Appetizer Recipes

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Celery Risotto with Pistachio Pesto Recipe

Daddy's been dieting diligently lately, and he told me yesterday that he had a craving for celery risotto. Of course, I was happy to oblige. Unlike many of my other risotto recipes, which will probably never be considered healthy, I decided to make this risotto (almost) as good for you as it is good to eat.

To complement the very distinct flavor of celery, I added lemon juice and a pistachio pesto. I also threw in a little parmesan cheese for a nutty aroma and flavor. Daddy enjoyed it so much that I froze several portions of the risotto so that he can get his "fix" whenever he wants, whether he's on a diet or not.


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Herb and Pecorino Cheese Crackers  Recipe

Despite the name, these treats more closely resemble a savory shortbread cookie than a cracker. They are buttery, crumbly and absolutely delicious.

Regardless of what you call them, they are packed with flavor. Using a melon baller, I  created a small cavity in the center of each cracker, which I filled with a savory pecorino basil pesto.

Pecorino, rosemary and thyme are not subtle ingredients, so serve this with a mild, creamy cheese at your next dinner party.


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Dried Apricot and Carrot Salad on Betel Leaves Recipe

Lulu's aunt, Sara, gave Daddy a betel leaf plant a few months ago. It has grown from a small vine into a prolific producer of fragrant leaves. Daddy loves chewing areca nuts wrapped in a betel leaf. It's very popular in India (paan parag) as well as Vietnam (trầu). In much of Southeast Asia, betel leaves are used to make a salad.

For the shredded carrot salad I made today, I decided to use the fresh betel leaves as a serving dish of sorts. To the shredded carrots, I added diced dried apricots and a fresh, thinly shredded kaffir lime leaf. The combination of the ingredients worked very well together. Betel leaves have a peppery taste and the kaffir lime has a nice citrus-y aroma. In keeping with the Asian theme, I made a peanut and tamarind dressing to brighten up the dish and tie all the flavors together.

Edible Betel leaves Picture


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Roasted Beet and Corn Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette Recipe

I love beets. They have a wonderful sweetness and texture. I sometimes cook beets into hot dishes, but my favorite way to enjoy beets is in a simple salad. For this particular recipe, I paired the beets with a tangerine vinaigrette with tangerine-infused oil and tangerine juice. The vinaigrette brightens the flavor of the dish and acts as a nice complement to the flavor of the beets. I also added corn to create a contrast of texture and color. The result is a salad with some very bold flavors.


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Vietnamese Chili Salt: An Exotic Flavor Enhancer for Fruit Recipe

Muối ớt is a popular seasoning in Vietnam. If you've been to Asia, you've probably noticed street vendors at every corner, selling fruits accompanied by chili salt packets.

Salt brings out the flavor of the fruit and enhances its sweetness. Vietnamese foods call for chile in almost everything and eating fruits with chile is no exception. It's currently green mango season, and green mangoes with chili salt is a refreshing starter for a hot summer meal. You can also serve it as a salad; check the tips section for the recipe. It's called gỏi xoài in Vietnamese.

We've been gorging ourselves on mounds of this delicious fruit. It's very good by itself, but I always add a pinch of chili salt to liven up the flavor. Try chili salt with fruits such as Granny Smith apples, plums or oranges. I guarantee you'll never go back!


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