Category:  Appetizers / Starters

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Ceviche with Carrots & Cilantro

In Appetizers / Starters, Fish & Shellfish On January 9, 2016 0 Comments

After the holidays, I’m preparing delicious, guilt-free foods.

This ceviche recipe is from Mexico. The fish is marinated in lime juice. Just add carrots, cilantro, onion, olive oil … it’s fantastic! You can serve ceviche on tostadas as a starter. Alternatively, these tostadas are perfect for a light lunch or dinner.

Active prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive prep time: 1 hour (fish & lime juice marinate in refrigerator)
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh cod or halibut fillets
Juice from 12 to 14 limes
1/2 cup chopped, red onion
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1/3 cup finely-chopped cilantro (coriander)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh jalapeño pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
12 corn tostada shells

Directions:
1. Rinse the fish fillets under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

2. Place the fillets in a 3-quart glass or porcelain bowl.

3. Using shears, make continuous cuts into the fillets until 1/2-inch pieces have formed.

4. Pour the lime juice over the fish pieces; cover bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.

5. Leave the fish and lime juice to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.

6. Meanwhile, place the chopped onion in a glass or porcelain bowl and cover it with cold water; set aside.

7. After one hour, transfer the bowl with the fish to a counter near a sink.

8. Wearing cooks’ rubber or plastic gloves, grab a handful of fish and squeeze out the excess lime juice over a sink.

9. Place the squeezed fish pieces in a clean glass or porcelain bowl.

10. Continue this process until all the fish has been drained of excess lime juice.

11. Rinse the gloves and, using the same squeezing process, repeat this technique with the onion.

12. Add the squeezed onion pieces to the fish ceviche in bowl.

13. Stir in the carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, olive oil, salt and pepper.

14. Place 3 tablespoons ceviche on a corn tostada shell. Repeat this procedure on remaining tostada shells. Serve immediately.
Wine pairing: Chilled Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Toasts with Prosciutto, Green Onions & Oregano

In Appetizers / Starters On December 25, 2015 0 Comments

Here’s an easy appetizer to go along with the bubbly on New Year’s Eve – eat, drink and be cautious.
Happy New Year!

Prep time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
18 slices toasts made from baguette bread (½-inch thick slices)
10 slices prosciutto (they should not be paper thin, but a little thicker)
6 green onions, dark green stems and bottom tips cut and discarded
3 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves removed & stems discarded
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Arugula leaves, optional (for garnish)

Directions:
1. Toast the bread slices until they are light golden brown; set them aside on a platter.

2. Coarsely chop the prosciutto slices and set aside in a bowl.

3. Meanwhile, cut the green onions in 1/8-inch thick circles; set aside in a separate bowl.

4. Chop the oregano leaves; set them aside on the cutting board.

5. With stove setting on high, heat the olive oil in a skillet. When the oil is hot, add the chopped prosciutto with onions and chopped oregano.

6. Reduce heat to medium and, with a wooden spoon, stir-fry the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes or until the onions are softened and translucent.

7. Stir in the pepper. Spread the prosciutto mixture evenly over toasts.

8. If desired, garnish with arugula leaves and serve immediately.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Flaxseed Bread with Guacamole Romano & Tomatoes

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On November 7, 2015 0 Comments

One of my favorite recipes published on this website is the Guacamole Romano.

To make this appetizer even more exciting, why not spread the guacamole on toasted Flaxseed Bread with Honey and Sesame Seeds (previously published on this website). Add some chopped tomatoes and you’ve just prepared a highly nutritional appetizer. You can even enjoy this fun food for breakfast or lunch.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 yellow tomato, pulp discarded and tomato cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 red tomato, pulp discarded and tomato cut into 1/4-inch pieces
8 to 10 slices Flaxseed Bread with Honey and Sesame Seeds, toasted
One Guacamole Romano recipe
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes; toss in a little salt, to taste, and set aside.

2. Spread a heaping tablespoon of guacamole on each toast.

3. As you prepare each toast, set it on a serving platter.

4. When all toasts have been spread with guacamole, divide the chopped tomatoes and top them evenly over the toasts.

5. Garnish toasts with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Ricotta Tzaziki Dip with Crackers

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods On July 15, 2015 1 Comment

Because I’ve been teaching art and culinary courses (which I absolutely love) all summer, I didn’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen. When I tested this amazingly quick recipe at home, my husband said it was fantastic. I think you should be the judge – enjoy!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients:
1 pound (16 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh dill weed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green onion, root and dark green tops discarded; flesh cut into 1/4-inch thick circles
Juice of 1/2 lime
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 Persian (small) cucumbers
One 6-ounce package crackers (any variety)
Fresh mint leaves (for garnish)

Directions:

1. In a 2-quart bowl, combine the ricotta, dill weed, garlic, green onion, lime, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a dash of black pepper; set aside.

2. Cut off tips from one cucumber. Peel the cucumber and cut the flesh lengthwise in half.

3. Cut each cucumber half lengthwise in half once more (you have made 4 spears.

4. Cut the spears horizontally into 1/8-inch pieces.

5. Stir the cucumber pieces into the ricotta mixture; set aside.

Assemble, Garnish & Serve the Ricotta Tzatziki Dip:

1. Transfer the crackers to a serving platter; set aside.

2. Take the remaining cucumber; cut and discard tips.

3. Do not peel the cucumber, but cut it into 1/8-inch thick circles.

4. Place each circle on a cracker.

5. Mound a small dollop of the ricotta tzatziki on each cucumber circle.

6. Garnish with fine slivers of mint leaves and/or dill weed (cut the slivers with shears).

7. Serve immediately.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Spicy Herb Cheese (Homemade)

In Appetizers / Starters, Holidays On December 12, 2014 0 Comments

Think it’s challenging to make homemade cheese? Not at all. For the holidays this year, instead of buying a ready made cheese ball, buy a cheesecloth, whole, organic milk, distilled vinegar and voila! You’ve churned out fresh, homemade cheese!

This recipe is easy since it only requires a one-hour wait time with hardly any labor. The cheese contains fresh oregano leaves and a chili pepper. This exquisite cheese has a consistency that is between burrata and ricotta. Impress them all – Happy Holidays!

Note: Red dots in the photographed cheese are chili peppers.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Wait time: 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes (for cheese curds to set)

Ingredients:
1 gallon whole, organic milk
1/2 cup distilled, white vinegar
1 cheesecloth, set in a medium-mesh, metal strainer over a medium glass or porcelain bowl or saucepot
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped Serrano or dried red chili pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves or fresh chives
1 cup walnut meats
Assorted crackers or mini-toasts and raw vegetables

Boil Milk & Let Curds Set:

1. Pour 1 gallon milk into an 6 to 8-quart sauce pot.

2. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, warm the milk until it almost comes to a boil. The milk should not boil.

3. When the milk is hot and has almost come to a boil, set the sauce pot with the milk aside on a cold burner or a trivet set on a countertop.

4. Pour the vinegar into the milk – DO NOT STIR. Set the milk/vinegar mixture in sauce pot aside to sit for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, making sure to trim the cheesecloth so that you can push it down into a strainer set over a bowl or sauce pot; allow an overhang of about 8 inches.

6. After 10 minutes, you will see curds setting in the milk/vinegar mixture.

7. At this time, gently pour the milk-vinegar mixture into the strainer set with a cheesecloth over bowl or sauce pot.

8. If the sauce pot underneath the strainer is not large enough to take all the liquid, pour only half of the milk-vinegar mixture over cheesecloth.

9. It will take a few minutes for half of the liquid to go through completely.

10. When half of the liquid has gone through the cheesecloth and if bowl underneath does not look large enough to take all the liquid, set the strainer over another bowl or sauce pot.

11. Pour the remaining liquid over the curds in strainer set over bowl or sauce pot.

12. This procedure may take a few minutes.

13. When all the liquid (this is the whey) has been drained and collected in the 2 bowl(s) or sauce pot(s), transfer all the whey to a large sauce pot.

14. Add the salt, black pepper and chopped chili pepper to the whey.

15. Immediately pour they whey with the salt, pepper and chili pepper over the curds in strainer.

16. You may have to wait a few minutes for part of the whey to go through the curds in strainer.

17. As the whey goes through, keep adding the remaining whey mixture until you have poured all of it over the curds.

18. Set the curds/strainer aside to drain for 1 hour.

Form the Cheese & Refrigerate:

1. After 1 hour, scatter the chopped oregano leaves over cheese curds.

2. Lift the sides of the cheesecloth, bringing it up and around the cheese curds and slightly tighten it. If the cheese curds still appear wet, let them finish draining for an additional 10 minutes.

3. After 10 minutes, tighten the cheesecloth around the cheese, gathering it at the center top.

4. Carefully peel off the cheesecloth from the cheese and place the cheese in a 5 to 6-inch round bowl lined with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap has a 6-inch overhang.

5. Tighten the plastic wrap up and around the cheese and secure it with twine or an elastic band.

6. Cover the cheese in bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

Unmold the Cheese & Serve:

1. TO UNMOLD THE CHEESE: Carefully peel off and unwrap the top part of the plastic wrap.

2. Open up the plastic wrap around the cheese, creating an overhang outside the bowl.

3. Place serving plate over cheese and quickly invert it.

4. Remove the bowl and peel off the plastic wrap.

5. Decorate the cheese with walnuts and serve with crackers, mini-toasts or celery and carrots.

Note: Homemade cheese will keep, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated, up to 5 days.

Text and Photograph ©2014 Nancy DeLucia Real