Tag Archives: finger food

Shrimp in Seconds (tapas, party snack, salad topper or killer wrap/tortilla filler)

13 Sep

A bag of frozen shrimp in the fridge is worth its weight in gold when you have surprise guests, a hankering for seafood or you just want a tasty, quick, low-fat protein that you can eat with your fingers. It thaws in no time, cooks in less than no time, and is a virtually guaranteed crowd-pleaser. I also use any leftovers for lunch the next day!

This recipe is so basic it almost doesn’t seem like a recipe to me, but it gets the job done when you just want to eat without fussing and be able to sit down with your guests and actually eat and relax.

Casual Sauteed Shrimp (Appetizer or Salad Topper or Wrap Ingredient)

15-20 medium frozen shrimp (31-40 is fine and usually reasonably priced; pre-peeled is nice….).

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Do a Quick Thaw McGraw on the shrimp in a bowl of room-temperature water, turning occasionally changing water if things are moving too slowly. Ten minutes is all you really need. Peel shrimp if necessary, leaving tails on.

Drain shrimp and pat dry with a paper towel and place in a bowl. Add Old Bay Seasoning and stir to coat.

Heat oil at medium high in a skillet. When oil is loose and fragrant, add shrimp and cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently until they are pink-white (not translucent) and curled up. You don’t want to overcook, so pull them out as soon as they begin to stiffen. You can cut through one experimentally to check that all translucence is gone.

Remove from heat and serve as finger food with plenty of napkins and cocktail sauce, lemon wedges or anything else you like to dip shrimp into. Garlic mayo (aioli) comes to mind https://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/tapas-1-make-your-own-mayo/ Or use to top a salad. I have used them in wraps, cold out of the fridge and sliced in half lengthwise, along with fresh or roasted vegetables, white cheese or feta and a smear of hummus. You can also stir into pasta, adding a bit more oil and lemon.

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5-minute Meatless Chorizo Quesadilla? Try this!

7 Apr

 My book club has reunited after a winter hiatus. Our first get-back-together was at mine after work and while I wanted to put on a nice spread for these women I adore, I also didn’t want to work too hard. I remembered a puff pastry snack I learned from a Spanish friend, Rosa Cassano. The combination of smoked mozzarella and sundried tomatoes in a melty package tasted astonishingly like Spanish chorizo with pimentón. I didn’t have time for puff pastry, but I figured I could melt them together in a flash on the stovetop in flour tortillas. It worked deliciously as a finger food, as the smoked mozzarella firms up very well after melting. And there truly is no meat in them, though no one will believe you…

 ¡Sabroso! ¡Olé! 

Sundried Tomato and Smoked Mozzarella Quesadillas

Four 8-inch flour tortillas

8 oz smoked mozzarella cheese sliced thin

4 oz sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

Spritz of olive oil or cooking oil spray.

Heat a small amount of oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Place a tortilla in the skillet. Cover half the tortilla with a layer of cheese and a generous sprinkling of tomatoes, leaving a bit of a margin at the edge. Fold the empty half over, press down and heat through, turning several times during cooking. When the tortilla is just turning golden and stiffening, it’s done. Repeat with remaining tortillas and allow to cool just enough for the melted cheese to firm up for cutting into triangles. Serve with guacamole/salsa/sour cream.

Snap and Go Asparagus (fast and fun)

4 Jan

I dared to go off-season this week and it was well worth it.

When Spring rolls around I am on the phone to the local North Fork farms to find out exactly when they will be harvesting asparagus. There is nothing, nothing, nothing  better than the sweet, buttery green-ness of fresh-from-the-earth asparagus. I eat it for the six weeks of May and June that it is harvested (nevermind the odd smell of bathroom visits! More on that later), raw, steamed, sauteed, roasted…however.

However, it is not Spring right now! Asparagus may be in season somewhere, but not in my grow Zone.

Usually I stick to our local seasons, but the bunches of asparagus at one of the local grocery stores just looked so good that I got a craving that virtue could not curb. Hey, it’s been a tough holiday and virtue doesn’t seem to be handing out its own rewards at the moment. What the imported stuff lacked in farm-to-table zest, I made up for in garlic.

At $3.99 a lb, you might not find asparagus cheap (especially when you snap a third off the bottom!). Asparagus (which is a member of the lily family) tends to be expensive because it has to be harvested by hand. But it is certainly easy to prepare, and made for a speedy yet chic snack for me and my friend Jamie on a recent playdate (during which the kids ate – you guessed it – pizza). 

Please note, you can look very sexy nibbling asparagus if you let yourself go a bit. For that purpose, and for this barely-cooked recipe, I recommend the skinny asparagus over the fat.

Snap and Go Garlic Asparagus

1 bunch fresh asparagus (about a pound), rinsed and trimmed*

1-2 Tbs olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, not too fine

salt for sprinkling

Heat the oil in a large skillet at medium heat until fragrant. Toss in the garlic, turn to coat, sauté an additional minute, then toss in the asparagus. Stir to coat then allow to cook for 5-10 minutes (the fresher and thinner the shorter the cook time). You can test them after five minutes by trying a stalk. You just want it tender and warm, but not mushy. Sprinkle with salt, and serve.

*Prepping the asparagus is fast and easy, but requires some explaining:

Rinse the stalks. Take one stalk and snap off from the bottom; there will be a natural break (sometimes it’s as far as a third of the way up!), which will scare you because you have spent money on this asparagus, dadgummit! The point, however, is that the stalks can be woody (especially if it is not-so-fresh) and the woodiness creeps up from the bottom. Some people use that first stalk as a measure and use a knife to trim all the rest. I snap each one. Discard the bottoms. Dry the remaining stalks.

(I often use this as a side dish to eggs or steak, but will also just do a pan and eat it with my fingers, as Jamie and I did on Sunday. Delicious and dead simple).

Fun science notes: Now, about the asparagus and urine connection. Apparently some people detect a sulfurous odor in their pee after eating asparagus (I definitely do) and others don’t. The jury is still out on whether that is because some people don’t produce the odor or they just can’t smell the difference. According to some of my online searches, Ben Franklin found the odor disagreeable, while Marcel Proust thought it rather fragrant (so the differences of olfactory opinion between the Yanks and the Franks go waaaaay back and waaaaay deep). At any rate, the odiferous asparagus mystery raises interesting questions about human digestion and sense of smell in general and may hold the key to greater understanding of what the nose knows and why.

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