Archive for the 'Appetizers' Category

Adult Cheez-Its have arrived and you can make them


This was one time that I used rye flour, and it did not taste like health food. These legitimately tasted like large form, dense, soft Cheez-Its, and I couldn’t believe my mouth. You can split them in half and make a bigature Cheez-It breakfast sandwich. Next time I will try these with white cheddar, because everyone knows that White Cheddar Cheez-Its are the Cheez-s***. I just wrote that. But it’s true.

Also, this is one time when calling something “adult” does not mean that I included booze. I wonder what alcohol pairs best with Cheddar? OMWORD YOU GUYS, try switching out the buttermilk for beer!*!*!* Please try that.


From the spire,


Three Cheese Rye Biscuits

Adapted from Huckleberry

1 1/2 cups rye flour

3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup butter, cold, cubed

1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (160 grams) cream cheese, cold, cubed

2 cups (160 grams) Cheddar cheese, grated

3/4 cup (55 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup cold buttermilk

1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Flaky salt, for sprinkling

Whisk together all dry ingredient up until the cream cheese in a large bowl. Dump in the butter and cream cheese, rubbing it in with the fingers until pea-sized clumps form. Dump in the rest of the cheeses and the buttermilk, stirring together until dough starts to come together.

Quickly dump onto a lightly-floured surface and knead a few times, flattening out dough and turning it onto itself. You should still be able to see some clumps of butter.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, press the dough into the measure and turn out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, making 12-15 little mounds. Sprinkle with salt.

Freeze the baking sheets from 30 minutes-2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes, removing when biscuits are going golden.

Introducing a yeast alternative: Seeded Parmesan Soda Bread


We all know that making yeast bread can be a pain (except this one that’s pretty chill). First, you have to make sure your living, breathing yeast organism is still alive and hasn’t hit its expiration date. Then you have to coax it into bloom with quality milk that’s hot, but not too hot (kinda like a relationship that works because both parties are hot but not too hot and don’t overpower and have qualities beyond their physical appearance amirite). Then you have to wait for the interminable double rise time, when all the while your brain is just like CINNAMON ROLLS DO WANT. And after all that, the stuff STILL might turn out hard, dense or soggy.

So we avoid it like the plague except for special occasions and for love.


parm bread 1

For all of you that know the pain of making yeast bread, I’d like to present the simpler, heartier, done-in-a-flash option: soda bread.

It uses baking soda (haha get it?) as a leavener, which is far more forgiving and makes the process easy as cake. Actually though.


I once made a version with cranberries and nuts in it, but this round, I went for RYE and CHEESE and NUTS and FRESH HERBS from my friend’s garden (she is living the dream and grows her own). Served hot, fresh from the oven, it was a delightfully hearty, wholesome side. Plus, it’s from Pippa’s book, and she is the cutest. I think of her as the British version of Giada.



Seeded Parmesan Soda Bread

From Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends

1 cup rye flour

1 cup white whole-wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

large handful of fresh herbs, such as oregano and thyme, chopped

3 ounces mixed pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, divided

3 ounces grated Parmesan, divided

10 ounces buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir together all ingredients except 1 ounce of Parmesan, 1 ounce of the seeds and the buttermilk in a large bowl until well-combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter milk. Stir together until the mixture just comes together. Add more buttermilk if needed, but it shouldn’t be a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a couple of times. Gently pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches deep. Cut a deep X in the top and sprinkle with the reserved Parmesan and seeds.

Place the dough on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for another 30 minutes until golden. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then serve warm.

A Few Necessary Items: Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrise + Fresh Guacamole

clem drinks 6

Some things are just so, so necessary.

Chapstick in the winter.

Bon Iver on rainy days.

Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrises with chips and homemade guac on a Saturday afternoon.

clem drinks 3

What? That is superfluous?

I disagree. Especially when I am dying for summer and the only cure is citrus.

clem drinks 5

clem drinks 1

Guys, this drink is so delicious. And fun! I got to use a dusty mortar and pestle. Ingesting antiquated.

clem drinks 2

You, too, can ingest antiquated. Please join me in this. Ok.

Ever your superfluous,


Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrise

Serves 2.

4 ounces tequila

8 ounces fresh clementine juice

½-1” fresh ginger root, sliced up a bit

2 tablespoons grenadine

Coarse sea salt (I used a smoked coconut lime salt)

Juice clementines. Grind up the ginger root with a mortar and pestle, then immerse the ginger in the clementine juice for a while, maybe like 15 minutes while you whip up some fresh guac. Dip the rims of two glasses in the juice and then dip into the coarse salt. Strain out the bits of ginger from the clementine juice. Fill the glasses with ice and measure two ounces of tequila into each. Top up the glasses with the clementine juice, then pour a tablespoon of grenadine into the side of the glass so it sinks to the bottom. Don’t mix it in. Garnish with an additional slice of clementine.

Fresh Guacamole

1 ripe avocado, cubed

4 grape tomatoes, diced

1/8 of a red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Cumin, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, to taste

Mix up everything but the avocado in a small bowl and let the flavors meld for a bit in the fridge. When ready to serve, mash up the avocado in a medium bowl, then stir in the other ingredients. Serve with chips.

Pipe Dream # 184: To Use All The Blubber -Spicy Curry Squash Seeds


I know I post out of season things a lot. It’s a problem. And this post is a little off too, but just listen! I actually did eat this in March. I just felt like some squash, ok? It doesn’t have to be October for a girl to desire a squash. Probably A Vitamin-deficient.


Anyway, enough of my excuses. This trick is one of my favorite efficient-life tricks. You can use the whole squash, like Native Americans used to use every part of the buffalo or every part of a washed-up whale. You know, boiling down the blubber for leather tanner or something. No? I may have read too many books as a child.

Ok, step one. Remove the seeds from your squash. Set aside. Roast squash and eat  it with a glass of Sauv Blanc.


Step Two: Rinse the seeds and pick off all the stringy bits. Blot with a paper towel.


Step Three: Spread the seeds in an even layer on an aluminum-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and desired spices.  I used salt, pepper, cumin, curry and cayenne. You could go sweet though! Sugar and cinnamon would be nice.

Step Four: Using the “Toast” setting on a toaster oven or 450 degrees in  the oven, toast the seeds, stirring and checking them frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Toast until golden. It might take ten minutes. I never know because I keep a close eye. I’ve burnt them too many times.


Step Five: Let cool, then store in an airtight container. Snackalicious!


Random Tuesdays: Roasted Garlic + Roasted Garlic Butter

Oh, garlic. How we love you. How you make any and every dish sing. How you beguile us with your charms, seeping out of our pores like some noxious gas, all the while making us believe that we do, in fact, smell attractive to those in our immediate vicinity. We choose to believe it.

Here’s the thing. When you infest my fridge in droves, like, in 600,000 cloves? I can’t seem to use you fast enough. You start…sprouting. And you become less than you were meant to be.

It is my hope that by roasting you, mashing you and spreading you, I can make you presentable and delectable once again. Please do understand.

I hope things can be right between us.

Always and ever yours,


Roasted Garlic + (Butter)

2 heads garlic

olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Peel the garlic heads, stripping away all the flaky stuff and leaving the hard skin. Place cloves in the cups of a muffin tin and drizzle oil over the top, using your fingers to coat the cloves. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft. Let cool.

Eat ’em straight, or mash with butter and parmesan. A food processor or Magic Bullet might also be a useful option.

Pipe Dream #116: To Pick Right – Truffled Parmesan Biscuits with Ham, Asparagus and Pesto

It just so happened that I celebrated my birthday when I visited Nice this last April (pictures to come this week). Clearly, I’ve never had it so good. I didn’t make myself a cake, I didn’t plan my own party. I just had to choose the restaurant, which is actually kind of a big deal if you are on vacation with your friends. I mean, if the biggest thing you have to worry about is which fabulous restaurant to pick among hundreds, I’d say you’re doing pretty well, but it’s still a lot of pressure, trying to make everyone happy and all that. But I didn’t worry too much. It was my birthday.

Anyway, we went to this place called Terre de Truffes (Earth of Truffles, I think) that was totally dead (it was a Wednesday night). After debating outside for a few minutes, we decided to chance it and walked in. And we were glad.

I’ll just say this. After a full thirty minutes of poring over the menu and exclaiming over the food and gasping repeatedly at the bountiful subtler-than-garlic-but-better-than-garlic-if-you-can-believe-that offerings (things like fresh sea scallops with shaved truffles, truffle saffron reduction and truffled romano potatoes and truffled caramel baba au rhum), we finally decided. And really, there was no way we could have gone wrong. I had never had truffles before, and it is likely that I will never have such a truffle experience ever again. Especially considering the bill for three…but it was totally worth it.

So imagine my surprise when I got home. My mother had bough a whole bottle of truffle oil without even knowing my newfound truffle love! Needless to say, I was very pleased and even more pleased when I found this truffle biscuit recipe.

These biscuits are easy to prepare and turn out very flaky. Make sure your biscuit dough is cold, and you’re golden. Add some accompanying flavors and you have a whole meal deal. Plus the experience of a truffle lifetime. I’m sure you could make them with regular olive oil too, but really, just get some truffle oil. It will change you for the better.



Truffled Parmesan Biscuits with Ham, Asparagus and Pesto

Adapted from aspicyperspective

For the biscuits:

2 cups  all-purpose flour
1-½ tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to sprinkle on top
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
¾ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon shaved truffle (or 1 teaspoon truffle oil)
⅓ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter, or egg wash

For the rest of it:

1 cup pesto, fresh or jarred (I used a dehydrated sundried tomato pesto)

12 slices ham, proscuitto, or whatever else you have around

4 or 5 asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces

Heat oven to 450ºF with the rack in the center.

Using a food processor, pulse all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and shortening, then pulse until it resembles course chopped nuts. Add the buttermilk, truffles and Parmesan, then pulse again until it forms moist clumps.

Dump the wet dough onto a well floured surface. Flour your hands and press the dough into an even rectangle, 1 1/4 inch high. Use a 2-inch cutter to cut the biscuits. Gather the scraps, press and cut again; you should have 12 biscuits all together. (Try to cut as many in the first round as possible. The second batch will be slightly tougher.)

Using the melted butter or egg wash, brush the top of each biscuits and place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Lightly sprinkle them with sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the biscuits are baking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or truffle oil) in a frying pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, chuck in the asparagus and season with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until the spears have turned bright green and are slightly tender. They should not be super soft.

While the biscuits are warm, crack them open and smear them with pesto. Then layer a piece of prosciutto and three asparagus chunks on each biscuit and place the top back on.

I Got It Right: Steph’s Artichoke Dip

The following is not a sweet dessert recipe.

Are you still reading?

Oh, ok good.

And yes, that is mayonnaise.

Are you still reading?

Ok, good. I make no defense, except that I used less than the recipe called for, and that it is olive oil mayo, which has half the fat of regular mayo. I cringe a little when I think about mayonnaise. I actually had a problem with “dips” in general for a long time. Something about the texture. A little too slimy? Could have anchovies swimming in that Velveeta ocean you have there?

Anyway, I guess I eventually built myself up to eating them. I have no hopes for ranch dressing, but artichoke dip I can do.

Three reasons you should make this dip: 1)This is the easiest recipe on the earth. 2) It is total comfort food. 3) It is a quick appy to throw together if you have unexpected guests who brought tortilla chips expecting you to welcome them with open arms even though you have places to go and people to see.

That was my hypothetical life. In real life, I had a paper to write and toenails to paint and no friends banging down the door.. So I made myself some artichoke dip. My roommates blessed me and garlic.

Whatever the occasion, this dip is a winner. Gold medal artichoke dip.

Enjoy this and be a winner too.


Steph’s Artichoke Dip

1 cup grated or shredded parmesan

1 cup mayonnaise (olive oil mayo is “healthier”)

1 can artichoke hearts (15 oz?)

a couple cloves of garlic, or in my case, many

5 jalapeno peppers, to taste

Drain the artichoke hearts and chop up into small-ish bits. Dice the garlic and peppers finely.

In a bowl, combine the parm and mayo. Add the chopped veggies and combine well.

Throw it all in a baking dish (an 8×8 pan works, but this dip isn’t fussy), and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes or until hot, bubbly, and a little golden on top.

Serve with sliced bread, tortilla chips or whatever other savory carb you have on hand.

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