Holiday Party Appetizer ~ Sunchoke and Spinach Dip with Wonton Crackers

It’s holiday party time again! For a quick, easy, and seasonal party dish, I whipped up this dip that is my winter spin on classic artichoke dip. Artichokes are more of a spring vegetable, but sunchokes are in season in the heart of winter, so they are perfect for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve appetizer. 🙂 I also added a little spinach to this dip for a bit of color.

I served the dip with some wonton crackers in the shape of stars for a festive holiday touch. 🙂

 

Sunchoke and Spinach Dip

1/2 pound sunchokes, cut into quarters

1 small handful fresh spinach

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons cream cheese

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 roasted garlic cloves

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Fill a saucepan with about an inch of water. Steam the sunchokes until they are very tender.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the steamed sunchokes and all of the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth.

Serve warm, room temperature, or even cold.

 

Wonton Crackers

Wonton wrappers

High heat cooking spray

Salt to taste

Cut your wonton wrappers into desired shapes with a knife or cookie cutter. Spray the wrappers with a light coating of cooking spray, and rub the oil evenly over the surface with your finger. Season with a sprinkling of salt.

Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the wonton wrappers are golden brown and crunchy.

One more culinary stop in Asia ~ Vietnamese Baby Clams with Sesame Rice Crackers

Baby Clams with Rice CrackersAfter my virtual stop in South Korea to try their famous bibimbap, I decided to try a Vietnamese dish on my next stop. After all, it’s only a 4 ½ hour plane ride from Seoul to Da Nang, so I’ll make a quick culinary visit, just long enough for an appetizer in Vietnam. 😉

This is a dish I order over and over again at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, so I decided to figure out how to make it at home! Turns out, it is really easy! It just requires two special ingredients from the Asian grocery store. The first is a Vietnamese herb that is sort of like mint or cilantro called rau ram. The pretty little leaves are a little peppery and delicious. I also used black sesame rice crackers on the side to scoop up the clams. They puff up when they are cooked, which is so much fun to watch!

Baby Clams with Rice Crackers

Inspired by a recipe from Danang Cuisine

1 tablespoon safflower oil (or other high heat cooking oil)

2 small shallots, finely sliced

1 teaspoon lemongrass, minced

1 teaspoon fresh chili pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced (I like jalapeño or serrano)

1 garlic clove, minced

5 oz canned baby clams or chopped clams, drained and rinsed (Just try to find an all-natural brand, without any added preservatives)

4 tablespoons (approximately) of rau ram, roughly chopped (Fresh basil also works if you can’t find rau ram)

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1-2 sesame rice crackers

Preheat a wok or nonstick pan. Add oil. When the oil is shimmering and hot, add the shallots, and cook until caramelized. Add the lemongrass and chili pepper, and cook until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the clams. Toss until warmed through. Turn off the heat and add rau ram, fish sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper. Toss and serve.

Take one rice cracker and microwave for one minute until puffy. Break into pieces. Serve as a “spoon” with the clams.

Baby Clams with Rice Crackers

Raise some dough for a good cause in a virtual online bake sale

A fellow food blogger at The Tomato Tart came up with a cool idea to raise a little “dough” for a good cause through a virtual online bake sale. All of the proceeds will go to Second Harvest Japan, which is an organization that makes sure perfectly good food that can’t be sold through mainstream stores in Japan make it to the people who need it. (Check out this little video from CNN if you’d like to learn more about the organization.) I am one of the many food bloggers participating in the bake sale. I will be submitting one of my all time favorite recipes from this website…Homemade whole-wheat crackers with tomato, oregano and Parmesan. If you are the highest bidder on March 30th, I’ll make you a big batch and send them your way! There will also be a bunch of other goodies to choose from, so come check out the fun :).  Here is a link to a little article about the bake sale at SF Weekly if you’d like to learn more. I hope you can check it out! 🙂

Our Favorite Homemade Crackers

One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to make homemade crackers. We have a tag team system where I make the dough, he rolls it out and I apply the final toppings. Then we watch a movie while we wait for them to bake, savoring the aroma that wafts through the house. It’s a really cozy way to have a date at home on a cold and rainy night. 🙂

Our Favorite Tomato, Oregano and Parmesan Crackers

1 cup and 1 tablespoon whole-wheat pastry flour

¾ cup and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon table salt

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon tomato paste

½ cup and 2 tablespoons water

Grated Parmesan and dried oregano for sprinkling on top

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together except for the Parmesan and oregano. (I find that kneading it together with my hands is a bit messy, but it works the best.) Then roll out little pieces of the dough as thinly as possible on a lightly floured surface. Place the very thin dough in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. (This will make enough crackers to cover about 6 baking sheets, so we do them in a few separate batches.) Sprinkle the crackers with a little grated Parmesan and dried oregano to taste. Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on how thin you were able to make the crackers and depending on your oven. (Just watch them very closely because they are easy to burn.) They are done when they are golden and crispy.

I hope you like them as much as we do!