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Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category


Cheddar Oat Crackers - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I’ve had some rolled oats in the cabinet for a while, and I decided to try this recipe to use them up. It’s a healthier version of my cheddar parmesan crackers, and the oats give them a heft that makes them a more filling snack so you will eat fewer and get full faster. Perfect for the new year, as many try to balance out all the holiday eating.

Cheddar Oat Crackers

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 ounces cheddar, grated

2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

2 eggs, 1 beaten with a splash of water for egg wash

flaked sea salt such as Maldon

Soak the oats in the milk for a few minutes while you combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor and pulse a couple times. Add the cheese and butter and pulse until it starts to resemble sand. Add in the oats and 1 egg, and pulse until it comes together. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Refrigerate for 2 hours until chilled.

Roll out in two sections between two sheets of parchment paper as thinly as you can, to about 1/8″. Cut or use a ravioli cutter or cookie cutter to create crackers. Put them onto a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the crackers with the egg wash and sprinkle sea salt on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 12-14 minutes, until they start to brown. Let cool before removing and serving.

Cheddar Oat Crackers - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Herb Roasted Almonds - Meatballs&Milkshakes

These make a great snack with drinks, before dinner, or just about anytime. These will be on my table for New Year’s Eve, but they were also out throughout the holidays and were great to munch on between all the big meals. I first had these kind of specially roasted almonds in LA last year, where they were artisanally roasting nuts with various spices. The options are endless, just take a look in your spice cabinet or refrigerator for inspiration.

Herb Roasted Almonds

12 ounce package of almonds, unroasted and unseasoned if possible

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra

2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper

2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence or chopped rosemary

2 tablespoons salt

Pour the almonds onto a foil-lined sheet tray. Pour the olive oil and spices on top, and using your hands, mix everything so the nuts are well coated in olive oil and spices. Spread them out and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the nuts start to toast and they are fragrant. Toss when they come out of the oven to make sure they continue to absorb flavor as they cool. Add a little more olive oil if they seem dry, or to give more fresh olive oil flavor.

Herb Roasted Almonds - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Baccala alla Vicentina - Meatballs&Milkshakes

This year’s Feast of the Seven Fishes is probably going to be reduced by a couple courses to maybe 5 or even just 3. The important part of the Feast is that it’s an odd number of courses. The most traditional of my courses is the baccala alla vicentina, which is one of my favorites. After a long soak in water, the rock-hard dried cod is magically transformed back into fish and then gets cooked with potatoes and blended into an amazing spread. It’s not pretty while it’s cooking and the whole process is pretty smelly, but it turns into an amazing dish.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Next up, bay scallop crudo with tangerine and sea salt and a bowl of shrimp bisque. The sweet bay scallops are slurped down with a tangerine juice reduction and some fruity extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt over the top. The bisque gets it’s flavor from sherry or marsala and if possible, homemade shrimp or seafood stock.

Spicy Crab Pasta - Meatballs&Milkshakes

I will most likely round out my Feast of the Seven (or Five) Fishes with some baked clams and a spicy crab pasta that has become a favorite. I’m hoping to get some really delicious dungeness or some other special crab to really take this one over the top for the holidays. Maybe I’ll even experiment with some lobster. Happy holidays!

For more Feast of the Seven Fishes ideas, check out last year’s menu.

And just to let you know, I’ve started a new Facebook page for Meatballs&Milkshakes, so you can follow the blog there! “Like” Meatballs&Milkshakes to keep up to date with recipes in your feed!

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Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

These tiny, sweet bay scallops are perfect as a quick bite to start a special meal. I paired them with a small glass of my shrimp bisque in this duo of seafood appetizers, and they were both among my favorites. The scallops have a tangerine juice reduction drizzled over the top, along with some wonderful extra virgin olive oil and some flakes of sea salt to create a rich, sweet and citrusy bite that still tastes of the sea (in a good way).

When you eat raw shellfish, I recommend only getting it from the most reputable source and checking to make sure they don’t smell overly fishy. They should have a firm texture to the touch, as well.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine

1/2 pound bay scallops, rinsed (this is roughly enough for 4 people, depending on how many you will serve)

1 cup tangerine juice

3 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon flaked sea salt

pinch of chili flakes (optional)

Reduce the tangerine juice to about half by simmering in a saucepan. It should become slightly thick and viscous. Once it has cooled, pour over the scallops along with the olive oil. Toss gently to coat and serve with a sprinkle of the flaked sea salt (and chili flakes, if using) over the top. I recommend tasting one to make sure you like the balance, as well.

Bay Scallop Crudo with Tangerine - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Delicata Squash Tart - Meatballs&Milkshakes

Frequently when I make ravioli or another stuffed pasta, I have leftover filling. This is a great way to use it up, but it’s also an incredibly easy appetizer for parties or when you need a snack in a hurry. I have made this before with mushrooms and there are endless variations. It’s also another reason I always keep puff pastry in the freezer.

Delicata Squash Tart

1 cup delicata squash ravioli filling

1 sheet puff pastry

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1/4 cup grated mozzarella

Spread the filling across a defrosted sheet of puff pastry that you have laid out on parchment paper. Sprinkle the thyme and mozzarella across the top and bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes until it gets browned on the edges and the mozzarella bubbles and browns. Let cool a few minutes before cutting.

Delicata Squash Tart - Meatballs&Milkshakes

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Well, it’s been a challenging couple of weeks on the M&M front; first the hurricane and then my computer decided to die on me. Consequently, I feel like Thanksgiving has snuck up on me. I don’t think I will be making a full Thanksgiving meal this year, however I will do a Thanksgiving-inspired menu. I might include this Angel Hair with Butternut Squash and Sage as a side dish, because there really should a pasta to make it a holiday.

This Farinata would make a great gluten-free appetizer to snack on while the rest of the meal cooks. You can change the toppings to suit your mood, but I liked the olive and cheese combination.

Eggplant Caponata is always a good appetizer as well, and this version is a little Thanksgiving-inspired, with the use of cinnamon.

We usually make a vegetarian option which tends to be a Lasagna or some Stuffed Mushrooms. I always make extra though, because invariably the meat-eaters want them too.

Butternut Squash Soup flavored with apples and sage is a fantastic way to start the meal. I can’t get enough butternut squash in the fall.

Thanksgiving requires a mashed vegetable of some sort,  so I either go with these Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Prosciutto or some Parsnip Puree.

And of course, we can’t forget the cranberry sauce. I ALWAYS make this Brandied Cranberry Sauce so I have plenty leftover. Stay tuned for some Turkey Pot Pie!

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We survived the hurricane without any damage beyond getting a little stir-crazy, so I have to feel pretty grateful. We didn’t lose power or have any terrible flooding, but all we could do for days was watch the damage on TV. Of course, one of my first plans of action was to get to work on hurricane food.

Naturally, my first inclination was for mac & cheese, which was so delicious that it was gone before I could take pictures. For those curious, my mac & cheese is basically my tuna noodle casserole without the tuna. Next up, tomato soup and grilled cheese. I had some cherry tomatoes that were ready to be roasted, and combined them with some canned tomatoes to round out the soup. Perfect cold, rainy weather food. And it’s always a good time for a grilled cheese.

Roasted Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

1 pint cherry tomatoes

4 tablespoons olive oil

12 sprigs thyme

1/2 can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed or pureed

1 cup red wine

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 slices whole grain bread

3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese

thin slices apple, a tablespoon apricot or fig jam, etc (optional)

Roast the cherry tomatoes with half the olive oil and half the thyme at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in the remaining olive oil for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the tomato paste and allow to rust for another minute or two. Add the roasted tomatoes, canned tomatoes, sugar, and wine. Allow to cook together for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the grilled cheese. You may choose to puree the soup with a stick blender, but we wanted it chunky this time.

Toast the bread in a pan with olive oil or in a toaster until light brown. Add the cheese and any toppings you may like. Cook in a saute pan with a little olive oil or butter until the cheese melts and the bread is toasted. Make sure to flip halfway through and a lid can sometimes help the cheese to melt. Use medium heat so that the bread does not burn before the cheese has finish melting. Allow to cool a few minutes before cutting, so that the cheese does not run out.

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