Too Many Cooks Is EXACTLY What I Need, Actually
November 8, 2014 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Do you have a crowd-wowing recipe for a room-temp appetizer with citrus somewhere in the mix?

My office is having an Iron-Chef style cook-off in a few weeks. I pulled 'appetizer,' and the challenge ingredient is citrus. I can't cook onsite, I will be bringing it in from home, and it will have to be eaten room temp. The citrus can be as heavy or as light as I want. I am an okay cook, with springform pans, mini muffin tins, and multiple zesters at my elbow.

Do you have any recipe suggestions for an appetizer that includes citrus and could nominally be served for a Thanksgivingishly-timed feast? Thank you!
posted by Ink-stained wretch to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Kale salad with orange juice and orange slices, along with whatever you want/like in the salad. Googling 'kale citrus salad' gives some good starters. The citrus softens the kale and makes it much more palatable raw than it would be otherwise.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Add some dried cranberries, slivered almonds and crystallized ginger to that kale salad above and you have a winner. I would also put some grated ginger in the dressing for extra snap.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:45 AM on November 8, 2014

I would take my favorite stuffing recipe and make it into little cups in a mini muffin tin. Then fill with a spoonful of bacon cranberry chutney (which has orange in it). You could top with a mix of fried sage leaves and orange zest if you want to be all fancy.

Make sure you use enough binder (egg) to make the stuffing shells stay together when picked up. Or you could use wontons, pre-baked and then filled, but they might get a bit soggy on the bottom.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:46 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you ain't digging kale then shaved fennel is another alternative.
posted by jadepearl at 9:46 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've also made something nearly exactly the same as the kale salad (with the ginger, cranberries, etc.), except substituting cooked quinoa for the kale, and called it stuffing. That would make it more thanksgiving-ish.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:47 AM on November 8, 2014

Guacamole, with lime juice!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:48 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Smoked salmon with homemade lemon-capers mayonnaise.
posted by Milau at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've been doing a lot of spicy pickled fennel with citrus lately, which is delicious on salads, on crostini, with avocado, by itself...
posted by Nimmie Amee at 10:05 AM on November 8, 2014

Lemongrass Chicken Satay?

I tend to be of Homer Simpson's opinion on salad, in a competative context, at least. I've made these --- can't remember the exact recipe I used, but it was quite similar to this -- and they went down a treat. Perfectly good room temp. You might want to squeeze half a lime over 'em just before serving to give it an extra citrus kick. If everybody else that's doing aps does lime/lemon/orange things, the lemongrass might help you stand out. And most people love peanut sauce.
posted by Diablevert at 10:09 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Endives with grapefruit and an olive oil and lemon dressing.

Fennel, orange and olive salad.

Tiny sandwiches with a lemony chicken salad in them, or little crostini with a lemony chicken liver mousse. Or both.
posted by mumimor at 10:14 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would do an avocado and pomelo (or grapefruit) salad w/ asian flavors. Most of the recpies I see online are Thai or Vietnamese (like this one), but I've seen this in an Indian cookbook too. It's basically pomelo/grapefruit sections, avocado, cilantro, chili to taste, shrimp or crabmeat. The Indian version has shredded coconut too which is fantastic.
posted by genmonster at 10:20 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

We make a roast beet/mandarin orange/arugula/goat cheese/sugared walnut(optional) salad in the fall. Do salads count as appetizers.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:25 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not specifically Thanksgiving-themed, but there are some great recipes here that could be useful for you. Or this visual showstopper. (You can safely omit the tequila, just use a little less gelatine).

You could probably make avgolemono (lemon soup) using turkey stock instead, and bring it to work in a thermal whatsit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:34 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could also use emptied lemon or orange halves as bowls to serve something like a shrimp mousse.
posted by Milau at 10:40 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

It sounds boring, but a well made hummus is Incredible. Even if you've never made it before, your first attempt will be better than any store bought hummus you've ever had.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:38 AM on November 8, 2014

Lightly steamed asparagus with lemon or lemon-butter sauce.
posted by amtho at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2014

Zucca's Orange and Olive Salad is easy and tasty. You could prepare at home and quickly assemble at work. If you can sneak in a quick microwave to warm the olive tapenade all the better.
posted by aka burlap at 11:58 AM on November 8, 2014

similar to the endive with grapefruit suggestion, i would make endives with almonds, oranges and goat cheese. it's a dish at jaleo and it's one of my favorites when i go there - so light and refreshing but a little fancy.
posted by kerning at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Guacamole, with lime juice!

Yeh. Two or three just-ripe avos (no brown spots) with juice of a lime, and 1-4 cloves of pressed garlic depending on how much you like garlic. A spoonful of mayo makes this smooth and creamy. Just stir everything together in the serving dish until blended. Best to prepare right before eating. Add a few pomegranate seeds if available for an interesting twist.
posted by telstar at 12:08 PM on November 8, 2014

Best answer: Bite-sized savory cheesecakes. The crust has walnuts and lemon zest, and the filling is cream cheese, lemon stilton, and a handful of chopped dried cranberries. Super, super delicious, and people find them weirdly impressive. Hit me up if you want the recipe--I'm on mobile and can't add it right now.
posted by MeghanC at 12:10 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Let me point you to a recipe for black bean and corn salsa (with lime juice!) that I gave to a previous Thanksgiving askme. It's delicious! Good luck!
posted by Wet Hen at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2014

(Cubano sandwiches are awesome.)
posted by small_ruminant at 12:37 PM on November 8, 2014

First thing I thought of was ceviche. That might be a little confronting but the longer you leave it in the citrus juice the more cooked it is.

You could also try little toast squares spread with smashed avocado, squeeze lemon on top and freshly ground salt and pepper. Yummy.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2014

You can keep shrimp cold in the fridge, so I'd just do shrimp cocktail. You can pull it out once the table is laid.

Toss the shrimp with lemon juice, olive oil and fresh dill. Serve in a clam-shell bowl.

Bunny's Cocktail Sauce:

Worcestershire Sauce
Lemon Juice

I promise, it's nothing to put together, but people LOVE it!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:56 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ah! Another thought.

Avocado halves stuffed with a lemony crab salad. Totally old school, but man, is it luxe.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:58 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

citrus salsa: orange, grapefruit, lime juice, jicama, a little jalapeno
soooo good
posted by LonnieK at 6:08 PM on November 8, 2014

So many excellent ideas! just chiming in to say that those orange-olive-fennel salads are very welcome on Thanksgiving, because that sharp flavor combination cuts right through the heavy, bland elements of the rest of the meal.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:54 PM on November 8, 2014

I was going to say ceviche as well totally awesome and the citrus literally 'cooks' the fish. A restaurant in San Francisco called Andale used to make awesome ceviche "tacos" by frying a thin slice of potato and then presumably letting it dry over a dowel or spoon handle so it would shape into a little taco shell which was an awesome presentation. You could also do ceviche shooters.

Um just also wanted to point out that Lemongrass isn't generally considered a citrus. Though lime is traditionally used all over thai style dishes as an acid kick so you could sneak in that way.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:04 PM on November 8, 2014

I am eagerly waiting for the savory cheesecakes recipe.
posted by jadepearl at 10:00 AM on November 9, 2014

Savory cheesecakes recipe!

I started making these a few years ago for holidays, and now I'm obsessed. You can change things up--lemon or cranberry stilton works well, but I've also done it with a plain blue cheese (Maytag, one time, and gorgonzola dolce another).

For the crust, take 150g walnuts and grind them in the food processor. Add 165g flour, 4 oz butter, 65g sugar, a pinch of salt, and a bit of finely chopped rosemary or lemon zest. Process this together to make a very crumbly dough. Press this dough into muffin tins (I used minimuffins, though I think that regular-sized would be just as good, if slightly less cute), using just enough to cover the sides and bottom of the tin. The dough will puff up some as it bakes, so you want to use slightly less than you think you'd need. Bake these at 350 until they're puffed and golden brown, maybe ten minutes. If they puff too much, you can compress them a bit when they come out of the oven--I just kinda smush them down with my fingers. Also, though I haven't tried it, I bet you could buy phyllo cups and use those, which would be way less effort.

For the filling, mix 1 egg, 8oz cream cheese, 8 oz cranberry or lemon stilton, a handful of chopped dried cranberries (optional), and maybe a quarter teaspoon of salt. Mix it all together really well. Fill the crusts, then bake at 350 until the filling is set--maybe 25 minutes? Just keep an eye on it, and when the middles are no longer liquid, you're good to go.

This makes about eighteen minimuffins, but there's plenty of filling left over--you could double the crust recipe and that would probably about come out even.

If you, like me, find it impossible to leave well enough alone, you can put a candied cranberry, bit of rosemary, and/or a little strip of candied lemon peel atop the cheesecakes.
posted by MeghanC at 12:04 PM on November 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Alice Waters's Orange and Olive Salad, from The Art of Simple Food
posted by toomuchkatherine at 4:00 PM on November 9, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you, all! I now want to make all of these delicious dishes, but I think the savory cheesecake one will hit the right note. Thanks again!
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 6:11 PM on November 9, 2014

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