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Stuffed Green Banana Fritters, Alcapurrias

 

They’re not sweet eating bananas nor are they plantains.  They’re what Hispanics, Indians and island people call “green bananas” and they’re heavenly boiled and made into a salad or cooked with root vegetables but everyone’s favorite is the meat stuffed fritter…the alcapurria, pronounced ahl-cah-POO-ree-ah.  Deep fried and savory, this is what we call “un antojo”, a little craving or whim but there is a bit of work involved to make the fritters, well worth every moment spent.  In Puerto Rico alcapurrias are considered street food, found all over the island but especially at the kiosks which line the beaches.  Hot out of the fat, these crunchy fritters will satisfy all and are rich enough to tide one over until the next meal.  My grandmother never made these and they were never served in her house.  This was before the arrival of food processors and, as I mentioned, a tad bit labor intensive.  Plus the green bananas stain everything they touch once peeled, from ones fingers to cutting boards and clothing.  The making of both alcapurrias and pasteles was considered blue-collar work.  So although these dishes are enjoyed during feast days, holidays and beach outings, they  must be ordered in advance if you aren’t willing to make them yourself.  Many home businesses started with women making their own money by preparing pasteles and alcapurrias then either selling them on the street or taking orders in advance.  This year I made the fritters to celebrate Three Kings Day, the sixth of January, a huge holiday in hispanic countries.  Growing up, my family had Christmas in Fort Lauderdale and, the following day, flew down to Puerto Rico to really start the celebration with Mama’s family.  For my older sister, Cynthia, and me those were the days of dollies, tea sets, literature and the occasional treat of an alcapurria.  Feliz Dia de Los Tres Reyes Magos!

 

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Filling:

  • 4 ounces cured ham, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, about 5 ounces, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, about 3 ounces, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 sweet chile peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 packet Sazon seasoning, found in the hispanic section of your grocery store
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons green olives stuffed with pimento, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  1. Place all the above ingredients except the capers, olives and ground beef in a food processor and pulse until a chunky paste is formed.
  2. Add the ground beef and pulse until ingredients are completely incorporated.
  3. To a large skillet add the ground beef mixture, the capers and olives and brown over medium heat.  Stir while cooking to mix in the capers and olives.
  4. When the meat is completely cooked remove from heat, allow to cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Green banana paste (masa):

  1. 10 green bananas, not regular eating bananas or plantains but green cooking bananas
  2. 2 pounds yautia (malanga)
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 packets Sazon seasoning
  5. Fill a large bowl halfway with tap water and 2 tablespoons of salt.  Set aside.
  6. Using rubber gloves, score each banana lengthwise three or four times.  Slide your fingernail under the scored peel and remove the entire peel from the banana.  Keep a small paring knife close by to help with any trouble spots.
  7. Drop each peel banana into the salted water and continued until all bananas have been peeled.
  8. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the yautia, rinse under tap water and cut into chunks which will fit your food processor tube.
  9. Fit a food processor with the grating blade which has small holes.
  10. With the motor running continually, grate the bananas and yautia.
  11. Discard the water in the large bowl just used, dry the bowl and transfer the grated contents of the food processor to the bowl.
  12. Fit the food processor with the cutting blade, add the grated mixture, olive oil and the 2 packets of Sazon.  Process until completely smooth.
  13. Spray a small pan with non-stick cooking spray, drop one or two tablespoons of banana mixture and flatten and fry until browned on both sides.  This is to taste for any needed salt of seasoning.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.  It’s good, isn’t it?!
  14. Transfer the banana mixture to a large storage container, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • vegetable oil to fry
  1. When ready to assemble and fry the fritters, heat one inch of oil in a large frying pan to about 300° or medium high.
  2. Tear a small piece of tin foil or parchment paper into a 5X3″ rectangle and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Holding the paper in your hand, spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the green banana mixture onto the paper and gently spread it with the back of the spoon into a 4-5″ circle.  Photos are posted below the recipe.
  4. Top the middle of the mixture with 2-3 teaspoons of the ground beef mixture.
  5. Using the back of the spoon, smooth the banana mixture over the meat completely covering it.  Cover any hole with a bit of the banana from the storage container.  The fritter should be the shape of a torpedo without any meat showing through.
  6. Gently slide the fritter into the hot oil and continue shaping the fritters and adding them to the frying pan until the pan is full.  Leave an inch of space between the frying fritters.
  7. Fry the fritters 4-5 minutes and turn them to fry on the other side for 2-3 minutes.
  8. With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked fritters and drain on paper towels.
  9. Continue assembling and frying the fritters until there is no more of the mixtures.
  10. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

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Classic Sunday Pot Roast

I’m almost done with all my Christmas wrapping.  I have two more gifts to buy both for my husband.  I wish I could tell you what they are… you’d laugh your tail off.  My girlfriend, Andrea, described them as the equivalent of Jimmy giving me a vacuum cleaner for Christmas.  Believe me when I say,  that would be a huge mistake!  But I know my husband and I know he’ll be pleased.  The beauty of this year is that although I have no money my modest gifts all have thought, consideration and much love behind them.  For instance, and I can say this because I don’t think either of my two sisters read my blog, (thanks, y’all), I have for both Cynthia and Pamela a pretty little bag full of travel size shampoo and conditioner tubes.  I get them every month in my hair color kit that comes in the mail.  And as I’ve been using this hair color system for a few years now I have BAGS of these travel size products stored in my closet.  They’ll love them!  Of the highest quality these hair products enhance hair texture and color.  Humble gifts, yes, but ones that will give sincere pleasure.  I’ve taken that perspective with this meal, this humble and ordinary pot roast.  It is pretty much a no-fail dish which gives such satisfaction and appreciation to the diner.  My entire family will be coming over to our house this weekend to revel in each other’s company, catching up on family news and achievements of the year.  It will give me great joy to serve them this simple but fall-apart tender and delicious dinner.  That’s part of everyone’s Christmas gift.  Glorious, unforgettable dinners at  our house.  Dinners full of laughter between cousins and secrets whispered in corners.  More warm and loving memories to store in our ample collection.  For those of you who’d like to know just what exactly it is I bought for Jimmy, keep reading.  Jim, this is a spoiler alert.  If you don’t want to know what you’re getting this Christmas close up this page and move on to answering your never-ending e-mails.

He’s getting a shovel.  I broke his old shovel while I was digging up a palm we lost during Hurricane Irma.  Now he’s getting a brand new one!  But that’s not all he’s getting.  I also bought him a new pool filter.  Nice, huh?  It’s all fine.  He’ll enjoy his utilitarian gifts but most of all he’ll enjoy family time and great meals.  Especially this one.  This dish is infinitely easy, however, it cannot be rushed.  If you don’t have the time it’s best to save this pot roast for another day.  It is of paramount importance that the meat is well-browned on all sides.  The browning adds mucho flavor to the dish.  You’re only searing the meat not cooking it through.  The hours in the oven will slow-roast it to tender, savory perfection.  I don’t include potatoes in this dish as it reminds me too much of beef stew, which is fine, except I don’t want beef stew.  I want pot roast.  I serve it with mashed potatoes prepared with real butter, some cream cheese and a generous suggestion of sour cream.  The juices left in the pot make a fabulous gravy if a bit of corn starch is whisked in and the gravy allowed to thicken.  Mushrooms may be browned and included in the pot but I find they have a tendency to get soggy so it’s up to you.  Oh, and the leftovers make for tremendous sandwiches when served up on toasted sour dough bread.  Merry Christmas everyone!  Here’s to getting it all done with peace and gladness in our hearts!

Classic Sunday Pot Roast

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • one 2 1/2-3 pound boneless beef shoulder roast (much less fat than a chuck roast)
  • 6 small onions, peeled and cut in half from end to end
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half lengthwise
  • 5 carrots, washed, ends cut but not peeled, cut into 3-4″ lengths
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth, don’t fret if you don’t have any.  Chicken broth works just fine!
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh marjoram, if you can find it
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper throughout the cooking process
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°.
  2. Over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy Dutch oven which has a lid.
  3. Add the onions to the pot and brown on both sides.  Remove to a waiting bowl.
  4. Add the carrots and the garlic halves cut side down.  Move the carrots to brown a bit on all sides.  Remove from the pot and set aside with the onions.
  5. Add the third tablespoon of oil to the pot, salt and pepper all sides of the beef and sear all sides until it has been browned all over.
  6. Remove the beef from the pot and reserve with the vegetables.
  7. Pour the wine and broth in the pot and with a wooden spoon scrape off all the browned bits and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Place the roast back in the pot and nestle the vegetables around it.
  9. Tuck the fresh herbs around the pot and on top of the meat.
  10. Place the lid on the pot and roast for 4-5 hours.
  11. Check the meat for doneness at the 4 hour mark.  Continue roasting until fall-apart tender.
  12. Shred the meat with two forks prior to serving.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Icing

Y’all.  These cupcakes have me crazy.  They are PERFECTION and the best to enjoy with a Hallmark Christmas movie.  I know… I know.  Sappy, schmaltzy and totally predictable Hallmark movies are sweet and romantic and what most girls want during the Christmas season.  Back to these cupcakes.  I hadn’t made them in eons and thought I’d bake a quick batch to put up here on the blog.  I had forgotten how dense and rich they are… almost like pound cake.  And this icing… any thoughts of sticking to a diet are rapidly going through the window.  I had to get them out of the house and my reach so I took them over to our neighbors who have twin boys in middle school.  They’re all skinny… let them be tempted!  Anyway, these cupcakes are wonderfully flexible in that a variety of flavorings may be added to the batter and also the icing to suit your mood and craving.  If extracts are added to the icing add them sparingly as they can be awfully strong.  For instance, I added 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the whipped cream whereas if I were making a vanilla icing I would have added 1 tablespoon.  So almond, peppermint, coconut and rum extracts are capped at 1/2 teaspoon.  That said, feel free to use up to 2 tablespoons of liqueur to flavor the cream.  Coffee, raspberry, Irish cream and orange are, singularly, heavenly additions.  And with so many vibrant and richly colored sprinkles, crystals and decorations on the market, (Home Goods is a treasure trove!), a girl can go crazy.  The paper baking cups and liners are also a way to transform your goodies to a higher level.  I keep my baking cups and liners in a designer bag on the top shelf of my closet and when I take it down and spread all those lovely boxes on my bed it’s like an Italian fashion show.  Oh, the colors and prints!  The next time you’re in a discount designer store take a leisurely stroll down the baking aisle and prepare to be enchanted.  Until then enjoy these goodies with the one you love and a sweet Christmas flick.

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes with Peppermint Whipped Cream Icing

Cupcakes

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk, whole milk will do but it’s not as rich
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened but not melted
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and set baking cups on a baking sheet or line muffin tin with paper liners.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla extract and mix well.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix until completely combined.
  4. Add the butter to the flour mixture and, using a hand-held mixer set on low, mix until the pieces of butter are no larger than baby peas.
  5. Add the egg mixture and mix on low for 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing on medium for 60 seconds.
  6. Fill each baking cup or paper liner 2/3 full.  I use an ice cream scoop that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick baking spray.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top and a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely on a cooling rack prior to icing.

Whipped Cream Icing

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint, almond, rum or coconut extract or up to 2 tablespoons flavored liqueur
  1. In a medium size bowl add the confectioner’s sugar and place the beaters on top.  Place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the cream to the chilled bowl and whip on medium for 30 seconds.
  3. Change speed to high and whip until soft peaks form.
  4. Add extract or liqueur and continue whipping until the peaks are almost stiff.
  5. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 6 hours.  Whisk for a few seconds prior to using.
  6. This is also great over fresh, macerated berries.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Jennifer Paterson’s British Shooter’s Sandwich

This sandwich is for the meat lovers, those who appreciate dinner already prepared when they arrive home from work and  the moms who have college kids home for the holidays.  Or me, who loves when I plan and prepare dinner in the morning and it makes its magic all through the day without me having to lift a finger.  This hearty, savory sandwich is perfect for a casual dinner by the fire or a picnic in the park.  It feeds the whole family and has the flavor impact of a labor intensive dinner.   Do you remember the food network’s show “The Two Fat Ladies”?  Oh my gosh.  I was crazy about that cooking show, the only one ever to catch my attention and keep it.  It was quintessentially British.  The Two Fat Ladies were incredibly well-educated, well spoken, well-traveled and both had a dry as a bone sense of humor that elicited screams of laughter from me.  They had such a lust for life and often burst into rowdy, off-colored song as the spirit moved them.  But their fabulous recipes were what I was truly interested in and valued.  Jennifer Paterson was the dark-haired of the pair, the cigarette smoker, the driver of the sidecar featured on the show and this is her recipe.  I believe this sandwich gets its name from both hunters and travelers and I find it positively charming.  Apparently it was often served on British trains.  For this beef and mushroom sandwich I typically use a small London broil but the recipe calls for a very thick, boneless sirloin steak and, let me tell you, the steak IS better!

I’ve changed the recipe over the years in order to have to have a bit more flavor with the addition of finely chopped garlic but, other than that, the recipe remains true to its original specifications.  Jennifer’s recipe calls for the sandwich to sit quietly under a weight for a minimum of 6 hours and she’s right.  In order for the juices of the steak and mushrooms to be released and soaked up by the bread the sandwich needs 6 hours or more.  In the above photo I sat my hefty dutch oven in an equally heavy steel and ceramic saute pan.  Make certain to carefully cram as many sautéed portobello mushroom into the bread both on top and under the meat as well as seasoning both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.  When serving the meal slice the sandwich with a serrated bread knife and it won’t fall apart.  I make available a clean linen towel to hold the bread in place while slicing.  The Shooter’s Sandwich is not picked up but enjoyed with knife and fork.  It’s fantastic the following day also, cold out of the fridge.  I guarantee your people will love it.  As Jennifer used to say, “Quelle treat!”

Shooter's Sandwich

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 hearty grained, unsliced loaf or round of bread
  • a 1 1/2-2-pound very thick boneless sirloin steak or london broil a bit smaller than the loaf of bread
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 or 7 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed and reserved for another use
  • 7-8 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  1. Cut one end off of the loaf of bread, maybe 1-2″, and reserve the end.
  2. Remove by hand the inside crumb of the loaf leaving it hollowed out.  Take care not to rip the crust.  Do the same to the cut end piece.
  3.  In a screaming hot pan sear all sides of the steak but keep it rare.  set aside.
  4. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with the olive oil and add the garlic and mushroom caps, cooking and stirring until soft.  Turn the mushrooms occasionally to cook both sides.
  5. Line the bottom inside of the bread with half the mushrooms and garlic.
  6. Season all sides of the meat and push into the bread loaf.
  7. Carefully cover the top of the steak with the remaining mushrooms and garlic.
  8. Close the sandwich up with the cut end and tightly wrap the sandwich in parchment paper, tying with kitchen twine.
  9. Wrap the sandwich in a sheet of tin foil and let sit quietly under a heavy weight for at least 6 hours.
  10. When ready to eat slice with a serrated bread knife.
  11. Serve with salad greens dressed in a vinaigrette.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Dolphin with Vegetables in Parchment Paper

Need a new go-to meal, low in calories and long in flavor?  Here’s your quick and easy dinner after a long day’s work.  Dolphin in parchment paper with bright and gorgeous vegetables takes about 10-15 minutes to assemble then 30  minutes in the oven.  This dish will fill your kitchen with a mouth-watering fragrance and is supremely satisfying.  Being low in calories is especially welcome during the holidays.  And I find if I have a healthful, filling meal I tend to lean towards grapes or a few apple slices for dessert.  This recipe is fabulously forgiving in that pretty much all the vegetables may be substituted to please your guests or family.  The potato slices may be left out entirely.  Don’t like zucchini?  Fat, crunchy asparagus spears work just as well in their place.  Don’t have any fresh tomatoes on hand? Chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil work beautifully.  Fresh basil can easily be replaced with fresh thyme, tarragon or rosemary.  And if you’ve cut up all your lemons for the bar, feel free to zest a lime over the fish.  Some folks don’t care for tapenade or olive spread.  If you’re one of these people, how about pesto in its place?  The broth from the vegetables and fish mixed with the juices of the olive spread is of the gods.  And, last, let’s talk about the fish.  If you don’t have mahi-mahi, another name for dolphin, use salmon, snapper, cod, tuna or grouper.  This is one easy, forgiving meal, people.  My parchment paper measures about 12X16″.  I lightly cover the paper with non-stick spray and quickly stack the vegetables ending with the fish fillets and lemon zest.  After a drizzle of olive oil, a shake of salt and freshly cracked pepper, the parchment paper is creased in half with the fish and vegetables sitting in the middle of the bottom half of paper.

To finish the open sides are folded, doubled-up and pinched closed towards the fish.  Placed on a baking sheet and slid into the oven, you’ll now have a fabulous dinner ready to be enjoyed in 30 minutes.  Snaps to you.

Dolphin and Vegetables in Parchment Paper

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2  4-5 ounce dolphin fillets, fresh or thawed
  • 4 large potato slices, 1/8″ thick, you only need 1 potato
  • 1 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 4 equal slices
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 small tomatoes, both sliced into 4 equal slices
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 8-10 teaspoons olive spread
  • the zest of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a little olive oil to drizzle over the fish
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.
  2. Fold 2 12X16″ pieces of parchment paper in half lengthwise, place on a baking sheet and open both pieces of paper.
  3. Spray the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray and lay 2 potato slices, alongside the middle crease of the paper.
  4. On each packet place 2 slices of zucchini lengthwise over the potato slices.
  5. Over the zucchini continue stacking the onion, tomato and basil in equal amounts between the two bundles.
  6. Drop 4-5 teaspoons of olive spread lengthwise on the basil then top each stack with the fish fillets.
  7. Scatter equal amounts of fresh lemon zest along with the salt and pepper over each fillet.
  8. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the fillets.
  9. Fold over the other half of the parchment paper and begin to crimp and fold in the open sides beginning either on the top or bottom.
  10. Place the baking sheet with the fish packets into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. Carefully tear open the top of the packets and slide the entire contents into a shallow soup or pasta bowl including any broth.
  12. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

Quick Guava and Cream Cheese Tartlets

In keeping within the last-minute and easy holiday treats theme, (see my last post of Parmesan, Pepper and Lemon Oyster Crackers), this sweet morsel is just the ticket.  I love bringing island and tropical flavors to our house as we live in the tropics and also, due to my Puerto Rican roots, our Christmas season is redolent with joyous, celebratory music, luscious ripe fruits from hot climes and plenty of brilliant sunshine.  Pineapple, guava, tamarind, orange and limes, guanabana, mamey sapote, coconuts and apple bananas are some of the magnificent fruits of the season.  I made these guava and cream cheese tartlets just so I could nibble on guava paste.  Sweet and utterly decadent, the taste and even the smell of the ripe, fresh fruit careen me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Puerto Rico.  As a child the kitchen seemed cavernous although now I marvel at the countless breakfast, lunch and dinners that little nook cranked out, day in and day out for years.  The aromas which wafted out of that kitchen are legendary but at Christmas… well!  My grandmother was a renown baker, recognized throughout the island for her magical cakes.  Her wedding cakes were breathtaking in beauty and taste.  I’m pretty sure the rum syrup she drizzled over them had a lot do with it.  One of the cakes ordered often was the “brazo gitano” or gypsy arm.  It was a vanilla sheet cake slathered with homemade guava paste, rolled up, heavily dusted with confectioner’s sugar and topped with four or five maraschino cherries.  Being so young in age I never understood why someone would want, never mind PAY, for a cake without icing.  A cake without one edible, handmade and hand painted Cinderella or Snow White.  There weren’t any lilies or roses, dwarfs or footmen in livery or, at the very least, sweet, little woodland creatures.  But the gypsy arms sold.  And the profits were my grandmother’s “pin” money.  I would give anything for a taste of one of those cakes.  Or to smell the vat of fresh guavas and sugar bubbling away on the stove.  Christmas time turned the kitchen and dining room into a bustling hive of activity.  My grandmother would hum often when she made her flowers.  What an indulgence it was when she would pinch off a small knob of pastillage for me to savor!  I can see her now, her arms flailing wildly, as she shooed away the errant sparrow who mistakenly flew in through an open window and swooped down to light on one of her floral masterpieces.  Those precious days are gone as well as many of our family members who lived at my grandparent’s massive house.  So many were involved in one way or another.  An aunt might help out by trimming the crusts off the of the gypsy arm.  Any uncle who happened to be around could not sit down to a freshly brewed cafe con leche until he helped carry the 4-foot high wedding cake out to the waiting van.  But the fruit desserts, the “brazo gitano”, which in the folly of my youth I completely disregarded, are today dear to me although they are now faint memories.  We may not have these treasured sights, sounds and smells any longer but I guarantee you, cut off a sliver of guava paste, close your eyes and as it slowly melts in your mouth you’ll be with me at 177 Flanboyanes Avenida.

These little tartlets are a sweet-salty treat that will surprise you with their ease of preparation.  At my grocery store the guava paste is shelved with the canned fruit…go figure.  Packed air-tight in plastic, guava paste is a great pantry staple to have on hand especially during the holidays when sweets are more…how shall I say? De rigueur.  Also good to have on hand are the frozen fillo shells.  Simply store them in the back of your freezer and when you need a quick nibble to enjoy with a glass of champagne they are at your service to fill with shrimp, mushrooms sautéed in wine and tarragon or any number of combinations.  The little shells crisp up perfectly and add a great touch of elegance to any cocktail hour.  I know I don’t to tell you there should always be 2 or 3 bricks of cream cheese in the refrigerator as well.  If you’re pressed for time or low on energy, skip the fruit or berries on top and merely give the finished tartlets a good dusting of confectioner’s sugar.  Enjoy!

 

Guava and Cream Cheese Tartlets

  • Servings: 45 bitesize tartlets
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 14-ounce block guava paste, for some reason it’s stocked in the canned fruit section of my grocery store so look around for it
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1.9-ounce boxes of mini-fillo shells, total 45 shells
  • confectioner’s sugar to garnish, optional
  • berries or pomegranate seeds to garnish, optional
  • fresh mint leaves to garnish, optional
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Place the fillo shells on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and egg until light and fluffy.  Set aside.
  3. Place guava paste in a microwaveable bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until the paste has melted.
  4. Pour the melted guava paste into the cream cheese mixture and add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth and there are no streaks.
  5. Fill each shell with a generous teaspoon of the guava mixture.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and immediately dust with confectioner’s sugar, carefully press in mint leaves and berries.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

Parmesan, Pepper and Lemon Oyster Crackers

Ever been in the irritating position of being empty-handed or feel as though the cupboard is bare when guests or friends show up unannounced and uninvited?  I learned through experience a few years back and vowed not to be caught unaware come Christmas time.  Different versions of these little crackers have been around forever but I find the recipes calling for a packet of dried Ranch or Italian dressing to be far and away too salty.  I came up with this recipe by putting some of my favorite flavors together.  I mean, who doesn’t like parmesan?  Or lemon?  Plus I figured most everyone has these ingredients or some variety of them in their pantry.  That said, this is the ideal time to stock up on some holiday basics the next time you’re in the grocery store.   Various crackers, butter, both grated and shredded parmesan, frozen phyllo shells and dough, puff pastry, cream cheese, jarred pesto, dried cherries and cranberries, fig jam… obviously I could go on and on but you get the picture.  With a well-stocked pantry you can rustle up a remarkable AND good-looking appetizer at a moment’s notice.  I plan to post a few more easy and attractive appetizers that can be made at the drop of a hat.  So the next time the doorbell rings while you’re coloring your hair and you over hear your husband say, “Well, merry Christmas to YOU!  Come on in and have a drink!  Please say you’ll stay!”, you’ll be well prepared 🙂

These are great with cocktails or watching a football game.  Any leftover may be stored in a baggie, out of the refrigerator and are easily re-crisped in the oven at 350° for 5 minutes or so.  The pepper I love to use is a peppercorn medley by McCormick, found at probably every grocery store in the country.  The pink peppercorns in the medley give a lovely sweetness to the pepper flavors.  Lastly, only grated parmesan works in this recipe as shredded won’t stick to the crackers.  Feel free to use more pepper if you wish and enjoy!

Parmesan, Pepper and Lemon Oyster Crackers

  • Servings: about 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly cracked peppercorn medley, I like McCormick with a built-in grinder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 9-ounce bag oyster crackers
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°.
  2. In a small bowl combine and mix well parmesan cheese, lemon zest, peppers and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Place crackers in a large bowl and pour the melted butter over them.  With a large spoon, toss the crackers in the butter until they are completely coated.
  4. Pour the cheese and pepper mixture over the crackers and continue tossing until the crackers are covered with the parmesan mixture.
  5. Place the crackers in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they become slightly golden.
  6. Serve immediately.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com