Thursday, November 19, 2009

Amazing Avacado Dip

This dip is soooo delicious. Amongst my friends it is known as THE Dip or Da Dip.

Every time I take it to a party I make a triple batch and it always disappears. It is sort of like guacamole...but not. Think guacamole with a Mediterranean make-over. It has the earthy creaminess from the avocados, an acidic tang from the tomatoes and vinegar, a salty-sour note from the feta, zip from the onion and garlic and a final harmonious note from the oregano.

I used to enjoy it with pita chips, but it is equally good with corn chips. Make some for your next holiday event and watch everyone swooon.

This recipe is for a single batch and I have to laugh because a) I haven't followed the recipe in ages as it is memorized and b) I always double or triple this amount.

The Dip

1 avocado, diced
2 Roma tomatoes diced (any low-juice tomato will work)
1/4 C chopped purple onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 oz. crumbled feta

Put it all together!!! Have your bag of chips handy because now you need to adjust for taste. This is the hard part: taste, adjust, taste, adjust (you get the idea). I frequently find myself adding a little more vinegar. I don't find this needs salt as it gets plenty from the feta.

If you prefer your avocado chunky, be very gentle when mixing. If you want more of a guacamole consistency, stir with reckless abandon. :)


Friday, November 13, 2009

Gluten Free and easy: Ham and Egg Cups

Super Easy.
Fast prep
good taste
Winner in my house!

Seriously, this is easy. I can't remember where I originally got the recipe, but it was something like Gourmet Magazine. They presented it as a fancy breakfast or brunch for Father's Day or Easter. Don't let that fool you, it is easy.

Ham and Egg Cups
1 pkg GF ham (I use Applegate Farms Black Forest Ham)
shredded cheese (cheddar, swiss, gouda, gruyere)
salt and pepper, to taste
butter or cooking spray for muffin tin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the muffin tins with cooking spray or butter. This is a must unless you have non-stick muffin pans. Egg always leaks out of the ham "cups" and is hard to remove if you don't grease things up.

Line the cups with the ham. This can be a bit tricky. I basically take the oval of ham and make a crease in the middle of one edge. Then I put it into the cup and fold the ham as needed so that it lines the pan. See picture.Add a pinch of cheese to each ham cup, then one egg. If you are brave you can crack the egg and drop it directly into the ham cup. I have had one too many pieces of shell get into the works when I do it this way. Believe me, you don't want to try to fish out a small piece of shell from amongst the shredded cheese and the ham; messy! I break each egg into a small bowl or measuring cup and then pour it from there into the ham cup. Optional: I like to break up the yolk a little bit with fork. This distributes it a little more evenly and seems to make it cook faster. If you prefer to have a runny yolk when you cut into the eggs, don't do this step.

Sprinkle a little pepper and salt if needed. I don't add salt because the ham is plenty salty for me.

Put into the oven on the middle rack, if cooking one muffin pan. Cook for 15-20 min depending on how firm you prefer your eggs. I cook these until the eggs are solid; they don't jiggle when the pan is shaken. If you prefer softer eggs you stop at 15 min or even earlier. My family is not fond of runny eggs so I must eliminate the jiggle.

To remove the ham and egg cups from the pan I recommend running a butter knife around them, between the ham and the pan. This loosens them up and makes them easy to remove.

Makes 7 ham and egg cups (or at least that is how many slices of ham are usually in one package of Applegate Farms Ham).


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Walnut Spread for Veggies

With the holidays coming I have started thinking of the dips I will be taking to all the parties and gatherings. In the next few entries I will share recipes for a couple of bean dips that work really well with veggies and an amazing avocado number that always disappears.

In this post I have included the recipe for a walnut bean spread made with fresh basil. It is so delicious and it is vegan. It is a great dip to bring to a party with a tray of veggie sticks (be sure to label that it contains walnuts). I use it regularly with veggie sticks. I don't love veggies; I eat them because I am an adult and I should. This dip even makes some of my least favorite raw veggies tasty.

Walnut Spread

1 14.5 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 C chopped walnuts
1 C lightly packed fresh basil leaves (fresh is crucial)
1/4 C olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ea salt and pepper

Drain beans, reserving liquid. In food processor, combine 1/4 C bean liquid with remaining ingredients. Cover and process, scraping down sides and adding liquid as needed to make a smooth mixture. Store in refrigerator 4-5 days (I have kept it for almost 2 weeks as walnuts are a natural preservative).

Yields approximately 2 Cups.

I am certain you can substitute another nut for the walnuts. I love walnuts and I grew up with close family friends that owned nut orchards. I spent many long summer days playing in the orchards as a child. I have never tried to sub the walnuts because the flavors in the recipe blend so well together; the walnuts do not take over. I look forward to hearing about the results if you try something else.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Frosted Tomatoes

You just have to try these! They are incredibly easy to make for a very impressive dish. I experienced these at a cocktail party and it took tomatoes to a whole new level of yummy for me.

Most cooks know that a little sugar can really enhance tomatoes by neutralizing their acidity and enhancing their natural sweetness. Salt on tomatoes is pure heaven. Combine the two and make that an herbal salt blend and you have an amazing taste experience.

Are you ready for the recipe?
Frosted Tomatoes

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 Tbsp sugar (yes, granulated sugar)
2 Tbsp Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

Mix the sugar and salt in a small bowl. Rinse the tomatoes and put into a medium bowl. While the tomatoes are still moist, sprinkle the sugar and salt over them. Toss a few times to coat. Spread on a cookie sheet, piece of parchment, a platter, whatever you have to spread them out so they can dry. The sugar and salt stick better this way. Serve with toothpicks if you are having them as an hors d'oeuvre.

And yes, Jane's is gluten-free. I contacted the company to verify.