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Pithy and Cleaver » hors d’oeuvres

Archived entries for hors d'oeuvres

Whetting the appetite: Zucchini rolls with roasted garlic ricotta

rollllll

So, despite what you might think, my New Year’s menu was not all about sugar and booze–I actually made something with nutritional value! You know. To ring in the year right. After much deliberation, I decided that I needed something that fit the following criteria:

  1. Vegetarian-friendly (my veg friends have grown weary of hummus).
  2. Finger-sized (we had no plates).
  3. Green.
  4. Resplendent in some sort of cheese product.

Conveniently, a few days prior, I’d seen an episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello where he made a salad from thinly sliced strips of grilled zucchini. It looked amazing, and seemed like a good starting point–though the gorgeous strips of squash seemed to be crying out for something more than a simple vinaigrette. Something like a filling. Something involving roasted garlic.

*Cue the lightbulb over my head*

I cobbled together a filling of ricotta cheese, roasted garlic, and chopped fresh basil; it was sufficiently pleasing that I’m considering making some ravioli out of it, or possibly smearing it all over my toast. I also made about four times as much filling as I’d bought zucchini–be ye not so stupid! I strongly advise that you go for the gusto and grill up more zucchini than you think you might need–not only will you probably have just enough, but if all else fails, you can save it as a snack or put it on a sandwich.

stripped

Also, use a mandoline to slice the zucchini if you have any regard for your fingers at all.

Really, though, just be sure to make enough. We ran out, and it almost got ugly.

Zucchini rolls with roasted garlic ricotta

5-6 medium-sized zucchini
Olive oil
Salt
Splash of white wine vinegar

For the filling:
1c ricotta cheese
1 head garlic (you’ll be roasting this, so don’t freak out immediately)
1 small handful basil, chopped finely
Juice of ½ lemon
Olive oil

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Cut the top off your garlic and drizzle it with olive oil. Wrap in foil (wrap tightly, but leave some head room at the top) and bake until soft and melty—about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile…cut off the ends of the zucchini, then slice it as thinly as you can (I understand a mandoline would be tremendously useful here; I will let you know when I’ve had a chance to test that theory). Brush each side lightly with oil and then grill over medium heat (flipping a few times) until it’s slightly translucent and very pliable.
  3. Place cooked zucchini in a large bowl, covered with a kitchen towel. Splash on a little white wine vinegar, toss gently and leave to steam for a few minutes.
  4. While the zucchini steams, make the filling—toss the ricotta, basil, lemon juice, olive oil and roasted garlic (which should squeeze out of its papery skin gorgeously once it’s cooled) with a little salt into the bowl of your food processor—whiz away until it’s well-mixed and smooth!
  5. To assemble: place about a teaspoon of filling on the end of each zucchini strip, then gently roll it up. You don’t need to affix it with a toothpick, though you certainly could if you wanted to. Serve with balsamic drizzle and a dusting of chopped basil—if you’re so inclined!

Nothing you haven’t seen before: Figs and prosciutto

figs

2:44: They are under the broiler, being professionally fabulous. T-minus 3 minutes!

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1:45: They turned out so beautifully, I just had to give you a picture. Aren’t they pretty?

Hi guys!

So, we’re a bit crazed in here; we’re assembling figs, my hands are full, Biscuit is juggling a thousand tasks. Delightful houseguest no. 1 is wrapping things in prosciutto, Delightful houseguest no. 3 is taking care of the dish backlog. My sister is lost and we’re trying to give her directions. We’re at capacity, which means we’re probably not going to get to blogging the figs until later. Or at all, since ,you’ve seen these things before.

I will say: fresh mission figs. Coach farm triple cream cheese. 15-year old balsamic vinegar. Organic Sonoma County eucalyptus honey. Aw. Motherfuckin’. Yeah. This stuff’s going to be good.

More later!

Hors d’oeuvres: Maki, anyone?

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12:21: Unfortunately, the recipe for this is going to have to come later; it’s go-time here, which means we’re going to be doing more running around than blogging. Bear with us; all will be demonstrated in time!

11:58: finis! All that remains is to chill, cool, and plate. Though time consuming, this is far less difficult than you’d think. Don’t be afraid to try it!

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11:44:
Still rolling the sushi. I am covered in peanut goo. Delicious, delicious peanut goo.

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10:48: Wonderful, delightful houseguests have gone to procure soy sauce. Loves.

10:45: Soy sauce. A regrettable oversight. Bollocks.

10:19: Roll on, peanut filling!

10:06: The rice has been rinsed and is soaking. It’ll keep doing that for another 30 minutes or so, whereupon we’ll boil it up until it’s good and sticky.

We may not be traditionalists, but we have traditions here at the Thanksgiving of Shiv and Biscuit. These traditions include: two gratins (always!), the herb and shallot turkey, and…

Sushi.

Vegetarian maki, actually. Spicy peanut rolls and avocado scallion rolls, to be exact. I couldn’t tell you exactly how this tradition got started, because I was probably drunk at the time. As I tend to be at Thanksgiving.

I know, it sounds weird. But it is delicious, and has managed to keep a delightfully incongruous toehold upon our menu, to the delight and confusion of all.

I’ll show you how as soon as I finish this slice of quiche.

Thai peanut maki

1 1/2 c dry-roasted peanuts, chopped fine
1/2c smooth peanut butter
1/4c boiling water
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp good soy sauce
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar (or honey)
ginger, grated
red chili flakes
star anise powder

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, pour the boiling water over the peanut butter, whisking until completely combined.
  2. Add the chopped peanuts, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar/honey. Season to taste with the ginger, chili, and star anise. That’s it!

To assemble:
1 package (10 sheets) nori seaweed (many grocery stores carry this now)
2c sushi rice
1/2c seasoned rice vinegar

  1. Fill a drinking glass with water; put a butter knife in the water (sounds weird, but trust me)
  2. Take a piece of nori. Place enough prepared rice on it to cover 1/2 of the sheet (once it’s smoothed out), in a layer about 1/4″ thick. Use the wet knife from the drinking glass to smooth and spread the rice–it’s glutinous and sticky, so using a damp utensil is KEY.
  3. Take a small handful of your filling and lay it out in a stripe along the center of the rice–it should be parallel to the long side of the rice field, about 1/2″-3/4″ wide.
  4. To roll, carefully take the bottom edge of the nori (the side that has the rice) and roll it carefully around itself, moving away from you. The part of the nori that doesn’t have rice on it should wrap around the resulting tube once or twice; seal it down using water. The seaweed will be on the outside.

I know, the assembly part sounds confusing, but it’s really not all that difficult. There are tons of videos on youtube–and, frankly, your nori packet should come with instructions. I hope you try this–it’s a really unique finger food that is guaranteed to impress the hell out of your guests.

It’s fig week! Roasted figs with goat’s cheese and prosciutto.

Figs and I have a tempestuous relationship. When it’s on, it’s ON–I am a slave to the fig’s sticky sweetness and hidden depths, and there is nothing that can bar me from its dusky beauty. When it’s off, however, the love runs cold, and nary a thought is spared for my dear, figgy friend.

And usually that’s fine.

The problem with this strange and mercurial relationship is that far too often when the need descends, fresh figs are nowhere to be found (I blame my inattention; I wouldn’t be at my beck and call, either). It happened a few weeks ago, and took me until last Friday to finally source some of the elusive fruit, purchased from a shady vendor on 6th avenue and carefully shepherded through a long evening of whiskey-drinking (except for the part where a crazy dude on 1st avenue tried to trip me with his cane, causing me to lose a few to the east village gutters). It was a challenge, but somehow I managed to get them home and make the salty-sweet treat I’d been planning over the past week: Roasted figs with prosciutto, goat’s cheese, and honey.

Let me repeat that: roasted figs with prosciutto, goat’s cheese, and honey.

Oh, oh yes.

I’m sure you can understand why I pursued this dream despite the mocking absence of figs; I’m sure many of you can conjure, as I did, the glorious juxtaposition of the syrupy fruit; the creamy, tangy cheese; the salty, chewy prosciutto. You can almost see the honey dripping lasciviously over the top of the snowy peaks, almost smell the irresistible miasma…

…whew, got away from myself for a second there. But if nothing else, that supports my case: if something makes me write like a second-rate Harlequin scribe? It MUST be good.

Roasted figs with prosciutto

12 medium-sized figs, quartered at the top along half the length of the fruit
4 oz chevre
1/4 lb prosciutto, sliced thin
a few tablespoons honey
a few tablespoons balsamic reduction*

The true beauty of this recipe is its simplicity: stuff the figs with the cheese. wrap with prosciutto. drizzle with honey. bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes. Drizzle with more honey and balsamic. Share them with a friend for a delicious dinner, or put them on a pretty plate with extra honey to serve as hors d’oeuvres. Or, eat them all yourself. With gusto. And a green salad.

*Balsamic reduction: pour a bottle of balsamic vinegar into a saucepan and boil it until it’s reduced by half or more–it will be sweet and decadent, and make everything look super gourmet.

Ta da!



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