Company’s Coming Celebration Wheel

This is a great starter with your Company arriving. They will be so appreciative that you took the time to pamper them. It has been awhile we know.

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. grated Asiago cheese
  • 2 tbsp. grated Romano cheese
  • 1 garlic clove,  grated
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. hot sauce (your favourite)
  • pinch each of salt and white pepper
  • 1/2 cup of roughly chopped artichoke hearts (canned variety)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped spinach
  • 1 pkg. puff pastry, thawed
  • 4 tbsp. Painter’s guacamole (my site)
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 tbsp. water, plus extra for wash
  • 1 egg

In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheeses, salt and pepper, garlic, and basil until really well combined. Now add the artichoke and spinach, mixing to incorporate.

Roll out 1 sheet of pastry to about a 13 inch circle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the guacamole in the centre of the circle leaving a 1 inch border around the edge.

Spread carefully the spinach mixture out on top of the guacamole and spread the shredded cheese evenly over the surface.

With a pastry brush dipped in water, run it around the edge.

Roll out the other pastry into the same size circle and set over the spinach layer so the edges match. Press the pastry all over to from the center out, and press together to seal. Using a fork, poke holes all over to allow the steam to escape. Now invert a 12 1/2 inch plate on top and trim off any pastry that hangs from the edges. You can use the excess pastry to make any type of decoration. Refrigerate the pastry and decorations for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Now comes the fun part. Lightly press a small bowl to cover the center of the circle. and with a pastry/pizza wheel, cut into quarters from the bowl edge to the pastry edge. Now cut each quarter, into 6 equal strips, twisting each one 2-3 times. Remove little bowl.

Whisk together water and egg to make a wash and with a pastry brush, brush the entire surface and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until a lovely golden brown. Add the baked decorations, scattering over the surface.

Cool down for about 5-6 minutes and serve your guests with a beverage of their choice (or being offered), a small plate and napkin. Enjoy the day!

Fresh Mango Pineapple Salsa

With the big Football game almost here (if you watch American football) this is a great item to serve along with guacamole or a black bean dip. It is easy and very yummy and refreshing.

  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup diced fresh mango
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • pinch each of cayenne pepper, ground cumin and sea salt
  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips for all the dipping.

Feel free to use any type of chip or cracker. Your house – your rules. Enjoy!

Really Simple Hors d’ Oeurves For Entertaining

Christmas is a short time from now and with all the hustle-bustle going on in your house, here is one of the easiest and tastiest bites to offer your family and guests.

  • 8 slices of paper thin prosciutto (1 slice per person actually)
  • 8 fresh but ripe figs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp. of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena*
  • 2 oz. Asiago cheese, shaved into strips using your vegetable peeler

On individual plates, arrange the prosciutto, 2 fig halves (drizzle the Balsamic vinegar over) and a strip or two of the cheese. Add a couple of your best crackers and you will have an easy-peasy bite.

This will, of course, go with any other tidbits you have. Also, have napkins, clean glasses to serve your beverages of choice in, lit candles and enjoy the company at hand.

Note: * The label reads Vinaigre Balsamique de Modene

 

Olive Varieties With Orange And Rosemary

When we were on vacation a few years ago, we travelled with 2 ladies who became friends and one of them loved olives as much as my husband and these two would ‘steal’ the dishes of olives off all the other tables in the dining room. So…Liz and Don here is a recipe for the two of you (and any one else who loves these little critters).

  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • zest from 1/2 orange, peeled in long strips with swivel peeler
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 16 oz. mixed olives like Liguria, kalamata, nicoise, cerignola (green)
  • 1 tsp. fennel
  • zest from 1/2 lemon

In a skillet on medium high heat, put the olive oil, coriander seeds, herbs, orange and lemon zest, pepper flakes. Swirl the pan and heat this mixture until it becomes fragrant (about 3-4 minutes).

Add the olives and cook, occasionally stirring  until the garlic is golden and the zest begins to curl. This should only take about 2 minutes.

Serve these warm or room temperature.

Cheese Pinwheels For a Virtual Party

During this self-isolating time, people are having virtual parties. This is Friday, invite your family and friends for a virtual party and go for it.

  • 1 sheet butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/2 cup jarred red peppers, drained, chopped and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup Fontina cheese (or your favourite)
  • 1/4 cup grated Asiago Cheese
  • 1/4 lightly packed, sliced thin fresh Basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Roll out the pastry and set aside. Quickly mix together all the ingredients and sprinkle over the pastry.

Tightly roll this up and place seam side down on waxed paper. Wrap this up, making sure to twist the ends and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove the wax paper, slice in 1/2 inch rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet one inch apart.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 18-20 minutes until golden.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Tart

Here is a tasty treat to make The spinach really adds a pop of color. This is a really old recipe and used anchovies. trust me, use the artichokes instead.

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 sheets frozen butter puff pastry
  • 1/2 cup water packed artichokes (about 2), drained, chopped and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 3 cups lightly packed baby spinach, thinly sliced

In a fry pan melt the butter over a medium heat and cook the onion stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until golden and tender. If the onion begins to stick, add a tbsp. of water, a little at a time. Stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper.

Place parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet. Unroll 1 sheet of the pastry and top with 1/2 of the onion mixture, artichokes, dried tomatoes and spinach. On a separate baking sheet, repeat this process. with the second pastry sheet.

Bake one sheet at a time, in a 425 degree oven until the edges are golden. About 18-20 minutes. Cut each sheet into 16 squares.

Add a glass of chilled white wine and you have a party in the making. Enjoy!

Fresh Fig Compote {Jam}

I have always loved fresh figs and when we lived in the Okanagan, our kids bought us a fig tree for a house warming. So this is the tie-in for the recipe below.

Two nights ago, while skimming some very old cooking shows Don has kept, I found this one and I made it yesterday. It is to die for. Put on a cracker with a beautiful white cheese, and a dollop of this and it makes a wonderful finger food to enjoy OR use as a dessert with a cheese tray, some grapes and this in a bowl. Let your guests make their own up. Easy, inexpensive and ooooohhhhh so good!

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2  lbs. fresh figs

Put the vanilla bean and all the seeds, orange zest, sugar and orange juice in a large sauce pan.

Trim the bottom ends and remove the stems of all the figs and discard. Quarter each one and put in the sauce pan and bring to a rapid boil. Boil hard for 1 full minute stirring constantly so it won’t stick to the bottom of the pan and then reduce the temperature, cover the pot and cook for 1 hour.

Remove the vanilla bean and discard. Let this cool down completely. It will thicken up beautifully.

*Note This recipe was from Ina Garten and it is wonderful. Remember to think ahead and put together all the little finger foods you can prepare and use throughout the holidays seasons fast approaching.

Herbed Cheeses in Golden Cases

Okay, here is another recipe to add to the “entertaining” list you are setting up. These will not last long as they really are super tasty.

  • 1 loaf unsliced white bread
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese,
  • 1/8 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup fresh Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. each fresh Basil and Oregano, chopped

Cut the bread into 2 inch slices, removing crusts. Cut the slices into 3 strips, cutting each strip crossways to make 3″ x 4″ rectangles. Scoop out the centers carefully, leaving a shell. Brush the rims and sides with butter. Place on a baking tray and place in a 350 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes. Watch they don’t burn but are only lightly browned. Spoon the filling into the cases and sprinkle with the grated Asiago cheese.

Filling

Melt the butter in a saucepan and slowly whisk in the flour, cooking until it becomes bubbly. Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, stirring until it thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolk and cheeses. stirring until it all becomes silky smooth. Now stir in the herbs.

This will make about 36 tidbits to savour. The bread cases can be made about an hour in advance. Just store, covered in the refrigerator. The filling must be left a room temperature. Microwaving and freezing is not an option here.

I posted this recipe about 7 years ago and thought you might like to see it again, it is that good!

 

Bocconcini and Prosciutto With Mustard Aioli

Our time from now to New Year’s  Eve is going to be full of family and friends, and maybe a new idea for the table will be this one. I am going to try to keep them coming so you won’t feel stressed out.

  • 4 oz.prosciutto
  • 8 oz. of bocconcini, cubed

Cut the prosciutto into 2 1/2″  x 4 ” strips. Wrap a strip around each piece of Bocconcini, pressing the ends of the meat firmly together. Serve with pretty toothpicks inserted and always have the mustard aioli at the ready.

 

Mustard Aioli

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. seeded mustard
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped, fresh basil

Combine these ingredients in a bowl, mixing to blend well. Place next to the ‘bites’ you just prepared.

Note; These can be made about 6 hours ahead, leaving you time to do other things. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. It will not freeze well.

Asiago And Proscuitto Puff Strips

This is a great food to put up when serving at your wine and cheese function. Fast and easy to do.

  • 1 pkg. frozen butter flavoured puff pastry, thaw in fridge overnight.
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 12 thin slices of proscuitto
  • 2 tbsp. grated Asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Unroll 1 sheet of thawed pastry and return the second sheet to the refrigerator. Brush the pastry with half of the mustard.

Cut each slice of proscuitto lengthwise into 2 strips.

Cut pastry into 12 x 2 inch strips

Place 1/2 of the proscuitto on each top half of the pastry strip. Fold the uncovered half of the pastry back over the meat to cover. Twist the strip slightly and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Repeat these steps with the remaining pastry and proscuitto. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake on the center rack for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. These should make 24 strips.

 

Roasted Caprese Crostini

Now the warm weather has finally arrived, get ready to make this delightful snack to enjoy with a glass of the grape, on the deck or patio, and simply enjoy life. If using a larger bread or two of them (company?), then increase the salsa amount.

 

  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonade cut
  • 1 focaccia bread
  • 1-2 Burrata cheese bundles
  • 1/4 cup smooth salsa

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the tomatoes become shrivelled. Make sure to turn them over half way through the 30 minute baking time. Let cool down to room temperature, letting it all rest for 25 minutes before continuing on.

Lay the focaccia bread on a parchment lined baking sheet and broil for 2 minutes. Turn over so it becomes golden in colour.

Brush the bread with the salsa. Slice open the Burrata cheese bundle and spread out over the bread. If it is a large bread, then you will need the 2nd bundle.

Spoon the tomato mixture over the cheese and bake in the oven for about 4-6 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the fresh basil. Cut into 2 ” squares and serve warm.

Ooooooooooooohhhh my that is delicious.

 

 

Chili Crab Dip

Here is another dip using crabmeat and cheese, but it is a real good one. Especially with the Stanley Cup games on now and baseball in the thick of it.

 

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 shallot, diced
  • 1/3 cup chili sauce,
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 250g cream cheese (half the pkg.) cubed and softened
  • 1 1/2 cups aged white cheddar, grated
  • 1 tub crab claw meat (227g), drained well and patted dry
  • 1 tbsp. mustard
  • pinch each salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the shallot, chili sauce and garlic, stirring until the shallot is softened. This should take about 2 1/2-3 minutes. Whisk in the flour and stir for another 2 minutes.

Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring until thickened and smooth (about 4 minutes).  Whisk in the cream cheese and when completely melted and smooth, add about 2/3 of the grated cheddar. Again, stirring until smooth.

When this is all really smooth (no lumps) add the crab meat, mustard, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and broil for about 3-5 minutes, until it is bubbling and golden. Let this stand about 5 minutes before trying to serve. Add crackers, napkins and a favourite beverage. Game on..


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