Monday, July 28, 2008

Stuffed Jalapenos and the Appetizer Menu

Sounds like the title to a children's cook book doesn't it?

I think if I were to open a restaurant, it would be all appetizers. Well, appetizers and a bar. Why? Well, besides being quick, I seem to know how to make more appetizers than anything else. And seeing as I don’t quite have the know how with enough other genres to make a full menu. So I’m going with a 3-page menu of appetizers that have little to nothing to do with one another. Any thoughts?

To that end, here’s one that will definitely me on the menu that restaurant. It was introduced to me as a once-a-year treat that a family friend only ever made a Christmas. Why I didn’t bother trying to make it, or something like it, on my own until a few Christmases went by, I’ll never know. But it’s not hard, and doesn’t take too long. You don’t even need a stove. But if you have a refrigerator handy, that would help the cause.

Tuna-Stuffed Jalapenos:
2 jars of pickled jalapenos- there are usually about 5 in a jar, and the bigger the better
1 can of white albacore tuna in water
1 brick of softened cream cheese
Garlic salt

Remove the stems from the peppers and cut them lengthwise down the middle in halves. Set them aside on a paper towel to drain the oil from the interior. In the mean time, drain the water from the tuna and mix with the softened cream cheese. Season to taste with light dashes of garlic salt, and go easy. I don’t say this often, but you don’t want a strong garlicky taste. Just a hint will do fine.

Take the halved peppers, and remove the seeds and interior membrane. If you didn’t know, much of the spice in jalapenos is contained in the seeds, oils, and membrane. So if you would like them spicy, don’t remove it all. If you want it on the milder side, get as much out of there as you can. Once this is done, give them on more blotting off with a paper towel to remove as much residual moisture and oil as possible. Then fill and pack each half with the cream cheese/tuna mix. Crack some pepper over everything, again, just a little bit, and refrigerate to allow everything to firm up. Then serve cold.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grilled Pineapples

I had very good luck with a new dessert last night. It’s definitely going to make it’s way into my regular rotation. While very similar to making banana’s foster, nothing gets set a blaze I’m sorry to say. But the sauce is very similar to what goes along with the bananas. It’s very mild allowing it to go well with any number of meals.

Grilled Pineapples with Caramel Rum Sauce:
1 cored pineapple
2 teaspoons of unsalted butter
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
¼ cup of rum (proof doesn’t really matter since you aren’t lighting it on fire)
1 pint of vanilla bean ice cream
White sugar for dusting

Slice the pineapple into disks. Over a medium-high heat either in a pan or directly on a grill, cook the pineapple for about 3-4 minutes a side, very lightly dusting them as they are turned. Once it starts to lightly brown and/or grill marks appear, pull it off and set it aside. In a separate pan, melt the butter over a medium heat. To it, add brown sugar and rum and continue to agitate. Increase the heat slightly to bring the mixture to a very gentle boil, and then reduce the heat and continue to stir while the sauce thickens. It should be of a medium consistency, and not totally runny. Once it cools, it will continue to thicken. Place the grilled pineapple in a bowl, ice cream on top, and spoon the sauce over the ice cream. Have a go. It’s very easy and tastes great.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

This sounds like the most off the wall, out of left field appetizer…and that’s because it kind of is. When I tell people what it is, they tend to look at me funny and even hesitate to try them. I can’t say that I blame anyone for that. I think I actually did the same thing when I first saw them. But give them a try and I promise you won’t be disappointed. They sound simple, mostly because they are. It doesn’t get much easier than 2 ingredients and an oven.

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts:
1 can of whole water chestnuts
1 pound of bacon

Don’t get too fancy with whatever bacon you decide to use. I generally stick with some run-of-the-mill, thin cut, not smoked in anything bacon. Smoked bacon gets a little overwhelming, and thick-cut bacon is a little harder to work with.
Take the bacon, and cut the package down the middle. Half of one strip is almost exactly the right size. Drain the water from the can of chestnuts, and slice them in half. Wrap the bacon tightly around the chestnuts and bake them at 400 until the bacon is crispy (roughly 25 minutes), and serve warm. Some barbecue sauce on the side for dipping doesn’t hurt either.