Zucchini Crostini

Looking for something to titillate the taste buds of the vegetarians in your circle?  Try this on toasted garlic french bread in the best Tuscan manner or rely on thin party rye.  This is a rich dish that could be adapted to eggplant or other veggies with a few adjustments to the ingredients.

  • 1 cup of shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Approximately 18 small toasts

Put shredded zucchini in a mixing bowl and toss with salt.  Let stand to absorb excess liquid, then rinse and dry on a clean towel.  Add other ingredients and mix well.  Mound a rounded teaspoon on each toast and bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Smoked Oyster and Olive Tapenade

Simply put, this is my favorite way to prepare smoked oysters for a party.  This dish is salty, spicy, and exotic.  It is best served with hunks of a rustic European bread to dip or spread.  I always drain smoked oysters and let them soak for a half hour in cold brine to freshen them and remove the excess oil.

  • 1 eight ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1 and a half cups of good mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons of Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 4 ounces of prepared olive tapenade OR a small can of chopped black olives
  • 1 can of smoked oysters, washed, drained, and chopped.

Mix all of the ingredients and chill.  This will make about two cups

Uptown Sausage Balls

You will find other recipes on this site and in many cookbooks for sausage balls  but these are really unique and delicious.  We were visiting New Bern, North Carolina with Jim and Jane in the fall and came upon this recipe that comes originally from a parishioner of that city’s grand eighteenth century Christ Church.

  • 1 pound of lean bulk sausage
  • 3 cups of baking mix
  • 10 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup of Walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 cup of dates, chopped (I use scissors dipped in hot water)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine ingredients and roll into marble-size balls.  Bake on a cookie sheet for 14 minutes and cool.  These may be frozen and reheated in a 300 degree oven for about 15 or 20 minutes.  This should make about seven dozen.

Caraway Puffs

We have made these with Stilton, Gorgonzola, Cougar Gold, and Blue Cheese.  Any one of these that you may have on hand is delicious.  What an easy and impressive hors d’oeuvre this is when the cupboard is almost bare and you’re challenged to come up with something fast.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Open a ten ounce cylinder of large buttermilk biscuits and cut them into fourths, then roll into balls and coat with caraway seeds.  Put in a baking dish. Melt 1/2 cup of  butter with four ounces of the chosen cheese in a saucepan.  Pour over the balls and bake for 15 minutes, turning once.  When puffed and browned, serve proudly.

Yokosuka Pickled Veggies

These were served as a pre-prandial treat at a unique home built of finely fitted and unpainted timbers near the U.S. Naval Base in Japan during a visit with friends some years ago.  I have resurrected the recipe because some folks really enjoy a salty, biting, clean taste with a really special craft beer.

  • 1/2 pound of carrots, shaved from the length of the carrot
  • 1/2 pound of large turnip roots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of radishes, (daikon if possible) thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound of broccoli florets, about the size of quarters
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon of finely chopped dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of sake
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt

Combine the ginger, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sake, and sea salt in a saucepan and heat until steaming…do not boil.  Place vegetables in a covered pyrex dish and pour the pickling solution over them.  Make sure all are covered.  Cool and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. before serving

Goat Cheese and Asparagus Toasts

aparg (3)

We were invited to a pot-luck cocktail party last month and with little time to spare, surveyed the fridge and put together this wonderful hors d’oeuvres that drew compliments from all gathered there.

Begin with what I call “light bread” that some call a sandwich loaf.  You’ll find you have about 24 slices to decrust and roll flat with a rolling pin or a tall bottle.  A pound of asparagus is all you will need and you may have enough leftover for a salad at lunch.  Blanch 24 of the fattest spears (covered in plastic wrap) in a microwave for three minutes.  Spread your favorite goat cheese on each flattened bread slice, place an asparagus spear at one end, grind some fresh black pepper over all, and roll up.  Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Place under the broiler, watching closely until the bread is toasted to a golden hue.  We stacked the toasted asparagus in alternating layers like Lincoln logs for serving.   You will hope there are leftovers!

Crabcakes for a Crowd

We’ve been looking for a long time for a low-labor, really crabby crabcake appetizer and lo, this past Christmas, it happened!  It was a cocktail gathering for old friends, family, and neighbors: people we enjoy and with whom we wanted time to visit.  We put together this mini-crabcake recipe from a half-dozen we had clipped and it was perfect for our needs.  Each pound of crabmeat will make about 24 baked crabcakes which are mostly crab, toasted and crunchy…and can be prepared in advance.

  • 1 pound of lump crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 cup of finely chopped poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 ounces of white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup of baking mix
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of seafood seasoning…we prefer Old Bay
  • 1 tablespoon of good olive oil

Wash and drain well the crabmeat, picking through it to remove any unintended cartilage.  Microwave onions and peppers in butter for two minutes and combine them with the Old Bay seasoning, cheese, baking mix, half and half, olive oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Fold in the crabmeat gently so that it does not become too broken up.  Prepare a 24 cup mini-muffin pan by coating it generously with a baking spray.  Butter or oil may work but why take a chance?  Bake at 375 for about twenty minutes and take out of the oven.  Let cool before removing the crabcakes to a warm platter.  We served these with a small dab of lemon aioli made by combining homemade mayo with garlic powder, lemon juice, and more Old Bay seasoning to taste.