Tag Archives: appetizer

Fiesta Layer Dip, Stubb’s Style

Fiesta Layer Dip, Stubb’s Style
Stubb's Fiesta Layer Dip

Stubb’s Fiesta Layer Dip

Now that summer is here, it means we’ve got plenty of reasons to celebrate — Father’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, pool parties, backyard barbecues, you name it. But what’s the most important part of a great summer party? The food, of course! Here’s a fun, festive and easy-to-prepare snack for summertime entertaining.

Mexican layer dip seems to be a staple at many parties during these warmer months. Why have one dip when you can have multiple in one big bite, right? Well here’s a twist on the original where Mexican layer dip gets an injection of Texas barbecue flavor, thanks to Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q sauce and rub.

For this recipe, I blended Stubb’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Sauce with some black beans, onion, garlic, and cilantro for a smoky and slightly spicy kick to the dish. To take it up another notch, I mixed Stubb’s Pork Rub into the sour cream layer — it features chili pepper, paprika, and lime, and is a perfect complement to the other flavors in the dish. The result is a Tex-Mex barbecue makeover that’s sure to have you and your guests wishing you’d made a second batch. The black bean dip and spiced sour cream are even great on their own as solo dips if you’re in need of quick-fix appetizers.

Try this out for your next fiesta and you’ll surely be asked to make it again.

Check out the recipe on Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q’s website!

Roasted grape, goat cheese, and walnut tart

Roasted grape, goat cheese, and walnut tart

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The word “tart” is probably one of the most used homonyms in culinary terms. First of all, “tart” used as an adjective has to do with taste — like bitter, sour or acerbic. But today I’d like to focus on “tart” the noun. This kind of tart can come in many, many forms: sweet, savory, shortcrust based, puff pastry based, fruit-filled, custard-filled, cheesy, etc., and is usually served as either an appetizer or dessert.

The tart I’ve decided to whip up this week is a mix of sweet and savory — roasted grapes and goat cheese — on a bed of flaky puff pastry crust. It’s an easy-to-prepare, classy appetizer that’d be perfect for a fête during any season.

So why did I pick puff pastry over a short crust pie dough? Honestly, I’m a lazy baker and puff dough is as easy as grabbing from the freezer, thawing then baking. It’s also a party food lifesaver and should always be kept onhand for last-minute appetizers, main dishes accoutrements and desserts. For flavor, always choose puff dough made with butter, not vegetable shortening, as it will give you a buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth product versus one with a weird aftertaste. Another cook’s tip: an egg wash (see recipe below) will give puff pastry a golden-brown kiss of color.

Try out this sweet, savory, and not too tart (the adjective) tart recipe that’s topped with roasted grapes, goat cheese, walnuts and fresh rosemary. It’s a breeze to bake up and your party guests will surely be impressed.

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Shades of green: Green garbanzo beans are a fresher, tastier chickpea

Shades of green: Green garbanzo beans are a fresher, tastier chickpea

I’m sure most of you have eaten — or at least seen — garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) in your lifetime. The small, beige, dried legumes are soaked and boiled (and are often packaged in a can) and used in a variety of dishes from all over the globe — most notably hummus and falafel — or tossed in vegetable salads and pasta dishes.

But you might want to forgo the dried and canned mature garbanzos for their younger, tastier counterparts: the green garbanzos. Green, or “fresh” garbanzos are little legumes that have been picked earlier than their older sibings, blanched and flash-frozen instead of being matured on the vine and then dried.

Green garbanzos are fairly new to the American food scene, having been introduced to consumers in 2010 by Clearwater Country Foods, and can now be found in some grocery stores in the frozen aisle for a few bucks a bag. I recently discovered these verdant beans and am in foodie heaven, as they have a wonderful flavor and a number of culinary applications.

The flavor of these little green beauties has been compared to that of fresh peas; the taste is nutty and more buttery than that of their dried counterparts. The green garbanzos are also higher in protein, folate and fiber, and they’re chock full of antioxidant vitamins A and C, phytonutrients, iron and minerals.

“It’s just an immature garbanzo bean that is picked in its fresh state, and consequently its nutritional values are higher and it’s much more flavorful,” Doug Moser, founder of Clearwater Country Foods told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “The simple reason is that the natural sugars haven’t turned to starch.”

Green garbanzos can be used in place of standard garbanzos, peas and edamame (soy beans) in a variety of dishes, like the green garbanzo hummus recipe I’ve shared below. They’re fine being heated up on the stove top or in the microwave — just make sure not to overcook them, as they’ll lose some of their wonderful color and texture — or simply thaw them and throw them into a dish as is.

My prediction is that green garbanzos will make their way into home kitchens and onto restaurant menus in a big way this year because of their uniqueness, flavor and nutritional benefits.

Here’s my recipe for green garbanzo hummus with Asian flavorings. It’s a quick, easy and incredibly tasty addition to any party spread, or great as a simple snack with some crudite and crackers. If you’re feeling really ambitious, whip up some fried or baked wonton chips to accompany it.
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“Mockamole”- Not quite guacamole, but just as good

“Mockamole”- Not quite guacamole, but just as good

 mockamole1I am a big fan of guacamole, and avocados in general. So when I found this recipe for guacamole that didn’t use avocados in my Meatless Monday cookbook, I was a bit skeptical. But, as the saying goes, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

The great thing about this recipe is that it contains items you probably already have in your refrigerator. Otherwise, the ingredients are dirt cheap to buy at the grocery store. Just throw in anything you would add to normal guacamole — onions, jalapenos, spices, etc. Frozen peas are about a dollar, and the recipe calls for only one-third of a bag. What will probably end up happening, though, is you’ll try this faux guacamole recipe and then use the rest of that bag of frozen peas to make some more. Bonus: frozen peas are always in season.

Unless you have an aversion to peas, this replacement guacamole rivals the original — it’s slightly sweet, smooth, super tasty, and keeps its bright verdant color (as opposed to the old fashioned kind that turns brown because of oxidation). Not to mention, using peas in place of avocado reduces the calories in this dip by almost three quarters and fat by 34 grams, so you won’t have to feel guilty when snacking on this addictive appetizer.

So go ahead, try this flavorful new twist on classic guacamole and become a convert to the delicious copycat that is mockamole.

Mockamole
(makes about one cup; recipe courtesy of Meatless Monday cookbook)

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed and drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (or one fresh jalapeno pepper, minced)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
(I also used chopped fresh cilantro)

1. Combine the peas, cumin, onion, and garlic in the container of a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.

2. Add lemon juice and olive oil, and process just to blend.

3. Taste and season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

4. Blend for just a few more seconds, and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with chips, crackers, or fresh veggies.

Check out the Meatless Monday site for recipes and tips to kickstart healthier living! And be sure to check out my blog, Culinary Pirate, and follow me on Twitter!