Venetian Eggplant Pizza

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The first time we tasted eggplant in company with the traditional flavors of an Italian pizza was from a small takeout shop in the Piazza Margherita in Venice. We were hooked and I came home and started experimenting.  One thing led to another with versions of grilled eggplant topped with different cheeses and sauces without a pizza crust.  We were amazed at the creamy texture of a grilled eggplant slice and decided to permanently forego the crust.  We have tried several varieties but have come to prefer the long and narrow purple oriental eggplant which can be sliced the length of the vegetable into about four pieces.  This is how we like it.  Make it your own with your choice of toppings.

  • Oriental Eggplant cut into one inch thick slices, lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • Alfredo sauce, prepared, or make your own
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Thin slices of prosciutto or crumbled bacon
  • Hearts of artichoke, chopped
  • Lemon Pepper (without salt)

Brush or spray the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides and place on a grill or under a broiler.  Cook until browned on one side, about five minutes on a hot grill, and turn over.  Spread the sauce, add toppings and seasoning and close the grill cover.  After five minutes check to see if cheese has melted and if the reverse side is browned.  Each slice may be cut into four portions and served as an appetizer, or serve as a family entree.

 

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Shrimp Tortillitas

These small shrimp patties are a favorite in Andalucia, Spain’s tapas bars.  You may prepare them individually or make one large tortilla like a pancake and cut it into wedges for serving. 

  • One cup of all purpose flour
  • One half teaspoon of baking powder
  • Water
  • One third cup of chopped green onions
  • One cup of cooked shrimp, chopped
  • Three tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl and add water sparingly until you have a thin pancake batter.  Fold in the onions, shrimp, and cilantro and season to taste.  Pour about a half inch of oil in a pan and when it is hot, add the batter a tablespoon at a time to make three small patties.  They will require about two minutes on each side.  To make a large tortilla, add batter to the middle of the pan and spread out with a spatula.  You will need two large spatulas and a plate to turn the tortilla.  Practice makes perfect!

 

 

French Olive Squares

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Imagine a terrine packed with succulent black olives enhanced with freshly grated parmesan cheese…that aptly describes this wonderful appetizer that you will find so easy to prepare that you will offer it often…keep it in the fridge for the holidays and cut it into cubes for cocktail service…and it goes well with a light tomato sauce if you choose.

  • Four tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • Two teaspoons of baking powder
  • Four large eggs, beaten
  • One cup of whole milk
  • One cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
  • One cup of black olives, preferably Nyons or cured Kalamatas pitted and sliced into halves
  • One Tablespoon of Olive oil

Blend the flour, baking powder, eggs, and milk together and fold in the cheese, olives, and oil.  Set aside for two hours for the flour to absorb the liquids.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, stir the batter once more, and pour into a buttered loaf pan.  Bake for thirty minutes until it is golden brown and firm to the touch.  When cool, you may slice it and then cut into two inch cubes.

Oysters and Golden Mushrooms for a Chafing Dish

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Hopefully, America’s oyster beds will be producing plentifully with the Christmas season approaching and this creamy oyster and mushroom melange will be a delicious addition to a holiday buffet served in crispy pastry shells or more informally as a dip with toasted garlic bread rounds.  This recipe will serve about six but you’ll want to triple the recipe for a large crowd.

  • Three dozen oysters drained and halved
  • One half cup of oyster or shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • One large onion, finely chopped
  • One half cup of green peppers, chopped
  • Two celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • Two cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
  • One third cup of butter
  • One teaspoon of red pepper sauce
  • One can of golden mushroom soup (undiluted)
  • One tablespoon of chopped green onion tops
  • One tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Saute first six ingredients in butter until vegetables are tender and oysters are curled.  Add soup and pepper sauce and cook on low for three minutes.  Add onion tops and parsley and cook for another two minutes.

Sherried Tomato Juice

This is a lighter Bull’s Blood Brunch drink that is perfect for the Christmas season, especially when you might plan on a pre-church breakfast.  The combination of beef bouillon, tomato juice, and dry sherry offers a unique taste.  A hardier Bull’s Blood recipe is available on this site if needed.

  • Two ten ounce cans of beef bouillon
  • Three cups of tomato juice
  • Two lemon slices
  • Six whole cloves
  • One teaspoon of dried basil
  • One teaspoon of minced garlic
  • One half teaspoon of sugar
  • One quarter teaspoon of accent
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Three tablespoons of dry sherry

Combine all ingredients in a large pan and slowly heat, removing the pan just before it begins to boil.  Cool, strain, add sherry, and refrigerate before serving.  This beverage is more flavorful without adding ice which will dilute it.

Fig and Blue Cheese Tarts

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These cocktail tarts look like they just came from the pastry shoppe but guess what?  You made them yourself with a very few ingredients in a very short period of time…perfect for the holidays.  We have used dried figs and dates…try them both ways, they are delicious.

  • Three ounces of cream cheese
  • Two thirds of a cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • One cup of dried figs (or dates), chopped
  • One quarter cup of orange marmalade
  • Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • One can of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • One half cup of pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and mix cheeses until well combined.  Heat vinegar and marmalade and add figs.  Cook about six minutes until the figs are softened.  Cut crescent roll dough into sixteen slices and place on cookie sheets, two inches apart.  Press with a teaspoon to make an indentation and fill with cheese mixture, top with fig mixture, the chopped pecans, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool for ten minutes and serve warm.

Dilly Dip for Veggies

blooming dill

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

This is our go-to dip for crudities nowadays with so many people looking for vegetable alternatives at cocktail parties.  Pair this with a platter of cucumber  and celery sticks, sliced summer squash or zucchini, and bright red radishes and cherry tomatoes.

  • Two teaspoons of minced garlic
  • One half cup of grated red onion
  • Two cups of dill pickles, minced
  • One teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
  • One teaspoon of dried dill
  • One teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Two teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • One eight ounce carton of sour cream (or liquify fat-free cottage cheese in a blender).

Combine all ingredients and if it is too thick, thin with dill pickle juice until preferred consistency is reached.