Appetizer

German Style Cheese Spread with Sauerkraut & Caraway

I love a good cheese spread but I still want to feel good about indulging. I’ve taken my old family recipe and updated it using raw milk. Although, if I look back in history, this quite possibly could have been the original version as my grandparents had dairy cows.  Using a combination of raw, cheese, raw butter and raw sauerkraut gives this spread a probiotic kick and makes it easy to digest. I use  Organic Pastures Dairy  raw milk products easily found at Sprouts and Safeway.

I love a good cheese spread but I still want to feel good about indulging. I’ve taken my old family recipe and updated it using raw milk. Although, if I look back in history, this quite possibly could have been the original version as my grandparents had dairy cows.

Using a combination of raw, cheese, raw butter and raw sauerkraut gives this spread a probiotic kick and makes it easy to digest. I use Organic Pastures Dairy raw milk products easily found at Sprouts and Safeway.

  • 8 oz raw milk cheddar cheese, grated

  • 1 clove garlic or 2 to 4 cloves fermented garlic

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temp

  • 4 oz cream cheese, preferably without stabilizers or additives

  • 3 Tbls. raw sauerkraut

  • 2 tsp. Caraway seeds

  • Dash cayenne

  • 1 tsp. hot or mild smoked paprika

  • 2 Tbls. Dijon mustard

  1. Grate the cheddar cheese in a food processor, set aside.

  2. Remove the grating blade and replace with a chopping blade and with the machine running, drop the garlic into the bowl to mince.

  3. Heat a small, dry sauté pan and once hot, add the caraway seeds. Shake the pan until you can smell the fragrance of the seeds. Pour into a small bowl and set aside to cool.

  4. Add the cheese, butter and remaining ingredients to the food processor bowl adding caraway seeds once they have cooled.

  5. Blend until desirdered consistency, chunky to smooth, scraping the bowl of the processor. Serve in a bowl at room temperature with Swedish rye crisp, rye bread, and vegetables.

Cured Pork Tenderloin with Pickled Raisins & Mustards

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Home cured pork tenderloin is simple and delicious. It’s also raw and fermented, making it extremely nutritious. I only use the best quality pork, like Rockside Ranch pork to cure and eat raw. Rockside Ranch pork tenderloin is also much smaller than industrial pork making it easy to cure if you’re a beginner. Start this in November and you’ll have it for the holidays.

The Pork & Brine:

  • 2 pork tenderloins - each 1 to ½ pounds. Increase curing mixture and cure time for larger cuts

  • kosher or sea salt

  • 2 Tbls brown sugar

  • ¼ cup brandy, cognac, rum, or bourbon

  • Cheesecloth

  • A food scale

Coating: one tablespoon or more of one of the following:

  • Smoked, hot, or sweet paprika, or a mixture

  • Fine cracked black or white pepper  

  • Herbes de Provence

  • Aleppo pepper

To serve:

  • Pickled raisins (below)

  • A variety of mustards and/or conserves

  • Crostini or crackers

To prepare the pork:

  1. Remove any extra fat and the silver skin, the shiny flat muscle sinew, from the pork.

  2. Cut off the very pointy ends, reserving them for another use.

  3. Weigh the pork in grams using a food scale and write the number down for determining when the pork is done curing.

  4. To calculate the correct amount of salt, weigh the pork and multiply the weight by 4% (Example: 300 g × .04 = 12 grams salt). Using volume (tablespoon) measurements can lead to over-salted meat.

  5. Place the salt and sugar in a plastic storage bag.

  6. Place the tenderloins in the bag, seal shut while removing air. Massage the brine into the pork covering every part of the tenderloin.

  7. Refrigerate for 12 hours. Don’t be tempted to over marinade as the pork will be too salty.

  8. After 12 hours, remove the tenderloins from the bag, and wipe them dry with paper towels.

  9. Hold the pork over a small bowl, and pour the brandy over the pork. Use a small measuring cup or large spoon to continue to turn the prok and “wash” of the remaining salt/sugar cure.

  10. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel and place it on a piece of wax paper.

  11. Sprinkle with the spices, coating evenly by rolling it around in the spice mixture. The pork should be completely covered with spices.

To cure:

  1. Wrap each tenderloin with cheesecloth allowing the pork to show through. Don’t over-wrap.

  2. Tie it with kitchen twine, and (in cool weather) hang the pork in a cool area where there is good air circulation. I hang mine from my laundry rack in the garage. It has a shelf above where I drape a cloth over the pork, without touching the pork so it can breath.

  3. You can also place it on a flat sheet pan topped with a mesh cake rack for air circulation, in the fridge. The meat needs good air circulation.

  4. Cure for 10 days to 2 weeks, checking it every few days.

  5. At day 10, weigh the pork again. The pork is done when it has lost 30% of it’s beginning weight. Calculate by: starting weight × 0.7 = ending weight.

  6. Wrapped in parchment paper or cheesecloth and then loosely with plastic wrap, the cured pork will keep for a month in the refrigerator but will continue to dry out. Once it’s too dry to slice, grate it with a coarse grater and grate over pasta, deviled or scrambled eggs, on toasted bread with olive oil, etc.

To be safe:

  • White mold is good. Green mold: cut it off.. Black mold: throw it out.

  • And, when in doubt, throw it out. I have never had a problem with curing pork but remember that cool weather is your friend.

Pickled Raisins

Look for interesting raisins at the farmer’s market to make this extra tasty. The herbs used in this recipe were designed to go with the smoked paprika cure. Feel free to switch and use fresh thyme, rosemary, etc.

  • 2 dried chiles de árbol, crushed, or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 Bay leaf

  • 1 Tbls. dried oregano

  • ½ cup white wine vinegar

  • 1 cup water

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1½ cups raisins of choice

  1. Bring everything but the raisins to a simmer for 3 to 4 minutes in a small pan.

  2. Place the raisins in a Pyrex cup or a canning jar that you have warmed with hot water and drained.

  3. Strain the vinegar mixture into a bowl and place the bay leaf in with the raisins. Discard the other spices.

  4. Pour the vinegar over the raisins and let cool for at least one hour.

  5. Keep stored in the fridge.

Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots

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Spicy Caramel-Glazed Meatballs with Peanuts, Pickled Vegetables, Basil & Fried Shallots ~ 

Serves 6

These slightly spicy meatballs make a great appetizer. Use decorative skewers and sprinkle the meatballs with the garnishes. The caramel will help the garnishes to stick to the meatballs. They're also a fun dinner served over cooked rice noodles and served with quick sautéd vegetables.

Pork Meatballs:

  • 1 Lbs ground pork (20% fat)

  • 2 tsp potato or corn starch

  • 1 tsp sea salt

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 Tbls water

  • 1 Tbls toasted sesame oil

  • 1 Tbls Sriracha

  • 4 scallions, minced

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 Tbls coconut oil or other high heat cooking oil

Spicy Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar, see below to replace sugar with honey

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 Tbls lime juice

  • 2 Tbls fish sauce

  • 2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced

Pickles: Fermented vegetables can repack these pickles and would also be delicious.

  • 2 carrots, peeled

  • 8 oz daikon, peeled

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

  • 1 tsp salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1/2 cup warm water

Garnishes, choose one or all:

 

  • 2-3 Tbls toasted coconut flakes

  • 3 Tbls toasted peanuts, chopped

  • Thinly sliced Thai or Italian basil

  • Fried shallots (found in the grocery store Asian section)

  • Cooked rice noodles

Make the pickles:

  1. Cut the vegetables into long matchsticks. You can also use a mandoline or Cuisinart with the matchstick or shredding attachment.

  2. Place the cut vegetables in a colander and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt, massage lightly and let them sit for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the sugar, salt, vinegar, and water and simmer just long enough to melt the sugar. Cool.

  4. Rinse the vegetables and place them in a small heat-proof container or mason jar. Pour the pickling liquid over the vegetables. Cool and then chill. Pickles can be made the day before.

Make the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk the starch, salt, baking soda, water, sesame oil, hot sauce, scallions, and garlic together until combined.

  2. Place the pork in a bowl and add the seasoning mixture. Blend quickly, just enough to well combine the the prok with the seasoning. Don’t overmix; the fat will melt and the meatballs will have a tough texture. This can also be done in the bowl of a pre-chilled mixing bowl with a paddle attachment or a pre-chilled food processor bowl with blade attachment. Stop mixing as soon as ingredients are blended together.

  3. Chill the pork mixture for 30 minutes to an hour (or more) before cooking.

  4. Form the pork into heaping 1-inch balls, and place onto a pan lined with parchment and chill for 10 minutes before cooking.

Cooking the meatballs:

  1. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chilies. Set aside.

  2. *Make the caramel by putting the sugar and water in a clean, grease-free saucepan.

  3. Heat on low to dissolve the sugar, stirring. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to melt any sugar crystals. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium high and stop stirring.

  4. Allow the sugar to caramelize gently swirling the pan occasionally. It should caramelize to a medium amber.

  5. Very slowly stir in the lime, chili mixture.

  6. Let the caramel reduce until lightly syrupy and strain it through a fine mesh metal sieve into a small bowl.

  7. Heat a clean sauté pan on medium high heat and add the coconut oil.

  8. Sear the meatballs just to brown and then drizzle them with the caramel sauce. Continue cooking the meatballs, spooning the caramel over the meatballs, until browned and crispy on the outside and cooked though in the middle.

*To replace the sugar:

  1. Substitute 3 Tbls. of honey for the sugar. Add the honey, lime juice, fish sauce, and thai chili to the pan with the meatballs once they have browned. The dish won’t have the same sticky caramazed affect but will have the sweetness.

  2. Use fermented vegetables instead of the pickled vegetables.

To serve: Brush the top of pork meatballs with more of the coconut caramel. Drain the pickles well and sprinkle over the meatballs, along with the peanut, coconut flakes, and basil.

 

 

 

Belgian Endive with Curried Pumpkin Mousse

Walnuts are the perfect garnish but so is roasted delicata squash moons (see Endive with Winter Fruit recipe) or fresh truffles if you have them laying around. Winky face. This "pumpkin mousse" is also delicious served with crackers. Makes about 48

  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 2 Tbls. butter
  • 1 Tbls. curry powder
  • 2 cups canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • Sea salt and cayenne to taste
  • 4 to 6 heads Belgian endive, separated into individual leaves
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts

Place several layers of paper towel in a large sieve and add pumpkin to drain for several hours. 

In a small sauté pan, cook the shallots in the butter over medium heat, stirring until soft.  Add the curry powder and cook one minute. Cool. In a food processor, puree the shallots, pumpkin, curry and cream cheese until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Chill. 

Spoon or pipe filling onto endive.  Sprinkle with walnuts.  The endive can be chilled for 2 hours before serving.

  • The filling can be made a day ahead.  It can also be served as a spread for vegetables and crackers (rye crackers are good), or the rye bread sticks from Trader Joes.  

Endive with Winter Fruit, Honeyed Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

This is a simple but lovely appetizer. The endive can be stuffer ahead and drizzled with the glaze last minute. Fool around with different fruits.

Makes 16

  • 2 to 3 bulbs Belgian endive to make 16 leaves
  • 2 Tbls. honey
  • 3 Tbls. orange juice
  • ¼-cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ oz. (1/3 cup) fresh goat cheese (Chévre)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbls. minced chives (optional)
  • Fruit, choose one or use a mixture of fruits:
    • Oranges: 16 orange segments, membrane removed (or Mandarin oranges; drain and pat dry) Blood oranges are lovely here.
    • Fuyu Persimmons: halve through core and slice thinly
    • Roasted Grapes: In a 450˚F oven, roast 1 cup grapes on a parchment-lined baking dish just until the pop and release juices, 5-8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
    • Delicata squash: wash one squash and slice lengthwise. De-seed and slice thinly into half-moons. In a 450˚F oven, toss squash with a teaspoon of olive oil and roast squash on a parchment-lined baking dish just until tender and golden. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Toss the nuts and 1 tablespoon honey in a small bowl and spread on the cookie sheet.  Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until golden, stirring once.  Cool.  Combine remaining honey, orange juice, and vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer to reduce to 3 tablespoons watching closely.  Cool.  

Separate and fill each leaf with 1 tsp. of cheese, then the walnuts, and lastly, one piece of fruit. Chill until ready to serve. Drizzle with the glaze using a teaspoon and sprinkle with chives if using.

 

Cherry & Goat Cheese Clafoutis

Is this an appetizer or dessert? I use it for both. Clafoutis is a simple "peasant" dish from the Limousine region of France. Cherries are most traditional in this dish but other stone fruits like pluots, plums, prunes and pears are delicious too. In this updated version by Patricia Wells, goat cheese and ground almonds are added making it equally delicious as an appetizer or lightly sweet dessert. Serves 6-8

  • Unsalted butter for preparing the baking dish
  • 1 1/2 pounds cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) very fresh, moist goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting the gratin
  • Equipment: One 10 1/2 inch (27-cm) round porcelain baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter the baking dish and arrange the cherries in a single layer. 

In a bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients except the confectioners' sugar and whisk to blend. This can be done in a food processor. Pour the mixture over the cherries. 

Place the baking dish in the center of the oven. Bake until the gratin is firm and a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar, and serve in wedges. 

  • Decrease the sugar to 3 Tbls. and serve with bread as a cheese appetizer.
  • Serve for dessert with extra fresh cherries on the side.
  • Substitute halved plums.
  • Leave out the sugar and substitute plum or cherry tomatoes: slice tomatoes in half and lightly salt the cut side. Layer in paper towel to drain for 30 minutes and then proceed with recipe and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme.

At Home in Provence, Patricia Wells

Salted Summer Squash Salad with Olive Oil & Hazelnuts

Salted Summer Squash Salad with Olive Oil & Hazelnuts

  • 1 small summer squash per person (zucchini, crookneck or patty pan)
  • sea salt
  • EVOO
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbls. toasted, skinned and chopped *hazelnuts per person

Remove the ends and coarsely grate or julienne the squash. Place in a bowl and toss liberally with salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the nuts just until lightly colored and set aside. After the 20 minutes, rinse the zucchini really well. Taste it to make sure it is not salty, if it is, rinse again. 

The squash absorbs quite a bit of water. Take handfuls and squeeze out as much liquid as possible and place in a dry bowl. Or, place the squash in a clean, dry tea towel and twist the towel squeezing out the water.

Drain the olive oil used to sauté the nuts over the squash and toss adding more olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with nuts and serve.

*Sliced or slivered almonds are also nice.

Spinach Stems with Walnut Sauce

Spinach Stems With Walnut Sauce

Serves 4

I like to serve this salad with an assortment of roasted peppers, olives, cheeses and cured meats as an appetizer. The walnut sauce is also delicious on chicken, spread on toast and with other vegetables.

  • Stems from 3 lbs. spinach, some tops are ok too
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 cup ground toasted walnuts 
  • 1 slice rustic bread, crusts removed, soaked in water, and squeezed dry
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 Tbls. water, or as needed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the spinach stems, onions, and olive oil in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until stems are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Lift out and discard the onion. Pour the contents of the pan into a sieve or colander and let drain for 15 minutes.

To make the walnut sauce, combine the ground nuts, soaked bread, vinegar, olive oil, and 3 Tbls. water in a small bowl. Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper. Salt is the key ingredient for the balance here. The sauce should be thick but spreadable. If it is too thick, add the remaining 1 Tbls. water and taste again for seasoning.

Place the well-drained spinach stems in a serving bowl, pour the sauce over the stems and stir. Allow to marinate for a few hours or as long as overnight. Serve at room temperature. 

Adapted from Sephardic Flavors: Jewish Cooking of the Mediterranean, Joyce Goldstein