In November I'm teaching an Indian cooking class so I thought I'd better bone up. With lots of eggplant in the garden and a cool, rainy day outside, this stewy, roasted eggplant dish is just the trick. Serve with nan or pita as an appetizer or over rice for a main dish. Eggplant is high in fiber and the breadth of herbs and spices offer flavor without a lot of fat.
Momotaro (Japanese Tomato Salad)
September 2, 2012
At the top of Mount Faber in Singapore, there are several fancy restaurants together called the Jewel Box. This was our only Japanese meal in Asia - a beautiful evening at the Moonstone open-air restaurant looking down at Sentosa Island. Grilled yakitori (small, skewered nibbles) dominated the menu, but we discovered this fresh tomato salad. The tomatoes were lack-luster, but I was dreaming of my garden tomatoes complimenting this tangy sesame-wasabi dressing. Interestingly, momotaro is actually the name of the tomato, not the salad, and also the name of a legendary hero in Japan. Jazz up your weeknights meals with this quick side or appetizer dish.
Grilled Fig Strudel
August 28, 2011
I got a pound of figs from my CSA this week and one evening Michael and I brainstormed this savory phyllo strudel. Honey and rosemary-marinated figs are grilled and paired with red onion and olives, then spread on top of asiago-layered phyllo dough. Roll it up, bake and enjoy as a light lunch or appetizer.
Grilled Apricot Salad with Basil Oil
June 25, 2014
Stone fruits are in season (that's anything with a pit 'AKA stone' - apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines), and this appetizer salad is just the trick for a hot summer day when you already have the grill going. The basil oil is a light, fresh dressing that compliments the sweetness of the fruit as well as the cheese. It's an extra step to blanch, shock and dry the herbs before whizzing them up with EVOO, but it cuts the bite and keeps them beautifully green. This dish is also super flexible - substitute any stone fruit, any salad green, any nut, any herbs and just about any cheese. Not surprisingly, this salad is low in carbs and cholesterol, and high in Vitamins A and C as well as calcium.
Barley Risotto Stuffed Endive
March 10, 2013
I was pleasantly surprised to learn recently that the cultivation of endive in the U.S. happened just 15 miles down the highway from my house in Davis, CA. Originally discovered by accident in the early 1800s when a Belgian farmer returned from war to find that his chicory roots had sprouted, more than one hundred years went by before a young chef in Sacramento committed to figuring out a way to grow it in the states. This appetizer recipe takes a different approach to stuffed endive boats by using a barley risotto mixture filled with creamy blue cheese and fresh spring flavors.
Herb Phyllo Tomato Tart
August 15, 2010
A colleague at work passed along an intriguing tomato tart recipe originally published in Sunset magazine. Staring at a bowlful of tomatoes, I decided to give it a try. I altered it slightly to pump up the flavor and deflate some of the fat. I replaced 5 Tbsp of butter with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and swapped smoked mozzarella for plain as well as put herbs in every layer of the phyllo. This is a lovely summer-time appetizer or light supper.
Blistered Sweet Peppers
July 7, 2013
Summer peppers are here in every color and heat! I've been enjoying a similar version of this dish at Bistro 33 in Davis. I couldn't find the shishito peppers they used - these are Italian frying peppers. Other mild peppers you might try are anaheim, banana, gypsy, cherry or cubanelle - they all are significantly lower on the Scoville scale than a jalapeño. An easy go-to appetizer all summer long...
February 28, 2010
I took a tour through the Davis Farmers Market on Saturday to see what was looking good and it was the potatoes, mushrooms and cheese that inspired me to create this rich, earthy, cheesy appetizer. The mushroom guy had beautiful creminis, oysters and shiitakes, but it was the exotic black trumpet chanterelles that drew me. Some lovely little red and yukon baby potatoes and local goat's milk cheddar and I was dreaming of putting them together in a stuffed potato popper. If you can't find goat's milk cheddar (you should try hard though, the difference between cow's milk cheddar is amazing), find the sharpest white cheddar you can.
Bruschetta with Honey, Herb-Roasted Tomatoes and Chevre
August 8, 2010
So, I've achieved food porn! Check out the northeast corner of the focused bruschetta above and you'll notice one gooey, golden drip of honey running down the bread. Not that I was going for it, but there it is. I made this appetizer for a working dinner last week and modified it slightly from its original Food & Wine version - adding the more flavorful spreadable (and local) chevre, and some fresh rosemary. I know you won't be able to eat just one so make sure to put at least two or three on your plate before others have a chance to gobble them up. Oh and in case you were wondering, final verdict, it's bru-sket-a, not bru-shet-a.
Mushroom Onion Rillettes
November 3, 2013
I've been seeing rillettes on a lot of menus lately - perhaps I'm noticing because I'm taking an intro French class! Rillettes is traditionally made by cooking pork over a low temperature for a long time. The fat renders out of the meat and it's packed in jars for winter storage. Here I use the same technique with beautiful portobello and shiitake mushrooms and onions. In place of the natural pork fat, I packed some in butter and some in olive oil. This would be a fantastic Thanksgiving appetizer.
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