Hors d’œuvre

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Heirloom Caprese Salad with Crostoni Bagnati

Heirloom tomatoes don’t need much, and in the summertime when they are at their peak, a simple caprese salad is an absolute staple. In the end, a recipe might be a bit silly…it’s just tomato and cheese with basil and some oils to taste. But I really like the crostoni (a large crostini) technique (Bagnati is Italian for “wet”, from the oil, and the garlic rub is very effective). Also, I think the presentation came out nice. All this to say: relax, play it by ear, and let the ingredients shine.

Ingredients, Crostoni Bagnati

  • 6 1/2"-thick slices ciabatta, cut on extreme diagonal
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (for brushing)
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 6 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
  • Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel

Directions, Crostoni Bagnati

  1. Position a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°.
  2. Place bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet; brush tops with olive oil. Bake until golden brown and crispy, 15-20 minutes.
  3. Rub oiled sides of crostoni with cut side of garlic. Drizzle 1 tablespoon high-quality oil over each crostoni. Sprinkle with sea salt.

*Serves 6 with 2 wedges each. You can cut down a ciabatta roll for a smaller portion if you have that on hand.

Ingredients, Caprese Salad

  • 4 large multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, washed and dried
  • Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel
  • 1 large (~8oz) ball Buffalo mozzerella cheese (or Burrata)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
  • Balsamic reduction or glaze (I use Gia Russa), for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions, Caprese Salad

  1. Slice tomatoes into 1/2" slices
  2. Slice cheese into 1/4" slices
  3. Chiffonade the basil
  4. Stack the tomatoes and cheese large to small, alternating between tomato and cheese.
  5. Garnish with salt, pepper, oils, basil, crostoni and serve.

*Serves 4.

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Deviled Eggs

Hard boiling: Figuring out how to hard boil a fresh egg, that could peel, was surprisingly if embarrassingly challenging. But peeling alone won’t do, the white should be set but not rubbery, and the yolk should be set but not dry (and especially not green).

Some Background:

I started with the, somewhat standard, method of bringing “cool” water with the eggs to a boil, and then removing from heat and covering for 10 or so minutes. This method was inconsistent at best, and very difficult to peel with fresh eggs, yielding unsightly pot marks. I then added salt and (1/4 cup) vinegar to the water, and dropped the eggs into boiling water to simmer for 14 minutes. These results were consistent and peeled well, but because the outside cooks so much faster than the yolk at the higher heat it was impossible to get the perfectly tender whites (borderline rubbery).

Finally I attempted to steam the eggs (per Alton Brown) and after some trial and error with timing and temperature, found a simple, consistent method that yields tender whites and creamy but solid yolks with as few cooking variables as possible. Additionally, it takes less time, energy, and water with this method. I may still revisit that original method, adding the “hole punch” to aid in peeling, but right now steaming is both simple and consistent. In any case I recommend you see what works for you, there’s more than one way…

Some quick tips:

  • Store eggs in the carton on their side (with a rubber band to hold the container together) so that the yolks are better centered.
  • To test for done-ness the egg should spin on a counter top almost endlessly. If the egg only makes it a few rotations on the counter, it’s contents are still liquid.
  • To peel, crack the shell in a few places with the back of the spoon and roll along the counter top, and remove shell under running water.

As for the deviling: I offer a very basic recipe that can be modified (but needn’t be) for 8 eggs and my favorite recipe for 12 eggs with heavy influence from Michael Schwartz. I suggest a food processor for a smooth filling, and if you are making enough a pastry bag with a wide tip is both faster and prettier. I also much prefer the eggs cut crosswise, not lengthwise, for both taste (proportions) and visual appeal. The egg halves deserve a healthy amount of filling, so you will likely not fill them all…better to leave a few out than skimp.

To Hard Cook Eggs (Steaming Method)

  1. Bring eggs to room temperature or run briefly under warm water. Much like a steak a cold product will cook poorly.
  2. Bring a stock pot (with a steamer basket) with 3 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat (about 1/2 an inch).
  3. Add eggs to steamer basket
  4. Let steam, covered, at medium-high heat for 10 minutes (for golden, creamy, barely set yolks. After 13 minutes and the whites get firmer and yolks more dry, which is okay for some applications like salads).
  5. Remove from steamer basket using tongs and transfer to ice bath for 5 minutes

Ingredients (Colin’s Favorite)

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (to taste, I like a rounded tablespoon)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 dashes Habañero hot sauce (to taste, up to 4 but I like 3)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 bunch fresh chives, minced

Tools (Colin’s Favorite)

  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Large bowl for ice bath
  • Stock Pot or large saucepan with steamer basket
  • Food Processor and Pastry Sieve with larger tip

Directions (Colin’s Favorite)

  1. Peel and slice eggs in half crosswise, using a pairing knife to carefully cut the bottom so they stand upright.
  2. Scoop out the egg yolks and place egg white halves on a tray.
  3. Add to the food processor the yolks, mayo, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, pepper, mustard, and half the paprika. Process until very smooth.
  4. Using a spatula move the mixture to the pastry bag, squeezing the contents to the bottom and twisting the top. A larger pastry tip will work better.
  5. Fill the egg whites with the mixture, adding plenty to each egg. You may not fill all the halves, and this is okay.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining paprika and chives.

*Makes 18-24 deviled eggs (halves). Good loosely covered for a day or so.

Ingredients (Basic Recipe)

  • 8 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Tools (Basic Recipe)

  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Large bowl for ice bath
  • Stock Pot or large saucepan with steamer basket
  • Food Processor and Pastry Sieve with larger tip (optional)

Directions (Basic Recipe)

  1. Peel and slice eggs in half.
  2. Scoop out the egg yolks and place only 12 egg white halves on a tray. (I recommend using the 6 eggs or 12 egg white halves that look the best, with the yolks centered, etc.).
  3. Mash yolks and add mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  4. Fill the 12 egg white halves (from 6 eggs) with the filling of all 8 eggs.
  5. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika.
  6. Allow eggs to refrigerate for at least an hour so flavors may blend.

Variations (Basic Recipe)

Yolk mixture may be seasoned with

  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme, parsley, chives, or dill
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar and/or, for a more ‘deviled’ flavor, 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

*Makes 12 deviled eggs (halves). Good loosely covered for a day or so.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Curry-Marinated Mussels on the Half Shell

A healthy, one-pan, impressive hors d’oeuvres that can be made well in advance. Kick up the heat if you’d like with more curry or even paprika (which is made from the included red peppers), there’s time to adjust here.


  • 3/4 teaspoon Thai red or yellow curry paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds mussels (preferably cultivated)
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves


  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Large bowl for marinating
  • 12 inch skillet with lid


  1. In a large bowl stir together curry paste, curry powder, vinegar, and 4 tablespoons oil.
  2. Scrub mussels and remove beards. Mince shallots and cut carrot, celery, and bell pepper into 1/4-inch dice.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet heat remaining tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and saute vegetables, stirring and adding salt to taste, until slightly softened but not browned. Add vegetables to curry mixture.
  4. In skillet steam mussels in 1/4 cup water, covered, over moderately high heat, 3 to 8 minutes, checking occasionally after 3 minutes and transferring them as they open to another bowl. Discard any unopened mussels.
  5. Remove mussels from shells and add to curry-vegetable mixture, gently tossing to coat. Wash and reserve half of each shell.
  6. Marinate mussels, covered and chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Just before serving, chop cilantro and stir into mussels. Fill each reserved shell with a mussel and some curried vegetables.

*Makes about 40 to 50 hors d’oeuvres.

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Classic. Here the asparagus is roasted, but grilled asparagus works as well.


  • 1 pound asparagus (about 19 stalks), trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 paper-thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise


  • Oven, Baking Sheet


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Snap the dry stem ends off of each asparagus and place on a heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Roast until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Wrap each asparagus with 1 piece (about 1/2 a slice) of prosciutto, exposing tips. Arrange on a platter and serve at room temperature.

*6 servings

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Little Quail Egg Prosciutto Cups

A charming amuse-bouche for a Sunday brunch, or an elegant accompaniment to a pasta dish or salad, these are super easy and the smaller size helps manage the saltiness of the baked prosciutto. Quail eggs last quite a bit longer than chicken eggs and can be found in Asian markets and specialty stores.


  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto, sliced in half crosswise
  • 12 quail eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 12-cup mini muffin tin


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a 12-cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Nestle a piece of prosciutto into each cup.
  3. Crack an egg into center of each and bake for 6 to 7 minutes or until egg whites are just barely set.
  4. Use a small offset spatula to remove the prosciutto cups, and season with pepper. Serve immediately.

*Makes 12 bites

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Corned Venison

Adapted from this. Takes 5-7 days, but keeps for a couple weeks in the fridge. Excellent hot, but also delicious as cold cuts. I made little Tea Sandwiches of Corned Venison, French Dijon and Sauerkraut on Rye for a party.


  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 ounce Instacure No. 1 (sodium nitrite)
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon toasted coriander seeds
  • 12 bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 5-6 chopped garlic cloves
  • A 3-5 pound venison roast


  • Large pot for curing and cooking
  • Clean stone or similar for a weight on meat, to keep submerged
  • Cutting Board, Knife


  1. Add everything but the roast to a pot and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover, then let it cool to room temperature while covered. This will take a few hours.
  2. Meanwhile, trim any silverskin you find off the roast. Leave the fat.
  3. Once the brine is cool, find a container just about large enough to hold the roast, place the meat inside and cover with the brine. You might have extra, which you can discard.
  4. Make sure the roast is completely submerged in the brine; I use a clean stone to weigh the meat down. Cover and put in the fridge for 5-7 days, depending on the roast’s size. A 2-pound roast might only need 3 days. The longer you soak, the saltier it will get — but you want the salt and nitrate to work its way to the center of the roast, and that takes time. Err on extra days, not fewer days.
  5. After the week has passed, you have corned venison. To cook and eat, rinse off the meat, then put the roast in a pot just large enough to hold it and cover with fresh water. You don’t want too large a pot or the fresh water will leach out too much flavor from the salty meat — it’s an osmosis thing.
  6. Cover and simmer — don’t boil — the meat for 90 minutes (I’ve read 3-5 hours, but 90 was perfect, depends on the meat).
  7. Eat hot or cold. It is absolutely fantastic with good mustard and some sauerkraut on a sandwich.

*Makes 1 3-5 pound corned roast.

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Speedy No-Knead Bread

This shortcut recipe, which requires just four and a half hours’ rising, if not quite as good as the original, can be done in an afternoon. Find the original No-Knead Bread recipe here.


  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 packet ( 1/4 ounce) instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Oil as needed


  • Dutch Oven


  1. Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 4 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. Lightly oil a work surface and place dough on it; fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes more.
  3. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under dough and put it into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
  4. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

*Makes 1 big loaf

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Classic Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Warm Those Chips: Classic Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa. Cheaper than Pace, I promise, and so much better.


  • 1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire roasted
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt


  • Small skillet
  • Food processor
  • Cutting Board, Knife


  1. Roast the chiles and garlic. In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and blotchy brown, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool until handleable, then pull the stem(s) off the chile(s) and roughly chop. Peel the skin off the garlic. Scoop into a food processor and pulse until quite finely chopped.
  2. Finish the salsa. Add the tomatoes with their juice. Re-cover and pulse until you have a coarse puree. Scrape into a serving dish. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. You’re ready to serve.

*Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole with Slow Roasted Garlicky Goodness, Jicama, Chipotles and Cilantro

Holy Mole: Really, mixing your favorite salsa into some avocado does the trick, but this one is pretty nifty. Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole with Slow Roasted Garlicky Goodness, Jicama, Chipotles and Cilantro.


  • 3 medium-large (about 1 1/4 pounds) ripe avocados
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons roasted garlic from the garlic mojo, strain away the oil
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotles, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup soft sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces, plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup jicama, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus a little extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Salt


  • Large bowl
  • Old fashioned potato masher
  • Cutting Board, Knife


  1. Cut around each avocado, from stem to blossom end and back again, then twist the two halves apart. Scoop out the pit and discard. Scoop the flesh from the skin and add to a bowl. Add the roasted garlic, chipotles, and sun-dried tomatoes. Using an old fashioned potato masher or a large fork or spoon, mash the avocados into a coarse puree. Fold in the jicama, cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the lime juice.
  2. Scoop the guacamole into a serving dish, sprinkle with a little chopped cilantro and sun-dried tomatoes

*Makes about 3 cups, serving 6 as an appetizer, 8 to 10 as a nibble.

All recipes stolen/borrowed from somewhere, butchered/adapted exclusively by CHEF BOY/R/C.