appetizers

Smoked Salmon Ceviche Crostini

Smoked Salmon 'Ceviche' Crostini

To say I am a big fan of crostini is a major understatement. If I’m asked to bring an appetizer to a party, 80-90% of the time, I’ll be bringing crostini or some variation of.  A quick search of our archives made me realize that I really haven’t posted many of my go-to crostini recipes. In fact, the only one I found was my Shrimp & Goat Cheese Crostini. I have failed you. I’m going to make it up to you, starting now with this Smoked Salmon Ceviche Crostini. It’s SO simple, and can be thrown together in minutes.

I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping both smoked salmon and prosciutto in the fridge. They keep for a decent length of time (if unopened) and always seem to yield impressive-looking appetizers.  I’ll also usually have a loaf or two of those take-and-bake baguettes in the freezer. They are a great size and amount to just the right number of crostini for my typical-sized gathering. And of course, I always have a good variety of cheese on hand because, well,  I really like cheese. Those few things, with whatever other random ingredients I have on hand, will almost always make for a tasty crostini recipe.

So here’s one of my favorite crostini recipes…and probably the easiest. More crostini recipes to come!

Smoked Salmon Ceviche Crostini

Smoked Salmon 'Ceviche' Crostini





Ingredients


1 medium baguette
Olive oil, for brushing baguette slices
Kosher salt
1 8 oz. package of smoked salmon, cut into thin strips or diced
1  tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped chives (fresh)
1/3 cup creme fraiche

Directions

Slice baguette into 1/4 inch-1/2 inch slices on a diagonal. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle some kosher salt on top and set aside.

Chop smoked salmon and toss in bowl with lemon juice. Add chives and toss to incorporate.

Broil crostini at 450 for just a couple of minutes. Keep a close eye as they will go from perfect to burnt in seconds!

At this point, you can either put the smoked salmon ceviche in a serving bowl and let your guests assemble their own crostini, or you can assemble them yourself for serving.

To assemble, top crostini with a spoonful of the smoked salmon ceviche and a small dollop of creme fraiche. Top with additional chives for garnish.

Enjoy!!

Smoked Salmon 'Ceviche' Crostini

 

Strawberry Soup with Balsamic Reduction & Creme Fraiche

Cold Strawberry Balsamic Soup with Creme Fraiche

For my husband’s birthday, we stayed over at the Ballantyne Resort here in Charlotte for a mini-getaway. We did the spa thing in the afternoon, and then treated ourselves to too many cocktails and an amazing meal at The Gallery (the restaurant onsite). It was the perfect way to celebrate.

Before our meal came, the chef sent out a small cup of strawberry and balsamic soup topped with goat cheese as an amuse-bouche. I would have never thought of using strawberries in a soup, let alone serving it prior to dinner, but it totally worked. It served as a palate cleanser as well and was such an unexpected but pleasant surprise. I made a mental note to try to replicate it at home.

What I love about this recipe is that it triples as a soup course, an amuse-bouche AND a palate cleanser. It’s light and small in serving size, so it doesn’t interfere with anything else you may have planned for your menu. It’s super easy and takes advantage of strawberries which will be at their peak very shortly!! Here’s the recipe.

Strawberry Soup with Balsamic Reduction & Creme Fraiche

Serves 6-8 as a small starter

 

Cold Strawberry Balsamic Soup with Creme Fraiche

Ingredients
4 1/2 cups of strawberries, washed and hulled
2 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp chopped mint
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp creme fraiche (or goat cheese, depending on the tastes of your guests…mine can be picky)

Balsamic Reduction
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Directions

Place strawberries and water in blender and blend until pureed.

Transfer strawberries to a fine sieved colander and strain out seeds.

Rinse blender and return seedless pureed strawberries to blender. Add mint, sugar, and lemon and blend until smooth.

Chill soup in fridge until ready to serve (this part can be made up to a day in advance).

While the soup chills, reduce the balsamic vinegar. Simply pour vinegar into small sauce pan and heat over low to medium heat until liquid is reduced by half. Cool.

When ready to serve, pour soup into small cups (or even shot glasses). Top with a small dollop of creme fraiche (around 1 tsp), and drizzle top with balsamic reduction. Serve and enjoy!

Cold Strawberry Balsamic Soup with Creme Fraiche

 

Our Favorite Super Bowl Snacks

Our Best Super Bowl Recipes - Guacamole, Stuffed Pepper Poppers and Soft Pretzels

Like any self-respecting non-pro-football fan, I start to take note of the season right about now, a few days before the big game when I start planning the snacks I’ll chow down on whilst watching the finest commercials of the year. Steph and I went through our old posts and pulled together the three yummiest and most appropriate Super Bowl recipes that we have. Whether you’re watching the game, or watching the commercials (or both), these snacks will definitely hit the spot!

First up are my Soft Pretzel Bites with Truffled Gruyere Dipping Sauce. Yes, you might lose a few folks at your Super Bowl party when you say “Truffled Gruyere”, but you can certainly sub in a more basic cheese sauce if you so choose!

Get the recipe here.

Next up are Steph’s Sweet Pepper Poppers. Yes, they are just as yummy as they look. Make a lot because these will go fast!

Get the recipe here.

And, finally, NO Super Bowl party is ever complete without guacamole, right? Here’s my recipe that I’ve spent a very looooong time tweaking. Note that if you’re making this for people who don’t like onions, you may want to make some modifications….

Get the recipe here.

Enjoy! Go Panthers! (I live in Charlotte, so it’s my default team…although Peyton seems like a good guy too….)

If you need inspiration for Game Day cocktails, check out our recipes here.

Our Favorite Vegetarian Super Bowl Recipes (Soft pretzels, Guacamole and Cheesy stuffed peppers )

 

 

Cranberry, Goat Cheese & Roasted Garlic Naan Toasts

It probably would have been ideal if I would have posted this before Christmas, since it definitely falls into the category of a “festive” appetizer…but, hey, there’s still time before New Year’s! Cutting the naan into star shapes is totally optional, of course.

Cranberry, Goat Cheese & Roasted Garlic Naan Toasts

1/2 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce
5-6 oz. goat cheese
6 large cloves of garlic
4 pieces of naan bread
olive oil, for brushing

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap your garlic cloves in aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until quite soft.

If not using cookie cutters, cut your naan bread into roughly 6 wedges per piece. Cut two pieces of naan on top of each other to ensure that you will have top and bottom pieces that match. Put pieces on cookie sheets, brush with olive oil and put into oven at 400 degrees.

Allow to bake for about 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Now you’re ready to assemble.

Squeeze garlic cloves out of skins. Spread a little bit of the roasted garlic (about 1/2 a clove) onto the toast, then top with goat cheese and a teaspoon or so of cranberry sauce. Press a similarly-sized naan toast on top to make a little sandwich. Repeat.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple-Cranberry Chutney

This soup screams fall. Maybe it even shrieks it. My house always smells amazing when I cook up butternut squash soup. I sometimes think I make it just to smell it. Probably cheaper than those Anthropologie candles that I burn through at an absurd rate.

Anyway, come fall, my pantry is rarely without a squash of some sort. I like squash because it feels like a vegetable and a starch at the same time. So, whereas I might make broccoli and roasted potatoes as sides for a meal, squash kind of ticks both boxes for me. While butternut squash always tastes delicious, I think I like it best for its vibrant orange color. It’s so appetizing!

Usually I make this soup without the chutney, but I added the chutney recently to fancy it up a bit for a dinner with friends and it definitely adds some interest! Make it with or without, whatever suits your palate.

I served this soup with grilled (Vermont) cheese sandwiches for an easy and cozy weeknight dinner. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple-Cranberry Chutney
Serves 4

Ingredients


For the soup:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a large butternut squash, cubed
1/2 of an onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup of milk
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
sour cream for garnish

For the chutney:
2 small granny smith apples
1/2 of an onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/3 cup of orange juice
2 tbsp water
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of kosher salt
couple of turns of freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tbsp dried cranberries

Directions





In a medium saucepan, heat your olive oil. Add onions and butternut squash and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add stock and spices (everything except milk and sour cream).

Cook, covered, for 45 minutes until squash is soft. Turn off burner and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into blender (or use immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Return to pot, warm back up, and stir in milk.

For the chutney, put all ingredients except dried cranberries into a small saucepan and simmer for about 40 minutes (while the soup cooks).

Add cranberries, cook for a few more minutes and then turn burner off and let the chutney come to room temperature.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with sour cream. I simply put a couple of spoonfuls into a ziplock bag and then snip the corner and squeeze out, making a zig-zag pattern on top of the soup.

Top with the chutney and serve.