Posts tagged appetizer
Fried Sage Leaves are Your New Best Friend

Some books really make you just want to trade places with the author and that’s how I feel about everything from Elizabeth Minchilli. She lives in Rome and Umbria and her newest book, The Italian Table, invites you in to her lush Italian world. It is divided into dinners across regions and seasons and it will have you wanting to book a flight to Italy pronto.

But one of the best things about the book is that it is full of delectable treats that are also easy. We decided to take on one of the simplest but most delightfully surprising - fried sage leaves. They are as simple to eat as an appetizer as potato chips or crudite but they have their only special uniqueness that will stop anyone in their tracks. Everyone will love them and everyone will be a bit surprised by their presence.

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The Lighter, Brighter Take on Egg Salad

Certain concepts seem to be stuck in another time. Egg salad always feels that way - a bit heavy and a bit basic with the tweaks in herbs or spices never feeling quite large enough to shift the genre. But that’s where Cal Peternell comes in. His recipes always have the feel of something you should have been making forever but are actually his own special spin. His newest book, Almonds, Anchovies and Pancetta, is a delight and is full of semi-vegetarian recipes that all fit that bill. I fell in love with his Salsa Rustica because it feels like a breath of fresh air to the egg salad mold. It serves the same purpose but without any mayo and ingredients to give depth and new life.

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A New Way to Cook Mussels

Some restaurants never fail you and that’s how I feel about Huertas. The Spanish spot has both classics and creative twists but they are always perfectly executed flavor bombs. So I could not have been more excited to learn that the duo behind the restaurant - Jonah Miller and Adler - were writing a book.

The New Spanish is as delightful and creative as Huertas. The book is illustrated with drawings on photos that give you enough whimsy to make you want to take a stab at Spanish cooking. And it has recipes that run the gamut from simple to complex.

Jonah came over to showcase one of the easiest classic recipes, a take on marinated mussels. At Huertas they celebrate conservas - or canned food. While we might balk at it in the US, in Spain this preservation method is beloved and we wanted Jonah to come make the case for it. His recipe for these mussels is the kind of thing you’ll make over and over again, perfect for parties or snacks or just topping a bit of bread.

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The Most Gorgeous Appetizer Is Also The Simplest

I’m a little bit cookbook obsessed, to the point where I like to read them in bed like a good novel. And like a great narrative book, a cookbook can sometimes suck you in and make you want to revisit it over and over. Bottom of the Pot by Naz Deravian is one of those undeniable books. It recounts her Persian childhood and years of cooking her native cuisine in North America. And the recipes reflect that duality - traditional but all with swap-outs that make it accessible for finding ingredients here. If you have never tried Persian cuisine then you haven’t tried one of the best on the planet, but Naz’s book makes it feel like it is second nature. It is by far one of my favorite books of the year

Now that I’m done gushing, let’s talk about this recipe. Naz came over and we made one of her most vibrant dishes. Her yogurt beet dip, known as Borani-yeh Laboo, is worth it just for the color alone. But the simplicity of the recipe defies the depth of flavor that the beets and tarragon give to this appetizer. Make it yourself and then pick up the book. I promise it will become a favorite.

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Make Mezze Your Appetizer Plan

I hate to sound old enough to say I've enjoyed following someone's career, but apparently today I'm going to. I have loved watching whatever Eden Grinshpan does next. She is a barrel of laughs and a breath of fresh air wherever she goes. I first interviewed her when she had a show on Cooking Channel. She has since moved on host Top Chef Canada and now she has opened her first restaurant, Dez. It combines all of her Israeli, Middle Eastern and  other travel experiences into one spirited and flavorful fast casual spot. 

And since I can't possibly pick a favorite I decided instead to pick her brain about mezzes. It's an all-encompassing word but it can help outline one of the best appetizer plans possible.

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Shrimp Butter is Your New Best Friend

So few things in life can make almost anything better. But I think shrimp butter really can. It is basically a sauce that can be made easily but elevate any type of dish. Spread it on toast in the morning or make a fancy-seeming pasta at night for guests. Make a tomato sandwich spread with shrimp butter or put it in a bowl of rice and take it to the next level. There are very few things that shrimp butter can't do. And you know what makes it even better? It takes less than 10 minutes to make.

I grew up with variations on shrimp butter since in the Lowcountry of South Carolina there are few things more prevalent than shrimp. But I also saw a version in Normandy that knocked my socks off. So this aims to be the in-between - a Southern staple but that still tries to be as light and bright as possible.

This is also great in the freezer - keep it on hand and then whip it out when you have guests. Trust me, no one will think you didn't plan ahead.

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Your New Addictive Snack is Citrus Marinated Olives

Gaby Dalkin seems to live on of those breezy California lives that makes me question all my life choices for living in New York. Her sunny blog, What's Gaby Cooking, has really delectable recipes and now she is out with a new book based on the style her readers have grown to love. 

I loved getting to bring a little bit of that California feel into my new test kitchen. I am going to be doing a lot more videos from the kitchen which will allow for a lot more cookbook authors from out of town to share recipes - and I'm doing in a series I'm calling The Easiest Recipe. The Easiest Recipe will take what I think is the simplest recipe from the book and we make it in real-time right in the kitchen. For Gaby's book we picked the citrus marinated olives. These might be the most addictive snack - be careful if you make them for a party because you might just eat them all on their own. 

So watch the video, check out Gaby's new book and you can make the recipe below if you feel inspired!

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This Cucumber Salad Wins the Trifecta of Being Beautiful, Easy and a Little Kooky

I was recently in LA doing some book promo for Bring It! and every kept telling me to go to Kismet. So we went early enough where we could take my son (and...to be honest... when they would let us in without making a reservation weeks in advance). The style and service was very LA - interpret that how you will - but I was really delighted by a lot of the fun and ease of a lot of the dishes. 

One dish in particular was a cucumber and orange salad sitting on a little bed of labneh with a lot of surrounding spices. It struck me as such a cool presentation for a salad - leaving the dressing as part of the image, rather than tossed together or drizzled on top.

I got home and decided to make a slightly more home-cook friendly version using a fruit that is coming back into season - grapes! And I also figured that I would char them because why not and I love my broiler. 

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