Rosemary Pecans

November 9, 2008

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Easy and so, so good you’d better have carryout bags for your guests. The basic recipe works with just about any kind of nuts. Just make sure you don’t burn them. Use your nose. When they start to smell toasty, they’re roasted.

PS You can get Szechuan peppers from mail-order houses like Penzys. Trust me, they’re worth the extra effort.

8 ounces unsalted pecan halves [or English walnuts]
1 T melted sweet butter
1 tsp sweet curry powder
1/4 tsp Szechuan peppers, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp honey
2 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp sea salt or to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree F. Spread the nuts in one layer in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and roast until fragrant and beginning to change color, 8 to 10 minutes. In a small saucier over very low heat, melt the butter. Add the curry powder, peppers, honey, and rosemary. Add the warm nuts and salt and toss until thoroughly coated.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.

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Open-Faced Chicken Sandwiches

January 25, 2008
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For these elegant and so, so tasty little sandwiches, consider a smoked paprika. The extra depth in taste will wow you and your guests. SAM

PS If your favorite grocery doesn’t have smoked paprika, one of the online spice companies. My favorite is Penzy’s.

2 pounds chicken breasts, cooked, boned, and chopped (2 cups)
2 cups finely chopped pecans
4 center ribs celery with leaves, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Sea Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 cup whipping cream
24 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Mayonnaise
Smoked paprika

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, pecans, celery, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the cream stirring until well mixed. Spread bread slices with mayonnaise and chicken mixture and cut diagonally into quarters. Sprinkle each sandwich with paprika.
Makes 8 dozen appetizer sandwiches.


Sour Cream Dip

January 24, 2008
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I’m not really sure where commercial sour cream came from—it’s not like dairy sour cream—but it’s so lush and tangy and totally comforting you can’t go wrong with this mouth-watering dip. Serve it once, and you’ll have to make more. SAM

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream (1 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives
Juice of 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon onion juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream, chives, lemon juice, onion juice, vinegar, horseradish, mustard, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir until thoroughly blended. Chill for 3 to 4 hours before serving. Serve with crudités.
Makes 1 cup or 8 servings.


Cheddar Balls

January 22, 2008
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Hot, spicy, tangy, creamy … this easy appetizer is made for cheese lovers! SAM

1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, finely grated, room temperature (4 cups)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces brandy
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
2 or 3 dashes of hot-pepper sauce or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

In a large bowl, combine the cheese, mayonnaise, brandy, paprika, hot-pepper sauce, and pepper. Chill for 3 to 4 hours. Form the cheese mixture into 1/2-inch balls and roll in nuts.
Makes 5 dozen 1/2-inch balls.


Crab Puffs

January 21, 2008
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Serve this easy and elegant appetizer on a buffet table or have your waiter carry it to your guests on a tray. SAM

4 egg whites
2 cups mayonnaise
2/3 pound crabmeat, well drained (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon hot-pepper sauce
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
1 (20-inch) baguette, cut into 3/8-inch rounds and toasted

With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in the mayonnaise and crabmeat. Add the paprika, hot-pepper sauce, onion flakes, and parsley. Place 1 tablespoon of crab mixture on each bread round and place on a large, ungreased baking sheet. Broil until puffed and lightly browned.
Makes 6 dozen puffs.


Olive-Pimiento Spread

January 2, 2008
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This quick, make-at-the-last-minute appetizer is a sure-fire hit with drop-in guests. SAM

PS To make it even easier, substitute commercial onion juice for the grated onion with juice.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed, green olives, drained and finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated onion with juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground white pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mash the cream cheese with a fork and stir in the olives, onion, olive oil, and pepper. Serve on crackers or French bread, or stuff into celery sticks.
Makes 1 cup or 6 servings.


Pepper Cheese Logs

December 20, 2007
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This handy appetizer is great anytime, but your friends and family will especially appreciate it during the holidays. SAM

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1 large clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon finely grated onion with juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or freeze-dried chives
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, half-and-half, garlic, onion, chives, and red pepper flakes. Shape into 4 2 1/2-inch logs and roll in a generous amount of black pepper. Wrap tightly in decorative plastic wrap and chill.
Makes 4 2 1/2-inch logs.

Adapted from Emily’s cookbook: All-American Comfort Food.