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Cured duck, dates and cheddar rolls bites (7).jpg

Holiday season is coming, we’ll soon receive guests at home and/or vice versa. Here is a great idea to make your guests never forget about your dinner party. An hors d’oeuvre plate of duck prosciutto rolled around a date piece and aged cheddar to open up those guests stomach before the main meal. Those little bites will go away in no time, guaranteed, so make sure to prepare enough of those little appetizers.duckrollspin

ThCured duck, dates and cheddar rolls bitesis recipe is based on an appetizer my mom did last year, which was simply the duck prosciutto and the sharp cheddar with a drizzle of maple syrup. Back then, I really enjoyed it, it was delicious as it was but missing a little “je ne sais quoi“. I also experience the date and bacon mini rolls bites at an English friend place a few year ago. Well… I’ve mix up those 2 appetizers to make the ultimate bites of flavour that goes from salty to sweet, crispy to creamy and sophisticated. This holiday season if you want to make your guests the ultimate gift, make them those little duck, dates and cheddar mini rolls hors d’oeuvres.

Duck Prosciutto

Cured duck, dates and cheddar rolls bitesThis is the caviar of cured meat, it’s simply a duck’s breast with its fat (magret), cured and dried. They usually sell it, pre sliced, sous-vide at the butcher, delicatessen shops or markets. If you do not know where to buy such a product, they are lots of recipes out there to make your own duck prosciutto. Some with just salt, other like a gravlax, with sugar and salt cured, extra smoky flavors, spiced up, etc. Plus once you’ve cured a whole breast you can easily keep it in the fridge for weeks. It goes in so many dishes, like salads, croutons with figs or marmalade or cook it and turn it into a fancy pancetta. This last one is often mistaken for bacon, when lightly cooked and crispier. But the duck is finer and more delicate than bacon, although both are pretty high in fat so it’s better not to abuse those little appetizers.

 

The type of cheddar

Cured duck, dates and cheddar rolls bitesThe cheese used in those rolls needs to be an aged one, a sharp and strong cheese. You can substitute the aged cheddar for any other type of aged cheese, I’m thinking; artisanal cheese, as long as it’s aged for a minimum of one year. The older the better the cheese will hold in the rolls, aged cheeses contains less moisture, they will take longer to melt in the heat and hold up better in the rolls. If you use a young cheese, it will melt right out. An other nice fact about older cheese is… they are stronger so you can use a way smaller piece and still get a clear presence of it in the appetizers. We’ll cook just a tad the rolls, up until the duck get’s slightly crispier and the cheese on the verge to melt, so keep an eye on them when they get in the oven.

Let’s roll those little appetizers!

 


Duck Prosciutto, Date and Aged Cheddar Mini Rolls

Makes 30 mini rolls | Preparation: 15 minutes | Difficulty: easy

Cured duck, dates and cheddar rolls bitesIngredients
  • 100g of duck prosciutto slices
  • tiny cubes of old cheddar 
  • 6 dates, cut into 1/4 on the length
Directions
  1. Add a piece of old cheddar and date to the end of the prosciutto and roll
  2. Secure with a toothpick
  3. Cook in the oven just 4 minutes at 180°C (350F) until the cheese start melting

 

Serve on chives or a bed of salad. Enjoy!

Cured duck, dates and cheddar rolls bites

Shrimp tartar with strawberries and avocado

Shrimp tartar is quite simple to make and taste simply divine, without saying it’s looks irresistible. The base of the dish is similar to a shrimp ceviche, simply needing to marinate the fresh shrimps in lime juice for a couple of hours. The bigger the size of the shrimp the longer you’ll need to marinate it. By definition, tartar means finely cut and raw meat… In restaurants, the eternal favorites are the salmon, tuna or beef tartare. In this shrimp case, I’ve used fresh shrimps. Usually, tartare dishes aren’t marinated in acidic marinade for that long… the shrimps, here, were in lime juice for about 24 hours, but you could easily just marinated them 3 hours. The result would be a softer texture but as delicious… and it’s really important you get really fresh seafood to make this appetizer. shrimptartarepinShrimp tartar with strawberries and avocado

I believe strawberries and avocados are a match made in heaven. First, their colors are the perfect dynamic and appetizing pair and the creamy smooth avocado and the acidic and fruity strawberry pair beautifully.

You can use this as a tapas dish also, simply add the 3 components to a nice presentation spoon or small bowl and voilà! I assure you, there isn’t a better way to start an evening then this!

So let’s get that fresh and light bite going!


Shrimp tartar with strawberries and avocado

makes 4 appetizers / 8 tapas

IShrimp tartar with strawberries and avocadongredients
  • 1 big avocado in small cubes
  • 40 small fresh shrimps
  • 6 strawberries in small cubes
  • 10 chives finely cut
  • 3-4 limes (3 1/2 for the marinade and 1/2 for the avocado)
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper
Directions
  1. Clean the shrimps, take the veins out and wash them in cold water
  2. Add the shrimps to a small bowl with the lime juice, salt (enough to barely cover them)
  3. Let marinate in the fridge for 3 hours to 24 hours (longer the tougher the texture)
  4. Cut the avocado, strawberry and chives
  5. Add to the avocado, olive oil, chives, a lime squeeze, salt and pepper and mix
  6. In the center of a plate, add a small cookie cutter (the metal cylinder) add a bottom layer of avocado mix, then the lime marinated shrimps then top with strawberries and a leaf of coriander *optional
  7. Take out the cookie cutter and voilà!

Serve as it is or with a nest of lettuce of your choice. Enjoy!

Carrot and Turmeric soup

Another recipe with the magical Turmeric! This weekend it was the “Fira de la Tierra” a Earth Fair that brings many artisans from around Barcelona, to the Arc-de-Triomf place. There are kiosks of all kinds from clothing, beauty products to food products. But mainly, I would say… half the fair is food products. There are lots of organic veggies kiosks, artisanal cheeses, sausages of all kind and big wood ovens baking fresh bread here and there! It’s my favorite fair in the world!Carrot and Turmeric soup I stopped by the “pera” organic vegetables kiosk
and couldn’t stop myself from buying… They had those precious small avocados that are so… divinely onctuous. Anyways… all that to say…
I got myself some great fresh organic Turmeric, and since it’s a magical ingredient, well I try to experiment, a few different ways with it. This soup is magically smooth as it is delicious! Got an Indian flair to it, without being overly charged with spices. You’ll love it, believe me.

So the base is a typical chicken broth, then I roasted some carrots with onions, potatoes, turmeric, ginger and garlic and a pinch of that curry powder. It’s like touching heaven with your tastebuds this soup, a revelation. As I did already explained from the previous post of Coco-Turmeric Panna Cotta, turmeric is quite a magical ingredient, so many health benefits which would take hours to enumerate out here.

Even religions like Buddhism and Hinduism are big fan of it: They consider Turmeric to be a symbol of purity, fertility and prosperity. Also Carrot and Turmeric soupTurmeric is used as the dye, to make those famous buddhist monks robes.  In Hindu weddings, it’s a nuptial custom to paint the face of the bride and groom as a symbol of purity and prosperity. And at last, even the shamans from Hawai use it in their rituals… So there is something special about turmeric, we should definitely experiment more with it!

Also, if you want an extra sweetness to the soup, I add a touch of coco-lime cream on top. It compliments the soup perfectly, but it’s optional, since it’s much work for a single soup. I happen to had a leftover from the Strawberries & coco-lime recipe.

 

Let’s do this smooth and delicious appetizer, to start experimenting with Turmeric.


Carrot & Turmeric Soup

Makes 3 portions

Ingredients
  • 1 litre of chicken broth
  • 3 carrots in small cubes
  • 1 small onion cut into cubes
  • 1 precooked potato
  • 15g of fresh and finely chopped turmeric (without skin) or 1 tbsp of powder turmeric
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh finely sliced ginger
  • 1 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • Salt, pepper
Extra topping of Coco-lime cream *optional
  • 100ml coconut cream
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (break the leaf so it can give it’s flavor faster)
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • salt
Directions
  1. Cook your potato, if not already done
  2. Cut all the veggies, add the carrots and onion to a pot with the olive oil, cook medium-high heat, until turning slightly brown (5 minutes)
  3. Mid-way through the veggies coccion, add the chopped garlic, ginger, turmeric
  4. When the carrots are ready, add the curry powder and potato
  5. Add the broth, bring to simmer, cook for 10 minutes
  6. Blend the soup, once the veggies are soft
  7. Adjust the seasonning with salt and pepper
  8. Let sit to pick up some flavour, if possible
Coco-lime cream directions *optional
  1. Add coconut cream to pot with broken kaffir lime and sugar
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes
  3. Pick out the leaves and serve

Serve the soup with a bit of the coco-lime cream, Enjoy!

 

 

 

Carpaccio de zucchini

This recipe I’ve encountered in a Catalan village, so simple but highly surprising. We don’t get to see zucchinis uncooked… but it’s actually a pretty good raw veggie. There is a nice crunch to it and it’s got a soft taste that allows the extra-virgin olive oil to shine. Such a beautiful and simple appetizer, all you’ll need is a mandoline or a talent to cut really finely the zucchinis. You would think the protagonist food here is the zucchini, but it isn’t, it’s the olive oil! It’s the perfect meal to taste a delicate and fresh olive oil.

Olive oil… there is so much to say about it, I don’t know where to start. First let’s say, I secretly think it’s the secret to a long life, and the statistic say that spaniards are the second longest living population after Japon… I think it’s due in big part to olive oil. There is all kind of colors, from light golden to green, depending of the maturity and type of olive used. But the color means nothing when it come to the quality of an olive oil, it’s all in the taste. It’s also qui a big world, similar to wine, it get better years than others.

ThereCarpaccio de zucchini is so many types of olive oil, in Spain alone there is 262 varieties. In Catalonia, it’s the famous Arbequina olives that is mostly used to produce olive oil. The Arbequina is quite a small olive in itself although it’s got the highest concentrations of oil. It’s a delicate and fruity olive oil, but it tend to oxidize more easily than other varieties. So you need to keep it cool and in the dark to keep it long.

So get that good bottle of olive oil out and that mandoline!


Carpaccio de zucchini

IngredientsCarpaccio de zucchini

Makes 4 appetizer portions

  • 1 zucchini
  • few cherry tomatoes
  • good extra-virgin olive oil
  • parmesan
  • black salt (or normal)
Directions
  1. Simply cut super finely the zucchini with a mandoline
  2. Place in a plate, with cut tomatoes
  3. Peel some parmesan on top
  4. Add the olive oil and salt

Enjoy!

 

ajo blanco pina
ajo blanco pina

This is a summer recipe. It is actually based on the original gazpacho recipe, the “ajo blanco” which is an almond, garlic, bread and vinegar cold soup. The tradition one doesn’t contain pineapple but sometimes grapes are used.

ajo blanco pina

Gazpacho existed way before tomatoes were imported in Europe from the New World. Spaniards used to do “cold soup” gazpacho with simply almond and vinegar. Since the south of Spain is an almond paradise, when those trees bloom, it’s absolutely beautiful. The Arabs imported them and later cultivated them in Spain. They are obviously quite a few nice recipes with them in Spain. Often they use almond to make a “picada” at the end of cooking, it thickens the sauce and gives it an extra nutty flavour. For example, the “Rabbit with wine & chocolate sauce” contains some in the last stage of the recipe.

This soup is great because you make it in advance, obviously… since it needs to be cold… and when I say cold you can even put it in the freezer or ice 20 minutes before serving to make it extra cold.


Almond & pineapple gazpacho

Ingredients

4 portions

  • 200g pineapple
  • 100g of bread without the crust, soak it in water
  • 300g almond uncooked and without skin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 30ml apple or white balsamic vinegar
  • 800 ml of water
  • salt and white pepper
Directions
  1. Soak the almonds in water overnight
  2. Soak the bread a few minutes
  3. Add everything in a mixer and blend really well
  4. In a sieve, push out all the water from the mix, squeeze with hand to get all that juice out.
  5. Set in the fridge a few hours (needs to be really cold)
  6. Shake before serving
  7. Serve with a little extra-virgin olive oil on top.

 

Enjoy!