked in ¼ cup of hot cognac.  Blend this together for a couple of minutes and then add 1/3 cup of bread crumbs, and blend until the mixture is very smooth.  Stir in the scallop and shrimp pieces..  Add salt to your liking.  Use a 6 cup terrine (or loaf plan) that has been lined on the bottom with buttered parchment cut to fit.  Pour in half the scallop mousse and thump the pan a little to distribute evenly.  Then distribute the asparagus over the top, salt the asparagus and add the second batch of mousse.  Cover with another piece of parchment and either the top of the terrine or another piece of aluminum foil placed over the top.  Put your terrine carefully into the pan with water that has been heating in the oven.  Cook for 60 minutes and check for doneness.  The internal temperature should be 160 degrees?. This terrine can be served hot or cold.  It is very rich so keep the tapas servings to one slice per person.

 
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Shrimp Tapas with Garlic and Sherry

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Shrimp with garlic and sherry:  Start with a pot or frying pan and add olive oil covering the bottom with about an inch.  Slice 3-4 peeled garlic into thin slices.  Add them to the pot of olive oil and heat.  Watch the garlic closely and wait  till it is fragrant but not brown.  Add 1 pound of peeled shrimp and let them cook together adjusting the temperature so that the garlic does not brown. Add salt to taste.  When the shrimp are just pink, add ¼ cup sherry ( I use Amontillado)  and boil together.  If you want an extra garlic kick (and I always do)  chop up or use a garlic press and add another couple cloves of garlic at the last minute.  Serve this right away, bubbling hot with some good bread to sop of every drop of the wonderful sauce.  Once you’ve tried this, you may not want to have shrimp cooked any other way.

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Chickpeas and spinach tapas

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Chickpeas and spinach: Fry a small chopped onion d in a skillet or pot that has been coated with olive oil. When the onions are beginning to brown,  Add a 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and   1 teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika. Fry together for 1-2 minutes and  then add ½ cup of chicken or vegetable broth. Meanwhile cook a pound of spinach and drain off the water.  When the chicken broth has been reduced by about half, add the spinach and salt to your taste and cook together for 5-10 minutes.  You can serve right away or refrigerate and heat up the next day. Before serving add a dash of good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Chickpeas are a very commonly served tapa in Spain.

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Spanish Tortilla

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Spanish Tortilla

Start with a nonstick 12 inch skillet heated up and coated with olive oil. Fry one medium chopped sweet onion until soft and beginning to brown, remove to a large bowl.  Peel and cube 3-4 medium potatoes into ¼- 1/2    inch dice and fry them in olive oil until beginning to brown and almost cooked through.  Add to the onions.  Beat 5-6 eggs until well combined and add to the potato and onion mixture stirring well to distribute the onions and potato.  Salt to your taste.  Coat the skillet again with olive oil and add the egg mixture.  When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Carefully take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate (12”) upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan – approximately 1.5 tsp. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so. Now slide the omelet (which is probably still a bit runny), into the frying pan, using a spatula to catch any egg mixture that runs out. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla is set and beginning to brown. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.


Carefully slide the omelet onto a plate! To serve as a main course, slice it into 6-8 pieces like a pie. Serve sliced French bread on the side.

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Fried Eggplant

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eggplant in basket

Fried EGGPLANT 

 

This is my version of eggplant parmesan that I adapted from the traditional style where you cover the breaded, fried eggplant with tomato sauce. I always love to eat some of the freshly fried eggplant so crispy and delicious before baking it when it all softens up. So this is the unbaked, crispy version:

 

  1. Use any quantity of peeled, globe eggplant which is 4-5 inches in diameter and cut into ¼ inch slices.
  2. Dip the eggplant slices first into an egg that has been beaten.
  3. Then dip the eggplant slices into seasoned breadcrumbs. You can use dried bread and make your own breadcrumbs or use unseasoned ready-made breadcrumbs and season them yourselves. I use a combination of Italian seasoning, extra basil and a pinch of fenugreek (optional). I also add salt. I don’t use a lot of seasoning here. For one cup of breadcrumbs I would use 1 tsp of Italian seasoning and ½ tsp of basil.
  4. At this point you can store the breaded eggplant slices in the fridge to fry later or fry them right away but they must be eaten right after they are cooked. 
  5. Fry the slices in olive oil over medium high to high heat watching carefully and turning them over frequently so they don’t burn. Add more oil when needed. They should be golden brown and very soft in the inside. They take about 10 minutes to cook. Drain them on paper towels and put them in an hot oven to keep warm. If they get soggy then refry them.
  6. These wonderful treats can be served as an appetizer alone or with some tomato sauce on the side for dipping. I made a great sauce out of my cherry tomatoes. I cut the tomatoes in half, sprinkled them with sea salt and baked them in a 400° oven (convection on if you have one) for 10-15 minutes until the bottoms were starting to blacken. I then let them cool and put them through a food mill and this made a wonderfully rich sweet tomato sauce. Garnish the top with shaved or grated parmesan cheese.

 

 

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Eggplant Carpaccio

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The next recipe is an adaptation of a very popular appetizer served at my cousin’s wonderful restaurant in Tel Aviv called RUSTICO. The recipe is called Eggplant Carpaccio but it is not raw eggplant. Again, this is a recipe to play around with according to your preference. It is a very simple dish to prepare and an instant hit.

 

carpaccio

 

Eggplant Carpaccio

 

  1. 1-3 medium eggplant. Quantity does not matter.
  2.  Poke a couple holes in your eggplants and throw them on a very hot grill (400°-500° Cover the grill and walk away. After a few minutes check on the eggplant. If it is beginning to burn then turn. Continue with this process until the eggplant is slightly charred and well cooked. It should be mushy feeling when touched. Remove carefully and set aside.
  3. At this point you can cool them and thrown them in the fridge until you want to make this appetizer. Or, cool them and then peel off the skin right away. 
  4. Put the eggplant pulp in a food processor with a tsp. olive oil and salt to taste, and pulse a few times until an even consistence and quite smooth but not so much to be soupy. It still has to have a distinctive eggplant texture. 
  5. The quantities of the following garnishes are up to your taste preferences and how much eggplant you have prepared. Spread the eggplant very thinly over a large serving plate, or individual appetizer plates if you want to this as a first course. 
  6. Sprinkle the eggplant evenly with the following:

    • Toasted pine nuts
    • Finely chopped scallion or red onion
    • Finely chopped parsley
    • Sea salt
    • Zatar (Middle Eastern spice blend of sumac, thyme and sesame seed which is available at Wegmans)
    • A drizzle of high grade olive oil

         7. Serve with pita or crackers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eggplant with Miso Sauce

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eggplant in basket

 

Eggplant with Miso Sauce

 

2 medium Japanese eggplant: the long thin eggplant

½ cup Sake

2 Tbs. mirin

½ tsp sugar

3 Tbs. light soy Miso or any Miso will work.

1 Tsp. toasted sesame seeds

¼ tsp sesame oil

 

  1. Slice the eggplant into ½ slices and fry in olive oil until brown and cooked through. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, Bring the Sake, mirin, and sugar to a boil and boil for 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the miso a spoon at a time, incorporating well. Miso should not be brought to a boil. The mixture should be  slightly thickish.
  4. Add the sesame seeds and sesame oil. Taste and add more sugar or sesame oil according to your taste preference.
  5. The sauce can be made ahead and heated in the microwave (not boiled). Serve drizzled on the eggplant.

 

 

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Goat Cheese Pesto and Sundried Tomato Terrine

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This appetizer is my creation:  a pesto, sundried tomato and goat cheese terrine.  It is very easy to make and everyone wants the recipe.  Exact quantities aren’t that important.  I always have a jar of sundried tomatoes in the fridge and pesto in the freezer.  And since I often also have goat cheese on hand I can make this up easily.  It does need a day or so to set but could come together right away in a pinch.  

 

GOAT CHEESE PESTO AND SUNDRIED TOMATO TERRINE

Ingredients

·         ½ cup sundried tomatoes

·         4 oz. cream cheese

·         5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

·         2.5 ounces pesto (66 grams)

·         3 ounces goat cheese

Preparation

1.    Line a small loaf pan (6"x3") with plastic wrap

2.    Mix together sundried tomatoes and cream cheese in food processor until well incorporated.

3.    Fill lit into the bottom of the plastic lined terrine, making sure it is evenly distributed into the loaf plan and making sure it is pushed into the corners. Smooth the top and stick into the fridge for a few hours or into the freezer for 30 minutes or until firmed up enough to take another layer.

4.    Smooth the room temperature goat cheese over the tomato layer.  Soften the goat cheese in the microwave for a few seconds if it isn’t spreading easily.  Put the terrine back into the fridge or freezer to firm up.

5.     Mix together the pesto and 3 ounces of goat cheese  in the food processor until fully incorporated and spread evenly over the firm goat cheese layer.

6.    Fold the plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate over night until firm. 

7.    Unmold carefully onto a platter and serve with crackers.

Note:  you can make this replacing the goat cheese entirely with cream cheese or vice versa.

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LAYERED BEAN DIP

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 I often bring this appetizer to “dish to pass” occasions.  This layer bean dip is pretty routine but I add a few touches to make it special.  It is always a crowd pleaser.  I like to serve it with the Tortilla Lime chips.

 

 

 

 

7 LAYER BEAN DIP

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 -16-oz. can refried beans (spicy or regular)
  • 1 ½  cups sour cream
  • ½ -1/4 oz. pkg. taco seasoning mix
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled and mashed
  • 2 TBS salsa
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Mexican blend  cheese
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced or ½ can petite diced tomatoes (thoroughly drained of liquid)
  • tortilla chips

 

 

PREPARATION

1.     Spread beans in the bottom of a 13"x9"  (or similar sized oblong) clear glass dish, add  ½ cup of shredded cheese and cook in microwave just until  cheese is melted, then stir in the cheese and set aside.

2.    .Mix avocados, lime  juice, salsa, garlic, and salt to taste; layer over beans

3.     Combine sour cream and seasoning mix; spread over avocado.

4.     Sprinkle with cheese; top with onions, olives and tomato.

5.    Serve with tortilla chips.

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EGGPLANT CAPONATA

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This is the Italian version of ratatouille and at least as good when made properly. This can be made and stored in the fridge for several days and just gets better with time. This is my version which brings rave reviews every time I serve it.
 
 

Caponata
 
  • 1 medium eggplant (approximately ¾ lb.)
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1-15 ounce can small diced tomatoes (well drained of juice)
  • 1 Tbs capers
  • 1-2 Tbs vinager
  • ¼- ½ cup green olives stuffed with pimento
  • 1 Tbs sugar
 
  1. Peel and cube the eggplant into approximately a ½ inch dice. Fry in olive oil over high heat stirring often until brown and cooked. Set aside.   
  2. Cut the celery into small dice and cook with a little water in microwave until cooked but still quite crunchy. Don’t overcook. The crunchy texture is very important. Set aside.
  3. Chop onion into small cubes (about ¼ inch) and fry in olive oil until soft and beginning to brown. Set aside
  4. Chop olives so that the pieces are of similar size to the celery and eggplant.
  5. If you have the time, fry the drained tomatoes in a little olive oil until all the remaining liquid is gone and they are just beginning to brown.
  6. Mix all the cooked vegetables together and add the tomato, the sugar and the vinegar. Cook together for 5 minutes until everything is blended.
  7. Remove from heat and add capers and olives.
  8. Add salt to taste and check for seasoning. You may want it a little more sweet or sour. But the tastes really meld together after the caponata sits for at least a day. I keep it at room temperature for a few hours and then refrigerate. Check the next day and adjust the seasoning.
 
Serve caponata as an appetizer with thin slices of bagette or as a side salad to a summer meal.
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