20090528

Simple Appetizers - Grissini and Herb Butters

One of my favorite snacks is just some herb butter and some grissini, - you know, those skinny little bread sticks that have become so popular in chi-chi Italian eateries. I love the stupid things and buy them by the case in different flavors. I often serve them instead of a soft bread with some of my favorite pastas.

But I often use them with a whipped up herb butter as a quick snack or a hasty appetizer if a surprise guest shows up or if I'm just too tired or lazy to go to a lot of trouble! The herb butters are really easy, generally just your favorite herb, some salt and softened butter.

This Tarragon Herb Butter is one of my favorites. I love tarragon on chicken and fish so I whip up extra and use it on the main dish for dinner too. Try it out next time you're in the mood for an elegant but easy appetizer!

If you have a Tiny Food question, please feel free to ask me in a comment and I'll respond back here in the comments section or in a new post!

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20090526

ASPARAGUS IN A BLANKET, Recipe Card & Changes

Last Tuesday I posted a great recipe for Asparagus In A Blanket, a lovely little appetizer that's fairly easy to make and one that you can do ahead of time and freeze up for drop-in guests.

Today I'm posting the free recipe cards for the recipe BUT you'll notice that I left out the parmesan cheese in this recipe card. That's because I've decided that the Parmesan coating is too salty and I won't do it again myself. You can still roll the tidbit in the cheese if you like and that recipe link is here: ASPARAGUS ROLLS WITH PARMESAN CHEESE COATING.

Either way they are really elegant and easy appetizers for any occasion!

If you have a Tiny Food question, please feel free to ask me in a comment and I'll respond back here in the comments section or in a new post!

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20090519

ASPARAGUS APPETIZER - Asparagus In A Blanket

I just tried out this h'ors d'oeuvres recipe I found for asparagus but, like I always do, I tweaked it and made it mine. The original recipe called for 4 ounces of blue cheese instead of the 6 ounces of cheddar but I thought the blue cheese might overpower the delicate flavor of the asparagus, plus I was serving a Blue Cheese Walnut dip/spread at the same time and didn't want 2 blue cheese appetizers.

I also added one little twist at the end by rolling the buttered bread rolls into Parmesan cheese. This gave my "blankets" a lot of extra crunch and added the salty seasoning. So, here's my version of asparagus rolls:

Asparagus In A Blanket:


10 thin slices sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
10 fresh asparagus spears, cut in half

- Trim the crusts off the bread slices then flatten slightly with a rolling pin.
- Mix the cheddar cheese, cream cheese and egg together until creamy.
- Spread a thin layer of cheese mixture over each slice of bread. Roll one asparagus spear (2 if pencil asparagus) inside each then fasten with a toothpick.
- Melt butter and oil and pour into a large plate to keep the level low because you're going to roll each asparagus wrap in this mixture to coat them. Pour the Parmesan cheese into another shallow plate.
- Roll the bread in the oil mixture then in the Parmesan cheese.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until the bread is firmed up.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and bake for about 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes to brown evenly.

You can easily double this recipe and freeze any extras for your next party or freeze the whole batch for use later, just place the unbaked spears in a plastic freezer bag, freeze and you're good to go! I did freeze mine and then put them in a baggie and baked them up the next day and they were just great!

If you have a Tiny Food question, please feel free to ask me in a comment and I'll respond back here in the comments section or in a new post!

My Favorite Tiny Food Recipes at PopArtDiva.Com
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20090512

COOKING METHODS - Cooking Tips for Foodies

Have you ever wondered exactly what all those terms are that you hear on your favorite cooking shows? Most of us grew up knowing cook, bake, fry and burn, lol.

Here's a little cooking tip post to help clarify some of those terms. First, there are only two main methods of cooking; dry heat and moist heat. But within those two categories there are a variety of styles that are used for a variety of reasons!

I hope this little tutorial will help you understand the terms a little better and aid in your foodie experience. If anyone would like to contribute or even correct me I welcome comments from more experienced food lovers so don't hesitate to add your pinch of expertise!

DRY HEAT COOKING
Used for more premium cuts of meats, this cooking method includes broiling, charcoal broiling and roasting. Below are the basic dry heat cooking methods:
  • Roasting - Cooking by enveloping in hot dry air. This term is used mostly for meats, poultry and vegetables.
  • Baking - Cooking by enveloping in hot dry air. This term is used for breads, pastries and fish.
  • Broiling - Cooking by close exposure to an open flame. The heat is above the food.
  • Grilling - Cooking by close exposure to an open flame. The heat is below the food.
  • Deep Frying - Yes, this is considered a form of dry cooking! Submerging food in hot, liquid fat heated from 325 - 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sautéing - From the French word sauter (to jump) it means to fry in a small amount of fat over a high heat in a shallow pan. The pan and the fat must be heated before adding the food, the pan should not be crowded because the food must be tossed constantly during the whole cooking process. (Remember this term comes from a word that means "to jump"!)
  • Pan-Frying - Pan frying uses a larger measure of fat and lower cooking temperatures allowing for cooking larger pieces of food. Often pan fried foods are finished off in the oven to cook them through.
  • Pan Searing: Using a high heat, this method is used to put a caramelized browning on foods before being roasted in the oven or braised.
MOIST HEAT COOKING
Used for lower grade cuts of meat this method helps tenderize because it uses lower temperatures and longer cooking times. Below are the basic moist heat cooking methods:
  • Braising - Used often for larger, tough but more premium cuts of meat because the low heat and slow cook tenderize, braising involves first searing the food, then it is partially covered with liquid and simmered slowly at a relatively low temperature.
  • Stewing - This is similar to braising, however, this method is reserved for smaller pieces of the least expensive cuts of meat. With a stew the braising/stewing liquid covers the meat/vegetables completely and the braising liquid is usually served with the meats/vegetables.
  • Poaching - Cooking in liquid with temperatures ranging from 140°F to 180°F, typically reserved for cooking very delicate items like eggs and fish.
  • Simmering - Cooking in liquid that's a bit hotter than poaching — from 180°F to 205°F. Best for stocks or soups, starchy items such as potatoes or pastas.
  • Boiling - is where the water reaches its highest possible temperature of 212°F. Because of the agitation caused by the boiling this is not a method of cooking that is used often as it can damage the food being boiled!
  • Steaming - Once water is heated past the 212°F mark, it stops being water and turns into steam. The advantage of steaming food is that you get the high temperatures of boiling but there is no agitation. Also with steaming the nutrients in the food do not leach out into a cooking liquid. (BTW, with a pressure cooker you can actually get the heat higher than boiling water which speeds up cooking times.)
Below are two great links for learning more about cooking terms, cooking methods and definitions of cooking terms:

FOOD DICTIONARY SEARCH TOOL at Cooks Recipes

FOOD DICTIONARY SEARCH TOOL at Epicurious

Bon appétit! Buon appetito! Enjoy!

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20090506

CRAB MOUSSE - A Timeless Crab Classic Recipe

I've had this Crab Mousse recipe for years, so long in fact that the writing on the recipe card is fading! I can't even remember where I got the recipe. it's been nearly 40 years since I first made it for a party and I've made it for every party I've ever had since.

It's simply a savory gelatin crab salad mold made with mushrooms soup, some cream cheese, mayonnaise, celery, green onions, seasonings and, of course, crab. You can also substitute shrimp for the crab and tomato soup for the mushroom - or so I've heard, I've never tried that version because I love the crab one.

I think this one's been around to categorize it as a classic - maybe even comfort party food but people still love it. It's always the first dish at my parties that disappears. Try it out at your next party served with some great crackers or toasted french bread slices.

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20090505

MULLIGATAWNY SOUP SIPS - Chicken Curry Soup in a Demitasse Cup


It's going to start getting hot here as summer approaches so I'm going to use the last few days of cool evenings to enjoy one of my favorite soups, Mulligatawny Soup. It's a curry flavored chicken soup that's just delicious - right up in my top five soups.

I love chicken and curry together - you'll find another one of my favorite chicken/curry recipes here: Curried Chicken Salad (Tea Sandwiches).

I love to serve this as an appetizer or as part of an h'ors d'oeuvre buffet. I'll put it out in a large soup tureen and place demitasse cups or espresso cups nearby with some fun little spoons. If you want to have it "sip-able" be sure to dice all your ingredients smaller and cut your cook time down a bit to accommodate the smaller sizes.

Okay, I'm getting my home made chicken stock out of the freezer now - oh, btw, I make my own chicken stock and it's easy. Whenever you are trimming down your chicken toss the "spare parts" in a pot with a few carrots, celery and onion (mirepoix) and seasonings - you don't even have to cut the ingredients down - when it's "soup" let it cool, strain it into a freezer baggie and freeze. Voila, your scraps have become home made chicken stock!!


If you have a Tiny Food question, please feel free to ask me in a comment and I'll respond back here in the comments section or in a new post!

My Favorite Tiny Food Recipes at PopArtDiva.Com
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All postings and original art by PopArtDiva.com, copyright 2000-2012. This blog is for entertainment only. All links provided are for the convenience and amusement of the blog visitor only and not to be construed as endorsements of any form. Sharing recipes of my favorite foods and snacks.