Tidewater Kitchen - February 2011


Healthy Finger Foods and Good Nutrition
Pamela Meredith-Doyle


A lot of people ask me for ideas about what to serve with drinks, about light foods for a brunch, a light luncheon, late supper, or just how to get away from the old routine appetizers. I like to nibble on these finger foods while watching television, or for a bedtime snack, rather than serving them as a first course.
These recipes are also excellent for cocktail parties. These bite-size appetizers may be made several days ahead and used as you need them. These first course dishes, with the addition of seafood, chicken or beef, serve equally for a light luncheon or late supper.
Here are ten great nutritional hints from a dear friend, Yeemay Miller, who is a Harvard nutritionist.

“A person who has their health has hope and the person who has hope has everything!”
1. “Eat food...not too much, mostly plants.” –Michael Pollan
2. Eat wholesome foods that grow from the earth and fewer processed foods from a wrapper, package or box.
3. When thinking about your meal or snack, keep at the forefront of your mind “How will I include more fruits and vegetables?” (Tip: Bring fruit to work and have a salad with lunch.)
4. Choose foods for health, mental acuity and what will make you feel and look better. Do not only choose foods for taste or for convenience.
5. Eating healthy requires PLANNING AHEAD. It will not “just happen.” Be deliberate and proactive with food choices.
6. Relieve your stress with regular exercise. Schedule it in your day as a very important meeting that you cannot miss.
7. Find ways to be more active in your daily life. Take the stairs, park the car in the farthest spot, walk more whenever possible.
8. Dieting is no way to lose weight and actually keep it off permanently. Instead, make small changes in your eating habits that you can continue for the rest of your life.
9. Let eating be a PURE activity. Control your portion sizes.
10. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
– Hippocrates

This is always such a huge hit when I make it. It is great for either summer or winter, and it is very healthy!

2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained
2 cans Mexican Fiesta Corn
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup mild picante sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Sea salt and pepper to taste
2 avocados (optional)

Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes and dice the onion.
Seed and mince the jalapeno pepper and add the rest of the ingredients except the avocado.
I like to add the avocado right before serving. Avocados do have fat, so it is your choice whether to add it or not. If you do, peel and finely chop it. Mix with the rest of the ingredients and serve the salsa with low-fat tortilla chips.

Makes 24 - Serves 6 to 8
3/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 French baguette, thinly sliced
4 tomatoes, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 t. dried oregano
8 oz. fresh Buffalo mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves - 1 handful, chiffonade
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Brush the bread slices with olive oil. Lay the bread pieces on a baking sheet, olive oil side up. Bake until toasted, about 3 to 4 minutes, then rub with garlic.
Place the tomato slices in a shallow dish and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper and toss gently.
Cut the mozzarella into thin slices to fit and top the bread pieces.
Arrange 1 or 2 tomato slices on top of the mozzarella/bread pieces. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until the bread is thoroughly heated and the mozzarella is almost melted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Finish by garnishing with basil chiffonade, and serve warm.

1 cup roasted red peppers (I like the frozen fire-roasted sliced peppers and onions from Trader Joe’s)
4 scallions, finely sliced
1 T. capers
1 T. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 log goat cheese
Mix all ingredients together, excluding the cheese, and place on the log of goat cheese, on a salad, or use with grilled meats or fish.

24 snow peas
1 cup chive cream cheese, whipped
1 T. Wasabi paste
1 t. sesame seeds
Radishes, sliced thinly

Remove the outer string from the snow peas. Make a slit at the top edge of each and gently open (do not pull apart).
In a small bowl, combine the chive cream cheese and the wasabi paste, stirring well. Spoon the mixture into a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Snip off one corner of the bag and pipe the cream cheese mixture into the snow peas. Place 2 or 3 thin radish slices into the cream cheese mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

1 pkg. refrigerated pizza dough (about 1 lb.)
Flour for work surface
4 T. olive oil
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. fresh basil or oregano leaves

Heat grill to medium.
Divide the dough into two equal portions. Roll each portion into a rectangle, approximately 1/4-inch thick
Brush one side of each rectangle with 1/2 t. oil and season with 1/4 t. of salt and 1/4 t. black pepper.
Transfer the dough to the grill, oiled side down. Close the cover. Cook until the dough begins to bubble on top, about 3 minutes. Working quickly, brush each rectangle with 1/2 T. oil, and the rest of the salt and pepper.
Turn and cook until golden brown and crispy on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Brush each piece of flat bread with the remaining oil and sprinkle with your favorite herb. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

1 18-oz. jar pineapple preserves
1 18-oz. jar apple jelly
3 T. dry mustard
1 5-oz. jar prepared horseradish
1 T. freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and blend well. This sauce keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator. Serve with pork, roast beef or venison. I enjoy it over cream cheese and serve it with crackers.

Even in the winter months you can find some colorful fresh vegetables for a crunchy, low-calorie addition to the party fare. Many exotic vegetables from a good produce department can enhance the usual offerings of carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower.

3 lbs. green beans
1 lb. snow peas
2 or 3 Belgian endive
4 purple-topped turnips
2 lbs. small mushrooms
4 red bell peppers

Beans: Leave them whole but check them carefully and remove the stem. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Drop in the beans and allow them to boil for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain. Immediately plunge the beans into ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve the bright green color. Spread the beans on a towel to dry. Refrigerate until it is time to serve. Leftovers are great sautéed with butter or stir-fried with other vegetables.
Snow Peas: Remove the stems and strings and follow the same blanching procedure, but only cook them for 1 minute.
Endive: Separate the heads of endive into leaves. Wash carefully in cold water. Allow to dry and refrigerate.
Turnips: Peel and slice. Cut into strips.
Mushrooms: Clean with a damp brush or soft cloth. Cut away the woody part of the stem and leave whole. These are best stored in a cloth bag in the refrigerator.
Bell peppers: Remove the stalk and seeds. Slice the peppers into strips and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, arrange the vegetables with attention to color and texture. Dip is attractive when served in a hollowed-out vegetable such as a bell pepper, purple cabbage or possibly a bread bowl.

2 cups
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1 onion, grated
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. French dressing

1 cup dried figs, chopped
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 T. olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. capers
1-1/2 t. fresh thyme, chopped
1 5.5-oz. log soft goat cheese, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Combine the chopped figs and 1/3 cup water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid evaporates and the figs are soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer the figs to a medium bowl. Mix in the olives, oil, vinegar, capers and chopped thyme. Season tapenade to taste with salt and pepper. This can be made 3 days in advance.
Arrange the sliced cheese in the center of a medium platter. Stir chopped walnuts into the tapenade and spoon onto the center of the cheese circles. Serve with bread or crackers.

4 servings
1 T. powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla paste
1 cup whipping cream
2 T. granulated sugar
3 cups mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and/or thinly sliced strawberries), plus extra for garnish
3 oz. crisp vanilla meringue cookies, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1/3 cup unsalted pistachios, finely chopped

Add the powdered sugar, vanilla paste and 1 tablespoon of the whipping cream to a bowl and mix well to separate the vanilla seeds.
Next, in the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the vanilla-cream mixture and remaining whipping cream. Beat until soft peaks form.
Fold meringues into the whipped cream mixture. In a 12-oz. glass, layer 1/8 of the berry mixture, 1/8 of the whipped cream mixture and 1/8 of the pistachios. Repeat layering and top with a few fresh berries. Layer ingredients in the same order in 3 more glasses. This can be done 4 hours in advance.