Smoked Salmon Dip

Smoked Salmon Dip

Level: Easy

Prep: 10 min

Yield: 1 1/2 pints

Total: 10 min

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

 

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

Directions

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites and/or crackers.


Smoked Salmon Dip
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Holiday Cheese Ball Wreath

Holiday Cheese Ball Wreath

Bring your outdoor holiday wreath inside with this festive and easy cheeseball. Use a small Bundt pan to form a wreath shape, or roll the mixture into a ball or log. For a cheeseball worthy of any big gathering, skip the Bundt pan and colorful garnish and roll the ball in toasted sliced almonds instead. 

Level: Easy

Total: 1 hr 15 min 

(includes chilling time)

Yield: 16 to 20 servings

Active: 15 min

Ingredients:

1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups shredded firm cheese, such as Cheddar, pepper Jack or Colby

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1/2 cup pickled piquante peppers, such as Peppadews, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Crackers, sliced bread or crudites, for serving

Directions:

Special equipment:  A small (6-cup) Bundt pan

1. Line the inside of a 6-cup Bundt pan with plastic wrap. Process the cream cheese, shredded cheese, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and few grinds of pepper in a food processor until smooth. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl, and fold in all but 2 tablespoons of the chopped peppers.

2. Spoon the cheese mixture into the prepared Bundt pan; pack it in, spread into an even layer and cover (or simply form the cheese mixture into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap). Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour up to 2 days.

3. Uncover and invert the cheese mold (or unwrap and transfer the ball) onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with the chives and parsley to completely coat the wreath, and garnish with the reserved 2 tablespoons peppers. Serve with crackers, sliced bread or crudites.


Holiday Cheese Ball Wreath
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Holiday Cheese Ball Wreath
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Ingredients
1/2 cup pickled piquante peppers, such as Peppadews, finely chopped
Servings:
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Christmas Tree Antipasto Salad

Christmas Tree Antipasto Salad

This cheery holiday salad is a fun (and delicious!) decorating idea for a party. A trio of lettuces create the evergreen tree, and items from the deli counter and salad bar become an edible garland. 

Level: Easy

Total: 45 min

Active: 45 min

Yield: 8 servings

 
 

Ingredients

Salad:

5 ounces baby arugula (about 8 cups)

5 ounces baby kale (about 8 cups)  

2 Persian cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced into half moons

3 heads little gem lettuce, bases trimmed and leaves separated, or the inner leaves of Bibb lettuce

1/4 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami

Three 1/4-inch-thick slices provolone (about 6 ounces)

1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto 

1 cup cheese-stuffed small sweet piquante peppers, such as peppadews 

1/2 cup jarred small whole artichoke hearts (about 8)

1/2 cup green castelvetrano olives

1/2 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup small whole pepperoncini

6 radishes, tops trimmed

1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

One 4-ounce goat cheese log

8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella (small balls of mozzarella), halved

 

White Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:


  1. Special equipment:

     1-inch, 1 1/2-inch and 3 1/2-inch star cutters; a bar citrus zester

  2.  
  3.  
  4. 1. For the salad: Combine the baby arugula and kale in a large bowl. Arrange the leaves on a very large platter or cutting board in a Christmas tree shape that measures 16 to 18 inches tall, reserving a handful of greens. The platter should be large enough to accommodate a star on top and a trunk on the bottom. Scatter half of the sliced cucumbers over the tree. Arrange a layer of little gem lettuce leaves to create 4 tiers on the tree; use the small inner leaves for the fourth layer at the top of the tree.
  5. 2. Stack the sliced salami and cut out a large star using a 3 1/2-inch star cutter; reserve the scraps. Using the same cutter, cut out 2 stars from 2 slices of the provolone; reserve the scraps. Make a layered meat-and-cheese stack starting with half the salami stars, topped with a provolone star, the rest of the salami, and the second provolone star. Place the star at the top of the tree. 
  6. 3. Cut out smaller stars from the provolone scraps and the remaining provolone slice using 1-inch and 1 1/2-inch cutters. Roll up the salami scraps and prosciutto slices into flowers. Arrange the cheese stars, meat flowers, stuffed peppadews, artichoke hearts, both kinds of olives and pepperoncini on the lettuce to form a garland that zig-zags up the tree from the bottom right to the upper left. 
  7. 4. Using a bar citrus zester, zest a channel along the equator of each radish so it resembles a tree ornament. Halve each radish vertically and add the pieces to the garland. Scatter the remaining cucumber slices on the leafy parts of the tree and use the reserved greens to fill any gaps in the tree.
  8. 5. Put the nuts on a small plate and roll the goat cheese in them to fully coat. Place the log at the bottom of the tree to form the trunk. Decorate the ground under the tree with the ciliegine mozzarella balls for snow.
  9. 6. For the white balsamic vinaigrette: Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Serve on the side.

Christmas Tree Antipasto Salad
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Homemade Falafels

Homemade Falafels

Falafels are traditional Middle Eastern deep fried patties or balls made from chickpeas, fava beans, or both.  They’re usually found stuffed in Pita bread or rolled in a flatbread along with fresh and pickled veggies and topped with a tahini sauce, that’s a Falafel Sandwich.  They are also eaten with fried eggs, hummus, babaganouj, and pickles for breakfast or served as mezzes and snacks.

My first encounter with falafels was at a kiosk in New York city where I grew up.  Buying a falafel sandwich from this kiosk was a treat when we spent the day at the near by park.  Then my family moved to Hawaii in the mid-70’s where there were no kiosks selling “ethnic” foods and so I didn’t have falafels again until I married my husband who is of Palestinian decent.  Imagine his surprise when I told him I actually knew what falafels were!

As newlyweds in Hawaii we had to figure out how to make falafels at home; as I new bride I had no clue!  Remember back in the 80’s there was no google, no pinterest, no instagram, or any kind of internet that would find a recipe in seconds.  I had to rely on cookbooks from the library, not really helpful.

Then we found a box of falafel mix at a local health food store.  Just add water and fry.  It wasn’t the best, but we made do.  I started experimenting with the boxed mix and found that adding finely chopped fresh parsley improved the taste.  Started adding more spices and pretty soon I figured I may as well by pass the mix and make it from scratch.   That didn’t go so well until I managed to buy a food processor, now I was in business!

As I was exploring the makings for falafel from scratch we started traveling all over the world.  Of course travel opens up your life to different places, foods, and cultures and our travels in the Middle East definitely helped my falafel making.  We loved the falafel sandwiches at Mr. Falfala in Cairo and the ones found on the streets of Diera in Dubai.  But nothing beats the fresh falafels served at Hashem’s and Abu Jbarra in Jordan!  On our last trip to Dubai this year we discovered that Abu Jbarra opened a place by the Dubai Mall, we ate brunch there almost everyday!

Anyway those trips to Egypt, Dubai, and Jordan whetted my desire to make falafels at home that would be close to the ones served in the places we loved.  I say close because I doubt I’ll ever figure out the exact match to Hashem’s falafels served in this little alley in downtown Amman.

I make large batches of falafels so that I have enough to freeze for future use.  Raw falafel paste freezes beautifully!  This way I don’t have to haul out the food processor every time I want to fry falafels and I always have some handy when  I have a yen for a falafel sandwich.

I’ve found that using fresh ingredients makes the difference between decent falafels and amazing ones!  So I use fresh cilantro, parsley, and dill as my primary seasonings; they will turn your mixture green, but the greener the falafel is the better it tastes in my opinion.  I also use dry chickpeas never canned.

It takes a bit of planning to make really great falafels, but believe me it’s so worth the effort!

Fresh Falafel

Ingredients:

8 oz. Dried Chickpeas (1/2 a bag)

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

1 Large bunch of Fresh Cilantro, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Large Bunch of Fresh American Parsley, rinsed and dried on paper towel

1 Small Bunch of Fresh Dill, rinsed and dried on paper towel

2 Tbs. Fresh Garlic, minced

1 Tbs. Cumin Powder

1 Tbs. Ground Coriander

1 Tbs. Sea Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

Oil for frying

Pita or Flat Bread

Optional Condiments: Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, pickled beets, tahini sauce, thousand island dressing, or what ever you want to add in the sandwich

Directions:

Pour dried chickpeas into a bowl and mix in baking soda.

Cover with water and soak overnight.

Rinse chickpeas in cool water and drain in a colander.

In a food processor load in this order:

Cilantro leaves and stems (you don’t have to use all the stems but do use the leaves), Parsley, Dill (prepare and use Parsley and Dill the same way as Cilantro).

Drained chickpeas and garlic

Dried spices (cumin, coriander, salt, pepper)

Turn on processor and grind until it is a paste

If freezing place paste into freezer safe containers and freeze.  Thaw before cooking.

If using immediately:

Heat about 2″ of oil in a small pot.

Add baking soda to falafel paste and combine well.

Test that oil is hot enough by dropping a small amount of falafel paste in; if oil starts bubbling around the paste your oil is ready for frying.

Form paste into small 1″ balls or patties and drop into hot oil.

Fry until all sides are brown, cooked falafel will float.

Drain on paper towels and serve as a sandwich filling or by itself for breakfast or as mezzes.


Homemade Falafels
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Shrimp Scampi Cheese Dip – Delicious!

Shrimp Scampi Cheese Dip – Delicious!

This Shrimp Scampi Cheese Dip made it’s debut on our Thanksgiving Menu last year, the family loved it so much it’s now one of our faves.  We make it all the time for our Sunday night barbecues and even when we entertain.  Our guests love it just as much as we do!

It’s really simple to make and so yummy!  We used crostini for dipping,  we like the crunch, but you can use fresh baguettes or  whatever you like.  I’d avoid salted crackers though, the butter and cheeses have enough salt and dipping salted crackers may get too salty.

If you’re looking for something different to add to your holiday meal this Scampi Dip fits the spot.

But do keep extra ingredients on hand, you may have to make a second bowl when you have company!

Ingredients:

8 oz. medium shrimp – peeled and roughly chopped

4 tbls. salted butter

1 tbls. minced garlic

1/2 cup white wine (if you prefer non-alcoholic you can substitute chicken broth for the wine)

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

4 oz. cream cheese softened

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup grated fresh parmasean cheese

1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1.  Melt butter in pan.

2.  Saute garlic in butter until it turns slightly brown.

3.  Add shrimp and saute until shrimp starts to turn pink.

4.  Add wine.  Stir well and continue cooking until shrimp is cooked.

5.  Remove from heat and squeeze on lemon juice.  Stir.

6. Stir in cream cheese, sour cream, parmasean, and 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Reserve the 1/2 mozzarella for topping.  Mix very well.

7.   Pour into oven safe baking dish – you will be serving it in this dish.  I ran out of pretty oven safe dishes so I ended up using an aluminum pie tin.

8.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.

9.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese melts and starts turning brown.

10.  Serve warm with dipping bread or chips.

Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp Scampi Cheese Dip
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An awesome dip you and your friends will love! It's cheesey, garlicy, flavor goes great with crusty baguette slices.
Servings Prep Time
6 People 15 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 People 15 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp Scampi Cheese Dip
Print Recipe
An awesome dip you and your friends will love! It's cheesey, garlicy, flavor goes great with crusty baguette slices.
Servings Prep Time
6 People 15 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 People 15 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: People
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in pan. 5. Remove from heat and squeeze on lemon juice. Stir.
  2. Saute garlic in butter until it turns slightly brown.
  3. Add shrimp and saute until shrimp starts to turn pink
  4. Add wine. Stir well and continue cooking until shrimp is cooked.
  5. Remove from heat and squeeze on lemon juice. Stir.
  6. Stir in cream cheese, sour cream, parmasean, and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Reserve the 1/2 mozzarella for topping. Mix very well.
  7. Pour into oven safe baking dish - you will be serving it in this dish. I ran out of pretty oven safe dishes so I ended up using an
    Shrimp Scampi
  8. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top.
    Scampi
  9. Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese melts and starts turning brown.
  10. Serve warm with dipping bread.
Recipe Notes

You can substitute chicken stock for the white wine for a non-alcoholic version.

Be sure you use FRESH Parmesan Cheese, not the dried grated one that comes in a round shaker box.

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Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

Bao, bau, baozi, mantou, bakpoa, paoare, siopao, or humbow; you probably know them best as Steamed Buns or Boa Buns.  They’re those soft fluffy white pockets filled with a sweet or savory filling.

Baos or whatever you call them originated in Northern China where wheat instead of rice is widely grown.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years.  Legend has it that Baos originated during the Three Kingdom Period when a Chinese general needed to cross a raging river with his army.  To ensure safe crossing the people on the other side of the river demanded that the general sever the head of 50 men; instead the general used large meat filled dough balls which satisfied the demand.

Meat filled bao buns have always been a favorite in the Philippines where they are called Siopao, they’re also popular in Hawaii where they’re known as Manapua.  Both places have a large Chinese  population who introduced this delicacy many years ago.  In fact many countries with large Chinese communities have a version of this popular food.  Recently their popularity has increased worldwide.

Baos can be shaped into balls, as they were in the legend, or they can be folded like taco shells.  They can be filled with your favorite savory meats such as char siu or sweet roast pork, pork belly, and chicken curry; or they can be filled with sweets such as black bean paste, taro, or custard.

One of my favorite bao fillings is  Korean Fried Chicken, crispy fried chicken bites dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, sliced onions, and cucumbers.

Click here for the Korean Fried Chicken recipe!

Another favorite filling is Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs, thin slices of beef short ribs marinated in a sweet and salty sauce.  Then grilled and garnished with fresh green onions and sesame seeds.

Click here for the Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs recipe! 

 

But first things first, before you can fill steamed buns you must make them.  To make homemade buns you will need a steamer, I use bamboo steamer baskets, but you can use whatever you have on hand.  Other than that making steamed buns are pretty easy using ingredients that are readily available if you don’t already have them in your kitchen.

So let’s make bao buns, then you can fill them with just about anything you desire.

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Bao Buns – Steamed Buns

Ingredients:

3 3/4 Cups flour

2 Tbs. Sugar

2 Tsp. Instant Yeast

3 Tbs. Milk

3/4 Warm water

3 Tbs. Butter – softened

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

Directions:

Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of your standing mixer or a large bowl if kneading by hand.

Place warm water and milk in a separate bowl, stir in butter until it melts.

Using the dough hook of your mixer gradually stir liquid into flour mixtures.

Knead for 10 minutes either in your mixer or by hand.

Turn dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel.  Leave in a warm spot until dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Once dough has doubled in size turn out onto a floured surface.  Gently knead dough for a couple of minutes then cut into 20 pieces which you will roll into balls.

Roll each ball with a rolling pin into an oval shape about 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.

Place on parchment paper while  you roll the rest of the balls.

Brush dough ovals with olive oil.

Place a chopstick in the middle of the dough oval and fold over.  It should now be shaped like a taco shell with a space in the fold where the chopstick is.  The oiled surface should be inside of the fold.

Slip chopstick out, place on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and fold the rest of the ovals.

Cover pan with plastic wrap or towel making sure plastic doesn’t touch the dough as it will stick.

Leave to rise for another hour.

When dough has risen bring water in large pot or wok to a boil.  Place about 3-4 buns into a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes.

Remove steamed buns from steamer basket and keep it on a plate in the oven to keep warm.

Fill and serve!


Homemade Steamed Bao Buns
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Homemade Steamed Bao Buns
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