Dilly Dip for Veggies

blooming dill

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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.

 

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Black Beans and Bacon Spread

A hearty and dependable dip or spread that has always been popular but we love the added flavor of bacon…who doesn’t?

  • One dozen strips of thick bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Two jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • Three cloves of garlic, minced
  • Two fifteen ounce cans of black beans, drained and liquid reserved
  • One half cup of sour cream
  • Two tablespoons of lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • Zest of one lime
  • Sea salt to taste

Process all ingredients except the bacon in a food processor until finely chopped.  Fold in bacon crumbles and thin with reserved liquid if more of a dip consistency is preferred.  Refrigerate overnight if possible to let the flavors blend. Serve at room temperature.

Chiang Mai Cucumber Cups

food vegetables cucumbers gherkins

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We spent a memorable ten days in Chiang Mai in an ancient guest house on the river with some of the best food we have ever eaten…our hostess, Prim, directed a kitchen that turned out these little appetizers for our afternoon delight.  Multiply the recipe for your needs.  This recipe makes six cucumber cups.

  • One cucumber
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 2 small chilies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons of sugar
  • One and half cups of ground, roasted peanuts
  • Sea salt

Divide the cucumber into six equal slices, scoop out the center with a melon baller and leave a base in each cup.  Combine remaining ingredients and mix well.  Fill cups and chill before serving.

 

Italian Telephone Wires

Risotto translates as telephone wires due to the content of mozzarella in this dish…we love these as an appetizer or as a side dish with veal piccata.  The recipe looks complex but it comes together quickly.  

  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One medium onion, minced
  • One garlic clove, minced
  • One half of a red bell pepper, diced
  • Three quarters of a cup of long grain rice
  • One teaspoon of oregano
  • One and half cups of chicken stock
  • One half cup of dry white wine
  • Three ounces of mozzarella divided into 12 teaspoon-sized pieces
  • Olive oil for frying

Heat the oil and add the next five ingredients, cooking for about three minutes.  Add the stock and wine by the spoonful, waiting for the rice to absorb the liquid.  After about fifteen minutes, all the liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be tender.  When cool enough to work with, form balls of rice around each of the twelve pieces of cheese.  Cook in batches of four in hot oil for two minutes or until golden.  Drain thoroughly on paper towels and serve hot.

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. 

Caviar on Cauliflower Cream

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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.

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