TWO APPETIZERS FOR THOSE WHO LIKE IT HOT

These appetizers would be great for a tapas party or to share with guests before a Tex-Mex meal.  They are very simple to prepare and both can be assembled in advance. Conveniently, both recipes are baked at the same temperature, 375 F.   When your guests arrive, stick the dishes in the oven, and they will be done by the time everyone is settling down, getting ready to enjoy the evening. I cannot decide which one I liked more, but chorizo has been a favorite ingredient these days, so maybe I lean towards the stuffed mushrooms as the winner. The recipe I’m sharing with you today came from Melissa’s blog,  “I Breathe I am Hungry“, which is a great site for those into low-carb and gluten-free nutrition. Even though I don’t fall into any strict category, whenever I  host a dinner party I like to include options that are lower in carbs, especially when it comes to appetizers because carbo-loading before a full meal seems a bit excessive.  The second recipe I won’t be sharing with you, but you can get it by ordering Melissa’s e-book The Gluten-Free Low Carber, which is a fantastic source of recipes, many of them not available in her blog.  Remember that  even if you do not own an iPad or Kindle, e-books can be assessed from your laptop.

ChorizoStuffedMushroomsCHORIZO, SPINACH & MANCHEGO STUFFED MUSHROOMS
(very slightly modified from I Breathe I am Hungry)

12 – 15 button mushrooms
6 ounces (about 3 links) chorizo
1 shallot, chopped
2 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese (or sharp Cheddar)
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
salt to taste (you will need very little)

Remove chorizo from its casing and saute in a medium frying pan for a few minutes. Add the chopped shallot and cook for about 3 minutes until translucent. Meanwhile, clean off the mushrooms and remove the stems. Place the caps on a large plate and microwave for 2 minutes to soften.

Add the cream cheese, shredded cheese, and baby spinach leaves to the chorizo mixture. Stir well and cook for a minute or two until the spinach wilts. Remove from the heat. Stuff the mushrooms with about a tablespoon each of the filling. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375 F oven for about 10 minutes. Longer if you like your mushrooms really soft. Remove and cool for a few minutes before eating.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: These are addictive. Now, Melissa herself warned about how hot they are once baked. Be careful and give them a little time to cool down before you bite into these babies. If you are serving them to company, I suggest offering small appetizer forks, so your guests can cut them in half with the fork.  It is hard to keep your composure if you bite into these and find out that the center feels like molten lava on your tongue. Please, don’t ask me how I know… (sigh)

And now the second appetizer: a Jalapeno Popper dip, creamy, spicy, truly delicious!

JalapenoDip

Of course, you could send the low-carb for a walk and dive into this dip with crackers, toasted baguette rounds, and tortilla chips.  But if that’s not acceptable think about slicing jicama very thinly and using the slices as a chip.  Whatever rocks your boat.

For the full recipe get Melissa’s e-book, The Gluten-Free Low Carber. I highly recommend it!   Her recipes are very creative, and even if you don’t worry about carbs and gluten, you will find plenty of stuff to drool over. Some of my favorites: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara (a happy accident in her kitchen). three versions of Flax Crackers, Buffalo Balls (don’t worry, it calls for ground chicken… ), Ham and Spinach Calzones (yes, gluten-free, very interesting dough using cream cheese), Faux-lafel with Tahini Sauce (creative twist on a classic) and of course I absolutely must make her Brazilian Chicken Pies. She also offers recipes for gluten-free pie and pizza crust, as well as low-carb ketchup, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings.

ONE YEAR AGO: Baked Ricotta, Take Two

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Uncanned

THREE YEARS AGO: Pork Ragu

FOUR YEARS AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Celery and Apple Salad

 

TLAYUDA, A MEXICAN PIZZA

Every once in a while a photo makes no justice to the dish. Case in point: tlayuda. But this recipe turned out soooo delicious that I must share right now, I don’t want to wait until I make it again.  It is tastier than you would imagine from its simple ingredients put together. Very quick to prepare, perfect to make a weeknight feel special…  The recipe was recently featured by Marcela Valladolid in her show Mexican Made Easy.  It comes from the Oaxaca region in Mexico and her description of the place made me want to buy a ticket and fly there.  Tlayudas are a typical street food, and everybody loves them.   I can tell you, the combination of refried beans with the Oaxaca cheese, the lettuce and Mexican crema is spectacular!  The chorizo adds a lot to it, but if you are vegetarian, simply omit it, the tlayuda can shine on its own without it. Avocados on the side (or sliced on top) would be amazing too…

served1

TLAYUDA
(adapted from Marcela Valladolid)

 for topping:
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 ounces raw pork chorizo
One 16-ounce canned refried pinto beans

for tortilla base:
2 cups instant corn masa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 + ¼ cup water
1 tablespoons vegetable oil

for final assembly:
1/2 cup Oaxaca cheese
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled queso fresco
Mexican crema

For the chorizo and bean topping: In a large heavy saute pan, heat 1 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve. Heat the beans on low heat or in a microwave until very hot and easy to spread.  Reserve, keeping warm.

For the tortillas: Combine the corn masa, 1 cup of water and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand to form a soft dough, about 2 minutes. If the dough feels dry, add more water (one tablespoon at a time).  You may not need to use the full amount of water left.

Heat a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy skillet. Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface. Put half of the dough onto the parchment paper and place another piece of parchment paper on top. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick and 10 inches in diameter.  Drizzle the oil into the hot skillet and place the rolled out masa dough into the skillet to cook for about 2 minutes. Turn over to cook on the other side.

Spread 1/2 cup of the warm refried beans onto the cooked side of dough. Add 1/4 cup Oaxaca cheese and 1/2 cup cooked chorizo. Continue to cook for until the cheese is melted, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pizza from the pan onto a round serving platter. Top with the iceberg lettuce. Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco and a drizzle of Mexican crema. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining half of dough and toppings.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The recipe makes two 10-inch discs. I did not use the full amount of the dough, and instead  made two 8-inch discs. They were perfect for our dinner, with a little slice leftover.  If you make the full recipe, it could be a wonderful appetizer for a get-together, cutting each tlayuda in squares.  That is exactly the suggestion for serving as published in the FoodTV website, by the way.

The only challenging part of making tlayuda is transferring the rolled out dough to the hot skillet.  My first production reminded me of a book I was quite fond of growing up, Le Petit Prince, by Saint-Exupéry.  Quite a popular book in Brazil at the time. Yes, that was more or less the shape of my first tlayuda.

petitprince

Undeterred, I moved on to the second pizza, and managed to get a round enough shape to justify the name.  Oh, well. Taste is more important than looks, and even the elephant-shaped concoction was devoured with gusto. Plus, cutting the odd-shaped tlayuda in 4 pieces is a nice way to exercise your brains. And knife skills.

The dough is of course quite similar to a tortilla, but thicker and absolutely perfect for a pizza-like base.  I will definitely keep this recipe in mind to improvise with other types of toppings, including options traditionally associated with Italian pizza.

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“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur.

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

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ONE YEAR AGO: Paradise Revisited

TWO YEARS AGO: Feijoada, the Ultimate Brazilian Feast

THREE YEARS AGO: Vegetable Milhojas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Italian Bread