Lime Rickeys by the Pitcher


We have long advocated cocktails by the pitcher or a signature punch when you host a gathering of people who want to catch up  or a crowd of new friends you want to get to know really well.  You’ll find other beverage recipes on this blog that are suitable for parties where a bartender is nowhere to be found.  This recipe gets a jump on spring just as the limes are coming in from the Keys.  Cheers!

Heat a half cup of water with a half cup of sugar to make a simple syrup and chill.  In a three quart pitcher, add one and a half cups of gin, three quarters of a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, and the cooled syrup.  When you are ready to serve, add one and a half quarts of chilled soda.  This should make about eight tall glasses filled with ice and garnished with lime wedges.


Caviar on Cauliflower Cream


We love this alternative appetizer on thickly cut, home-made, potato chips but it will work just as well with blintz or melba toast.  The most important thing is to make sure you drain the cauliflower well after cooking so that the consistency of the cream is not runny.  I have found that microwaving the cauliflower in a covered dish with a few teaspoons of water for steaming is very satisfactory.

  • Two cups of cauliflower, cooked well and drained
  • One tablespoon of fresh chives, chopped
  • One third of a cup of sour cream
  • One half  teaspoon of kosher salt
  • Five ounces of your preferred caviar
  • One tablespoon of fresh chives, finely minced

Process first four ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Assemble by putting one teaspoon of cauliflower cream on the toast, followed by a half teaspoon of caviar. Garnish with a sprinkle of  minced chives.

Just a Bowl of Butterbean Hummus

butter beans

Nobody had ever heard of hummus when the anthem, “Just a Bowl of Butterbeans” was the sing-along hit at every college band party.  But today, hummus is the go-to snack and appetizer among folks of all ages.  We couldn’t believe how well southern butterbeans and Mediterranean spices worked together.

  • Two 16 ounce cans of butterbeans, drained
  • Three green onions, chopped
  • Two thirds of a cup of tahini paste
  • Two cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Six tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • One teaspoon of lemon zest
  • One tablespoon of cumin, ground
  • One quarter cup of olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Two teaspoons of sesame seeds, toasted

Process the first eight ingredients, thinning with water if necessary to get desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate in a covered bowl until ready to serve.  Hummus should be allowed to come to room temperature before serving.  This recipe may be may a couple of days ahead to allow full flavor.  We like to scatter the sesame seeds on top and serve with pita chips.

Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

sundried tomatoes

A bright and shiny tapenade is what we need to banish these dreary January days and I’ve got one for you that harkens back to a cold and windy day in 1995 when I came across a bottle of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil that had come in a Christmas basket.  I wondered what to do with them.  This is the result.

  • One 8 ounce bottle of sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • Two tablespoons of black olives, chopped
  • Three garlic cloves, chopped
  • Two tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Two tablespoons of basil, chopped
  • One quarter cup of olive oil
  • One half cup of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground

Process first six ingredients and place in a serving bowl.  Stir in parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Honeyed Ham and Caper Berry Toasts

If you have a few slices of honey-baked ham left over from the holidays, this is a very special way to use it.  Serve this as a cold spread or as a broiled canape on toast rounds.

  • One quarter pound of ham, chopped finely
  • One teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • One teaspoon of English mustard powder
  • Three tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • Two tablespoons of thinly sliced caper berries, stems removed

Combine all ingredients and spread about a teaspoon on each toast round.  If you desire, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and put under the broiler for about four minutes until the canapes are puffed and golden.

Fast and Funky Hot Shrimp Dip

gulf shrimp

So about an hour ago you saw the neighbors in the driveway and you asked them to come over for a drink and you’re in a panic because you need a quick, but spectacular hor d’oeuvres and you are raiding the pantry and the freezer because they are going to be here in forty-five minutes.  You are so lucky you have a can of Cream of Shrimp soup!

  • One can of cream of shrimp soup
  • One can of shrimp, drained
  • One roll of garlic cheese (or a cup of grated cheddar and a teaspoon of garlic powder)
  • One 8 ounce can of mushrooms, drained
  • One tablespoon of sherry

Stir the first two ingredients together in a four-cup pyrex mixing cup and microwave until it bubbles  Add garlic cheese in thin slices and microwave for another minute or two, incorporating the melted cheese.  Stir in the mushrooms and microwave for another minute or two.  Pour into the shallow covered stoneware dish your sister gave you for Christmas and add the sherry.  Now you can keep it warm in the microwave.  Surely you have some chips or crackers about?

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.