Stunning Starter Recipes

Christmas Present Time Again!

Stunning Starter Recipes

Just been searching for Stunning Starter Recipes to tempt our taste-buds over Christmas and the New Year, and I’ve come up with some that really appeal to me.  Maybe it’s getting older, but there are times that I fancy two smaller starter dishes than one big, huge platter of food that almost overwhelms me when I look at it.  So here are a few great starter recipes that I will be creating in my new kitchen in the next two or three weeks.

Warm Salad of Pear, Scallop & Chorizo recipe - courtesy Delicious mag.
Stunning Starter Recipes – Warm Salad of Pear, Scallop & Chorizo recipe – courtesy Delicious mag.

Warm Salad of Pear, Scallop & Chorizo Recipe

Warm Salad of Pear, Scallop & Chorizo
Recipe type: Starter
Cuisine: European/Spanish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Serves 2
This Warm Salad of Pear, Scallop & Chorizo recipe just looks so tempting and appetising that we will definitely be eating this over the next week or two. This recipe is quick and very easy to do, perfect for Erik and myself, but also great to share with family and friends.
  • 100g chorizo, skinned and thinly sliced
  • 12 fresh scallops, shucked and washed but whole with orange roe left on
  • 2 medium pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Bunch of watercress, washed and destalked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Gently heat a non-stick frying pan. When hot add the chorizo and dry-fry until just beginning to brown - it will release its own oil after 30 seconds or so. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on kitchen paper.
  2. Add the scallops to the pan and sear in the chorizo oil for about 1 minute on each side. Remove and set aside with the chorizo.
  3. Finally, add the pear slices and fry quite briskly to caramelise a little. Once you have turned them, add the vinegar and swirl the pears around in it for a few seconds, then tip it all into a bowl.
  4. Add the scallops, chorizo, watercress and oil. Season with salt (not pepper in case the chorizo has a kick of its own) and serve immediately.

The next of our Stunning Starter Recipes is a very easy but exceptionally tasty one to just have with a glass of wine, when friends drop in unexpectedly, as a starter to a big meal. Buy the best ham you can find, whether it be Iberico or Prosciutto and just enjoy the delicious taste.

Iberico Ham & Garlic Toasts - courtesy Delicious mag – Stunning Starter Recipes
Iberico Ham & Garlic Toasts – courtesy Delicious mag

Iberico Ham & Garlic Toasts Recipe

Iberico Ham & Garlic Toasts
Recipe type: Appetiser/Starter
Cuisine: European/Spanish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Serves 6
This Iberico Ham & Garlic Toasts Recipe is very quick to make and very delicious to eat. Great when friends come around, or this makes a light starter for a dinner party. It always amazes me the flavour you get when you rub a halved garlic clove over warm or toasted bread - stunning but not too strong, with a hint of garlic.
  • 1 baguette
  • 12 slices of Iberico ham or prosciutto (the best you can find)
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (good quality)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180Fan/Gas6.
  2. Thinly slice the baguette diagonally then spread out on an oven rack and bake for 10 mins or until almost completely crisp.
  3. Meanwhile combine the extra-virgin olive oil with the lemon zest, salt & pepper.
  4. Rub each toast with the cut side of a garlic clove as soon as its toasted, still warm, then drizzle with the oil and top with the folded up Iberico ham or prosciutto. Enjoy.

Another fantastic dish in our Stunning Starter Recipes is entitled Sherry-braised Fennel with Pretzel Crumbs & Goats Cheese. Fennel is one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. Obviously I love it, as I would find it difficult to praise it if I didn’t like it. This morning I went to my local shop and bought the Fennel and Goats Cheese, so Erik and I will be sharing a big platter of this before Christmas. Here’s the recipe, and doesn’t it look appetising.

Sherry-braised Fennel with Pretzel Crumbs & Goats Cheese. - courtesy Delicious mag. – Stunning Starter Recipes Sherry-braised Fennel with Pretzel Crumbs & Goats Cheese. – courtesy Delicious mag.

Sherry-braised Fennel with Pretzel Crumbs & Goats Cheese
Recipe type: Starter
Cuisine: European/Spanish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Serves 4
This Sherry-braised Fennel with Pretzel Crumbs and Goats Cheese would make a great starter for a Dinner party, or have a huge sharing platter of it and dip roughly cut bread in the juices. If you want it as a side dish, it would serve 6 - 8 people. I'm really looking forward to this mouthwatering dish in a day or two. When I make this dish, I will keep checking the fennel in my new oven, because the timing in this recipe is a lot longer than I usually cook fennel. But I will report back on the timings if it doesn't need so long in the oven.
  • 3 large fennel bulbs, quartered lengthways
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 250ml dry oloroso or palo cortado sherry ( or a decent dry sherry)
  • 4 tbsp clear honey
For the topping:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (extra-virgin or blended)
  • 2 large, soft pretzels (available from supermarket bakeries), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 120g ash-covered goat's cheese such as rosary ash, chopped into small chunks
  • 15g fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon or to taste
  • Sea salt
  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Arrange the fennel quarters top to tail in a roasting pan or dish so they fit snugly together. Drizzle over the 5 tbsp olive oil, sherry and honey, then season. Cover the pan or dish tightly with foil and cook for one hour.
  3. After an hour, remove the foil, turn the fennel over and increase the temperature to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
  4. Roast, uncovered for another 30 minutes, turning after 15 mins. The fennel should be tender and beginning to caramelise, and there should be a layer of juice in the bottom of the dish.
  5. Once the fennel is done, if you're not quite ready to serve, turn the oven right down and leave the dish inside to keep warm
For the topping:
  1. About 5 minutes before the fennel is ready, make the topping. Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Once simmering hot, add the pretzels and poppy seeds with some sea salt (unless the pretzels are covered in salt). Cook, tossing gently often, for 6-8 minutes until the pretzels are pale golden and crisp.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the goat's cheese and dill, then scatter over the fennel. Squeeze over lemon juice to taste and serve immediately.

 So lucky me, finding these three fabulous starters to play around with in my new kitchen over Christmas and New Year. Erik is especially thrilled by the sound of Scallops with Chorizo, as he will eat Chorizo with anything and everything. Me, I’m a bit more picky, but I do like the sound of the first of our Stunning Starter Recipes.

Just a fun picture to show you of how I am enjoying cooking again.  Yesterday I decided to get out my cookie cutters and turned my hand to my Mum’s favourite Shortbread recipe, handed down through the ages.  I’ve always loved it, even slightly burnt around the edges, and I was thrilled to find Mum’s recipe worked for me again. Have a look at my results – it felt like adult playtime!

Astrid's Shortbread
Astrid’s Shortbread

So there we are, 3 Stunning Starter Recipes and my Mum’s recipe used by me to make some fun crispy, buttery and very yummy Shortbread.  If you want the recipe, go to the Search button on the right at the top and enter ‘Shortbread’. It will bring you to a post about Christmas so just go down and you will find the recipe. Apologies but having a bit of trouble linking to recipes at the moment. Well, it’s time to close and drool at my new kitchen again, but will be back soon.

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