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Mature Single Man's Cookbook
By Art Dickerson
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Art Dickerson
All rights reserved.
Drinks and Appetizers
Some type of drink is typically presented with the appetizers. Perhaps wine, mixed drinks, champagne, or nonalcoholic drinks. These will be discussed after the food recipes as it fits better when specific style and taste of the appetizers can be referenced.
The idea of the appetizer is right there in the name. It is to excite the taste buds in preparation for the oncoming main course. There are three types—dips, spreads, and finger foods. Some specific recipes will illustrate the differences. Your choice would be based on the appetizer not appearing wimpy with respect to the oncoming main course, and other than that, anything goes.
First, let's look at dips that are served with chips, specialty bread or crackers.
Corn, Black Bean and Pineapple-Chipotle Salsa
This dip will not be wimpy before any main course and is best served with "restaurant-style" tortilla strips. I serve it in a white bowl on a large white serving plate with the chips at each end of the server. The white sets off the remarkable colors of red, yellow, and black in the dip. Women are more sensitive to color than we men, and this colorful presentation will not be missed. It is also one of a class of "easy kill" recipes or EKs. The name certifies that preparation takes less than two minutes and can be accomplished by a five-year-old.
1 small can of Green Giant Niblets corn kernels
1 10 oz can of black beans
1 tub of Santa Barbara Pineapple-Chipotle Salsa
Open and drain the cans. Lightly wash the beans in a sieve; combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Place a small spoon in the serving bowl to assist loading the tortilla strips. This is important for any guest fussy about dropping some dip on the paper napkin or the small plate that you place alongside the large server. The taste is remarkable with a sweet undertone and a zing from the chipotle.
This recipe will make about six servings for normal guests although I have seen one hungry lady reduce that to three. The mix will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days if covered and hungry ladies are kept away from it.
Hummus and Pita Bread
This recipe is a spread that goes very well with Greek or Middle-Eastern style main courses. You can pick from several flavors of hummus, roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts, red peppers. The hummus itself is ground garbanzo beans and is sometimes served mixed with added olive oil and paprika sprinkled on top. A side item would be a mild Mexican yellow pepper or a spear of dill pickle. However, these are options. The recipe below is for "plain vanilla" hummus.
1 tub of hummus
2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
1 tbsp paprika
1 package pita bread (about 3 slices)
Stir the olive oil thoroughly into the hummus; place on a plate and sprinkle the paprika in a circular pattern in the middle. Use scissors to slice the pita bread into triangular pieces branching from the center (about 8 per slice of bread). Put the bread into the microwave for 20–30 seconds (1,100 W) or until it is hot. Serve the pita bread slices in a bowl and any options (pickle or pepper) on a second plate. Provide a small butter knife on the serving plate to spread the hummus on the pita bread. The spread will cling to the bread strongly so you might get by without individual plates, but paper napkins are advisable.
The tub of hummus will serve six normal people. The flavor of this appetizer is milder than the salsa above. It is subtle and will go well before main courses that are not too strong.
Tzatziki and Pita Bread
Tzatzikki is a Greek dip that is based on yogurt with lemon, cucumber, and dill. The flavor is unique and not extra strong. It is a good predecessor to most Middle-Eastern main courses. I have also used tzatziki for a sauce on sliced avocado as a side vegetable with the main dish.
1 16 oz carton of un-
sweetened Greek yogurt
1 juice of one lemon
1/2 English cucumber
3 tbsp dried chopped dill
1 tbsp black pepper
3 slices of pita bread
Slice the cucumber lengthwise into quarters and scrape out most of the seeds. Then cut into small chunks. Drain the water from the yogurt. Combine all the ingredients in a mixer and chop until a smooth paste is formed. Transfer about 10 ounces of the mixture to a bowl. Return the rest to the yogurt carton and store in the refrigerator. Cut each slice of pita bread into 8 triangular pieces and microwave for 20–30 seconds (1,100 W) or until hot. Place the pita bread into a bowl and serve alongside the bowl of tzatziki. This appetizer will need paper napkins and individual small plates as the dip is drippy.
Japanese Eggplant with Cherry Tomatoes
This appetizer dates from my days of raising vegetables. Japanese eggplant was said to be difficult to grow, but for one reason or another, mine prospered. I faced the question of what to do with the surplus after traditional recipes were tried. This recipe resulted from that challenge. You could use Chinese eggplant. The Asian eggplant does not have the bitter skin characteristic of the usual one.
x Japanese eggplant (1/2
eggplant per guest)
y olive oil (1/2 tsp per guest)
z mayonnaise (1 tbsp per guest)
? cherry tomatoes
(about 8 per guest)
?? wasabi powder (about 1/6
tsp per guest) or sweet German
mustard (1 tsp per guest)
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Slice the eggplant directly across into 1/4 inch pieces. Put the olive oil in a large frying pan and heat to just short of smoking. Salt the eggplant slices and put them salted side down into the pan. Salt the top side and fry until browned on each side. Remove the eggplant to a paper napkin. Mix the mayonnaise with either the wasabi powder or the sweet German mustard. Move the eggplant pieces to one or two serving plates. Apply the mayonnaise mixture to the top face of each eggplant slice. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put one piece on top of the mayonnaise.
This is finger food. It is hard for the guest to pick up neatly, so a small salad fork on each serving plate will help. This appetizer definitely requires a small plate and paper napkin for each guest. I have fixed two serving plates for a six-person dinner party using wasabi on one plate and German mustard on the other with colored toothpicks to identify the two spreads. That went over very well. Both the wasabi and the German sweet mustard were new tastes to that group.
If you are serving just the wasabi, a glass of pinot grigio wine goes very well or white zinfandel with the German mustard. However, if you serve both, the pinot grigio seems a better pick or offer the guests both wines and let them choose.
Tuna in Phyllo Cups
This is a more formal appetizer than the preceding ones. The small cups are made from phyllo dough and can be purchased already cooked in a box of fifteen. They are about one and half inches across and when filled make a neat finger food. This is an SK recipe (simple kill), defined as preparation taking less than six minutes and readily performed by a Cub Scout.
1 box of small phyllo dough cups
1 6 oz can of white tuna
chunks in water
2 tbsp ricotta cheese
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp wasabi powder or 2 tbsp
sweet German mustard
Lawry's Seasoned Salt to
taste black pepper to taste
Open the can of tuna and drain off the water. Mix the tuna thoroughly with the ricotta cheese, seasoned salt and pepper to taste. Fill the cups with the tuna and bake in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes. Mix the mayonnaise with either the wasabi or German mustard and spread a small amount over the baked tuna in each cup. Set aside on a covered serving plate. You are now ready to serve your guest/s with no loss of conversation time just by removing the cover from the plate.
Although this is finger food, the cups make it easy to pick it up and munch. However, the more formal appearance requires paper napkins and individual small serving plates to maintain the style. Remember, the ladies are more sensitive to style than we gents. The pinot grigio wine here is a good choice or, if you feel magnificent, champagne. For a nonalcoholic drink, sparkling apple cider would go well.
Mushrooms Stuffed with Blue Cheese
This is an earthy finger food with an excellent taste that can stand up to any main course. However, it is not an EK as it requires a bit of watching in the oven unless you have tried it and calibrated your range.
x cremini mushrooms about 1 1/2
inches diameter (2–3 per guest)
1 16 oz tub of ricotta cheese
1 package of crumbled
y seasoned bread crumbs
(equal amounts of crumbs
and each of the cheeses)
z olive oil (enough to
make the stuffing mixture
appear slightly damp)
Lawry's Seasoned Salt (don't
substitute in this recipe)
Wash the mushrooms, pull and discard the stems. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with olive oil. Put the mushroom cups on the foil and season each with a good shake of the Seasoned Salt. Stir up a thick paste from the other ingredients (enough to make a heaped filling on each mushroom). Don't use a mixer; the blue cheese crumbles should remain visible. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the filled mushrooms just long enough for the edges to soften (about 6 minutes). Turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil until the tops of the filling turns brown in spots where the cheese is visible. Turn off the broiler, remove the roasting pan, and cover it with aluminum foil. It will hold in this condition for about 30 minutes. When ready, move the mushrooms to a serving plate and provide each guest with a small plate and paper napkin as the mushroom cups will be easy to pick up but a little wet. This appetizer will live amicably with almost any drink, so choose one to go with the main course.
Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos
This is an appetizer with real zing and also a complex taste. It is finger food, but with a toothpick cooked in, it picks up easily and really does not need serving plates. However, paper napkins would be appreciated as the bacon will be a little greasy.
x jalapeno peppers (2–3 per person)
y tbsp cream cheese (1 per jalapeno)
z pieces thick-cut lean bacon (1/2 per jalapeno)
w tsp honey (1/2 tsp per jalapeno)
Cut the stems off the jalapenos; slit each down one side and clean out all the seeds and any white material—set peppers aside. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and honey. Cut the bacon strips into half crosswise. Stuff each Jalapeno full with the cream cheese mixture. Wrap a half-strip of bacon around the stuffed pepper and fix in place with a toothpick. Thread the toothpick so that you can set the pepper down flat with the slit side up. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the stuffed peppers onto a small rack (not the oven rack). Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the small rack on top of it. This will allow the bacon grease to drop off the peppers onto the foil. Turn the foil edges up to prevent the grease fouling the bottom of the oven (it's hell to clean up). When the oven is up to temperature, insert the cookie sheet and let it bake for about 12 minutes. Watch to see when the bacon has fully cooked and then remove the cookie sheet. The peppers can then be put onto a serving plate and covered with foil. They are edible hot or at room temperature, so this is a good preparation before the guest/s arrive/s.
The choice of wine to go with this appetizer is somewhat open and might defer to what you choose for the main course. The problem is that the appetizer may overshadow the wine. You might consider Cabernet Sauvignon and dare it to upstage the jalapeno. However this combination will upstage almost any main course except Macho Latino dishes. If you choose such a dish, try flan for a dessert and treat your guests to a wall-to-wall mano-a-mano exercise.
Spinach Soufflé and Blue Cheese in Phyllo Cups
This is an easy but very tasty appetizer. Stouffers makes a frozen package of spinach soufflé that is excellent in taste and also in nutrition. Phyllo cups can be bought as a frozen package of fifteen. These two were made for each other. I had a freezer loaded with walnuts from two very productive trees. This recipe was the result.
1 pkg crumbled blue cheese
1 pkg Stouffers Spinach Soufflé
1 pkg phyllo cups (about 4–5 per guest)
Prepare the spinach soufflé in the microwave per the package instructions and let it cool for 5–10 minutes. Chop the walnuts into pieces about 1/8 inch and toast in a frying pan for 4 minutes. Set out the phyllo cups and fill each with the soufflé almost to the top edge. Put finely crumbled blue cheese on top (about 1/4 tablespoon per scoop). Put the toasted walnuts on top and press lightly with the back of a spoon. Place the filled cups on a serving plate and you are ready to go. Or if you want to prepare ahead, fold under a plastic cover and run through the microwave to warm up just before serving. However, the filling will soften the cups if it sits too long. This appetizer is semiformal and will stand up with wine from pinot grigio to pinot noir. You might choose the wine to fit the main course. If you cannot find the cups, use tortilla scoops.
The younger ladies may want just wine or a margarita, but some of the more mature ones (there is no such thing as an "older" lady) will remember mixed drinks from a bygone era. These include the following:
Perfect Rob Roy
This is a Manhattan made with Scotch whiskey instead of rye. The "perfect" implies two kinds of vermouth wine where "straight" would imply only sweet vermouth.
1 part scotch whiskey
1 part white or "dry" vermouth
1 part red or "sweet" vermouth
1 good "shake" of Angostura
bitters for each ounce of whiskey
1/2 tsp of juice from
maraschino cherries for
each ounce of whiskey
1 or 2 maraschino cherry
for each serving
Combine all ingredients except the cherries in a shaker with two ice cubes and stir lightly just to mix and slightly cool. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry/cherries. Each serving should contain 1 1/2 ounce of whiskey.
A note of caution here. Your entertainment should leave the lady feeling good about herself with enhanced self-esteem. If the lady gets drunk, she will feel a loss of self-esteem the following morning. That will likely become a bad feeling toward you. Be careful that it should not happen. Two 6 ounce glasses of wine or two mixed drinks of 1 1/2 ounce each is about the limit unless the lady is accustomed to drinking you under the table. If the lady is a reformed alcoholic, it's thoughtful not to serve alcohol to any guests with any course (see nonalcoholic drinks below). She may protest that this is not necessary, so make the event appear natural as if that's the way you always do it.
This is a delightfully fruity drink that somehow conveys a party mood in any occasion. There are many versions using different fruit juices in place of or mixed with the lime juice. Use your imagination here.
1 part tequila or agave
1 part triple-sec liqueur
1 part fresh lime juice
1 wedge of lime per serving (small cut across the center of the wedge)
Using 1 1/2 ounce of tequila per serving, combine all ingredients into a shaker with shaved ice and mix thoroughly. Using a squat bar glass, wet the top edge with lime juice and dip it into a box of sea salt to coat the edge. Strain the mix into the glass, add the shaved ice to fill and place the lime wedge on the edge of the glass. Serve with a straw.
You can make shaved ice in an electric mixer, but that is hard on the blade. An alternative is to put four or five ice cubes in a ziplock plastic bag inside a dishcloth. Put the folded cloth on a cutting board and beat it with a meat-tenderizer hammer, giving crushed ice in the plastic bag.
This is sometimes called a brandy margarita. It is a little more retro or vintage and uses lemon instead of lime juice. You might try it on the lady if she likes to experiment or if you are out of tequila and she asks for a margarita.
1 part brandy
1 part triple sec
1 part lemon juice
Mix these in a cocktail shaker with 2–3 ice cubes and stir long enough for the shaker to feel cold. Each serving should contain 3/4 ounce of brandy. Serve in a cocktail glass with the edge wetted in lemon juice and dipped into sea salt. Put a wedge of lemon on the rim.
Excerpted from Mature Single Man's Cookbook by Art Dickerson. Copyright © 2014 Art Dickerson. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter I Drinks and Appetizers, 2,
Chapter II Dinner for Two, 14,
Chapter III Dinner for Six Indoors, 20,
Chapter IV Dinner for Six or more, 32,
Chapter V Desserts, 36,
Chapter VI Breakfast ?, 40,
Chapter VII Eating Alone, 44,
Chapter VIII Special Items on the Table, 48,
Chapter IX Special Items in the Pantry and Kitchen, 54,