Saturday, December 17, 2005

Weekend Herb Challenge and Quick Appetizers

Wow I don’t know where the time flies. It seems like it was just yesterday that I posted the Italian Braciuolini recipe for last week's Weekend Cookbook Challenge and planned on writing at least two posts for quick appetizer recipes, given the season for entertaining. Now it’s the weekend again and I’m still in rush mode…..just like everyone else.

This is a particularly stressful time of year for most people – trying to tie up loose ends at work before the end of the year, packing for vacations (you lucky ones!!), fighting the crowds for those last minute gifts, baking and cooking for those planned gatherings of family and friends. There never seems to be enough time to go around. So I thought I would share some very simple recipes that are especially valuable when unexpected guests arrive.

And, since it’s impossible to survive this time of year without multi-tasking, I thought I’d make sure the recipes included some herbs (actually, it’s very rare that I DON’T use herbs) so I can be a part of one of my favorite weekly events – Kalyn’s Weekend Herb Blogging Event. The stars this time around are dill and oregano.

So without further ado, and just in time for that unexpected doorbell….here are some things you can whip up in no time:

Blanched Asparagus Roll-Ups (I wrap 3 blanched asparagus spears in rosemary baked ham, with a light coating of mustard, and spicy proscuitto, but Genoa salami is also excellent – the saltiness contrasts so well with the asparagus).

Seafood Tortilla Pinwheels(I like to use a variety of tortillas – sun dried tomato, spinach, whole wheat & plain – to make the plate more colorful) For fillings I used my favorite tuna salad recipe (there’s oregano in tapenade that makes it taste so good) and smoked salmon & cream cheese with dill. I just throw the smoked salmon, cream cheese and 1 tbsp of fresh dill into my trusty food processor – what would I do without you!!! – add the juice of half a lemon, pulse a few times, and we’re done. I also combine all the ingredients for the tuna salad in the processor as well to get a smooth paste. All you have to do is spread the filling right to the edges, I like to add a little something interesting at the first edge (it becomes the center of the pinwheel) – herbs, asparagus spear, be creative. Roll it up tightly and I personally like to wrap it in plastic wrap and put the rolls in the freezer for about 10 minutes before slicing across. It keeps the filling from oozing out.

Stuffed Baked Tortilla Cups ( I was watching Food TV recently and saw Michael Smith whip these up. I must have missed something, because my tortilla rounds refused to stay in the mini-muffin tins during baking. I had to add some dried beans for the first 5 minutes or so and then remove them for the last 10 minutes). If you don’t want to go through the hassle of cutting rounds of tortillas, etc, you can buy ready made shells and fill them with your favorite soft fillings.

PBJ Roll-Ups for those who love their snacks sweet instead of savory, I make these pinwheels - just spread the peanut butter right to the edge of the tortilla (I use plain or whole wheat) and put a dollop of your favorite jam along the first edge of the roll (I’m a purist so nothing but strawberry will do for me). Roll tightly, wrap in plastic, freeze and slice.

Nutella Hearts – take fresh Challah or brioche bread, remove the crusts, flatten the bread and spread with nutella right to the edges. Use cookie cutters to get your favorite shapes.

Cream Cheese and Jelly Triangles. Same as the hearts. For this photo I made two kinds: Boursin Cranberry & Pepper cheese (it was sweet enough without any jelly) and cream cheese with Apple Sage jelly from Tangled Garden.

Tomorrow I’ll post some more….In the meantime, take a deep breath, smile and savor the moment.

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Kalyn Denny said...

Great photo of the asparagus. That looks like something I'd love. Thanks for remembering WHB during this busy season.

Anonymous said...

Asparugus roll ups look sooooo goood! Everything does!