And, no, I don’t mean the kind on your phone. I mean the kind you serve at the beginning of a meal. You may not know it, but I’m a big fan of appetizers. When we go out to restaurants, I usually order an appetizer instead of an entree. There’s a couple of reasons for this, actually. First, I don’t have a big appetite, so I usually can’t finish a whole entree. (And, yes, you can take it home, but sometimes I just don’t want to.) Secondly, I’ve learned from watching cooking shows, that a lot of chefs feel constrained by entrees. They feel like they have to supply a piece of meat, a carb, and a veg. But with apps, they get to play around and make what they want. So that’s why I like apps, they fit my appetite and they have more exciting options to taste. At home, I love the idea of a party where you just serve a bunch of apps; that way you get to taste a lot of different dishes without feeling too full. So today, I want to share some tasty app recipes that I recently got to try.
This first app is a spicy little nibble that’s perfect to whet your appetite. I made these for one of hubby’s grandfathers as a father’s day present, but I snuck a few nibbles before packaging them up. They’re spicy with just a hint of the maple syrup.
Spicy Maple Pecans (from Everyday with Rachael Ray)
1/4 c. sugar (I left this out since G’pa likes spicy food and is a diabetic. If you don’t like as much spice, feel free to use the extra sugar.)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 c. pecans (The original recipe calls for walnuts, but G’pa likes pecans best.)
1. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, and spices. Pour the maple syrup in a small bowl and set it aside.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, toast the nuts over medium-high heat, stirring constantly til hot, about 5 minutes. Immediately add the nuts to the syrup and toss to coat. Stir in the spice mix til evenly coated. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.
Next on the menu for today are these tasty, spicy crackers. Mine weren’t very crunchy, so next time I’ll slice them even thinner. Still, they were very tasty with plenty of cheese and spice. The hubby and I both found them very hard to stop eating.
Parmesan Icebox Crackers (from Everyday with Rachael Ray)
1 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. ground sage
4 tbsp. chilled, cubed butter
1 c. shredded Parmesan
1/4 c. heavy cream
1. In the food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, cayenne, and sage til combined. Pulse in the butter til just combined. Pulse in the Parmesan, then with the machine running, add in the cream and process til the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
2. Turn the dough out onto a foot long sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a 4 inch long log; roll it up and seal it. Chill for at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Slice the log into 1/4 inch thick slices and place them 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or til golden brown. Let cool.
But of course I saved the best for last. As soon as I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, I knew I’d need to make them soon. They take more work than your average garlic toast and they’re not at all healthy, but that just makes them an extra special treat. They have a ton of flavor and disappeared quickly from the dinner that I took them to.
Garlic Confit Toast (from the April 2015 issue of Bon Appetit)
1 head peeled garlic
1/2 c. butter
1 c. grated Parmesan
2 tsp. chopped oregano
1 tsp. lemon zest (This gave it an interesting flavor, but you can leave it out if you want.)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1. In a small covered saucepan, cook together the garlic and butter over medium-low heat til the garlic is golden brown and very soft, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
2. Once cool, add in the Parmesan and spices and mash into a paste. Season with salt.
3. Preheat the broiler and slice the baguette in half lengthwise, then crosswise. Broil the bread, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet til golden brown, about 2 minutes. Cool the bread slightly, then top it with the garlic paste. Broil til the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes.
What are your feelings toward appetizers?
Before I go, I almost forgot to tell you about a great deal that’s coming up. On July 10, Krispy Kreme is celebrating their 78th anniversary by offering a great deal. You can buy a dozen glazed donuts, then receive the 2nd dozen for just 78 cents!