Best hot, baked Florentine artichoke dip

Here is another winner recipe after researching countless baked spinach-artichoke recipes for a family- friendly holiday appetizer. Hot and bubbling straight from the oven with a lovely crispy topping.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 5.21.20 PM

makes 4 cups and is enough for 8 to 10 people

1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (12 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 heaped cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
3 large garlic cloves, squeezed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 & 1/2 cups French breadcrumbs (homemade)
2 tbsp butter, melted

Drain the spinach, press between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Combine the spinach, artichoke hearts and the next 5 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well.
Spoon into a lightly greased 11″ by 7″ baking dish.
Combine the breadcrumbs and butter, sprinkle over the spinach mixture.
Bake, uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve with assorted crackers or breadsticks.

“Vaghareli Makai” (Spicy corn with peanuts, lime, cilantro and mustard seeds)

This is a real gem from Heidi Swanson’s new book “Near and Far” What a stunning array of flavors!

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 4.03.00 PM

The original recipe called for “2 small red chiles” so you can use whatever kind of chile pepper you want, depending on how hot and spicy you like things. If you are avoiding nuts then use pumpkin seeds. To make it vegan, Heidi recommends using sunflower oil in place of the butter.

2 small red chiles, stemmed, seeded (if desired), and sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
One 1-inch (3cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¾ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
2 tablespoon clarified butter (ghee)
1 ½ teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
3 cups (450g, about 3 large ears) fresh corn kernels
½ cup (60g) roasted peanuts
1 cup (30g) chopped cilantro
lemon or lime wedges
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1. In a mortar and pestle, or with a mini food processor, grind the chiles, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and salt to a paste.

2. Heat the clarified butter in a wide skillet. Add the mustard seeds and cook, stirring until they pop, which will take a minute or two. Stir in the corn kernels and cook a few minutes, stirring frequently, until they just start to feel tender, which will take a couple of minutes.

3. Stir in the peanuts, half of the cilantro and half of the red chile paste. Cook for another minute then taste. If desired, for additional heat, add more of the chile paste and perhaps a bit of salt. Remove from heat and add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Serve the spiced corn over rice, or as a side dish, topped with the remaining cilantro and sesame seeds.

Have lemon or lime wedges handy for guests to add as they wish. Any leftovers can be reheated in a skillet with a little more clarified butter.

Middle Eastern zucchini fritters

I just love these and the combination of feta cheese, dill and mint takes the flavor so far above anything else.

These are lovely served hot or cold with tsatsiki. (yoghurt, cucumber, mint and onion)

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.42.39 AM

Serves 4

1 large onion, chopped coarsely
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 lb zucchini, chopped finely
3 large eggs
3 tbsp plain flour
3 sprigs fresh mint, chopped
3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
8 oz Greek feta cheese. mashed with a fork
oil for frying

Fry the onion in 3 tbsp oil over a medium heat until it is soft and lightly colored. Add the zucchini and saute, stirring, until they too are soft.
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the flour until well blended. Add pepper (there is no need for salt as the feta is salty enough) and the herbs and mix well.
Fold the mashed feta cheese into the eggs, together with the cooked onions and zucchini.
Fil the bottom of a (preferably) non-stick frying pan with oil and pour in the mixture by the half ladle (approx 2 tbsp) to make a few fritters at a time.
Turn each fritter over once and cook until both sides are browned a little.
Drain on kitchen paper and serve.

Slow cooker spinach and artichoke dip

This couldn’t be easier and I highly recommend you go out and get a slow cooker, especially for around the Holiday times. I use it throughout the year. From the food blog called “Damn Delicious”

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.18.48 PM

Yield 8 servings

Simply throw everything in the crockpot (slow cooker) for the easiest, most effortless spinach and artichoke dip.

2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 oz sour cream
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz cream cheese, cubed

Place the artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, onion, garlic, Parmesan, milk, feta, mayonnaise, vinegar and pepper into a slow cooker. Stir until well combined. Top with cream cheese.
Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
Uncover and stir until cream cheese is well combined. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 15 minutes.

Roast pumpkin with cream, thyme and parmesan

It doesn’t come much better than this! Make sure you serve this as an appetizer with lots of crusty bread for dipping.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 12.27.08 PM

3 1/2 lb pumpkin,like a Hubbard
11 fl oz heavy double cream
5 fl oz whole milk
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp thyme leaves
2/3 cup grated parmesan

Heat the oven to 300F.
Cut the lid off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and strands. Put the pumpkin on a baking tray. Meanwhile, heat the cream, milk, garlic and most of the thyme, with plenty of seasoning. When hot, pour into the pumpkin and stir in 2oz of the Parmesan. Put on the lid.
Bake for 1½ hrs, take from the oven, then turn up the heat to 400F.
Remove the lid, sprinkle with pepper and the rest of the cheese, then bake for 15 mins more until golden.
Scatter over the remaining thyme leaves. Scoop the tender pumpkin flesh into bowls with the cheesy cream and serve with crusty bread as a starter.

Spinach with roasted sesame dressing

All you need with this is some boiled rice and a lovely piece of fish or meat. It’s delicious as the nutty sesame flavors go so well with spinach

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 1.39.10 PM

Serves 4

1/3 cup white sesame seeds
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1/4 cup dashi stock
1 1/4lb spinach, trimmed
Bamboo sushi mat for rolling the spinach.

Toast the sesame seeds in a heated small frying pan, without oil, shaking the pan continuously until browned lightly and the seeds begin to pop. Remove from the heat, reserve 1 tsp for garnish. Blend, process or grind the hot seeds until smooth.
Combine the ground seeds with the sugar, soy sauce and dashi in a screw top jar and shake well until the sugar dissolves.

Wash the spinach well. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Immerse the spinach, drain immediately and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and retain the color.
Wrap the spinach leaves in a bamboo mat. Roll firmly, gently squeeze out the excess water. Cut the spinach into 1 inch lengths and arrange on a serving plate.

Just before serving, pour the dressing over the spinach. Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with the reserved sesame seeds.

* You can also use chopped dry roasted peanuts sprinkled over as a garnish

Beet, lentil and mint salad with pomegranate molasses and orange dressing

A stunning combination for a healthy, clean tasting winter salad.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 11.03.10 AM

Serves 4 to 6

3-4 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 small leek, cut in half lengthways and sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz Puy lentils
1 tbsp each of chopped rosemary, thyme and sage.
3-4 fl oz mirin
3 tbsp white miso
1-2 fl oz soy sauce
5 oz raw beets, peeled and cut into fine strips
A large handful of mint leaves, shredded
A couple of handfuls of baby wild arugula or rocket
About 4 oz Greek feta cheese to crumble over the top (Optional)

Dressing
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
4 tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
juice and grated zest of 1/2 large orange
3 fl oz (approx) of olive oil
pinch of salt

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the leek, onion and garlic and cook, stirring over a high heat until caramelized. Add the lentils, herbs and mirin and continue to fry for 4 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add enough water to cover lentils by 1 inch, then bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until tender (add a little more water if needed).
Remove from the heat and stir in the miso and soy sauce. Check the seasoning, adding more soy if needed, then leave to cool.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Toss the beets, mint and lentils together in a bowl with a generous slosh of the dressing. Add salad leaves and mix gently. Sprinkle over the feta cheese, if wanted.
Serve immediately

Curried onion and cauliflower hummus

Cooking the dried garbanzo beans (chick peas) in baking soda, softens them and makes this hummus extra silky. The curried onion-cauliflower topping adds tons of wonderful flavor.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.16.32 AM

1lb (2 1/2 cups) dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight and drained
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt
Canola oil, for frying
1/2lb cauliflower, cut into 1/2 inch florets
2 tsp curry powder
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp finely crushed pink peppercorns
Chopped parsley, for garnish

In a saucepan, cover the garbanzo beans, garlic and baking soda with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring every 15 minutes, until the garbanzo beans are tender, 50 mins, if necessary, add water to them to keep them covered.

Drain the garbanzo beans and garlic and transfer to a food processor. Puree until very smooth.
With the machine on, gradually add the tahini, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil and the cumin. Season the hummus with salt.

In a skillet, heat 1/4 inch of canola oil. Add the cauliflower florets and fry over moderately high heat, stirring, until tender and deeply browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl to drain. Add 1 tsp of the curry powder and toss well. Season with salt and toss again.

Pour off all but 1/4 cup oil from the skillet. Add the onion and a big pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until just starting to soften and brown in spots, about 5 minutes.
Add the pink peppercorns and the remaining 1 tsp of curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Spoon the hummus into a bowl and top with the onion and cauliflower. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with parsley and serve
Serve with warm pita bread.

Roasted cauliflower with truffled pea pesto and feta crema

I had this at “Etch” in Nashville recently and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It is a stunning appetizer with two fabulous dips and would be wonderful to serve for a dinner party as it’s so easy.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.02.40 AM

Serve 4 (or 2 if you adore it)

1 head of cauliflower cut into bite sized florets
1 tbsp olive oil plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper
Pea shoots or micro greens for garnish
A few salted almonds or Marcona almonds dropped onto the pea pesto
A few green olives and thinly sliced scallions for garnish

Pea pesto
2 cups fresh blanched peas or 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp water
(Some people swear by adding 2 drops of liquid smoke, but it’s optional)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp truffle oil
For the pea pesto
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the peas with the butter and water until they are tender.
Add all the ingredients except the truffle oil to a blender, and mix slowly.
Gradually increase the speed until the mixture is creamy, adding truffle oil as you blend.
Add a few drops of water if the mixture is too thick.

Feta crema
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 oz Greek feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cauliflower, shaved with a box grater to snow-like consistency
Salt and pepper
For the Feta Crema
Stir the ingredients together until smooth

For the cauliflower
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
Spread out the cauliflower on a baking sheet into an even single layer.
Roast until the edges are browned and the florets are easily pierced with a knife, between 15 and 20 minutes
To Serve
Place the roasted cauliflower florets in the center of a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil.
On one side of the florets mound the pea pesto and on the other side, mound the feta crema.
Garnish with the pea shoots or other seasonal micro greens, scallions, olives and almonds.

Easy beet and goat cheese terrine with pistachios and basil

I saw this recipe by Amy Stafford on her blog, “A healthy life for me” and immediately loved the idea of it. We adore beets and goat cheese and it’s a fairly easy one to put together and impress your guests.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 9.29.58 AM

Serves: 8

6 red beet
6 yellow beets
10 oz of goat cheese, room temperature
¼ cup of salted pistachios, shelled and finely crushed in food processor
Fresh basil leaves, cut into slivers (about 6 large leaves)
zest from ½ lemon
Pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup of olive oil + more for drizzling

In two separate pans boil water.
Add the yellow beets to one pan and the red to the other and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
Take plastic wrap and line a loaf pan letting the plastic wrap overhang on both sides, enough so that you can grab wrap to lift out finished terrine.

In a bowl, add the goat cheese, lemon zest, olive oil, salt, pepper and pistachios and stir to blend.
When the beets have cooled, peel and slice thinly.
Line the pan with a layer of yellow beets, slightly overlapping.
Then add a ¼ cup of goat cheese mixture, spreading over the beets.
Add a sprinkle of basil slivers and a drizzle of olive oil.
Continue layering the yellow beets, goat cheese, basil and olive oil four times and then start with red, continuing the layering four times.

Make sure that you finish with a beet layer and drizzle of olive oil. (you will not reach the top of the pan.
Take the plastic wrap flaps and cover your last layer
Place heavy cans on top of the plastic to compress the terrine.
Place in the refrigerator for 2 or more hours.
When you remove, unwrap and use the plastic to lift the terrine out of the pan.
Slice and serve with a drizzle of olive oil