Appetizers 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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Vegetarian Cheese Quesadilla Recipe

Vegetarian Cheese Quesadilla

10.16.09 by Jackie

Quesadillas are easy to make and fun to eat. We had relatives over for dinner tonight, so I made some quesadilla canapés as an appetizer. I prepared two fillings, one with shredded beef and a vegetarian option as well.

I wanted the vegetarian ones to have a chewy consistency, so I did not use vegetarian chorizo as I usually do when I make vegetarian Mexican dishes. I used shredded, fried tofu that I blended with harissa to add a little kick to the dish. Harissa is a spicy paste that is used as a condiment in Northern African cuisine. I think the grainy paste blended with the shredded tofu loosely resembles the texture of the meat version. I'll post the recipe for harissa tomorrow.

Vegetarian Cheese Quesadilla Recipe


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Savory Goat Ricotta Cheese Puffs Recipe

There are guests coming tomorrow, and as usual I had no clue about what to make. I scoured my pantry and found a bag of macadamia nuts, just waiting to be used. I made walnut pesto yesterday, and I didn't feel like making another pasta and pesto dish. As they say, variety is the spice of life. 

I think appetizers are perfect for dinner parties; they allow people to nibble without interrupting the flow of conversation. I often make some sort of mini puff pastry, and I thought a macadamia pesto would be the perfect filling. However, a traditional pesto would be too thin on its own, so I added some homemade crème fraîche and some goat ricotta cheese. As you may have noticed, I'm a huge fan of goat ricotta cheese, and I get it whenever it's available at the local creamery.

Today, I made the pesto and the dough, tested out and baked a couple of puffs in the oven for tasting. The smell was intoxicating, and it was really difficult to snap a couple of photos before everyone descended upon them. 

You can freeze both the pesto and the dough. If you often have last minute guests as we do, it's easy to pop them out of the freezer and bake them. Your guests will love them, and you'll be a rockstar without much effort!


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