Stuffed Baby Med Peppers

We have always loved to add pepperoncini to our Greek salads.  On our last visit to Rhodes we were served these simple but satisfying pre-prandial bites at a little sidewalk cafe near the gate to the port.  These pickled peppers, which are just as popular in Italian dishes, are so easily available in the United States and so overlooked when we think of savory appetizers.  Our chef simply soaked them for a time in icy water, slit them open, and filled each pepper with an equal amount of local cheese, what tasted like minced salami, and a generous helping of grated onion.  Dust this with Greek seasoning, squeeze a little lemon juice over all and warm in a 300 degree oven for ten minutes.  You may substitute minced, crispy bacon and Monterey Jack for a departure. 

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Neighbor Nancy’s Cheesy Stuff

Don’t know how to describe this…is it a dip?  Is it a spread?  Is it an entree?  It really doesn’t matter once you taste it.  Just take my word for it and whip this up for your next gathering.

  • 8 ounces of old dependable cream cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar or whatever you have
  • 1 half cup of mayonnaise
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 dozen well-crumbled ginger snaps
  • 1 half cup of pepper jelly
  • 1 shot of rum

Combine first four and mix well.  Spread on a stoneware serving platter.  Sprinkle ginger snaps on top and bake at 350 for ten minutes.  Meanwhile, combine pepper jelly with an ounce of rum  in a pyrex cup and warm in a microwave.  Stir well and pour over cheese mixture, fresh from the oven.   Serve with your favorite crackers or more ginger snaps.

Cheddar, Ham, and Green Peppercorn Souffle

souffle

A kind and generous follower of But First sent this recipe on to us very recently.  We were blown away with its cheesy goodness and the ease with which it all goes together.  The punch of green peppercorns gives it an unexpected flavor.

  • Four green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of green peppercorns
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup of smoked ham, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh garlic, minced

Process the onion, peppercorns, and egg in a food processor until the onion is minced. Pour into a one quart  baking dish and add other ingredients, stirring well.   Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Serve while warm with crackers or thick potato chips.

Pine Nut and Havarti Souffles

Want  full-flavored hors d’oeuvres to make ahead and reheat in just a few minutes before the doorbell rings!  Make several recipes of these if you have a crowd coming.  This makes 24 souffles in a mini-muffin pan.

  • Two tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Three tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • One small jalapeno pepper, seeded , deribbed and minced
  • Three tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted and minced
  • Six tablespoons of whole milk
  • Six tablespoons of half and half milk
  • One half cup of grated Havarti cheese
  • One teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Two eggs, beaten

Coat muffin cups with non-stick spray and dust with a little flour.  Combine butter and flour in a pyrex bowl and microwave for one minute, whisking at intervals.  When blended, add pepper and pine nuts and cook for another minute.  Then add milk and half and half.  Cook for two to three minutes, whisking at intervals, or until thick and smooth.  Remove from microwave and blend in cheese, mustard, and seasonings to taste. When cooled to room temperature, add eggs, combining thoroughly, and spoon into muffin cups, filling halfway.  Bake at 400 degrees for about ten minutes or until puffed and golden.

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.

Chesapeake Cheddar Clam Toasts

I think you will enjoy this dish from an earlier era spent with a rowdy crowd of young naval officers at Virginia Beach.  We usually used canned clams but freshly shucked, sauteed in butter, and chopped is always better.  Must be served with very cold beer!

  • 1 pound of white cheddar, grated
  • 1 six ounce can of baby clams, drained
  • 1 quarter cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of chives, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, well-beaten
  • Black pepper to taste, freshly ground
  • Red pepper sauce to taste
  • 8 slices of dark bread like pumpernickel, crust removed

Combine all ingredients and spread generously on bread slices.  Place on a cookie sheet and put under a hot broiler until puffed, brown and bubbly…about 6 minutes.  Cut each toast into four squares and serve.

 

Crunchy DIY Mozzarella Cheese Sticks

We’ve all had those soggy cheese sticks at franchise fern bars and vowed never to touch them again…but the concept is great and if you will give this recipe a chance, you will have your faith restored, at least in HOMEMADE Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 dozen cheese sticks, four inches by 1/2 inch
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter

Beat eggs with water in a small bowl.  Put next four ingredients in a large zip-lock bag…Roll cheese sticks in flour, dip in egg wash, then in bread crumb mixture.  Repeat with egg wash and bread crumbs and place on a baking sheet to chill for at least four hours.  When ready to cook, bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Any Italian red sauce will be a delicious dip for the cheese sticks.