Category Archives: Appetizer

Food Matters Project #15: Bruschetta

With summer just around the corner, I try to find recipes which are easy to make and can be enjoyed outside with friends.  Our condo porch is rather small, but we do like to have friends over on the roof of our building.  It’s nice to enjoy many evenings with a bottle of wine, some finger foods and great conversations.

This weeks Food Matters Project definitely gave me some more ideas!  Laura, from Chef Laura at Home chose this weeks recipe from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook.  She chose Bruschetta, Rethought- Mark Bittman provided some new ideas for bruschetta.  This definitely allows us to be a little creative!  Laura made a Simple Bruschetta, if you’d like to check out other ideas look at the comments here.

Many of us imagine a tomato salad on a piece of bread when we think of bruschetta (which is on the menu of every Italian restaurant in the US).  Although that is one form of bruschetta, there is more to it than tomatoes.  It is an Italian antipasto with a variety of toppings, such as: red pepper, tomato, vegetables, beans, cheese, cured meats or tomatoes.  One of these tops a piece of bread which was rubbed with garlic and olive oil.

On Saturday, Sam and I played tennis in the early afternoon and sat on our roof snacking and enjoying Pimm’s.  It was a wonderful afternoon- so relaxing!  We did not grill our bread since it was fresh out of the oven (recipe will follow later this week!).  This is a great meal to improvise to what you have on hand, or what you’re in the mood to make.

Green Bruschetta
Inspired from: The Food Matters Cookbook (pg 175)

I could not find fava beans in the grocery story, but had some lima beans in our freezer.  Edamame or peas would also work.

1 cup lima beans
3 tbsp pecorino cheese
1/2 cup lima bean cooking liquid
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a small saucepan, cook lima beans until they are well done.  Save some of the liquid while draining, and put them into a food processor.  Add the pecorino cheese and liquid, puree.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then add the asparagus.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then drain and cool with cold water.

Mix the pureed lima beans, asparagus and lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper, stir well to combine all of the ingredients together.  Serve with some bread or crackers.


Mushroomy Bruschetta
Inspired by: A Couple Cooks

There is nothing tastier in life than onions, mushrooms and butter.  This was delicious.  I think we’ll try to remake this as a pasta sauce! 

2 tbsp butter
1/4 large onion, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp oregano, finely chopped
4 oz herbed goat cheese (ex: Vermont Creamery Herb Chèvre)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Allow 1 tbsp of butter to melt in a saucepan.  Then add the onions, allow them to cook until translucent and slightly creamy.  Then add the garlic, cook for about 3 minutes.  Then add the mushrooms, 1 tbsp of butter, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook them until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Then add in the goat cheese, stir until the cheese is part of the sauce.

Feel free to dip some bread into the sauce, and top your bread piece with the mushrooms.

Vegetable Croquetas with Arugula

In the summer of 2004 I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain.  It was a great summer filled with drinking boxed wine on the street, eating delicious Spanish food, traveling around the country and improving my Spanish.  I ate tapas before they were cool here in the US.  My señora was a great cook, and I wish I had learned a bit more from her.

On my first day, she prepared gazpacho and croquetas (croquettes).  Upon my first taste of the cold tomato soup, I was worried that I was going to hate the food in Spain.  But then when I first took my first bite of the croqueta- I knew I could survive.  It was warm, crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.  Yes, I could definitely eat these.  Fortunately, I eventually fell in love with gazpacho and many other delicious recipes Macarena (my señora) prepared.

Most Spanish croquetas are made with meat, the most popular being chicken or ham and cheese.  But sometimes you just need some extra vegetables in your life.  So when I found this recipe for a vegetable croqueta- I couldn’t pass it up.

Vegetable Croquetas with Arugula
Adapted from: Cooking Light (March 2012)

You can serve these over any salad or eat them as an appetizer.  The cheese choices can also be swapped for something you have (such as cheddar). 

1 large or 2-3 small potatoes
8 oz cremini mushrooms, halved
1 leek, washed & roughly chopped
2 tsp thyme, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Gruyère, shredded
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 egg, yolk & white separated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Boil water in a small pan, then drop in the potato(es).  Allow to boil until they are cooked.  Take it out of the water, and then mash the potato into a smooth consistency.

Add the mushrooms, leeks and thyme into a food processor.  Pulse until all of the vegetables are finely chopped.

Heat a large skillet, and add 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Once it’s warm, add the mushroom mixture and mashed potato, allow it to cook for about 5 minutes.  Turn off the burner, but while the mixture is still warm add the Gruyère, salt, pepper and egg yolk.  Stir the ingredients well.

Divide the mixture and shape each piece (of about 2-3 tbsp) into little logs or round patties.  Lay them out.

Have the flour in a shallow dish.   In another dish have the egg white.  In a third dish, combine and mix the panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Dredge each vegetable patty in the flour, then dip it in the egg white, and lastly dredge it again in the panko mixture.  Do this with all of your patties.

Heat up the skillet once more, add 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Then add each of the patties, cook them for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown.

I topped a arugula salad with these croquetas, drizzled with a vinaigrette.

Spring Salsa

I think it’s official that spring has arrived in DC (or is it summer?).  The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, along with every possible flower.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this!  Although I think everyone is worried that this will be a horribly hot and humid summer.

Yesterday was the first day of the Penn Quarter Farmers Market.  We’ll have many more vendors to choose from this year, which I’m very excited about.  I picked up a jar of Thai Basil Jalapeños from Gordy’s Pickle Jar, they’re the spiciest they have.  I also got some Bison Sticks from Gunpowder Bison Trading Company, one sweet and one hot.  I’m holding on to some purchases until Sam comes back from India, he’ll have something yummy to come home to!

I’ve also bought herbs and potting soil so I can start our little balcony garden.  Can’t wait for fresh basil or cilantro!  Between the colors and warm weather, I’ve been craving some fresh vegetables- especially in the form of salsa.

My friend Carolyn is coming over tonight, both of us love Mexican food, and I thought chips and salsa would be a great way to start off the evening!  I’m definitely ready to start seeing some vibrant colors on my plate.  And this is so quick and easy, you can’t say no to it!

Spring Salsa
This salsa can vary every single time I make it, depends what I have in our kitchen.  Feel free to play around with the ingredients, more or less of some, to your liking.  Possible additions/alternatives: avocado, green/orange bell peppers, habañeros, scallions, or black beans.

1 lb frozen corn, defrosted & drained
1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
4 tomatoes, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped finely (for less spice, remove the seeds)
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped finely
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Stick a chip in, and enjoy it!

Food Matters Project #2: Seasoned Popcorn

This is the 2nd week of The Food Matters Project, and the recipe is seasoned popcorn.  Check out everyone’s recipes here (under the comments are links to the various takes).

Kate has chosen this weeks recipe Seasoned Popcorn.

Also, today is the last day to qualify to win Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook.  Leave a comment on why food matters to you or a favorite healthy meal- here.  The giveaway ends tonight!

Popcorn always makes me think of movie theaters and new movies.  There is the packaged popcorn, but I really have never bought it, mainly because I could never finish a bag in one sitting!  So my popcorn consumption has always been at the movies- but as prices are getting higher and higher, and Reese’s Pieces being so much tastier (and cheaper)- I rarely eat any.

I will admit, I don’t think I have ever made popcorn from scratch at home on my own.  So when this project challenge was added, I was excited to try something new.  Sam was the expert on this one and took charge immediately.

Since we had some popcorn, why not watch a movie, right?  We enjoyed The King’s Speech last night (I know, a bit behind on our movies)- if you haven’t seen it yet, definitely add this one to your list.

When it comes to popcorn, our tastes are a bit different.  So we decided to make our popcorn two ways- each to our own liking!

There are a million flavors of popcorn- the choices are infinite!  Needs some more ideas?  Mark Bittman suggests: garlic popcorn, fresh herb, Old Bay seasoning, toasted sesame seeds, brown sugar, or ground nuts and coconut.

In the March issue of Vegetarian Times, there was a list of favorite popcorn flavors from the readers, some of them were:

* butter, curry and paprika
* sugar, salt, turmeric and cayenne
* maple syrup and cinnamon
* truffle oil and Parmesan cheese (I want to try this next time!)
* sea salt, cracked pepper with chocolate chips

Seasoned Popcorn
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (pg. 38)

2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup popping corn

Pour the canola oil in a deep pot.  Turn on the heat to medium heat, and allow the oil to heat up a bit (1 minute).  Then add the corn kernels, cover the pot.

When the kernels stop popping (no more than 5 minutes), remove the lid and pour out the popcorn on a paper towel lined plate.

Then pour your popcorn into a container with a lid or a brown paper lunch bag.  Add in your seasonings, close the container or bag, and shake the popcorn with the seasoning.  The trick is to have a bit of seasoning on each popcorn kernel.

Pour it into a bowl, turn on a movie and enjoy!

Spicy Popcorn Seasoning
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp chili powder

Cheesy and Salty Popcorn Seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt

Food Matters Project #1: Squash with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

As I mentioned yesterday, today marks the first day of The Food Matters Project.

Sarah has chosen the first recipe: Chipotle-Glazed Squash Skewers.

Here are some of the changes we made from Mark Bittman’s original recipe:
* we weren’t in the mood for winter squash (might be due to the warm weather), and decided to use zucchinis and yellow squash.
* we didn’t use skewers to roast the squash
* rather than doing a glaze, we chose a to make it a dipping sauce


Squash with Chipotle Dipping Sauce
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook

2 zucchinis, cut into thick matchsticks
2 yellow squash, cut into thick matchsticks
1 egg
1 cup Panko crumbs (might be more)
4-5 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/4 olive oil
1 tbsp honey
4 garlic cloves, chopped
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Crack an egg into one bowl, mixing the yolk and whites together.  In the other bowl, pour in the Panko crumbs.  Dip each squash piece into the egg mixture, and then dip it into the Panko crumbs.  Continue to do this with the rest of the zucchini and squash pieces and arrange all of the vegetables on a cookie sheet.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

In a food processor add: chipotle chiles, olive oil, honey, garlic and salt.  Processes the mixture until the sauce is well blended.

Enjoy each squash or zucchini with some of the chipotle sauce.