Tag Archives: Appetizers

It has Been Too Long!

Well, after much time, a long summer gone by and the leaves falling, the holidays approaching and pressure from friends and family – I am going back to cooking classes and blogging. It is not that I ever stopped cooking mind you – I just got way behind on putting up posts with recipes. What I found is that class prep itself was a lot of work, to say nothing of managing the photos that were either taken by me or friends. Alas – I couldn’t manage it all with my full-time job.
Life is a bit calmer (really?) now and I am in the mood for some blogging and certainly in the mood for more classes!
Last weekend we had a Cooking Class Reunion and what a great time it was. I prepped the meal on my own (with a lot of help from my secret sous chefs) and we feasted on Edamame Dip, Caramelized Leek and Bacon dip, Spanish Fried Almonds and some delicious cheeses to whet our appetites.
Dinner consisted of Pork Loin stuffed with Fennel, accompanied by Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto, Applesauce stuffed Baby Pumpkins and a tossed green Salad with seasonal fruits added.
After gorging on that spread we topped it off with Pecan Bars that would send you into a diabetic coma if over consuming and a wonderful Carrot Cake with a Lime Marscapone Icing.
All in all it was a great gathering and I look forward to gathering again as a group and taking on some new food challenges together.


November 11 Class

Thanksgiving is just around the corner!  Not only is it time to start thinking about all the prep required to pull that off, if you are hosting, but it is also time to consider the “in betweens” of  Thanksgiving Day.  Whether you dine at noon or at 6:00 p.m., there is more food required than just the centerpiece meal.  We will be considering savory, satisfying tidbits to fill the gaps.  Check out some of the things we will be making this week.

Smoked Duck and Pear Spoons

Parmesan and Sage Wafers

English Sausage Rolls

Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Squares

Prosciutto Wrapped Dates with Pecan and Parmesan

Baked Curried Brie

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Walnuts

photo via

Recipes – Class One

All Day Apple Butter

This makes a nice hostess gift for Thanksgiving or the holidays.  Tie with a small card and raffia

5 ½ pounds apples – peeled, cored and finely chopped

4 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon cloves and salt.  Pour the mixture over the apples and mix well.
  2. Place the apples in a slow cooker / crock pot
  3. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour
  4. Reduce the heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
  5. Uncover and continue to cook on low 1 hour.  Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.
  6. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers.  Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Smokey sausage and apple appetizer

The guys like this one as it is a bit meaty and both savory and sweet.  Good for a game day Sunday.

2 Tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

½ cup apple jelly

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 pounds cocktail sized smoked sausages (or slice large sausage into bite sized chunks)

3 apples, peeled cored and chopped

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  Add onion and sauté, stirring constantly, until onion is golden.  Stir in apple jelly and brown sugar.  Add sausages and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook and stir occasionally, 20 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.  Add apples, partially cover pan and cook about 10 minutes more or until apples are tender.  Combine cornstarch and water and stir into mixture in pan to thicken.  Cook 2-3 minutes more until thickened.  Serve warm with toothpicks and a small plate or napkins.

Apple and brie bruschetta

This is a quick appetizer to throw together for a last minute party.  You can even slice the bread the day before, prepare the walnut mixture and prep the cheese.  Then toast the bread and slice the apples before the final assembly before the party!

½ stick butter

1 loaf French bread (baguette) slice into ½ inch slices

2 to 3 Granny Smith apples

½ cup brown sugar

1/3 cup walnuts (or pecans), chopped

Small round of brie (12-14 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toast bread until slices turn golden.  Center should be slightly soft still and crusts brown.

Remove rind from cheese and discard.  Wash and slice apples into ¼ inch slices.

Mix walnuts, brown sugar, and melted butter and set aside.  Put slice of cheese on toasted bread and place apple slice on top.  Spoon a little walnut mixture on top of the apple slice.  Prepare all of the slices.  (Recipe can be covered and set aside for later heating at this point if desire.)

Place cooking sheet in oven until cheese melts.  Be sure to watch cheese so it doesn’t over cook.

Belgian Endive with Apples and Hazelnuts
(from Mediterranean Fresh by Joyce Goldstein)

Serves 4

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup hazelnut vinaigrette
4 medium heads Belgian Endive, leaves separated (can use some radicchio for color variation)
2 Pippin or Granny Smith Apples, cored,halved and thinly sliced
Shavings of Parmesan or strips of Gruyere cheese for garnish (optional)

If you cannot find blanched hazelnuts with the skins already removed. If not, you can prepare them yourself at home.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the nuts on a baking sheet with sides or in a small pan.  Toast until the peels crack and the nuts are fragrant, 10-12 minutes.  Turn the nuts out onto a dish towel.  Briskly and with some force, roll them around in the towel, scrunching them with your fingers to loosen the skins.  You may not be able to get all of the skins off but that is all right.

Chopping hazelnuts can be a bit tricky because they are round.  But do not use a food processor, as it will reduce some of the nuts to dust and render them useless.  To chop, layout a few nuts at a time and hit them with the flat side of a cleaver or a small frying pan.  After you hit them – they will be broken into more easily chop-able pieces. At this point you may not need to chop them – you do not want the bits to be too small or they will be difficult to pick up with a fork.

Toss the hazelnuts with a little bit of the dressing to coat.

You may leave the endive whole, if you plan to serve the salad with a knife and fork or you may cut them crosswise into fork sized slices.  Toss the leaves with most of the rest of the vinaigrette and divide amongst 4 salad plates.

Top with the apples slices and drizzle with a bit more of the vinaigrette.  Sprinkle with the nuts and garnish with the cheese shavings if you like.

Hazelnut vinaigrette
(from Mediterranean Fresh by Joyce Goldstein)

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup hazelnut oil
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Apple and Walnut Risotto with Gorgonzola
(from Jamie Oliver’s COOK with JAMIE)
Serves 8

Make 1 basic risotto recipe

7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 small handfuls freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
7 ounces gorgonzola cheese, diced
3/1/2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
2 crisp/crunchy eating apples, halved, cored and tossed in a bit of lemon juice (I like one with red skin like cortland but you may also use a granny smith)
A small bunch of fresh marjoram leaves picked and chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
A handful or walnuts (coarsely chopped)
extra virgin olive oil

Turn the heat off and stir in the butter, Parmesan, gorgonzola, goat cheese, chopped apple and marjoram.  Check the seasoning and add salt and fresh ground pepper id desired.  Put a lid on the and leave the risotto  to rest for a minute so the cheese can really ooze into it.  While you are waiting – gently heat the walnuts in a pan.  You can either divide among plates and drizzle with a little extra olive oil and sprinkle with nuts or leave in a large dish and do the same.  Bring extra parmesan to the table for grating or sprinkling!

Sonoma Orchard Apple Tart

Adapted from a recipe from the bi-rite market in san Francisco as seen in food & wine

Serves 10

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 ½ sticks butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and chilled

1/2 teaspoon salt

About ½ cup ice water

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 Granny Smith or similar apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 large egg white

2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar

In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle blade, combine the flour, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the salt.  Add the butter and mix at low speed until it is the size of peas, about 30 seconds.  When the machine is running add ¼ cup ice water.  Add only as much of the remaining ice water as is needed until the dough is just moistened, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Turn the dough onto a work surface and knead quickly until the dough all comes together.  Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly  floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 17 inch circle and trim to 16 inches.  Transfer the dough to the cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup sugar with the lemon zest and a pinch of salt.  Add the apples and lemon juice and toss well.  Arrange the apples on the dough in two concentric circles, leaving a 3-inch border all around.  Fold the edges of the dough up and over the apples, overlapping the dough on itself as needed.  Brush the rim with egg white and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

Bake the pie in the center of the oven until the crust is golden and firm and the apples are tender – about 55 minutes.  Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool.

Slice into wedges and serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, whipped or ice cream.

If you like, the dough can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated.