Appetizer Recipes

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Indian Style Eggplant Appetizers (Baigan Bharta Puff Pastry Recipe) Recipe

I love eggplant, especially in the form of a spread. Baji, my husband's late grandmother used to make the best one, called baigan bharta. I still make this dish very often, but when I use it as a filling (as I did today) I tweak it with a few substitutions. Specifically, instead of using yogurt, I used cream cheese and blue cheese in the eggplant spread.

I created puff pastry appetizers that bake in no time and filled them with the yummy eggplant. I topped each savory tartlet with crumbled blue cheese as a reminder of the flavor and cilantro as garnish. I was lucky to have any left for pictures, because Lulu and the girls attacked them as soon as they came out of the oven. Whether you serve them in puff pastry or go the more traditional route and prepare a bowl along with some pita bread, it’ll be a hit at your house too.


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Vietnamese Stuffed Grape Leaves (Tau Hu Cuon La Nho) Recipe

This recipe is the result of one of my many experiments. The plants in our garden are starting to sprout beautifully. We have a small grape vine, so I used the leaves as wrappers for some Vietnamese vegetarian appetizers called tàu hũ cuốn lá nho (grape leaf wrapped tofu).

If you want to make the dish truly authentic, you should use betel leaves, but I find this version served on occasion. Betel leaves have a peppery, slightly bitter taste and I think the grape leaves taste a lot milder. The choice of the filling is really up to you. I filled them with bean thread noodles, fried jicama, shiitake mushrooms, fried tofu and fresh soy bean paste (packed with protein).

Either way, they make the perfect snack or appetizers. They're healthy, tasty and packed with good nutrition.


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Pakora Curry (Dahi Besan Curry Recipe) Recipe

Pakora curry are fried dumplings made of a mixture of chickpea (besan) flour and spices soaked in a yogurt-based (dahi in Urdu) sauce. The dish is fairly easy to assemble.

It's one of my father-in-law's favorite dishes, and I was determined to learn how to make it. My husband Lulu's aunt, Sara, gave me the directions over the phone, so I was able to follow her step by step instructions. I served this curry with steamed basmati rice.


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Portobello Mushroom Blue Cheese Tart Recipe Recipe

Most of the time, I have puff pastry in the freezer. That means that when I’m in a pinch, as I was today, I can always whip up a light meal with a few vegetables and make a savory tart. This time around I made a caramelized onion and fennel filling, topped with sliced grilled Portobello mushrooms and blue cheese. I paired the individual tarts with mixed greens and a simple vinaigrette.

Sunny days are back, so I tend to prepare easy, lighter meals like this one and a lot of cooling drinks to fight off the heat. Who wants to be stuck in a hot kitchen when the weather is this nice? 


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Edamame Hummus Recipe Recipe

Edamame Hummus Recipe

04.28.11 by Jackie

Edamame beans, also known as soybeans, are a common, healthy snack in our home. They're packed with fiber, protein and iron. So it's especially good because most of the family is vegetarian. To change things a little, I removed the thick velvety shells and made edamame hummus. The spread is made the same way I would make regular garbanzo hummus, except that I flavored it with feta cheese for a creamier texture.

I left the edamame hummus on the table while preparing dinner. Everyone spread it on warm pieces of garlic bread. It's a great way to keep everyone patient while I’m getting dinner ready. If you're planning on serving it for a party, you could create crostini appetizers. They're always a hit!


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