All posts filed under: Appetizers and Drinks

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 …

Iced Sweet Tea

I discovered sweet in Charlotte, NC. I’m a Northerner, and I didn’t know that sweet tea (pronounced “Sweetea”) is the default. You have to ask for “unsweet”. And, boy, they were right about “sweet” – I wasn’t expecting that much sugar. (I wasn’t expecting ANY sugar.) Which brings me to another installment in my “favorite sentences in recipes” series.  This one is from Jaime Purviance, in his recipe for iced tea in Weber’s Big Book of Grilling: If you want a sweet batch, add about 3 tbsp of sugar to the boiling water.  If you’re from the south, pour it on until it feels right. Sweet tea is the perfect drink to have with barbecue. (Non-alcoholic category). But, as good as it is, I only made sweet tea at home about once a summer. Making a big batch is a fair amount of work: boiling a gallon of water, steeping a lot of tea bags, waiting for it to cool down…it’s a lot of work for something that seems so simple. Then I saw this …

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

When I am asked to bring an appetizer, this is usually the first thing I think of.* Other than roasting the peppers, it’s “dump and process”. I like that when I’m rushing around, getting ready to go to someone’s house! *OK, the second thing. The first thing is a cheese plate with some good blue cheese, hard cheese, and goat cheese, and a sliced baguette on the side. Mmm. Cheese. Recipe: Grill Roasted Red Pepper Dip Equipment: Grill (I used a Weber Summit 650. Here it is.) Food Processor (I used my KitchenAid Food Processor) Ingredients: 3 red peppers 2 cloves garlic 1 can (15oz) chickpeas 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil juice of 1 lemon 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper Salt to taste (depends on how salty the chickpeas are – I usually add 1/2tsp kosher) Directions: 1. Roasting the peppers: Preheat your grill to medium – direct heat. Cook the peppers until blackened on all sides (usually about 5 minutes a side). You want to get them good and burned – it’s …