Creamy Hummus

I buy my chickpeas (skinless is the key to hummus that is creamy and silky) from maureenaboodmarket. They are a little pricey but it beats taking the time to boil the chickpeas with baking soda and skinning g them. Maureen has a wonderful cookbook called Rose Water And Orange Blossoms that has wonderful Lebanese recipes. This is her recipe for hummus from the book by far the best hummus recipe I have ever made. I use Soom Tahini but I have heard that Trader Joe’s has a great tahini.

1 c. dried chickpeas
Cover with 6″ of water. Bring to a boil. Skim the froth from the top as it boils, when clear, add
1 small yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 t. kosher salt
1 bay leaf
Cover and bring to a boil, simmer for 90 minutes, staying close by so it doesn’t boil over. Uncover and simmer 90 minutes on medium low heat. Add more water if it gets low.
Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain chickpeas, discarding onion and bay leaf.
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c. tahini, well stirred
1/2 t. kosher salt
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 to 1 c. chickpea cooking liquid, as needed, or cold water

In the bowl of the food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic until a thick paste forms. Slowly add the tahini, salt and lemon juice. Add the cooled cup of water as needed until very smooth and light.Taste and add more salt and lemon if needed. Place in a bowl and refrigerate up to one week. Serve at room temperature, bringing out 30 minutes before needed.

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Greenest Goddess Dressing and Dip

From the wonderful new cookbook, Tartine All Day! The addition of avocado to the original makes this recipe amazing. I also added a little lemon zest because I love it.

3/4 c. Mayonnaise
3/4 c. sour cream or Greek yogurt
3 T. finely chopped fresh Tarragon
1/4 c. finely chopped Italian Parsley
2 T. finely chopped fresh Chives or Scallions
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 olive oil or salt packed Anchovies, rinsed and finely chopped
1 ripe Avocado, halved, peeled, cut into quarters
3 T. finely chopped Carrot tops (optional-I did not use as I did not have them!)
1/4 t. Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper to taste
Combine everything in a blender or food processor until smooth. Serve with crudités or as a salad dressing.

Gougeres

One of my favorite hors d’oeuvres that I never tire of making. This recipe is from Tartine but I made some changes in the baking time and temperature over the years. Allow yourself one hour from start to finish, after you have prepped the ingredients.

Makes about 30-36 cocktail size puffs, I use a 1 1/4″ scoop

1 1/4 c. water (or nonfat milk or half regular milk and water) Water works fine
5 oz. unsalted Butter
1 t. Salt (I used 1/2 t. Himalayan salt)
1 c. (5 oz.) Flour
5 large Eggs
5 oz. grated Gruyere cheese
1 t. Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 T. fresh Thyme leaves, minced
Topping
large Egg
pinch of Salt
finely grated Gruyere cheese for sprinkling the tops

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine water(or milk mixture) with butter and salt in a heavy saucepan. Place over medium heat until butter melts and mixture comes to a full boil. Add flour all at once and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes. Mixture will be a smooth mass and pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed, incorporating each egg before adding the next egg. When all the eggs have been added, the mixture will be smooth and shiny. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in the cheese, pepper and thyme with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a pastry bag with a plain tip or use a small scoop. Pipe into 1″ mounds.
To make topping, in a small bowl, whisk the egg and salt together and gently brush the tops of each pastry. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake both pans at the same time, alternately shelves midway through the cooking process. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, reduce heat and bake for 15 more minutes, until they have puffed and are nicely browned.
You can poke each pastry with a skewer when cooked and let sit 10 minutes in the oven, turned off-it helps so they don’t deflate!
Delicious served hot or warm or are also good at room temperature. You can reheat in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Blinis

This is a tried and true recipe from Martha Stewart’s Entertaining circa 1982 that I received as a gift from my future mother in law who is a wonderful and adventurous cook.It is a super light dough that makes a lot of blinis. I usually make them one or two pans at a time, whatever I can keep up with. The blinis freeze very well and are wonderful with caviar or smoked salmon. I got a great suggestion from a caviar guy who told me to put the caviar on toasted English muffins with good butter and creme fraiche-delightful! Smoked salmon is also delicious on blinis with a garnish of lemon, dill and creme fraiche.

blinis
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
pinch of sugar
1 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
3 egg yolks
1/2 salt
6 T.melted butter
3 egg whites
melted butter for cooking the blinis
caviar-and-blinis
Proof yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar for 5 minutes to be sure the yeast is active. Put the yeast mixture, milk, flour, egg yolks, salt and melted butter in a blender or food processor. Blend on high speed for 40 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and blend again for a few seconds. Pour batter into a large bowl, big enough to accommodate the rising. Cover loosely and set in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours (-2 hours-In Colorado 1 1/2 hours is enough). Do not let batter rise too much or it will taste over fermented. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter. Heat a heavy skillet or griddle. Brush with butter and drop blini batter by the teaspoonfuls onto the hot pan. Turn when first side is lightly browned and cook briefly on the second side. Blinis may be cooled, wrapped and refrigerated. Warm in a 300 degree oven or small skillet before serving.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

From Smitten Kitchen’s wonderful blog and these could not be easier or more delicious! I am so excited about this recipe as I have a zucchini and yellow squash in my garden that is really producing.
Zucchini parmesan Crisps
Olive oil or cooking spray
2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)
1 to 2 egg whites
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs, such as panko
A couple pinches sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray or thinly with olive oil. Slice zucchini into slightly-less-than 1/4-inch thick rounds; if they feel especially wet, spread them on a towel while you prepare the other ingredients. In a small bowl, lightly beat first egg white with 1 teaspoon water to loosen it. Combine cheese, crumbs, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Dip each zucchini coin in egg white, letting excess run off before gently dipping them in parmesan mixture. Arrange in single layer on baking sheets. If additional egg white is needed, prepare it the same way, with 1 teaspoon of water. If additional crumb mixture is needed, make a few spoonfuls at a time, matching the volume of crumbs and cheese.

Bake zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping each over halfway through. Please keep an eye on them; they may need to be moved around on the tray so the ones at the edges don’t bake more quickly than the ones in the center. Take them out only when they’re golden all over and let them cool on the tray on a cooling rack or a plate.

Keep at room temperature until needed. Crisps are best on the first day.

Tomato Mozzarella Tart

This recipe is from Designlovefest where my niece Joanie works! Joanie is a wonderful cook and food stylist! The tart is so simple and easy and great for lunch or dinner or an appetizer. I used a mixture of cheeses** from Trader Joe’s called Quattro Fromaggio. I love the idea of a vegetable tart and there are endless possibilities!
Tomato Mozzrella tart• 1 box (2 sheets of pastry puff) or one package of Dufour Puff Pastry (pricey but the best!)
• 5 roma tomatoes sliced
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella**
• 1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese**
• 1/2 white onion sliced
• 2 garlic cloves chopped
• 1 small bunch marjoram
• 1 bunch fresh basil
• olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 tablespoon butter
how to make it:
• roll out the pastry puff and defrost in room temperature. pre heat oven to 375. In a baking pan (we used a 13 1/2″ x 9 1/4″ ) lightly grease with non stick cooking spray. Cut parchment paper to size; cutting the edges so as it can fit when pressed down. Lightly spray the parchment paper and lay the defrosted pastry puff on top. we used a fork to push the edges of the two sheets of dough together to make sure it cooked as one and to create a crust around the edge.
• in a medium sized pan on medium heat, melt the butter and place the onion slices. stirring occasionally until browned.
• lightly drizzle dough with olive oil and begin to layer with tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan, caramelized onions, marjoram, chopped garlic.
• bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and tomatoes have roasted.
garnish with fresh basil leaves and shaved parmesan. cut into slices and serve!

Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart

From Cook’s Country. I highly recommend using the best puff pastry you can find. Dufour is my favorite and is pricey but so worth it. I had Pepperidge Farm puff pastry on hand and used it but it would use Dufour next time as it is all butter.
Asparagus goat cheese tart
1 (9 1/2 by 9-inch) sheet puff pastry, thawed
6 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut 1/4 inch thick on bias into 1-inch lengths (1 cup)
2 scallions, sliced thin
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces (1 cup) goat cheese, softened
INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and top positions and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place puff pastry in center of sheet. Grease underside of 8-inch square baking pan, place in center of puff pastry, and fill pan with pie weights. Using sharp paring knife, score puff pastry around perimeter of pan, 1/8 inch deep. (Do not cut through pastry.)

2. Leaving pan on pastry, bake on lower-middle oven rack for 20 minutes. Remove pan, rotate sheet, and continue to bake until pastry is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine asparagus, scallions, 1 tablespoon oil, olives, garlic, zest, salt, and pepper in bowl. In separate bowl, mix 3/4 cup goat cheese and 1 tablespoon oil until smooth. Spread goat cheese mixture evenly over cooled puff pastry (avoiding raised border), then scatter asparagus mixture over top. Crumble remaining 1/4 cup goat cheese over top of asparagus mixture.

4. Bake tart on top oven rack until asparagus is tender and tart shell has darkened slightly around edges, 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cut into 4 equal pieces and serve.

Cocktail Party menu

This was our menu for the night before Thanksgiving which is always festive night!
Crudités with Ranch Dip
Spiced Pecans
Chicken Liver Pate with crostini
Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickel with Herbed cream cheese
Cheese and Charcuterie Board with Olives and Crackers
Caviar from Costco and Blinis from Whole Foods
Shrimp Bisque in demitasse cups
Lemon Shortbread
Cocktail party
I think this was a perfect menu. I usually would make blinis but a friend had told me how good the ones at Whole Foods are and they were, albeit a little pricey. The Costco caviar (this was malossol from Plaza Royale and was delicious and the Bulgarian that is on sale now is outrageous!) The spiced pecans, shrimp bisque and lemon shortbread are all on this blog. It is fun to go to the market and choose a few cheeses and meats and have them cubed or cut up-olives, nuts and dried fruits are a great addition to a meat and cheese board.

Spicy Toasted Pecans

A simple nut recipe that is perfect for cocktails or anytime. I will be serving these on Thanksgiving for sure! It is not very spicy as the recipe is written so feel free to up the spices as you wish.
Spicy toasted pecans
3 T. unsalted butter
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. favorite hot sauce, Cholula, Marie Sharp’s
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. salt, or to taste
2 1/2 c. pecan halves (10 oz.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a 2 quart saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in the seasonings. Remove from heat and add pecans, tossing to coat well. Spread in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan and bake until fragrant, 8-10 minutes.