Displaying items by tag: appetizers


The slightly licorice flavour of fennel is heightened by the licorice overtones in the tarragon. If you can’t find the ricotta, substitute pecorino or even feta.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Ready in: 15 minutes
Serves: Four



3 bulbs baby fennel or 1 large

6 cups baby spinach

6 ounces (175 grams) ricotta salata

Shallot vinaigrette:

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons chopped tarragon

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Cut core from fennel and remove top. Cut in half. With a mandolin, or by hand, thinly slice fennel.

Place in bowl and mix with spinach.

Shave ricotta with a vegetable peeler and toss with vegetables.

Whisk together mustard, tarragon, shallots and vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper.

Toss with salad and finish by sprinkling with parsley.

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This is my interpretation of Chef Hurley’s unique salad. Use larger cremini mushrooms and cut in quarters or halves rather than smaller ones, which dry out when roasted. The fingerlings should preferably be the waxy kind.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour
Serves: 8 



12 ounces cremini mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup white wine

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1 cup water

1/4 cup chopped shallots

1 dried chili pepper

3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) mussels

1 1/4 pounds (625 grams) fingerling potatoes


3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1/2 cup olive oil

1 packed cup arugula


1 teaspoon tarragon

2 tablespoons chives


Preheat oven to 450 F (232 C).

Trim stalks of cremini flush to the cap. Place in bowl and toss with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Place on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes, flipping once, or until tender. Cool and cut into quarters. Reserve in large bowl. Combine white wine, lemon rind, water, shallots and chili pepper in a wide pot or sauté pan. Bring to boil over high heat, add mussels and cook until mussels open, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove mussels as they open with tongs.

Add potatoes into pot and bring back to boil, turn heat to medium low, cover and simmer until potatoes are cooked about 15 minutes. Remove mussels from shell and combine with mushrooms. Remove potatoes, cool a little, then slice in half lengthwise. Add to bowl.

Reduce liquid in pot until about 1/4 cup remains. Reserve.

Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, tarragon, olive oil and reserved pan juices. Toss with salad while potatoes are still warm. Cool, then stir in arugula.

Pile on a platter and garnish with tarragon and chives.


This zesty potato salad goes best with a crisp white. Preferably not too light, though; something with the textural weight to match all those mushy-soft chunks. The California style of sauvignon blanc called fumé blanc, often made with brief oak contact to add body and soften the grape’s herbal assault, is perfect. But the choices are broad. A crisp chardonnay also will work with this salad. Beppi Crosariol






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My mother used flour to thicken the soup and a combination of eggs and cream to enrich it at the end. Certainly you could use the eggs and cream, but I like the flavour of the coconut milk with the garam masala. I used Pink Lady apples but any tart apple will do.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Ready in: 40 minutes, plus cooling time

Serves: 4 - 6




2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onions

2 cups chopped and peeled apples, preferably a tart apple

1 cup chopped celery

2 fresh Thai red chilies, whole

1/2 cup red lentils

1 tablespoon garam masala

4 cups chicken stock

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup thick coconut milk


1/4 cup chives

1/4 cup coconut milk



Heat butter in a soup pot on medium heat. Add onions, apples, celery and Thai chilies. Sauté for about 3 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.

Add lentils and garam masala, and sauté everything together until you can smell the spices. Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables and apples are tender.

Purée in food processor. Return to pot and season with salt and pepper. Stir in coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

Cool soup. Chill in refrigerator overnight.

Sprinkle with chives and swirl with some coconut milk over top before serving.



Hibiscus tea is the go-to beverage for many in Senegal, a largely Muslim country. Those who do consume alcohol might opt for a local beer, such as Flag or Biere La Gazelle. I’d be more inclined toward a medium-bodied white wine, preferably one with strong aromatic presence to push back against the spicy assault. Riesling and gewürztraminer would work particularly well with this soup, their rich fruit taming heat better than beer. - Beppi Crosariol

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Use long Asian eggplant for this dish. They are much easier to work with (and they’re prettier, too). You can serve this warm or cold as a first course or side.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ready in: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


4 Asian eggplants

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons light miso

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

½ teaspoon sugar

Freshly ground pepper to taste


Cut eggplant in half lengthways and score cut side. Brush with oil. Place eggplant flesh-side down on grill over high heat and grill until softened slightly – about 3 minutes.

Remove from grill.

Combine miso, soy, vinegar, sugar and pepper together and brush over flesh side.

Return to grill when needed and grill skin-side down for about 5 minutes or until eggplant is soft.

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This unusual soup has a slight licorice flavour that is more pronounced when served chilled. If you can find baby fennel you will need three bulbs. Shave off a few shards to use as a garnish. The bigger fennel is not tender or pretty enough to use for that (in which case, basil is an attractive option).

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ready in: 45 minutes

Serves: Six


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 bulb fennel, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1 cup chopped young, white turnips

1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds

4 cups chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound (500 grams) fava beans, shelled, blanched, outer skin removed

2 tablespoons sliced basil


Heat oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add onions, fennel and turnips and sauté for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Stir in fennel seeds.

Add stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 17 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Puree in food processor or blender. Return to heat and add fava beans. Simmer for 2 minutes then scatter with basil.

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Making your own ricotta is far superior to anything you can buy. It is easy to do: All you need is a pot, some cheesecloth and a few simple ingredients. It’s rich, not too caloric and keeps well for a few weeks.

The longer the ricotta hangs, the drier it will become. I usually save some whey just in case it seems a little dry. Mr. Kluger uses buttermilk to give a softer consistency, which you can also certainly do. Serve this with garlic bread as a first course. You won’t be able to stop eating it.



8 cups homogenized milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup lemon juice

Ricotta finishing:

2 cups ricotta

2 tablespoons buttermilk, optional

Rhubarb compote:

12 ounces (375 grams) rhubarb, washed, dried, cut in ½-inch pieces

¾ cup red wine vinegar

⅓ cup ruby port

¾ cup granulated sugar

2-inch piece orange peel, no pith

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch cayenne

To finish: 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Maldon salt

Coarse ground black pepper

Grilled bread


Bring milk and cream to a gentle boil in a pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the salt and stir to make sure it is well dispersed. Add lemon juice, stir once to combine then remove from heat. You should see it begin to curdle almost immediately. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Line a strainer over a mixing bowl with two layers of cheesecloth. Pour mixture through cheesecloth. The whey will drip through. Let hang for 25 to 30 minutes, or until soft curds form. Place ricotta in bowl and reserve refrigerated until needed. You should have about 2 cups.

Mix ricotta with just enough buttermilk to make the ricotta smooth enough to spread when you’re ready to serve.

Combine rhubarb, vinegar, port, sugar, orange peel, salt and cayenne in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir well and let sit at room temp for 30 minutes. Drain through a large hole strainer for 15 minutes (be sure the strainer is not sitting in the liquid). Reserve.

Put rhubarb mixture in blender and puree until nearly smooth.


To serve:

Place about ⅓ cup ricotta in the centre of each plate and make a small well in the middle. Add a scant ¼ cup rhubarb compote to the well and then spread out with the back of a spoon, swirling to combine them. Top each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Serve with slices of grilled sourdough bread.

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This salad is a great companion for the eggs. Use grapefruit instead of oranges if desired.

Servings: Six

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Ready In: 25 minutes



2 avocadoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces

2 Belgian endive, core removed, cut into 1-inch slices

2 oranges, peeled and segmented

8 cups mixed spicy lettuce


2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon chopped mint


Gently combine avocados, endive and oranges in a bowl.

Combine lime juice, orange juice, mustard, honey and shallots .Whisk in vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in mint.

Lay lettuce on a platter. Drizzle with a little dressing. Top with avocado mixture and drizzle with more dressing.

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This appetizer is an unusual eggplant spread flavoured with fried onions, lots of garlic and dried mint. It comes from comes from Globe reader Mahnaz Sobhani, an Iranian living in Nova Scotia who is famous for this traditional dish. She says you can use yogurt instead of the traditional kashk, which is a fermented whey found in Iranian supermarkets. Serve with lavash (a Middle Eastern thin, soft flatbread) or a warm pita as a first course. This keeps for 2 to 3 weeks, refrigerated.

Servings: 10 as an appetizer

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 1 hour 5 minutes




2 large eggplants (about 3 pounds)

½ cup olive oil

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup thinly sliced onion

2 tablespoons sliced garlic

¼ cup kashk or 2% plain yogurt

¼ cup water

Spice Mix:

¼ cup olive oil

1½ cups sliced onion

2 teaspoons turmeric

¼ cup dried mint

¼ cup sliced garlic

salt and pepper to taste


2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional)


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Peel eggplants and slice them ½-inch thick. Brush eggplants heavily with oil, season with salt and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, turning halfway through or until eggplants are browned and tender.

Layer eggplant slices with walnuts, sliced onion, and sliced garlic in an 8-inch wide pot.

Combine kashk and water, pour over eggplant, bring to a simmer, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove lid and let simmer 5 minutes longer to evaporate most of the liquid.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat, add onion and sauté for 10 minutes or until caramelized. Add turmeric, mint, and garlic and cook gently for 2 minutes longer or until garlic is softened. Set aside.

Add half of onion mixture to eggplant and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle remaining onion mixture on top and garnish with fresh mint if desired.


This savoury dish is earthy, fragrant, bitter-sour and gently sweet. That throws down the gauntlet for a wine match. But the mighty grape is up to the challenge, I think, as long as you steer clear of wines with loads of oak, especially New World cabernet and chardonnay. My suggestion would be to joust with a full-bodied red from Portugal, Spain or, perhaps best of all, the Rhône Valley or Languedoc-Roussillon regions of France. They tend to be armed with solid acidity and herbal notes that should match hand-in-glove (or gauntlet) with the ingredients. Beppi Crosariol

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This recipe makes about one cup of pesto, which is more than you’ll need for the soup. Leftovers are tasty tossed with pasta or spread on crostini.

Servings: 6 to 8

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Ready In: 50 minutes




2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound (500 grams) chopped carrots (about 3 cups)

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup diced and peeled potato

4 cups chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Dandelion Pesto:

3 cups packed chopped dandelion leaves

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ cup slivered almonds

½ cup olive oil

½ cup sheep’s milk feta cheese


Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrot and onions, and sauté for 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add potatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Cool slightly. Purée in a blender or food processor and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return to pot and reheat when needed.


Combine dandelion leaves, garlic, almonds, olive oil and feta in a food processor and pulse until well combined. Season with salt to taste.

Serve bowls of soup with about 2 tablespoons of pesto swirled on the top.



A gently sweet Amontillado Sherry might be the textbook match for this soup. The Spanish fortified wine is silky, nutty and tangy. Another good option is semillon or a semillon-chardonnay blend from Australia. On the kosher (and mevushal) front, I’d suggest the fine Dalton Safsusa Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay from Israel ($16.95 in Ontario). - Beppi Crosariol

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These toasts make a good hors d’oeuvre for passing. Toast the nuts for 10 minutes in a 350 F oven to heighten their taste.

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ready In: 25 minutes




¾ cup Roquefort cheese

3 tablespoons softened butter

¼ teaspoon chili flakes

8 slices toasted baguette (cut on the bias)

4 cups arugula

½ cup toasted pecans

12 slices dried pears


2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper



Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat together Roquefort, butter and chilies. Spread onto the toasts. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 6 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and melted.

Place arugula on 4 plates. Sprinkle with pecans. Top with pear slices and warm Roquefort toasts.

Whisk together, lemon juice, maple syrup and parsley. Whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over salads.


Place 12 (or more) very thin slices of cored pear in a bowl with 4 cups of water and 1½ teaspoons of lemon juice. Let stand for 30 minutes, drain and pat pear slices dry with paper towels. Place in a single layer on a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake at 175 F for 2 to 4 hours (depending on how thin you cut them) or until dried and crisp.



Just as maple syrup serves as a counterpoint to the salty cheese, a moderately sweet wine goes best here. Think off-dry riesling, even a semi-sweet spätlese riesling from Germany. The wine’s substantial acidity will go toe-to-toe with the lemon, too. - Beppi Crosariol

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