CHARD, LEMON & RICOTTA SILVER DOLLAR PANCAKES Savoury, slightly creamy, a little lemony and addictive, too, this easy appetizer gets a drizzle of honey at the last minute to complement the earthy greens.
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 large bunch Swiss chard: stalks removed and sliced into ½ inch (1 cm) pieces, leaves torn into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1½ cups (375 mL) water
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
¼ cup (60 mL) snipped chives
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
Vegetable oil for pan frying
¾ cup (175 mL) full-fat ricotta cheese Honey for drizzling
Extra grated lemon zest and finishing salt to garnish
1 To prepare Swiss chard, heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped chard stalks, lower heat, cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chopped chard leaves, stir together with stalks, cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, or until chard is tender. Season to taste with salt. Remove from skillet and set aside to cool. 2 In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Sift in flour, baking powder and 1 tsp (5 mL) salt and stir until combined. Stir in chives and lemon zest. The batter will be quite thick. Stir in the cooked chard.
3 Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add a little bit of vegetable oil. To make pancakes, drop a heaped tbsp (15 mL-plus) of batter in the skillet and place 1 tsp (5 mL) of ricotta in the centre of each pancake, pressing down slightly with the back of the spoon. Cook for about a minute or until golden; flip and cook the other side until golden. Repeat this process with remaining batter and ricotta, frying a few pancakes at a time.
4 Place on a serving platter and drizzle with honey, then garnish with a bit more lemon zest and a sprinkling of finishing salt. Serve at once.
Makes about 20 pancakes
The Margarita is a perfect pairing with spicy dishes, and we wanted a smooth tequila with a good, spicy kick to stand up to the bhaji. Our favourites for this dish are Tromba Blanco (LCBO 271643, $49.70) or Espolon Blanco (LCBO 324848, $39.25), and we bring some added depth with fresh ginger.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 oz tequila, 1 oz Cointreau, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped ginger and a pinch of sea salt. Shake hard and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Makes 1 cocktail
With red, yellow and green onions thrown into the mix, these traditional bhaji are like a cross between onion rings and the appetizer course at your favourite Indian restaurant. Just sip our Ginger Margarita and crunch away.
1¼ cups (310 mL) chickpea flour
Juice of ½ lemon
¾ cup (175 mL) cold water
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp (10 mL) ginger, finely grated
½ tsp (2 mL) ground turmeric
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) ground coriander
¼ tsp (1 mL) cayenne
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) cilantro, finely chopped (save a few leaves for garnish)
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 small cooking onion, thinly sliced ½ bunch green onions, finely sliced (about 4 onions)
2 cups (500 mL) vegetable oil for frying Mango chutney or lime pickle (optional)
1 In a large mixing bowl, stir together the chickpea flour, lemon juice and cold water until smooth. Stir in the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and fresh cilantro. Stir in the 3 types of onions so they are well coated.
2 Line a baking sheet or large plate with paper towel.
3 Heat the oil in a large high-sided pan or a wok, to about 360°F (182°C)—a drop of batter should sizzle as it hits the oil and then float.
4 Drop a heaped tbsp (15 mL-plus) of batter into the oil for each bhaji, cooking 3 to 4 at a time, making sure they’re not sticking to each other. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden, then drain on paper towel and sprinkle with a pinch of salt while hot from the oil. When done, heap onto a serving platter, garnish with a few leaves of cilantro and serve with chutney or pickle, if desired. Bhaji can be made in advance and warmed up in a 200°F (100°C) oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
Makes about a dozen bhaji; serves 4
THE 0% CAIPIRINHA
Who needs alcohol? This mocktail has seriously grown-up flavour. Alternatively, have chilled fruit juices and sparkling water readily available for guests who prefer them.
1 lime, chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) cane sugar Ice
2 oz white cranberry juice 2 oz club soda
1 sprig mint, for garnish
1 Add chopped lime and cane sugar to a rocks glass. Muddle well. Fill glass with ice. Pour in cranberry juice and soda. Stir to mix. Garnish with mint.
Makes 1 mocktail
BEET-PARMESAN PALMIERS Pretty and buttery, sweet and savoury—and the touch of thyme signals that these aren’t your everyday palmiers. These are weekend specials.
2 small raw beets, ends trimmed, beets peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh thyme leaves
½ cup (125 mL) Parmesan, roughly chopped ¼ tsp (1 mL) red pepper flakes
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) sugar
1 pkg (450 g) all-butter puff pastry
2 tbsp (30 mL) turbinado sugar, optional
1 In a food processor, pulse beets, thyme, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar until combined.
2 Unroll 1 sheet of puff pastry, leaving it on its original paper.
3 Spread half of the beet mixture over the top, then roll the pastry up tightly along the long side just to the middle, and then repeat from the other side so that the 2 sides join in the middle, almost like a heart. Repeat with remaining sheet of dough and remaining beet mixture. Wrap in the paper and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4 Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). 5 Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
6 Remove the palmier roll from the fridge and remove the paper. Using a sharp knife, cut into ¼-inch (5-mm) pieces and place on the cookie sheets. Discard the ends. Sprinkle palmiers with turbinado sugar on 1 side, flip and sprinkle on the other side. (I like the added sweetness and crunch of the sugar. If you want to keep it simply savoury, skip the turbinado sugar.) 7 Bake in the centre of the oven for 8 minutes, then flip each palmier and bake for about 8 minutes more on the other side, or until the palmiers are golden brown, about 16 to 18 minutes in total. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.
Makes about 32 palmiers
These slightly retro 1970s-era phyllo cigars are a classic match with a tried-and-true Manhattan. They’re also a great make-ahead party hors d’oeuvre. Simply warm them up to a crisp in a 200°F (100°C) oven when your guests arrive.
1 pkg (227 g) cremini mushrooms, chopped 2 medium shallots, chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter, plus
¼ cup (60 mL) melted
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp (15 mL) dry white vermouth
¼ cup (60 mL) sour cream
6 phyllo dough sheets (store-bought), thawed and kept in wax paper under a damp towel ½ cup (125 mL) Gruyère, grated
1 Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
2 Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. 3 In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms with the shallots.
4 In a large frying pan, melt 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter over medium-high heat. Add prepared mushrooms and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes. Add the vermouth, and keep cooking slowly, stirring often, until almost all the liquid has evaporated from the mixture; it will be a little bit stiff but still mushy (this will take 7 to 10 minutes). Let cool slightly, then stir in sour cream. Taste for seasoning.
5 One at a time, lightly brush each sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter and then carefully slice each sheet into 6 rectangles, approximately 4½ x 7 inches (11 x 18 cm). Spoon 1 tsp (5 mL) of mushroom mixture at one of the short ends of each rectangle, smearing it into a line. Sprinkle with a pinch of grated Gruyère. Fold the long edges over slightly and roll up into a little cigar.
6 Place prepared cigars, seam-side down, on cookie sheets. Lightly brush the tops of each cigar with more melted butter.
7 Repeat this process with the rest of the mushroom mixture and phyllo sheets, then place in the preheated oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.
Makes about 36 cigars