Tag Archives: Appetizer

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

This recipe comes from the Skinny Food book of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook series, which is just full of great ideas for healthy, but still interesting meals.

There’s no cooking involved and it takes less than 15 minutes to throw together so it’s great if you are in a rush to an impromptu dinner.  It’s the perfect way to jazz up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store with a Vietnamese flair.

The salad is one of the most popular salads in Vietnam, where it is known as ga xe phai.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad recipe adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly

Ingredients

  • 100g (3.5oz) snow peas, trimmed
  • 4 cups shredded chicken (we used a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery)
  • 4 cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage (can also use iceberg lettuce if you are in a pinch but be sure to slice it very finly)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce (or soy if you are vegetarian)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup crispy fried wontons (optional)

Preparation

Place snow peas in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water.  Drain immediately.  Then cover the snow peas with cold water and let stand for 2 minutes.  Drain and then slide thinly.

Combine snow peas in a large bowl with shredded chicken, cabbage, chives, onion, and mint.

Combine sambal oelek, oil, lime juice and sugar in a bowl and mix well (it works even better if you put it in a container with a lid and shake well).  Drizzle salad with chilli lime dressing; toss gently to combine, then sprinkle coriander and crispy wontons over salad.

Serves 4

Nutrition: 8.5g fat, 222 calories per serve

Steamed Wontons

I will never forget the first time I stayed at my boyfriend’s parents house in Brisbane and his mom made these amazing steamed won tons using a bamboo steamer in a wok.  I had never seen anything like it but was surprised to learn how easy they are to make once you get the hang of how to stuff and pinch a wonton together.  I made these for some friends who came to visit one weekend and they loved them so much that they both bought bamboo steamers so they could make them at home too.

If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, I highly recommend that you invest in one – they are $20 or less and they are great for won tons and steaming other things like vegetables, fish, etc….the possibilities are endless.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (about 500g) ground beef
  • 1 packet of square or round wonton wrappers
  • Fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • steamed rice (optional filler for the wontons if you want to make a lot on a budget!)

Preparation

Mix all of the ingredients (except the wonton wrappers) with your hands in a bowl until evenly mixed through.

Place a wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand and brush a tiny bit of water around the edges with your finger.  Spoon one spoon full of the mixture into the center of a wonton wrapper.

Pinch the edges of the wonton wrapper together at the top so that no beef is exposed.

Heat water in the bottom of the wok on high heat.  Spray each level of your bamboo steamer with cooking spray.  This is very important because the wontons will stick to the bottom and cause a mess if you don’t.  Arrange the won tons in each level of the bamboo steamer.

Stack the levels of the bamboo steamer and top with the steamer lid.  Allow the wontons to steam for about 20 minutes or until the meat in the wonton is no longer pink.

Serve with plum sauce or sweet chili sauce.

Pastizzi from Malta

Pastizzi (sing: pastizz) are and insanely addicting filled pastries that hail from the country of Malta, which for those of you who don’t know, is a small group of islands located in the Mediterranean Sea just below Sicily.  There’s a reason that these pastries are the number one culinary export of Malta – because they are amazing pockets of flaky goodness!

I’d never heard of pastizzi before my trip to Sydney, but my friends there know my obsession with food that comes in pockets so they knew that I would love pastizzi!  They were dead on.

They took me to The Original Maltese Café in Darlinghurst, just off Oxford Street on Crown Street.  Luckily, we got there just as the shop was closing and each bought about 6 pastizzi.  Traditionally, pastizzi are made with a ricotta or pea filling but the café had really jazzed them up with all different flavors. I tried the tandoori (my personal favorite), chili con carne, vegetable curry, and chicken curry.  They came with this amazing tomato and garlic dipping sauce that I just couldn’t get enough of.  They also had a spicy pepper sauce that a friend of mine swears by but after having my mouth catch on fire after one dip, I opted to stick with my tomato and garlic sauce.

The pastizzi were flaky on the outside, and warm and chunky on the inside.  I’d say they are similar to pasties but smaller and better.

While I didn’t get the café’s recipe, I did some digging online and found a fairly simple recipe so you can make these at home!  I’ve also been told that some grocery store freezer sections have ricotta pastizzis, so be on the look out!  The recipe I found that is super easy to make uses puff pastry, which isn’t as authentic as making the pastry yourself, but after watching this video on how pastizzi dough is made, you’ll want to just use puff pastry too.

Pastizzi Recipe: Pastizzi ta’ l-Irkotta (Cheese cakes) adapted from maltabulb.com

Ingredients

  • 300 grams (or 10.58 oz) ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • Parsley (finely chopped)
  • 50 grams (or 1.76 oz) grated cheese
  • Egg wash
  • 750 grams (or 1 lb and 10.45 oz) puff pastry
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chopped spinach (optional)

Preparation

Mix well the ricotta, cheese, eggs, parsley and seasoning (can also add chopped, cooked spinach here).

Roll out the puff pastry thinly and cut out circles about 9 cms in diameter. Egg wash the edges. Put some of the ricotta mixture onto each of the circles on one side. Fold the pastry circle in half and seal the edges together. Egg wash and bake in a medium to hot oven for about half an hour or until the pastry is done.

FFwD: Chicken B’stilla

I’ve missed the past 4 weeks of French Fridays with Dorie because I’ve been setting up shop in my new home of Brisbane, Australia.  When I saw the Moroccan B’stilla on the agenda for this week I knew I had to make it!

I love the blend of ginger, cinnamon, and coriander that’s common in Moroccan cuisine and love pies even more (see previous post on Harry’s Cafe de Wheels) so this was a winning combination for me!

I found it somewhat time consuming to make but totally worth it.  The crunch of the almonds and the filo were the perfect contrast to the warm, gooey pie filling, and the spices were present enough to give you a little taste of Morocco without being overwhelming.

It was definitely a posh pie, and we came up with so many possibilities for it while we were eating – from making a large version in a casserole dish and serving it in square slices as an appetizer to making mini party pies.  I already can’t wait to make it again!

As always, I can’t post Dorie’s recipe for the B’stilla but highly encourage you to buy her book Around My French Table to check it out.

I did find a B’stilla recipe from another blogger, The Last Ditch,  who swears that her B’stilla recipe is the best.  I haven’t made hers so I can’t compare it to Dorie’s, but it sounds delicious!  You can find it here.  Regardless of whose recipe you use, I recommend using chicken thigh meat to get the most flavor and not to skip the almonds!  Also, don’t even think about using any other pastry than filo because it won’t do the pie justice.

FFwD: Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Nuts

I took the easy route this week with the Sweet & Spicy Cocktail Nuts since the recipes for FFwD weren’t posted in time for me to make one of the more challenging dishes over the weekend.

I struggled with how cocktail nuts could be considered French cooking but Dorie says that the reason she included these nuts in her Around My French Table cookbook (p. 18) is because cocktail nuts are always served in France when you go to a party or restaurant even though they are very expensive to buy there.  It’s something that I probably would have never noticed but the nuts remind Dorie of France and I’m sure now that I know about them I’ll take notice of them in French restaurants and bars if I ever get to go there.

I’d never thought about how yummy flavored cocktail nuts were made until I saw this recipe and was surprised how easy it is.  It’s as simple as tossing whatever nuts you want to use in egg whites and then tossing in enough sugar mixed with spices to coat the nuts in a delicious goo.  Then you bake them at 300 F for 30 minutes and they are ready to party!

The sugar & spice mixture is perfect for experimenting, but I started with her mixture of mainly sugar with chili powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper that was in the book since it looked so good!  All it needed was something sour like lime thrown in to cover all of the tastes (sweet, salty, spicy, sour) but I think that might not have been considered a bonne idée (trans: good idea) as Dorie says.  Next time I’ll try my Chinese 5 Spice mix or maybe some curry powder.

One tip that I learned from making them is to take Dorie seriously when she says to shake the excess goo off of the nuts one by one before putting them on the baking sheet.  If you don’t all of your nuts will be stuck together on the baking sheet and you’ll have to break them all apart after they come out of the oven.

Latvian Piragas for Latvian Independence Day

My neighbor and fellow Couchsurfer wanted to have a potluck last Thursday and since November 18th is Latvian Independence Day (from Russia in 1918)  he decided to throw a Latvian Independence Day potluck! I admit that I had to first look up where Latvia is on a map before scouting for which recipe I would make.  For those of you who don’t know, it’s here:

I decided to make piragas as my dish since they were one of the first hits that came up on google when I typed in “Latvian Recipes” and they are pocket food (i.e., stuffed food such as ravioli, pierogies, samosas – I explained my love for pocket food in an earlier post).

Here’s the recipe:

Latvian Pirags recipe adapted from grouprecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Pillsbury hot roll mix
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Preparation:

1. Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp of oil.  Add the garlic after the onion has softened.

2. Add the ground beef and season with pepper and dill.  Saute until fully cooked.

3. Drain excess fat & allow to cool.  I refrigerated mine over night to allow the flavor to absorb.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

5. Make the yeast rolls according to the instructions on the pillsbury box.

6.  After the yeast rolls have risen to double in size take each roll and place a tablespoon of the beef mixture in the center.  Stretch and fold the dough over the top of the meat and pinch to seal.  I also used a fork the press the dough together.

7.  Wash all the piragas with egg wash and bake for 10-12 minutes.

8.  After removing them from the oven brush the tops with melted butter.

Here are some shots from the potluck:

The spread

Delicious Latvian meatball soup

Something similar to whole wheat pierogies

FFwD: Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans

I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving to make these so for this week’s FFwD post I gave in to my craving for pumpkin that usually starts around the first of November… ok who am I kidding… October and made the pumpkin gorgonzola flans.

Cooking my way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table has introduced me to so many new things and with this week’s recipe I not only successfully made my first flans but I also cooked with gorgonzola for the first time.  If you aren’t a huge gorgonzola flan you might want to choose a less offensive cheese, such as goat cheese for this because the gorgonzola really hijacked the taste of this dish even though it did really mellow out while baking.  I guess the pumpkin was just too mild of a flavor to stand up to the gorgonzola, either that or I used way too much cheese.

I love flan for it’s cloud-like consistency but I never thought that it would be easy to make since it seemed so exotic.  Boy was I wrong.  This was hands down the easiest dish I have made so far from Around My French Table.

The list of ingredients is short: eggs, heavy cream, pumpkin puree, walnuts (I used pecans), and gorgonzola.

You blend the eggs, pumpkin puree, and heavy cream until they are blended together.

Then you divide the mixture amongst 4 to 6 ramekins, depending on the size of your ramekins.  I only have 4, so I just filled them all up a little higher.  You then sprinkle the gorgonzola cheese and nuts over the top of each ramekin.  Place the ramekins in a large casserole dish and fill the dish with hot water to surround the ramekins before placing in a 350 oven for 30 minutes.  Allow the flans to completely cool before pulling out of the water-filled casserole dish.

Dorie recommends eating them with a salad, but I just dug right in because I couldn’t wait.

To see what other FFwDers blogged about this week check it out here.