Summer Appetizers

spring rolls

Summer is a great time for entertaining.    Here are a couple of my favorite summer appetizer recipes that you may want to try while entertaining friends and family members.     Best of all, you can make them all ahead (or have the components ready) so you can spend important “visiting time” with your guests.   Enjoy!

summer roll

Summer Rolls
Makes 6
You can make these several hours ahead of time.    Wrap the rolls individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.   You can find the rice paper and rice noodles in most large grocery stores in the Asian food area.  Poached shrimp are also a nice addition to the spring rolls.

2 ounces of cellophane or Thai rice noodles
6 rice paper rounds
12 basil or mint leaves
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup green onion, root removed, sliced on a diagonal using the white and tender green parts
1 red or yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 to 5 leaf lettuce leaves or shredded cabbage
6 rice paper rounds or squares
Bring water to a boil and cook rice noodles according to directions   Drain, rinse and cool.   Set aside.*

Line up your ingredients in small bowls before beginning to make the rolls.  You should have the basil/mint leaves, carrot, green onions, peppers and lettuce leaves along with the cooked rice noodles.

Fill a pan large enough to accommodate the size of your rice paper.   Place 1 inch of very warm water in the pan.   Place a rice paper round in the pan.    Soak for between 30 seconds to a minute or until rice round is pliable and the pattern on the paper is barely visible (once you get good at rolling, you can do two pieces at a time!)    Remove and place on a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel.

Place 2 basil or mint leaves on the rice round about 1 inch from the edge and leaving about 1 inch on each side.    Top with some of the rice noodles.   Top with some julienne vegetables.    Put a lettuce leaf on top of the pile.

Bring the edge over the filling and tuck underneath.   As you continue to roll, fold in the sides.   Finish rolling, repeating with the other pieces of rice paper.    Wrap the completed summer rolls individually in plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out.   Spring rolls can be prepared several hours ahead and refrigerated.

Tipthe amount of cooking time for the rice noodles varies depending on the type of noodle you select.  Some don’t even need cooking…just hot water to plump.   I try to get very thin rice noodles which make rolling the summer rolls easier.

Peanut Dipping sauce
¾ cup peanut butter
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (to taste)
1 medium garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon sesame oil

Place ingredients in the bowl.   The sauce can be made in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or you can blend by hand using a wire whisk.   Process until smooth.   Taste.   Adjust seasoning as needed.  If the sauce is too thick, add a little more water.    Refrigerate until ready to use.

sweet pot quesadella

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Kale Quesadilla
Makes 6 servings

3 medium sweet potatoes, washed
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon oregano
1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups chopped fresh kale
3 green onions
12 small to medium flour tortillas (use corn tortillas for a gluten free option)
2 ½ cups of grated cheddar cheese

Topping suggestions
Greek yogurt or sour cream

For the quesadilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.   Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper.  Place the whole sweet potatoes on the pan.   Roast in the preheated oven until a paring knife goes through the potatoes easily.   This will take about 35 to 50 minutes depending on the potato size.   Remove and let cool to the touch.   When cool enough to handle, split the potatoes and scoop out.  Place sweet potato flesh in a bowl and mash with a potato masher.  

In a medium skillet, add the olive oil (it should be just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.   When hot, add the kale and green onions.   Sauté for 2 minutes or until the kale turns a bright green and is tender.   Remove from the heat.  Add to the potato mixture and mash to combine.  Keep the skillet out for finishing the quesadilla.

Have two cookie sheet pans ready.  Line them with foil or parchment paper. 

Fold in the drained black beans and the spices.  Evenly spread the potato bean mixture among 6 tortillas.  Divide the cheese over the filling.    Top with another tortilla and press gently.

Wipe out the skillet you used for the kale.   Set over medium heat.   Spray the skillet with a nonstick cooking spray (PAM).  Place a quesadilla in the pan and cook until lightly browned.  Carefully flip the quesadilla.  When lightly browned on both sides, remove and place on prepared pan.   Continue with the remaining quesadillas.   The quesadillas can be served at this point, or covered with saran wrap and rewarmed in a 250 degree oven for 7 to 8 minutes.

crab and corn cakes

Crab and Fresh Corn Cakes
Makes 12  to 16 depending on the size you would like to make
These delicious crab and corn cakes are a combination crab cake & fritter. Make them ahead and rewarm in a 275 degree oven.

1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup crabmeat (checked to make sure it is free of shells)
One large ear of fresh corn
2 large eggs beaten
A pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup loosely packed herbs of choice (I like to use cilantro, mint, basil and/or sage)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for sautéing the cakes)

To make the crab corn cakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line a baking pan with parchment paper.   Combine the onion, garlic, crabmeat and corn in a large bowl.  Toss well to combine.  Add the eggs and mix well.   Add the cayenne pepper, paprika, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

Add the flour, cornmeal and baking powder and mix just until the batter comes together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter in a large, nonstick sauté pan until melted and bubbling.   Ladle cakes into the pan without overcrowding them and cook until golden grown—2 to 3 minutes per side.  Place on the baking pan and bake for 5 minutes to make sure they are cooked thru and hot.

To serve, place two cakes on each plate.  Garnish with citrus mayonnaise and salsa

1 ½ cups prepared mayonnaise
½ cup chopped herbs of choice (nice selections are mint, tarragon, oregano and/or basil)
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime

Combine and refrigerate until ready to serve.   If you like, you can place this mixture in a food processor and pulse to combine.   Then it can be put into a squeeze bottle so you can “decorate” your crab cakes!

Here are some SUMMER SALAD recipes you may enjoy!

Shaved Asparagus and Beet Infused Goat Cheese Salad

Avocado and Pomegranate Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Strawberry Salad with Montrachet “Truffles”














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