Going batty over Halloween

Halloween appetizer recipe

My assignment from the hostess:  Create a spooky appetizer for the neighborhood Halloween party.

It should have been easy.  But as much as I like the fantasy of the scary holiday, I still want my food to be real.  Yet wherever I looked for inspiration, all I found was processed food and outrageous colors.  The dishes were amusing  but I wouldn’t eat them.

What I needed was terrific food in Halloween disguise.   Enter homemade sesame seed crackers in bat shapes and zesty pimento cheese spread, which just happens to come in the perfect shade of orange. Continue reading Going batty over Halloween

Noodling around Asian-style

Sesame peanut noodles recipe

Every time I see a new recipe for  sesame peanut noodles, I feel compelled to try it.  Somewhere out there, I know, is the elusive sauce with the ideal balance of lively spice and creamy texture that turns cold noodles and fresh vegetables into a feast.

Most of the recipes I’ve made, however, tend to turn out bland, stodgy and gloppy.  Once the sauce joins the cooled noodles, it congeals and becomes almost impossible to toss with the pasta.

For years, my best bet was Nina Simonds’ rainbow peanut noodle salad from “Asian Noodles” (Hearst Books, 1997).  It was always a hit at potlucks and summer picnics with its creamy dressing and generous helpings of crisp vegetables, but it lacked the spark I craved.  I wanted the undercurrent of lime and tingle of chile that make Thai cuisine so irresistible.

During an extremely hot spell this month, though, I began experimenting with my own sauce, bumping up the heat with ginger and red chile sauce (I like sriracha in the plastic squeeze bottle with a rooster on it) while introducing the zing of fresh lime juice.  The ingredients are available in most supermarkets. Continue reading Noodling around Asian-style

Apples on pizza? Why not?

Apple pizza

I realize that a traditional pie is the first dish that pops to mind when you’re gazing on a shiny pile of  fall apples at the market.  Who can resist fat slices of freshly-picked fruit, dusted with cinnamon and tucked into a buttery crust?

But I get bored with the same old dishes and was intrigued by a reference to apple pizza I encountered while casting about for a new recipe.  It was made with puff pastry, though, which really doesn’t qualify as pizza in my book.  So I began experimenting with fresh pizza dough. Continue reading Apples on pizza? Why not?