Sides and Appetizers

Hazelnut Pesto

Posted on Updated on


Alright, I know that I’ve posted a pesto recipe before.  But this one is different because I used hazelnuts!  Plus I fiddled with the ratios on this one to get a more standardized version.  If you’ve made a pesto before, you understand how easy making this can be.  But you also understand how important it is to use high quality ingredients.  If anything you use is of a lesser quality, you will definitely notice it.

DSC_1469

Now using hazelnuts in this recipe can be slightly problematic, since they do have those pesky husks on them (I am not sure that terminology is right).  It does take some effort to get those things off, but I think it’s worth it.  This recipe makes a big batch.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 c. hazelnuts
  • 5 c. fresh basil leaves, packed tight
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  Roast the hazelnuts in either a preheated 350 degree F oven or in a pan over medium heat.  Roast them until they become fragrant and slightly browned.  Transfer them to a plate and cover with a light towel and allow them to cool.  While they are covered they can steam which helps release them from the husks.  Now rub the nuts with the towel to clean off husks and set aside.

DSC_1476

2.  In a food processor, place hazelnuts and pulse to chop for a few seconds.  Add the basil and pulse again.  Do the same when you add the garlic.

3.  With the food processor running. drizzle in the olive oil to combine.  Add the lemon and pulse for a few seconds.  Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Just a little shot of pesto!
Just a little shot of pesto!

Notes — I made a batch of Garlic Confit and added a little bit of the infused oil into the pesto.  I didn’t put too much because I just wanted a hint of the flavor.  Maybe I used a couple of tablespoons. . .  I like putting lemon in my pestos which most people don’t.  Maybe it makes it too much like a gremolata for folks.  I just like the brightness it adds, plus it helps keep everything green. . . Roasting hazelnuts is made more idiot-proof because of their husks.  The husks help protect the nuts from burning so even if you get a little charring on the husk, the nut may actually be just fine.

Friday Foodie Funnies, ep. 4

Posted on Updated on


Now it’s probably too late in the season for corn, but getting some fresh corn is absolutely amazing.  If you’re still in season, head down to your farmer’s/farmers market and get yourself some.  Here’s an old post of mine with a recipe for some corn on the grill.

I'm not 100% sure that I agree, but I do love fresh corn!
I’m not 100% sure that I agree, but I do love fresh corn!

And just a reminder for folks, these are just some images that I either find on the Interwebs or that have been sent to me.  So I do not own them and will gladly take them down if it becomes problematic.  Just don’t be jerks about it.  You know who you are.

I’m on Facebook, too!  Happy Friday, y’all!

Steamed Mussels with Andouille and White Wine

Posted on Updated on


Wow.  It is definitely weird how much having a new full-time job affects your life.  There’s a whole new schedule to figure out, there are weeks of intense training, there’s tests, new policies and procedures, new people, new office. . . well, you get the point.  So my mind has been preoccupied lately, which explains the dearth of postings lately.  Sometimes you just have to make a paid gig a priority!  But I am sad that I’m probably gonna have to close up the bakery at this point.  Just a sign o’ the times!  Maybe I’ll just go super-super small-scale, although there is a limit to the amount of downsizing that you can do, especially if your workforce consists of one.

I could eat this everyday!

So this is my attempt at achieving some sense of normalcy — a return to blogging, a return to working out, a return to volleyball (that is, if my injuries would stop lingering).  I would like to stress the word “attempt”.  It may take me some time to really figure out how to balance everything.  What makes it more challenging is that my work schedule isn’t exactly always set in stone.  Eh, it’s a work in progress, much like everything else in life.

Anyhoo. . . on to the recipe!  Now mussels are one of my most favorite things to eat.  Just throw them into a pan with some white wine and dinner is ready in like 5 minutes!  Really.  It’s not the most user-friendly, mainly because you have a whole bunch of shells to deal with when your done.  Which is why I try to schedule meals like this the day before trash day.  I don’t need bits of shellfish lingering in the trash for several days.

Now that I’ve gotten that lovely image out of the way we can get back to the recipe.  It’s relatively simple and it’s easily changed to fit whatever ingredients you have around.  This time around I had some onions, garlic, celery, Roma tomatoes, and some basil.  Throw in the little bit of Andouille that I had bought specifically for this and you get one of my most favoritest dishes.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
  • 1/4 lb. andouille sausage
  • 1 rib of celery, 1/4 in. diagonal slice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c. basil, chopped
  • 1-2 c. white wine
  • salt and pepper, to taste

1.  In a large pan, sauté the Andouille for about 3 minutes.  Add the celery and onion and sauté for about 2 minutes.

2.  Add the tomatoes, garlic, and half of the basil.  Cook for another 2 minutes.

3.  Throw in the mussels and white wine and cover.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Then remove the cover, stir the mussels, and return the lid.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

4.  Top with remaining basil.  Serve over pasta, or rice, or with crackers, or with a straw (or just slurp it out of the bowl).

Notes — If some of the mussels don’t open, throw those out and don’t eat them.  Bad things might happen if you don’t!. . .  Don’t forget to visit Jereme’s Kitchen and Daisy Cakes on Facebook. . .

Grilled Beets with Micro Greens and Feta

Posted on


Gonna slice me up some beets

Beets.  Now who doesn’t like beets?  Actually, I didn’t for the longest time (skip this if you already know this story :) ).  The taste was odd to me — kinda like an earthier carrot.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But it just seemed weird.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t exposed to them as a child.  Actually I don’t think Brooklyn had any beets at the time.  Sure, that’s probably not accurate and my memory is somewhat foggy.  After all, I was only like five years old at the time and that was like 100 years ago.

I admit, I did not dress the greens on this one

But I digress… This I served as a side, but it is easy to turn this into a full vegetarian course.  And again, this is hard for me to quantify because I grilled some beets and served it with a handful of greens and topped it with some feta so ingredients are just a guestimation.  This is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy; here’s kinda what you need:

Just another way of arranging the beets.  I did dress these greens.
  • 1 beet, sliced about 1/4″ thick
  • vegetable oil, for brushing the beets
  • 1 c. micro greens or baby greens (I used daikon and chard)
  • 1/4 c. feta, crumbled
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • salad dressing, to taste

1.  Prepare your grill, as needed (again, I use hardwood charcoal).  Brush the beets with the vegetable oil on both sides.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.  Grill the beets until tender over direct heat, about 2-3 minutes a side.  Remove from the heat to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly dress the greens

3.  Arrange the beets on the plate.  Top with the dressed greens.  Sprinkle with the feta crumbles.  Add salt and pepper if you like.

Yay for beets!

Notes — for the dressing, I just drizzled some olive oil and lemon juice on top of the greens to dress them

Grilled Corn with Radish Butter

Posted on Updated on


Mmmm, tasty!

Corn, a grill, and compound butter.  How can that combination be wrong?  I love grilling corn and I’m on the side of the spectrum that grills the corn without the husks on.  In my opinion, if you grill with the husks on you’re really not grilling the corn but steaming it.  I, for one, like a nice, smoky char.  And I like nice, simple, summer recipes.  You can’t get much simpler than this — corn, butter, radishes.  That’s essentially all you need.  I just add some herbs for some additional flavor (just some basil and parsley, but use whatever you want).

We were grilling those peppers, too. Can’t waste that fire on the grill!
Oooooo — action shot!  Threw that squash on the grill, as well.

I would serve this as a side, but it is easy to get full from this because you can get carried away.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 -2 radishes, chopped
  • chopped herbs, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 – 8 ears of corn, husks removed
  • vegetable oil

1.  Prepare your grill (I use charcoal).  Meanwhile, combine the butter, radishes, herbs, salt, & pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Brush the corn with the oil and place on the grill over direct heat.  Grill until nicely browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Turn the ears as needed to cook evenly.  Transfer to a serving plate.

3.  After the corn is removed from the grill, brush with the radish butter.  Sprinkle on a little salt & pepper if you like and serve.

Don’t know why I like this shot
That chopper makes things so much easier.

Notes — You can bush the radish butter on the corn while it’s on the grill, but I’d wait until the last couple of minutes because the radishes could burn. . . You can keep the husks on.  Peel them back and tie them to make a handle.  Just keep the husks off the heat — hang them over the edge of the grill. . . Make some extra radish butter — it’s great on a nice toasty baguette!

Aerial shot
Built-in handles!

Cranberry Peanut Granola

Posted on Updated on


So I’m planning on doing some hiking soon and I was thinking to myself, “Waterlily, what would be something tasty that you can take on your expeditions?”  And that’s when granola popped into my head.  It’s something that’s good to eat when you’re on the go, plus you can eat it on its own or on top of stuff like yogurt, ice cream, cobblers, and the like.

I use a simple formula here:  4 cups of stuff + 1/4 cup of vegetable oil + 1/4 cup of honey.  That’s just for the mixture that goes into the oven.  You can add as much fruit as you like afterwards, like raisins (yuk!), or dried hibiscus flowers, or dried apricots, etc.  Just don’t bake the fruit in the oven because it will burn.  This recipe is very simple, and I love it when things are simple!  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 c.  peanuts
  • 1 c. shredded coconut (I used the unsweetened big shavings)
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c. dried cranberries

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or foil.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, toss the oatmeal, peanuts, coconut, oil, honey, and salt to combine.  Pour onto the pan into a single layer and bake in the oven.

3.  Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally while in the oven, until the granola is golden.

4.  When done, scrape the pan to loosen the granola and allow to cool in the pan.  After it has cooled, mix in the cranberries and store in an air-tight container at room temperature.  Should last a month, but I have no clue — a batch usually lasts me a couple of days before it gets eaten up.

Notes — You can mix things up by changing the ingredients.  Try different nuts, different fruits, add spices.  The possibilities are endless. . . If you are still getting some moisture left over from the oil and honey, try baking at 325 degrees F for about 30 minutes

Kale and Herb Pesto

Posted on


I had a whole lot of kale to use I was thinking how could I make this without having to make kale chips. When I made this, it was unseasonably hot here in SE Michigan (and 85 degrees F is very hot for that time of year — I think it was in March) and I didn’t want to turn my oven on unless I really really had to. So I saw the title of a post for a Killer Kale Pesto and wanted to give my take a shot. I didn’t want to go to the grocery so I wanted to use what I had already. Lucky for me I had everything I needed. And I was surprised at some of the similarities between what was in the recipe and what I had in my freezer.

Getting ready to pulse
Got some extra cheese?

Some of you may already know, making things like pesto are very organic and free form for me. I really don’t have specifics here since I go by feel and what the pesto looks like. And with this one, I really like the tarragon in here. It adds a nice subtle twist. And the toasted pecans give a nice butteriness. Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 c. toasted pepitas
  • 1 c. toasted pecans
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 4-5 sprigs tarragon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan

1. Place the nuts in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Cut the stems from the kale and cut the spine out of the leaves. Coarsely chop and place in the food processor. Do the same for the parsley. Strip the leaves from the tarragon and place in the food processor as well.

2. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and the olive oil. Process until smooth. Fold in the parmesan. Can last about a week in the refrigerator. You can freeze them in an ice cube tray to have quick portions of pesto that you can just add to warm pastas and such.

3.  Don’t forget to visit me on Facebook!

Quick cocktail party appetizers #2 — Cheese and Endive

Posted on Updated on


This is round #2 of my cocktail party appetizers.  Now I don’t necessarily recommend making all of these at once, especially if it’s just you hosting because there is a lot of assembly involved with everything I made (check out my last post for the full listing).  Even if all the prep work is done, getting things to look right takes time.  But taking these in small steps and you should be alright.  Or you could be better at planning than me even though timing really was a non-issue since everyone was at least an hour late!

Anyhoo, the  quick recipes in this post revolve around goat cheese.  One is a double cheese Napoleon and the other is Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese.  What makes this easy is that the goat cheese filling is the same for both!  So I don’t know if this then actually qualifies for 2 recipes, but I’m going with it.

Endive with goat cheese.

This serving tray seemed like it was designed especially with this dish in mind.

The big step here is making the herbed goat cheese.  Which, again, is also a step for the napoleons, so essentially one step = 2 appetizers.  And it’s not even a big step — you just mix everything in a bowl.  This one I adapted from Martha (again!  but that’s a good thing!).  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 11-oz. pkg. goat cheese
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 T. chopped herbs (I used oregano and tarragon)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 4 heads endive, washed and separated into leaves

1.  In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese, cream, and oil until smooth.  You can use a food processor if you like or even a hand mixer, but I didn’t want to have to wash extra things afterwards.

2.  Gently mix in the herbs, salt, & pepper.  Place a teaspoon on the individual endive spears and serve.

Double Cheese Napoleons.

These definitely look pretty. Tasted pretty good, too!

The two cheeses here are parmesan and goat cheese.  You make tuiles of parmesan and have some herbed goat cheese in between the layers.  I am not really sure how I came up with this one, but i really wanted something with some height.  These look a little rough, but again, I felt pressed for time since I had several things to assemble.  No real specifics here; I just grated some parmesan and kept on making crisps until I ran out.  You can use any extra ones as croutons on salads or in soups.  Or just eat them as is.  Here’s what you need:

  • herbed goat cheese (see above)
  • grated parmesan

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Drop 1 t. grated parmesan onto Silpat lined baking sheets.  Slightly flatten the cheese and bake for about 5 minutes or until nice and golden.

3.  Allow to cool for about a minute and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4.  Assemble napoleons starting with a parmesan crisp.  Place a small amount of the goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon.  Gently press another crisp on top and repeat until you have three layers of each.  You can put a garnish of herbs on top, but I just served them as they are.  If you want to be extra fancy, you can use a pastry bag with a star tip to place the goat cheese.

Quick cocktail party appetizers #1 — Tartlets and Bourbon

Posted on


So I’ve been a little preoccupied lately (and that’s why, but that’s because I’ve been busy planning a cocktail party).  But I’m back now and these are some of the things that I came up with.  I wasn’t sure what to serve even got some suggestions from other bloggers like The Breakfast Bachelor (I ran out of time to make his suggestion of Rosemary Sweet Potato Fries).  Since it was a cocktail party I wanted to do things that were easy to eat — finger foods, really.  Here’s what I had decided on serving (in addition to 2 big main course type things [pulled pork sandwiches and tater tot casserole] which I hope to discuss soon) — smoked salmon tartlets, leek and artichoke tartlets, double cheese napoleons, salami crisps, endive with herbed goat cheese, chocolate dream cake — black forest variation, Deviled Eggs, gougère, and Kale – radish – fennel salad.  Unfortunately I don’t have pictures for everything, but I do for most things.

Alright so it wasn't a cocktail party -- it was a bourbon tasting. This is what we had. And I am aware that Rye is not Bourbon.

Here, I’ll focus on the tartlets.  These are easy and quick to make.  If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll already know how to make the shells (so visit me on Facebook).  But since that includes only 13 of you, I will go over it here.  This idea I adapted from Martha, but she used mini cupcake pans and cut the wrappers into small circles.  I don’t bother with cutting and I use a standard cupcake / muffin pan.

Such a quick step. These can last on the counter in an airtight container for about 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months or so.

Here’s what you need:

  • one package wonton wrappers (square or round), mine had 4 dozen in it
  • vegetable oil

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush both sides of the wrapper with oil and stuff it into the cups of a muffin tin.

2.  Bake for between 8 – 10 minutes until golden.  If you use a darker pan, it will darken faster.  Allow to cool on a rack before filling.

Artichoke and Leek Tartlets.

For the artichoke and leek tartlets:

This is a quick and easy version of an artichoke and leek lasagna that I make.  Here’s what you need:

  • 4 leeks
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts; chopped, drained, and rinsed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 – 3 T. olive oil

1.  Cut leeks in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4 in slices.  Soak those in water to make sure that you clean out any sediment and then spin it dry.

2.  Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the dried leeks.  Stir to coat; add salt and pepper.

3.  Cover and cook for five minutes on medium heat.  Uncover and raise the heat to medium high and sauté for about 10 minutes or until tender.  Add the artichokes off the heat and allow mixture to cool.

4.  Spoon into prepared wonton cups.

Smoked Salmon Tartlets. I probably could've sliced to pickle thinner but they still tasted good.

For the smoked salmon tartlets:

No real recipe here.  I just made a batch of my smoked fish spread #1, but omitted the capers.  Instead I put slivers of pickle on top.  It would have been better if I used cornichons, but I don’t normally have those in my fridge.  Besides, those are just small pickles anyway.

The tartlets went quick. Good thing I had lots of extra shells.

Roasted Fennel and Carrots

Posted on Updated on


So I guess I took a little bit more time off than I thought.  But I needed some time to figure out some business decisions.  Anyhoo, I digress. . . I love fennel.  I really don’t use it as much as I should.  Some folks might not be even all that familiar with the vegetable.  It kinda looks like a cross between an onion and celery with a frilly wig.  Honestly, I think it sorta looks like a muppet (I do have muppets on the brain, after seeing the new Muppet movie and watching A Muppet Christmas Carol all during the holidays.  BTW, I recommend both movies!).

What’s nice about fennel is that you can really can use all parts of it — the bulb, the greens, the flowers, the seeds, even the pollen.  In this recipe, I just use the greens and the bulb.  This recipe is great as a side or a main dish, if you’re feeling vegetarian.  I love how roasting these vegetables really brings out the sweetness and intensifies the flavors.  But that is the case when you roast any vegetable really.  So why not roast some vegetables for dinner?  It’s easy to make, there’s not a lot of clean-up, and you get a wonderful flavorful dish!  Now I don’t really know where I got this recipe; I know I jotted down some notes on some paper but the principles are pretty much the same with any roasted vegetable recipe.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 – 4 fennel bulbs, with some of the greens reserved.
  • 5 – 6 carrots, sliced on the diagonal
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line two half-sheet pans with parchment or some silpat.  Place the two racks in the oven on the top and the bottom racks.  Now preheat the sheet pans in the oven while you prep the veg.

2.  Trim the tops off the fennel so you just have the bulbs.  Cut the bulbs in quarters.  Then, cut the quarters into thirds on the diagonal so that each wedge has some of the base of the vegetable.  Toss the fennel with some olive oil to coat.  Do the same with the carrots.

3.  Spread the fennel on one of the baking sheets; spread the carrots on the other.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place one sheet on the top rack, the other on the bottom.  Roast for 30 minutes, turn the vegetables and then reverse the sheets.   Roast for another 30 minutes.  Chop the fennel fronds and set aside.

4.  Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish.  Toss with fennel fronds and serve.

Notes — Again, this is one of those recipes where these are estimates.  Essentially, you just want enough of the vegetables to cover the sheet pans without overcrowding them.  If you put too much, they will just steam and not roast, which is fine, if you want steamed vegetables. . . I like to toss the vegetables in a zip top bag.  It helps with the clean up and it also helps limit the amount of olive oil you use because really can coat everything with a much smaller amount by closing the top and tossing the vegetables around.  Plus if you don’t want to be wasteful, you can wash out the bag and keep it for a later use. . . Be careful — fennel can be gritty so be sure to wash them.  They’re not as bad as leeks though. . .