Tips, Tricks, & Techniques

Episode #4


Having an appetizer party? If this is your guests “meal” plan on 3 – 5 different appetizers! An appetizer should be 1 – 2 bites! Don’t make them large! Your guests want to be able to pop them in their mouths without making a mess.

Stacked Sushi print

Time: 45 minutes + chilling time
Yield: 64 pieces


1 pound, 4 ounces Japanese short-grain rice

Sushi dressing
3-1/2 fluid ounces rice wine vinegar   
1/4 cup caster sugar (superfine, but not confectioners; can use regular sugar)
1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons wasabi paste
4 sheets nori
10-1/2 ounces smoked salmon or sashimi-grade tuna
1/4 cup pickled ginger slices
1 avocado thinly sliced


Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water until water runs clear. Leave rice in strainer and let drain for up to an hour. Put rice in a saucepan with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 12 to 5 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked and water is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat; remove lid and cover pan with a clean tea towel for 10 or 12 minutes.

To make the sushi dressing , combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Spread the rice over the base of a non-metallic dish-a glass casserole dish would be excellent. Pour sushi dressing over the rice and use a spatula or a rice paddle to mix the dressing with the rice, separating the grains. (Your goal is to make the rice grains stick together slightly.) Gently fan the rice with the rice paddle or wooden spoon until the rice cools to room temperature. You can spread the rice on a sheet pan lightly sprayed with oil at this point

Combine mayonnaise and wasabi in a small bowl. Lay a sheet of nori, shiny side up, on a clean sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with one third of the rice. Spread with a little wasabi-mayonnaise mixture; top with a third of the salmon and a third of the avocado. Top with another sheet of nori and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Repeat two more times to form three layers; top with the remaining sheet of nori. Reserve the remaining wasabi mayonnaise.

Cover and refrigerate, in pan, for about an hour. (You can place another sheet pan atop the covered sushi and weight it with a couple of cans to slightly compress and firm the sushi.)

Remove sushi from the refrigerator and, with a very sharp carving knife, trim the edges and slice into squares. …] Garnish with wasabi mayonnaise and pickled ginger slices.

Chef’s Notes

The easiest way to cut the sushi into squares is to first slice through the middle, then cut into equal segments from center to end, repeating from center to the other end.

This preparation method works for any kind of sushi – California Roll, tuna roll, any roll you choose.

Beggars’ Purses print

Time: 35 minutes
Yield: About 36 appetizers


2 tablespoons chopped onion
4 ounces melted butter, divided
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons chopped mushrooms
Ground cayenne pepper, a dash
Salt to taste
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 package phyllo dough (1 pound box)


Preheat oven to 375. Grease a baking sheet. Have damp cloths ready for covering phyllo to keep it from drying out.

Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a medium sauté pan Add spinach, mushrooms, cayenne pepper and salt. Remove from heat. Add feta and cream cheese.

Unroll phyllo dough. Stack 3 sheets on work surface; keep remaining sheets covered with a damp cloth. Cut the stack of three sheets into 15 squares. Working quickly, place a heaping half-teaspoon of spinach-cheese mixture on each phyllo square. Bring edges up to enclose spinach and pinch together to make a purse-like bundle. Place on prepared cookie sheet; cover with a damp cloth until all purses are formed and ready to bake. Continue making purses with additional phyllo sheets and all the remaining filling. Before baking, drizzle remaining melted butter over purses. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.

Serve warm or room temperature

Chef’s Notes

Almost anything can be used as a filling for these “purses.” Use your imagination!


White Bean Dip in Wonton Wrapper Cups  print

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 24 servings


1 package small wonton wrappers

White Bean Dip
Yield approximately 1 ½ cups
1 can cannellini beans 14 ounces
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon


Chopped tomato, cucumber and parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Gently place one wonton wrapper in each compartment, pressing down slightly to make a “mini cup.” Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until lightly browned.

Cups can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an air-tight container.

To make the dip, drain beans, reserving liquid, and place in a food processor. Add a bit of the reserved liquid and blend. Add liquid as needed to make a smooth paste. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Spoon dip into wonton cups and garnish with tomato, cucumber and parsley.