Hors d’œuvre

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Woodland Mushrooms with Mojo de Ajo

Great as either a tapa over toasted baguette (for mushroom “montaditos”) or as a taco filling, these hearty and satisfying mushrooms are great and impressive to serve in parchment packs.


  • 12 ounces mushrooms—I love a mixture of cultivated shiitakes and oysters with a handful of wild mushrooms (porcini, chanterelle, hedgehog) thrown in, sliced 1/2- inch thick (you’ll have about 6 cups of slices)
  • 2 large (or 4 small) hoja santa leaves (or 32 large epazote leaves, or cilantro)
  • 2 medium-thick slices of bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (Use Fakin’ Bacon for a veg option, or simply omit)
  • 1/3 cup Slow-Cooked Garlic Mojo (stir before measuring)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 or 2 limes, cut in wedges


  • Baking Sheet, Oven
  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Parchment paper and Rafia for Packets


  1. Soak the parchment. Cut four 12-inch squares of parchment paper, loosely roll them together submerge them in a large bowl of tap water and weight with a light plate to keep them submerged. Soak 30 minutes.
  2. Form and bake the packages. Turn on the oven to 325 degrees. Lay the soaked parchment pieces out on your work surface. If using the hoja santa, place 1/2 leaf (or a whole leaf if you’re using small ones) in the center of each parchment square. In a large bowl, mix the sliced mushrooms, bacon and garlic mojo (throw in the epazote leaves that’s what you’re using). Sprinkle with the salt, stir to coat everything evenly, then scoop a portion into the center of each parchment piece. Gather up the corners of each one to form a pouch. Pinch the parchment together just above the mushrooms and tie securely with a piece of string or raffia. Slide onto a baking sheet, then slide the sheet into the oven. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling vigorously in the packages.
  3. Serve. Open the packages in front of your guests so they can enjoy the explosion of aroma into the room. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on plus fresh tortillas for making soft tacos or toasted baguette for making montaditos.

*Yet another Rick Bayless treat…Serves 8 as a tapa or soft taco filling.

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Achiote Seared Shrimp with Habanero Pickled Onions and Cilantro

Another Rick Bayless gem. The onions can be made well in advance. I plated here using a basting brush, but you could simply drizzle the sauce or use a squeeze bottle. I had the temptation to write out a word or draw a heart or some such…perhaps next time. :)


  • 1/2 small package (3 1/2 ounces) prepared achiote paste (such as Yucateco, La Anita or Marin brand)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds (about 24 pieces) large shrimp, peeled, leaving tail and final segment intact/li>

Ingredients, Onions

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small habanero chile, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Ingredients, To Finish

  • 3 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • Roughly chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish


  • Large Skillet
  • Blender
  • Cutting Board, Knife
  • Bowl to Marinate Onions
  • Bowl or dish to marinate shrimp


  1. Marinate the shrimp. Break the achiote paste into a blender jar and add the garlic, orange and lime juices, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth. Pour over the shrimp, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the onions. In a small bowl, combine the onion, habanero (or as much of it as you think you’ll like), lime and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Cover and let stand until the shrimp is ready. (If working ahead, the onions may be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for several days.)
  3. Cook the shrimp. In a very large (12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the shrimp out of the marinade and into the hot oil, leaving behind as much marinade as possible. Stir-fry until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Scoop onto a serving plate, pour all of the marinade into the skillet, and stir continuously until the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Thin the sauce with a little water until it’s the consistency of a cream sauce. Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve with the pickled onions.

*Serves 4.

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Chipotle Roasted Peanuts with Lime

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut: “Cacahuates Enchipotlados”. Pairs perfectly with beer, ha, and actually kind of a healthy snack (besides the beer of course). Chipotle Roasted Peanuts with Lime.


  • 2 canned chipotle chiles
  • 1 tablespoon adobo (tomatoey sauce in the can of chiles)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) oil-roasted peanuts


  • Small skillet
  • Food processor
  • Cutting Board, Knife


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop the chipotle chiles, adobo, lime juice, ketchup, sugar and salt into a blender and process to a smooth puree. Pour into a large bowl along with the peanuts and toss until the nuts are evenly coated. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread the nuts on it.
  2. Bake until they are fragrant and no longer moist, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cool the nuts on the sheet pan, then scoop into a serving bowl and set out for all to enjoy.

*Makes 4 cups of nuts

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Roasted Tomatillo and Arbol Salsa

It’s a Rick Bayless Recipe. I used this but used tomatillos and arbol instead of the miltomates and chiles pasillas de Oaxaca (since he suggested them as alternatives and I had them on hand). It was a sweet and smokey salsa and very good, especially for cooking and meats, which I did here.

If you’d like a salsa for chips alone, I might try this one, more or less the same but with more chiles and garlic (less sweet more heat).

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle Salsa

Roasted tomatillos and garlic are combined with chipotle peppers in adobo to make this simple, hot and smokey salsa (that Rick Bayless calls “essential“).

I used a molcajete, but a food processor or blender works fine. Find some information on molcajetes here and be sure to season it properly before using. I bought mine at a local Mexican grocer and was assured by the manufacturer that it is 100% lava stone. With the Chinese now making them and pressed concrete versions out there don’t trust Crate and Barrel, buy this one.

This salsa tastes best the day it is made, but it can be refrigerated for up to one week in an airtight container.


  • 3 to 6 canned chiles chipotles en adobo (I used 5)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 5 to 6 medium (8 ounces) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar, optional


  • Blender, Food Processor, or Molcajete
  • Skillet
  • Baking Sheet, Oven
  • Knife and Cutting Board


  1. On a heavy, ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat, roast the unpeeled garlic, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and soft, about 15 minutes. Cool, slip off the papery skins, and chop roughly.
  2. Preheat the broiler. Place the tomatillos on a baking sheet, and place in broiler about 4 inches from heat. When, after about 5 minutes, the tomatillos have blistered, blackened, and softened on one side, turn them over, and roast on the other side. Cool completely on the baking sheet.
  3. Scrape the tomatillos (and any juices that have accumulated around them) into a molcajete, food processor, or blender, and add the chiles and garlic. Combine until everything is thick and relatively smooth. For a chunkier alternative, scrape the tomatillos and juices into a molcajete, food processor, or blender, and add the garlic. Combine until everything is coarsely pureed. Chop the chiles into tiny bits, then stir them into the tomatillo mixture. Transfer salsa to a serving bowl, and add enough water to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency, about 3 to 4 tablespoons. Season with salt, and add sugar if you want to soften its tangy edge.

*Makes about 1 1/4 cups

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Bacon-Wrapped Peaches

Grilled bacon-wrapped peaches arugula, aged balsamic, Reggiano, and toasted pecans.


  • 16 slices (1/2 pound) Maple Cured Bacon, or store-bought, cut 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 large freestone peaches, halved, pitted and cut into 8 wedges each
  • Fleur de sel
  • 2 cups arugula leaves, for serving
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
  • Piave Vecchio, for serving (see Note)
  • Aged balsamic vinegar, vin cotto, or saba, for drizzling
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Ingredient Note: Freestone Peaches
Make sure that the peaches you buy are freestone, not clingstone. The pit pops right out of freestone peaches, while with clingstone you will have to cut around it. If you can’t find freestone, get the clingstone but just carefully cut around the pits with a paring knife.

Toasting Nuts:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, checking the nuts periodically, until they are fragrant and lightly toasted, 8 to 15 minutes depending on the type of nut. For example, pine nuts toast faster than pecans.

Ingredient Note: Piave Vecchio Cheese
Similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano, Piave Vecchio is an aged cow’s milk cheese from Italy but without the granularity. Its unique sweet and nutty flavor makes a great addition to any cheese platter.


  • Knife, Cutting Board
  • Grill
  • Oven and Baking Sheet for Pecans


  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill and get it very hot. Oil the grates to prevent sticking
  2. Lay the bacon on a cutting board. Set a peach wedge at the edge of each slice and roll up to enclose the peaches. The bacon should wrap around the peach pieces no more than 1 1/2 times otherwise it won’t cook all the way through. Put the peaches on the grill, bacon seam side down. Grill the peaches until the bacon is crisp, turning often, about 8 minutes.
  3. To serve, put a small pile of arugula on each plate, divide the peaches on top. I like to sprinkle them with a tiny amount of fleur de sel. Scatter with pecans, and shave cheese over each one. Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. The peaches are terrific hot or at room temp.

**Note: It’s a little tricky to keep the bacon wrapped, especially with very thick bacon. A thinner bacon could work. And while the 1.5 times around rule makes sense, understand that the bacon will shrink when cooking. While not ideal, toothpicks could help keep things together, removing them for service.

*Serves 4

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Zucchini Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Parmesan


  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Small wedge of Parmesan cheese


  • Vegetable Peeler for Zucchini, Parmesan
  • Strainer for Zucchini
  • Small frying pan to toast pine nuts
  • Knife and Cutting Board


  1. Using vegetable peeler or V-slicer and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into ribbons (about 1/16 inch thick). Salt ribbons (1 teaspoon) and place in large strainer bowl to drain, if possible for an hour.
  2. Whisk oil, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper in small bowl to blend. Set dressing aside.
  3. Chop basil and toast nuts (medium heat in dry pan until golden brown, shaking occasionally).
  4. When ready, add basil and nuts to zucchini and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve: spoon over whisked dressing and using vegetable peeler, shave strips from Parmesan wedge over salad.

*Serves 4-6

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

Sweet Potato Thai Soup with Chicken


  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (or sunflower)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (microplane)
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 2 green chiles, seeded and finely chopped (I use a combo of jalapeno and Serrano- customize as you like for desired spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced to about 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 14 ounce can coconut milk (I use heavy coconut milk for the flavor, but you can go light. If I’m doubling the recipe I use one of each)
  • 4 cups chicken stock (you can use low-sodium, but it doesn’t taste as good)
  • Juice of about 1/2 lemon, to taste (I love my citrus. I use more than this. Let your palate be your guide)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeno, and hot sauce (Crystal or Louisiana) to serve


  • Stock Pot or enameled cast iron dutch oven
  • Micro Plane
  • Cutting board, Knife


  1. Heat the oil at medium in a large stock pot or dutch oven.
  2. Add the onion and cook gently for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, couple dashes crushed red pepper, and chilies, and saute for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, and coriander.
  5. Add the sweet potatoes, chicken, coconut milk, and stock. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer on low for 45 minutes, until the chicken and potatoes are very tender.
  7. At this point, you can eat, but the longer it sits, the better it gets. I prefer to let it cook for an hour, turn off the heat, salt and pepper, and let all the flavors marry in the cast iron. Ideally I wait about 2 hours before eating.
  8. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with chopped cilantro, thinly sliced jalapenos, and serve. Add hot sauce if you like (Louisiana or Crystal).

*courtesy of Andrew Wright, serves 6 or more

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Horenso no Ohitashi


  • 1 pound spinach or other tender, leafy greens
  • 1 1/4 cups dashi
  • 3 teaspoons Japanese soy sauce/shōyu
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Lightly toasted sesame seeds, for garnish


  • Stock Pot for blanching
  • Ice bath with strainer
  • Sauce Pot for dashi
  • Ice bath chilling dashi
  • Rolling Mat for draining
  • Knife, Cutting Board
  • Tupperware for chilling
  • Small Fry pan for toasting sesames


  1. Trim about 1 inch off the bottom of the spinach (if full leaves) and wash well, being sure to loosen any grit or dirt near the bottom of the stems.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have ready a bowl of ice water.
  3. Blanch the spinach until the leaves and stems turn bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and plunge into the ice water bath.
  4. When cool, squeeze out as much water as possible with rolling mat. Gather the greens, arranging the stem ends together, and cut into 2-inch lengths.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring the dashi just to a boil.
  6. Add the soy sauce, mirin, and salt and stir to dissolve. Simmer for a minute or so to burn off the alcohol in the mirin.
  7. Remove from heat and immediately pour into a bowl.
  8. Place this bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice water and stir until cool. (This step is in important, as it ensures that the dashi’s delicate flavor won’t degrade with the heat.)
  9. Place the spinach in a tupperware container and pour over the cooled dashi mixture.
  10. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 4 hours total.
  11. Place neat bundles of the dashi-infused greens in individual serving plates, spoon some of the sauce over each, and garnish with a generous pinch of toasted sesame seeds.
  12. *Serves 3-4

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