Tag Archives | appetizers

mushroom canapés

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Canapés are the quintessential cocktail party appetizer of the 1960s. Recipes abound for these little treats. Melba toasts smothered with anything from decadent caviar to seasoned cream cheese can be found in most cookbooks from that era. Sure enough The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook highlights these hors d’oeuvres with several recipes. Savory or sweet, canapés make a tasty addition to any cocktail party menu. Whether you make the Melba toast on your own, or go for a good-quality store-bought option (which saves a bit of time) there’s an endless amount of creative toppings to try on these toasts. It’s fun to serve more than one variety, certainly your taste buds and guests will agree.

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The recipe below for mushroom canapés comes out of the pages of Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin’s cookbook. The Worcestershire sauce wooed me from the beginning. It makes the dish taste retro right from the start. I modified the preparation by slicing the mushrooms instead of finely chopping them (the finely chopped version wasn’t cooperating with the camera). I also omitted the Parmesan cheese for the pictures, but grated cheese can be added to the mix then heated under the broiler until bubbling.

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Mushroom Canapés
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
20 Melba toast rounds
chopped parsley for garnish

Sauté the mushrooms until browned. Add the sauce and seasonings, taste and adjust. Spoon a bit of the mixture on each Melba toast and sprinkle with parsley before serving. Voila!

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Whether you’re planning a Mad Men cocktail party or any celebration, canapés are easy to prepare and are an hors d’oeuvre that can impress a crowd. Melba toasts accommodate a wide range of flavors so consider whipping up more than one recipe. For more appetizer ideas for your menu try Bagna Càuda, a quick garlic and anchovies recipe, freshwater prawns prepared as Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot and Buckwheat Blini topped with caviar.

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buckwheat blini

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Blinis, Russian in origin, are small pancakes that are traditionally made with buckwheat flour. It’s served with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche on top, along with either caviar or smoked salmon. Other smoked, pickled or salted fish can be substituted; the slightly sweet almost nutty-flavored pancakes are incredible with the contrasting salty fish and creamy crème fraîche. Paired with Champagne, it’s a classic appetizer to serve during the winter holidays, and is popular for Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, but there’s no reason not to prepare blinis year-round. It’s wonderful not just with a flute filled with something bubbly, vodka is the drink of choice in Russia and makes a crowd-pleasing drink with this pancake.

Blini and caviar is a dish that’s on the Mad Men menu for those who are fans of the hit television show. Season one, episode six, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism finds itself shopping for an advertising agency and delegates pay a visit to Sterling Cooper. Early 1960s, Roger Sterling proposes positioning the young Jewish state as a land of “exotic luxury”. There’s a lot of thought behind serving the blini which speaks to the roots of many early pioneers of Israel of whom hail from Eastern Europe and Russia. More details can be found in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. Regardless if you’re preparing a Mad Men cocktail party, buckwheat blini is a hint sweet and savory hors d’oeuvre to add to your menu any time of year. As I often say, it’s a party for your taste buds.

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Buckwheat Blini
recipe adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous
My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups warm whole milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs, separated
butter, canola oil or cooking spray for frying
makes approximately 24 blinis

In a bowl dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the honey (or substitute with sugar) and set aside until bubbly for about 7-8 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the first three dry ingredients together. Pour the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture, add the egg yolks along with the melted butter and blend well. Cover with a dish towel and set aside in a warm area for an hour.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff then slowly fold into the batter just before it’s ready to prepare on the stove. The secret to relatively round blinis is a squeeze bottle usually used to serve condiments. Pour the batter into the bottle. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat and coat lightly with butter. Squeeze a small amount of the batter in a circular motion onto the pan. When the batter starts to bubble on the surface, flip the blini over with a spatula and cook for roughly an additional minute. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Serve with sour cream or crème fraîche topped with caviar or smoked fish such as salmon or lox, whitefish or trout. Garnish with dill or chopped chives.

The caviar captured here is called Tobiko, Flying Fish roe or Tobiuo in Japanese. Tobiko is referred to as the “poor man’s caviar“. Sustainable seafood is the preferred choice for any recipe; a few tips on selecting sustainable caviar on a budget. For more appetizer ideas to nibble on, try Bagna Càuda, a scrumptious and easy garlic and anchovies recipe, and try delicious freshwater prawns prepared as Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot. Cheers to happy eating!


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walnut pâté

Likely I would share recipes more often if it weren’t for the fact that my props often get eaten before I had a chance to photograph them, and my home recipes are often in “a little of this and a little of that” quantities. This recipe for walnut pâté is no exception. I admit it, I break the food photography rules and nibble as I work.

But let’s get to the benefits of this dish beyond the fact that I love the taste of walnuts. This edible seed has a sweet yet slightly savory earthiness to it, and after it’s roasted it’s hard not to keep reaching for some to pop in your mouth. Walnuts are a healthy and great addition to your diet if you need an excuse to enjoy them. Interestingly, when finely ground and blended with the simplest of seasonings and creamy textures, you won’t necessarily taste the nut. But I can assure you this pâté, made with walnuts as a key ingredient, is a crowd-pleaser. It’s also a conversation starter; walnut pâté sounds intriguing. Easy to prepare, it can be made in either a vegetarian or vegan variation which makes it suitable for most everyone.

I first tasted this appetizer in Israel years ago and it was coined as a “vegetarian chopped liver”. If you’ve had chopped liver before and enjoy it, you’ll agree the name doesn’t scream deliciousness. Chopped liver is made with chicken liver, sautéed onions in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or onions sautéed in canola oil, hard-boiled eggs and seasoned with black pepper and salt. The dish (and schmaltz) is popular in Jewish cuisine originating in Eastern Europe. Offal is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, but more importantly, it’s key to many cultures who look for ways to not waste edible animal parts. Find a Jewish delicatessen near you, or easy to whip up at home, try traditional chopped liver on a good piece of rye bread, or smothered on potato latkes (potato pancakes) for something decadent and it will be a holiday for your taste buds.

orly’s walnut pâté recipes

Vegetarian Walnut Pâté
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter or canola oil
2 generous cups of roasted walnuts
3 hard-boiled eggs
mayonnaise to taste
kosher salt to taste
black pepper; pure or fine ground

Sautée the onion in butter (or the canola oil) until caramelized, remove from heat. In a food processor purée the walnuts on pulse mode (you want the walnuts chopped until they’re very fine). Add the caramelized onion, two hard-boiled eggs and season with salt and pepper (and don’t be shy about it). Blend the mixture together and taste. If dry, for creaminess, add a taste of mayonnaise (less or more based on taste preference). The third hard-boiled egg can be added at this stage and either blended in completely or left a little chunky. Some versions of chopped liver have bits of chunky egg visible, it’s a taste preference or an opportunity to mimic what grandma used to make. Season with more salt or pepper as needed. For this version use regular mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman’s or Best Foods) not a vegan or low-fat variety. From my experience, a vegan mayonnaise will loose it’s consistency in the blender. If you like chopped liver, this vegetarian version will surprise you with it’s traditional flavor.

Vegan Walnut Pâté

1 large onion, chopped
canola oil
2 generous cups of roasted walnuts
1/3 package medium to firm tofu
kosher salt to taste
black pepper; pure or fine ground

Cut a chunk of the tofu and drain the water (silken tofu will be found in the refrigerator section of your market). Sautée the onion in canola oil until caramelized. Mix in the tofu on low heat to absorb the flavor of the onion, lightly season with salt and pepper. In a food processor purée the walnuts on pulse mode (you want the walnuts chopped until they’re fine, same as above). Add the caramelized onion and tofu mixture. Blend the mixture together. Season with more salt or pepper as needed. This version does not require mayonnaise, but for flavor a tad of vegan mayonnaise or “veganaise” can be added, mix gently. The vegan pâté will be a bit lighter in appearance than it’s vegetarian counterpart. Adjust both recipes by adding more seasoning based on your preference.

I serve my signature dish on many holidays and it’s always on the table for Passover. Spreading it on matzoh (also spelled matza, matzo or matzah) is a perfect and my preferred way of sharing it regardless of the time of year. The pâté also tops nicely on crisp green Granny Smith apples. The tart tang of the apples compliments the creamy-savory-sweetness of the spread. It makes a wonderful vegetarian or vegan appetizer if hosting an evening of wine for example and you want a delightful appetizer to present to guests. Easy to make and a delicious bite to enjoy, hope you enjoy a bite of walnut pâté!

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fabulous food fête!

I’m so excited to be launching a blog for Yumivore! To celebrate the occasion, and blogs deserve a proper launch, food and wine bloggers came together to create an incredible menu. To make everyone feel welcome, the menu options are all vegetarian; carnivores I assure you these veggie bites will please you as well. There are also many gluten-free options to choose from, and all of these nibbles fall under the yumivore mantra. Shawn Burgert, The Wandering Wino even put together a post on how to select wine just for this occasion! Although hors d’œuvres can often be served before a main course, all the scrumptious bites below are perfect appetizers or can even serve as the food of choice for a soriee. Not to mention that tapas or finger-foods are usually the best part of a meal and most fun! Even though the party is online, do save these amazing appetizers for a party of your own. Ready for a fabulous food fête? It’s time to get the part started! So grab a virtual plate, and enjoy a feast for your eyes!

It’s a fabulous fête! Celebrating the launch of Yumivore, and celebrating the yum in life.

Hibiscus Tea with Citrus and Vodka @bibberche


Spicy Rosemary Roasted Nuts @gourmandeinthek




Lumpiang Sariwa - Vegetable Lumpia @thedailypalette


Romenesco Floret Fritters @foodwanderings


Sweet Potato Pancakes @foodwanderings


Eggplant and Walnut Crostini @dinaavila


Roasted Vegetables @omgyummyblog


Perfect Pavloa @globetrottings


Balsamic Vinegar Strawberry Fudge Brownies @eatthelove

Cocoa and Coconut Chocolate Balls @foodwanderings



Party Wine! @awanderingwino

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