Vietnamese Spring Rolls

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Crispy, salty, and savory, these Vietnamese-style spring rolls are fried to perfection and make a delicious appetizer. I’ve adapted these from the traditional version: I use ground turkey instead of pork, and I shallow-fry instead of deep-fry. And you know what? Even though they’re labor-intensive, I prefer them to the restaurant version.

Make sure to make enough nuoc cham dipping sauce to go with these spring rolls: the bright, tart sauce cuts through the spring rolls perfectly.

Vietnamese spring rolls

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 ounce bean thread noodles, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes, drained, and cut into 1-inch lengths with scissors (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fish sauce
40 round rice papers
Vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons rice or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Thai bird chile, minced

1. Combine 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/4 cup fish sauce, lime juice, water, vinegar, sugar, and chile in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

2. Place the turkey in a mixing bowl and add the shallots, remaining garlic, carrot, bean thread noodles, black pepper, and remaining fish sauce and mix well. Set aside.

3. Set out two large plates. Fill a wide bowl or basin with 2 inches of warm water. Wet 1 paper until softened, then place on one of the plates. Place 2 tablespoons filling in a line about 5 inches long across the wrapper, leaving a 3/4-inch border at either end of the line. Fold the edge nearest you over the filling, fold over the sides of the rice paper, and roll up tightly. Place on the other plate, cover with a damp cloth, and repeat with the remaining papers and filling.

4. When ready to fry, set out another large plate lined with paper towels. Place a stable wok or heavy skillet over medium high heat and add oil to a depth of about 1 inch and heat until hot. Add the rolls one at a time to the pan, being careful not to splash yourself with oil, without crowding, and make sure the rolls aren’t touching. After you add the rolls to the oil, they’ll bubble and the rice paper will change texture. Use a spatula or heat-proof tongs to gently turn the rolls so they cook evenly. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden all over, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

5. Cut each cooked spring roll in half on the diagonal and arrange on a platter alongside the nuoc cham dipping sauce and serve warm or at room temperature.

Queso with Turkey Chorizo

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I’m just going to break it to you now: this appetizer is definitely not healthy. Like, not even remotely. As in, I-bought-Velveeta-for-the-first-time-in-my-life-for-this-recipe levels of unhealthy.

But it’s worth it. I mean, there’s nothing quite like semi-food Velveeta to keep your queso at a smooth, dip-able consistency even after it’s cooled. A liberal sprinkling of turkey chorizo (don’t @ me, it’s actually really good) rounds things out with another layer of crumbly texture and warm spice.

After the chips are gone, you’ll be licking the bowl with this one.

Queso with Turkey Chorizo

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 ounces fresh turkey or chicken chorizo
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, grated
2 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes; set aside.

2. Heat half-and-half and Velveeta in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Velveeta is melted, 6–8 minutes. Add Monterey Jack and cheddar; cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth. Mix in chipotle chiles, salt, and chile powders.

3. Transfer queso to a warm bowl and top with chorizo.

Celery-Spiked Guacamole

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Remember the Great Guacamole-gate of 2015? I do. The New York Times suggested adding peas to your guacamole, and a near all-out war ensued. And understandably so. Peas do not belong in guacamole. Ever.

Nor does celery, or so I thought. I sort of hate myself for even making this recipe, but it’s really, really good. The celery adds an addictive crunch without overwhelming the avocado-lime-onion trifecta of flavor that makes guacamole, well, guacamole.

Just try it. Sorry not sorry.

Celery-spiked guacamole

Ingredients:

4 avocados, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed if desired, finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely grated
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for serving
Salt

1. Mash avocados, celery, chiles, garlic, lime juice, onion, and cilantro in a bowl to desired consistency; season with salt. Top guacamole with remaining cilantro leaves.

Deviled Eggs with Dungeness Crab

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Every year, denizens of the Bay Area eagerly await a very special season. The weather is getting chillier, the nights are getting longer, and a very special something is along the way: Dungeness crab.

Outsiders may ridicule our obsession, but they haven’t tasted the sweet, juicy, tender delicacy that is Dungeness. And no holiday season is complete without a few crabs at the table, right?

This appetizer brings together Dungeness crab, which everyone loves, and deviled eggs, which everyone also loves, unless you have no taste. (Or maybe you haven’t had a good deviled egg? I was once there, my friend. I understand the struggle.)

Creamy, salty-sweet, and easy to prepare ahead of time, these get eaten up in an instant. You might want to make extra.

Deviled Eggs with Dungenness Crab

Ingredients:

1 dozen eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 minced shallot
2 tablespoons snipped chives, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
Salt
1/4 pound Dungeness crab
Salmon roe, for garnish (optional)

1. Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a saucepan, cover the eggs with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil. Cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the eggs and transfer to the ice water bath to cool completely.

2. Peel and halve the eggs lengthwise. Transfer the yolks to a medium bowl and mash with the back of a spoon. Arrange the egg whites on a platter. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, shallot, 2 tablespoons of chives, parsley, capers, thyme, vinegar and Tabasco to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix until smooth. Season with salt. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and fill the egg whites. Top each deviled egg with some of the crab and garnish with roe and chives.

Spanish-Style Deviled Eggs

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I hated eggs growing up. I’m talking complete revulsion: eggs were up there with monsters and flu shots for me. But somewhere along the way, my adult tastebuds changed their mind and these days, eggs are one of my favorite foods. I can’t get enough of them. Especially deviled eggs.

One of my favorite ways to prepare deviled eggs is with Dungeness crab, but the season only lasts a few months. So for the other half of the year, I make this Spanish version, which is just as delicious. Flecked with paprika, chopped almonds and a generous amount of olive oil, the quality of your ingredients makes all the difference here. These are perfect as an appetizer or alongside a green salad for a light lunch.

Spanish-style deviled eggs

Ingredients:

6 room temperature eggs
1/2 clove garlic
salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled almonds
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for garnish

1. Put the eggs in a saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Put the pan over high heat. When the water boils, turn off the burner and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from the pan, transfer to an ice bath, and let cool.

2. Peel the eggs, halve lengthwise, and ease out the yolks into a bowl. Arrange the whites on a serving platter.

3. Peel and chop the garlic, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and use the side of a chef’s knife to smash the garlic into a paste. Add the garlic to the bowl with the yolks, along with the olive oil, mayonnaise, almonds, lemon juice, parsley, paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use a fork to smash the yolks and blend the ingredients. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt if needed.

4. Pipe the mixture into a pastry bag or ziploc cut with a 1-inch hole. Divide the mixture among the egg whites.

5. Garnish the eggs with more parsley and a dusting of paprika. Serve at room temperature.