Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mardi Gras Appetizers! Throw Me Some Beads!

Hi everyone!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope you are all enjoying it, and I also hope you are knee deep in flowers, chocolate, etc.  Me…..you ask?  After a special Valentine’s breakfast, and helping out at Addy’s class party….I have already moved on to Mardi Gras!  A blogger must always be about a week ahead of schedule;)  And I am.  Fat Tuesday is one week from today.

I won’t give you a history lesson on Fat Tuesday.  I am pretty sure I did that last year.  Just know that I love Mardi Gras and everything associated with it.  I feel that it is something we should all celebrate….whether a southerner or not.  Mardi Gras has great food, great drinks and beautiful beaded necklaces;)  Just please, don’t lift your shirt for me.

I have my Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday all planned out…all the way from appetizers to desserts.  Everything is easy and delicious.  I promise;)

Today I am going to show you how to make the appetizer portion of my menu.  I am going to show you how to make Spicy Fried Pickles with homemade Ranch Dressing, and Muffaletta Sliders.  Let’s start. 

Have you had fried pickles?  They are amazing.  And kind of the new thing.  Since I always need to be right on it with new things…..I no choice but to make them.

I used Bread and Butter Chips for my fried pickles because I prefer that kind of pickle to a dill pickle, but I will be honest….Dill fry better.  I have tried both, and yes, dill pickles work better.  I also used flour, salt, pepper, an egg, buttermilk and hot sauce.  The hot sauce is what makes them spicy.  You can adjust the heat to your preference.

I started by drying off my pickles.  This will help everything stick better.

In one shallow dish, I mixed together buttermilk, an egg and hot sauce.  In another shallow dish, I mixed together flour, salt and pepper.  I am going to set up an assembly line.  The pickles will start with a dip in the flour, then the buttermilk, and then back in the flour.

Like so…..

Then, the dipped pickles get deep fried.  What’s that?  You didn’t know we were deep frying these?  Yeah, I kept that to myself as to not scare you off.  But this is party food…..not everyday food.  Live a little.

I deep fried my pickles in hot oil.  The oil was about 350 degrees.  These will fry in about 3 minutes.  Once they were golden brown, I took them out of the oil and placed them on a rack to cool.  I also salted them as soon as they came out of the oil.

Yum!  Now let me show you how to make the Ranch dip…..

This is, by far, the best ranch dip I have ever had.  Homemade is the way to go, and it really is easy.  And it doesn’t even involve Hidden Valley!

I used light mayonnaise, low-fat plain Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, scallions, dill and parsley.  Fresh herbs are the way to go, fo’ sho’.

Everything gets tossed into the food processor.  Easiest recipe ever.  You will want to eat this on everything.  And you can!  I use low-fat mayo and low-fat Greek yogurt!  You could even use nonfat yogurt….I just don’t like nonfat.

Deep fried pickles need homemade ranch like I need daily naps.

Ok, I know you are all trying to be romantic and enjoy the rest of your Valentine’s Day so I will be quick with it and show you how to make Muffaletta Sliders…..

According to the smarty-pants at Wikipedia, a Muffaletta Sandwich is the official sandwich of New Orleans.  It is usually on a round Italian loaf of bread, and has an olive salad on it that soaks into the bread and makes it all salty and delicious.  It usually also contains salami, ham and provolone cheese.

I went a different direction with my Muffaletta.  Perhaps this is sacrilegious to those from New  Orleans, but I wanted to make mine tiny.  I wanted appetizer size sliders. Please don’t be mad if you only like ‘em big….This is just my take on it.

I chose little Hawaiian sweet rolls for my bread.  True, this isn’t as crusty and thick as Italian bread, but I toast mine to make it crustier.  Also, if the bread is a bit crusty….the olive salad won’t make the sandwich soggy.

I also used salami, ham and provolone cheese.

Are you asking yourself what the hell that is in the picture above?  That is my version of an olive salad.  I used about one cup of olive tapenade that I had in the freezer.  I used this recipe, http://gourmetrooster.blogspot.com/2012/01/tapenade-for-my-honey.html.  You can buy a jar if you don’t have any on hand.  I also threw in about ½ a cup of jarred Italian Giardiniera that I had chopped the nonsense out of.  I mixed this together and boom, olive salad.

You know what I like about the Hawaiian sweet rolls?  You can slice the whole thing horizontally really easily.  Then, once the sandwiches are ready, they easily pull apart.

I spread one half with my olive salad.

On the other half, I layered on the cheese and meats.  Then, I threw both halves into the oven and broiled them until the bread was slightly crusty.

Just like a Muffaletta but oh so cute and tiny!  I think these are perfect for a Mardi Gras party.  They scream New Orleans, but they are easy to pick up and eat while you are holding a Hurricane in your other hand.  Or while you are lifting your shirt for beads.

If you walk away with anything after reading this….I hope it is that you really want to try the homemade Ranch Dressing.  I swear, it is the most amazing ranch dressing I have ever had.  And I consider myself a bit of a Ranch dressing connoisseur.  If you want to thin it out for a salad, just use some buttermilk.

I will see you on Thursday with a Chicken Etouffee that you can make in your slow cooker, and a yummy Bananas Foster!!

Deep Fried Spicy Pickles          

2 cups pickle “chips”, patted dry

1 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 cup buttermilk

Oil for deep frying

Heat oil in a large pot to 350 degrees.

Mix flour, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish.

In another shallow dish, mix together buttermilk, egg and hot sauce.

Dredge pickles in flour mix, then buttermilk, then back in flour.  Shake off excess.

Fry in hot oil for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oil and place on rack to cool. 

Serves 4 to 6 people

Homemade Herby Ranch Dip

12 ounces Low-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt

1/3 cup Low-Fat Mayonnaise

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/3 cup scallions, chopped

3 tablespoons Italian parsley

3 tablespoons dill

1 clove garlic, minced

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until desired consistency is reached.

Makes about 2 cups

Muffaletta Sliders

12 Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

1 cup olive tapenade

½ cup Italian Giardiniera, finely chopped

9 slices provolone cheese

9 slices deli ham

18 slices salami

Preheat broiler.

Slice Hawaiian rolls horizontally.  Spread one half with tapenade and giardiniera that has been mixed together.  Top other half with meats and cheese.

Broil both halves for about 2 minutes, or until bread is crusty and starting to brown.  Cheese should be starting to bubble.

Place top half back on bottom half and pull sandwiches apart.  Serve warm.

Makes 12

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