Author: Canapes and Chocolate

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cognac Glaze

I found a new cooking pal this week Tiffani Thiessen, on the Cooking Channel’s “Dinner at Tiffani’s”, her new show. You probably remember her from the 90’s sitcom, Saved by the Bell.  Well she is all grown up, married with a 5-year-old daughter and another one on the way.  And she is gorgeous, as is her husband Brady Smith.  She invites celebrity friends over for dinner and they catch up in the kitchen as friends do while cooking.  Most of the cooking is done by Tiffani, but then it’s her show and she is the chef.  And a pretty good chef at that.  I did a little half-day “marathon” and watched all five episodes so far and cooked at least one recipe from each show, which is something I have not done before. But, you kinda feel you have to when you see her recipes and realize you can cook something great in a short period of time.  Her food looks amazing and when she and her friends sit down to eat, you really, really, really wish you were there …

Deconstructed: Beef Wellington Bites

I love Beef Wellington, but let’s face it, it can be complicated (getting the puff pastry wrapped around the tenderloin can be equal to the first time you tried to diaper a squirming baby).  It also takes a boatload of time to prepare, so I usually make it only on a holiday or special occasion. How sad – that’s like only using your “good” china and glassware at Thanksgiving, and we ALL know that has become a “No, No” since you never know if you will still be here for that next special occasion. I decided to deconstruct the traditional recipe and make it a new and easier way without compromising the flavors.  This recipe still has the same flavor profile (beef, pâté, mushrooms, onion, sherry) but now I can make and serve it in around 30 minutes instead of 2.5 hours.  When I prepared the steak I used Hawaiian salt to season it.  Until about a month ago I had never used the stuff (even though I had a package of it in my …

Sweet Lemon Loaf

On the way home from work on Friday I was listening on the radio to Jeanne Robertson, a really wonderful and funny humorist and motivational speaker. She was relaying a story about her 7Up Pound Cake, which she makes and delivers to family and friends when someone has “passed”.  Now you might not think death is a funny topic, but in fact her story is amusing as she talks about her husband Left Brain, and his adventure at the grocery store while picking up ingredients for her. See the clip below, as Jeanne tells it far better than I could explain here (that’s why she is paid for her humor, and I am not). As Jeanne was approaching the end of her routine, I was approaching my neighborhood Whole Foods, where I made an immediate right turn into the parking lot so I could get ingredients to make my Lemon Loaf.  Right now you can find really bright and juicy lemons – I used Meyer Lemons for this dessert as they are sweeter than regular lemons. …

Scalloped Potatoes with Link Sausage

Ah comfort food!  We seem to be having a pretty mild winter here in Seattle – so far no snow other than in the mountains; not too bad on the rainfall (although Seattle Weather blog shows stats that February was wetter than normal – me I just don’t believe it!)  Even the wind has been pretty cooperative except for an occasional day here and there that was a little more than “gusty winds”.  But as everyone observes every morning on the national news, the majority of the rest of the country is facing some pretty severe weather and it doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Several of my friends and readers on the East Coast have written asking for a good “comfort food” recipe – one that they might even have the goods stocked already in their pantry and refrigerator.  And this recipe does just that.  To all my friends on the East Coast who are bundled up, sitting around the fireplace as the furnace has gone out, shoveling snow each morning and night, or have just plain …

Swedish Meatballs (KÖTTBULLAR)

New Year’s Eve is approaching and Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar) are perfect for bite-sized appetizers. Make ’em, freeze ’em, bake ’em and serve them in a chafing dish, crock pot, or fondue pot – whatever you have on hand that will keep these babies warm.   I made these on Monday and froze them to be used on Christmas Day – then all I had to do was bake them that afternoon and make the sauce.   I like to use a combo of both ground beef and pork when I make the meatballs – and I know some people even add veal for a more rounded flavor. Use whatever bread you have on hand and make fresh breadcrumbs in a food processor – you will notice the difference, but use the Pulse button so you don’t end up with sawdust.  I was in Stockholm last year (see here) and had the most amazing Swedish Meatballs – they were large, very large, as this was an entrée and not an appetizer and tasted absolutely amazing! As …

Prosciutto and Melon Squares

Layers of salty prosciutto with cold and crispy melon topped with whipped cream cheese – makes this canape delightful.  The slices of prosciutto should be paper thin, so I have it cut at the deli as opposed to buying it sliced and packaged with the other cold cuts.  Although prosciutto can be expensive (around $24 per pound), you are buying 12 very thin slices, which nets out to about $4 or $5 – this is actually cheaper than the packaged stuff as you are not paying for the marketing and packaging costs – definitely have it sliced at the deli while you wait – worth every penny.    

Onion and Parmesan Toasts

Roasted onions and parmesan cheese are a great flavor combo.  For this canape I use Parmesan/Reggiano grated cheese.  If you need a quick canape at the last-minute this one fills the bill – only five ingredients to make the base and then any toppers you want to add.  In this case I chose bacon and salmon roe, but you could also do slices of cocktail onion, green or black olive slices, slivers of green apple for a tart twist, or any number of toppers, depending upon your imagination and what you have in your pantry.

My Top 10 Favorite Classic Holiday Movies

  I was recently reading a blog post from someone who detested the movie, Love Actually – I mean they were really offended by it and thought it silly, useless, and just plain irritating.  I on the other hand, love this movie, and find it charming as it gets me into the Christmas spirit when I watch it.  This made me think of my Go-To list of movies I need to watch between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, that remind me of how important family is and all the magic you can experience when you celebrate the holidays together. Here is a list of my Top 10 Must See Movies every holiday season – you may recognize a couple and hopefully some are your favorites too!

How Simple Is This? Quick Holiday Canape

A few ingredients can go a long way, when they are packed with flavor.  Keep these items on hand and you will have a spot-on tasty treat to give your drop-in guests, or when you have limited time in prepping for your holiday party fare. This canape has a sweet savory flavor highlighting the sweetness of the cranberry with the sharpness of the gherkin.  A pleasant surprise when you take that first bite. Quick, easy, flavorful – how simple is this?