INTO THE LIGHT AGAIN

In our department at KSU one of the secretaries organizes a lunch potluck to celebrate the birthdays of the month.  The email to announce the monthly event ends with “Remember, simpler is better”, but you may find a spread containing spaghetti with homemade meatballs,  very elaborate curries, and fantastic snickerdoodles made from scratch (that was the case last week, and I was unashamed of sitting by that platter and turning them into 80% of my meal).

For last week’s potluck, I made a slightly different version of  the Mediterranean Skewers  posted last year.  They are light, refreshing, fun to eat and won’t weigh you down before a substantial meal. Or a tantalizing spread of 10 different dishes offered at your next departmental party!  😉

MEDITERRANEAN SKEWERS WITH BALSAMIC DRESSING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

30 skewers
mozzarella mini-balls (like these)
sharp Cheddar cheese, cut in cubes
pitted black kalamata olives
pitted large green olives
15 red grape tomatoes, halved
15 yellow grape tomatoes, halved

for the dressing:
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground fennel
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (white, if available for you)
salt and pepper to taste

Line your ingredients, and have some fun:  form the skewers starting and ending with a cut tomato, with the cut side facing towards the center of the skewer. Alternate the cheeses types and olives, so that you end up with many variations in composition and colors.    Arrange the skewers on a serving platter.

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients in a small bowl, drizzle over the skewers half an hour before serving. White balsamic has a nicer color for this type of dish, but if you don’t mind the brownish hint given by the regular balsamic, you can definitely use it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

The possibilities for this type of appetizer are pretty much endless… Mozzarella and tomatoes with a pesto drizzle on top would make a nice “Caprese on a Stick”,  a small bunch of Romaine lettuce squeezed between pieces of  sharp cheese and grilled chicken, and voila’:  Chicken Caesar on a Stick!    Just make sure they are user-friendly, because if the skewers are too big, they can be awkward to eat. These ones I made were right at the limit.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Five Grain Sourdough Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: The Nano-Kitchen

THREE YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

INTO THE LIGHT

Thanksgiving officially marks the beginning of gastronomic over-indulgence. With the end of the year approaching, the celebrations start: departmental parties, lab parties, neighborhood parties, family get-togethers… every one of them loaded with caloric temptations…    This Thanksgiving we took a back seat in the kitchen, as we were guests at a fantastic dinner thrown by our dear friends (and neighbors).   Our hostess, knowing how much I love to cook, asked if I’d prepare  an appetizer for the Thanksgiving party, a question that I answered with the most enthusiastic yes!   I opted for something light and refreshing, to provide a counterpoint to the substantial meal ahead, that included a turkey with chestnut dressing that we won’t soon forget!

MEDITERRANEAN SKEWERS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

50 skewers
mozzarella mini-balls (like these)
3 mini-cucumbers
30 grape or cherry tomatoes
30 black Kalamata olives, pitted

for the dressing:
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground fennel
salt and pepper to taste

When you are ready to start prepping your ingredients, put some music on and go to work: slice the mini-cucumbers 1/8 inch thick, cut the tomatoes and black olives in half.  If some olives are too small, leave them whole. Reserve.

Assemble each skewer starting with one small mozzarella ball, half a black olive, another mozzarella ball, a cucumber slice, and finish with half the tomato.  Arrange the skewers on a nice serving platter.

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients in a small bowl, drizzle over the skewers half an hour before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  The inspiration for this recipe came from two different sources:  “Greek Salad Skewers” from Fine Cooking, and a dressing found in “Small Bites,” but  I modified them enough to make it “bewitching.”  😉  One of my changes was to use mozzarella instead of feta cheese because feta tends to crumble and I am forced to eat all the cheese that disintegrates as I stab it.  If you don’t find mini-cucumbers, use regular ones, but peel them and cut the slices in halves or quarters, depending on the size.

Fennel seed is the secret for the dressing.  I like to use ground and let the dressing sit for a while before using, but next time I’ll use whole fennel seeds and warm them up gently to make an infused oil. Might be even better.

These skewers are very colorful, a nice addition to any cocktail party, but particularly great to open a multi-course dinner. Consider making them for your end-of-the-year festivities.

ONE YEAR AGO: Dundee Cake Bake-Along (and great fun was had by all!)

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