Party Noshes


Some tasty recipes perfect for noshing at your next soiree!

Black Pepper Nuts

From Wishing You All a Happy New…

  Makes 2 2/3 cups
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  •  2 teaspoons salt
  •  1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  •  3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  •  4 teaspoons water
  •  2 2/3 cups blanched whole almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Mix pepper and salt in small bowl. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add sugar and 4 teaspoons water; stir until sugar dissolves. Add almonds; toss to coat. Cook over medium heat until syrup thickens and almonds are well coated, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle half of pepper mixture over.

Transfer almonds to baking sheet. Using spatula and working quickly, separate almonds. Sprinkle remaining pepper mixture over. Bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer sheet to rack; cool. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Cuban Black Bean Salsa Makes 2-3 cups

From Superbowl Etiquette

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ a white onion
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 mango, chopped into ½ cubes
  • 1 cup diced pineapple (if you are using canned, drain all but 2 TBSP juice first)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Mix everything together and serve with baked plantain chips, or your favorite bagged chips.

Crispy Rosemary Crackers

From A Superbowl to Remember

(Inspired by a recipe from Gourmet Magazine)

These are a terrific addition to any Superbowl feast, a great “carrier” for my Garlicky Cannellini Bean Dip (recipe follows after crackers), and are pretty darn good any other time too. The recipe makes three 10” flatbread crackers. You can break them up into shards, or score them before baking (like I did) to get somewhat more uniform pieces.

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TBSP grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 TBSP olive oil (2 for the dough, and 1 for brushing before it goes in the oven)
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling – I use Maldon but if you can’t find it any coarse sea salt works well.

Place a heavy-bottomed baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven, and preheat to 450ºF.

Whisk together flour, kosher salt, baking powder, rosemary and lemon zest in a bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the water and 2 TBSP of the olive oil. Mix together with a spoon or your hands to form a ball. Knead a few times; divide the dough into 3 small disks and cover with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.

Take a sheet of parchment paper about the size of your pan (doesn’t have to be exact) and roll one of the disks very thin so it makes about a 10-inch or so in round. Put the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl or dish. Brush the dough with the oil. If you want to make more uniform crackers, score the disk with the back of a bread knife or ravioli cutter into square-ish pieces. Sprinkle with sea salt.  Carefully take the hot baking sheet out of the oven, place the parchment on it and return to oven.

Bake for 4-5 minutes, spin the pan and bake another 4-5 minutes until the dough has browned a little around the edges and on any bubbles that have formed in the dough – you don’t want these dark brown.  Slide off the parchment and onto a cooling rack. Repeat with the two remaining dough disks, using a clean sheet of parchment for each. When the large cracker is cool, break into pieces along score lines, or however it wants to break.

After the last bread has come from the oven, turn oven off, but leave the pan in. When all the crackers have been broken into pieces, spread them evenly on the baking sheet, spread out and leave them in the oven for about a half hour so they dry out. It guarantees the crackers are crispy but don’t overcook and burn.

Store in an airtight container – Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Calories: about 105 per ounce, which is around 5-7 crackers, depending on size.

 Garlicky Cannellini Bean Dip

Makes about 2 cups 

Great with the crackers above, chips, crudités or spread on crusty bread with a drizzle of good olive oil and squeeze of lemon. It’s also pretty good for you, with more than a third less calories than the one with sour cream and onion soup mix.

  • 1 Can Cannellini Beans
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • 1 ½ tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated (about ½ tsp) — If you grate garlic it’s MUCH more pungent so go easy
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 TBSP good olive oil (this is a great place to use a flavorful oil, since it won’t get cooked)
  • 1 ½ TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 small pinch red pepper flakes (about 1/8 tsp)
  • 1/3 cup fat free Greek yogurt

Drain the beans over a bowl so you have a little of the liquid if you need to loosen the dip a little in the processor. Add the beans and the rest of the ingredients except the yogurt into the bowl of a food processor and zap until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in the yogurt. Cover and stow in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors combine. You could make this a day ahead too. Since the flavors will continue to develop over time, don’t add more seasonings until you are just about ready to serve.

To serve, let the dip come to room temperature, then taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with a drizzle of flavorful olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Calories: 620 total, or about 80 calories per ¼ cup.

Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Basic Pizza Dough (From My Bread by Jim Lahey with Rick Flaste) 

From Neighbors

Makes enough dough for 2 13×18 inch pies

  • 3 ¾ cups Flour (Lahey’s recipe calls for bread flour, but all purpose works fine too)
  • 1 package (2 ½ tsp) active dry yeast
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ cups room temperature (about 72 degrees) water
  • Olive oil for the pans
  • One to two 13 x 18 inch sided cookie sheets

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. Cover with bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled (about 2 hours).

Using a rubber spatula or dough scraper, remove the dough onto a floured work surface and gently form into a rough ball. Divide the dough into two halves and cover with a damp towel, spacing about 4 inches apart. Let dough rest 20 minutes. (If you only want to make one pie, after the 20 minutes are up, tightly wrap the second dough in plastic and freeze. When you are ready to use, defrost overnight and bring to room temp before shaping the pie.)

When you are ready to make your pie, oil the cookie sheets. Pick up the dough and invert and stretch to the length of the baking sheet. The floured side should now be facing up and the moist side down on the pan. Using your palms, gently pull, press, and stretch the dough to fill the entire bottom of the pan. Be patient, it will get there. I find it’s easier to press out if I oil my hands with a little olive oil rather than flour them, but both work. You don’t need to make a crust up the sides of the pan, just fill it.

The dough is now ready to top as you like. I’ve picked out a few of my favorites from Lahey’s book below (each of these all make one pie), but feel free to experiment and be as creative as you like!

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in center

Pizza Funghi – Mushroom Pizza1 ¼ lbs cremini mushrooms (baby bellos)-sliced thin, 1 1/3 cups diced onions, 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, 1 tsp salt, 2 ½ tsp extra virgin olive oil. In a bowl toss together the sliced mushrooms, diced onion and thyme. Scatter mixture fairly evenly over dough, putting a little more around the edges (the outside edges tend to brown faster.) Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 25-30 minutes or until mushrooms are starting to turn golden brown and crust is pulling away from pan. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Pizza Cipolla – Onion Pizza: 2 medium onions, 1/3-cup heavy cream, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves. Slice the onions thin (about 1/8 inch) with a mandolin or food processor–you should get about 6 cups. In a medium bowl, toss the onions with the cream, salt and thyme. Spread mixture evenly across the dough, putting a little more on the edges since they tend to cook more quickly. Bake for 30-35 minutes until topping starts to brown and crust pulls away from pan. Don’t worry if some of the onions get dark – it adds to the flavor. 

Wild mushroom Tart (Adapted from GourmetServes 6

From Killer Heels

  • 1 sheet or pie tin of ready-made crust (if you are using the unroll and bake sheet, put the sheet in a 9″ tart pan with removable bottom, or pie plate.)
  • 1TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound mixed fresh wild mushrooms such as cremini, oyster, and chanterelle, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk

Make shell: Blind bake pie shell according to package directions. I like the roll out kind so I can put it into my 9” removable bottom tart pan. You can do same, or just make it in the tin it came in. Blind baking simply means to prick the crust with a fork all over so it doesn’t puff up, then put a piece of buttered foil, butter side down in tart or pie pan. Fill pan completely with pie weights, dry beans or dry rice –filling completely prevents the edges from shrinking. Bake according to package directions. Remove the foil with weights. If you use rice or beans, they can no longer be cooked, so I just put in a jar with a lid when cool and keep with my baking pans and use over and over again. Cool baked shell completely in pan on a rack, about 15 minutes.

While the pastry bakes, heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté mushrooms, shallot, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender and any liquid given off is evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

[Timing note:  You can bake off the crust and make the mushroom thyme shallot mixture ahead of time, then pick up the recipe from there when you want to make and serve. That makes this a great recipe to do on an impromptu Friday after work supper party.]

Whisk together crème fraîche, heavy cream, whole egg, yolk, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in a medium bowl until combined.

Fill and bake tart: Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Scatter mushrooms evenly in tart shell and pour custard over them. Bake tart in pan on a baking sheet until custard is just set and slightly puffed, 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool tart in pan on rack at least 20 minutes, then remove side of pan if you are using a removable bottom tart pan. Serve tart warm or at room temperature. Calories: 370/serving

 Cream Cheese and Guava Empanadas Makes 18 mini empanadas

Empanadas are just another word for turnovers, and this simple recipe makes amazing little pastries, whatever you call them!

  • 1 package (1 lb) frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 8oz. package cream cheese (cold), cut into 18 equal pieces about an inch wide
  • 18 1” x ½” squares of guava paste
  • (I like Goya brand. It comes in a large circular tin and is easily found in the Latin food section of most markets. Leftover guava paste is wonderful on a cheese platter or toasted cream cheese and jelly sandwich, and keeps well in the fridge.)
  • 1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of water to make an egg wash


  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp milk
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • Tiny pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Roll out each sheet of puff pastry to a 9 by 9-inch square. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut each sheet into 9 3-inch squares. Set a pastry square in front of you with 1 of the corners pointing toward you. Place 1 piece of cream cheese diagonally over the center of the square. Top with a piece of guava paste. Brush the edges of the square with beaten egg. Fold the upper half of the square over the filling to make a neat triangle. Crimp the edges with a fork. Repeat with the remaining turnovers, placing them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet as you go. ** If the dough begins to get too warm, just pop the fridge to chill it a little.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. While the turnovers are baking, mix the confectioners’ sugar with the milk and vanilla, stirring to dissolve any lumps. Set aside. Cool the turnovers on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes then drizzle the glaze over them. Serve warm or at room temperature. Calories: about 115 per empanada.

** This is a great recipe to make ahead and freeze. Just put the unbaked empanadas on a tray in the freezer until hard then pop into a freezer bag. Take out as many as you need, defrost, bake and glaze at will.

Garbage can cookies

From A pound of dirt before you die…

This is a very adaptable recipe. If you like other nuts, dried fruit or chips, feel free to substitute or add them in.

Makes about 30 cookies

  • ½ stick butter, softened
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½  cup honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda. Add the chopped peanuts and mix well. Set aside.

Beat together the butter, peanut butter, and sugars until fluffy. Add in the vanilla and eggs and beat until incorporated. Add in the flour peanut mixture and mix until incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Take 2 TBSP portions of the dough and form into balls like you would if you were making meatballs (about the size of ping-pong balls). Put on the cookie sheets and use the heel of your hand to press down evenly to make cookies about 2 ½-3 inches round.  Give them a little room  – they spread out a bit. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cool on a rack. These guys are will be a little crisp on the outside and soft in the middle…just how I like em’! Calories – approximately 135 per cookie.

 Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

From Mums, Mommies and Other Mothers

Makes one 13×9” pan full – how many you get out of that is up to you!

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder (this is a mild chili – you could leave out, or if you wanted it spicier, substitute ¼ – ½ tsp cayenne)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts, plus ½ cup peanut halves for top
  • 4-6 TBSP creamy peanut butter
  • Ganache for drizzling on top (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with cooking spray. (This will make it easy to remove the cooled brownies from pan and cut up.)

Microwave chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in large bowl on HIGH in 30-40 second intervals (stirring between) for 1 – 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, add the dry ingredients and nuts, mix well. Add dry ingredients into the wet, mix until combined (don’t overmix – just until you see no more dry spots) and pour into prepared pan. Drop 4-6 TBSP of peanut butter around the top of the pan, then take a butter knife and drag it through the peanut butter, making swirls as you go for a marbled design. (Be careful not to put the tip of the knife all the way down to the bottom or you’ll tear the foil.)

BAKE 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not over bake.) Let cool a little while you make the ganache.

For ganache drizzle:

  • 3 ½ ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (if using bittersweet, add 1/2 tsp honey)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • A pinch (about 1/8 tsp) sea salt
  • ½ tsp strong coffee, espresso, or instant espresso powder

Melt the ingredients over double boiler or in the microwave (1 minute should do). Stir until completely incorporated and pours well off a large spoon. Drizzle ganache over the top of the warm brownies, and sprinkle the peanut halves on top.

Chill brownies thoroughly before cutting. Use the foil to remove the brownies from the pan and cut into squares. These can be made a day in advance. Store in refrigerator and take out 15-20 minutes before serving. Leftovers keep well in the freezer, but I have a feeling storing leftovers will not be necessary…


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