Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When I use the Italian word Antipasti, I picture a huge platter of Italian meats, cheeses. olives and vegetables, all artfully arranged, served with slices of crusty breads and rolls. That is the way I do it at my house. But when I use the word Cicchetti, I mean little plates of individual Italian appetizers, served one at a time, just like Spanish Tappas and Oriental Dim Sum. Do you remember the Smorgasbord of Scandinavian appetizers that were so popular 50 years ago? Maybe you aren't old enough, but I am. Swedish meatballs and pickled herring were the biggest things around!

The small plate concept has been popular for some time now, and it is a great way to dine as far as I am concerned. If you eat a larger amount at noon, you have time to work off the calories, etc. If you dine on small plates, making sure you don't over do it, your waistline will appreciate it! Of course, if that is your goal, a smaller waistline, you can't enjoy all of the selections. Don't touch the fried ones!

Here are some ideas for small plates from different countries. I hope you try them.

Italian Cicchetti......also refered to as Piattini

Clams Guazzetto, serves 2

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chicken broth
30 small hard-shell clams, such as Manila
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

In a large saute pan with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Drop the sliced garlic into the oil, remove pan from heat and let the garlic sizzle off the heat for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, return to heat, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes release some of their juices. Add the chicken broth and the clams, cover with lid and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, shaking pan frequently. Sprinkle the clams with the parsley, toss and serve. Remaining juices should definitely be soaked up with crusty Italian bread.

Rosemary-Scented Olives makes about 2 cups

2 cups mixed olives, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Combine the olives, olive oil, rosemary, garlic and red pepper flakes in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature before serving,
or you can refrigerate them for up to a week. A great make-ahead recipe to have on hand.

Spanish Tappas

Salted Almonds, makes 1 pound

1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pound whole blanched almonds
1 1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt, not flakes

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly whip the egg white and paprika with a fork until mixture is frothy. Add the almonds and stir to coat evenly.
Divide the nuts between 2 non-stick baking sheets (I use regular baking sheets with silpats).
Sprinkle with the sea salt and stir around to distribute the salt. Spread the almonds evenly on the sheets. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning over the nuts several times during the baking time to prevent them from sticking or burning. Turn off the heat and leave the pans in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. When completely cooled, store in airtight jars. Great to have on hand!

Croquettes, makes 24

6 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup chicken broth
4 ounces Jamon, Spanish ham (or Prosciutto) finely chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, extra
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (I use Panko)
olive oil for deep-frying

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir over medium-low heat for 1 minute, until mixture is dry and crumbly and begins to change color. Remove from the heat a gradually add the milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the stock and return to heat, stirring until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the Jamon and season with black pepper, then transfer to a bowl to cool for 2 hours.
Roll heaping tablespoons of the mixture into roquette shapes about 2 1/2" long, Put the extra flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Toss the croquettes in the flour, dip in the egg, then roll in breadcrumbs. Put on a baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Fill a deep, heavy based saucepan 1/3 full of oil and heat the oil to 325 degrees. Add the croquettes in batches and deepfry for 3 minutes, turning, until brown. Drain well on paper toweling, Sprinkle with sea salt before serving. Serve while still hot.

Scandinavian Smörgåsbord

Savory Havarti Cheese Cookies with Caraway
1 cup grated Havarti cheese
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp. water
1 egg yolk combined with 2 tsp. water into an egg wash

Mix together the grated cheese, flour, salt, and caraway seeds.
Use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour until mixture resembles small peas.
Gradually stir in up to 3 Tbsp. water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms into a soft dough; turn onto floured counter and knead lightly 5-7 times. Wrap in waxed paper and place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325º. Rolled out chilled cookie dough to 1/8" thickness; cut into shapes with a 1”-diameter biscuit or cookie cutter. Placed on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat; glaze with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.
Yield: 40 appetizers.

Swedish Meatballs in Sour Cream Sauce

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground veal
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1/4cup half and half
3 tbl snipped parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 large eggs
3 tbl butter
3 tbl flour
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream
Method :
For meatballs, Mix all ingredients and shape into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place on broiler pan or low sided cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375F. oven for 20-25 minutes. While meatballs are cooking, heat the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and cook till bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in remaning ingredients except sour cream. Boil and stir one minute till thickened. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Serve over meatballs.
NOTES : This is nice for a buffet or an appetizer. Keep warm in chafing dish or crockpot. Wonderful over hot buttered noodles.

Chinese Dim Sum

Pork Dim Sum

14 oz of ground pork

2 scallions, chopped.

1 ¾ oz of canned bamboo shoots, chopped.

1 tablespoon of light soy sauce.

1 tablespoon of dry sherry.

2 teaspoons of sesame oil.

2 teaspoons of superfine sugar

1 medium egg white, lightly beaten.

4 ½ teaspoon of cornstarch.

24 wonton wrappers.

In a bowl, mix together the ground pork, chopped scallions, bamboo shoots, light soy sauce, dry sherry, sesame oil, superfine sugar, and beaten egg until well combined.Stir in the cornstarch, mixing thoroughly.Spread out the wonton wrappers on a counter.Place a spoonful of the mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper and lightly brush the edges of the wrappers with water.Bring the sides of the wrappers together in the center of the filling, pinching firmly together.Line a steamer with a clean damp dish cloth and arrange the wontons inside.Cover and steam for 6 minutes or until cooked through.Serve.

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