Archive for Fall Appetizers – Page 2

Mushroom Crostini

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Mushroom soup, mushroom pasta sauce, mushroom filled ravioli, so many ideas, so little time, especially for wild mushrooms! If you like, you could change things up a bit by adding a few dried Porcini that have been soaked, drained and chopped or substitute some fresh Chanterelles for some of the brown mushrooms. In the spring, if you are lucky, you might get your hands on some fresh Porcini…Delicious! Crostini make a great appetizer for entertaining, so many different kinds; so many great flavours!

DSC_6390 nx2Makes Approximately 40 Crostini

¼ cup EVO
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 ½ lbs. brown mushrooms
1 ½ cups whipping cream/heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 thin baguettes or ficelle’s

Garnish: sprigs of parsley

In large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of the EVOO over medium heat; cook onion for 3 – 5 minutes or until softened but not brown; add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Remove onions & garlic from pan; set aside.

Wipe out the pan; add remaining oil to pan; cook mushrooms over medium to medium high heat for 12 – 15 minutes until the moisture from the mushrooms evaporates. Add the onion mixture & cream; bring to a boil. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for approximately 5 minutes or until thickened & the mushrooms are coated; remove from the heat. Stir in ¼ cup of the cheese & chopped parsley; season with salt & pepper.

Preheat oven to 400F.

**You can make the mushroom mixture the day before, cool, cover and store in the fridge until needed.

Slice the baguettes into thin slices, approximately ¼” thick. Spread each with a heaping tablespoonful of the mushroom mixture; sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet & bake for 5 – 6 minutes or until toasted & heated through. Garnish with a small piece of parsley, serve hot.

**Alternatively, you can slice the bread, place on a baking sheet, brush the top with a little EVOO & bake at 400F for approximately 5 – 8 minutes or until slightly golden. Cool. When ready to serve the crostini, top each with some mushroom mixture and bake as above. This will make a slightly crisper crostini & has the benefit of being able to prepare the baguette slices well ahead.

Phyllis Signature

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.

Phyllis Signature

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.

Phyllis Signature

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!

Phyllis Signature

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.

Phyllis Signature

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.

Phyllis Signature

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.

Phyllis Signature

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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