Archive for the ‘Starters’ Category

A Bit of Heaven, Goat Cheese with Honey

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Goat Cheese with Honey from Whole Foods

Goat Cheese with Honey from Whole Foods

Goat cheese with honey is simple and delicious.  This discovery was found at one of my favorite hang outs, the Whole Foods in Oakville, Ontario.  I am positive that most Whole Foods carry this tasty little treat – it is located in by the prepared foods near the cheese section.  

To some, this may sound like an odd flavor combination – but honestly, cheese and honey go so well together – especially goat cheese and honey.  That slight tang of the goat cheese is complimented so well with the sweetness of the honey.    

The texture of the goat cheese with honey is extremely creamy and it spreads smoothly.  It works well paired with sliced apples as well as spread straight onto a toasted baquette. 

If you don’t have a Whole Foods in your area – you can easily make a goat cheese and honey dip at home. 

Goat Cheese With Honey Dip

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces local goat cheese, bring to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons honey, I like to use a local honey

Directions:

1. Mix the goat cheese and honey together until well-blended and smooth.

2. Place the goat cheese and honey mixture in a bowl – serve with crostini, figs, apples, pears and nuts.  A truly delicious and simple recipe.

My Favorite Tomato Bruschetta

Saturday, June 13th, 2009
Tomato Bruschetta

Tomato Bruschetta

A tomato and basil bruschetta is a classic combination. It’s simple, it’s rustic – it’s delicious.  Bruschetta is a good starter to any meal.

The key to good bruschetta is a good quality baguette.  Even when you want to save time, please don’t be tempted to by the pre-cut, pre-made crostini – they are almost always stale.  Buy a baguette and slice and toast it at home. Ciabatta can also work for your bruschetta.  Here is my favorite variation – Tomato Bruschetta.

Ingredients:

  • Baguette or crusty long loaf bread, sliced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, 2 minced, 1 set aside
  • Pint of tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped ( I used a variety pack for more color)
  • Good handful of fresh basil leaves (about 1/3 cup)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling  
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.) Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Brush a bit of olive oil on each slice. Toast in oven for about 3-5 minutes or until light golden brown. After the bread is removed from the oven, rub a sliced clove of garlic on the toasted side of each slice of bread. Set bread aside.

3.) Place the seeded and chopped tomatoes in a bowl, add the minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, a good drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Use a good quality, coarse salt – a kosher or even better, maldon sea salt. It does wonders for the tomatoes.

4.) Pile basil leaves on top of one another and roll into a log. Thinly slice basil into green confetti and loosely combine with the tomato mixture.

5.) Gently combine all of the ingredients. Place your toasts around the bowl of tomato topping. Place a spoon to scoop topping in bowl and serve.

Easy Shrimp Cocktail

Monday, June 8th, 2009
Shrimp Cocktail Made Easy

Shrimp Cocktail Made Easy

There is not much better than fresh shrimp cocktail.  That is probably why you see it served at most gatherings – from small get-togethers to the most special of holiday parties.  When it’s good, it’s oh so good.   The best shrimp are sweet in flavor, with a crisp texture when you bite into them. 

Let me ask you this though….what do you think of when you hear “shrimp cocktail”?  The sad fact is that most people envision that dreaded shrimp ring.  You know it – you’ve probably bought one – the black plastic ring holding several tiny, wet, rubbery shrimp - the sad container of bland cocktail sauce.   

Next time you are planning a get together, do yourself a favor – do your guests a favor and walk right past those shrimp rings.  Instead, head straight to the seafood counter and purchase some frozen, uncooked shrimp or very, very recently thawed uncooked shrimp. 

Why frozen?  Good question!  When you see shrimp at the seafood counter that is not frozen – chances are it was at one time.  So, unless you know exactly when that shrimp was thawed, it may be best to purchase frozen uncooked shrimp and thaw when needed.  Unfrozen shrimp only have a shelf life of two days.  My advice, get to know your fish monger.  Chances are, they won’t steer you wrong.

Shrimp Cocktail

What You’ll Need:

  • large pot or skillet
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • large handful of parsley
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • shrimp/prawn of your choice. We used Hawaiian Blue Prawn.
Hawaiian Blue Prawn for Shrimp Cocktail

Hawaiian Blue Prawn for Shrimp Cocktail

Directions:

1.) Add 1 inch of water to the bottom of your large pot or skillet.  Add 1 stalk of celery, a handful of fresh parsley, a sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning  and a hearty pinch of salt to the water. 

2.) Bring the water to boiling, add your shrimp.  The shrimp will cook quickly – only for about three to four minutes – depending on size.

3.) Remove from heat and drain.  Serve hot or cold with your favorite cocktail sauce.  Our favorite cocktail sauce consists of a few tablespoons of the hottest horseradish we can find mixed with ketchup and a squeeze of lemon.

The Best Guacamole…seriously

Saturday, June 6th, 2009
 
 
 
 
 

 

Our Favorite Guacamole

Our Favorite Guacamole

I’m nervous – confused – my palms are sweaty.  Ok, maybe my palms aren’t sweaty, but I am still asking myself  ”are you sure you want to do this?”

(time lapse 10 minutes ahead)

Alright fine – I will share (give up) one of my best recipes.  It’s not like I am the only person in the world that makes good guacamole.  It just so happens that I think mine is the best. 

What’s my secret?  Perhaps it’s the red onion, or the mayonnaise or maybe the salt?  People always say that red onion has a mild, sweet flavor – I think it has a strong flavor – which adds something special to this guacamole.   The salt you use is also very important.  I love experimenting with different salts in my guacamole – salt compliments avocados so well.  To add a bit of creaminess to the guacamole I use the mayonnaise.  Sounds odd, but works so well.

This recipe will serve two or three people who really love guacamole.  Adjust accordingly to how much you will need. 

guacamole-ingredients

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • ½ of a lime, juiced
  • 1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • 1/8 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cilantro, chopped
  • good pinch of your favorite salt – I like fleur de sel in this recipe.
  • dash of Tabasco

Directions:

1.) Prep your ingredients before cutting into your avocado. The avocado can go brown very quickly without the help of the lime.

2.) Once you are prepped – place the avocado, lime juice, tomato, red onion, mayonnaise, salt and Tabasco in a large bowl.

3.) Using the back of a fork, mash all of the ingredients together until you get the consistency that you prefer. Some people like smooth, others a bit chunky. Myself, I prefer a bit chunky.

4.) Finally, fold in the cilantro – trying not to bruise the leaves too much.|

5.) Place plastic wrap over the guacamole – so that is actually touching the surface of the guacamole and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. After the guacamole has sat for an hour – go ahead and eat!

Beet & Goat’s Cheese Napoleon

Friday, April 3rd, 2009
Beet & Goat's Cheese Napoleon

Beet & Goat's Cheese Napoleon

This recipe is not only gorgeous, it is delicious.  It has all the elements I like - salty, sweet, tangy, creamy and crunchy.  It works well as a starter or in lieu of a salad.

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Super Salad – Eat This Every Day!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
Super Salad

Super Salad

Eating healthy is hard – I know this, you know this – we know this.  But there is something pretty simple and tasty that I try to serve it with every home cooked dinner, my Super Salad.  It’s got lots of healthy stuff in it, and honestly, I feel good eating it. 

You’ve heard all the Super Foods terms – antioxidants, fiber, isoflavones, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) etc, etc…  Well, this salad contains them all. I make it for two, but you can adjust accordingly. 

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