All posts filed under: Appetizers and Drinks

Grill Smoked Trout

Smoked fish is on the top of my list of holiday appetizers. Smoky, meaty, sweet trout plays well with all sorts of different tasty beverages, and is the perfect complement to a holiday cocktail party, wine tasting, or a just a couple of good beers with friends. It’s easy to make at home, tastes better than store-bought, and will impress your guests. What more can you ask for? I like to serve it chilled, with crackers, red onions, capers, and sour cream. But smoked trout is not just an appetizer; served warm, it can me the main course; leftovers make the base of a smoked trout spread. Now, this trout takes a little planning ahead; it needs to brine for a few hours, and then smoke for at least a half an hour on the grill. That’s OK – I work around that by making it way ahead; smoked fish can be made up to two days ahead of time. It tastes great cold, straight out of the refrigerator, or at room temperature, if it …

Dates Stuffed With Goat Cheese and Almonds

We’re hosting a Christmas Eve cocktail party. Now, Dad Cooks Dinner, but Mom is the Mixologist; she’s responsible for the drinks, I’m responsible for the nibbles. Here is one of my favorite appetizers. Sweet and salty, sour and crunchy; the dates, goat cheese, and almonds combine into one tasty bite. Even better, I can make it a day ahead of time – stuff a date with goat cheese, add an almond, repeat – and pull it out of the fridge when it’s time to serve. I made my picky eater try one. He took the tiniest of nibbles, and stuck his tongue out. “I don’t like goat cheese.” “Pop the whole thing in your mouth” I said. “You need to get all of it at once.” He gave me the “jeez, dad” look, hesitated, gently put it in his mouth, and started chewing. He grimaced. Then got a thoughtful look on his face, shrugged, and said “eh.” Well, at least he tried it. Later, he came over with a sheepish look on his face. “Are …

Sous Vide Limoncello

<…In the car, listening to america’s test kitchen podcast…>Wait…I can make my own limoncello?Phew! Christmas list solved. I’ll look up the recipe when I get home. <…At home, searching the web…>Darn…it has to rest for weeks, if not months. Christmas is too close. Hmm. <…adjusting search terms…>Aha! Sous Vide to the rescue! I can speed the infusion time up from weeks to hours. Next, I need 190 proof grain alcohol. <…remembering a particular party in college…shudders. Moving on…>Darn, again…I can’t buy Everclear 190 in Ohio without a prescription. It’s 127 miles to Pittsburgh. I’ve got a full tank of gas, ten organic lemons, it’s snowing… <…one bootlegging run to Pennsylvania later…> Excellent warning labels on this bottle: “Caution! Extremely Flammable! Contents may ignite or explode.” That’s what you get with 95% alcohol. I got to work scrubbing and zesting lemons. And…that’s it. Lemon zest, Everclear, a quart mason jar, and three hours sous vide yield lemon infused liquor; simmering water and sugar gives me simple syrup, and the two combine into limoncello. I can’t believe it …

Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey Old Fashioned with Grilled Orange

This post is sponsored by Knob Creek® Distillery and the Original Brothers of Bourbon website. I enjoy the bold, spicy taste of Knob Creek® Rye Whiskey while I grill. The other day, as I sipped my drink and waited for the grill to preheat, the penny dropped. I can grill my oranges, adding smoky, caramelized fruit flavors to my Old Fashioned. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? How do I grill an Old Fashioned? While preheating the grill for the main course, I put an orange wedge on the grate for a minute or two, long enough to give it good grill marks. After the wedge cools down for a minute, I squeeze a little of the orange juice into a rocks glass, muddle it with sugar cubes and a dash or two of bitters, and stir in some Knob Creek® Rye. Add some ice, the squeezed orange wedge, top with club soda, and I have a tasty beverage – just what I need to fortify myself for an evening of grilling. Recipe: Knob …

Caffè Tonic

Intrigued / grossed out by this. RT @TastingTableNYC Meet coffee’s new mate. Tonic water.@Francis_Lam via Twitter My first thought: Espresso and tonic water? No way. There’s no way that tastes good.My second thought: That’s so weird, I have to try it. It actually works! The bitter, roasted flavor of the coffee mixes with the sweet, spicy flavor of the tonic water. I tried it with the bottle of tonic water I had at home, and it was good; I went out and found the Fever Tree Tonic that Tasting Table recommends, and it was fantastic.It was so good that I’m restraining myself. Writing this makes me want to go make another one right now, but I’ve hit my self-imposed espresso limit for the day. Four shots is enough, right? If your coffee addiction started with something sweet (like cafe mocha at Arabica Coffee on Coventry back in the day), but your tastes have matured, try a caffè tonic. Recipe: Caffè Tonic Adapted from: Coffee Tonics are the New Iced Tonic Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook …

Sous Vide Jalapeno Infused Tequila

I know how to make hot pepper infused tequila – why should I get all modernist and cook it sous vide? Because, when I want spicy tequila, I want it as soon as possible. Regular infused tequila needs to steep overnight; by adding gentle heat, I can have spicy tequila ready in under an hour. And, it’s easier to vary the amount of heat. I found 45 minutes at 135°F to be the perfect amount of time – it transfers the jalapeno taste and the right amount of spicy heat. If you want the jalapeno flavor with just a bit of heat, infuse the tequila for 30 minutes; if you want to blast your taste buds, infuse it for an hour, extracting all the heat from the peppers. Most sous vide infusion recipes recommend pouring the alcohol into a gallon zip-top bag, but I found that unwieldy. And by “unwieldy”, I mean “I spilled tequila everywhere when the bag slipped.” A quart jar is much easier to deal with; it is the right size for …

Grilled Avocados with Lemon Vinaigrette

I think of this recipe as avocado lemon butter. It makes a great appetizer – brown the avocado on the grill, then toast thin slices of bread. Put them on a platter with a spoon, set the platter in front of your guests, and stand back.Or serve with crackers if you want an easier version that skips slicing and toasting bread. Or, serve with tortilla chips for a “scoop your own guacamole”. One warning – the avocados have to be perfectly ripe for this recipe to work as a spread. The heat of the grill softens the avocados even more, turning them creamy and spreadable. But…there’s only so much the grill can do. If the avocados are still a little hard, they’re not going to soften enough to spread. Don’t give up, though – if you need to use the avocados today, grill them, squeeze the halves out of the skin, and slice them thin. That way, your diners can top their bread with slices of avocado. Recipe: Grilled Avocados with Lemon Vinaigrette Inspired By: …

Grilled Lemon Whiskey Sour

Grilled citrus is having a moment. I’ve seen it in a bunch of places recently, and I had to try it out. Is it all for show? My next thought was – grilled lemon? Sounds perfect in a drink, something to keep me quenched while I do hard work over an open fire. Grilled whiskey sour, here we come! So, is it worth grilling a lemon? Yes, yes it is. The heat of the grill caramelizes the lemon, adding sweetness to the sour citrus. Also, I was amazed by the ease of juicing a heated lemon. I was barely pressing on my lemon squeezer, and juice was squirting everywhere.Now, don’t get me wrong. It *is* quite a show when you pull browned lemons off the grill and start mixing drinks with them. Your guests will think you’re a grilling wizard. Thanks to my association with Knob Creek, I have a bottle of Knob Creek Rye Whiskey ready whenever I want to make this drink again.Like, say, tonight, while I grill dinner? Sounds like the perfect …

Green Monster Smoothie

I have a couple of good friends who, whenever I post a kale recipe, immediately reply with “and try it in a smoothie!” Ugh…a kale smoothie? Really? That seems so…crunchy granola eater. And, while I like my granola, and tend to hug trees, kale smoothies were too out there for me. Until my youngest son started asking for them. This must come from my wife’s side of the family – or be a recessive gene or something that skipped me entirely. Green? Smoothie? In the same sentence? He loved the idea. So, I made one. I thought I was taking one for the team, but, much to my surprise, I enjoyed it. Even better? My son drained the glass in one gulp. His smile looked like The Joker, a green kale grin up to his cheekbones. Recipe: Green Monster Smoothie Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 2 minutes Equipment Powerful blender (I love my Vitamix) Ingredients 2 cups ice cubes 2 packed cups kale leaves (6 ounces, thick stems removed, rinsed if sandy) 3 kiwi, peeled …

Guacamole Sauce (Salsa de Guacamole)

It’s Mexico week on DadCooksDinner. I spent five fantastic days at Seasons of My Heart cooking school in Oaxaca. I’ll be sharing what I learned for months, but here’s the first batch of posts. What was my first food discovery in Mexico? Guacamole. Yes, really. In Oaxaca, Guacamole is not the thick, chunky dip I am used to. My first day in Oaxaca, I went to lunch in the 20 de Noviembre market for the hall of Carne Asadas – an entire hall of grilled meat. (I was in heaven.) After choosing my meat and taking a seat, I ordered guacamole to go with my grilled beef and chorizo. What arrived with a bowl of thin sauce, the bright green color of ripe avocados, with a spoon floating on top. Was this the guacamole? Yes. Oaxacan guacamole is thin, ready to drizzle off of the spoon and onto my tacos. Much to my surprise, I preferred it to my usual, chunky guacamole. Saucy guacamole works better if it is meant to be a topping. It …

Spicy Jicama Sticks

Jicama reminds me of apples – it has the same crisp crunch, with a hint of a sweet taste. Think of a granny smith apple, but crunchier, milder, and less tart. I have eaten it a number of times, but I never had an opinion about it one way or the other. That is, until I had it as part of an appetizer at Frontera Grill in Chicago. Rick Bayless took a page from Mexican street vendors and sprinkled the jicama with a blend of chile powder and salt. The crunch and hint of sweet were enhanced by the spicy salt. Spicy jicama sticks are now my go-to party appetizer when I want to bring something interesting but healthy. The chile salt is best with guajillo chile powder (look at your local Mexican market), but ancho chile powder makes a decent substitute. Recipe: Spicy Jicama Sticks Adapted From: Rick Bayless Fiesta At Rick’s Cooking time: 10 minutes Ingredients 1 medium Jicama, about 1 pound 2 tablespoons guajillo powder (or ancho chile powder) 1 tablespoon fine …

Baba Ghanoush

It’s summertime, and my CSA box is starting to fill with eggplant. What do I do with it? I make baba ghanoush, the Middle Eastern eggplant dip. *And then I make tian Provencal, once I get tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant at the same time. And…that’s the extent of my eggplant recipes. Any eggplant suggestions? Anyone? Bueller? Leave them in the comments, because even with the current drought, I’ll get pounds of mixed eggplant with my CSA box for the next month or two. This recipe is remarkably close to hummus. All I do is replace chickpeas with fire-roasted eggplant. This isn’t a quick recipe – it takes at least a half an hour for the eggplant to completely cook – but it is low maintenance. Cook the eggplant until it the skin is completely burnt, and the eggplant collapses on itself. Turn it every now and again, when you feel like it – burning the skin only adds flavor. The eggplant should look like a deflated blimp right before you take it off the grill. …

Smoke Roasted Aioli

I learned how to make aioli in Paris, in a class with Susan Hermann Loomis. She taught us to pound garlic in a mortar and pestle, stir in the eggs, and then slowly, ever so slowly, drip in the oil. The aioli was   awesome with fresh vegetables, and I vowed to make it as soon as I got home. Of course, once I got home, I took the easy way out. I used a food processor instead of endlessly pounding with a mortar and pestle. The results were not good – a slap in the face of sharp, raw garlic, followed by a hint of bitter. I set the recipe aside, to try again someday. Someday turned into years. This year, there was a surge of interest in food processor mayonnaise. Bittman did it, then Kenji Alt made a small batch with a stick blender. I thought it was time to resurrect the recipe, but I kept remembering the bitter garlic. Then I saw Jamie Purviance make smoke aioli by smoke-roasting garlic on the …

Canning Jar Margaritas

Forget making pickles – this is now my favorite use for canning jars. They are a great idea, especially for entertaining. Why mess around crushing ice in a blender when you can mix everything up, toss it in the freezer, and pull out a flat of slushy margaritas whenver you need it? The alcohol keeps them from freezing solid; dip the rim in salt before it melts, poke it a few times with a fork, and they are ready to serve. *The only problem with this recipe: it changed my definition of “whenever I need a margarita” to “it’s five o’clock somewhere, right?” I got the idea from pictures of the Big Summer Potluck. A few years back, Colleen of SouffleBombay.com brought them to the potluck, and the moment I saw the pictures, I knew I had to make them. I use frozen concentrated limeaid in my frozen margaritas instead of fresh squeezed limes and simple syrup. (I picked up the trick from Robb Walsh’s The Tex-Mex Cookbook.) Why go through the effort of squeezing all those limes when I’m just …