Tag Archives: appetizers

Chicken Knishes (Trial #1)

I’ve been meaning to make a batch of  knishes for some time … years actually. But something always got in my way. I’m home sick today so I pulled a half pound of raw, cubed, chicken breasts out of the freezer, thawed it enough so I could mince/grind it up in my food processor and made what was the easiest dough/filling recipe that I found in my internet searches.

I should have had my suspicions when there were no reviews posted.

Oh, well. You live and learn.

The recipe wasn’t a complete FAIL and the knishes tasted alright, but there were some issues.

The dough – Very soft and wet. I kneaded in some more flour before oiling the plastic wrap, wrapping the dough up in it, and then refrigerating the dough while I made the filling.

The filling – I eyeballed a ‘cup’ of chopped chicken breast to equal about 1/2 lb/227 gm and froze it away a couple of days ago. However, the directions (1 tbsp of filling) seemed … off. And it was. A cup comes out to about SIXTEEN tablespoons, even if you ignore the contribution from the small grated carrot and chopped onion.

So, did that mean I was to roll out sixteen circles and fill them? The problem was that I didn’t have a HOPE of rolling out that miniscule amount of dough thin enough in order to do so. I rolled out the dough about 1/8th of an inch thick and was able to cut out four (3 3/4 inch) circles. I divided the filling into four portions and shaped them into balls which I placed on top of each of the circles of dough. Picking the knishes UP was another problem. And the dough was SO soft and sticky that wrapping it around the giant ball of filling was almost impossible as it kept tearing. I was determined to succeed however. Because I’m FRUGAL and didn’t intend to discard the trimmings from the dough, I gathered them up and roughly shaped and rolled them out into a FIFTH circle of dough. Then, I re-portioned the chicken filling so I could fill all five of the knishes.

I floured my hands and shaped the knishes as best as I could. The last knish was shaped a bit differently as I wrapped the dough completely around the meat filling.

The baking temperature – I did a fast conversion of the baking temperature (180 deg C /~350 deg F) but realized that the dough wasn’t getting as brown as I wanted in the time suggested, so I increased the temperature to 375 deg F for the last 15 minutes. And then I baked the knishes for another 10 minutes. I even turned on the broiler for a few minutes but they were still pale.

The knishes were baked on a dark metal baking sheet lined with parchment paper and the bottom was lovely and brown. It was also HARD. The sides though were nice and tender, even if pale. The filling was moist and bouncy, so it was not over-baked. Even without any dipping sauce (Dijon mustard or ketchup), the knish I ate was very tasty.

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Homemade Savoury Boursin … Spread and Pasta Sauce

I recently found a recipe for boursin, a soft and creamy cheese, posted on “The Frugal Hausfrau” website and knew that I had to give it a try. It makes an amazing spread but it also works as part of a creamy pasta sauce. I made a change to the original recipe … I substituted purchased crispy fried onions for the dried chives since I didn’t have any.

Roasted chicken and creamy boursin and mushroom fettuccine

Creamy Boursin and Mushroom Pasta – serves 2 or 3

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 1/2 – 2 cups (~227 gm) mushrooms, halved and sliced (white and cremini)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup boursin cheese spread (purchased or home made*)
salt and pepper, to taste
200-210 dry pasta, cooked according to package directions, reserve about half a cup of the pasta cooking water to add to the sauce in case it tightens up before serving.
2-3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

* See recipe below

In a large saute pan over high heat, add the oil and butter. When hot, add the mushrooms and saute until lightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium/medium-high and add the whipping cream and cream cheese. Stir gently until the cream cheese melts into the sauce and the cream starts to bubble a bit. Add the cooked pasta and stir through. Serve with some chopped parsley on top, for garnish.

Savoury Boursin Cheese

Savoury Boursin Cheese – makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp crispy fried onion

In a medium sized bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, salt, white pepper and garlic powder with a hand mixer. Stir in the parsley and fried onions by hand.

Transfer to a small bowl or ramekin, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate so that the flavours will marry. Remove from the fridge 1 or 2 hrs before serving so that the boursin will be soft enough to spread.

Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke … Appetizer or Quinoa Bowl

I’ve been wanting to try this Hawaiian dish ever since I ran across mention of it in some readings I was doing for other Hawaiian cuisine … the classic or Spam loco moco, and Spam musubi come to mind. However, whenever I had had good quality ahi tuna on hand, I always ended up making something else. A month or two ago, I bought a one pound package of ahi tuna, individually vacuum packed in quarter pound portions. Today’s freezing cold and light snow seems a strange time to make something that’s native to Hawaii’s sun filled shores but it seemed to be perfect for me.

Some recipes use a lot of acid (lemon or lime juice) and marinate the raw tuna for a couple of hours, creating what is an essentially a ‘ceviche’ … where the fish is cooked by the acid. In this version, the pretty pink cubes of tuna are lightly dressed with the marinade and served as soon as possible. A half hour wait in the refrigerator, at most, is acceptable

Appetizer/Starter/First Course … if desired, place the tuna in a shallow bowl and eat with crunchy wonton wedges or tortilla chips

Light Lunch version Quinoa Bowl

Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke – serves 4

1 pound sashimi/sushi grade ahi tuna, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
3-4 green onion tops, thinly sliced, reserve some for garnish

Dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
1/2-3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed (adjust the amount to your preference)
1/2 tsp sesame seeds (black, white or mixed), plus more for garnish

Optional
1 tbsp dry wakame seaweed, soaked in boiling water until rehydrated (~15 min), drained and thinly sliced
1 tbsp dry hijiki seaweed, soaked in boiling water until rehydrated (~15 min), drained
togarashi (dry Japanese chile pepper mixture) or furikake (Japanese sushi rice seasoning)

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together. Taste and adjust the sweet/salt/tang level.

Place the tuna and green onions in a medium sized bowl. If using seaweed, add at this point.

Spoon the dressing over the top and toss gently. Divide among serving dishes.

For a pretty appetizer, spoon the tuna into champagne coupe glasses. Sprinkle the garnishes over the top … sesame seeds, more sliced green onion, togarashi etc.

For a light meal, place a half cup of cooked quinoa (or rice) in a bowl and top with the dressed tuna. Garnish.

Rough Puff Pastry and Cranberry Brie Appetizers

Have you ever seen those dramatic rounds of brie cheese, topped with cranberry sauce or pepper jelly, wrapped in puff pastry, and baked? The gooey cheese is spooned out with crispy crackers or wedges of fruit like tart apples or sweet crunchy pears.

For a single person that’s a LOT of cheese though, so I bought a small round of double creme brie and used my home made cranberry sauce to make appetizer-sized bites with the same ingredients. And, since I didn’t have any puff pastry, I went on line and found a recipe for something called a “rough” puff pastry. I made a few changes.

I didn’t want to cut open a lemon or lime for the half a teaspoon of juice the recipe called for … and, it was optional. So I left it out. Salted butter, bought by mistake, replaced the sweet butter and salt called for.

Half of the puff pastry was rolled out, cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, and used to line mini muffin tins. The rest was wrapped and frozen away for another day.

Playing with Rough Puff Pastry

  

NOTE: I had enough puff pastry from half the batch to make a dozen appetizers, but I decided to play with the rest of the dough and made some mini puff pastry ‘croissants’ and a single pastry horn from a strip of pastry wrapped around a cannoli tube. I should have put some jam or a chunk of chocolate into the croissant before rolling.

 

 

Cranberry Brie Bites

Cranberry Brie Bites – makes 8 appetizers

~ 250 gm puff pastry
small round of double creme Brie cheese
cranberry sauce (purchased or homemade)

Preheat oven to 400 deg F.

Roll out the puff pastry about 1/8-1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Line a tray of mini muffins with the pastry squares, pressing the pastry gently down into the tins.

Cube the cheese into 1/2 inch cubes. (NOTE TO SELF: Cut the chunks of cheese bigger next time. And trim off the rind for presentation.)

Place a small dollop (1/2 tsp) of cranberry sauce in the center of each puff pastry square. Top with a cube of the brie.

 

Bake about 18-20 minutes or until puff pastry corners are toasted lightly brown.

Let cool 5 minutes before serving.