Mile High Quesadilla Pie

November 16, 2009

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Here’s another cool party recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets

MILE HIGH QUESADILLA PIE

Now don’t everyone panic when I say, “springform pan.” This recipe is really easy and, thanks to a tip I found in Everyday Food magazine about trimming the tortillas to fit the pan, it’s even easier! This is an impressive for casual entertaining because it looks a lot harder than it is. Once I served it on a cakestand and really wowed my guests! Accompany the pie with soft polenta, a crisp green salad, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (1-ounce) packet of taco seasoning mix

5 (10-inch) flour tortillas

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish

1 (4-ounce) can chopped roasted mild green chilies, drained

2 ½ cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (or a mixture)

fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Combine the beef and taco seasoning mix to make taco filling according to directions on the seasoning mix packet. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the removable bottom of the pan as a guide. Assemble pan with bottom upside down (this makes the pie easier to remove after baking) and lightly oil bottom and sides.

Place one tortilla in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the corn and ½ cup of the cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Using a slotted spoon, top the second tortilla with the meat filling, spreading evenly. (You may have some left over.) Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese. Top with a third tortilla. Spoon the beans, scallions, and ½ cup cheese on top of the third tortilla. Top with a 4th tortilla. Spread the chopped green chilies and ½ cup of cheese on top of the 4th tortilla. Top with the last tortilla and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.

Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan; remove sides. Sprinkle with scallions and garnish with cilantro, if using. To serve, slice into wedges.

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Crispy Eggplant Tapas

November 2, 2009

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Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with another party recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!

CRISPY EGGPLANT TAPAS

When entertaining during the holidays, it’s sometimes fun to serve lots of little plates with an assortment of small samplings of several dishes, rather than serving a traditional appetizer-main course-dessert type menu. If you’re planning a tapas get-together this dish is a good one to include. It’s kind of a low-cal, bite-sized version of Eggplant Parmesan. Of course, you could add a few calories and a lot of flavor by topping each serving with a slice of fresh mozzarella or some shaved Parmesan!

INGREDIENTS

1 large eggplant

3 cups fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

a generous pinch each of salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper

1 egg white

olive oil cooking spray

prepared marinara sauce, warmed

DIRECTIONS

Cut the eggplant into ½ inch slices. Place a large colander in the sink. Salt both sides of each slice and arrange them in the colander. Let them sit for about 20 minutes until they begin to sweat and give up their liquid. (This takes any bitterness away.)

Meanwhile, in a large, shallow bowl or baking dish, mix together the fresh breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and 1 tablespoon of water.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Press the eggplant slices between paper towels to dry them off. Cut each slice in half. Dip slices into the egg white, then into the breadcrumb mixture to coat. Arrange coated slices on the prepared baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once, until slices are brown and crispy on both sides.

To serve, place 1 or 2 hot eggplant slices on a small plate and top with warm marinara sauce.

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ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!

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It’s Friday! It must be time for another fun party recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

Enjoy your weekend!

CHEDDAR-CHILE CORNBREAD APPETIZERS

Everything’s better with bacon, right? It’s optional here, but it does add another layer of flavor to these cornbread party wedges. This is a version of something my Mom used to make, called “Spanish Cornbread.” Mom’s recipe actually ran in an issue of Food & Wine magazine one year as part of a Thanksgiving menu. This recipe is foolproof and Mom-tested. Works perfectly every time!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 cup whole milk

1 cup cottage cheese

1/3 cup corn oil

1 (4-ounce) can peeled whole green chiles drained, patted dry, and coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 slices crisp bacon, crumbled (optional)

Fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, preferably nonstick.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the egg, milk, cottage cheese, and oil. Mix until blended. Add to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just mixed. Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Scatter the chiles evenly over the top and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese. Cover with the remaining batter.
  4. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 35 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut into small wedges and arrange on a serving platter. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and garnish with rosemary sprigs, if using. Serve warm.

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ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!

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Happy Entertaining from Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!

A farmer friend of mine once told me that his favorite sandwich as a child was white bread slathered with mayo and stacked high with nasturtium leaves. My nasturtiums are in full bloom so today I set out to make curried egg salad canapés accented with thin strips of peppery nasturtium leaves. But when I saw how pretty the blossoms were, I ended up with these eye-catching party bites. 

NASTURTIUM BLOSSOMS STUFFED WITH CURRIED EGG SALAD

If stuffing blossoms seems too prissy to you, simply spread the egg salad on cocktail bread or toast points and top with a single nasturtium blossom or thin strips of the leaves. If nasturtiums are unavailable, top the canapés with peppery radish sprouts. 

 INGREDIENTS

(Makes 28. You may have leftover egg salad.)

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved

1 tablespoon softened butter, plus more for the toast

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste

½ teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

28 freshly picked nasturtium blossoms (Do not wash!)

28 toast rounds

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine egg yolks and butter in a medium bowl; mash well with fork.  Finely chop egg whites and add to yolks. Stir together mayonnaise, curry powder and mustard in a small bowl; stir into egg mixture. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)
  2. Just before serving, spread toast rounds very lightly with butter. Fill each blossom with a scant teaspoonful of egg salad and place one filled blossom on each toast round. Arrange on a platter and serve. 

 FIND A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!

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Happy Entertaining from Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!

World renowned Epicurious.com just posted a lovely review of my gift baskets! Check it out here.

 

BACON & CARAMELIZED ONION DIP

Back in my Mom’s day, an hors d’oeuvre got the ultimate stamp of approval when “the men loved it.” This recipe definitely falls into that category. The strands of caramelized onions make this dip kind of messy to eat, but press on. It’s worth it. Oven roasted fries (recipe follows) make a good sturdy carrier. A little chopped fresh thyme or rosemary makes a nice addition to this hearty dip.

INGREDIENTS

(6 Servings)

3 strips bacon

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

One 16-ounce tub sour cream

Pinch of sugar

DIRECTIONS

 

  1. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour the bacon grease from the skillet and dispose of it, but don’t wipe out the skillet.
  2. Peel the onion and slice it in half lengthwise. Cut the halves crosswise into thin slices. Add the butter and oil to the skillet used to cook the bacon and melt butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and golden, about 25 minutes. Stir in the sugar and remove from heat. Let cool completely.
  3. Crumble the cooked bacon and stir it into the sour cream, saving a few crumbles for garnish. Stir in the cooled onions and mix well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time. Bring to room temperature before serving.  

TO MAKE OVEN ROASTED FRIES, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut 3 large, unpeeled baking potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thick wedges. (3 to 4 wedges per half, depending on the size of the potato.) Place wedges on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 25 minutes. Using a metal spatula, turn wedges over. Roast until tender and golden brown in spots, about 10 minutes longer. The fries should be crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, if desired and serve immediately. (Serves 6)

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Happy entertaining from Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets

The asparagus patch is in full flourish and I have asparagus coming out of my ears! Here’s one of my favorite ways to use it. Thin wedges of this rich pie make excellent nibbles for cocktail hour.

WHITE PIZZA WITH ASPARAGUS & BLACK OLIVES

(8 appetizer servings)

If you have white truffle oil on hand, add a quick drizzle to put this already decadent pie over the top. I sprinkle my parchment with a little cornmeal before I lay on the dough. It’s not necessary, I just like the subtle crunch it gives the crust.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen

2 cloves roasted garlic 

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons heavy cream

6 to 8 small asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces

¼ black olives, coarsely chopped

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Olive oil or white truffle oil, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Roll or stretch out dough on a lightly floured surface, pulling on corners to form a roughly 16-by-13-inch freeform rectangle. Transfer to a large, heavy parchment lined baking sheet (17 by 14 inches).

Squeeze roasted garlic from skins and gently spread on the dough using your fingers. Sprinkle on 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella.

Combine the ricotta cheese, heavy cream and a dash of salt and mix well. Dollop generous tablespoons full of the ricotta mixture over the crust, leaving some spots uncovered. Arrange the asparagus and black olives on top and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup mozzarella.

Bake pizza until edge of crust is golden and cheese is bubbling and golden in patches, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the Parmesan and drizzle lightly with the oil. Return to the oven for another minute or two. Serve immediately. 

FIND A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS 

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Happy Entertaining from Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!

Roasted garlic is one of my go-to staples for when I need to whip up something on the fly for impromptu get-togethers. It’s versatile, inexpensive, and I nearly always have a bulb or two of garlic in my pantry. It’s delicious simply roasted and spread on warm crusty bread, but try one of these quickie recipes and give this old standby a new twist.   

CREAMY ROASTED GARLIC SPREAD

Cut the top off a whole head of garlic. Place the head in a ramekin, drizzle it with olive oil and cover with foil. (Or, just place it on a square of foil, drizzle it and wrap.) Roast in a 375 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until very soft. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Use a fork to mash the cloves with 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, 3 tablespoons heavy cream, 2 tablespoons chopped chives, or fresh herb of your choice (optional) and a pinch of salt. Serve at room temperature with crackers or sliced baguette. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

ROASTED GARLIC-PARMESAN SPREAD

Roast garlic as described above. Mash cloves with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil to suit your taste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with crackers or sliced baguette. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

FIND A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!