Appetizer Recipes

Hot Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip

Accidental Locavore Onion Dip CookedHow could you resist a dip that has caramelized onions, bacon and crème fraîche? The Accidental Locavore couldn’t and an invitation to friend’s for dinner gave me the perfect opportunity. From Vermont Creamery, it served 6:

  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of flakey sea salt (like Maldon)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Pepper to taste
  • fresh thyme for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°. In a cast iron skillet, or other heavy sauté pan, cook bacon until nice and crispy. With a slotted spoon, transfer it to a paper towel to drain and cool.

In the same skillet, in the bacon fat, cook your onions, sugar and salt slowly over medium heat until the onions are nicely caramelized. This usually takes about 20 minutes depending on how thinly sliced the onions are (don’t rush it!).

Remove from heat, splash in the sherry and hot sauce if you’re using them, stir to combine.

Crumble the bacon into the skillet, add in the Gruyère, crème fraîche, mayonnaise, pepper and mix everything well.

Bake the skillet of dip for 10 to 20 minutes, until it’s golden and bubbly. Remove from oven, allow to cool and set for about 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme, serve with pita chips or nice crusty bread and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Bacon Cheese DipEveryone’s verdict: Well, it was polished off in 5 minutes…We served it with some local flatbreads, but any sort of sturdy cracker or chip would work well. Even though our liquor cabinet is crammed with booze, surprisingly there was no sherry. I tossed in a bit of bourbon along with the hot sauce and it was fine. Using homemade mayo is always better than the jarred stuff and if I’d had time, ditto the crème fraiche, but the bacon was also mine. Sautéing some mushrooms would be a nice if unneeded addition. Next time, I’m going to chop up a little more thyme and add it in with the onions – they work well together and I wanted a little more thyme in the dip. While I cooked everything in my cast iron pan, I baked it in an oven-proof soufflé dish, as the pan was too big for the volume of dip.

Save this recipe for your next football (or anything else) party, but you might want to double it…

 

 

Buffalo Cauliflower With Blue Cheese

Accidental Locavore Buffalo CauliflowerAs you know, cauliflower is poised to take over for kale as the next over-played vegetable. Being trendy enough, the Accidental Locavore found this recipe for roasted cauliflower with a “Buffalo” sauce. It’s easy and you can roast the cauliflower ahead of time. Serves 2-4, depending on the size of the cauliflower (and the hunger of your audience).

  • One 2-to-2½-pound head cauliflower, leaves trimmed and base trimmed so the cauliflower will stand up
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup Sriracha
  • ¼ cup Frank’s RedHot sauce
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese

Accidental Locavore Roasted CauliflowerPreheat the oven to 450°. Place the cauliflower, stem-side down, onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast until tender and browned on top, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, trim the florets into 3-inch-long pieces (about the size of chicken wings) and cut the stem into thin slices.

In a large saucepan, combine the Sriracha, Frank’s RedHot sauce and the cauliflower, and toss to coat. Place over medium-high heat, and when the sauce begins to sizzle, add the butter. Cook, tossing and stirring often, until the sauce is slightly creamy and the cauliflower is heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the blue cheese, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Buffalo CauliflowerMy verdict: Provided you like Buffalo sauce, this could make a cauliflower lover out of the skeptics out there! It’s really easy, especially if you roast the cauliflower ahead of time, like I did, then you can just pull it out and finish it off. I thought it was maybe a little too spicy and will cut down the Sriracha to 2 tablespoons and add more 2 more tablespoons of Frank’s the next time I make it. Since I had some real Roquefort on hand, that was my blue cheese, which was great, but you certainly will get a fine result with any good blue cheese. Serve it as a snack or side dish.

 

50 MPH Tomatoes-Good Year Round!

Accidental Locavore My 50 MPH TomatoesKnowing that these are one of my husband’s favorite appetizers at Cafe Miranda, being the proud owner of their cookbook, Adventures in Comfort Food, and having a big bowlful of tomatoes, the Accidental Locavore needed to take this recipe for a test drive. Luckily, this actually works better on less-than-perfect tomatoes, so go for it! Serves 2 as a large appetizer or side dish:

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper relish
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion or minced fresh onion
  • 2 pinches dried dill

Accidental Locavore 50 MPH SauceFor the tomatoes:

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ pound (1 large) tomato cut into 1” slices (horizontal)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Scallions, sliced for garnish

Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Put the cornmeal, salt & pepper in a shallow bowl. Coat tomatoes with the cornmeal mix, pressing slightly to make sure they adhere.

In a heavy 12” frying pan (cast iron is ideal) over medium heat, heat ¼” oil until hot – don’t let it smoke. Fry the tomatoes for 5 minutes until golden brown, carefully flip and fry another 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Smear the dressing on a plate. Plate tomatoes side by side on the dressing so they stay crisp. Sprinkle with scallions, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore 50 MPH TomatoesMy verdict: Delicious! Not as good as being at Miranda (this photo is from there), but not bad for a first attempt. The sauce is a great version of Russian dressing with a little heat! I didn’t have any hot pepper relish, so I used slightly less than 3 tablespoons of India relish (and a little squirt of Sriracha in Kerry’s honor), the juice of half a lime and fresh dill in place of dried.

Kerry says this is a good way to use less than perfect tomatoes, so remember it for when you’re a bit discouraged by the tomatoes in the market. When I made it, it was tomato season, and we used a couple of big, beautiful beefsteaks, so they just needed about 3-4 minutes a side. The cornmeal crust was nice and crunchy, we just needed more of it, so next time I’m just going to eyeball a dish full so they get a better crust. Chives made a good garnish as there were no scallions.

 

 

Vincent Price’s Guacamole (aka Avocado Spread)

Accidental Locavore Vincent Price's GuacamoleFor those of you, of un âge certain, like the Accidental Locavore, the fact that Vincent Price authored a cookbook and a really good one, won’t come as a surprise. The rest of you may have seen him in old Batman episodes or one of the many horror flicks he was known for, but did you know that he wrote one of the first celebrity cookbooks, A Treasury of Great Recipes?

Someone in my family, perhaps my grandmother, Olive, had a copy of it and along with Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls, they’re really the only cookbooks I can still visualize from my childhood. There were recipes I probably cooked with my grandmother, but sadly, have no idea what they were. So I was happy to learn that they’ve released a 50th anniversary edition of the book and happier still when The Daily Meal gave me the chance to try one of the recipes and win a copy. This makes 2 cups and I’ve adapted the recipe for clarity:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno or Serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • ½ garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander (a large pinch)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional and more to taste)

Peel and seed the avocados. Rinse off the best-looking pit and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl mash the avocados with a fork. Add all the other ingredients and mix to combine. Taste, and add salt and cayenne as needed.

Leave the pit in the center of the guac to prevent discoloration. Serve with chips and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Great GuacamoleMy verdict: Along with the fact that there were a couple of ripe avocados in my fridge, my competitive juices started flowing, since I’ve always been told that I make the best guac. This one seemed a bit odd, but in 1965 it was probably light years ahead of its time. I expected it to be awful but it was really tasty! It’s not the guacamole for those who like it hot – adding more chiles or cayenne would take care of that, and with the addition of the mayo, even my homemade, it was a little sweet and much smoother than my usual. Vincent says, “if you like a very smooth guacamole, remove the seeds and put mixture into a blender container and blend on high for about 8 seconds before you are ready to serve it.” Next time, I might swap lime juice for lemon and chop up some fresh cilantro (which was probably not easily found in the sixties), just to see how it turns out. But no peas!

 

Smoked Trout Brandade

Accidental Locavore Smoked Trout BrandadeBrandade is one of those dishes that can be really good or totally awful. The Accidental Locavore has never been terribly fond of salty-fishy food, so foods like anchovies or caviar need to be carefully disguised. Same for salt cod, which is what brandade is usually made from. When I saw this recipe for a brandade made from smoked trout, it gave me the perfect excuse to toss a couple of trout on the smoker (and bring home another baguette from Maison Kayser). This filled two small gratin pans, so dinner for 2 or appetizers for 4 or more.

  • 1 large russet potato (about 10 oz.)
  • Olive oil- 1 teaspoon for the potato and ½ cup for the brandade
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 oz. smoked trout, skin and bones removed
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 1 baguette, sliced, toasted

Accidental Locaovre Smoked Trout and MilkHeat oven to 400°. Rub potato with 1 teaspoon olive oil and bake directly on oven rack until tender, 50–60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel. Put in a small bowl and mash potato with a fork or potato masher, until nearly smooth.

While potato is baking, bring garlic, trout, and milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat; let sit 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of trout to a plate; flake into small pieces.

Put the garlic, milk, remaining trout, lemon juice, paprika and remaining ½ cup of olive oil in a food processor; process until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and gently fold in the mashed potato and flaked trout. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Accidental Locavore Preparing BrandadeTransfer trout mixture to a 1-qt. shallow baking dish or four 6-oz. ramekins and top with Parmesan. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown and brandade is heated through, 15–20 minutes. Serve with toasted baguette slices and enjoy!

My verdict: Potatoes and smoked fish, what’s not to like? This makes a nice, simple supper with a side salad or veg. I did have it with the toasted baguette and would serve it that way as an hors d’oeuvre, but didn’t really need it as dinner. I had smoked two trout and this used one of the two. I did use a russet potato, but Yukon Gold or two would work well. If you wanted to save time, you could pop the potato in the microwave to bake them.

 

 

Garlic Chickpea Snacks

Accidental Locavore Fried ChickpeasThe Accidental Locavore keeps reading about how healthy chickpeas are for snacking so the other night, when friends were coming over for dinner, I thought I’d try a batch (always good to have guinea pigs…). This is from Bon Appetit and is quick and easy.

  • 1 can chickpeas (15 ounces), rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (or more depending on your heat tolerance)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Accidental Locavore Frying ChickpeasHeat the olive oil in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chickpeas, garlic and hot pepper flakes. Fry until the chickpeas are golden brown and start to blister, about 8 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: These were good when they were fresh. I used Maldon salt for them, any good salt would be good on them and you could even play around with flavored salts and/or herbs. The problem came when I tossed them into a Ziploc bag to store them. The next day they were essentially inedible (but don’t tell my dog that, he’s not complaining about their sudden appearance in his dinner). This was a little weird, because Bon Appetit was touting them as a great add-in for lunch salads (and because their recipe called for 2 cans of chickpeas!!!), so you would think to make them ahead and toss them in as needed. And although, my version cuts down on the olive oil, I think it could still be reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Would I make it again? Probably not, because I think this salad is a much better use of chickpeas and if I wanted a snack, I’d probably whip up (or doctor some purchased) hummus. What do you think?Accidental Locavore Chick Pea Salad

 

7 Ingredients for the Best Guacamole Ever!

Accidental Locavore Great GuacamoleSince it’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, what good would this blog be without a recipe for guacamole? And not to brag, but the Accidental Locavore makes the best guacamole! Here’s the key: lots of cilantro. Even if you’re not a big cilantro fan, just close your eyes and go for it, you’ll be glad you did. The other tip is to save 2-3 of the avocado pits, clean them and put them in the middle of the guacamole to keep it from discoloring.

  • 4-5 really ripe Haas avocados* peeled and cut into 1/2 dice
  • 1 small white onion, chopped fine
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (try to find a ripe one)
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, or jalapenos, depending on your heat threshold, seeded and chopped very fine
  • Most of a bunch of cilantro chopped fine
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Salt to taste

Mix the avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, chiles, lime, and salt, slightly mashing the avocado as you mix. Taste and add additional chiles, lime and cilantro according to your taste. Put the avocado pits in the center of your bowl (see photo). Serve and enjoy.

*The big green Florida ones just have no flavor. If you can’t find good ripe avocados, go buy them now and leave them on the counter to ripen. If they’re rock hard or you’re reading this on Saturday, put them in a brown paper bag with a banana, it will speed the process.

Baked Aparagus Fries-Side Dish Recipe

Accidental Locavore Trout With AsparagusThe Accidental Locavore tried a recipe for asparagus fries (that aren’t even fried) to mixed results recently. Here’s the recipe adapted from spoonforkbacon and I’d love to know what you think. The prep time is a little long, depending on how many you’re doing, however it’s easy (but messy). Try to use one hand for the dredging and dipping and keep the other clean and dry for other tasks. From start to finish it will take less than an hour and feeds 4.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1lb asparagus, washed and cut in 4″ pieces
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Directions

Accidental Locavore Asparagus FriesStep 1
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Mix Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper together in a shallow bowl. Place flour in another shallow bowl. Place beaten eggs in a third shallow bowl. Dredge the asparagus spears in flour and shake off excess (not much flour will stick, but that’s okay). Dip in egg and then in panko mix. Make sure spears are thoroughly coated with crumbs. Place on cookie sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil.
Step 2
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

 

The verdict: Frank really liked them and thought they’d be a great hors d’oeuvre with a dipping sauce. Try mayo thinned out with a little lemon and some cumin.  This time of year asparagus are so good, I’d rather (toss them in olive oil or mayo and) grill them. However, if you’re serving some fussy eaters, this is a good way of sneaking a veg in. What do you think?

 

 

 

Accidental Locavore Recipe for Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

Accidental Locavore Squash BlossomsWhile the Accidental Locavore doesn’t generally like to deep fry things (hate the smell of stale oil), I love stuffed zucchini flowers so I compromised between deep-fat frying and pan frying by using a high sided pan with a little less oil and it worked fine. The batter is great, light and so easy. To prep the zucchini (or squash blossoms), gently open the flower, reach in and pull out the little bump in the center.  Adapted from Food Network.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sparkling water (seltzer is fine)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream (I used about 1 ½ tablespoons crème fraiche)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chives, finely chopped (you could use a scallion)
  • Black pepper
  • 8 zucchini blossoms
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (I used a mix of olive oil and vegetable oil)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water and salt until just smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream or crème fraiche, basil and chives. Mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently open the petals and spoon 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of filling into each blossom. Close the blossoms and gently twist the petals to seal.Accidental Locavore Fried Zucchini Blossoms

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan pour enough oil to fill the pan, about 2” deep. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (If you don’t have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 1 minute.) Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms in the batter and allow any excess batter to drip off. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Allow the cooked blossoms to drain on paper towels. Season with salt, serve and enjoy.

 

Recipe: Great Guacamole

Accidental Locavore Great GuacamoleAs long as the Accidental Locavore has been on sort of a Mexican kick, here’s how I make guacamole. Since it’s so simple, it’s always surprised me that whenever I make guacamole everyone goes crazy for it. The secret is lots of cilantro. Even if you’re not a big cilantro fan, just close your eyes, and go for it. The other tip is to save 2-3 of the avocado pits, clean them and put them in the middle of the guacamole to keep it from discoloring.

  • 4-5 really ripe Haas avocados (the big green Florida ones, just have no flavor), peeled and cut into 1/2 dice
  • 1 small white onion chopped fine
  • 1 good sized ripe tomato, diced
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, or jalapenos, depending on your heat threshold, seeded and chopped very fine
  • Most of a bunch of cilantro chopped fine
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Salt to taste

Mix the avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, chiles, lime, and salt, slightly mashing the avocado as you mix. Taste and add additional chiles, lime and cilantro according to your taste. Serve and enjoy. Put the pits in the middle of the serving bowl (see photo) to prevent browning.

 

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