Posts Tagged ‘appetizer’

Family Secret

December 29, 2010

Pīrāgs: All that is Latvia in one bite.

Small, unique, determined, traditional, patient, familial, proud and most importantly, delicious!

The simple combination of dough, bacon, ham and onions has infinite international variations, but there is only one form of Pīrāgs. This recipe has been passed down generation after generation and there are no duplicates.

While I adore perogies, calzones, pelmeni, shumai and all the other “bacon and dough combinations”, there is absolutely no substitute for this traditional Latvian bundle of joy. Not only is this recipe incredibly delicious, it holds a significance that can only be defined by blood, family and tradition. Pīrāgs are served at funerals, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas, New Years… you name it. Pīrāgs are part of Latvian culture and they are absolutely amazing.

Funny thing is that every Latvian family has a slight alternation, or small “secret”. I’m completely biased and truly believe that my 87 year old grandma, Velta Ligers, holds the ultimate Pīrāg secret. In the Latvian-Canadian community, you often hear the saying “my grandma’s Pīrāgi are better than yours!”.

My grandma’s Pīrāgi, really are BETTER.

While us Latvians love to celebrate tradition, there is always room for a little competition…

2010 has been an intense year for me. I have learned to really value my family and friends because you never know when you’ll have to say goodbye.

Recently, my mom and I travelled up to my grandma’s house to try and put her famous Pīrāgs recipe in writing (she has been doing it by heart for 80 years). My grandma (i.e. Nanny) holds a big place in my own heart and I love her dearly.  

I think we succeeded in capturing “some” of her secret touches. While my Pīrāgs will never be as good as Nanny’s, I’m proud to have learned her recipe and I will continue to carry her secrets. After trying to do this on my own for the first time, I have a hard time understanding how she is still able to do this recipe to such perfection. It’s extremely labour intensive, strenuous and long, but it’s rewarding.  

Sorry folks, there will be no recipe to follow these mouthwatering shots. This one’s a family secret.  

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Say Cheese!

January 11, 2010

Hello Monday…we meet again! I must say that I’m very much looking forward to saying goodbye (well…at least until next week). 

I guess that I was feeling a little cheesy yesterday. I went to visit with some family that I haven’t seen in a few years and my mom asked me to bring an appetizer. I had a late night the night before and woke up craving something delicious. At this point I had no idea what that would be, but knew it wasn’t going to be a “low cal” type of treat.

I wanted cheese!

As you can probably tell by now, I consider cheese  a very special food group. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out one of my favourite posts so far: mac and cheese.

Anyways, I decided to make my first ever cheese ball by combining ingredients that I thought would go well together (and did they ever!). This is something that I’ll definitely be making again (and sooner than later).

In moderation, I really don’t think that this recipe is that bad for you. I did try to use low-fat (or light) substitutions, which should count for something…right?

Cheese Ball

  • 2 Containers light cream cheese
  • 2 Cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 Cups swiss cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp Light mayo
  • 2 tbsp Light sour cream
  • 3/4 Cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp (or less) Garlic powder
  • 1 Cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*About 10 drops of Worcestershire sauce adds great flavour as well. I omitted it this time, so that the vegetarians can still enjoy the cheese

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature for easy mixing. In a frying pan or in the oven, gently toast the pecans or walnuts to bring out the nutty favours. Once you can smell them, they are ready!

In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, mayo, sour cream, onion, parsley, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Mix until everything looks smooth and combined.

Transfer mixture into a mixing bowl and fold in the cheese and green onion (I like to do it this way, as opposed to in the food processor so that these ingredients stay whole…I think it looks nicer).

Once mixed, line a small bowl (that will fit all the mixture) with plastic wrap. Transfer the mixture to this lined bowl and refrigerate overnight. I didn’t have time for this, but did find that 1-2 hours in the freezer worked just as well and allowed enough time for the cheese ball to set.

Flip on a serving plate and garnish with the toasted walnuts or pecans (or both!). I think that candied nuts and added chopped herbs would be great too!

Say cheese!

Holiday Treats

December 28, 2009

The festivus of feasting seems to have slowed down…at least for now.

This Christmas, food was taken to a whole other level. It was constant, it was plentiful and it was delicious.

Here are a couple of my additions. These two appetizers were such a small piece of the overall three table spread at Adam’s family’s annual Christmas Eve party. From soup and salad to dessert squares and pie, there really was everything you would ever want in between, including great company. 

There was also the traditional Christmas Eve dinner at my brother and Candace’s new house, Christmas Day dinner at Adam’s parent’s house and an after Christmas lunch at my grandma’s house. Lets just says that my pants are getting pretty tight!!!

Prosciutto Salad Bites

  • Sliced Prosciutto
  • Mesclun Salad Greens
  • Salad Dressing of your choice

Lay the prosciutto slices vertically on a cutting board. Pick through the greens to make a salad bundle and place the bundle at the bottom of each prosciutto slice. Wrap the prosciotto slices up, with the salad in the middle. The prosciutto will stick and hold everything together. Slice the prosciutto wrapped salad in half and stand up on a plate. Before serving, drizzle on some salad dressing of your choice.

Cucumber Smoked Salmon Bites

  • Sliced Cucumber
  • Half a container of Cream Cheese
  • Handful of Dill, Chopped
  • Smoked Salmon, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the cream cheese with the chopped dill (this is easier if the cream cheese is at room temperature). Place a tsp of the mixture on each individual cucumber slice. Place a small piece of smoked salmon on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a toothpick to each bite, for easy eating.

Both of these appetizers can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until serving time.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Miss Claus

December 19, 2009

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Every year for Christmas, my girlfriends and I organize a Secret Santa gift exchange. The punch flows, the holiday music plays and the stories are shared. I am truly blessed with the best friends in the world! This year, everyone had to buy something that fit within the theme of “patterns” and each gift was so unique and really amazing. 

It was a busy week so I asked everyone to bring a little something for the buffet. Michelle and Lara brought shrimp, a cheese platter and delicious phyllo treats, Carly and Lisa brought Edamame (which we actually didn’t end up cooking because the table was too full), Tricia brought her delicious pita chips and hummus, Wesleigh  brought Prociutto wrapped asparagus (yum!), Liz and Elyse brought chips and pretzels and Ariana brought the most AMAZING homemade mini strawberry shortcakes.

I decided to “kick it oldschool” and stick with some of the easy classics. Chip dip and bruschetta…mmm.

Chip dip has been a tradition of ours since the beginning. I mean who can resist a good layer dip with nachos? Here’s how I make mine:

  • 2 containers light cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp light sour cream
  • 4 tbsp light mayo (adds a nice tang)
  • Salsa
  • Chopped bell peppers
  • Chopped green onions
  • Grated cheese

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream and mayo (I use a food processor, but a hand mixer also works well). Spread evenly on a platter. Add a layer of salsa, followed by the chopped veg. Top with grated cheese. Easy as 1…2…3.

(Someone snuck a bite before I could get the beauty shot!)

I love bruschetta. Especially when it’s made fresh, with good ingredients.

  • 6-8 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tbsp chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 tbsp chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and it’s ready! Serve with a fresh baguette, curstini, crackers or tortilla chips.

The spread was truly fantastic. I think we all agreed that we should have a Secret Santa every month. After all, who doesn’t like presents!

Presents!