LEMONGRASS BEEF AND SCALLION ROLLS

Serves 4 to 8.

Note: This dish, which must be prepared in advance, is an easy version of the Japanese dish beef negimaki. Roll them ahead, wrap in plastic and store in the fridge until you’re ready to grill and serve. You’ll find lemongrass stalks in Asian markets. From “Paleo Planet: Primal Foods From the Global Kitchen” by Becky Winkler.

•1 1/2 lb. top round steak

• 4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, pounded and minced (see Note)

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 2 tbsp. fish sauce

• 1 tbsp. honey

• 2 tsp. soy sauce

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 6 scallions or green onions

• Toasted crushed sesame seeds, for serving

Directions

Place meat in freezer for 30 to 45 minutes, then slice as thinly as possible against the grain.

Combine lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, honey, soy sauce and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Add beef and toss to combine. Let beef marinate for up to 1 hour at room temperature, or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Trim scallions or green onions and cut crosswise into halves or thirds, so that they are a bit longer than the width of the slices of beef. Bring 1 inch water to a simmer in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions and blanch just until their color deepens, 15 to 20 seconds. Drain.

Preheat an outdoor grill, stovetop grill or panini press.

Roll each piece of beef around 1 or 2 pieces of green onion, and brush the excess marinade on outside of each roll. If desired, thread rolls onto wooden skewers or toothpicks that have been soaked in water.

Grill until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot.

Nutrition information per serving of 8:

Calories 122 Fat 3 g Sodium 260 mg

Carbohydrates 3 g Saturated fat 1 g Calcium 22 mg

Protein 21 g Cholesterol 53 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 lean meat.

 

ZESTY LINGUICA SPREAD

Makes 1 cup.

Note: This easy appetizer is a savory blend of spicy sausage and mildly tangy cream cheese. If you can’t find Portuguese sausage, substitute the more readily available chorizo. You can serve the spread with crackers, toast points or phyllo cups — I spooned it into buttery puff pasty cups. Yum. From “Authentic Portuguese Cooking” by Ana Patuleia Ortins.

• 1/2 lb.linguica or chorizo sausage, casing removed

• 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil

• 1/4 c. finely chopped onion

• 4 oz. cream cheese, softened or whipped

• 1 1/2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

• Dash or two hot sauce, to taste

Directions

Cut sausage into small pieces. Heat oil in skillet and add pieces of sausage and the onion. Sauté until sausage gets some color and the onions are soft and lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Cool completely, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor.

Process about 20 to 30 seconds or until meat and onions are fairly fine. Transfer to bowl and fold in cream cheese and parsley, mixing thoroughly. Add hot sauce, blending well. Serve immediately or cover and chill. Bring out a half-hour before using. Spread on toast points or fresh bread or add rounded teaspoons to miniature phyllo cups.

Nutrition information per 1-tablespoon serving:

Calories 65 Fat 6 g Sodium 150 mg

Carbohydrates 1 g Saturated fat 2 g Calcium 10 mg

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 14 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 fat.

 

CAESAR-STUFFED EGGS

Serves 16.

Deviled eggs are an easy, inexpensive hors d’oeuvre for holiday tables. Take them to the next level by adding the flavors of a Caesar salad. Sounds strange, but it works. “Everyone Is Italian on Sunday” by Rachael Ray.

• 16 large free-range, organic eggs

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

• Fine sea salt

• 2/3 c. olive oil

• 2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted

• 1 tbsp. anchovy paste

• 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 1 1/2 to 2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

• 1/2 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or 1/4 c. Pecorino Romano mixed with 1/4 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

• 1 c. packed finely chopped romaine lettuce hearts, plus more for garnish

Directions

Place eggs in medium saucepan with water to cover. Bring to rapid, rolling boil. Cover pan, remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Crack shells and let stand for 10 minutes in very cold water. Peel eggs. Halve them lengthwise and remove yolks. Set whites and yolks aside separately.

In medium bowl, whisk lemon juice and mustard. Season with salt. While whisking, stream in oil slowly, pouring it down the sides of bowl, to emulsify. Stir in garlic, anchovy paste, Worcestershire, pepper and cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings — it should taste like a thick Caesar dressing.

Mash egg yolks into dressing. Stir in chopped lettuce. Spoon mixture into small plastic food storage bag. Snip off one corner to make a small opening and pipe the filling into the egg white halves. Garnish with a bit more finely chopped lettuce.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 180 Fat 16 g Sodium 210 mg

Carbohydrates 1 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 68 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 190 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 medium-fat meat, 2 fat.

 

 

WARM BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CHEDDAR DIP

Serves 10.

This warm dip for the holidays is totally unexpected but totally delicious. It features all the tastes of the season, plus cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese? From seriouseats.com.

• Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling and greasing

• 1 large butternut squash (about 3 1/2 lb.)

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 4 tbsp. unsalted butter (1/2 stick), plus more if needed

• 20 sage leaves

• 1 large onion, thinly sliced

• 4 medium cloves garlic, minced

• 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature

• 1/2 c. sour cream

• 8 oz. Cheddar cheese, shredded

• Crackers or pita chips, for dipping

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Grease a small baking dish with olive oil and set aside.

Peel, seed and dice the squash into 1-inch cubes. Place squash cubes on the prepared sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast squash until fork-tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. (Alternatively, use the microwave: Poke holes all over the squash with a fork or make shallow slits in the skin with a knife. Microwave squash for 3 minutes or until the skin and flesh have softened slightly. Peel squash and cut into cubes. Discard seeds.)

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add sage leaves and fry in butter until lightly crisped and beginning to darken slightly. Remove pan from heat and remove sage leaves using a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Return pan to heat, add onion, and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion has caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add more butter if onion begins to stick to pan. Stir in garlic at the very end and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Place roasted squash, caramelized onion mixture, and about 2/3 of the crispy sage leaves into the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Add cream cheese and sour cream and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer squash mixture to prepared baking dish and mix in half of the Cheddar cheese throughout. Top with remaining half of cheese. (At this point, the dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking and serving.)

When ready to serve, bake dip at 400 degrees until cheese is entirely melted and browned in spots, about 20 minutes. Top with remaining crispy sage leaves and serve warm with pita chips or crackers for dipping.

Nutrition information per serving (without crackers):

Calories 305 Fat 25 g Sodium 420 mg

Carbohydrates 16 g Saturated fat 13 g Calcium 244 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 66 mg Dietary fiber 4 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 1 high-fat meat, 3½ fat.

PECAN MAPLE BLUE CHEESE BOURBON TART

Makes 1 large or 6 mini tarts.

Note: This might be the richest, most decadent tart you’ll ever eat. It’s sweet, salty and savory all in one bite. The gingersnap crust especially speaks to the season. From Casey Barber, Goodfoodstories.com

For crust:

• 20 whole gingersnap cookies

• 1 c. toasted pecans

• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

• 1/3 c. oat flour

• 6 tbsp. unsalted butter (3/4 stick), melted

For filling:

• 2 large eggs

• 1/4 c. sugar

• 1/2 c. sour cream

• 2 tbsp. dark maple syrup

• 1 tbsp. good bourbon

• 1 c. crumbled good blue cheese, like Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue

• 1/2 c. coarsely chopped toasted pecans

For garnish:

• 1/2 c. whole pecans

• 1 tsp. granulated sugar

• 1/2 tsp. maple sugar

Directions

To prepare crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Break the gingersnaps into large pieces with your hands, then grind to crumbs in a food processor with the pecans, salt, and flour. Pour the crumbs into a large bowl and stir in the butter.

With your hands, press the buttery crumbs into one standard 9- to 9 1/2-inch tart pan or 6 4- to 5-inch mini tart pans.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes for mini tarts or 12 to 15 minutes for a large tart, until the crust is matte and toasted. The crust may puff up slightly when baked; use the bottom of a dry measuring cup to press it back into shape, especially around the edges.

Cool completely before filling. The crusts can be made 1 day in advance of baking; cool and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to fill.

To prepare filling: Beat the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until very pale, thick and frothy.

With a spatula, stir in the sour cream, maple syrup and bourbon until blended. Fold in the blue cheese and pecans. Pour the filling into the prepared tart crust. (If making mini tarts, reduce the amount of each filling ingredient by half.) Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes (25 to 30 minutes for mini tarts) until the filling is uniformly puffed and set, with patches of golden brown appearing across its surface. Carefully transfer the tart to a rack and cool completely before garnishing and serving. The tart will deflate as it cools — don’t worry, it’s totally normal.

To prepare garnish: Heat the pecans in a small skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, tossing frequently, until the nuts are very warm to the touch and starting to release their natural oils and aroma. Add the granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon at a time, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to coat the nuts in the sugar as it melts in the hot pan.

Pour the 1/2 teaspoon maple sugar into a small heatproof bowl. Add the nuts and toss to coat until they’re crystallized. Top the tart with pecans in a design of your choice and eat any leftovers.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 590 Fat 46 g Sodium 360 mg

Carbohydrates 42 g Saturated fat 13 g Calcium 93 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 104 mg Dietary fiber 5 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 other carb, 1 high-fat meat, 7½ fat.

 

CANDIED JALAPEÑOS (COWBOY CANDY)

Makes 4 (8-oz.) jars.

One popular, and easy, appetizer you see on a lot of holiday party tables is cream cheese topped with some sort of spicy jelly. This year, dress the dish up with a lip-tingling jar of “cowboy candy,” or candied jalapeño. It’s easy to make and very pretty; for added holiday cheer, use a mix of green and red peppers. Be forewarned: These are totally addictive. From tastykitchen.com

• 3 lb. fresh jalapeño peppers, washed

• 2 c. cider vinegar

• 6 c. sugar

• 1/2 tsp.turmeric

• 1/2 tsp. celery seed

• 3 tsp. granulated garlic

• 1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper

Directions

Wearing gloves, remove and discard stems from all of the jalapeño peppers. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8- to 1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the top rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.

Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeño slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new two-piece lids to fingertip tightness.

If eating right away, place jars in refrigerator. To can, place jars in a canner and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth, then label.

To serve, spoon candied jalapeños on top of cream cheese and serve with crackers.

Nutrition information per serving of 1 tablespoon:

Calories 24 Fat 0 g Sodium 1 mg

Carbohydrates 6 g Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 3 mg

Protein 0 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ other carb.