Appetizers

Appetizers

Serrano Stuffed Mussels
Appetizers

Serrano Stuffed Mussels

Stuffed mussels make a great appetizer and even work as a nice Hors d’Oeuvres. They are rather simple to make, composed of two fillings. The cooked mussels are combined with chopped Serrano ham, garlic and tomatoes and spooned into the shells. They are topped with the second filling, a Mussel-White Sauce (bechamel) made with the reserved cooking liquid from the mussels. The mussels can be made a day ahead of time and finished at the last minute in a frying pan.

Lobster Toast
Appetizers

Lobster Toast

For this recipe I took a traditional Asian dish, shrimp toast, and used Maine lobster to create a recipe with a Maine twist. The shrimp version (also explained in the recipe) is much easier and quicker to produce since the meat is easily removed from its shell, or can be purchased pre-peeled. Raw lobster meat sticks to the shell, so in this recipe I quickly blanch the lobster just enough to release the meat from the shell.

Prosciutto Baked Mozzarella
Appetizers

Prosciutto Baked Mozzarella

This is one of my favorite appetizers from our trip to Tuscany and combines some of my favorite ingredients; Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella (use Buffalo-milk Mozzarella if you can find it), ripe tomatoes cooked down into a thick paste and fresh basil. Bake for just 15 minutes to soften the cheese, crisp the Prosciutto and meld the flavors. Make sure you have plenty of crostinis to “mop” up the sauce. A spoon is often needed at the very end to get every bit of goodness.

Zucchini Blossoms
Appetizers

Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini blossoms are always a surprising hit on our Foodie Trips to Tuscany and Umbria. More often than not, they are a new experience for our travelers. In Italy, they are a mainstay. The male flowers grow on a short stem and are mostly a by-product (leave a few on the plant for pollination). Female flowers grow off from the zucchini fruit itself, and can be used for this recipe, but you will be sacrificing the fruit if you harvest them too early. Zucchini blossoms most simply are dipped in a batter and fried. I like to fill the flowers with a vegetable-ricotta filling before battering them.

Avocado and Lobster Cakes
Appetizers

Avocado and Lobster Cakes

These lobster cakes are quite different from your usual “crab cake”. When I created this recipe, I wanted to create a seafood cake that showcased the two main ingredients of lobster and avocado without the distractions of binders and heavy seasoning. When you make these cakes, you will notice that you have to spend a little more time forming and maintaining the shape of the cakes. There is very little binder in this recipe which is part of the reason they are so good. So take your time and be patient…and enjoy!

Beets in Romesco Sauce
Appetizers

Beets in Romesco Sauce

Growing up I only remember eating canned beets, but I liked them from an early age. When I had my first fresh beet, I was in heaven. Cooked beets just heated up with butter, coarse salt and black pepper is on my favorites list. I usually cut off the stems and leaves, wrap them in foil, and roast (steam) them in the oven until tender. Romesco sauce is a Spanish sauce made from tomatoes, chilies and nuts and is amazing with roasted vegetables, fish, chicken…and come to think of it, most everything.

Crab & Shrimp Cakes
Appetizers

Crab and Shrimp Cakes

The Caribbean dry spice mix in this recipe gives these crab cakes a unique twist. I also serve them with a Caribbean seasoned remoulade and, in the summer months, a nice corn relish. In the late fall and early winter, I switch out the sweet summer corn for roasted beets.

Fried Caciocavallo Cheese
Appetizers

Fried Caciocavallo Cheese

I look forward to Caciocavallo cheese every time we visit Sicily for one of our Foodie Adventures. Our home base in Sicily is near the southern town of Ragusa, where “Caciocavallo Ragusano” is produced. Halloumi (from Cyprus) or Mexican Frying Cheese (Queso Fresco) are 2 good alternatives that have a higher “melting point” are more readily available. Tomato Jam with it’s sweet, sour and spicy qualities is the perfect accompaniment to the rich-fried cheese.

Sherried Mushrooms
Appetizers

Sherried Mushrooms with Manchego Cheese

This is one of the recipes from my foodie trip to the Catalonia region of Spain. I like to serve it in a Spanish “cazuela” (as in the photo) which is a shallow unglazed earthenware dish that the Spanish often use in their cuisine, probably most notably recognized in Crema Catalana, or Spanish Flan.

Mushroom Souffle
Appetizers

Mushroom Soufflé

I love soufflés, sweet and savory. This is one of my favorite combinations. If you can get your hand on some Black Trumpet mushrooms and some good Gruyère cheese, then you are really in for a treat. Any mushroom will work, but a few of my favorites for this dish are Hen of the Woods, Porcini (or Cepes) and Morels with their intense flavors and aromas.