Category Archives: Appetizers

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Greetings! This is Peg and I am actually posting on my own blog site! Whew, hope you’re sitting down.

However, on to the cooking~~~

These are amazing! The recipe is from our friend, Jeanine Swick, who brought these to a Christmas part this past year (2016). People kept eating them long after they declared themselves full and were in danger of spoiling their dinners!
Jeanine says they work well with scallops or shrimp, but I’ll never know about that!

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

2 (8oz.) cans Water Chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce (save it)
1 lb. lean Bacon, cut in half
Toothpicks
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
1 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Marinate water chestnuts in soy sauce for 15 minutes, stirring a few times to make sure they are fully coated.
Remove water chestnuts from soy sauce and set soy sauce aside for later use in the recipe.
Wrap 1/2 strip of bacon around each water chestnut, securing the bacon with a toothpick.
Place wrapped chestnuts in a 7″x11″ glass baking dish.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until desired crispness.

While they’re baking…

Mix ketchup, brown sugar and reserved soy sauce and mix well.

Remove chestnuts from the dish and drain the grease.
Place the chestnuts back in the baking dish.
Pour sauce evenly over the chestnuts to coat.
Bake for an additional 20-30 minutes.

Peg’s Notes:
This sauce mixture is a little intense when you first taste it – intensely sweet, ¬†intensely salty, intensely flavored, etc. ¬†And by that, I mean I couldn’t eat more than three or four at a time, but for some reason other people just love it. Ahem!
I’m thinking of either decreasing the amount of ketchup and brown sugar or coming up with another Asian-y barbecue sauce altogether. We’ll see.
If you do something different, please let me know!

Deviled Eggs, Part Deux

I made deviled eggs again for Easter, and got a lot of compliments on them, so I think I have a final recipe.

The eggs:

1 dozen eggs, plus a couple spares. If they peel nicely, you’ll have too many, but I judge “too many” as more than I can fit in the 20-cavity tray I use.

Eggs are best prepared a day in advance [1]. Best if put in the pot in one layer, laying on their sides, with enough water to cover them by an inch or so. I use a liberal amount of salt (as much as 1/4 C) and perhaps a like amount of vinegar. The salt raises the boiling point of water; the vinegar keeps the whites at bay should little leaks evolve. Bring the eggs to a rolling boil, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain, cover with ice and cold water. The more ice the better. Let them stand for an hour or more, then refrigerate overnight (I don’t have to say “after draining off the water”, do I?). I put them in a plastic bag before putting them in the fridge to limit that “egg smell” that my wife so despises.

Peeling the eggs is made a bit easier by banging the eggs around in the sink, gently, for a couple of minutes.

Peel the eggs, halve the eggs, reserve the yolks in a shallow bowl. “Imperfect” whites can be eaten, fed to the dog, or discarded, your preference. On a good day you’ll have 24 halves, on bad day, 18. No matter. (The deviled egg container I have has 20 indentations. I thought that was a stupid number, until I figured out that I routinely screw up two eggs per dozen. 20 is the perfect average number of indentations.)

The filling:

Mash the egg yolks with a fork until smooth. This it the only way. Trust me. The smoother, the better.

Add (you can skip any ingredients that offend you, and compensate at the end)
1 T prepared mustard
2 T hot sauce (Tabasco or your favorite)
2 T sweet pickle relish (Cain’s is the local favorite)
1 T Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is the best)
1 T cider vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper
Miracle Whip ( but not yet)

Mix well, and taste. It might need more salt, or hot sauce. It’s likely too thick. Add 1 T of Miracle Whip, mix, and taste. Repeat adding 1 T of Miracle Whip until the filling is nice and smooth. Spoon about 1 t of filling into each of the egg halves, and garnish with smoked paprika, or a sprig of chive, whatever blows your skirt up. I have been using a 1 qt freezer bag lately. Fill the bag with filling, clip of a small bit of a corner of the bag, and use it to pipe filling into the egg cavities. Neat, clean, far less mess than a real piping bag.

[1] Eggs are also best purchased a week or so in advance. It makes no difference in the flavor, but they are much easier to peel, increasing your final yield.

Lobster Arancini

Each Christmas Eve for about the last decade, Peg and I head over to the house of our friends Jonathan and Karen. Karen is from an Italian-American family, and one Italian tradition for Christmas Eve is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We don’t always make it to the full seven fishes, but I try to bring along a dish in the theme. I also try to compete with Karen and her three sisters, all of whom are excellent cooks.

My attempt this year was Lobster Arancini – golf-ball sized balls of risotto stuffed with a chunk of lobster meat, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fat fried. No, not really the healthiest of treats, but this happens only once a year. It may never happen again because these were a pain to make. But oh, were they good!

I made a double batch, but a single batch is probably manageable. For a single batch (and this follows pretty closely with Giada DiLaurentiis’s recipe, as her recipe came up in my research).

This recipe should make about 16 arancini, enough for 4 servings.

Risotto:
2 T butter
1/2 C finely chopped onion (or shallot)
1 C arborio rice
1/2 C white wine
3-4 C lobster stock (or chicken)
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Arancini:
2 C Panko bread crumbs
1 egg
8 ounces lobster meat, in 1/2″ cubes
vegetable oil

Heat the stock to a simmer. Melt the butter and gently saute the onions until translucent. Add the rice and cook for about five minutes. Then add the wine, and stir the rice until the wine is all absorbed. The start adding the stock, about 1/2 C at a time, stirring almost constantly until it is absorbed. After 3 cups of stock is absorbed, check to see whether the rice is tender (al dente). If not, add another 1/2 C of stock, and perhaps another, until the rice is done.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, and let the risotto cool. You’re going to be handling it.

Beat the egg and combine that and 1/2 C of the bread crumbs with the risotto.

Take 2 T of the risotto mixture and form into a firm ball about 2″ in diameter. Make an indentation in the ball, insert a chunk of lobster, and form the risotto around the lobster to seal it completely. Coat the ball with the bread crumbs as you go, and when you have them all done, deep fry them in 350F oil until golden brown, about four minutes.

Drain on paper towels.

Deviled Eggs

I have for a number of years been experimenting with deviled eggs as a warm-weather picnic bring-along. I have some devotees who ask “where are the deviled eggs?” even at Christmas. But I was always just winging it, never using a recipe, per se, and never getting consistently good eggs. Too salty, too spicy (too bland was not a complaint I’d heard). It was time to grow up and create a recipe. So here goes for my base line, which turned out pretty good.

1 dozen eggs, plus a couple spares

Eggs are best prepared a day in advance [1]. Best if put in the pot in one layer, laying on their sides, with enough water to cover them by an inch or so. I use a liberal amount of salt (as much as 1/4C) and perhaps a like amount of vinegar. The salt raises the boiling point of water; the vinegar keeps the whites at bay should little leaks evolve. Bring the eggs to a rolling boil, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain, cover with ice and cold water. The more ice the better. Let them stand for an hour or more, then refrigerate overnight (I don’t have to say “after draining off the water”, do I?).

Peel the eggs, halve the eggs, reserve the yolks in a shallow bowl. “Imperfect” whites can be eaten, fed to the dog, or discarded, your preference. On a good day you’ll have 24 halves, on bad day, 18. No matter. (The deviled egg container I have has 20 indentations. I thought that was a stupid number, until I figured out that I routinely screw up two eggs per dozen. 20 is the perfect average number of indentations.)

Mash the egg yolks with a fork until smooth. This it the only way. Trust me.

Add
1/4 C Miracle Whip
1 T prepared mustard
2 T hot sauce (Tabasco or your favorite)
2 T sweet pickle relish (Cain’s is the local favorite)
1 T Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is the best)
1 T cider vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper

Mix well, and taste. It might need more salt, or hot sauce. If it’s too thick, add a bit more Miracle Whip.

Spoon about 1 t of filling into each of the egg halves, and garnish with smoked paprika, or a sprig of chive, whatever blows your skirt up.

[1] Eggs are also best purchased a week or so in advance. It makes no difference in the flavor, but they are much easier to peel, increasing your final yield.