Mix and match your guests’ favorite meats, treats, and cheeses and never be bored with your charcuterie board! Start with these Tuna Nachos, perfect for tailgating at home. Click to skip to the recipe
There are lots of reasons to entertain family and friends these days, as long as your family and friends have maintained their social distance while trying to live their lives amid craziness! We’re all living in our reduced social circles these days, but that still leaves us room to gather safely. And gather, we do!
One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set out individual bites onto a lovely charcuterie board. Now, by its very definition, a charcuterie board is made up of prepared, cured meats (usually pork) and varieties of cheeses. The very word charcuterie comes from the French words chair (flesh) and cuit (cooked).
But meat and cheese can be boring, so I veer towards combining charcuterie with an antipasti platter. Olives and pickled veggies are so yum. But then I have a couple of crudité tray ideas and well, before you no it, I create a board full of appetizers that is unlike any other. Just like I like it!
My recent board was created for my fellow book club pals. It was packed full of individual appys that by themselves would be perfect for a first-course nibble, but when combined could serve a crowd for a cocktail party or game day (stay-at-home) tailgate party.
The appys assembled on my board included roasted shrimp on a stick, chunks of Parmesan cheese, whole roasted garlic, salami and cream cheese “flowers”, margarita sausage on baguettes with lime mustard, gouda and sun-dried tomato “pimento” cheese with candied bacon, hummus and Parmesan stuffed tomatoes and the fan-favorite, seared tuna nachos with roasted garlic cream.
Whew! Sounds like a lot and it was…..but it was also FUN to prepare and wonderful to watch as they were devoured in no time.
Whether you prepare your own fan-favorite appys or arrange store-bought (and there are tons of them) items on your board, the secret is to be surprising. Mix and match your favorites and be creative with your choices. After all, you never want to be bored with your board!!
Seared Tuna Nachos with Roasted Garlic Cream
These nachos are a big hit. You can easily make them in advance, and they look divine on your appy board.
1 (8-ounce) tuna steak:
½ cup rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
4 green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
For roasted garlic cream:
Cloves from 2 whole heads roasted garlic, about ¼ cup, mashed
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Large, sturdy tortilla chips
2 cups tender green leave, washed, dried and thinly julienned (I used frisee, baby kale and butter lettuce leaves)
Serves: A Crowd
Time: 60-Minute Cuisine
Place the tuna steaks into a shallow dish. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, onion, and ginger. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade. Pour the rest over the tuna steak. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours in the fridge.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the tuna from the marinade. Shake off the excess. Sear the tuna in the skillet turning once, about 2 to 3 minutes per side for very rare. Remove the tuna to the freezer and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.
Place the roasted garlic cloves, sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine into a smooth thick cream. Season with salt and pepper. The cream should be thin enough to drizzle. Pour into a squeeze bottle and set aside.
Place the tortilla chips on a platter. Toss the greens with the reserved marinade. Place several shreds of lettuce over the tortilla chips.
Remove the tuna from the freezer. Use a very sharp knife to cut very thin slices (across the grain) of seared tuna. Place 1 to 2 slices (depending on how thin you can cut) onto each chip. Drizzle with garlic cream.
The Oscars are all about glitter, glamour and gowns. If you are looking to bring a bit of the Oscars home to your friends and family, don your most resplendent gear and turn your home into a RED CARPET PARTY. Choose a theme that allows you to prepare all the yummy dishes in advance, so you’re dressed-to-kill in time for the opening act.
One of my favorite do-ahead party themes is a Tapas Party. Why tapas? Wellllll…..You can make the dishes in advance and offer a huge variety to satisfy your guests for the entire show! Tapas are the small bites served in the restaurantes and tabernas in Spain. Patrons travel from tavern to tavern, sampling the specialties of each chef. For this party, we’re going to offer all those specialties on one buffet table.
To set the scene, create a tablescape using brightly colored flowers in small vases of various heights. Add bowls of fresh peppers to highlight the spice of the evening. I like to use small chalkboards to identify each dish, so that your guests can choose easily. Set a tower of small plates on the table, encouraging each pal to take just a little taste of each dish you’ve prepared.
And don’t forget a specialty cocktail! My favorite for this party is Sangria. I marinate a diced apple and peach in rum overnight. Then I place the marinated veggies into a large pitcher and cover with equal parts rosé wine and orange juice. Chill in the fridge for several hours (before the party!!) and pour over ice.
And, the envelope please!
Here are a few of my favorite tapas party dishes, taken from blogs that call for recipes during the most festive times of the year! I finish off with a recipe for the star dish, TORTILLA ESPANOLA!
Garlicky Shrimp and Shishito Peppers. Cook slices of garlic in olive oil over low heat until the garlic is just golden. Remove the garlic and use this oil to cook shishito peppers and jumbo shrimp until just opaque. Serve the shrimp at room temperature.
Gazpacho Soup with Guacamole. Prepare your favorite guacamole and your best gazpacho soup. My new favorite gazpacho adds a roasted beet that gives the soup a rosy red color. Place a scoop of guac into the bottom of a martini glass. Cover with gazpacho. Garnish with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Croquetas De Jamón. I love these little fried bites of ham and cheese. Well, not just any ham and cheese. These blend famed, Iberian ham (you can substitute with smoked ham) and Manchego cheese into a rich, creamy béchamel sauce. You can make them days in advance and finish them in a fryer, or fry pan hours before the party. Keep them in a warm oven and serve at room temperature.
Tequila Spiked Berry Shortcakes. Nothing says winner like berries spiked with tequila and served over sweetened biscuits with a scoop of lime sherbet and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
Pisto. For your veggie loving friends, this is the perfect dish. Simply sauté onions, garlic, peppers (hot and sweet) with eggplant and zucchini. Stir in diced tomatoes, a little veggie stock and season. Garnish this veggie stew with fresh parsley.
Tortilla Espanola…in progress!
A staple on most tapas menus, this torte is a reminiscent of potatoes gratin and potato frittata. Thinly sliced potatoes are fried, then gently tossed in beaten egg and finally cooked in a shallow sauté pan. You have to flip the torte halfway through cooking, which is just a tad tricky, but not impossible. Keep the torte warm until your ready to serve. It’s perfect warm and at room temperature.
Tortilla Espanola (Potato Torte) Serves a crowd 40 Minute Cuisine
Kinda like potatoes au gratin, but more like a potato frittata; this torte is a yummy comfort food, perfect for your tapas buffet table!
5 to 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 large yellow onions, diced, about 3 cups
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 3 tablespoons
6 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Chopped, fresh parsley
Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into thin rounds. Place the potatoes into a colander and toss with salt. Pour enough oil to come halfway up the side of a deep skillet. Heat the oil over medium high heat. You will know that the oil is ready when you place the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and you see bubbles. Fry the potatoes in the oil until they are tender in the middle and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 5 to 8 minutes. You can do this in batches, so that you don’t crowd too many slices into the pan. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer the potatoes onto a paper lined baking sheet.
Carefully add the onions and garlic to the oil. Lower the temperature to medium low and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to transfer to the baking sheet holding the potatoes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil into heat resistant bowl. (When cooled, you can strain and re-use the oil for another recipe.)
Place the eggs into a large bowl using a fork to blend. Gently slide the potatoes, onions and garlic into the bowl. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and gently blend trying not to break the potato slices.
Heat the oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Pour in the potato and eggs using a spatula to spread evenly in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to brown the (soon to be top) of the torte. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the center is set, about 5 to 8 minutes. Use the spatula to gently loosen the edges from the pan as it cooks. Shake the skillet to make sure the center is setting. Turn off the heat. Take a plate, that is larger than the skillet, and place it upside down over the skillet. With one hand on the plate and the other on the skillet handle, invert the pan so that the torte comes out and onto the plate. There might be a little loose egg around the edges. Use your spatula to scrape any bits back into the torte. Gently slide the inverted torte back into the pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook until a tester inserted into the center of the torte comes out clean, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Garnish the torte with chopped, fresh parsley. Transfer the torte to a clean platter and keep warm. The torte can be served warm or at room temperature.
If you plan to entertain friends on Oscar night, this presentation gets best picture!
Back in the day when I catered large parties, my favorite ingredient was party bread. I can’t believe it’s still around, but it is. Party bread is a small (usually 3-inch square) loaf that comes in pumpernickel, sour dough and rye. I slather these breads with everything you can think of, but the all-time favorite was a caviar checkerboard. I spread cream cheese on each slice and topped it with black and red caviar. Not only was it a great presentation, but it’s an easy appetizer for your guests to pick up.
I’ve upped my game a bit, over the years. I no longer use grocery store caviar for the squares. Instead I use smoked salmon and shrimp. I top the salmon with a twist on gremolata that incorporates red onion, capers and lemon zest. The shrimp is based on the same shrimp salad that I love to use in my shrimp rolls. This is topped with just a bit of really good caviar.
This is the perfect dish for a Valentine’s Day party or your contribution to Oscar night. You can switch around the squares to anything you like. No matter what you use, that party bread will serve you well!
Salmon and Shrimp Checkerboard
Serves a crowd
60 Minute Cuisine
A fun presentation of some typically Swedish inspired ingredients. It takes a little bit of time, but the dish is all about its WOW factor!
1 package party pumpernickel bread, about 36 (3-inch) square slices
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces sliced smoked salmon
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Zest of 1 small lemon, about 1 tablespoon
12 ounces frozen salad shrimp (150 to 200 count), thawed
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons
2 stalks celery, finely diced, 2 green onions, finely diced, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 to 3 teaspoons caviar
Spread the cream cheese on one side of 18 bread slices. Lay smoked salmon slices on top of the cream cheese. Use a sharp knife to trim the bread into neat squares. Place the red onion, capers, dill, parsley and lemon zest onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to finely mince these ingredients to create a caper gremolata. Sprinkle just a bit of this gremolata onto all of the salmon squares.
Place the shrimp into the bowl of a food processor. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, celery and parsley. Pulse to combine into a smooth paste. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spread the shrimp paste onto 18 bread slices. Use a very sharp knife to trim each slice into neat squares. Top each square with just a bit of caviar.
Alternate the squares to form a checkerboard. Garnish the platter with thinly sliced lemon and fresh dill.
The New Year calls for a look at one’s past and fresh applications of it in the future. Martha Stewart inspired my culinary career with her very first book of recipes and stories of her catering company. My best pals and I were starting a catering company at the time, and unabashedly borrowed from her tried and true dishes.
This week, with a house full of hungry family, easy make ahead nibbles are a must. I channeled my inner Martha and recreated one of those recipes. Simply cook tortellini pasta. Drain and place into a bowl with your favorite vinaigrette. Skewer the tortellini on small picks alternating with a baby tomato. Offer Parmesan dipping sauce on the side, and there you have it. You can make everything the day ahead and serve it at room temperature. See how easy?
As I write this, I just viewed an ad for Martha’s Marley Spoon home meal delivery program. Just when the likes of Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are working their way into our weekly meal planning, here comes the queen! I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!!
Makes 3. 5 dozen
Parmesan Dipping Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup
Juice from 1 large lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh dill
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 ½ pounds fresh tortellini
1 pint grape tomatoes
½ cup vinaigrette
Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate. (Bring to room temperature before using.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook the tortellini until just tender. Drain the pasta into a bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss in the vinaigrette. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate. (Bring to room temperature before using.)
Skewer one tortellini on a small pick, alternating with a half of a tomato and another tortellini. Serve with dipping sauce.
It always starts with a trip to the farmers market. During this particular visit, I was drawn to stalks of fresh ginger, almost 2 feet long! The bulb is large, pale-yellow, pink and incredibly fragrant. This ginger needs no peeling; it’s as pungent as any you have eaten. I stood behind a young man who had collected an armful of ginger stalks. I asked what he planned to do with all that ginger. He told me he owned a small general store down the road, and needed it for customers. How cool!
As I waited for him to pay, I looked around at the other offerings in the stall. There were peppers! I mean boxes and boxes of peppers –varieties that I never heard of. The farmer was smart to include the names and description of each one, including the heat level. In addition to the familiar poblano peppers, I decided to try both Lemon Drop and Trinidad Perfume peppers.
Filling my basket with my treasures, I started out of the market. And then…… well, it is apple season. I ran smack dab into a stall that held over two dozen varieties of apples. Cameo, Spigold, York, Yoko, Prairie Spy…. The assortment of apples was amazing! The farmer offers you a five-dollar bag, or an eight-dollar bag and you chose your favorite apples.
Peppers, ginger, apples…. A fall harvest treat, and the perfect ingredients for one of my favorite condiments… chutney!
My cookbook, Sunday Best Dishes: A Cookbook for Passionate Cooks has a recipe for Roasted Pepper Chutney that I serve with Welsh Rarebit. (Yes… this is yummy). I took that recipe, and adapted it to include all the ingredients that I found at the market. The chutney is delicious. The heat from the lemon drop peppers stays in the background, so that just when you think the chutney is a touch too sweet, the pepper creeps into the after taste. It’s special! I served it on roasted pork for company and then on top of some soft cheddar cheese for an appy the next day. It you are looking to make gifts for holiday giving, whip up a batch of this chutney and treat your friends!
Sunday Best Roasted Pepper Chutney
On Welsh Rarebit Sandwiches
This chutney can be as spicy as you like—it all depends on the peppers you choose. Roasting them gives the dish a smoky depth of flavor. Make a big batch and store it in the fridge; that way you can slather the spread on toast and top with cheese for a midnight snack later on!
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
4 large red bell peppers
2 orange Anaheim peppers (or 4 medium jalapeno peppers)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
½ cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 cup homemade chicken broth, or prepared low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan on high heat. Place the whole peppers onto the grill. Char the skin on all sides until black and blistered, about 20 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Pull off the charred skin. Remove the stem. Use a knife to scrape away the seeds. Chop the peppers. If you are sensitive to hot peppers, wear gloves for this task. Remember to wash your hands carefully after working with hot peppers.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chopped peppers, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, mustard, paprika and chicken stock. Simmer until the chutney becomes thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated, about ½ cup
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
4 thick slices artisanal bread, toasted
Preheat the oven on the broil setting. Stir the cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise together in a bowl. Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil spray. Spread a layer of chutney onto each slice. Spread a heaping spoonful of cheese topping over the chutney. Broil until the topping is browned and bubbling, about 4 to 6 minutes.