Tag Archives: appetizer

christmas sides: soup and popcorn

27 Dec

For Christmas I hung out with Iliya and a few other friends who were all still in Boston for the big night. So it was a jolly snowy night of fooding. I made an appetizer to hold us over while cooking, and two side dishes, one of which was popcorn mushrooms. The other real popcorn was something I learned after eating at OM in Harvard Square: white truffle oil popcorn in parmesan and herbs. And for the actual dinner I made a carrot and butternut squash soup, which even Iliya said, “For something with carrots in it (which I hate), this is really good.” Thanks, Iliya!

White Truffle Oil Popcorn in Grated Parmesan and Herbs

Ingredients

1 bag microwaveable popcorn
1 jar white truffle flavored olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
rosemary
thyme, oregano, or other herbs
salt and pepper

Pop the popcorn in a microwave. With the microwave we used, there was an automatic setting that popped all but two kernels without burning any. It was amazing.

Generously sprinkle the olive oil over the popcorn in a large serving bowl. We could only buy truffle flavored olive oil (instead of truffle oil) but that turned out to be a good thing, because you need a lot of olive oil to coat all the popcorn. With pure truffle oil, it would probably be smarter to buy popping corn, oil the unpopped kernels, then pop them with the oil already applied.

After generously sprinkling the oil, sprinkle all the parmesan cheese over the popcorn. Crush some rosemary and thyme and add to the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste as well.

Using a large spatula, mix the popcorn around in the bowl until the oil, parmesan, and herbs are more evenly coating the popcorn on the bottom. Or, take the whole bowl and toss the popcorn. The flavoring steps can be repeated after mixing or tossing once.

Time procrastinated: 5 minutes
Ways to prolong procrastination: Rent a movie.

Savory Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

1 half butternut squash, peeled
2 large carrots or three small carrots
1 onion
Chicken Stock
1 cup milk or 1/2 cup cream
Salt
Nutmeg

Peel and slice the carrots into chunks. Cut the butternut squash into chunks. The squash I bought came peeled and halved so it was much easier to deal with than peeling a whole squash. Peel and cut an onion into chunks.

In a soup pot, heat some oil, and cook the onion for around 2 minutes until it is soft and translucent but not quite caramelized. Toss in the carrots and butternut squash, and immediately add the chicken stock. The stock I used was made a while ago from boiling chicken and herbs, so it was already very rich and flavorful. If you do not have chicken stock, you can use water, plus a good mix of salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, oregano, and other spices. Adding chicken bouillon is helpful but not necessary.

Heat the pot until the stew is boiling, then let simmer on medium to low heat for 15-30 minutes, until the carrots are easily mashed with a fork. Remove the stew from heat, and make sure to remove any bay leaves.


Pour stew into a blender, filling the blender about 1/2 way up. Add 1 cup milk or 1/2 cream for each time you fill the blender to this amount. Blend until the whole mixture is smooth. Add salt to taste and keep blending. Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Time procrastinated: 45 minutes
Ways to prolong procrastination: make dipping pastries, perhaps filo dough twists?

asian lettuce wraps

23 Apr

in preparation for the Columbia taekwondo tournament, many people are probably cutting weight and eating very little. here’s a way to kick the boredom of your old salad and put some spice into that leftover head of lettuce. or, you could just make these lettuce wraps because they’re so damn tasty. p.f. chang’s got nothing on us!

lettuce-wraps

lettuce wraps with furikake and rice cake crumble

ingredients
1 head of lettuce
3 mushrooms
1 medium carrot
1 celery stem
1 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 chicken breast (optional)
olive oil
sesame oil
mushroom flavored soy sauce
1 unflavored rice cake
furikake topping

Dice the carrot, celery, mushrooms and onion. The pieces should be small but can still be chunky for texture. Crush and dice the garlic. In a sautee pan, heat olive oil and brown the garlic, then add the carrot and celery Sautee until the ingredients are starting to soften, and add the mushroom and onion. Add soy sauce and sesame oil to coat all the ingredients. Cook until onion is caramelized.

lettuce-wrap-ingredients

If making chicken lettuce wraps, cut the chicken breast into chunks, and cook in olive oil. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. After chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from heat, and on a chopping board, further cut the chicken into small chunks. Mix in with the vegetable ingredients.

Crush the rice cake using a spoon in a bowl, or just using your hands.

Arrange the lettuce wraps. For each wrap, spoon out some filling into the middle of a large (contiguous) piece of lettuce. Sprinkle rice cake crumble and furikake on top, wrap, and enjoy.

lettuce-wrap-close

Length of procrastination: 20-30 minutes
Ways to prolong procrastination: Hold a charity fundraiser and serve lettuce wraps as finger food, along with pineapple skewers (recipe to come) and mushroom crescents

A Lesson in Patience

12 Mar

This recipe has been a long time coming. I first saw it the week before the West Point taekwondo tournament, when I had to drop five pounds and couldn’t eat anything besides the occasional salad. The week after that was hell week followed by hell weekend, during which I was too busy trying to learn two months work of immunology in a weekend to cook. Last night, finally, there was a smidgen of breathing (read: eating) room before Bobby starts cutting for nationals.

For all intents and purposes, these are dumplings with mushroom filling. But these little dumplings have a gorgeous, flaky, golden crust that is to die for. And with the amount of butter and cream cheese in it, you may just die from heart disease. But let’s not think about that. They are savory and just crisp enough to give you a satisfying crunch and absolutely magical little morsels.

pastry-unopen-small

Mushroom Crescents
Modified from Eat Me Delicious

Pastry

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten

Filling

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped portobello mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

For the pastry…

In large microwaveable bowl, combine cream cheese and butter and microwave to melt. Beat together until fluffy. Stir in flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough begins to form. Knead in until smooth. Divide dough in half and flatten into 2 discs. Cover with saran wrap (Important! Else your dough will end up too dry like ours did…), then refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

On lightly floured surface, roll out each disc into until they’re about 1/8 inch thick. They should be thicker than your average potsticker wrapper, but still thin enough to wrap. With a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter (we just used a cup), cut out circles, rerolling scraps.

rolling-pin

Our rolling pin is pretty kickass, no?

pastry-sheets-and-rolling-pin

For the filling…

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Fry the onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, dill, pepper and salt, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Add the mushrooms and fry, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth and cook until liquid is evaporated. Let cool to room temperature.

mushrooms

spices

Putting it all together

Brush the edges of the circles lightly with egg. Place about 1 tsp of the filling in center of each, then fold dough over filling, pinching edges to seal. Try not to get the filling juices to touch the edges, because the liquid keeps them from sealing properly. Place the crescents 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with remaining egg.

Bake in the center of 400F oven until light golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Makes about 40 crescents (so says the recipe, but we only got 22 out of it…).

for-the-oven-small

We had quite a bit of filling and egg left over, so Bobby decided to omlettize it. Epic fail, because there was more filling than egg, but we wrapped it up in fresh spinach leaves and ate them while waiting for the crescents to bake. Dee-licious, and pretty damn cute, too. I thought they resembled little animals floating down a river on little leaf boats (a la this), but I had to push that thought away quickly else I couldn’t eat it.

left-over-stuffing-in-spinach-2-small

pastry

Length of procrastination: 1 hour 35 minutes

Ways to prolong procrastination: Fight over which crescents to take pictures of and which crescents I’m allowed to eat.

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