French Onion Toasts

We enjoyed a version of this at a waterfront cafe in Le Havre in early fall.  This is our adaptation utilizing parmesan as a substitute for a hard-to-find local cheese.  Be sure and slice your loaves of French bread thinly.

  • Two and a half cups of yellow onions, minced
  • One quarter cup of fresh flat parsley leaves, minced
  • One level teaspoon of granulated beef bouillon
  • One cup of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • One teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • One half cup of mayonnaise
  • Thirty two slices of French bread

Combine the first six ingredients and spread one teaspoon of the mixture on each slice of bread.  Put on a baking sheet and place under a broiler for approximately four minutes or until the toasts are puffed and golden brown.

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Christmas Cider

This spiced bourbon will be your first choice to offer on a cold holiday evening to close friends and family drop-ins.  It should produce eight to ten servings.  Combine four cups of apple cider, the peel of half an orange, the peel of a lemon, a cinnamon stick, four cloves, and three all-spice berries in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about three minutes and let cool.  Strain, and add two cups of good bourbon and put in a coffee pot on warm.  You may garnish with a lemon twist or a dusting of nutmeg.  Enjoy!

Spicy Creole Peanuts

                                  brooks peanuts

And here’s another spiced nut idea for your beer buds:   Finely chop two teaspoons of fresh rosemary and two teaspoons of fresh oregano.  Melt two tablespoons of butter and toss with two cups of shelled peanuts.  Add the fresh herbs along with 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and one tablespoon of garlic salt.  Toss well and spread out on a cookie sheet.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for about thirty minutes, turning twice.  Let cool and enjoy!

Brennan’s Crab Ravigotte

                                      crablegs

This hor d’oeuvre recipe from the original Brennan’s  Restaurant on New Orleans’ Royal Street has been a favorite for over forty years.   It goes together simply but your guests will make quick work of it so prepare several servings.  You may offer it as a canape on toast triangles but I prefer it in wonton cups made by lightly brushing the skins with olive oil and pressing them into a mini-muffin pan.  Bake for about eight minutes in a 350 degree oven.  This recipe should require about a dozen wonton cups.

Combine 1/2 cup of homemade mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of minced parsley, 1 tablespoon of drained and chopped capers, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of dry mustard, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of prepared horseradish, 1 tablespoon of minced pimiento, 1 finely chopped boiled egg, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 cup of backfin lump crabmeat.  Toss lightly and chill for an hour before serving.

Sweet Somethings Pecan Nibbles

pecans

This is a favorite of Sanibel Island friends who were persuaded to share the recipe with you.  Serve it as a final touch with demitasse.  You will find it addictive!

Combine six cups of Chex cereal and one cup of toasted pecans.  Melt two tablespoons of butter with one quarter cup of cane syrup and toss with the cereal and pecan mixture in a glass bowl.  Sprinkle one quarter cup of powdered sugar over all and toss some more.

Mussels and Mayo

steamed mussels

A little bit of saffron goes a long way.  We just discovered this perfect combination of cooked and chilled mussels served with threads of saffron in a mayonnaise-based sauce a few weeks ago in Rouen.  It is a wonderful appetizer served on a bed of ice or rock salt.

  • 2 pounds of fresh mussels (about sixty)
  • 1 cup of your favorite dry, white wine
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch of saffron thread
  • 1/3 cup of roasted red peppers, well-drained
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 half cup of home-made mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Smoked paprika to taste

Bring onion and wine to a boil, add mussels and cook, covered, for about three minutes.  Cool and remove top shells,  separate each mussel and return to its bottom shell.  Place the shells on an ice or rock salt-filled tray and chill.  In a food processor, add the next seven ingredients and blend well.  Put a generous dollop of the saffron mayo on each mussel and sprinkle with paprika before serving.

 

Southern Summer Squash Spread

Sometimes abundance is the mother of invention, which explains this original and delicious take on hummus.  Our friend Bob kept us over-supplied all summer with tender, baby, yellow squash with nary a wart upon them.  This was one result of his largesse.

  • Three cups of summer squash, roughly chopped
  • Four tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
  • Two tablespoons of peanut oil
  • Three tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • One teaspoon of dried red chile flakes
  • One half teaspoon of sea salt
  • Two cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One teaspoon of dried dill

Put squash in a covered glass container and microwave on high for three minutes. Drain squash and place in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.  Process until the mixture is smooth and spreadable.  Chill before serving with melba toast.

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