Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Zucchini Mini Quiche

June 23, 2012

The zucchini recipes just keep coming.  This is a Weight Watchers recipe.  Turns out these are the perfect 1 point breakfast or snack food.  This recipe has managed to avoid the overly egg-y texture of most quiche.  These are light and fluffy and yummy.  Make a whole bunch and freeze them for later!

The recipe says that it makes 24 mini quiche.  I only made up half a recipe and ended up with 22 mini quiche.  I left out a couple of things because I decided they weren’t necessary.  These have no sugar and no basil.  I thought about using parsley, but I didn’t feel like chopping it.  Other than that I followed the recipe.  I did choose to grate the zucchini and the onion.  I think you get a better texture and it’s a ton faster than chopping.  The directions say to stir after spooning the mix into each cup.  It’s kind of a pain, but I think it’s important.  If you don’t then all the flour will settle to the bottom. 

The only thing slightly annoying about the directions is that they tell you to cook these until the bottoms are golden brown.  I don’t know about yours, but my mini muffin pans aren’t glass.  I can’t see what color the bottoms are.  I baked these in my counter top oven so I had to bake them on separate racks.  Probably that extended the cooking time a little.  I ended up baking the pan on the top rack about 18 minutes.  After I took those out I moved the pan from the bottom to the top and baked them another 3-4 minutes.  Worked out just fine.

Next time I’ll add some oregano and maybe some lemon zest, but I’ll leave out the added salt.  The parmesan is salty enough without adding any extra salt.  And next time I’ll make the whole recipe because these are really good!

Good? Yep.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? Yep.
Special shopping? Nope.

Zucchini Mini Quiche

Ingredients

1 medium uncooked zucchini, grated
1 small uncooked onion(s), grated
1/2 cup(s) shredded Parmesan cheese, about 1 oz
3 large egg(s)
1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat two 24-hole nonstick mini muffin pans with cooking spray (or use just one pan and cook in two batches).
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon egg mixture into each prepared hole, making sure to stir mixture after filling each one.
Bake until bottoms are golden brown and quiche are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove pan(s) from oven and let quiche cool for a few minutes in pan(s); remove quiche to a wire rack to cool more (and repeat with remaining ingredients if necessary). Yields 1 quiche per serving.

Pimiento Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

June 17, 2012

Whew, it’s been a whirlwind weekend in the kitchen.  Last night was potluck so I’ll start there.  Knowing that I had the family coming for Father’s Day dinner today I signed up to bring an appetizer for potluck.  We’ve taken to having themes for potluck.  This month was gluten free month.  Gluten free isn’t so hard to do when the vegetables are as wonderful as they are this time of year.  It was a wonderful meal of lamb roast, lentil salad and chocolate chip meringues for dessert. I kicked it all off with these lovely little tomatoes.

The challenge for me was how to serve up the pimiento cheese without using bread or crackers.  Yes, I could have used gluten-free crackers, and there are some good ones, but I was trying to avoid investing in a special food product.  I found these little ‘strawberry tomatoes.’  They’re the perfect size for something like this.  Bigger than grape or cherry tomatoes, but lots smaller than a roma.  I’m hoping that maybe my Juliet tomatoes will fit the bill later this summer.  Anyway, I halved the tomatoes and scooped out the innards.  A scant teaspoon of pimiento cheese in each one and that’s it.  Yum.  The perfect delivery system for my famous pimiento cheese.

I’ve made the pimiento cheese before so I won’t reprint it here.  Here’s the link.  I did this a touch differently.  I grated this cheese with the food processor instead of a box grater in the interest of time.  I left out the cayenne this  time, but added a little garlic powder.  I left out the white cheddar/mayonnaise fluff and stuck with straight mayonnaise this time.  Again, I was long on chores and short on hours this weekend.  Two things that are non-negotiable:  Duke’s mayonnaise (I’ll give you a pass if it’s not available in your geographic area, but only then) and a teaspoon of smoked paprika.  It really does make this something special.

These went like hotcakes at potluck.  They weren’t as cute in reality as they were in my mind, but it’s an awfully convenient way to serve pimiento cheese to a group.  And it’s leaps and bounds better than stuffing celery!

Crispy Zucchini Coins

June 13, 2012

I mentioned in the previous post that there was still some squash left from last Saturday’s farmers’ market trip.  And that’s still true, but I did use one of the zucchini.  I could have fried these just as easily, but other than the obvious health benefit to baking them, I was just too tired to clean up from frying.  It’s a little messy.  With the baking method I was able to get these made up and in the oven and then make the rest of dinner while they cooked.  Aren’t they pretty?

Not much of a recipe to this.  It’s a 2 stage breading set up:  egg white and bread crumbs.  Dip, dredge, spray, bake.  It’s a little labor intensive, but pretty mindless kitchen work.  This is something your kids could absolutely help with.  It you want to make them look more like french fries to appeal to the anti-vegetable element in your family feel free to cut them in strips.  Just remember that they need to be thin or they won’t get crispy.

I cut these coins a little thicker than I would normally because I was more interested in being able to taste the zucchini than I was in having really crispy rounds.  The breading got cripy and the inside was the perfect crisp tender.  Yum.  The only thing I can recommend to improve these is a little marinara sauce for dipping, or Ranch if you prefer.  Enjoy!

Good? A darn good substitute for the greasy, chain restaurant appetizer
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? You bet.
Special shopping? No.

Crispy Zucchini Coins

Ingredients

1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups thinly sliced zucchini (about 1 pound)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.
Combine first 3 ingredients; stir well.
Dip the zucchini slices in egg whites; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place zucchini in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Turn zucchini over; bake an additional 15 minutes or until outside is crispy and browned.

Flatbread with Shrimp and White Bean Hummus

June 10, 2012

After making the white bean hummus yesterday and wondering if the flavors would seem more balanced if I made the whole recipe I decided to give it a shot.  Gotta say, this recipe is a huge pain in the butt for something that’s essentially fancy pizza.  They want you to make the flatbread, make hummus, cook shrimp, caramelize onions and melt leeks.  Good Lord.  I bought the flatbread.  I made the rest though.  Glad I made the hummus yesterday.  You can do the onions and leeks ahead too if you want.  I did them this afternoon so at least I had a little time to relax before my guest showed up for dinner.  Of course some of my relaxation time went toward making dinner for tomorrow night, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that.

So, my advice is to do this in parts.  Make the hummus the day before.  The flavors will be better.  Caramelize the onions and saute the leeks early in the day.  Start the onions first.  The recipe says you can get them done in 12 minutes, but that only works in Epicuriousland.  In a normal kitchen it takes about 45 minutes.  While the onions are caramelizing you’ll have time to slice, rinse and saute the leeks until they’re soft.  Roast the shrimp just before you’re ready for dinner.  I did mine in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Undercook them just a touch since they’ll be going back in the oven. 

I didn’t make subsitutions here.  I did leave out the lemon juice, but only because I forgot it.  I served the arugula on the side instead of on the flatbread.  Again, because I forgot.  I didn’t dice the onions or the leeks.  I like caramelized onions in ribbons and leeks in rounds so I cut them that way.  I think it’s prettier.  And I reduced the cheese by more than 2/3.  Use a good quality parmesan and you won’t need too much.  Still, the recipe remained in tact.  And it was good.

Good call on making up the whole thing.  The hummus didn’t taste nearly so sharp when served with everything else.  In fact, it was exactly right.  The onions are sweet and the leeks are green and the shrimp are actually just a touch neutral.  Yum.  I used flatbread instead of naan and saved myself a bunch of calories.  A friend and I split the flatbread you see above and had a little arugula salad on the side.  It was a filling dinner and left room for the yummy strawberry streusel that she brought!

It would be easy to cut this in smaller pieces and use it as a starter for some lovely Mediterranean meal.  The minus is that it has a lot of steps and takes a long time.  The plus is that you have enough of the toppings to get you through a couple of meals.  I’ll be eating this a couple of more times this week so parceled out it probably makes the time worth it.  You just have to be willing to put the time in to begin with.

Good? Definitely good.  And got a thumbs up from my guest also.
Easy? Not so much. It gets an intermediate. If I’d made the bread too it would be ‘difficult.’
Good for company? In a casual way. It’s kinda fancy, but not elegant.
Special shopping? Nope. Everything from the farmers’ market or the Kroger.

Flatbread with Shrimp and White Bean Hummus

Ingredients

For hummus:
5 to 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

For caramelized onions:
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 medium Spanish onions, cut into medium dice
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For melted leeks:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and cut into medium dice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for brushing flatbread
1 lemon, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
1 pound small, sweet shrimp such as Caribbean Laughing Bird*, peeled and cooked
2-3 ounces Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about ½ cup)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup mixed micro greens, such as baby arugula

Directions

Make hummus:
Transfer garlic cloves to 6-inch square of foil, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt, and wrap tightly. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Unwrap and let cool. DO AHEAD: Roasted garlic can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in airtight container, up to 3 days.

Squeeze garlic cloves from skin into food processor. Add white beans, remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, tahini, rosemary, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and purée until smooth, about 2 minutes. DO AHEAD: Hummus can be prepared ahead and refrigerated in airtight container up to 3 days.

Make caramelized onions:
In large, heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, melt butter. Add onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until slightly transparent and starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and 4 teaspoons water and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 12 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, then transfer to medium bowl to cool. DO AHEAD: Onions can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in airtight container, up to 3 days.

Make melted leeks:
In large, heavy saucepan over moderate heat, heat olive oil. Add leeks and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, then transfer to medium bowl to cool. DO AHEAD: Leeks can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in airtight container, up to 3 days.

Assemble and serve:
Position rack near bottom of oven and top with pizza stone or heavy baking sheet. Preheat oven to 450°F for 1 hour.

Brush each flatbread with olive oil and spread with hummus. Scatter onions and leeks over and top with lemon slices and shrimp. Scatter with cheese, then sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.

Transfer 1 or more flatbreads to preheated pizza stone and bake in batches until toppings are warmed through and cheese has melted, 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer flatbreads to large cutting board and top with micro greens. Using very sharp knife, cut into 6 thin slices and serve immediately.

White Bean Hummus with Rosemary

June 10, 2012

I love hummus.  Mostly it’s been one of those things that I loathe buying because it’s cheap to make and comparatively expensive to buy.  The problem is that my homemade hummus has never been remotely as good as what I can buy.  This recipe has real possibilities for turning that tide.  I’ll tell you that the most amazing hummus I’ve ever had is made by the mom of a friend of mine in Northern Virginia.  This isn’t in the same class as that, but it’s darn good.

I think my problem in the past is that my hummus hasn’t had enough liquid in it so it’s always been too dense.  Too much oil and not enough water.  The recipe calls for lemon juice and vinegar.  The vinegar was a first for me.  I think next time I’d sub out half of the vinegar for water.  In fairness it’s meant to be served on flatbread with shrimp and caramelilzed onions.  Served that way it probably balances the other flavors quite nicely, but it’s a little much for snacking on with grape tomatoes.  Also bear in mind that rosemary is a strong flavor.  If you like it, great.  If it’s not your favorite you might use only half of what’s called for here.  I think the sweet, herby flavor of the rosemary is important to balance the tartness of the hummus, but you could use parsley instead.

This recipe gets 5 stars for texture and maybe 3 1/2 for taste.  White beans are softer and creamier than chickpeas so it’s easier to get a fluffy texture.  I think with just a few adjustments I can get to 5 stars on flavor too.  First, there’s too much vinegar.  Easy to fix with a water substitution for half.  And then there’s the garlic.  If I’d read the recipe all the way through I would have seen that it calls for roasting the garlic.  That mellows the flavor significantly.  Five large cloves of raw garlic is bound to add a kick to any recipe.  Of course it also means that other people might not want to be near you.  A little less rosemary and this will be perfect for snacking. 

The great thing about hummus is that it’s pretty good for you.  (This recipe has only 1 tablespoon of olive oil).  I love no guilt snacking.  It’s also perfect for taking places.  It can sit out at picnics or potlucks without spoiling.  But then it’s usually eaten before it sits very long!

Good? Good, on the way to great
Easy? Yep, a can opener and a food processor is all you need.
Good for company? You bet.
Special shopping? Nope.

White Bean Hummus with Rosemary

Ingredients

5 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Directions

Add all ingredients to a food processor. Puree until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Squash and Chorizo Stuffed Portobellos

May 24, 2012

Yep, still working through the farmers’ market produce.  It’s just so hard to pass up any of that beautiful produce!  Maybe I need to cut back on my Saturday purchases and start hitting the Wednesday market to fill in the latter part of the week.  So, I had a small yellow squash and 3 large portobello caps.  (We won’t talk about the huge amount of swiss chard that’s still in the drawer).  You might recall the chorizo from the Portuguese Noodle Bowl a couple of weeks ago too.  I had 2 sausages, cooked and frozen, left from that so I pulled out one of those.  And some Neufchatel cheese left from the Fettuccine Alfredo.  So really this is an odds and ends dinner.  And super good!

The original recipe called for chorizo and corn.  I didn’t have any corn and decided that the yellow squash would serve as the sweet balance to the spicy chorizo.  I cut it in a 1/4 inch dice so it would be about the same size as corn kernels.  I used twice the amount of onion, half the amount of sausage, 3/4 of the cheese and eliminated the sour cream to cut the fat.  I found that a scant tablespoon of prepared bread crumbs was plenty.  If you want to cut the fat further, or make this a vegetarian dish, you could use soy crumbles in place of the chorizo, but add some crushed red pepper or a diced jalapeno so you’ll have the heat to balance the sweet squash and cream cheese.

Let’s talk just a minute about cleaning mushroom caps.  First, no water.  Just wipe the tops with a paper towel or brush them with a dry brush.  If you’re a gadget person feel free to get a mushroom brush.  If the stems are still attached they should pop out easily.  Then take a spoon and gently scrape out the dark brown gills.  Be gentle or you’ll break the side wall of the mushroom cap.  You’ll need the side walls to keep the stuffing in.

There’s nothing hard about this.  It only takes one pan and one baking sheet.  It takes about 15 minutes to chop and saute the stuffing and another 15-20 to bake the mushrooms.  This recipe makes enough for three large portobello caps.  One mushroom cap with about 1/2 cup of stuffing and a salad was a filling dinner.  You could also use small mushroom caps and serve these as appetizers.  Yum.  They’d be great as a first course at a dinner or as hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.  Easy, low in fat, rich in flavor – pretty darn good for an odds and ends dinner!

Good? Absolutely.
Easy? Definitely.
Good for company? Sure.
Special shopping? Nope.

Squash and Chorizo Stuffed Portobellos

Ingredients

3 ounces Mexican chorizo sausage
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 C yellow squash, diced small
1 1/2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese

Remaining ingredients:
1 T breadcrumbs
3 large portobello mushroom caps

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°.
To prepare stuffing, remove casings from chorizo. Cook chorizo, onion, squash and garlic in a large heavy skillet over medium heat for 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add cream cheese and still until combined.
Clean the mushroom caps, discarding stems and gills. Stuff each with chorizo mixture; top with breadcrumbs. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until tops are browned.

Strawberry Avocado Salsa

April 22, 2012

The strawberries are in! Welcome to Spring! Last night was potluck and I volunteered for appetizers. I had some black bean butter left over from book club so I just needed something else that would go with tortilla chips. I found this recipe by searching cookinglight.com for appetizers and narrowing to Spring. Excellent choice!

This recipe is unbelievably easy. It only has 6 ingredients. I had an avocado left from the tostados I never made. Ditto some cilantro and a red onion. I just had to pick up some limes and some strawberries. I forgot to pick up a fresh jalapeno so I used a mix of crushed hot peppers instead. A pinch of salt and done. The red onion wasn’t in the original recipe, but I think it was a nice addition. The only thing that’s even a little bit tedious about this recipe is chopping the strawberries as fine as they need to be. The avocado was a little soft so the salsa didn’t turn out as pretty as I would have liked, but it tasted great.

This little bowl of salsa has everything: sweet, hot, citrus, salt, green and creamy. The recipe recommends serving this salsa with cinnamon and sugar tortilla chips. I think the regular salty tortilla chips work just as well or better. I like the salt against the sweetness of the strawberries and the citrus of the lime. The crushed peppers added considerably more heat than a fresh jalapeno. It’s the kind of heat that hits a little late and in the back of your throat. So yummy.

It was a big hit at potluck. And I’ll tell you that a few days did wonderful things for the black bean butter too. They were a nice start to a wonderful dinner of low country boil, bread with roasted garlic and raspberry bars for dessert. Oh how I love the potluck group!

Good? Very good.
Easy? Very easy.
Good for company? Yep.
Special shopping? Just get the strawberries in season. This would be wasted on strawberries you find in November imported from half way around the world.

Strawberry Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
1/3 C finely chopped red onion
1/3 C minced fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon crushed red or mixed pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Mix everything in a bowl. Serve with tortilla chips.

Caramelized Black Bean Butter

April 19, 2012

Last night was book club night.  I worked out of town yesterday so I was short on time to make anything.  I did a quick search ofcookinglight.comfor appetizer suggestions and came upon this lovely spread.  I already had all the ingredients.  A quick stop at the store for tortilla chips and done.

This took me literally 10 minutes to pull together.  I was helped quite a bit by the small jar of caramelized onions I had in the freezer.  That meant no chopping, no sauteing, no pan to wash.  Perfect.  This is a really unusual spread.  Kind of savory and sweet at the same time.  I used 1/2 the amount of black beans and the full amount of the spices.  It made more than plenty and the taste balance was good.  The black beans and cocoa are pretty earthy. Throw in the caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar and you’ve got sweet and acid.  I used smoked paprika so it was a tiny bit smoky too.  That’s pretty much it.  The flavor is very subtle and fairly complex. It’s all flavor and no fat, at least not until you start putting it on tortilla chips.

Give this a try as a new alternative to hummus or salsa. I’m going to use it as a base for tostadas!

Good? Yep.
Easy? Extremely.
Good for company? Yep.
Special shopping? Nope.

Caramelized Black Bean Butter

Ingredients

1/2 C caramelized onions
1 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Place onion, beans, vinegar, cocoa, salt, and paprika in a food processor; process until smooth. Place bean mixture in a bowl. Sprinkle with parsley.

Black-eyed Pea Cakes with Lime Cumin Yogurt

January 2, 2012

As you might imagine I have some black-eyed peas left over from my New Year’s Day dinner and I’m desperate for something new to do with them.  I’ve read a few recipes for black-eyed pea cakes, but nothing that sounded like it was much more than just the same peas I had for dinner, just mashed up.  Then I saw one on epicurious.com that calls for lime juice and hot pepper sauce and is served with jalapeno sour cream.  Now we’re talking.  Sadly it turns out that recipe was really for black-eyed pea pancakes and I just couldn’t go there.  I’m sure it’s fine, but I’m not looking to add a lot of bread to my diet right now.  And honestly, I can’t quite separate the idea of pancakes from the idea of maple syrup.  You can see how that might be a problem with black-eyed peas.

So, I decided to use that recipe as my inspiration and kind of wing it from there.  I’ve made crab cakes a dozen times so I get the process.  Take your main ingredient and put it in a bowl with enough stuff to hold it together.  Seems simple enough.  With pea or bean cakes the process also includes mashing half the peas to help with the binding.  One piece of advice – if you’re working with leftovers heat the peas before you start the mashing.  It’s a LOT easier that way.  Just about 30 seconds in the microwave will do it.  I found that the back of a spoon works better than about anything else for mashing the peas smooth.  Another key to making something into cakes or patties is to chill it before you try to form it.  An hour or so in the fridge gives the spices a little time to blend and it makes the mixture much easier to handle.  If it fits better into your schedule make up the mixture the night before.  In fact that might be better.

This stuff is not easy to work with.  Even after it chills it’s pretty loose.  And it looks disgusting, as you can see.  More breadcrumbs in the mix might have helped.  The best advice I can offer is to make your patties small and handle them carefully.  There’s no way these would have survived a traditional 3 step dredge (flour, egg, breadcrumbs), but it’s rare that I do that anyway.  I coated these in panko and let it go at that.  If you’re making a lot of these make them in batches so you can keep part of the mix in the fridge while you work with the other.  Use a spatula to put them in the pan.  Preferably a metal spatula because they’re much thinner than their plastic counterparts.

Here’s what I did.  I heated a medium cast iron skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil until the oil started to shimmer.  Then I slid four patties into the pan.  I cooked them 4 minutes on each side and then put them in a warming oven.  I wiped out the pan and repeated the process for the remaining three patties.  They all had a good crust on the outside, but they were a little mushy on the inside.  Here’s my advice.  Use the skillet to get a good crust on all of the patties and then bake them an additional 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Maybe that will take care of the mushiness.

In terms of flavor these are pretty good.  My black-eyed peas had some minced ham hock in them already and I added some of the leftover peppers and onions from yesterday’s sausage.  Then I threw in some sauteed garlic and jalapeno along with a little cumin and chili powder and a squeeze of lime juice.  That gives them earthy, salty, sweet, hot and bright flavors all together.  But the real gem here is the yogurt sauce.  Just some cumin, salt and lime juice added to plain greek yogurt.  It adds exactly the right tangy touch.  Add some chopped fresh cilantro if you have it.

Overall I’d say these are better than just edible and just shy of being good.  A perfectly acceptable way to repurpose black-eyed peas.  Of course soup is a good way to manage those too. And a lot less trouble.  Still, I’m inspired to make a bean cake that isn’t overly bready and still doesn’t turn out mushy.  Inspiration is good.  I’ll keep you posted!

Good? Almost.
Easy? Not so much.
Good for company? I don’t think so.
Special shopping? Nope. We’re re-purposing leftovers here.

Black-eyed Pea Cakes with Lime Cumin Yogurt

Ingredients

2 C cooked black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed if you’re using canned)
1/2 C sauteed pepper, onion, garlic and jalapeno
1 egg, beaten
1/3 C breadcrumbs
1 squeeze of lime juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Panko for coating
2 T olive oil, divided

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Carefully form the mixture into small patties. Pour panko in a small shallow dish. Dredge patties on both sides in panko crumbs.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet until the oil begins to shimmer. Add about half of the patties. Don’t over fill the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes and turn each patty carefully. Cook another 4-5 minutes. Keep warm and repeat with remaining tablespoon of oil for the rest of the patties.

Lime Cumin Yogurt

Ingredients

6-8 oz plain greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp lime juice
dash of salt

Directions

Mix all ingredients. Chill. Serve a dollop on each black-eyed pea cake.

Squash Puppies

September 22, 2011

That’s right, squash puppies.  For any of you looking for ways to manage a bumper squash or zucchini crop this is a first class recommendation.  Last night was book club.  They’re always up for being new recipe guinea pigs and this time it worked out well for them.  These were a big hit!  They’re pretty easy.  You can do the time consuming part ahead of time.  And they’re wicked good.

I know that some of you are squirming because this is a fried food.  And then again some of you have decided to read this whole post expressly because this is a fried food.  Here’s the thing – fried food doesn’t have to be greasy.  It’s all about making sure that the oil is hot enough to form a crust as soon as the food hits the oil.  That way the food doesn’t soak up the grease. It just cooks in it.  I actually use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil is hot enough.  And remember, every time you add something to the oil the temperature drops some.  If you overload the pan you’ll end up with greasy food.  Fry things in small batches.  It takes a little longer, but you’ll be much happier with the results.

For these I cooked the squash and onions the night before.  It takes a while to cook down squash so it was worth doing ahead.  Then instead of mashing it I chopped it relatively fine.  I didn’t have any buttermilk so I used regular milk.  To add a little tang and a little thickness, like buttermilk, I added a little sour cream.  You just mix everything in a bowl and then start frying.  I keep them warm in the oven while I wait for the other batches to finish.  You can just drop the batter into the oil in small spoonfuls.  Be careful as you go that the oil doesn’t get too hot.  If it does they’ll burn on the outside and be gooey in the middle.  Blech.  What’s fun about these is that when you drop this batter in the oil it puffs up immediately.  It’s fun to watch!

The cayenne gives these a nice little kick.  If you like your “hush” puppies a little sweet feel free to add a little sugar.  The squash adds a touch of sweetness anyway.  These are a rickin good way to slip in an extra vegetable.  Or maybe making hush puppies with squash just helps you feel less guilty about eating them.  These don’t need any butter, but it can’t hurt.  No idea if they’re good leftover.  You’re unlikely to have many of these left!

Good? So, so good.
Easy? We’ll give it an intermediate because frying can be tricky.
Good for company? Would be good with bbq.
Special shopping? Nope.

Squash Puppies

Ingredients

3/4 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
6 medium-size squash, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup milk
1 small onion, minced
1 large egg
Vegetable oil

Preparation

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir together squash and next 3 ingredients; add to cornmeal mixture, stirring until blended.
Pour oil to a depth of 1/2 inch into a deep cast-iron skillet; heat to 350°. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls, in batches, into oil; fry 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.