Monday, January 7, 2013

A Report On New Year’s

Happy New Year! I hope it was. I actually made everything I said I was going to make, except for the strawberries and champagne. But I got around to that the next day.
My snacks turned out pretty well and I would recommend them the next time you need a little something to go with drinks. 


This recipe was my inspiration for Croutes With Melon Salsa And Veggie Bacon. Normally I don’t like crostini or bruschetta type things, because super-crunchy things with toppings precariously balanced on them are difficult to eat. One way around that is to toast only one side of the bread, so it isn’t as hard to bite into. And I always serve them with little plates, not just hanging out there in the air, so there’s somewhere for the toppings to fall.

I used the melon salsa recipe mostly as it was, but I changed everything else.

Cheese Croutes With Melon Salsa And Veggie Bacon (makes 20)

For Melon Salsa:

¼ cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 ripe cantaloupe
a handful of chopped parsley (Take out 1 tablespoon for later.)
2 pinches of salt

For Croutes:
20 thin slices of French bread from one loaf
20 thin slices of Parmesan
20 thin slices of Emmental

5 slices Smart Bacon, fried and cut into 4 pieces each

For the salsa, mix all ingredients together, saving a tablespoon of parsley to sprinkle over the finished croutes at the end. Set aside.

Lay the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet or on the tray of a toaster oven, in batches if necessary. Top each slice of bread with one slice of Parmesan and one slice of Emmental.  Toast until cheese is melted in toaster oven or in 350°F oven. Top with Melon Salsa and one piece of Smart Bacon. Sprinkle over reserved parsley. Serve immediately.


Baby Lemon Crepes With Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

These were super easy. Make any crepe recipe you like. Julia’s blender recipe  is always good. After it comes out of the blender, add lots of grated lemon peel - at least 2 lemons’ worth for this recipe. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Make the little crepes and serve half with a dollop of Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade and a bit of sour cream.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade
Adapted from Epicurious

¼ cup fresh parsley
18 pitted Kalamata olives
9 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, well-drained, coarsely chopped
1 tbl. tomato paste
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled, halved, center stalk removed and put through a garlic press

Place parsley in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until the texture is coarsely chopped. Pulse a few more times until the mixture is to your liking. I usually use it pretty finely chopped.


Baby Lemon Crepes With Lemon Curd And Raspberries 

Top the second half of your little crepes with lemon curd mixed with sour cream. I could have (should have) made my own, but I was in a rush, so I bought jarred lemon curd, which is way too sweet. I mixed equal amounts of lemon curd and sour cream together and topped the crepes with that, garnished with a raspberry. Yum!


The Olive and Feta mix was bought, as were the nuts. Remember Ina always says to combine ready-made items with made ahead things. 


I learned to serve grapes on New Year’s when we lived in Spain. There you watch the clock strike twelve in Madrid’s most prominent square, the Puerto Del Sol. (We usually watched it on television.) With each ring of the bell, you’re supposed to cram a grape in and actually swallow it before the next stroke. This is supposed to bring good luck in the new year… as long as you don’t actually choke during the whole process. It’s not that easy to do and when it’s midnight, you’re often left with a mouth full of (partially chewed) grapes. It’s really fun! Seriously. I didn’t realize for years why it was so hard to do it in the States. But here we count down the last 30 seconds - not the 12 strokes at midnight - so you sort of lose count. At least I gave it a try.


The next day I did my usual bagels with all kinds of stuff – vegetable cream cheese, whitefish, lox, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions. (I totally forgot the capers).

I also made my latest version of a potato frittata, which has the flavor of a Spanish tortilla with some added vegetables. You can make it a day in advance. I couldn’t find yellow squash, so I added half a yellow pepper instead. 

Potato And Onion Frittata (serves 6)

1/2 cup good olive oil (The large amount of oil is so the potatoes don’t stick…or stick less. It’s not so bad, or so I tell myself, because you’re going to drain it off.)
2 large onions, sliced
2 big Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 tsps. salt, divided
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 zucchini, cubed
1/2 yellow squash, cubed
6 eggs
1 cup Swiss cheese (or any cheese you prefer)
handful of parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil on medium heat in a heavy bottomed, medium saucepan. Stir in onions, potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt. When you hear a sizzle, turn down the heat to low and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent sticking. (Every stove is different. When you lift the lid, there should be a good head of steam even on low heat. If not, raise the heat just a bit, but you want the onions softening, not browning.) 

When the onions are soft and the potatoes are mostly done, pour the contents of the saucepan into a sieve over a bowl. Save the yummy onion/potato oil in a jar in the fridge for future frying. Return the onions and potatoes to the saucepan.
Stir in the chopped red pepper and cubed zucchini and yellow squash. Continue cooking, covered, another 10 minutes over medium or medium low heat. Remove pot from heat, uncover and leave to cool just a bit.

Beat eggs with remaining teaspoon of salt, cheese and parsley. Stir in onion and vegetable mixture.

Pour into an 8 inch square glass baking dish, which has been sprayed with Pam. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes or until the center comes out mostly clean when tested with a toothpick. Cut into squares and serve.

If making in advance, let cool completely. Cover well. The next day, cut the firtatta into squares and place on a microwavable platter. Cook on high for 45 seconds. Then cook in 15 second increments until frittata is reasonably warm.

Serve with Sriracha Sauce – ½ cup mayonnaise, 3 tbls. of sour cream, juice of one (or two) limes and 3 good squirts of Sriracha. Use less for a milder sauce. 


Lastly I served slices of James Beard’s Apple Cake (email me for the fantastic recipe) and this version of everyone’s favorite cake this (actually last) year – Sticky Toffee Date Cake.

Oh, one more thing - Strawberries with Prosecco.

I threw in raspberries for good measure.  Add 6 to 8 strawberries and few raspberries to a small bowl. Stir in a big pinch or two of sugar. Let sit for five minutes. Spoon the fruit and all their juices into the bottom of two wine glasses. Pour a 1/2 tablespoon of Grand Marnier into each glass. Top with Prosecco. Clink and enjoy. 


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

It all looks fabulous! Love that melon salsa.

Your talk of crostini transported me back to our lunch at Gallo Nero where the "crostini" weren't much of an issue with the toppings falling off since the crostini should have been called "pizza"!

Sue said...

Hi Rach,
Thanks! You're so right. Those crostini were really good and they were almost a meal, not a little snack...

And, you know, that IS a really good point about pizza. Does the cheese on the pizza act as a glue to keep things from falling off? Or is it because it's not as crisp and things don't slip off the top as easily? OR both?!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Interesting point. Pizza crust is not as crispy as crostini, which would make it easier to stay steady when you eat it, but cheese can slide off a pizza crust.

The key is to shove it all in your mouth so fast that it's not an issue. ;-)