just a quick nibble with drinks - HOBNOB Magazine

Posts Tagged ‘just a quick nibble with drinks’

Grain-Free Crunchy Bagel-Style Almond Crackers

Posted on: April 12th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

A crunchy cracker you can make with pantry ingredients. Those who are trying to be gluten and grain free often get the craving for the crunch. That’s where these grain-free crackers, made with almond flour, come in to save the day.

Between the poppy and sesame seeds, my favorite bagel toppings, these grain-free crackers not only taste fab, but make for a spectacularly speckled  presentation. Not to mention the nutritional benefits of the seeds. 

MAKES ROUGHLY 40 PIECES

PREHEAT OVEN 325ºF… MAKE THE DOUGH

1 3/4 CUP almond flour
1 TB almond oil
1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl combine all ingredients, knead well, and shape into a ball. Place onto a sheet of parchment paper that fits a baking pan. Transform dough ball into a rectangle echoing the shape of the parchment. Top with second piece of parchment and roll out dough to between 1/16- and 1/8-inch thickness. I like keeping the edges ragged so the tips will get more brown. You may need to fill in some holes as the dough escapes the parchment, so just break off those parts and fill in as necessary.

PREPARE SEED MIX

1 TB sesame seeds
1 TB poppy seeds
1 TB golden flax seeds
1 TB sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a small bowl, mix thoroughly. Sprinkle evenly over rolled-out dough. Cover with clean parchment paper and roll over to set seeds into the dough.

BAKE THE GRAIN-FREE CRACKERS

Bake for roughly 23 min till edges are slightly browned. Move with parchment to a cooling rack and let sit for 10-15 min. Break apart by hand into irregular shapes. Store in an airtight container. Try not to eat them!

If you like this recipe, you might want to take a look at our Cumin -Spiced grain-free crackers too.

Roasted Grapes Crostini

Posted on: October 23rd, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

If you love raisins, you will especially love this softer, fresh version. These roasted grapes would also work well with on the side of main courses: think duck, or pork. I even put them on the party buffet by themselves, for sweet snacking near the cheese board.

I included the ribbons of shiso as garnish, which add a nice look and mint-basil zing. I already had a bunch to make another recipe for this party: Roasted Delicata Squash.  And it worked in this recipe too, especially since it had flowered adding a sweet suggestion. 

MAKES ABOUT 50 CROSTINI

PREHEAT OVEN 450ºF

1 LB seedless red grapes, removed from stem
1 TB olive oil
salt
sprigs of thyme

In a large bowl, toss together. Spread out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for about 22 min, on the top shelf, or until grapes just begin to burst.

MAKE THE CROSTINI

baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 containers (16 oz) fresh ricotta
garnish with red shiso leaves (optional)

With a small knife, spread about a 1 TB of ricotta over each slice, add 2 grapes, smashing them into the bread. Top with ribbons of red shiso if you are using.

See more recipes with secret, surprise ingredients in Hobnob’s party #22 Hidden Secrets at this link.

Kielbasa Canape With Mustard & Cornichon

Posted on: October 23rd, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

Since I grew up in a New York-Slovakian household, I developed a love for this pork product. If fresh bacon could have added garlic in it, this would be it.

If you have a local Eastern European market near you, then you must seek this out. In Manhattan, there is an East Village holdout which has exceptional varieties, some more smoked than others (and they ship). It’s your party hosting best friend in that it can be boiled, roasted, fried, or just sliced as is. Once you try, you will be hooked. If so, you can try Hobnob’s other recipe: Kielbasa & Tortellini Bites with Smoky Paprika Oil, which pairs the kielbasa with pasta and a smoky blast.

(Tip: Do not substitute the product called kielbasa that you may find in your local supermarket, it is nothing like the real thing.)

See more recipes with secret, surprise ingredients in Hobnob’s Hidden Secrets party menu.

MAKES ABOUT 50 BITES

MAKE THE BITES

1 ring of thick kielbasa

baguette

dijon mustard

cornichon

Cut the kielbasa into 1/4-inch slices. Top a slice of baguette of roughly the same size. With a small spoon, add a dollop of mustard. Cut cornichon in half lengthwise so it sits flat atop the mustard.

See more recipes with secret, surprise ingredients in Hobnob’s party #22 Hidden Secrets at this link.

Unusual Flavored Cheeses For Cheese Board

Posted on: October 23rd, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

As part of the menu for Hobnob’s Hidden Secrets party, I thought that a bevy of secret ingredients should be included. Truth be told, I discovered two of these cheeses at a neighbor’s gathering—it’s so nice to have foodie neighbors, we share meals on a regular basis, and there’s often a discovery in the mix.

Trader Joe’s cheddar with caramelized onions is a unique taste sensation, with extra tang and a creamy consistency. I got the Moliterno black truffle pecorino at Fairway, and it too adds a heady truffle punch, to a strong pecorino. Heaven. The onion and chive double gloucester fit right in with the crowd.

By the way, when putting cheese out, I like to slice half the slab to encourage guests to pick. I find if you don’t cut into it, people are reluctant to cut on their own. This makes it easier to partake.

SERVES 25 WITH ACCOMPANIMENTS

ASSEMBLE THE CHEESE BOARD

2 Trader Joe’s Cheddar Cheese with Caramelized Onions

2 Cotswald Double Gloucester with Onion and Chives

2 Moliterno Black Truffle Pecorino

Set cheeses out on two separate boards, and fill with your choice of accompaniments:

-sprigs of grapes, cut into smaller clusters

-small bowl of olives (include a discard dish for pits nearby)

-small bowl of nuts

-fig jam

-crackers or slices of baguette

See more recipes with secret, surprise ingredients in Hobnob’s party #22 Hidden Secrets at this link.

Vegetarian Tea Sandwich: Beets & Apple & Curry

Posted on: August 31st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

Sweet, crunchy golden delicious apples pair with creamy beets in this stunning vegetarian tea sandwich. The special ingredient that makes this sandwich sensational is the Good Spoon Vegan mayo, which works so well with all the components, and has that super bold color. In lieu of this mayo, I would suggest adding curry spice to mayo to get a similar effect. I love that these look like cake, due to the black pumpernickel bread from Northside Bakery in Brooklyn. I found it in my local health food store. 

The quickest way to get these sandwiches done is to purchase already cooked beets which seem to be available a better stores. If you can’t find them precooked, then boil in salted water till tender, about 35 min. 

MAKES 16 TRIANGLES

MAKE THE BEET/ CREAM CHEESE MIX

2 med beets, precooked, diced
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 TB poppy seeds
pinch salt
pinch white pepper

With a fork, mash together the beets and cream cheese, until beets really meld into the cream cheese, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

MAKE THE SANDWICHES

4 slices Northside Bakery Pumpernickel Pullman bread
beet/cream cheese mix
The Good Spoon Curry Vegan Mayo
3 golden delicous apples, cut in half, then sliced thinly

Place bread side by side. Spread cream cheese mix liberally on one slice. On the other slice, spread about a TB of the mayo. Layer rows of the apple slices on top of the mayo. Close sandwich, press to unite both halves, and trim the crusts off.

Cut on the diagonal into 2 triangles, then cut those in half so that you end of with 4 triangles. Cut those 4 triangles in half again, so that you end up with 8 total.

Chicken Salad Tea Sandwich with Sesame & Herb Crust

Posted on: August 31st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

Give your chicken salad tea sandwich an elevated twist.  The fresh lemon verbena has the most intoxicating scent, which will add to the eating experience immensely. I like the addition of thin strips of lemon verbena in many dishes—it adds a birghtness, and its lovely aroma to yogurt, salads, sandwiches, cocktails, and even ice cream. 

Traditional tea sandwiches call for white bread, but I recommend going for something along more healthier lines, like I did here. This white bread is made with better flours is from Berlin Natural Bakery. What really adds great flavor to the chicken salad here is the herbed vegan mayo, which is eggless and made with microalgae. I tasted the Good Spoon line recently at the Specialty Food show in NYC, and was thoroughly impressed. It makes preparing this dish that much speedier!

MAKES 12 TEA SANDWICHES

POACH THE CHICKEN

3/4 LB chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt

In a large saucepan, place chicken breasts and cover with water. Add herbs and spices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer about 15 min. Remove breasts to a bowl. When cool, shred completely with 2 forks. You really want the meat to be separated so that there are no clumps.

MAKE THE CHICKEN SALAD

shredded chicken
3 TB onion, diced
4 TB celery, diced
3 white grapes, sliced in half then dices
1 TB sesame seeds
1/2 CUP The Good Spoon Garlic & Herbs Vegan Mayo

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

MAKE THE SANDWICHES

6 slices Berlin Natural Bakery Classic White Spelt Bread
chicken salad

The Good Spoon Garlic & Herbs Vegan Mayo
6 tsp lemon verbena, diced

Open 2 slices of bread, on one side pile about a half inch of the chicken salad. Close sandwich. Cut on the diagonal into 2 triangles, then cut those in half so that you end of with 4 triangles.

With a spoon, coat one side of the sandwich with a thin layer of mayo. In a shallow dish, put a thin layer of the lemon verbena and dip the coated side into it. Serve garnished with sprig of the lemon verbena.

BONUS

The Good Spoon mayo comes in four varieties: Classic, Smoky Spicy, Curry and and the Garlic & Herbs that I used in this recipe. If you love fresh food with a punch of color, try the Beet & Apple & Curry Tea Sandwich recipe I created at this link. Those who love a smoky batch, mix a TB or more of the Smoky Spicy in with a can of tuna, add diced onions and  black olives. Serve on tortilla chips or crackers.

hobnobmag tuna smoky spicy

Mini Muffins: Savory Butternut Squash with Spicy Squash Spread

Posted on: March 31st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

I love the idea of creating a more savory slant to things that are usually sweet. These mini muffins incorporate squash, sunflower seeds, carrots and a little bit of farmer cheese in a little, healthy baked treat. 

Tip: An average (3 pound) butternut squash should produce 2.5 cups of puree, so I created a fresh spread with the extra to serve with the muffins, and add some zip and a freshness. Alternatively, butter or cream cheese would also go well. Think of offering all three if you are having a large crowd for brunch.

MAKES ABOUT 36 MINI MUFFINS

PREHEAT OVEN 375ºF… PREPARE THE SQUASH

1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

Place squash halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 40-45 min till fork can easily pierce through the squash’s center. Let cool a little, then scoop out the squash and mash with a fork in a bowl.

WHILE SQUASH IS BAKING, MIX WET INGREDIENTS FOR THE MUFFIN MIX

1 CUP cashew milk
2/3 CUP almond oil
1 egg
2 TB scallions, green tops, cut into thin rings
3 TB carrot, grated
2/3 CUP farmer cheese, room temp

1 CUP roasted butternut squash puree, cooled

In a large bowl incorporate ingredients till thoroughly combined.

FINISH THE MUFFIN MIX

1 CUP spelt flour
1/2 CUP coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt

In a separate bowl sift flours, then mix in the rest of the dry ingredients. Transfer to the wet ingredients bowl and stir until just combined.

HOBNOBMAG butternut squash muffin recipe steps

RAISE OVEN TEMP TO 400°F… BAKE THE MUFFINS

spray oil
sunflower seeds

Grease 2 mini muffin tins with spray oil* and divide mixture into each cavity, allowing dough to come above the rim. Create a cone-like, irregular shape at the top, then sprinkle on a few sunflower seeds. Bake for 20-22 min, till edges brown. Let cool 5 min in pan, then transfer muffins to a cooling rack.

WHILE MUFFINS BAKE, MAKE THE SPREAD

1 CUP butternut squash puree
1/4 CUP Greek yogurt
1 TB sriracha
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a small bowl and set on the side of muffins with a small spoon for spreading.

*If you don’t already own a spray oil dispenser, get one. That way you can use the quality oil of your choice for each project. This is a HOBNOB cupboard staple.

HOBNOBMAG Pinterest squash recipes

Want more party recipes for winter squash? Head to HOBNOB’s Pinterest page to see what we gathered from the spectrum. Party Recipes: Winter Squash We’ve done all the weeding for you, so you only see the most beautiful, healthful, and inventive recipes—the ones that are sure to impress guests. Here’s what we included:

Caprese Bites with Honey-Balsamic

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Apple, Parsnip and Sage

Cranberry, Butternut and Brussels Sprout Brie Skillet Nachos

Mini Bacon Butternut Squash Cups

Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash With Za’atar and Tahini

Feta and Roasted Acorn Squash Salad

Mushroom Risotto and Broccoli Stuffed Acorn Squash

Butternut Squash Chicken Flatbread Pizza

Smoky Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus

Garlic & Lemon Butternut Squash Noodles

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Rösti Cakes

Butternut Squash Hummus

Roasted Winter Squash with Vanilla Butter

Wild Rice Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Butternut Squash, Coconut & Turmeric Soup + Crispy Sage

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Tartines

Weekend Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash with Tahini and Feta

Party Potatoes: Roasted with Carrots and Cumin Coconut Yogurt Dip

Posted on: September 20th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

We love these party potatoes as much for their color, as for their cuteness and pop-ability. An all-natural treat, they are accompanied by a dip whose base is coconut yogurt, and is spiced up with cumin. Vegans and paleoists will salute your hosting finesse. This recipe is part of a paleo party planning theme.  Click on the link to see more recipes.

MAKES 60-70 BITES

PREHEAT OVEN 425ºF…ROAST THE POTATOES AND CARROTS

1 LB mixed color baby potatoes, cut in half (keep small ones whole for variety)
5 large carrot bottoms, cut into 1-inch chunks (match potato size)
5 mini peppers (yellow, red, orange), cut and use bottoms
1 TB olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

In a bowl, toss ingredients in oil to coat sprinkle with s + p. Move to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 30 min, till tender and browned.

HOBNOBMAG baby potatoes tricolor

MAKE THE CUMIN COCONUT YOGURT DIP

1/2 CUP coconut yogurt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

Place all ingredients into a blender, and emulsify.

TO SERVE

Put roasted mix in a nice bowl with a side of dip, add some toothpicks.

Crispy Artichoke Hearts with Lemon-Horseradish Sauce

Posted on: September 20th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

With the mix of the lemon and horseradish, and slight creaminess from the coconut yogurt, the flavors mesh perfectly with the crispy artichoke hearts, which have been roasted in the oven. These make a light, zingy paleo snack. Using quartered artichoke hearts, allows for a dainty bite for party goers, for something a little more substantial, buy a can of whole artichokes and halve them. I created this recipe to serve all Paleo party food, you can see the other recipes here

MAKES ABOUT 40 BITES

PREHEAT OVEN TO 425º F… CRISP THE ARTICHOKE HEARTS

2 cans artichoke hearts (14 oz), quartered
2 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
juice from 1/2 lemon

Place artichoke hearts on a paper towel leafy side down to get rid of excess moisture. Then move a bowl, toss together all ingredients. Space artichokes evenly across a parchment-lined baking sheet, leafy side up. Roast 30 -35 min, till tips turn brown.

hobnobmag recipe artichoke hearts and lemon horseradish dip

MAKE THE VINAIGRETTE

1/4 CUP white wine vinegar
1 TB horseradish
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, squeezed in a garlic press
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
2 TB coconut milk yogurt

1/4 CUP olive oil

garnish: 1 TB parsley, minced

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except oil, then add in a little at a time. Drizzle over warm artichoke hearts, sprinkle parsley.

Paleo Party Finesse: Crunchy Cumin Spiced Crackers with Mixed Seeds

Posted on: September 20th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

If you have committed to a Paleo diet, then you know that grains are verboten. But there is no reason to ignore those cravings for crunchy crackers. This recipe not only addresses those “crunch” cravings, but will also give you paleo party finesse when you serve them along with a stocked charcuterie board or along with guacamole. Enjoy them no matter what dietary leaning you follow. 

When developing this recipe, I did a few versions of these babies, in order to decide what flavors matched best with what. The cumin seeds add an almost a lemony zing, with the flavor profile akin to Indian and Moroccan cuisines. Therefore, they make a perfect vessel for dipping into hummus, (for non-Paleo participants, that is—beans are also not allowed). For traditional Paleoists, pair with guacamole, a swath of butter or sliced avocado, or enjoy nakedly on their own. If you like this recipe, you might want to take a look at our Grain-Free Crunchy Bagel-Style Almond Crackers, which tops the crackers with a slew of nuts and seeds for a slightly different take.

We included them on our charcuterie board, so people could match them with meat slices. You can also eat them with or in a salad, in lieu of croutons, they soak up the dressing nicely while keeping their crunch. Include some red pepper in the salad, the flavors really work especially well together. See my other paleo recipes, in the theme Purely Paleo

MAKES ROUGHLY 45 PIECES

PREHEAT OVEN 325ºF… PREPARE SEED MIX

1 1/2 TB sesame seeds
1 1/2 TB hemp seeds
1 TB chia seeds
1 TB golden flax seeds
1 TB cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a small bowl, mix thoroughly.

MAKE THE DOUGH

2 CUPS almond flour
seed mix

1 TB almond oil
1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients, then add the oil and egg. Knead well, and shape into a ball. Place onto a sheet of parchment paper that fits a baking pan. Transform dough ball into a rectangle echoing the shape of the parchment. Top with second piece of parchment and roll out dough to between 1/16- and 1/8-inch thickness. I like keeping the edges ragged so the tips will get more brown. You may need to fill in some holes as the dough escapes the parchment, so just break off those parts and fill in as necessary.

BAKE THE CRACKERS

Bake for roughly 27 min. The crackers should be browned on the edges. Move with parchment to a cooling rack and allow to cool about 10-15 min. Break apart by hand into irregular shapes. Store in an airtight container. Try not to eat them!

Adorably Mini: Where to Find Micro Veggies, Chocolates, and Customizable Candy

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016 by Ellen Swandiak

Make party bites even more tempting with micro-minded ingredients: baby veggies, mini-printed bon-bons, and candy you can customize.

[1] Elevated Crudite Supermarket plastic trays of cut-up cauliflower, baby carrots, and celery sticks, anchored by a tub of ranch dressing, no more. Upgrade your tired crudité platters of yore with mini versions of your favorite spring veggies, small, tender, and crisp. These tiny varieties of produce, perfect for a healthy, raw party bite, can come either as “baby” vegetables picked before growing to their full-size or miniature varietals cultivated to petite proportions. Think mini heads of spiky bright green romesco cauliflower, micro cucumbers that look like tiny watermelons, and real baby carrots with their tops on, not the whiddled, dried out versions from a bag. Not only do they look very cute, these veggies tend to be milder and sweeter than their adult counterparts to boot. Dunk in your favorite hummus or whip up a quick Green Goddess-inspired dip by zapping Greek yogurt, your favorite fresh, leafy herbs, a bit of garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor.

[2] Mini Produce Sources Look for mini produce in local specialty food shops and farmers’ markets in spring and summer or special order through an online source. Marx Foods sells a “Tiny Crudite Mix” that includes a seasonal variety of veggies with their slender stalks still attached, making it the perfect cocktail food, no toothpicks necessary. Specialty Produce carries a huge variety of unique produce varietals, including mini sweet bell peppers and cucumbers with colorful yellow flowers attached. Go to The Chef’s Garden for their beautiful tender microgreens of all types and their sweet, crisp baby turnips, radishes, and carrots.

HOBNOBMAG micro veggies, chocolate, candy

[3] Tumbador Chocolate The mini patterns on these fine chocolates will get your gang cooing. Executive Pastry Chef Jean-François Bonnet (formerly of restaurant Daniel) works with only the finest ingredients in the world—exotic fruits, spices, fresh herbs and regional flavors. You can also order custom designed chocolates, attuned to your palate. tumbadorchocolate.com

[4] Papabubble New York Take a look at these tiny bits of fun. Papabubble is an artisan candy making academy, where aspiring candy artists get trained in the intricacies of working in the medium of molten sugar. Picture these cuties atop a cupcake, or set around the party in tiny dishes. The flavors are bright, fresh and fruity. Check the website for their other styles, like the #1 Dad mix, the Mazel Tov mix, the Thank You mix—or have a custom candy made just for you. papabubbleny.com

Instant Success: Dinner Party Shortcuts

Posted on: December 21st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

With weekend guests, you need to have stuff on hand. HOBNOB suggests stocking your pantry and freezer with these sophisticated flavors and dinner party shortcuts—so you come off as a hosting pro.

As part of the plan for hosting weekend guests, we found some fab ingredient to have on hand: a sensational American caviar in two price ranges, a collection of intense sophisticated sauces to accent your cooking, a line of instant cheesecakes and for the purists, the taste of just picked herbs from the freezer.

[1] Kelley’s Katch Kaviar This company produces caviar that rivals its Russian counterparts. Kelley’s Katch, a small producer based out of Savannah, Tennessee, harvests roe from wild fish from throughout the American South. The Kelleys, a husband and wife team, have been in the caviar business for over twenty years, and they own their own boats and processing and packing facilities, cutting out the middleman and passing savings along to their customers. Choose from their most popular paddlefish roe ($30 for 2 oz tin) or an even more luxurious option, American sturgeon ($99 for 2 oz tin) , seen in the photo. kelleyskatch.com

[2] La Maison Signature Sauces Whipping up dinner for weekend guests without sacrificing flavor and quality is easy with these sauces. La Maison’s line is made with fresh, flavorful ingredients, that can be used as a sauce on pan-seared steaks and chops; a glaze for roasts or vegetables; or as a creamy base for casseroles and pastas. Choose from a range of flavors, including red-wine based Burgundy Peppercorn, smoky Chipotle cream, spicy Thai Coconut Curry, herbaceous Pesto Cream, and rich Sherried Mushroom. $8 for 9 oz jars. vermontsigsauces.appspot.com

HOBNOBMAG Dinner Party Shortcuts

[3] Just in Time Gourmet: Key Lime Cheesecake Just in Time Gourmet’s dessert mixes are perfect for busy weekenders with a sweet tooth. So easy to put together that guests can get in on the cooking action too, their mixes only require a few additional ingredients like cream cheese and a graham cracker crust. Luscious and not too sweet, their cheesecake line, which includes Lemonade, Key Lime Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie, and Caramel Apple flavors, is our favorite for family gatherings. About $9. phoenixfoodco.com Get it online at amazon.com

[4] Daregal Frozen Fresh Herbs Daregal’s frozen fresh herbs are the next best thing to picking herbs straight from your garden. Their herbs are harvested, washed, chopped (only the tender leaves are used), and frozen within three hours, maximizing freshness and flavor. Stored conveniently in your freezer for use all year, they can be used straight from the container, no thawing necessary. With more flavor than dried herbs, and more convenience than fresh herbs (no spoilage, no prep), stock your kitchen with chopped basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, chives, and more (organic varieties also available). About $3. Darengal

Healthy Party Snack: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Black Truffle Dip

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When entertaining, you never want your guests to be without food or drink! That’s why it’s important to plan to have some nibbles around while you are preparing dinner and starting to imbibe. I came up with this healthy party snack to take advantage of the fall harvest, when Brussels sprouts are at their peak of sweetness and are abundant everywhere. I paired it with a dip made of  black truffle pâté mixed with sour cream, to give it even more dimension. Tip: Make sure to really caramelize the Brussels sprouts in the pan for full flavor effect. You can have this dish served in 15 minutes, to great applause.

I developed this recipe as part of a plan for hosting weekend guests. The plan gives you ideas for serving from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. This is the welcome snack, the one to serve before dinner on Friday night. See the whole plan at this link.

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

MAKE THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped

1 TB olive oil
4 CUPS Brussels sprouts, cut in half (14 oz)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Heat olive oil and add onions. Saute until caramelized, about 7 min. Add in garlic about 6 min, and saute with onions for one minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add olive oil to the pan with Brussels sprouts. Let sit for 5-7 min to caramelize and blacken, then stir and let cook for an another 5-7 min. (Add oil to the pan if it starts to dry out.) Stir onions/garlic back in. Season with flaky sea salt.

MAKE THE BLACK TRUFFLE DIP

1 CUP sour cream
2 TB La Rusichetta Black Truffle Pâté
pinch salt

Mix together in a small bowl.

Roasted Carrots with Creamy Kale Dip: A Tricolor Harvest Splendor

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When coming up with recipes for entertaining, I always like to include the idea of healthy ingredients. So, during the fall, when carrots are at their peak, a tricolor of roasted carrots could be the sweetest dish on the table. They make a nice match to the Creamy Kale dip, whose base is ricotta and yogurt, with added blend of spices in the mix.

The deep purple and orange tones of the carrots mimic an orange and black color duo, perfect for Halloween or Day of the Dead parties. Check the link to see the whole menu, which celebrates the harvest in a party-friendly way.

MAKES ABOUT 60 CARROT STICKS AND ABOUT 2 CUPS OF CREAMY KALE DIP

ROAST THE CARROTS…PREHEAT OVEN 400ºF

1 LB tricolor carrots, with green tops
2 TB EV olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 TB thyme, minced

Place carrots in a row on a baking sheet lined with parchment, drizzle with olive oil and honey, then sprinkle with thyme. Roast for 1 hour.

MAKE THE CREAMY KALE DIP

2 TB EV olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch curly kale, sliced into thin ribbons (about 6 cups)
1/2 tsp salt

1 CUP fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 CUP Greek yogurt
1 TB thyme, chopped
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper

In large pan, heat olive oil. Add red pepper flakes, garlic, saute 30 sec. Add kale, salt, and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 min till cooked through. Allow to cool.
Transfer to food processor. Add rest of the ingredients and pulse until smooth.

TO SERVE

thyme, minced, for garnish (optional)

Present carrots on a serving platter with a bowl of the creamy kale dip, sprinkle with more thyme.

Chipotle Salsa with Brown Tomatoes: A Deeper Tone

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When you see brown tomatoes in your supermarket, give them a shot. They are mild and juicy and work wonderfully in a salsa. Tip: Removing the seeds from the tomatoes makes for a chunkier, and less wet salsa, and much nicer to eat.

We chose to plate the chipotle salsa with blue corn tortilla chips to continue the serious deep mood. This will make a statement on your party buffet for sure. This recipe is part of our Halloween menu, which conforms to an orange and black color theme to give your buffet a holiday feel.

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS

GRAB A NICE SHARP KNIFE…

5 brown tomatoes
1 can of chipotle peppers, chopped, adobo sauce reserved
juice of half lime
2 TB cilantro, chopped finely

To create nice little tomato chunks, cut a slice off the top, then cut in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and flatten. In a bowl, mix in chipotles, lime juice, and cilantro. Depending on how spicy you want it, add adobo sauce incrementally.

Marinated Black Olive Bruschetta: Back in Black for Halloween

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Bruschetta is a fun party offering, where you can set our pre-made toasts, or just let your guests make their own. We chose crinkly Moroccan olives for this Black Olive Bruschetta, because of their intense taste, and the ability to hold up to the marinade without getting mushy. They lost a little of their leathery texture and soaked up the flavors nicely. The orange slices and curls add to the orange and black theme, in addition to giving the olives an additional level of taste.

Halloween and Day of the Dead parties are getting spookier by the minute! See the full menu in our party theme Spooky Harvest: a squid ink pasta, roasted carrots, and tomato soup—to name a few recipes in the party mix.

MAKES ABOUT 30 BITES

MARINATE THE OLIVES

2 CUPS black olives
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp orange zest
3 slices orange
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 TB parsley, chopped
EV olive oil

Lightly crush the olives, and transfer to a glass jar with a lid. Add the spices and cover with olive oil. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 to 3 days, shaking the jar occasionally.

MAKE THE BLACK OLIVE BRUSCHETTA

crusty baguette, cut into thin slices
EV olive oil
orange curls, for garnish
thyme, minced, for garnish

Drizzle olive oil onto bread. Take marinated olives and crush 3 onto each baguette slice. Top with orange curls and a touch of thyme. Or just leave out the ingredients and let guests make their own toasts.

Not So Sweet Dessert: Smoked Almond Dip with Apples

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

I’m one of those people that is interested in finding recipes for desserts in the not so sweet category. In coming up with a menu for watching a sporting event,  I thought a savory nut dip would fit the bill. You can pair this dip with either crisp, citrus-y apples, carrots or pretzels. See more upscale recipes in our Classy Sports party theme menu.

MAKES ENOUGH DIP FOR AT LEAST 72 APPLE SLICES

GET OUT THE FOOD PROCESSOR

2 CUPS smoked roasted almonds

5 TB peanut oil

Pulse nuts till very crumbly. Drizzle oil into running processor. Process with light touch.

ADD FLAVOR TO THE MIXTURE

2 TB tamari
1/4 CUP of water
juice of 1 lime
2 TB maple syrup
1 TB smoked salt

Add all ingredients to almond mixture. Process till combined.

SLICE THE APPLES

3 apples
juice of 1/2 lime

Slice apples in half, quarter. Remove core, cut each quarter into 6 slices. In bowl, toss apple slices with freshly squeezed lime juice. When displaying, stick one or more apple slices in dip to encourage dipping.

Chicken a Whole New Way—Dressed in a Smoked Cumin Mayo

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Make chicken a whole new way. We accomplished this with The Smoking Gun by PolyScience, which adds smoke flavor without adding heat. Guys, and gals, will love using this gadget. The Smoking Gun is perfect for smoking just about anything—mayo, butter, juices, you-name-it. You’ll be really surprised at how much flavor can be added in a minute amount of time, the mayo only needed about two minutes.

We love this recipe as part of the classy menu we created for serving while watching the big game. Sports fans can graze on these bites all through the game. Alternate serving idea: Mix the smoked mayo with chicken bites to create a chicken salad and serve atop crackers or make mini sandwiches.

MAKES ABOUT 80 BITES

GRILL THE CHICKEN BREASTS

1 LB chicken breasts
smoked salt

Get a grill pan nice and hot. Cut breasts into uniform thickness, if necessary, separate the tenderloin. Sprinkle with smoked salt. Grill.

MAKE THE CUMIN MAYO

2 TB mayo
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked salt

herbs, for garnish (optional)

Mix ingredients together in deep bowl. Spread mayo around the sides to create a lot of surface. Cover bowl in plastic wrap, with the tube from The Smoking Gun inserted. Place wood chips in gun, light it as you would a pipe. Turn on the gun, and allow smoke to fill bowl, about 20 secs. Shut off gun. Allow smoke to remain for 2 to 3 min, (the longer you leave it, the more intense the result will be). Remove plastic. You will get a waft of smoke here, so avoid area with smoke detector. You might want to open a window for a minute to allow smoke to dissipate.

MAKE THE BITES

With a sharp knife, cut breasts into bite-size pieces. Put a dollop of the mayo on the bites using a small spoon. Spear with toothpick. If you have any oregano, parsley or chives around, chop and sprinkle over the bites to decorate.

Greek Pantry: Authentic Olive Oil, Sweets, Sauces and More

Posted on: August 3rd, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

If you are cooking Greek food, you need to gather a few essentials. Here are a smattering of high-end products that are the must-haves for your Greek pantry.

Support Greece in the most fun way: by eating their products. We’ve gathered a selection of goods imported straight from the homeland, plus products made with handed-down recipes by second and third generation Greek Americans. Kali orexi! [Bon appetit!]

[1] Five Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This super design-y bottle stands for an excellence you can sense before even tasting it. Using hand-picked, sustainably-grown Koroneiki olives from Finiki Lakonias, Greece, the oils have no additives and are produced using a method of cold extraction at low temperatures, resulting in very low levels of acidity. The packaging, in matte black, allows it to be displayed prominently on the counter or buffet. Check the entire line for other extraordinary olive oils, in matte white bottle, and special edition Swarovski crystal Five. So giftable. $24. fiveoliveoil.com Available online at hellenicfarms.com

[2] Navarino Icons Spoon Sweets

Start a Greek tradition in your household: offer a sweet preserve to arriving guests, along with a glass of cold water to kick off the gathering. These flavor-packed “spoon sweets” are made by gently boiling seasonal fruit for hours—or even for days (as the tomato version is), resulting in sweet gem-like delights that are a perfect accompaniment to strong cheeses, Greek yogurt, or even atop ice cream.

Choose from three varieties: tomato, olive, and the limited edition orange. The olive variety is made by simmering Kalamata olives, pitted and stuffed with almonds, and brewed in an intoxicating syrup of fresh orange juice, wine, honey, herbs, and spices. The tomato variety is simple but sweet, using only three ingredients: sugar, lemon, and fresh tomatoes picked in August.

Navarino Icons is an incredible company committed to distributing authentic products created by small-scale producers on the coastal region of Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese. Their food products are all prepared using recipes handed down for generations, and always with respect for local traditions. $16-$18. navarinoicons.com Available online at hellenicfarms.com

[3] Olympia Provisions Loukaniko Sausage

Based in Portland, Oregon, Olympia Provisions (formerly Olympic Provisions) is making America’s best charcuterie, and though it’s almost impossible to choose, one of their best products is their loukanika, a traditional Greek salami boldly flavored with garlic, cumin and a touch of orange zest. The recipe itself was passed down by “Old Man Cairo,” the father of head salumist Eli Cairo.

Cairo, who is a first generation Greek American, grew up with his father making charcuterie from scratch at home, where doing things the old fashioned, handmade way was the norm. Lucky for us, Cairo has taken up his father’s craft, and now he and his fellow salumists at Olympia Provisions are taking charcuterie in America to new heights, using nearly extinct old world techniques, aging his salumi naturally and slowly, and using hand-butchered antibiotic-free Pacific Northwest pork. olympiaprovisions.com

hobnbomag Greek Pantry

[4] Kaldi Greek Cooking Sauces

Kaldi’s line of all-natural cooking sauces make recreating your favorite long-simmered Greek specialties simple and easy—all you need is to add beef, chicken, shrimp, or your favorite vegetable.

Choose from sauces based on traditional Greek dishes: the hearty veggie-packed PLAKI, perfect with beans or fresh vegetables; the sweet and savory PORTOKALI made with blood oranges, olives, ginger, and tomatoes on seafood or fish; SAGANAKI, woven with quintessential Greek flavors of anise, black olives and capers; and the deep rich STIFADO made with red wine, onions, and allspice over beef, lamb, or chicken. There’s no limit to the scope you can bring to these one-pot creations—just think of these sauces as an amazing base to jump off from. amazon.com

[5] Ariston Wildflower Honey

This month’s Halloumi and Ham bites were highlighted by a lime-honey-lemon verbena sauce, in which we featured this delicious honey. Bees have a field day in Messinia, an untouched area of Greece, where wildflowers bloom in glorious profusion. Add a jar of this to your cheese board, or tea service. $6. aristonspecialties.com

hobnbomag Greek Pantry

[6] Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese

Halloumi, traditionally made with goat and sheep’s milk, is the most famous cheese of Cyprus, Greece. The name Halloumi is derived from the Greek word “almi”, which refers to the brine solution that is used to preserve the cheese. Salty, tangy, and with a very elastic texture, Halloumi’s high melting point makes it perfect for grilling, as it can magically brown without devolving into a melty mess.

Since the name Halloumi is a protected product of Cyprus, this American brand calls their version Idaho Golden Greek Grillin’ Cheese, which is made using a traditional halloumi recipe but with 100% Jersey cow’s milk, which has a higher butterfat content.

Ballard’s award-winning version is not your everyday squeaky, vacuum-packed variety. Cooked to crisp, golden perfection and with a rich bouncy bite, we daresay Ballard’s American-made cheese is a mighty rival to its Greek counterpart. The Ballard family started their small dairy nine years ago with the strong belief that loving care and a healthy diet would create not only higher quality milk, but also happier cows. $16.50 ballardcheese.com

Vegan Appetizer: Artichoke Hearts with Black Pepper-Lemon Dip

Posted on: August 2nd, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Something light and easy for summer entertaining, this vegan appetizer packs a lot of flavors in its small bites. Lemon, herbs, and a touch of sour cream bring it all together. I found myself loving the flavors in the dip and think it could work well in many dishes. Think about pairing it with all sorts of things: pouring it over broiled fish, tossed as a salad dressing, or dousing string beans with slivered almonds.

Hints of oregano and thyme in the breading of the artichokes allude to the tastes of Greece. Check out our other recipes from the Greek party theme, if you like that idea, we have a whole menu of Greek dishes that you can serve at a party to great applause.

MAKES 50 BITES

MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE

zest of 1 lemon
juice from 2 lemons
2 TB brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
1 TB Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
1/2 CUP EV olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk ingredients together.

PREHEAT OVEN 375ºF…MAKE THE ARTICHOKES

2 cans artichoke hearts (14 oz), quartered


2 eggs, beaten

1/4 CUP nutritional yeast
1 CUP breadcrumbs
2 TB thyme, minced
1/2 TB dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne

Rinse artichokes, allow to dry on paper towels. Prepare dipping stations in two bowls: one with eggs, the other with dry ingredients combined. Drench each heart in the eggs then cover with the breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 min, flipping halfway through.