shiitake and arugula grit cakes

shiitake and arugula grit cakes

So a few weekends ago, I failed at making a recipe.  It happens.  I attempted to make arepas.  I guess the type of masa I had, was not the kind that would allow the arepas to puff up.  Mine remained flat.  Had I made them smaller, they would have been the perfect vehicle for which to serve something on.  (I am a sucker for cute little appetizers!) This was a lot of work for a small tortilla size appetizer though.  We ate it anyway, but that inspired me to make these little grit cakes (which my masa mess reminded me of).  I had come across the grit cake recipe in Southern Living and wanted to try it out, but it’s silly really, to make these if you aren’t entertaining for a group.  Well, I couldn’t wait for an event, so I decided that celebrating the Flyers was good enough….just me and my hockey-loving husband.  I don’t think he thought that it was hockey-fare, but that’s ok.  They were still good.  I combined the grit cakes, oh excuse me, crostini, with a topping recipe from Gourmet Magazine that I have had forever and never tried.  Glad I did!


shiitake and arugula grit cakes (mashed up from Southern Living and Gourmet Magazine)

grit cakes:

1/2  cup flour
2  tsp
1 1/2  tsp sugar
1/4  tsp salt
1/2  cup milk
2  TB butter, melted
1  large egg, beaten
3/4  cup cooked grits, cooled
2  TB chives, chopped
a few dashes cayenne pepper

grits batter

get started on the grit cakes:

Preheat oven to 425.  Sift together first 4 ingredients into a bowl.  Whisk together milk and next 2 ingredients in another bowl.  Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.  Whisk in grits, chives and cayenne.  Spoon by the tablespoon into two greased 12 cup muffin pans.  Bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes or until cakes are golden.  Immediately move from pans to wire racks to cool.  Makes about 24 cakes.

removing grit cakescooling grit cakes

shiitake and arugula topping:

1/4  cup light caesar dressing (I used Kens)
2  TB minced shallots
4  tsp Dijon mustard
2  tsp water
1/8  tsp dried crushed red pepper
14  oz shiitake mushrooms
1/2  cup (packed) thinly sliced arugula
4  sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

shiitake mushroomsmushroom arugula crostini

get started on the topping:

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray sheet tray with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine dressing, shallots, mustard, water and crushed red pepper in a large bowl.  Add mushrooms and stir gently to blend.  Let stand 25 minutes.  Arrange mushroom mixture on sheet tray, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until mushrooms are golden brown, turning mushrooms over halfway through baking, about 12 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Coarsely chop cooked mushrooms.  Add mushrooms to bowl with dressing.  Add arugula and sun-dried tomatoes and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Add mushroom and arugula topping to each grit cake and warm in oven for 3-5 minutes before serving.

note:  original grit crostini recipe was for 5 dozen so my recipe is halved.

sautéed broccoli rabe

broccoli rabe cracker

We are a big appetizer family.  It can be as informal as a bag of Tostitos and burning hot salsa, with my son stealing dollops of sour cream, or it could be as involved as pulled pork chalupas topped with guacamole.  Last weekend, my girlfriend was over our house, and was generously preparing an awesome dish of shrimp in Thai coconut broth for us, so I wanted to keep the appetizer healthy too.  I had an old recipe for broccoli rabe that I wanted to try because it was different from how my husband makes it, since he usually mans the rabe station.  I was curious to see if it would taste any different.  So I got the chance to make it when he opted to leave the two ladies in the kitchen to chat it up, and busy himself in the family room watching the Flyers lose.  During intermissions, he kept visiting the kitchen to see what was coming out of it other than all the chatter.  I placed the bowl of the sautéed broccoli rabe before him and cut up some provolone cheese and waited.  The bowl was gone in 10 minutes.  He asked me to make it again this weekend so I guess he liked it.  The difference between his preparation and mine, is that I trimmed off the thicker stems and then blanched the broccoli rabe for barely 5 minutes before sautéing.  He sautés and steams his in wine or beer.  I like it prepared either way.  His retains more of the bitterness, but I have a palate for that.  The way I prepared it made it seem brighter and sweeter….unlike my personality….haha.

broccoli rabe floretgarlic

sautéed broccoli rabe: 

2  bunches broccoli rabe (about 2 lbs), tough ends discarded
3  TB extra virgin olive oil
4  garlic cloves sliced
crushed red pepper
1/4 cup water
kosher salt and pepper

garlic and crushed red pepper

get started on the broccoli rabe:

After you have trimmed and discarded any thick stems from the broccoli rabe, add the remaining broccoli rabe to a large pot of boiling, salted water.  Blanch for 5 minutes until some of the thicker stems are softened.  Remove and drain completely in a colander.  In a sauté pan, cook the garlic and crushed red pepper in oil over medium heat.  Stir occasionally so that the garlic becomes golden but not burned, about 2 minutes.  Add the broccoli rabe, water, and salt and pepper to the pan.  Stir uncovered about 2 minutes.  You want the broccoli rabe to remain a bright green.  Serve in a bowl with a serving fork for topping crostini or crackers.


note:  Watch that clock when blanching…much more than five minutes and you have green mush.  This also makes a great side dish for fish or pork chops.  You get a good amount of appetizer servings for a group of 4 or 5.