Category Archives: Appetizers

Appetizers: piquant snacks, creamy dips, savory spreads, and easy finger food to whet (and sometimes dampen) the appetite, are often called hors d’oeuvres, French for “apart from the main work,” or the main meal.

Spicy Snack Mix

This recipe is here because Mom would sometimes throw together these ingredients to make a “homemade” snack, even though it was based on processed foods. I’m banking on the fact that cereals back in the 50s and 60s weren’t as laden with preservatives, sugar, and salt as they are these days.

Ingredients for Spicy Snack Mix

  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1/4 c steak sauce
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
  • 2 cups Corn Chex cereal
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 cup pretzel sticks

Melt butter. Stir in steak sauce and salt. Add cereals, pretzels and nuts. Mix over low heat until coated. Place on cookie sheet or flat pan and heat in a very slow over (about 250 F) for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes or so. Spread on paper towels to cool.

Spicy Snack

Chopped Liver

Okay, so a bunch of chicken fat and livers and eggs might not sound healthy, but it’s what we used to eat all the time when we devoured chopped liver sandwiches on rye with a pickle on the side…

Ingredients for Chopped Beef or Chicken Livers

  • 1 lb beef and/or chicken livers
  • 2 T chicken fat
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 2 hard cooked eggs
  • 1 T chicken fat
  • salt and pepper

Saute liver in 2 T chicken fat for 10 minutes. Chop liver coarsely with onions and hard-cooked eggs. Blend in 2 T chicken fat, salt and pepper to taste. Chill. Serve with crackers or toast.

Queso Fundido con Rajas (Cheese and Chiles)

Queso Fundido means melted cheese, and Rajas is a term applied to chiles cut into long strips. They can be roasted or fried or sometimes pickled or preserved in vinegar. The term can apply to different types of chiles, such as Rajas de Chile Jalapeño, which can be very spicy. This recipe, applies to Poblano chiles, a mild, somewhat elongated, dark green chile from the Puebla area of Mexico. Poblanos are used for making Chiles Rellenos or Mexican Stuffed Chiles.

Ingredients for Queso Fundido con Rajas

  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, and cut into strips
  • 1 lb. Manchego or Mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
  • Salt to taste

Saute onions in the oil. Add the chiles and fry well. Add the cheese and salt and allow cheese to melt thoroughly.

The chiles and cheese cubes may also be combined and placed in the oven until melted. Top with cream before serving, if desired.

Cracker-Cheese Blintzes

Here is a way to satisfy your blintz craving even when you can’t find the right ingredients (such as in Mexico in the 1970s). This recipe is from Gert Cohen, who used to make this quick and easy treat some mornings for her family and others (me, for example) who were around at that fortuitous time.

  • 1/2 lb. cream cheese
  • 2 t salt
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 24 soda crackers
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 T butter

Whip up the softened cream cheese. Add 1 t salt and 4 T of the beaten eggs. Mix well. Spread on 12 of the crackers. Top with the other 12 crackers. Beat milk, 1 t salt, and rest of eggs together. Dip crackers in the egg mix, soaking well. Fry cracker blintzes in butter until golden. Serve hot.

Garlic Bean Spread

A vegan recipe for a savory spread or dip made from white cannellini beans, often known as white navy beans or haricots and in Mexico called alubias.

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 cups cooked white cannellini beans, drained (reserving liquid)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Remove loose skins from garlic heads and place whole heads, root-side down, in a 350 F oven for 1-1/4 hours, or in microwave for about 5 minutes, until soft. Squeeze the soft garlic into a blender or food processor, discarding skins.

Add beans, oil, salt and cayenne. Blend until smooth.  If the mixture doesn’t blend easily, add a bit of the reserved bean liquid.  Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve as a spread for crackers or as a dip for veggies. Will store up to 3 weeks.

Separated garlic cloves can also be roasted in their skins in a cast iron pan on the stove top. Shake the cloves often while toasting so that they don’t burn. They’re ready when they are soft.


Ceviche Acapulco Style

Ceviche is a delicious white fish marinated in lime juice, Acapulco style.

Ceviche is made throughout Latin America, and there are many styles, although all involve marinating (or “cooking”) raw fish in lime or lemon juice. Historians claim that ceviche originated in the coastal regions of Peru and was spread during colonial times to other parts of the Americas.

Acapulco-style ceviche is typically made with chopped tomatoes, onion, chile peppers, and fresh coriander leaves. This particular version also includes optional olives, garlic, and parsley.

Fish by Stella, 2010

Ingredients for Acapulco-style Ceviche

  • 1 lb. white fish such as dorado (mahi-mahi)
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T parsley, chopped
  • 4 T coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 T green olives, chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • salt

Cut fish into small cubes or strips. Cover with lemon or lime juice. Refrigerate for 6 hours or more, turning occasionally to make sure all the fish is immersed well in the juice. Drain and rinse slightly under cold water to remove excess lemon juice.

Combine tomato, onion, chile peppers, olive oil, parsley, coriander, olives, garlic and salt. Pour over fish. Allow to sit in fridge, covered, for at least 1 hour before serving.

Serve with crackers or tostadas (tortilla chips).

Garbanzo Dip (Hummus)

Garbanzo or chickpea dip is known as hummus, a Middle Eastern food that is eaten with pita bread and is rich in iron, vitamin B6,  and fiber. The proteins of the garbanzo beans and sesame seeds complement each other, making it a very nutritious food.

Ingredients for Garbanzo Dip (Hummus)

  • 2 cups cooked garbanzos/chick peas (reserve liquid)
  • 1/3 cup sesame tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 T lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup black olives, chopped (optional) or
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil (optional)
  • 2 T olive oil (optional)

Blend or process garbanzos, sesame tahini, garlic, salt, lemon or lime juice, and seasonings until smooth, using some of the reserved liquid from the garbanzo beans if thinning is required. You want a paste that is thick and smooth, not runny.

For variety, try adding either the chopped black olives or chopped sun-dried tomatoes to your dip, although plain hummus is just plain good.

Chill. Drizzle the olive oil on top and serve with pita bread triangles, crackers, or as a dip for vegetable crudites such as celery sticks, carrot spears, and sliced red peppers. .
Garbanzo beans

Anna’s Greek Melt

Mmm…elted cheese flavored with olive oil, oregano, garlic, and lemon juice for a special treat. Its popularity has been propagated by Anna.

  • Soft cheese (mozzarella or Manchego)
  • Olive Oil
  • Oregano
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic

In a heavy pot, melt cheese with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, crushed garlic, and oregano. When smooth, remove from heat and add lemon juice to taste. Serve on fresh bread.

Anna Hard at Work
Anna Hard at Work