Small Bites Archives

August 30, 2009

Sunday Small Bites - Starting Soon!


If you think this logo looks a little different, you are right! Sunday Salad Samplers concluded last week (boo hoo), and Sunday Small Bites starts next Sunday. The logo is the creation of Maria I, one of our talented cooks. Thank you, Maria!

Our little cooking group started in April 2008. We have baked recipes from Gina De Palma's book "Dolce Italiano" - we have made ice cream from the David Lebovitz book "The Perfect Scoop". We have made a long list of favorite soups, and now we have finished a whole group of favorite salads.

It has been so much fun, and I have learned so much about trying new things that I probably would never have tried by myself.

So, now we are on to "Small Bites" - appetizer dishes. Each one of the cooks gets to choose an ingredient for their week, and everyone must find a NEW recipe for that ingredient. We are going to end up with a TON of new recipes!

So, check back each Sunday. Here are the participants and the ingredients they have chosen:

9/6 Cindy -- Shrimp
9/13 Vico Girl -- Crab
9/20 Amy -- Sun Dried Tomatoes
9/27 AnnieNC -- Avocado
10/4 Nancyhol -- Goat Cheese
10/11 Marcia -- Smoked Salmon
10/18 Sher -- Pecans
10/25 Deborah -- Pumpkin
11/1 Jerry -- Olives
11/8 Candi -- Mushrooms
11/15 Palma -- Ginger
11/22 JGK -- Cranberries
11/29 Maria -- Potatoes
12/6 Bugalu -- Brie
12/13 SharonL -- Artichoke
12/20 Teaberry -- Edamame
12/27 Kim -- Lentils
01/03 Eden -- Eggplant
01/10 Trekcapri -- Chick Peas

Unfortunately, I will miss the first three weeks - I have a good excuse, we are going to Italy! But, I promise to make them up when I return. So, in the meantime, check out the blogs of my fellow cooks in the list of blogs in the right sidebar of this page.

Let the Small Bites begin!

September 27, 2009

Small Bites - Don't give up on me!


I am back from Italy, but I am way, way behind! On the Sunday Small Bites posts, of course.

I have missed the first four weeks, and "My Week" is next Sunday, so I am going to be a busy girl catching up.

But, don't give up on me! I have been searching for recipes for Shrimp & Crab & Sun-dried Tomatoes & Avocado & Goat Cheese, and I hope to do them all this week.

Wish me luck! Here is the weekly schedule:

9/6 Cindy -- Shrimp
9/13 Vico Girl -- Crab
9/20 Amy -- Sun Dried Tomatoes
9/27 AnnieNC -- Avocado
10/4 Nancyhol -- Goat Cheese
10/11 Marcia -- Smoked Salmon
10/18 Sher -- Pecans
10/25 Deborah -- Pumpkin
11/1 Jerry -- Olives
11/8 Candi -- Mushrooms
11/15 Palma -- Ginger
11/22 JGK -- Cranberries
11/29 Maria -- Potatoes
12/6 Bugalu -- Brie
12/13 SharonL -- Artichoke
12/20 Teaberry -- Edamame
12/27 Kim -- Lentils
01/03 Eden -- Eggplant
01/10 Trekcapri -- Chick Peas

October 4, 2009

Small Bites #1 - Shrimp


Whew! I have had a busy few days.

I was determined to get caught up on my Sunday Small Bites posts, so that meant doing five posts this week. I picked out my recipes, shopped for ingredients, and scheduled an appetizer GTG with a couple of our neighbors.

This was my pick for Small Bites Week #1 - Shrimp. It was from a very old (1983) cookbook I had, but it sounded interesting to me.

For those of you who don't know what Sunday Small Bites is, I am part of a group of cooks who do special cooking projects on Sundays. We have baked (from Gina De Palma's "Dolce Italiano"), we have made ice creams (from David Leibovitz's "The Perfect Scoop"), we have made favorite soups and salads, and now it is time to do appetizers (small bites). This time each cook is picking an ingredient for the week, and everyone is finding a recipe that they have never made before. We will have a ton of brand new recipes before we are finished with the series! Cindy of Baked Alaska picked this week's ingredient.

My Crocked Shrimp and Cheese spread turned out really well and was a hit at the GTG.

Crocked Shrimp and Cheese with Cucumber Rounds

Bon Appetit Seafood Cookbook - Published in 1983

2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
1 pound uncooked unshelled medium shrimp

9 ounces cream cheese
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 small green onions, minced
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cucumbers, but into thin rounds

Combine water, wine, lemon, garlic, peppercorns and mustard seed in medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cover partially and let boil 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, add shrimp and simmer 2 minutes. Set aside to cool. Chill shrimp in cooking liquid overnight.

Drain shrimp well; remove shells and devein. Combine cream cheese, anchovies, butter, lemon juice and mustard in processor or blender and mix until smooth. Add shrimp and chop finely using on/off turns. Transfer to medium bowl. Blend in green onion, capers, salt and pepper. Pack mixture into crock or bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve, center crock on platter and surround with sliced cucumbers. Makes 10 servings.


Small Bites #2 - Crab


Once again, this was a very OLD recipe that I found from digging thru my archives (that would be the drawer that I stuff recipes in that I want to make).

This week's ingredient was picked by Ida - Vico Girl on Slow Travel. My recipe was kind of unusual, but both the salad and the sauce turned out very well. My sauce didn't get as thick as the recipe showed, so I served it in a bowl instead of drizzling it on the Endive.

Crab Salad with Endive and Tomato-Cilantro Sauce

From Jensen's Market Monthly Fine Wine Newsletter - September 1998

Crab Salad Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup chopped, seeded red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped, seeded green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 pound crab meat, drained well
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tomatoes, peeled and seeded, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 heads Belgian endive, trimmed and separated into spears

For Crab Salad: Heat oil in heavy large skillet over med-high heat. Add shallots and ginger and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add apple, zucchini, both peppers and carrot and saute until tender, but not brown, about 5 min. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Mix crab meat, mayonnaise, 2 tbl chopped chives and sauteed vegetables in large bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper., (Can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate).

For Sauce: Combine tomatoes, cilantro, vinegar, garlic and cayenne in blender and puree until almost smooth. Gradually add oil and blend until the sauce is thick. Transfer to a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange endive spears on large platter, tips toward platter edge. Spoon crab salad into center of platter. Drizzle sauce over endive. Garnish salad with chopped fresh chives and serve. Serves 6 appetizer sized portions.


Small Bites #3 - Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Now I have a confession to make - I have made this recipe before, many times in fact. I may have even made it for a Slow Travel GTG. But I rationalized that I had five to do this week and it IS a very good recipe, so I wanted to share it with all of you.

Amy of Destination Anywhere picked this week's ingredient.

Since I began making this recipe, available ingredients have changed and made the preparation much easier. I used to chop up the sun-dried tomatoes like the recipe shows, but now I just buy Trader Joe's Sun-Dried Tomato Bruscetta and no chopping is required. I also used to pit the Kalamata olives before I chopped them, but they now come pitted at TJ's. I even "cheated" this time with the garlic and used minced garlic in a jar. A sign of the times, I guess.

Goat Cheese with Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Bon Appetit magazine - September 1992, page 82

1 8-ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (do not drain)
2 large garlic cloves, halved
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives

12 ounces soft mild goat cheese (such as Montrachet)
Sliced French bread baguette slices
Fresh basil sprigs
Kalamata olives

Combine tomatoes (with oil) and garlic in processor. Blend until as smooth as possible, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Transfer mixture to bowl. Mix in chopped olives. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Dover and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing).

Place tomato mixture in center of platter. Surround with cheese and bread. Garnish with basil and olives.

Makes 6 servings.



Small Bites #4 - Avocado


Avocado was this week's ingredient, chosen by AnnieNC of Churches in Venice.

I found this recipe which sounded kind of unusual. In the magazine where it appeared, it was served with Coconut Shrimp, so I did the same to keep the tasting components the same. However, I wasn't brave enough to make my own shrimp - these were frozen ones that turned out to be very good. It was a great appetizer, and the guacamole could be used on lots of other dishes.

Sesame Ginger Guacamole

From Central Coast Magazine - April 2009, Page 35

3 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp ponzu sauce
1 Tbsp pickled ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp wasabe paste

Mash together all ingredients in a bowl with a fork until desired consistency is reached.


Small Bites #5 - Goat Cheese


This was my week to pick the ingredient, and I chose one of my favorite things to eat - goat cheese.

I went online to pick a recipe, and I printed out a gazillion of them (for future use, of course - they went directly into the archive drawer). I really liked the tastes in the goat cheese spread - lemon zest and fresh herbs (I used tarragon and chives). This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Goat Cheese Spread with Herbs and Olive Oil

8 ounces goat cheese (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, more if needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (choose at least two from the following: parsley, chives, tarragon, dill)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Good crackers or slices of walnut bread
About 1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 celery heart, cut into sticks

Combine goat cheese, whipping cream, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and wine, either in a food processor or in a bowl. Combine just enough to blend. Mixture should be spreadable; if it's too thick, add 1 or 2 tablespoons more cream. Season with salt and pepper, mix again and taste, adjusting seasoning as necessary.

Save 1 teaspoon herbs for garnishing and add the rest to processor. Add 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Pulse once more to blend.

Line a small (about 1 1/2-cup) round bowl or cup with a sheet of plastic wrap and fill with cheese mixture. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

To serve, invert bowl onto a serving platter and peel off plastic. With the back of a spoon, make a small depression in the cheese. Drizzle olive oil over top. Sprinkle with reserved herbs and lemon zest. Arrange crackers or bread slices, tomatoes and celery around cheese and serve.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups or 6 servings.


October 11, 2009

Small Bites #6 - Smoked Salmon


Smoked Salmon is the "secret ingredient" this week, and MarciaB of Happy Trails for Us: My Reluctant Blog picked it for us.

I found my recipe on the Food Network website. It was from the kitchen of Giada De Laurentis, one of my favorite TV cooks. Mario Batali is probably my favorite, but he isn't as pretty as Giada!

Anyway, this is a recipe that can be used as an appetizer or as a brunch dish - you decide. Here is Giada's recipe.

Smoked Salmon and Apple Carpaccio

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis - Food Network

Prep Time: 5 min
Inactive Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 12 min

Level: Easy

Serves: 4 to 6 servings

* 6 (1/4-inch thick) slices rosemary or olive bread, quartered
* 6 ounces Nova Scotia smoked salmon
* 1 small green apple, such as Granny Smith, halved and cut into very thin slices
* 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
* Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the bread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly brown and crisp. Cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

Arrange the smoked salmon in a single layer on a serving platter. Lay the apple slices on top. Sprinkle the capers over the salmon and apple slices. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with the toasted bread.

We had this for brunch this morning and it was yummy. As you can see, there is also a smoked salmon dip, which I had made before. Keep reading for the bonus recipe!

Here are my ingredients:

And our brunch plate:

Continue reading "Small Bites #6 - Smoked Salmon" »

October 18, 2009

Small Bites #7 - Pecans


It's pecan week, and Sheri (scg of As The Seasons Change) was the cook who chose that ingredient for this week's Sunday Small Bites.

I have eaten this appetizer many times because my friend Marianne got the recipe from the old Maison Deutz Winery in Arroyo Grande (now known as Laetitia). Back in the "old days", in the Maison Deutz tasting room, you would be served a little dish of this spread with some crackers to accompany your wine. Marianne improved upon the recipe by serving the spread in Belgian endive leaves. I remembered that it had pecans in it, and Marianne was kind enough to share the recipe with me.

For a little history of Maison Deutz and Laetitia wineries, check out this link.

Maison Deutz Blue Cheese Spread with Pecans

3 Parts Cream Cheese (I used a 12-oz carton of whipped cream cheese)
1 Part Crumbled Blue Cheese (I used a 4-oz piece)
Chopped Pecans (I used 1/2 C)
Cracked Pepper
Basil, rosemary or garlic oil
Sparkling wine

Mix all ingredients with a mixer. Add enough oil and sparkling wine to bring it to the right consistency (I think the whipped cream cheese helps to do that because I didn't add too much extra oil or wine).

Warning: One part blue cheese may be too strong - try 1/2 part and add more to desired taste. (I used the entire one part and it was fine, but it probably depends on the blue cheese you use).

Spoon onto endive leaves or serve with crackers or veggies.

All I can say is that if you like blue cheese and pecans, you will LOVE this spread!


October 25, 2009

Small Bites #8 - Pumpkin


Deborah of Old Shoes - New Trip picked this week's ingredient, Pumpkin. It sounds like a good choice for this fall season, with Halloween coming up and Thanksgiving being right around the corner. So, check out the blogs of all of my Slow Bites compadres - you might find some great Thansgiving recipes!

I found my recipe here. It sounded kind of unusual, so I thought I would try it.

Pumpkin Cheese Ball


8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, well drained
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (2 1/2 ounce) package dried beef, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
Celery leaves
Crackers and/or raw vegetables

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, pumpkin and pineapple. Stir in Cheddar cheese, beef and onion. Shape into a ball; place on a serving platter. Score sides with a knife to resemble a pumpkin and add celery leaves for a stem.

Serve with crackers and/or vegetables.

Yields 3 cups.

The only changes I made to the recipe is using whipped cream cheese instead of regular and substituting chopped prosciutto for the chopped dried beef. The whipped cream cheese probably made it too soft to form into a ball - I will know after I let it rest in the fridge for awhile. I will post a photo a little later today.

After refrigerating the Pumpkin Cheese Ball for several hours, it did firm up, but probably not as much as one with regular cream cheese would. It was nice and spreadable, but probably not firm enough to form into an actual ball (I used a round bowl for the shape, but I probably couldn't have formed it with my hands). It was very tasty, though, and I would make it again!


November 1, 2009

Small Bites #9 - Olives


This week's ingredient is olives! It was chosen by Jerry (JDeQ) of Jerry's Thoughts, Musings and Rants! He just returned from Greece and wanted to use some of the wonderful olives he brought home from there.

I found two recipes that I wanted to try, both from One was a cheeseball with two kinds of chopped olives, but I had already done a couple of cheeseball recipes, and I didn't want to get in a rut, so I chose the second recipe.

Oven Fried Bleu Cheese Olives

(10-15 servings)

2-15 oz cans jumbo pitted black olives-drain well on paper towels
3 oz bleu cheese-crumbled
4 T cream cheese
1/4 t black pepper
2 eggs-beaten
1-1/2 c Italian bread crumbs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven 400*. Coat a 13x9 dish with cooking spray. Mix bleu cheese, cream cheese and pepper in a small bowl, blending with a fork. Fill a pastry bag with cheese mix. (I use a Ziploc bag, put filling in one corner and snip off a small hole in the end for all of my "filling"). Beat eggs in a bowl. Pour crumbs in a pie plate. Dip stuffed olives in egg, then roll in crumbs, coating well. Put in Pyrex and spray with cooking oil lightly. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden. Cool and serve. YUMM!

Here are my ingredients:

These were really interesting green olives - Mezzetta brand:

Olives are stuffed with bleu cheese mixture and ready to be rolled in Italian bread crumbs:

Waiting to be served:

This was my first time stuffing something and then coating and frying/baking it, so my olives don't look as good as they could. Next time I will do better.

The recipe called for black olives, but I decided to do both black and green olives. Bad move! The green olives, although really tasty, were way too salty to be stuffed with bleu cheese (also salty). So, learn from my mistake and follow the recipe, at least the first time you make it).

We liked the olives a lot and would try them again, with a few little changes.

November 8, 2009

Small Bites #10 - Mushrooms


It doesn't seem possible that we could already be at Week #10 on our Sunday Slow Bites! Time goes by so fast these days!

Mushrooms is the "secret ingredient" this week, and Candi of Candi's Corner: Wanderlust and Passions was the blogger to choose it.

I searched thru the internet cooking sites for a recipe and found several possibilities. The one I chose is from Food Network and a creation of my favorite Food Network star, Giada De Laurentiis. Here is her recipe:

Mushroom Parmesan

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the grill pan
* 4 to 6 portobello mushrooms
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
* 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
* 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over both sides of the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the grill to prevent the mushrooms from sticking. Grill until the mushrooms are heated through and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Place the grilled mushrooms on top of the marinara sauce and top with the remaining marinara sauce. Sprinkle with the cheeses and top with the butter pieces. Bake until the cheese melts and the top is golden, about 15 minutes. Serve.

When I shopped for the ingredients, the portobello mushrooms looked way too big to be a "Small Bite", so I used Baby Bella Caps, which were about half the size of the portobello mushrooms.

I also used a prepared marinara - Paul Newman's Cabernet Marinara and pre-shred Sargento cheeses. I love this stuff! Mozzarella & Asiago with Roasted Garlic and Artisan Blend Parmesan. I know, I know - not authentic. But quick and easy to use.

Here are my ingredients:

And here are the mushrooms after they came out of the oven:


Small Bites #10 - Mushrooms #2


I made another mushroom recipe today that deserves to be posted. It came from

Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Horseradish Crema

20 large button mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, roasted
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Chipotle bacon (or regular bacon), cooked, crumbled
4 ounces herbed goat cheese
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup Manchego cheese, grated
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon hot prepared horseradish, add more if you like it spicier
pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup scallions, sliced, for garnish

Use a melon baller to scoop out then discard insides of mushroom (use for soups, stews, sauces) being careful not to break the sides.

Enclose garlic cloves with extra-virgin olive oil in foil on ovenproof pan. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes. When cooled squeeze out pulp and combine in a food processor with bacon, goat, Parmesan and cream cheese, thyme and basil. Add just enough heavy cream to make a smooth yet firm consistency and fill mushrooms. Top with Manchego and bake at 375° for about 10 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Mix together sour cream, horseradish, salt and small amounts of milk until it can be drizzled across the baked mushrooms. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Makes 20

I LOVED this recipe! It was easy to make ahead and bake when ready to serve.

I used an aged Gouda cheese instead of Manchego, but other than that, I followed the recipe. Highly recommended!


November 15, 2009

Small Bites #11 - Ginger


Palma of Palmabella's Passions picked ginger as this week's ingredient. This should be interesting!

I checked out a bunch of potential recipes and found a couple that sounded interesting to me.

The first one was given to me by my friend Marianne. I don't know where it came from originally, but it was really GOOD!

Candied Ginger and Rosemary Squares

4 sticks (2 cups) softened unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 cups al-purpose flour
1 t. salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, divided
1 cup (5 1/2 oz) finely chopped crystallized ginger
3 T. dried rosemary, crumbled or 2 T. chopped fresh
1 T. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large food processor fitted with the metal blade, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Into a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt, then gradually pulse into butter mixture along with three-fourths of the eggs.

Beat in ginger and rosemary.

Press dough evenly into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan lined with buttered tin foil.

In a small bowl beat water into remaining egg to make an egg wash and brush on dough.

With back of knife, score dough (about 1/4 inch deep) in a cross-hatch pattern and bake in the middle of oven 35 to 40 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan completely. Lift out by edges of foil, and cut into squares on cutting board. (May be made 5 days ahead and chilled covered. Let come to room temperature before serving.)

Garnish with rosemary sprigs if desired. Serves 16 to 20 as a hearty hors d'oeuvre.

I halved the recipe and used fresh rosemary. Then I completely forgot to score the dough before baking.

The squares were really good, but next time I would probably put in more ginger and more rosemary.


Continue reading "Small Bites #11 - Ginger" »

November 22, 2009

Small Bites #12 - Cranberries


To get us into the Holiday mood, jgk of Keep Your Feet in the Street chose cranberries as this week's ingredient.

I found this recipe on Ocean Spray's website. Lots of recipes to choose from there, of course.

Cranberry Caramelized Onion Cheese Spread


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 4-ounce package crumbled blue cheese, room temperature
1 cup (4 ounces) finely shredded Cheddar cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium sweet onion, sliced, quartered
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


Combine cream cheese and blue cheese in a medium mixing bowl; beat with electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add Cheddar cheese; beat until well blended. Spread in shallow serving bowl. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 2 to 4 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in 1 teaspoon sugar. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until onion is soft and golden, stirring occasionally. Remove onion from skillet; set aside,

In same skillet, combine cranberries, remaining sugar and water. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and onions. Cool slightly.

To serve, bring cheese spread to room temperature. Spoon cranberry mixture over cheese spread; sprinkle with walnuts. Serve with assorted crackers.

Makes 24 servings

This was so easy to make, and it was delicious! I will definitely make it again during the Holiday season.


November 29, 2009

Small Bites #13 - Potatoes


The mighty potato is this week's ingredient, chosen by Maria I. of My Place in the Sun.

If the truth were known (and it is now, of course), potatoes are one of my favorite foods. I like them prepared in a multitude of ways - in fact, I can't think of any way I DON'T like them!

I found my recipe online at Here is the link.

Corn And Potato Mini Pancakes With Salsa

Serves/Makes: 30 | Difficulty Level: 3 | Ready In: < 30 minutes


2 cups mashed potatoes
2 cups frozen corn kernels (thawed) or cooked corn cut off the ear
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup canola oil for frying, divided use
1 jar (11-ounce size) salsa


In a medium mixing bowl, combine potatoes, corn, and egg. Mix well with a spoon.

Place bread crumbs in a shallow bowl.

Using clean hands, form potato-corn mixture into 1 1/2-inch diameter patties; dip each patty into bread crumbs, coating both sides.

Over medium heat, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil until hot. Fry patties, a few at a time for 2 minutes or until golden brown on bottom; flip and cook another 2 minutes on the second side. If flatter, more crispy cakes are desired, flatten cakes while cooking with a metal spatula.

Transfer finished cakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in 200-degree oven until all cakes are cooked.

Transfer cakes to a serving platter and serve with salsa, if desired.

This recipe was SO easy! I added some garlic chives and, instead of salsa, I mixed up a little wasabi sauce. It was good.

The recipe makes quite a bit, especially for two people. I have a bunch left over, and I may add some smoked salmon to part of it. This was my second choice recipe for this week.


December 6, 2009

Small Bites #14 - Brie


It was Sandi's turn this week to pick the ingredient, and she chose Brie. Sandi is known as bugalu on Slow Travel, and her website is Whistlestop Cafe Cooking. Thanks, Sandi!

I found my recipe on and decided to try this one.

Phyllo Wrapped Crab and Brie

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons shallots
1/2 pound crabmeat, picked over well
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons minced parsley
Tabasco to taste (optional)
1/2 pound brie, cut into thin slices
15 sheets phyllo (1/2 pound)
3/4 cup clarified butter (or ghee)

Melt butter; add shallots and saute until golden. Add crab; heat through and season. Spread slices of Brie over crab. Keep over low heat without stirring until Brie softens enough to be stirred without breaking lumps of crab. When mixture is homogeneous, set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove 5 sheets of phyllo and cut in half lengthwise. For each packet, lay out 1 strip phyllo with the short end toward you, and brush with butter. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons filling in corner of strip. Fold as you would a flag and brush with butter. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Refrigerate if not planning to use immediately. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until crisp and golden.

Serve hot.

First of all, I had to figure out how to fold the phyllo around the crab and brie. The recipe says "Fold as you would a flag", but I have never folded a flag in the official military way. So I researched it a little bit. My flag/phyllo folding may not be perfect, but at least I tried!

The crab and brie small bites turned out pretty good, but I may have overdone the butter part because they were pretty much dripping with butter.

I skipped the hot sauce and used chopped tarragon instead of parsley. I thought the tarragon was a good flavor addition.


December 13, 2009

Small Bites #15 - Artichoke


We are up to week 15 on our Sunday Small Bites - just a few weeks left in the series. I wonder what we will think up to do as our next Sunday cooking project!

Sharon L on Slow Travel chose this week's ingredient - the mighty artichoke! Lots of possibilities here, but I chose a Food Network recipe from Rachael Ray.

Gorgonzola Spinach Artichoke Dip

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 2008


* 2 (10-ounce) boxes chopped frozen spinach
* 1 box frozen artichoke hearts
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 cup milk
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Pinch ground nutmeg, or to taste
* 1 cup Gorgonzola crumbles
* 1 1/2 cups shredded (a little larger than grated, available in tubs) Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano
* Thick sesame bread sticks, for dipping
* Celery hearts, trimmed for dipping
* Pita crisps with Parmesan and herbs (recommended: Stacy's)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Defrost spinach 10 minutes on defrost setting in microwave then drain well by wringing out in dish towel. Defrost artichokes as well, 6 minutes on defrost in microwave then wring out and finely chop.

Heat a sauce pot with butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add garlic to melted butter and stir 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle in flour and combine 1 minute more. Whisk in stock and milk and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Thicken 2 minutes then remove from heat and melt in Gorgonzola. Stir in spinach and artichokes and half the shredded cheese then transfer to a small casserole and top with remaining cheese. Brown and bubble in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with bread sticks, celery hearts and pita crisps for dipping.

Makes 3 1/2 cups

This was a very tasty and easy recipe. I didn't find frozen artichoke hearts, so I used canned. The dip didn't brown much on the top, but I didn't want the bottom to burn, so I didn't bake it any longer. Yum - it was great with celery sticks and focaccia sticks!


December 20, 2009

Small Bites #16 - Edamame


Edamame is our ingredient this week! Usually served in the pod, I wanted to find a more unusual way to prepare it. I found this recipe on

Crispy Edamame

"Green soybeans (edamame) are baked under a Parmesan cheese crust, turning a frozen food into a healthy snack!"


1 (12 ounce) package frozen shelled
edamame (green soybeans)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Place the edamame into a colander and rinse under cold water to thaw. Drain.

2. Spread the edamame beans into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle cheese over the top and season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is crispy and golden, about 15 minutes.

How simple could it be? I could only find frozen (or fresh) edamame in the pods, so it took a little time to shell them. The rest of the recipe was a breeze. And, best of all, it was really tasty!

Oh! I made only half a recipe because I ended up with about 6 oz of edamames after I shelled them. The fresh ground salt and pepper were good, but I would like to experiment with some other spices too - maybe some spicy ones.

Before Baking:

After Baking - they don't look too much different & didn't get too brown, but the cheese was crispy on top:

December 27, 2009

Small Bites #17 - Lentils


Kim (of What I Really Think fame) had the honor of choosing the ingredient this week, and her pick (again) was lentils. I say again because she chose lentils when we were doing soups.

I just couldn't make a decision on a recipe, so I made TWO similar recipes so I could compare them - Lentil-Walnut Pate and Faux Chopped Liver. Kind of the same concept (a pate) but different ingredients.

Bethel Heights is an Oregon winery, and I found the first recipe on their website:

Lentil-Walnut Paté

This healthy appetizer will surprise you. It tastes more like traditional liver paté than you would imagine. Very good choice for a lighter, vegetarian option. I like to serve it with apple slices as well as crackers or crostini.

2/3 cup small, green lentils
2 T oil — canola is fine
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 ts sea salt
1 ts minced fresh oregano, if you have it
3 ts minced fresh basil, if you have it
1 ts. minced fresh thyme, if you have it
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme (plus 1 ts if you aren't using any fresh)
1 T dried basil (plus 2 ts if you aren't using any fresh)
2 cups walnuts, toasted (see below)
2 T Dijon style mustard
Fresh pepper

Place 2 cups cold water and the lentils in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Set aside without draining.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring, until onion begins to soften. Add salt, garlic, and herbs and sauté three or four additional minutes. Set aside to cool.

Toast walnuts in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes. When cool, process in a food processor until well ground. Add lentils and cooking liquid, onion mixture, mustard and pepper. Puree until a smooth paste forms, about 4 or 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.

This can rest in the refrigerator a day or two. Bring back to room temperature and serve.

The second recipe is from

Faux Chopped Liver

1/2 cup lentils
1 (1.5 ounce) packet MBT vegetable broth or any type
of dehydrated vegetable broth mix, such as Knorr
1 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped in food processor
Whites of 2 hardboiled eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley (for garnish)
Cherry tomatoes and/or sliced black olives
Bagel chips

Combine lentils and MBT or other vegetable broth mix in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Heat until all liquid is absorbed and lentils are well-cooked, stirring often.

In a separate skillet, fry onion in oil. Place all ingredients (except parsley, tomatoes, olives and chips) in food processor and pur?e. Pack into a 4-cup mold and chill overnight.

Garnish with parsley, cherry tomatoes and/or sliced black olives, if desired. Serve with bagel chips.

Makes 20 to 25 small appetizer servings.

I served the pates with cheese crackers. Bottom line is that they look pretty similar - recipe #1 seemed a little more dense than #2, but I think I liked the flavor of #2 the best. Both good though.


January 3, 2010

Small Bites #18 - Eggplant


This week's small bite was a bit of a challenge for me since I am not really fond of eggplant. Bill grew a bunch of it this last summer and he grilled some, but I never made anything with it. Bad girl!

Anyway, I searched for recipes and found a Giada recipe on

Eggplant was the ingredient picked by Eden of Eden's Wanderings and Wonderings.

Eggplant Rollatini

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:20 min
Cook Time:25 min
Serves:6 servings


* 3 medium-sized eggplants (about 4 pounds total)
* Sea salt
* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
* 32 ounces ricotta cheese
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
* 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan
* 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
* 20 basil leaves, chiffonade
* 2 cups fresh tomato sauce, recipe follows
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the grill and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place a rack over a large baking sheet. Cut the eggplants lengthwise, into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange eggplants onto rack. Sprinkle with sea salt to help remove excess moisture and any bitterness from the eggplants. Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off the salt from the eggplants and pat dry. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and place on a hot grill until lightly browned on each side and tender, about 4 minutes per side. If you do not have an outdoor grill, you can use a grill pan. Brush or spray vegetable oil evenly over the grill pan.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta and egg. Add mozzarella, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan and toasted pine nuts and gently combine. Fold in basil just to combine. Do not over mix.

Place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on 1 end of the eggplant and roll up tightly. Place the eggplant rollatini onto a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining eggplant. Evenly distribute the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant rollatini. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 5 tablespoons of Parmesan and bake for 15 minutes. When cooked, drizzle the top with extra-virgin olive oil.
Simple Tomato Sauce:

* 2 (32 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
* ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1 small onion, chopped
* 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
* 1 stalk celery, chopped
* 1 carrot, chopped
* 2 dried bay leaves
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1-2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to six months.

Yield: 6 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Ease of Preparation: Easy

I kind of "cheated" and didn't make my own tomato sauce, but the end result was a very tasty dish. It sort of opened the door for other eggplant dishes in the future!

I also forgot to get basil at the market, so I used tarragon, which we still had in our garden. I really liked the dish and, being an eggplant lover, Bill did too. I cut the recipe in half, but it still made enough for another meal.

Just ready to go into the oven:

January 10, 2010

Small Bites #19 - Chickpeas


Today is a sad day - the last episode of our Sunday Small Bites series. We have made so many great appetizers, each of us picking an ingredient for one particular week.

It's a sad day, but also a happy day because next week we start our Sunday Slow Suppers series, where we will do entrees. Each of my fellow bloggers will pick a type of entree and post a recipe in advance. Then each of us will make the recipe, with our very own signature twist, by adding or subtracting ingredients and posting about the results. Sound like fun?

This week the ingredient is chickpeas (aka garbanzos), chosen by Kathy of Trekcapri's Blog I found three possible recipes, but two of them included chickpea flour, which I could not find. The third was a Bobby Flay recipe from

Shrimp Flat Bread with Chickpea Puree and Cilantro Pesto

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

Prep Time:5 hr 0 min
Inactive Prep Time:0 min
Cook Time:15 min

Serves:4 servings

Ingredients Flat bread:

* 1 1/2 cups warm water
* 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
* 4 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons oil


Mix water and yeast and let stand 15 minutes. Gradually pour in 2 cups of the flour and incorporate. Mix for about 1 minute to form a sponge. Let stand, covered for at least 1 hour. Put sponge in the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Using the dough hook, add the salt and oil, then flour 1/2 cup at a time to form a dough. Remove from bowl and knead until smooth. Place in a clean oiled bowl and let rise, slowly, about 2 1/2 hours. Divide dough into 4 balls, let rise again for 1/2 hour and roll out. Preheat grill. Flatten the dough, brush liberally with olive oil and throw on the grill. Grill on 1 side until golden brown then turn over and grill on the other side.

Chickpea Puree:

* 2 cups cooked chickpeas
* 3 cloves garlic
* 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 1 teaspoon chipotle puree
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1/2 cup tahini

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Cilantro Pesto:

* 2 cups cilantro leaves
* 4 spinach leaves
* 1 tablespoon pine nuts
* 3 cloves garlic
* 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
* 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Shrimp: 16 large shrimp olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper Heat grill pan until smoking. Brush shrimp with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill for 1 minute on each side.

Assembly: Grilled flat bread Chickpea Puree 8 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled Grilled Shrimp Cilantro pesto Chopped cilantro Finely diced red pepper

Spread 1/4 cup of the chickpea puree over each flat bread. Sprinkle with some of the goat cheese. Place 4 shrimp on each flat bread and top each shrimp with 1 teaspoon of the pesto. Garnish with chopped cilantro and finely diced red pepper.

Well, as you probably guessed, I got lazy and didn't do the flatbread part. Instead I had a small loaf of La Brea Bakery's Roasted Garlic Bread on hand, so I sliced that. I really do want to try the flatbread sometime though.

I also could not find tahini in any of the markets I frequent. Guess I need to visit a Middle Eastern store for that. I read online that a substitute can be peanut butter, so I added a little bit of that.

We thought the dish was wonderful, such good flavors and fairly healthy, I guess. I will definitely make it again.


This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Winelover's Wanderings in the Small Bites category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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