Archive | December, 2011

New Years Eve appetizers

29 Dec

It’s almost New Years Eve, and with that day often comes a hunt for good party food ideas. Our family always has a big family gathering on NYE, and appetizers play a big part of our event. I’ve been toying with a few ideas, and below you’ll find a few delicious sounding recipes that I’ve found in magazines and online recently.

I’ll be making my famous lobster bisque, but also plan to make several of these items throughout the weekend. I don’t have any pictures at the moment, as I obviously haven’t made them yet, but I’ll be sure to take some and post them for you after the holiday.

Here’s what I’m planning to make:

Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rolls (from The Best of Fine Cooking Appetizers, Fall 2011)

12 oz sliced smoked salmon

1/4 cup honey mustard

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 2 inch julienne strips

  • Trim the salmon to form about 40 strips, each about 2×4 inches.
  • Spread a thin layer of honey mustard on each strip, lay a small bundle of cucumber julienne at one end, and roll up securely.
  • Arrange on a tray, seam side down, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Baked Zucchini Sticks (from kingarthurflour.com) *I’ve made these before, and they’re fabulous!*

3 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 3 inch long sticks

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Olive oil spray

2 large eggs

  • Place the zucchini sticks in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 1 hour or longer, rinse and pat dry.
  • Combine the Panko, Parmesan and seasoning, set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and spray with olive oil.
  • Dredge the sticks a few at a time in the egg, then roll in the crumb mixture. Place the sticks on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12 minutes, turn over and bake for an additional 8 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. 

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Instead of serving them with the dip included in that recipe link, I’m going to make the following:

Smoked Paprika Aioli (from the same Appetizers magazine as above)

4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice; more to taste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Put the garlic in a small saucepan, add cold water to cover by at least 1/2 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, drain and repeat the process once more. Rinse the garlic with cold water to cool and then peel and mince the cloves.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the poached garlic with the mayonnaise, olive oil, smoked paprika and lemon juice until smooth. Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to meld the flavours.
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We had talked about making a signature cocktail, but with all the other preparations going on for the arrival of our guests, there just wasn’t time to research/test anything out.  There’s always wine and often champagne at our annual party, so for now we’ll just stick with those.
Do you have any tried and true recipes that you like to bring to holiday parties?  I’m always eager to find new inspiration for things to make for my family and friends.
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Thanks for stopping by Feast and Fare in 2011.  It’s been a fascinating 7+ months since I started this venture.  I’ve got a lot of great ideas in store for 2012, and I look forward to sharing them with you!  Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

15 Dec

I’m headed off on vacation for two weeks, but I hope to quickly pop back with some appy recipes and suggestions a day or two before New Years Eve.  I know that people are always looking for inspiration for their parties, so I’ll hopefully be able to give you some good ideas in advance.  Until then, Merry Christmas!!

Lobster Salad

11 Dec

I’ve had a lobster in my freezer for several months now, just waiting for me to find something creative to do with it.  I’d thought of making a bisque, but I wanted to try something different.

I found a fabulous recipe through the Food Network for Lobster Salad that’s courtesy of Bob Blumer.

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon, stems removed
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 oz chopped lobster (reserve claw meat if you have it)
  • 2 green onions, sliced finely
  • inner celery stalks, sliced finely
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Halve and pit avocado.  Cut 1/4 inch slice off each of the outside halves.  Scoop out avocado, making the pit hole 50% larger.

In a medium bowl, add all remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly.  Spoon salad into avocado halves.  Top with claw meat.

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Isn’t that so colourful?!

It was rather difficult to eat the salad out of the avocado pit, so I ended up scooping it back out and into the bowl.  I paired it with a Caesar (my favourite cocktail at the moment), and it was heavenly!  Lobster is one of my favourite things in the world, and this was an excellent and quick way to make use of it.

Egg and Stuffing Muffins

10 Dec

Breakfast is something I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with. Most of the time I skip the meal entirely (save for coffee), which I know isn’t healthy. When I wake up, food disgusts me. I actually feel like vomiting when I smell or see food right after waking up. It takes several hours for me to be able to stomach the idea of food. Weird, right? I never have that problem with lunch or dinner. 😉

Anyway, I LOVE brunch food, and on weekends I generally make things like hashbrowns and fruit, sometimes I buy pastries from awesome local bakeries, or I’ll have cereal or toast.

Kraft Canada used to publish this awesome quarterly magazine called “what’s cooking,” and you could get a subscription for free. They had all sorts of great recipe ideas, and I hung onto most of the issues that I received. They shut this down several years ago, probably because sending out a glossy magazine for free several times a year likely wasn’t a good idea financially.

I was flipping through my old magazines recently, looking for some ideas, and came across one that sounded good. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to try it out for brunch today.

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Stuffin’ Egg Muffin

1 pkg stuffing mix (chicken)

8 eggs

2 Tbsps bacon bits

1/4 cup Mozza-Cheddar shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare stuffing mix as directed on package. Press 1/4 cup stuffing firmly onto bottom and up sides of 8 muffin cups, forming about 1/4 inch rim around top of cup.

Crack one egg into each stuffing cup. Sprinkle with bacon bits and cheese.

Bake 20 minutes, or until yolks are set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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I made a few adjustments, because I’m all about adapting recipes to what suits you best. I used real bacon, because why on earth would you eat the fake stuff when you can have awesomely delicious REAL bacon?! I don’t keep cheese (other than Parmesan) in the house because I’m lactose intolerant, so I just left that ingredient out.

Also, my muffin tins are very old and rusty (I should really fork out the money to buy new ones), since they were given to me VERY used. I didn’t want the food to get all gross, so I used paper cups to give them a layer of protection.

Before:

After:

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Don’t they look great?! I only made 6, as it didn’t make sense to make a tin with just 2 in it. Plus, 8 is just WAY too many for 1 person. Heck, even 6 is way too many! 😉

I let them sit for the required 5 minutes, and immediately dug in because I was so hungry. I should have waited another 5, or let them cook a little bit longer. It was very hard to disengage the muffins from the cups, but the longer I waited, the easier it was. I have plenty leftover to have for breakfast tomorrow (or a small snack sometime), so I’ll be removing the paper cup from the muffin before heating it up.

It was a fabulous addition to my brunch this morning, and is super easy and quick to make. Give it a try sometime, and let me know how yours turned out!

Azul in Aldergrove

7 Dec

Last night a friend and I went for dinner at Azul in Aldergrove.  Neither of us had been there before, and I was looking forward to trying something new.  I looked up a bunch of reviews, and everything I read was positive, so I had a great feeling.

The restaurant is on the corner of 270 St and Fraser Hwy in Aldergrove.  It’s fairly decent in size, and there’s a lot of open space.  Most of the seating is in booths, which have extremely high and straight backs, so you have a bit of privacy from the people dining around you.  They have several large flat-screen TV’s in the corners of the restaurant, as well as some right up at the bar, so it seems like it’s a great place for watching the hockey game or any other sporting event.

Unfortunately both of us were left a bit disappointed.  The service was fine, but the food was mostly uninspiring.  I started out with the skillet of garlic mushrooms, which was the best thing I ate that night.  They were perfectly cooked and tasted fabulous.  I’m on a huge mushroom kick at the moment, so these were right up my alley.  For only $4.99, I was pleasantly surprised at how enormous the plate was.

Please excuse the crummy picture quality.  I forgot to bring my camera, so I had to resort to using my phone.

For my main course I had the Lemon Pepper Halibut.  The plate was unfortunately quite a disappointment. The portion of halibut was fairly small, it was overcooked and dry and it tasted more like salt & pepper halibut.  I suppose I could have squeezed the lemon wedges over the halibut, but I assumed the lemon flavour would already be in the fish. The sauteed veggies were okay (the broccoli was the best), and the plain cabbage (which I suppose they were trying to pass off as coleslaw) was just confusing.  The garlic mashed potatoes were pretty good, though.

There weren’t a lot of people in the restaurant, but we left just as the Canucks game was starting, so maybe more people showed up to eat and watch the game.  They have a fabulous sounding menu with great prices, but I think they probably specialize in the more pub-style selections.  My friend had the Grilled Teriyaki Chicken, and she was disappointed in her dish as well.

My overall impression was “meh” (Simpsons reference).  Maybe it was an off night for the kitchen, since everything I’d read about their food was so positive, but I wasn’t too thrilled.  If I make a return visit, I’ll definitely be sticking to the appys or burgers, in the hopes that those would be better than the entrees we tried last night.
Azul Restaurant on Urbanspoon