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Tag: hors d’oeuvre (page 2 of 3)

Orang Asing Gado Gado: Party Perfect Peanut Sauce

Having been around the block a few times with various “authentic” peanut sauce recipes that start out with whole raw peanuts and dried shrimp, I’ve long since given up any pretensions of ethnic accuracy and settled on the below recipe since I found it both tasty–with a fine balance between savor, sweet, and spice–and easy. The more traditional recipes I’d undertaken in the past were only on rare occasions tasty or easy– and were never both.

But who knew the search for the perfect peanut sauce was so universal? A surprising number of people zeroed in on the peanut sauce in particular at the Southeast Asian-flava’d baby shower we threw over the weekend. “Where’d you get the recipe?” “Can I have it?”

But of course! I did, however, have to do some post-party forensics to figure out what exactly I did. Rest assured, though, the below recipe is a very faithful recounting… in any event, it’ll be way better than most other recipes out there. Trust me, I’ve tried most of them–clotty, clumpy, oily, gakky, bitter, bland, and tasteless… it’s like a veritable Seven Dwarves of Bad Peanut Sauce out there. Ech.

At the party, I served it up in a bowl surrounded with a variety of crudite and other dippers–a riff on gado gado, an Indonesian salad that usually finds par-cooked long beans, potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and other veggies napped in a delicious blanket of peanutty goodness and topped with emping, those puffy shrimp cracker things.

I used regular green beans, added red radish and jicama sticks, and totally forgot about the emping. C’est la vie. Use whatever veggies you’ve got and it will be delish. I imagine the sauce would also be pretty badass thinned out a bit with water and tossed over chilled rice noodles and shredded cucumber and bell peppers. Just a thought.

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Garden Party Puff Piece: English Sausage Rolls

This is, apparently, the summer of garden parties. Not one to be hindered by our rather glaring lack of garden, we started things off with a royal wedding cocktail party. Hats, of course, were de rigueur. Fresh from that success, the WonderTwins and I jumped right into the planning for our mother’s 60th birthday party, which–you guessed it–was also a fabulous be-hatted garden soiree.

Fortunately, she DOES have a garden, so that was a good thing. Croquet is a deeply underrated party activity. I pretty much replicated the menu from our royal wedding to-do, and along with finger sandwiches, lemonade bars, and strawberry-basil punch, these English-style sausage rolls (a Buckingham Palace standby, apparently) were demolished quite effectively by mom and her lady friends. I suppose we helped too…

We ran up against a bit of a tea-sandwich time crunch right before the party started and it was all-hands on deck to get the egg & cress, cucumber, smoked salmon, pear & Roquefort, and Queen Elizabeth’s curried chicken salad be-breaded and trimmed up. So, food pictures didn’t quite happen. This is the only sausage roll we managed to capture on film:

Note that they were good enough for WonderTwin 1 to pause his game of croquet and have someone toss him one from the deck. Sadly, it didn’t quite make his mouth on the first try. I’m not sure if the 5-second rule was in effect, but I’d not be surprised if it got eaten anyway.

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ToMAYto, ToMAHto: Summer Stuffed Tomatoes

Naturally, now that I’ve totally missed the deadline for the Post’s annual summer tomato recipe contest, I found myself with a big handful of home-grown Juliette tomatoes–from my boss’ garden, no less. Given this somewhat belated bounty’s very special provenance, I felt the need to do something special with them.  As I toyed with them in my office trying not to just eat them there and then, it occurred that they’re a lovely size for stuffing–petite oblongs just shy of 2″ long. Perfect for a nice cocktail nibble.

But… the stuffing. I knew what I didn’t want in the filling for my summery tomatoes: anything bready, cheesy, hot or heavy. I did, however, want to include sundried tomato to punch up the flavor. What else could improve tomato but another form of tomato? Well, how about some basil, garlic, and briny caper? To stick it all together cream cheese could have been just the thing, but then I wouldn’t have been able to eat them. Boo. So I turned to cannellini beans, my secret weapon for turning just about anything (savory) vegan. With a tomato-y riff on my beloved Tuscan bean dip, I’d have a tasty filling for my fancy fresh produce. Excellent.

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The Dutiful Spouse Kitchen: Turkish Köfte a la WASP

The “t” in Mr. T stands for many things: trendy (he loves urban lifestyle sneakers), tea (he drinks a lot), terrific (he is). But it also stands for Turkish, and he is half. He even spent his early childhood in Ankara. His English half, what with the gin and the bon mot, gets a lot more play and while I’ve worked on English food items like the Victoria Sponge, I’ve not really done anything Turkish. So, when he mentioned köfte and brought a pound of ground lamb back from Whole Foods, it was clear I was due for a little project.
“Köfte”, writ large, are meatballs: minced meat–usually either beef or lamb–mixed with breadcrumbs or bulgur, and herbs and spices. There are myriad variations of the köfte themselves as well as how they’re served–in soup, with yogurt, on a stick, in a pita… And, as Mr. T’s desire for köfte was fairly unspecific–”simple ones”–I had my work cut out for me. Having done just enough research to grasp the enormity of the köfte universe and give myself a headache, I decided to piece something together on my own.

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Just One More Hit: Cocktail “Crack Nuts”

So, a friend recently asked me for some appetizer and snack ideas. While there are myriad options out there, I immediately thought of these cocktail nuts. They’re quick and easy and so good I call them “crack nuts”. You will too, and you can forget eating just one…

I am slightly loath to admit that the original recipe is Emeril’s, that purveyor of over-garlick’d, over-cheesed, spice weasely “BAM!” His version, however, called for Emeril’s “essence” and frankly I have no desire to consume any such thing. So, I’ve fiddled with spices until arriving at a spicy, salty, sweet mix that I like. Feel free, of course, to experiment to your heart’s content till you find a spice blend you like. Just don’t mess with the basic egg white, water, and white sugar base. The recipe will decidedly NOT work if you try to get all fancy with alterna-sweeteners that are, as a rule, more hygroscopic than good ol’ granulated.

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Begone, Infidel Dips: Homemade Hummus with Za’atar

hummuszaatar1I was chatting yesterday with a friend who was complaining of a stomachache after lunching on baby carrots (*argh*) and hummus with caramelized onions from WF. After my initial reaction–”duh”, followed closely thereafter by “eew”–I suggested that perhaps caramelized onions were not necessarily a boon to the world of hummus. But then, it seems that in its anodyne ubiquity, anything can be mixed into mass-produced hummus these days and then find its way onto the blighted buffet tables of every social occasion from white-hat keggers to mommy-and-me play dates.

It’s not like store-bought hummus isn’t bad enough already–it is, what with the excreable flavors of stale tahini, the metallic tang of straight-up citric acid, and that ineffable whiff of plastic tub. BUT when the powers that be start adding artichokes, chipotles, olives, horseradish, extra garlic, red peppers, forty (FORTY?!) spices, and tomatoes OR basil–nevermind both–we have a problem. These things do NOT belong in my hummus. And god only knows what French Onion hummus is about. Blech.

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A Run-By Fruiting, Dearie…


A big ‘thanks’ from the Fruits to all of you whoattended our launch party last week andhelped make it a great success. We are quite grateful for your readership. Another sizeable thanks goes to John, Molly and Paul for helping us achieve our little dream. You have all extended yourselves so generously to help us and we would not have a site today without all of you. Thank you.

Please share with us your feedback via comments. We would love to continue hearing from you about what is working and what, frankly, is not. We’ll begin posting recipes of the dishes we served last week. First up: the pecan/gorgonzola icebox crackers Joe made with Paul followed by Joe’s pork crostini. Thanks again, everyone.

The Anchovy Goes to Rehab (No, No, No): A Tasty Tapenade

tapenade1Anchovies. I’ll wait till the shrieks of horror subside… Are we good? Ok. Moving on. This recipe does, in fact, include anchovies. And olives. Two fabulous items terribly misunderstood in the U.S. I blame the pizza man. He’s the one topping his pies with vile, tasteless, tinny black olives and crusty, slimy, hypertension-inducing anchovies. Eckh.

Well. Let me clue you in; both anchovies and olives are delicious, many-splendored things that have nothing to do with their thankless, unappetizing positions atop your neighborhood pizza. Tapenade, the piquant spread from southern France, will be Exhibit A in my campaign to rehabilitate the tasty olive and versatile anchovy.

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