Category Archives: Appetizer

Food Matters Project #29: Apples, Blue Cheese & Honey

It’s another great recipe idea from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook.  This weeks Food Matters Project was chosen by Jessica.  Jessica’s blog is Cheese Please, check out her version of today’s dish- Cheddar Cheese and Almond Nut Balls.  Also see what other cheese recipes everyone else made: Cheese-Nut Balls.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a little hectic and slightly stressful around here.  So upon reading Mr. Bittman’s recipe and seeing pear and blue cheese, I decided to take this in a completely different direction.  Yes, no cheese balls- more like a perfect cheese relaxation plate!

Sam stopped by our favorite cheese store- Cowgirl Creamery, and picked up a giant block of Colston Bassett Stilton.  We had some leftover apples from the Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market, as well as some local honey.

When was the last time you had bought yourself a nice block of cheese?  Not when guests come over to serve as an appetizer, but just for yourself to indulge and enjoy?  If you can’t remember the last time- then do this tomorrow.  You will not be disappointed.  This was a wonderful way to wind down after a hectic week.

I know there are some of you out there that don’t enjoy blue cheese.  If you’re one of them- definitely grab another type that you’d prefer.  Blue cheese does have specific taste- and this tangy flavor blended well with the sweet honey and crisp fall apples.

Apples, Blue Cheese & Honey
Inspired by: Cheese-Nut Balls from The Food Matters Cookbook (pg 56)

This is more of a suggestion, rather than a recipe.  The amount of apples, cheese, honey or walnuts are entirely up to you.  You can add/swap something else, just enjoy some amazing cheese (pears, crackers).

apples, cored & thinly sliced
Stilton or any variety of blue cheese
walnuts (optional)

Pour a drop or two of honey onto a slice of apple.  First sprinkle cheese onto the apple slice, then top it off with some chopped walnuts.

Food Matters Project #24: Asian Vegetable Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Can you believe that the Food Matters Project has been going on for over 6 months?  Yikes, how time flies when you’re trying out delicious recipes!  If you haven’t been with us on this blog for that long, here’s a little recap:

The Food Matters Project is made up of a group of bloggers (there are so many of us) who are interested in making recipes from the Food Matter Cookbook by Mark Bittman.  Each week one blogger is the “host” and chooses a recipe- and we all make it.  The Food Matters Cookbook is very open to interpretation, therefore making it perfect for this project- all of you should check out what each blogger made.  See what recipes Fifth Floor Kitchen has made here.     

This weeks host is Alyssa, of Everyday Maven.  She had chosen Mark Bittman’s recipe for Summer Rolls in Peanut Sauce.  Check out Alyssa’s recipe for the tofu version, and other Food Matters Project participants recipes.  This was a fabulous choice since it involved no cooking- which is perfect in mid-August.

I’m sure you’ve all had these garden rolls at many Asian restaurants, and you’ll find that they are very easy to make.  I love the fresh ingredients, and wanted to replicate the refreshing and light taste.

Asian Vegetable Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (page 96), A Chow Life, & A Cozy Kitchen
Servings: 9 + a little extra peanut sauce

Peanut Sauce:
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup roasted nuts
5 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Asian Rolls:
rice paper sheets
2 carrots, peeled & julienned
1 cucumber, julienned
1 red pepper, julienned
1 jalapeño, julienned (optional)
20 sprigs of cilantro
2-3 leaves of mint

Add all of the ingredients for the peanut sauce into a food processor.  Process the ingredients until the sauce is smooth.  Pour into a bowl, it can be refrigerated for a couple of days.

To assemble the Asian Rolls fill a shallow, wide bowl with warm water.  Gently submerge each rice paper under water, keep it there for about 10 seconds- until the paper is soft.  Transfer the rice paper onto a slightly damp towel.  Working quickly, place the ingredients on the edge of the wrapper (a few julienned carrots, cucumbers and red pepper, a piece of jalapeño, 2 springs of cilantro, small piece of mint).  Fold the side in front of you over (away from you), turn in the sides, and then keep rolling away from you.  Repeat until you have used all of your ingredients.

Food Matters Project # 22: Fresh Corn Salsa

Apologies for a delayed Food Matters Project post!  I was traveling yesterday, and just lost track of time!  But don’t worry, I did have enough time over the weekend to try out the new recipe.

This weeks host as Jenn, from Vanilla Lemon.  She recently has moved from Italy back to the US, and had a gorgeous daughter!  Jenn chose the Corn-Avocado Salad with A Little Something Seared on Top from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook.  Also, check out what other Food Matters Project member did here.

So I will say that I did not have anything seared on top of my salad.  I was hosting a book club in our condo building, and since one of our members is moving to Mexico, I thought it’d be nice to have a little Mexican theme.  So there was chips and salsa, Mexican brownies, chili bites and a bean dip.  I’ll definitely try to be more creative next time, but the salsa with the fresh corn was perfect!

Fresh Corn Salsa
Adapted from: Food Matters Cookbook (pg 184)

4 fresh corn, kernels stripped
2 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
juice of 1/2 orange

Mix all of the ingredients together.  Keep in the fridge at least for an hour before serving.  Serve with chips!

Food Matters Project #21: Beet Chips with Pistachio Dip

It’s another Food Matters Project post!  This weeks recipe was chosen by Meg, of My Wholefood Romance.  She chose Mark Bittman’s Beet “Sandwiches” from his Food Matters Cookbook.

I was a bit hesitant to make this recipe.  Beets are not my favorite food, which may sound weird since I’m Polish- and beets are pretty popular.  But a couple of Thursday ago I was walking around the Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market and I saw the beets and the greens, and they looked so pretty so I had to bring some home.  Since I had no other plans for these veggies, I decided to try out Mark Bittman’s recipe!  I was very surprised how well it tasted, and this would be a perfect healthy snack to keep around.

Beet Chips and Pistachio Dip
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (page 83)

Rather than sandwiches, as Bittman refers to them, I used mine as chips.  Part of it was that the beets I had bought were fairly small.  Remember to wear plastic gloves when dealing with beets, since they will stain your hands a bit!

10 small beets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp + 1 pinch of salt
3 oz goat cheese
1 cup shelled pistachios
pinch of pepper
2 cups arugula

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Peel and slice the beets about 1/4 inch thick.  Put them all into a bowl, add some 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp salt.  Shake the bowl (or use your hands, but they might get a little beet color on them!) to coat all of the pieces with the olive oil and salt.  Spread all of the beets onto a cookie sheet, and bake them for 20-25 minutes.  Once they are baked, allow them to cool before eating.

Meanwhile, add the goat cheese, pistachios, 2 tbsp olive oil, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper and arugula into a food processor  Blend until the mixture is smooth.  Refrigerate until you are ready to eat it with the beet chips.

Book Club: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

Sam and I really enjoy sharing meals with our friends and family, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.  Of course, when your guests arrive they need something to nibble on before everyone eases into the meal you will be eating.  There are some great appetizers our there: chips & salsa, hummus, tomatoes with mozzarella, or roasted mushrooms.

I wanted something a little different, a dish that would linger on the table longer.  Our book club tends to straggle in as everyone is finished with work, and we all have vastly different schedules.  Instead, I opted for spinach and artichoke dip- it’s everyone’s favorite.  I figured it’d go well with my “all-american” theme- what restaurant in the U.S. doesn’t have this on their menu?

I put out Peasant Bread and fresh veggies with this dip.  To make the plate colorful (which I forgot to take a picture of!) I had red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers and celery.

Everyone seemed to like it, since there was barely any left!  This dip was easy and can be done a day or two ahead of time- perfect for a busy host or hostess!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Adapted from: Dashing Dish

1/4 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz spinach, chopped (fresh or defrosted and dried)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
14 oz can artichokes, drained & chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan, when it’s warm add the onion.  Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, until it is translucent.  Add the garlic, and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add spinach and cook until is heated through (about 3-5 min).  Next, add in the cream cheese, stirring frequently until it is melted.  Lastly, stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, artichokes, salt and pepper.

Transfer the dip into a oven-safe dish.

Preheat the oven to 35oºF.  Bake the dip for about 10-15 minutes, until the top begins to lightly brown.

Serve with: peasant bread, pita bread, peppers, cucumbers or celery