We’re Cooking: Not So Easy (But Fantastic) Appetizers

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

We had a mini Dallas Uncorked event last week with our friend Mac McDonald of Vision Cellars in Sonoma, the amazing Pinot Noir I wrote about in last week’s Napa and Sonoma post – part 2, and about 40 of our closest friends at our house.  A little larger group than our normal dinner party, so I wanted to do all finger foods that were easy to grab and enjoy, and wanted to make sure they would pair nicely with Mac’s Pinots. 

I pulled out a few things I knew I could do pretty quickly –  proschitto wrapped polenta with pesto; roasted tomatoes with basil and fresh mozzarella; endive spears with blue cheese and orange, but added some radicchio as well; a massive cheese plate with fresh and dried fruits, almonds and cashews.  But I also wanted to try something a little new and different for me.  And though these ended up being fantastic, they were time consuming….a word to the wise.  The response, however, has put these on the permanent appetizer “to do” list, as they went like hot cakes – Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs and Truffle Deviled Eggs.  The flavor of each was distinct and super savory, and each was a spot on pairing with the earthy, dark blackberry and dried plum fruit flavors of the Pinot.

Blue Cheese and Orange stuffed Endive and Radicchio

Two days later we cooked for a group of friends for Valentine’s Day at their home.  One of the things I often say I love about Gary is his generous, giving heart, and we do quite a few dinners each year that have been auctioned off at one charity event or another.  This was one of those dinners.  More details on that actual menu to come, but as every evening does, we had to start with tasty appetizers.  The endive made another appearance, though this time I stuffed them with a blend of pico de gallo and feta.  The new item was a Panko crusted fried artichoke heart with a roasted garlic and lemon aioli.  Yum!  Again, it is not as easy as opening a tub of hummus and adding some carrots and pita….which is also a great idea in a pinch…but a tasty bite that paired beautifully with the magnum of Veuve Clicquot that we started that dinner with. 

Panko Crusted Artichokes with Roasted Garlic and Lemon Aioli


Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
12 large eggs, I did use organic eggs and I think they may have been easier to peel if I hadn’t
1 tablespoon white vinegar
5 oz smoked salmon, chopped well.  I used a piece of smoked salmon and not lox, the flavor is so rich and not too salty.
1 large clove of garlic – minced
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 -3 tablespoons real mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, + 1 tablespoon salt for the cooking water
Sprinkle of paprika and chopped chives for garnish

Place all eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water till the water is about an inch over the eggs.  Make sure all the eggs are in one layer.  Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon vinegar to the water.  Bring the eggs to a boil and boil for 1 minute.  Then turn the heat off and leave them in the water for about 15 minutes.  In the meantime combine all remaining ingredients for the eggs and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to add the eggs.  (It is mayo after all.)  When the eggs have cooled to the point you can handle them, and after 15 or so minutes, crack and peel each egg and cut in half.  Arrange the cooked egg white halves on a platter and add the egg yolks to the salmon mixture.  Mix well and adjust any final seasoning.  Scoop the mixture into a piping bag or plastic bag with the end snipped, and then pipe into each egg white.  Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and the chopped chives.  Serve.

Truffle Deviled Eggs
12 large eggs, see above
1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt for the water
2 tablespoons truffle mushroom paste (Central Market or Jimmy’s have excellent options)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste, about 1/2 -1 teaspoon of each
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Drizzle of truffle oil, fresh cracked pepper and chopped chives for garnish

See above to cook the eggs.  In the meantime combine the other ingredients and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to add the egg yolks.  Use the same method above to make the truffle eggs.  Drizzle lightly with truffle oil and garnish with cracked pepper and chives. Yum!

Pan Fried Artichokes with Roasted Garlic and Lemon Aioli
For the Aioli:
1 large garlic clove, split in half
2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, or other oil without an overwhelming aroma
Zest of 1 lemon + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (we like a bit of heat, but optional)
1/2 teaspoon pepper and salt each

Pre-heat the oven to about 400 degrees.  Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil cut side down with two tablespoons oil.  We did add a few extra thyme stems to the garlic as it was roasting as well.   Allow the garlic to roast until it has become caramelized and nutty, with a toasted brown color.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  In a mixing bowl or blender add the egg yolk, mustard, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, seasoning and herbs with just a bit of oil and begin blending. Slowly stream in the oil allowing the aioli to become creamy rich. 

For the artichokes:
You can cook and clean 4 or 5 large artichokes and cut them down to the hearts and then cut into pieces; I used canned artichoke hearts that I cut in half, rinsed well and then let drain well to get them as dry as possible prior to dredging them. 
3 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs, beaten slightly with a bit of water
3 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the Panko and cheese together and pour into a shallow bowl.  Season with a bit of pepper.  Pour the flour into a shallow bowl; pour the egg into another shallow bowl.  Dredge the artichokes first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the Panko. Set aside.  Heat the oil in a medium saute pan.  Quickly pan fry each artichoke heart, turning once to make sure that they are well browned on both sides.  Place on a few paper towels after cooking to drain off the oil.  Season with salt and pepper while they are still warm.  Arrange on a serving platter and serve with the aioli.


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