Appetizer

Appetizer

Vadouvan-Scented Carrot Raita

Makes about 2 cups.

Savory Vadouvan balances & enlivens sweet carrots in this yogurt-based dip. Serve it with cooked vegetables, crudités, flatbreads, or hearty crackers.

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled (about 8 ounces), sliced in 1/8-inch-thick “coins”
4 teaspoons Vadouvan
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 lemon
Salt & black pepper
1 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt

Chile flakes & nigella or black sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a skillet set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers add the carrots & stir them to coat with oil. Add a generous pinch of salt & pepper; cover the pan & cook for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan & stir the carrots; cover the pan again & cook for another 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender & slightly caramelized.

Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Vadouvan & cook for another minute or two. Stir in the zest & juice of half the lemon. Let the carrot mixture cool for about 5 minutes.

Put the carrots into the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal chopping blade. Add the yogurt & remaining teaspoon of olive oil, plus another pinch of salt. Process until very smooth. Taste, add more salt or more lemon juice, to taste. Before serving, garnish the top with a sprinkling of chile flakes & the nigella or sesame seeds.

[Sidebar]

Vadouvan is a masala (or curry) blend with colonial roots — it’s a sort of flavor mnemonic that evokes the taste of dishes eaten abroad more mildly recreated at home, in this case Pondicherry summoned in France. The blend includes aromatics such as onion & garlic. Key spices are fenugreek, cumin & shallots.

Appetizer

Ooh-La-La Herbed Cheese Spread

Makes about 1 1/4 cup.

Remember Boursin cheese? It was very popular back in the 1970s – 80s and because it came from France it seemed very sophisticated. We think it’s due for a revival and suggest that you make your own with our Herbes de Romance. Serve it with rustic crackers, crudités, or spread on a vegetable sandwich.

5 ounces plain chèvre
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon grated garlic
4 teaspoons Herbes de Romance
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper to taste
Lemon

Bring the cheeses to room temperature (or soften them in the microwave with a quick 15-second spin at half power).

Put the oil into a small saucepan, add the grated garlic, add the HdR, crushing it with your fingers as you do. Warm the oil mix gently over medium low heat, just for a minute or two, until the it feels warm to the touch. (This mellows the garlic’s bite and helps to release the herbs’ flavors.)

Put the cheeses and oil mix into a medium bowl. Add the salt, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, then whip the mixture until it’s fully combined and fluffy. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon, salt, or pepper, if needed.

Transfer the cheese to a container with a tight-fitting lid and stow it in the fridge to chill for at least two hours before serving. Tightly covered, the spread will keep for a week in the fridge.

Appetizer

Edo Spiced Pecans

Makes about 4 cups.

Spiced nuts are a smart addition to any menu — they’re easy to make, delicious, and great with cocktails. We also like to serve them with cheese or break them into salads.

1 egg white
10 ounces raw pecan halves
6 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons Edo Spice blend

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a half-sheet baking pan with baking parchment and set aside. Whisk the egg white until foamy and set aside.

Combine the sugar, Edo Spice, salt, and pecans in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the egg white and stir until the sugar is thoroughly moistened and clinging to the nuts.

Spread the nuts in a single-layer on the baking pan. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the nuts are lightly browned and smell toasty. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, then flip the nuts over (still on the pan) to speed cooling.

When the nuts are completely cool, break into pieces. (If you find any slightly sticky pieces, return them to the baking sheet and put them in the turned-off oven to dry a bit more.) Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

[Sidebar]

Edo Spice takes its name from old Tokyo and is inspired by shichimi togarashi, the traditional Japanese “seven-spice.”

The blend combines high, bright notes of citrus and chile, with floral and nutty middle notes and a warm, umami bass line — with the subtle, distinctive zing of sansho pepper as its finish.

Appetizer

Cinnamon Bird's Nuts

Makes 4 cups. Recipe courtesy of chef Joshua Lewin of Juliet Restaurant http://www.julietsomerville.com.

[Write header: Simple recipe with lots of flavor; the flavors of Cinnamon Bird brightening the rich nuts and balancing the sweetness. Make when the weather is dry – humid days nuts won’t crisp nicely.]

2 tablespoons (15 grams) Cinnamon Bird
4 cups mixed whole nuts
¼ cup (130 g) rich simple syrup*
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

Set out a rimmed baking sheet and line it with baking parchment.

Grind the Cinnamon Bird to a powder (use a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder).

Spread the nuts on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 5 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant and very lightly toasted. Pull the baking sheet out of the oven; let the nuts cool.

When the nuts are cool, transfer them to a bowl and toss with the simple syrup and ground Cinnamon Bird. (Make sure that the simple syrup is at room temperature or cooler). Lightly oil the parchment on the baking sheet and spread the nuts on it.

Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast the nuts until the simple syrup is almost dry, about 5 minutes. The nuts will feel a little soft and sticky when you remove them from the oven -- let them cool. They will crisp up as they cool. If they don’t seem crispy enough return them to the oven for another few minutes.

Store at room temperature in an air tight container.

*Rich simple syrup is made with 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. For these nuts, use ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup water – you’ll have syrup left over, but it’s easier to work with than making exactly a ¼ cup of syrup.

Put the water and sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan and set it over medium-high heat. Stir a couple of times to moisten the sugar; let the mixture come to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer the syrup for 10 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool and thicken before using it.

Appetizer

Chili Today Honey-Toasted Pepitas & Almonds

Makes 2 cups.

Salty, spicy, sweet, and crunchy — here’s a snack that hits every delightful note. It’s super easy to make (a godsend for entertaining unexpected guests). Serve with beer or champagne, cheese or ice cream.

1 cup raw pepitas / pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Chili Today blend*
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch dried orange zest

Put the honey, sugar, salt, and Chili Today blend into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment. Set both aside.

Dump the pepitas and almonds into a large, non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Toss or stir until the pepitas are puffed and both seeds and nuts are lightly toasted, about 6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Pop the honey mix into the microwave and cook on high for 30 or 40 seconds. (The honey will bubble-up madly, hence the over-sized measuring cup.) Remove the cup from the microwave and give its contents a stir.

Return the skillet to the heat and pour the honey/spice mixture over the pepitas and almonds. Cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle the orange zest over the mixture, then scoop it onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet, spreading it into a single layer. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn chunks of the mix over to cool completely. (The honey coating will crisp as it cools.) Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

* Available in our Cambridge shop and online.

Appetizer

Focaccia with Wild Pepper, Lemon, and Olives

Adapted from Fields of Greens. Feeds a crowd.

51⁄2 cups all purpose flour
41⁄2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
21⁄2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water (110°F)
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1 lemon, cut in paper-thin slices
3⁄4 cup green Greek olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon voatsiperifery, slightly crushed
Extra olive oil, for brushing/drizzling
Flaky sea salt

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a big mixing bowl. Combine the water and 1⁄2 cup oil in a measuring cup. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir vigorously to form a dough — you might have use your hand to knead in the last bit of flour).

Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 10 minutes,
until it’s smooth. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel,
and let the dough rise for about 11⁄2 hours. Meantime, lightly coat a rimmed half-sheet
baking pan with oil and set it aside.

Put the dough on the baking sheet and use your fingers to gently press it out to fill the pan. Cover with the damp towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Make dimples over the surface of the dough, using your fingers. Generously brush/drizzle the dough with oil, then scatter the lemon slices, olives, the voatsiperifery and a big pinch of flaky salt over it. Bake for 30–35, until the focaccia is lightly golden brown. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Appetizer, Condiment

Vanilla-Infused Tomato Sauce

Serves 4.

1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
1 allspice leaf
1 bay leaf
1 vanilla bean
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper, to taste

Vanilla’s sweet aromatics make it a charming complement to tomatoes, taming their acidity with a little help from good ol’ butter. Allspice leaf adds another layer of spice with an herbal quality that bridges the sweet and savory gap. This sauce is terrific with roast cauliflower, ricotta gnocchi, lobster ravioli, and grilled or pan-fried fish, such as monkfish or haddock.

Put the onion (cut side down) and the remaining ingredients into a sauce pan. Use your hands to break the tomatoes into rough pieces, removing any tough, stem-end bits. Add 1⁄2 cup water to the pan.

Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring its contents to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until the fat is floating on top, around the edges.

Fish out the onion, vanilla, and the spice leaves. (For a cook’s treat, cut up the onion and top it with toasted bread crumbs, a little Parmesan cheese, and some black pepper.) Stir the sauce — it should be glossy. If it’s not, stir in another tablespoon of butter. Taste and add salt or pepper, if needed. You can crush the tomatoes further with a spoon or purée the sauce with a stick blender.

Wash and dry the vanilla bean and save it to use another time. The sauce will keep nicely in the fridge, for a couple of days.

Appetizer

Curried Parsnip & Goat Cheese Dip

Makes about 2 cups.

An easy-to-make dip for crackers or crudités, inspired by a recipe from Elliot Coleman, a beloved advocate and educator for eating local, organic food. 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 teaspoons Vadouvan
1 pound parsnips, peeled & cut in 3⁄4” chunks
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 ounces chèvre goat cheese, softened
1⁄4 cup buttermilk
Lemon juice, from half a lemon
Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
Chile flakes & nigella seeds, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375o F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

Put the vinegar, Vadouvan, two tablespoons of oil, and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl; whisk to combine. Add the parsnips and garlic cloves to the bowl and toss them with the oil mixture until evenly coated; transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Put the baking sheet into the oven and roast until the parsnips are soft and have golden brown edges, about 20–30 minutes. Allow the parsnips to cool until just warm.

Put the parsnips into the bowl of a food processor (fitted with the metal chopping blade). Add the roasted garlic cloves by squeezing them out of their skins, discard the skins. Add cheese, buttermilk, lemon juice, a big pinch of salt, black pepper, and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Process until smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, or pepper, if needed. To serve, drizzle with a little oil and sprinkle with chile flakes and nigella seeds.

Appetizer

Vadouvan-Scented Carrot Raita

Makes about 2 cups.

Savory Vadouvan balances & enlivens sweet carrots in this yogurt-based dip. Serve it with cooked vegetables, crudités, flatbreads, or hearty crackers.

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled (about 8 ounces), sliced in 1/8-inch-thick “coins”
4 teaspoons Vadouvan
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 lemon
Salt & black pepper
1 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt
Chile flakes & nigella or black sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a skillet set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers add the carrots & stir them to coat with oil. Add a generous pinch of salt & pepper; cover the pan & cook for 5 minutes. Uncover the pan & stir the carrots; cover the pan again & cook for another 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender & slightly caramelized.

Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Vadouvan & cook for another minute or two. Stir in the zest & juice of half the lemon. Let the carrot mixture cool for about 5 minutes.

Put the carrots into the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal chopping blade. Add the yogurt & remaining teaspoon of olive oil, plus another pinch of salt. Process until very smooth. Taste, add more salt or more lemon juice, to taste. Before serving, garnish the top with a sprinkling of chile flakes & the nigella or sesame seeds.

Appetizer

Fried Spicy Peanuts

Makes 6 cups.

Crispy, spicy, and irresistible, fried peanuts with lime leaf and chilies are a typical Thai bar snack. We’ve adapted this recipe from one in Food & Wine.

1 cup peanut oil
10 dried Makrut lime leaves, de-stemmed
8 small dried red chilies
6 cups skinned raw peanuts (2 pounds)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, minced

Line both a plate and a large, rimmed baking sheet with multiple layers of paper towels. set aside.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet or pan set over moderate heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chilies leaves to the oil and fry until they turn deep red, about 1 minute. Add the lime leaves and fry for a further 10–15 seconds. Use a slotted spoon or spider to scoop the lime leaves and chilies from the oil to the towel-lined plate.

Add the peanuts to the oil and stir-fry until they are fragrant and golden, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider to scoop the peanuts from the pan to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Set aside until the nuts cool slightly. Fry the garlic until it’s barely golden and transfer to the plate with the chilies. Set aside.

Put the nuts into a large bowl and toss with the salt. Crumble the lime leaves, chilies, and garlic over the nuts, toss again. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Frying the spices first infuses the oil makes their flavor bloom and also flavors the oil itself. Note that you can use fresh lime leaves instead of dried ones in the recipe. If you do, add them to the oil at the same time as the chilies.