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Dec 1, 2011 02:04 AM

December 2011 COTM: 150 Best American Recipes: Starters

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapter about starters.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Cheddar Walnut Crisps page 9

    Followed all instructions but two exceptions; first, it said it made about 60 crisps, whereas I made about 20, which was about 1 full sheet and 1/2 of another full sheet of crisps.
    Second; that I used 1/3 tablespoon of dried thyme instead of 1 Tablespoon dried thyme.

    Due to the largeness of the crisps, my first batch was not baked to golden brown and quite limp.
    However, the second batch, I increased the time to 6 minutes instead of 5, and they were perfect.
    You can see the difference in the photo below.

    These crisps are remiscent of the 50's or Mary Tyler Moore shows; however, they are quite greasy and would IMO play havoc on just about anything that hands touched; napkins nonwithstanding. Although it says to blot the crisps gently, I felt that I wanted to eat the all of the crisp; forget blotting in my case.

    I see no need for grating these cheeses in a food processor. However, others might.

    The cheeses I used are 'true' Parmesan Reggiano and 3-year old sharp cheddar.

    As the total amount of this cheese crisps was probably not meant to eat more than 1 or two, as it says one can store in an airtight tin, I ate quite a few and was happy that I had a salad and home-made 'very sour' pickles to cut the 'wonderful grease.

    Would I make again -- probably not. I like all of the ingredients separately too much to bother. Give me a hunk of cheese and a handful of walnuts.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rella

      Cheddar Walnut Crisps, p. 9

      I used about three ounces each Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged cheddar, grated in the food processor, finely (rather than coarsely) chopped walnuts, and minced fresh thyme. I think to get 60, you'd have to make them very small. As it is, while I didn't really measure the cheese as I placed it in heaps on the parchment, I ended up with 25 frico, each about two and a half inches across.

      They were delicious, I thought (how would they not bee, if you like the ingredients), and my guests concurred, and ate them all up as before-dinner nibbles.

    2. Sweet and Spicy Pecans, p. 7

      I make lots of spiced nuts, especially at the hoidays as they make great hostess gifts, and I tend to alternate between three favorite recipes. This is one of them. (I think my absolute favorite is a recipe that didn't make the cut for this book, the Bourbon Pecans from the 2003-04 book, if anyone is interested.)

      Yesterday I made a batch of these. I used half pecans, half cashews instead of all pecans. (Really, any mix of nuts is good this way. I've tried practically everything.) I melted 2 T butter in a large skillet and sauted the nuts in the butter for a few minutes before adding 1/4 c light brown sugar (recipe calls for 1/2 c.; I like them less sweet) and stirring for a few more minutes before adding the spices--1 T. cumin, 2 tsp. chile powder (I used a mix of ancho, chipotle, and cayenne), and 1 tsp. paprika (I used half sweet, half smoked)--and stirring to mix well. I then added 1/4 c. cider vinegar (this will clear out your sinuses!), cooking and stirring until the liquid is evaporated. (I've also used sherry vinegar in the past; it's a good alternative if you have it on hand.) I then seasoned liberally with (kosher) salt.

      I spread the pecans onto a baking sheet (I line mine w/silpat for easier clean-up) and baked at 350F until crisp. Now, here's the rub. I have never, ever gotten the nuts to "crisp" in the 3-5 minutes the recipe suggests. It always takes more like 10.

      Cool before serving. These addictive little nuggets never seem to last very long, but nuts are good for us, right?

      The recipe is easily multiplied for gift-giving.

      19 Replies
      1. re: nomadchowwoman

        I loved spiced nuts. My go to is from the Inn at Little Washington, if memory serves me right.

        Speaking of the other books, I was wondering if anyone was interested in doing an adjunct thread for those?

        1. re: LulusMom

          I would be.

          Would you mind paraphrasing your IaLW nuts recipe, LM? I'm always interested in a new one.

          1. re: nomadchowwoman

            Going to have to look it up, but would be more than happy to do so. Can you wait until tomorrow? Lulu will be in school and I'll have more than a second to breathe.

            I love every one of the Best of books, and have some serious favorites that get used again and again from them.

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              nomad, i went in search of this recipe and if i read correctly, here's the recipe i found googling -that a recipe reviewer said -is supposed to be very similar to IALW's but easier.


              but i have not seen the IALW recipe myself(though i'm going to seek it at my library now!)

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Thanks, OC. I'm always on the lookout for new spiced nut recipes. This one looks pretty easy. (I hate the ones that involve egg white.)
                This year, I bit the bullet and paid ungodly prices for pecans and made a slew of them, and have been giving them away, but we still have a good supply. I love how they dress up a salad.

                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  It's crazy how expensive pecans are now; they seem to be running around $13/pound in my local markets' bulk bins.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    It is; the woman who usually sells them at our FM beginning in Nov. and thoughout the holiday season only showed up for the two weeks before Chtistmas this year. She said this had been a very bad year for pecans, and she hadn't have enough to sell to make her trek worth it.

                  2. re: nomadchowwoman

                    hi ncw, i got the Inn at LW book today from my library. Here's the recipe:

                    4 T.butter

                    1/2 tsp cayenne

                    2 tsp cajun seasonning

                    2 tsp ground cumin

                    3T. sugar

                    1 lb.pecans

                    Melt butter til it foams. Add all but nuts, stir well. Add nuts, stirring and tossing constantly for about 3 minutes, til lightly colored and well toasted. Pour onto wire rack over pan. Cool; put in container and store. Warm before serving.

                    I bet it takes longer than 3 minutes. And i bet the rack is unnecessary. Interesting to rewarm, eh?

                    Salad, yes. I like to include them in a mesclun or spinach salad with chevre, and raspberry vngtte.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Thanks for doing this Opinionated. I'd completely forgotten about this promise - so sorry NCW! I play around with different nuts, depending on what I happen to have lying around.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        I shall reciprocatevery soon by listing some of my favorite BAR from the different years on the other thread.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Thanks for this recipe.

                          I'm wondering what mixture or brand of "cajun" seasoning anyone is using.

                          1. re: Rella

                            i had same question! prob a sure bet that if there is a paul prudhomme or emeril brand, they would be dependable. this from the web (not their sites):
                            EMERIL'S CAJUN SEASONING


                            •2-1/2 Tbsp paprika

                            •2 Tbsp salt

                            •2 Tbsp garlic powder

                            •1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper

                            •1 Tbsp onion powder

                            •1 Tbsp cayenne

                            •1 Tbsp dried oregano

                            •1 Tbsp dried thyme


                            Combine paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme thoroughly in a bowl.

                            Store in an airtight container away from light. Use within three months.

                            Yield: about 2/3 cup

                            Source: Prime Time Emeril by Emeril Lagasse (Wm Morrow)

                            Reprinted with permission."

                            This seems to be heavier on the garlic powder and herbs than PP's recipe below. I think I'll use this one. I always liked Emeril; he has a big heart. Tony Bourdain used to diss him until he visited him after the hurricane and saw all that Emeril was doing to care for his extended restaurant family, and to keep his workers employed.


                            "Prudhomme's Cajun Seasoning Mix

                            1 Tablespoon Paprika

                            2 1/2 Teaspoons Salt

                            1 Teaspoon Onion powder

                            1 Teaspoon Garlic powder

                            1 Teaspoon Ground red pepper (cayenne)

                            3/4 Teaspoon White pepper

                            3/4 Teaspoon Black pepper

                            1/2 Teaspoon Dried thyme leaves

                            1/2 Teaspoon Dried oregano leaves

                            Mix all ingredients well."

                          2. re: opinionatedchef

                            since i just did this for myself, thought i might save some of you some time transposing all this:
                            SPICY PECANS Inn at LW book

                            4 T.butter
                            1/2 tsp cayenne
                            2 tsp cajun seasonning
                            2 tsp ground cumin
                            3T. sugar
                            1 lb.pecans

                            Melt butter til it foams. Add all but nuts, stir well. Add nuts, stirring and tossing constantly for about 3 minutes, til lightly colored and well toasted. Pour onto wire rack over pan. Cool; put in container and store. Warm before serving.

                            EMERIL'S CAJUN SEASONING

                            1 1/4 T.//•2-1/2 Tbsp paprika
                            1 T.//•2 Tbsp salt
                            1 T.//•2 Tbsp garlic powder
                            1/2 T//•1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
                            1/2 T//•1 Tbsp onion powder
                            1/2 T//•1 Tbsp cayenne
                            1/2 T//•1 Tbsp dried oregano
                            1/2 T//•1 Tbsp dried thyme
                            Mix all together.

                            Yield: about 1/3 c.//2/3 cup

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              Thanks for both Emeril's and Prudhomme's; they look quite similar.

                              Just an aside and no offence to opinionated's post.

                              Has anyone ever tried Emeril's Original essence. It turned me off Emeril's seasoning tips. It sure sells a lot - so I assume - as it has been on the market for some time. Even at Costco, I think.

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  Trying to think back, but as I recall it was sooo bland. I would liken it to a container of dried basil. One can always say that it was an old container, but I doubt it; as there's an excuse for everything.

                                  Since you are a film buff, I will quote one of my favorite film title sayings about this sort of critique/opinion.

                                  "Chance ou coincidence." (Hasards ou coincidences 1998)

                                  1. re: Rella

                                    rella, i do not know that film (in spite of the fact that i am a huge french film fan, i have seen little lelouche, prob because i so detested a man and a woman)

                                    but it looks really good so i'm going to go through my library network and try to get it. thanks so much for that!

                                    oh, and what a bummer about the seasoning. when i look at these 'global trademark' chefs today, i often think that they just CANNOT keep stride with all the products their name is on, and run their restnt empires at the same time....

                                    p.s. OT- i knew i liked you!>> my family's from VA.! yay blue crab!
                                    have you discovered Food52 yet? really talented chefs and recipes; i'm getting quickly addicted.

                            2. re: opinionatedchef

                              In his "Refined American Cooking," O'Connell calls for a third pound each of pecans, almonds, and cashews, and adds 3 rings of dried pineapple cut into 1" pieces.

                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                      Sweet and Spicy Pecans, p. 7

                      I made these twice, because the first go-round was not a success. That time, I put them in the oven and they went from, Nope, not dry and crisp yet to, Crap, they're burnt in the time between my frequent checking. The nuts themselves weren't burnt, but the sugar and spice coating was blackened. Despite this, when I tasted them, I could tell that the flavors were delicious, or at any rate would be if they weren't burned, so I decided to try again. The second time, I dialed the heat back to 300 and watched them like a hawk, and they turned out just fine.

                      I used freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds and ancho chile powder, and following nomadchowwoman's lead, only 1/4 cup light brown sugar, and sherry vinegar in place of the cider vinegar I didn't have. When I initially set out my hors d'oeurves, I forgot about these but once I brought the bowl out, people kept reaching for them. The recipe is definitely a keeper, and I'm looking forward to sneaking into the remainder of what I made.

                    3. Smoked Salmon Rolls with Arugula, Mascarpone, Chives and Capers p. 19

                      Dead simple. A spoonful of the mascarpone mixture (mascarpone, capers, chives, lemon juice and salt and pepper) is place atop a slice of smoked salmon, add a couple arugula leaves and roll up. This was a tasty little bite. Sweet mascarpone, salty capers, peppery arugula and rich, fatty salmon. I‘d like to try this again with whipped cream cheese to give it additional tang.

                      1 Reply
                      1. Parsi Deviled Eggs, p. 15

                        This is a tasty spicy-slightly sweet take on good old deviled eggs, which when I brought them to a party, everyone immediately scarfed them up. I liked the lime-honey-spicy pepper-cilantro balance. The prep is easy: hard-cook 6 eggs (the method listed works perfectly: more on this later) and peel and slice them lengthwise to remove the yolks. Mash these with a fork, then mix in: 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or to taste; 1 teaspoon honey; 1/4 teaspoon salt; half a seeded and minced jalapeño pepper; 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro and 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter. When well mashed, stir in 1/4 cup mayo and taste for seasoning, increasing the lime juice /jalapeño as you prefer. The recipe advises making the mixture ahead for the flavors to marry--refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. I made it in the morning, and the flavors did indeed mellow.

                        I doubled the recipe, adding a bit more mayo. I also had to substitute several dashes of Tabasco sauce for the minced jalapeño pepper because I lost the little green rascal on the way home from the store (turned up a day later in my car where it had fallen out of the bag !) Anyway, the Tabasco sauce worked fine. I always think that plain deviled eggs look sort of boring, but the flecks of green from the cilantro (and jalapeño, if you don't lose it!) are attractive in the eggs and means you don't need to decorate them with anything. I went easy on the spiciness--next time I might heat it up a bit more.

                        The method listed for hard boiling the eggs was simple and worked perfectly: Place eggs in saucepan just big enough to hold them in one layer, cover with water, slowly bring water to a boil, and then cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 14 minutes; then plunge into a bowl of ice water and let sit for 20 minutes. I've tried many variations on the theme, including piercing the uncooked shells with a needle, using vinegar in the water, rattling the eggs around to crack them right after they're cooked--anyway, this method produced perfectly cooked yolks, with no green rim, and best of all, a cinch to peel.

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: Goblin

                          So glad to read your report on these.

                          Question, did you fill the eggs and then rest them, or rest the filling and then stuff the eggs? The recipe calls for the former (if I'm reading it correctly), but it seems to me they'd get dry if done that way.

                          1. re: qianning

                            To answer qianning's question and concern: I was also afraid that filling the eggs several hours ahead would cause them to become dry, on the surface at least. So I made the filling ahead, covered it and rested it, removing it from the fridge about 15 minutes ahead of stuffing to warm the filling a bit and fluff it up . This is when I added a bit of extra mayo to smooth it out before stuffing the eggs.

                            1. re: Goblin

                              Thanks Goblin. Your approach makes great sense.

                          2. re: Goblin

                            I love those eggs, and I'm not an egg fan.

                            1. re: Goblin

                              Thank you for the review, Goblin! I am planning to make these eggs for a party on Thursday and so glad that you and LLM like them. I will have to cook and prep the eggs the night before and stuff them at the party venue. They should be OK sitting in the car for a few hours - it is almost freezing temperature here and I plan to put them in a cooler.

                              1. re: Goblin

                                Thanks for the report. I have an office potluck coming up and I've been seriously considering making these to share.

                                1. re: Goblin

                                  If you like those Parsi flavors you should look into "My Bombay Kitchen" by Niloufer Ichaporia King - excellent book and wonderful recipes.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I just posted my evening "Side Dishes" in this COTM book, Chard with Ginger, page 201, Side Dishes, The source of the recipe says: "Cooking at the Gardner."

                                    p. 201 also says that Mr. King was taught this recipe by a chef from the Seychelles.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Perhaps "Cooking at the Gardener" might be a cooking school in Healdsburg, CA? as I see no cookbook named "Cooking at the Gardener." The source of the recipe on p. 201 says: "cooking class handout."

                                      2. re: Rella

                                        rella, i might be able to help. 'The Gardner' is how the Gardner Museum is often referred to here in Boston. (perhaps there are other places w/ this name too.)


                                        but when i google this, i get:

                                        on Amazon, there is a series of gardner cookbooks, and there is also an amanda hesser book called The Cook and the Gardener. check your spelling and then these links!

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                          Googling again "Cooking at the Gardener" nothing. But there are all sorts of restaurants and cooking classes at Healdsburg, CA. Maybe it was just a one-time thing as it said 'cooking class handout.'

                                          Seems I've been in that town before at the mud baths in the 80's, I'll bet it's a regular bevy of restaurants and classes and tourists.

                                      3. re: buttertart

                                        Ditto to BT's love of "My Bombay Kitchen", a wonderful book, and the recipe for the Parsi Deviled Eggs in 150 Best Recipes is by the same author/cook, Niloufer Ichaporia King

                                      4. re: Goblin

                                        goblin,i laughed (in sympathy) with your story! maybe you alrdy know this, but jalapenos freeze fine (ginger root too) and are easy to de-seed and mince when frozen.

                                      5. The original comment has been removed