Archive for Fall Appetizers – Page 2

Homemade “Boursin” Cheese

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Boursin cheese can be quite expensive and I think this delicious version makes a great substitute for the bought Boursin. Great on crackers or slices of baguette and it will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. I often make this around Christmas, all I need are a few marinated olives and maybe another cheese or two and I have an appetizer ready to go!

DSC_4246 nx22 pks (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup mayonnaise (lite is just fine here)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives or green onions
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill**
1 clove garlic, minced

With the food processor running; drop the clove of garlic through the feed tube, & process until finely chopped; add all the ingredients, except for the green onions & dill & using on/off turns combine well; add the green onions & dill & combine, using a few on/off turns.

Line a 2 cup mold with plastic wrap; add the cheese, smoothing the surface; cover & place in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge, turn out onto a serving plate; remove the plastic wrap and serve.

**You can also divide the mixture into 2 (1) cup molds which is what I normally do.

**To have chopped dill when it’s not in season, see Phyllis’ Kitchen/Cooking Tips.

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Grilled Artichokes With EVOO, Lemon And Mint

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We are lucky enough to get local artichokes from Glen Valley Artichokes at both Kits Farmer’s Market and Yaletown. The first time I made this recipe we shared the artichokes with our neighbours; they made quite the impression! I know artichokes are a bit fiddly to prep. but I really think these unbelievably good little morsels are worth the effort! Hope you do too!  They would make an amazing addition to an antipasto platter.

DSC_4175 nx22 lemons, halved
6 large artichokes
2/3 cup EVO
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt.

Squeeze juice from halved lemons into a large bowl filled with cold water. Cut stem off 1 artichoke, leaving about 1”. Snap off outer 2 rows of leaves. Cut off top 1/3 of artichoke; quarter artichoke lengthwise. Using small knife cut out the choke (that hairy stuff inside the artichoke) and prickly small leaves. Place the artichoke in lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Drain artichokes, add to pot & boil until crisp-tender, 8 – 15 minutes. Transfer artichokes to a rack and cool. This can be done 1 day ahead. Cover & refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat if using a gas barbecue). Whisk oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice & mint in small bowl; season dressing to taste with salt & pepper. Brush artichokes with dressing. Grill until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. (I thread the artichokes onto metal skewers to make it easier to turn). Transfer artichokes to a serving platter; drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Zucchini Fritters With Herbs And Cheese

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Made these on the weekend, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside…delicious, herby, cheesy little nuggets! You can serve them with yogurt but as I have an endless supply, it seems, of Sungold cherry tomatoes, I roasted them up with slivers of garlic, salt, pepper & EVO and served the room temperature tomatoes with the hot fritters. Last time I made a salsa with halved cherry tomatoes, garlic EVO, & chopped parsley; good too! Hey, it’s summer, so zucchini & tomatoes it is! You can change up the herbs if you like; maybe with basil instead of the mint?

DSC_4168 nx2Makes 6 to 8 Appetizer Servings

1 ¼ lbs. fresh zucchini (the speckled light green ones are my fav.), grated
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 scant cup toasted whole wheat breadcrumbs (not multi-grain)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint (more if you really like lots of mint)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano

Vegetable oil for frying the fritters.

Toss the grated zucchini, onion & salt in a large colander. Let stand 1 hour; squeeze as dry as possible; you could use a clean, cotton towel to do this. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Mix in next 6 ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 180 F. Line a baking sheet with 3 or 4 pieces of paper towels.

Pour vegetable oil into a heavy large deep saucepan (or if you have one an electric frying pan works great for frying because it comes with a thermometer) up to 1”. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pan; heat oil over medium-high heat to 350 F. Working in batches of 4, shape zucchini mixture by tablespoonfuls into balls; add to the hot oil & fry the batches until fritters are brown, carefully turning once using two spoons, about 3 minutes in total. Remove from the fat with a slotted spoon, & transfer to the paper towel lined baking sheet & place in the warm oven to keep warm while you fry the remaining fritters; allowing the oil to return to 350 F between batches.

Place the fritters on a serving platter & either serve with some of the suggestions made earlier, or whatever appeals at the moment!

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Marinated Feta Cheese

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Easy to put together, great on pita or slices of baguette, or even use in a salad. Use a creamy sheep or goat’s milk feta for the best flavour, also it spreads more readily. The cheese will keep up to 5 days in the fridge.  I like to serve this in the summer, but any time is the right time!

DSC_4153 nx21 tsp. each whole fennel seeds & coriander seeds, toasted
2/3 cup EVO
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
1 tsp. lemon rind
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. red pepper flakes or to taste
3 cups of feta cut into ½” cubes (approx. 400 grams)

In a small dry skillet, toast fennel & coriander seeds over medium heat, swirling the pan, until fragrant, about 3 minutes; transfer to a large glass jar or bowl.

Add the oil, rosemary, lemon rind, lemon juice & red pepper flakes; seal with a lid & shake to combine.

Add the cheese; cover with a lid. Gently turn jar over once or twice to combine. Refrigerate for 12 hours, turning jar over occasionally.

Let come to room temperature before serving.

**The photo shows both my Tapenade & Baba Ghanouj, if you would like to make them, click on the link.

Green and Black Olive Tapenade

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This is a dead-easy spread/topping. I like to use both Greek Kalamata olives and Greek green olives in brine. You will have to pit them but it’s not hard; just lay on a cutting board, place the back of a chef’s knife on the olive and give it a slight whack; just like when you are peeling garlic. I have used the Tapenade on a panino with prosciutto and cheese too! All you need is some good sliced Italian bread! (**Check out Rise Artisan’s breads). Tapenade makes a great addition to an antipasto platter.

DSC_8108 nx22 cups pitted Kalamata & green Greek olives
3 Tbsp. capers, rinsed (I prefer the capers packed in salt to the brined ones)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 Tbsp. good EVO
2 tsp. grated lemon zest

Place the olives, capers, garlic, EVO & lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor; process until coarsely chopped (do not puree). Place in a tightly covered jar & store in the fridge. Serve the Tapenade at room temperature.

**If you want to buy some of Rise’s awesome bread, please go to My Source List.

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Mexican Style Picadillo

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This is one handy recipe! I often make up a batch, use some for the tortillas and freeze the rest to use for other things, like making an appetizer by filling phyllo cups with the heated mixture or as a filling for a burrito…thinking it might be pretty good with a fried egg on top too!

Make the Picadillo:

DSC_3377 nx21 large onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. EVO
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/3 cup raisins
1 ½ cups tomato sauce (from a tin)
½ cup sliced pimiento-stuffed green olives
¾ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. chili flakes (or to taste)
4 Tbsp. sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Make the Picadillo:

In a large heavy skillet, cook the onion & the garlic in the oil over medium- low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened; add the pork & beef & cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring & breaking up any lumps with a fork, until the meat is no longer pink. Pour off any excess fat; stir in the spices for 30 seconds, then add the raisins, tomato sauce, olives, salt & pepper to taste; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

NB: You can make the Picadillo up to 1 or 2 days ahead.

For Serving With Tortillas:

Makes 6 Servings

Twelve 6″ or 7” corn tortillas
Shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce
Thinly sliced red onion or coarsely grated radishes (or some of each)

In a skillet heat ¼” vegetable oil over medium high heat until it’s hot but not smoking & fry the tortillas, 1 at a time for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until they are crisp & golden; transfer them with tongs as they are fried to a large baking sheet lined with paper towels & keep warm in a 180 F oven.

To serve, place the shells in one layer on plates, divide the Picadillo among them & top with some of the lettuce, onion & radishes if using.

**If you would like to make the crust for empadas, please go to Empadas.

**If you would like to use the Picadillo as a filling for an appetizer, please go to Phyllo Cups.

**If you would like to see my recipe for guacamole, please go to Guacamole.

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Marinated Cauliflower

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If you have never tried locally grown cauliflower, you are in for a treat! It’s so sweet, crunchy & delicious. There are so many wonderful ways to use this veggie, from a pasta sauce, in mac ‘n cheese, or in this case as part of an antipasto plate with perhaps some olives, roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes dressed with EVO, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil or oregano.

DSC_3411 nx21 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
6 Tbsp. EVO
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. chili flakes
2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add 1 Tbsp. salt. Place the cauliflower in the pot of boiling water & cook for approximately 3 minutes; it should not be soft but still have some crunch. Remove the cauliflower to a bowl of ice water and let stand until cold. Drain well & blot dry.

Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, garlic & chili flakes; slowly whisk in the EVO. Whisk in the herbs & salt & pepper to taste. Place the cauliflower in a flat dish; add the dressing; stir to combine & let stand for 1 hour before serving or place in the fridge until an hour before serving.

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My Guacamole


Once I get through January & February,  I start thinking about foods from warmer climates. Go figure! There are so many variations for guacamole; ones that include chopped tomatoes, salsa, etc. etc. I prefer my guacamole with a few ingredients that really enhance the avocadoes. There are many uses for guacamole.  Topping an enchilada, a dip for corn chips, inside a burrito, a topping for picadillo cups, or taco salad (which I happen to really like, either with ground beef or instead of the beef, ground turkey & or black beans.)  Love all those toppings!

2 large ripe avocadoes**
1 large clove garlic
1/8 tsp. coarse sea salt
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, more if you wish
3 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
1 small jalapeno chili, seeds & membrane removed, & minced
Fine sea salt to taste


Cut the avocado in half, remove & reserve the pits. Using a spoon, remove the flesh from the avocado & place into a flat dish. Mash with a fork. Place the salt & garlic on a cutting board & using the back of the knife, in a back & forth motion, puree the garlic, scraping it up & going over it a few times with the back of the knife. Add to the avocado along with the lime juice, cumin, cilantro, red onion & jalapeno. Stir together & taste, adding more salt, if required. Serve immediately or return the pits to the guacamole & place in the fridge until needed.

Tips: It’s a really good idea to return the pits of the avocadoes to the guacamole, it really helps prevent the guacamole from darkening.  I like to buy my avocadoes when they are still quite hard, place in a paper bag with a ripe banana & keep in a warm place until they are soft enough to use.

Coconut Spot Prawns

These are succulent, slightly exotic and absolutely fantastic with either of the dips. Whenever I make them they are gobbled up!  At other times of the year when Spot Prawns are unavailable use another type of prawn.  Finest at Sea is a great source for fish & seafood.

Makes 8 Servings

4 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup unbleached flour
¾ cup lager beer
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne or to taste
1 lg. egg
6 cups canola oil (for frying shrimp)
48 Spot prawns (1 ½ lbs.), or medium shrimp,
peeled, leaving tail and first segment of shell intact & if desired, deveined

Coarsely chop coconut & transfer half to a shallow plate.

Whisk together flour, beer, baking soda, salt, cayenne & egg in a small bowl until smooth.
Heat oil in a 4 – 6 quart deep heavy pot over moderately high heat until it registers 350F on a thermometer. I like to use a electric frying pan for deep frying as it has a temperature control making things a lot easier. While oil is heating, coat prawns. Hold 1 prawn by the tail and dip into the batter, letting excess drip off, then dredge in coconut, coating completely and pressing gently to help it adhere.

Transfer to a plate & coat remaining prawns in same manner, adding remaining coconut to bowl as needed.
Fry prawns in oil in batches of 8 or so, do not crowd the pan, until golden, about 1 minute or so. Transfer with a “spider” or slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season lightly with salt. Keep warm in a 200 F oven while frying the remaining prawns. Skim any coconut from the oil and return oil to 350 F between batches. Serve hot with either of the dips or for that matter both.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

½ cup sugar
¾ cup water
½ sweet red bell peppers, seeded & any membrane removed, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 Tbsp. sambal oelek, you can adjust to taste, perhaps 1 Tbsp. to start with.
¼ cup fish sauce
4-5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine water & sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes or until reduced by ¼ and just beginning to thicken. Let cool.

Place the red pepper, garlic and sambal oelek in a food processor of blender. Add sugar syrup and puree. Add fish sauce, lime juice and blend until combined. Taste for seasoning adding more lime juice, fish sauce or sambal oelek to taste. Makes about 1 ½ cups. Freezes really well.

Plum Confit – I created this one day when I had fresh plums and needed a dipping sauce.

¾ lb. plums
2 Tbsp. golden sugar
1-2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
½ stalk lemongrass, trimmed & chopped fine
1 star anise
1 ½ tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, chopped
Chili to taste (opt.)
Salt to taste

Halve the plums, remove pit and chop coarsely. Place all ingredients, except vinegar in a medium sized pot; simmer, covered until plums break down, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar & simmer uncovered stirring frequently until sauce is thickened to a runny jam like consistency.

If you would like to locate Finest at Sea, click My Source List.

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Meatballs, A Hosts’ Friend

I personally don’t believe you can have too many recipes for meatballs for serving as appetizers or whatever else you can think of!  These ones have all received 2 thumbs up!  Perfect party food to my mind!

Spanish Tapas Meatballs

These little morsels would be a big hit at any tapas party! The perfume of saffron, paprika and garlic transports you to Spain! Saffron is a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way and can be used in many dishes such as Milanese rice and paella. Don’t cheap out on the saffron, get the good stuff, you will be a lot happier with the results! It adds such a lovely nuance to food, that I think it’s worth the expense, not only that,  it keeps forever.  I have found that I need to double this recipe they are so good!

Makes About 32 Meatballs

1 lb. ground meat, a mixture of pork & veal (or pork & beef is also very good)
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 ½” thick slice French bread, crust removed, soaked in water 3 minutes & squeezed dry
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Unbleached flour

EVOO for frying (approx. ¼ cup)
¼ cup chopped onion
½ tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika (I use Spanish sweet paprika just to keep things authentic)
1 cup (or more) dry white wine
¼ tsp. crumbled saffron threads (not powder)

Combine ground meats together with the 1 Tbsp. parsley, half the garlic, the egg, bread, ½ tsp. salt & ½ tsp. ground pepper in a medium bowl just to blend. Form the mixture into 1” balls. Dust the meatballs with flour & set aside.

Heat oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs & fry until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan, using a slotted spoon & transfer to a plate. Add onion to the skillet; reduce heat to medium & sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika, then 1 cup of broth & the wine. Return meatballs with any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover & cook the meatballs until they are tender, about 25 minutes.

Uncover; add 2 Tbsp. parsley, remaining garlic & saffron. Simmer until sauce thickens, turning the meatballs occasionally, about 10 minutes. Tip:  normally I put the saffron into the wine & let it stand for 15 minutes before adding it. I think it brings out the flavour more, but you don’t have to. Season sauce to taste with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Place the meatballs on a serving platter & top with 1 Tbsp. parsley.

Note: you can make the meatballs 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, cover & put in the fridge. Bring them to a simmer, thinning the sauce with more chicken broth if necessary.

Asian Meatballs

I wish I had discovered these incredibly easy to make meatballs years ago! I love these meatballs. They get glazed in the oven and are really scrumptious.  Great to make ahead & reheat when needed. A good thing to take to a party! Just reheat when you need them.

1 lb. lean ground pork
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. dry sherry
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs**

Dipping Sauce:

½ cup mango chutney (I prefer  Patak’s), large pieces chopped
2 tsp. hoisin sauce

Garnish: sesame seeds &  sprigs of cilantro

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Combine all ingredients (except sauce ingredients & garnish); mix thoroughtly, but with a light hand. Form the mixture into ¾” balls. Place on a well-oiled, rimmed baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Combine sauce ingredients and serve at room temperature. You can, if you wish, heat the sauce in the microwave, covered, for about 1 minute.

Place the hot meatballs on a serving platter, top with sesame seeds & cilantro; serve with the sauce.

Note: these meatballs freeze very well. Thaw & reheat in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes or microwave at full power for 1 – 2 minutes.

If you would like to make your own breadcrumbs, click Making Breadcrumbs.

Greek Meatballs

These meatballs are just plain delicious with the lovely flavour of mint & cinnamon. I usually serve them with a tzatziki sauce for dipping. FYI: one of the other things I do, besides serving as an appetizer,  is serve them in warm pita bread with some chopped tomato, onion & lettuce, drizzled with tahini sauce. Tasty stuff!

½ lb. ground lamb
½ lb. ground beef
**I use all ground beef combining ½ lb. each medium &  lean beef, but feel free to use the lamb
1 beaten egg
½ cup soft bread crumbs**
1 small onion, very finely chopped (approx. 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, minced
¼ to ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Tzatziki Dip:

Probably more than you need, but what the heck, it keeps for a few days & with a few olives & some warm pita, makes a welcome appy! Or how about serving some with  grilled Greek lamb chops? However, you can cut the recipe in half.

2 cups plain yogurt (I like Liberte Mediterranean, but a good thick Greek yogurt would also be great)
½ English cucumber
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. EVOO
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

Take a large piece of well rinsed cheesecloth (Julia Child always recommended rinsing to remove the medicinal aroma from the cheesecloth). Line a sieve with the cheesecloth. Place the yogurt into the sieve; place over a bowl and cover. Allow to drain in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Grate the cucumber & place in a sieve over a bowl; salt the cucumber & allow to drain for about 20 minutes. Remove yogurt & place in a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as possible, using your hands; add to the yogurt. Smash the garlic & sprinkle with a little sea salt. By pressing & spreading with the back of a chef’s knife, puree the garlic & add to the yogurt mixture. Add the lemon juice, EVOO, Dijon mustard & dill. Blend well. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to blend the flavours. Season with salt if required.

Make The Meatballs:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine egg & bread crumbs in a mixing bowl. Stir in the onion, garlic, mint, cinnamon, salt & pepper;  add the ground meat combine well; but with a light hand. Shape into 1” balls.

Place meatballs onto a well-oiled rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until cooked through.

If you would like to make breadcrumbs, click Making Breadcrumbs.

Tahini Sauce:  (in case you want to try the meatballs in pita)

½ cup tahini
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup EVOO
¼ cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. hot pepper sauce (Tabasco) or I like to use Harissa**, to taste
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl & whisk to combine.

Harissa is a pepper puree, in a tube, available at Middle Eastern Stores & in some grocery stores.

If you would like to make your own breadcrumbs, click Making Breadcrumbs.

Indian Meatballs

With the popularity of south Asian cuisine, this recipe certainly deserves to be added to the meatball repertoire! I like to serve them with two different dips.

½ cup light (golden raisins)
½ cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted**
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground allspice
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. ground beef (not too lean), or ground lamb

Garnish: cilantro sprigs

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place the raisins & almonds in the bowl of a food processor & process till just finely chopped.

In a bowl combine the raisin mixture, onions, cinnamon, salt, allspice and garlic. Add ground meat. Mix well, using a light hand. Form into 1” balls. Arrange meatballs on a well-oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until no pink remains, turning once if you like.  Drain if necessary. Place on a serving platter, garnish with cilantro ad serve with dips.


1.  Combine thick yogurt with a finely minced clove of garlic & finely chopped red onion to taste.  Chill until ready to use.
2.  Mango chutney, hot or mild (I prefer Pataks.)

If you would like to make breadcrumbs, click Making Breadcrumbs.  

 If you wish to see how to toast nuts, click Toasting Nuts.

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