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Posts tagged as “appetizer”

Devils on Horseback

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Also known as stuffed dates, these are a great addition to your tapas board or as a quick and simple appetizer with cocktails before a meal. They're salty, sweet, and incredibly addictive... impossible to eat just one! This recipe makes a dozen but it's foolproof: scale it to make as many as you'd like.

If blue cheese typically isn't your jam, a creamy gorgonzola is a good choice that is a little milder. If you love blue cheese as much as I do, St. Agur is fantastic, probably one of my favorite blue cheeses to both use in recipes as well as just eat by itself with some crackers, since it's so damn delicious. It's also made with vegetarian-based rennet.

Menu Idea: Tapas Tonight

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In my house, warm weather, when nobody feels like looking or standing over a stove, calls for something quick and easy to eat. If the last thing that you can imagine doing is turning on the stove and you're craving something easy to nosh on that doesn't take a lot of time to assemble, try tapas.

Tapas are Spanish-style appetizers or small bites that are really fun to eat. It's one of my favorite things to enjoy at a restaurant—and going to restaurants that serve tapas is probably one of the things I've missed the most lately about "normal" life—where typically 2-4 per person makes for a good main course meal. And it's more fun when you have a variety to share with your partner or a group: some seafood, cheese and fruit; some hot and some cold.

Try these ideas a spread of Mediterranean-style tapas that you can make at home for a quick lunch or dinner.

Sun Dried Tomato and Cheese Strudels

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These strudels are quick to make and are versatile: cut in small squares for hors d'oeuvres with cocktails before dinner, or cut in slices to serve with a simple green salad for a light lunch. If you can't find the Alouette garlic and herb cheese spread, Boursin cheese, herb goat cheese, or garlic and chive cream cheese would be similar alternatives to try.

Spiced Raita

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A creamy, spicy take on the traditional Indian cucumber salad to accompany Eggplant and Red Lentil Daal—or you could eat it plain with naan bread or pita chips, too.

I added just a pinch of some really, really spicy dried and ground Jamaican chocolate pepper chilies. Dave has had these probably a few years now and I sincerely doubt they have lost any of their potency. Just a little bit packs serious heat. Fortunately, dairy helps to cool off spicy things, and I find as it sits over time the flavor develops nicely. Certainly, you can omit it for a more traditional taste; use cayenne pepper, which is more readily available; or use a fresh, seeded and diced Serrano pepper.

Smoky Eggplant Dip

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I made this dip recently out of both necessity and a need for something healthy to snack on. I had a Japanese eggplant in the fridge that I bought with the intention to make stir-fry as a quick weeknight dinner. Plans changed one night and by the time I revisited Mr. Eggplant, several days later, he was starting to look a little wrinkled and my taste for stir-fry had also dissipated.

I didn't have tahini to make baba ghanouj and I was tired of hummus, so I decided to try something a little different. Roasting the eggplant and a few leftover baby carrots, then processing them with some spices (whole cumin seeds and smoked paprika included), harissa and light sour cream—one of my fridge staples—yielded a tasty, vegetarian-friendly dip.

If you've never tried it, harissa is a hot and garlicky red pepper condiment with origins from Libya and Tunisia. For this recipe, I used prepared Mina brand harissa that I had in my refrigerator; the "mild" variety was the only option in the store at the time, but they have a spicy variety that you might be able to find, too. There are plenty of recipes out there that outline how to make it, like this one from Epicurious, and look easy enough. Making your own allows you to tailor the heat level to make it spicier, if you so choose, by adding extra chiles—it's something I'll be trying at some point, but suffice to say today wasn't the day.

Tasting like a cross between hummus and baba ghanouj, the dip ended up having a lovely reddish color from the smoked paprika, carrots, and harissa. As a bonus, it can easily be made vegan-friendly by omitting the sour cream—try it and let me know how it comes out.