Archive for the ‘appetizer’ category

Baked butter garlic oyster

February 20, 2011

I have Spring Fever…I mean serious Spring Fever.  I’m ready for flip flops and sundresses and especially dinner outside!  I can’t imagine living in an area that doesn’t have seasons because although I complain about the winter a lot, it really doesn’t last too long in North Carolina and it really does make the Spring weather that much sweeter!  This Saturday was a wonderful  70 degrees out.  I almost wasn’t sure what to do with myself because I certainly didn’t want to be inside.  I therefore spent my day wandering around Charlotte just to be outside, however before I knew it it was almost 5 and I had hardly thought about food (which is quite strange for me!).  It was the perfect time to sit outside with a glass of wine and oysters.  I LOVE oysters!  There are so many things you can do with them.  We had a week in culinary school that was spent on seafood and I think I ate about 100 oysters that week and now I just crave them!  Once you get through the shucking process (the darn things definitely got the best of me with a couple scrapes), they are just a simple yet delicious dish.    Let your imagination run wild with them, whether you like them raw or cooked, but until you figure out how you like them-here’s my suggestion.


Baked butter and garlic oysters

  • about 8 oysters, shucked
  • about half a stick of unsalted butter
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • about 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1tsp minced chives
  • 2 tbs. parmesan
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed

Melt butter in a small sauce pan and add garlic.  Saute garlic for about 1 minute until it become fragrant.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir about another minute or two and remove from heat.  Spoon into oysters  (leaving about 1 tsp in the bottom on the pan) that are shucked and layed out in a oven-proof dish.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice a french bread baguette into a slice per oyster and dip slices into remaining butter in pan and arrange around the outside of the oyster dish.  Bake about 12 minutes and once they have slightly cooled spoon oysters on baguette slices and enjoy!


Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake

January 21, 2011

My fiance would tell you that I have a slightly scary obsession with food, which I guess if that means you are constantly thinking about what you want to cook/eat next and what flavors you want to experiment with-then I’m guilty!  I get slightly giddy about the meal I’m going to spend hours cooking and then devouring, and then add a glass of wine and it’s a perfect evening.  Therefore to me the appetizer course is a very overlooked by very important part of a meal.  You want something that wets your appetite but doesn’t weigh your stomach down and leave you not wanting dinner.  Believe me there is a place in this world for a fabulous dip and chips but a light cheese and cracker before a more elegant dinner is perfect.  Cheese and crackers doesn’t have to be a boring wedge with crackers scattered around either, you can use your imagination to create an elaborate display.  This is no means an elaborate display but a savory cheesecake is one of my favorite elements on a cheese platter.  This cheesecake contains two of my favorite flavor profiles-basil and sundried tomatoes. It’s fairly easy to make and your guests have an elegant substitute for a wedge of cheese that is light and leaves them wanting more, which let’s be honest, after laboring over dinner you want them to enjoy that just as much!

Sun-dried Tomato Cheesecake

adapted from Cooking Light


  • 5  (1-ounce) slices whole wheat bread
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  teaspoon  extravirgin olive oil
  • 1  garlic clove, minced


  • 1 1/4  cups  sun-dried tomato halves, packed without oil (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 1/4  cups cottage cheese
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1/4  cup  coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2  cup  drained canned artichoke hearts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment.

To prepare crust, place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse breadcrumbs measure 2 cups. Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, rind, and pepper in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butter mixture to breadcrumbs; stir with a fork. Press breadcrumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.

To prepare filling, cover sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop.

Place cottage cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Add lemon juice and next 5 ingredients (through egg whites); process until smooth. Add tomatoes, basil, and artichoke; process until well blended. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until almost set; let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill; cut into 24 wedges. Serve at room temperature with Melba toast rounds or crackers of your choice.


Eggplant Crostini

August 28, 2010

I absolutely love eggplant!  It’s one of those things that you can make anything with and it has such a meaty quality to it that it doesn’t seem like a boring veggie.  Eggplant crostini is something that I have been wanting to try for awhile and experiment some with wine pairings.  The meaty qualities of eggplants means that you can change what wines you might drink with it depending on how you make it.  This dish was a lighter way to use eggplant since it was a pureed spread that was topped with arugula and tomatoes.  It was a great refreshing dish that would be a perfect summer appetizer.  Pair it with a light, slightly sweeter white wine.  The lemon juice combined with eggplant creates and acidic taste that a slightly sweeter wine can cut through.  I made mine in a bigger form and ate it for dinner one night in an effort to experiment, so don’t hesitate to try it that way because it ended up being a fabulous light summer dinner!

Eggplant Crostini

adapted from

  • 1  (1-pound) eggplant
  • 1/4  cup  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 16  (1/2-ounce) slices multigrain baguette (I used a multigrain flatbread)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4  cup  whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1  cup  arugula
  • 1  cup  red, orange, yellow, and green cherry tomatoes, quartered  ( **I used just red cherry tomatoes and drizzled them with olive oil and roasted                  them in the oven for about 40 minutes and would definitely recommend it!)
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh mint leaves, torn (I substituted basil because I prefer the flavor)
  • 1  ounce  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Slice eggplant into 1-inch-thick slices; brush both sides evenly with 1 tablespoon oil. Place eggplant in a single layer on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until eggplant is tender. Brush both sides of bread slices evenly with 2 tablespoons oil. Place bread slices in a single layer on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 1 minute on each side or until toasted.

Combine eggplant, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon juice, and next 3 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon eggplant mixture on each bread slice.

Combine arugula, tomatoes, and mint in a bowl. Drizzle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons juice and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Divide salad mixture evenly among bread slices; top evenly with cheese.