No matter the occasion, be it holiday or a weekend dinner with friends, I plan my entertaining menu from the bottom up. First, I decide on dessert (in other words, what form will the chocolate take -- cake, brownies, ice cream, cookies?), then the main course. Appetizers I leave for last, even though they come first in the meal and set the tone for the evening. Often I serve the apps right on the kitchen counter where I'm finishing cooking or plating the rest of the meal. Everyone congregates there, and I set out several appetizers to nibble before we sit down to dinner. These marinated olives can -- in fact, they should -- be made in advance; the longer they languish in the marinade, the more flavorful they become. Use your favorite green olives, with the pits in (I found Castelverano in the deli section at my regular grocery store), and be sure to rinse off the brine so it doesn't overwhelm the fresh Provencal seasonings. Serve alongside cheese, hummus, and crackers.
Continue reading "Recipe for marinated olives with garlic, pepper, orange and mint" »
When my husband Ted saw the jar of marinated mozzarella with slow-roasted tomato in the refrigerator, he laughed and said it looked like brains. In fact, it's just the opposite: a no-brainer appetizer that takes two minutes to prepare, and a few days to marinate in the refrigerator. No cooking, no fussing. During the busy holiday entertaining season, it helps to have a few easy appetizers in your repertoire. You can keep these in the refrigerator for a week, while they soak up more and more of the garlicky tomato and herb flavor. Serve the mozzarella as an appetizer, with crackers or toasted bread; or, toss the cheese with pasta for a quick weeknight dinner, or press into panini sandwiches with some peppery arugula.
Continue reading "Recipe for marinated mozzarella with garlic and slow-roasted tomatoes" »
Sides make the meal, never more so than on Thanksgiving, when there's so much pressure to serve the same family favorite recipes year after year. Yes, the favorites are wonderful and bring back memories, but updating traditions can create new memories -- and it's more fun for those of us who are the cooks. From now until the day, I'm sharing recipes for some of the sides from my own holiday menu. First up, a new appetizer on my table this year: pumpkin "hummus", made not with tahini and chickpeas, but with peanut butter and canned pumpkin purée, warmed up with smoky paprika and harissa. Serve it on pita triangles or celery sticks, and be sure save some to smear on leftover turkey sandwiches.
Continue reading "Pumpkin "hummus" recipe" »
All year long I've been on a campaign to eat more kale. You can tell by my use of the word campaign that kale is a vegetable I'm learning to love, not one I loved from the start. Like most kids I know, I don't always want to eat my dark leafy greens, so from time to time I have to hide vegetables in my own meals. This mildly spicy red pepper, kale and walnut dip -- which you also could use as a spread on sandwiches or bruschetta -- began as a random ingredient pull from the refrigerator. I had some kale that needed to be used, a bit of leftover roasted red pepper in a jar, and a few walnuts. Harissa brought them all together in a Mediterranean-inspired dip, and nobody will ever figure out that kale is the green in it. Serve this at your next party, with celery sticks, carrots, or tortilla chips.
Continue reading "Recipe for red pepper, kale and walnut dip (or spread)" »