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Easy Apps For All Occasions


IRELAND HOPPING By Margaret M. Johnson

When traveling around Ireland, you’re never far away from a restaurant or pub that offers appetizers made with goat’s cheese from St. Tola, Ardsallagh or Corleggy or starter dishes with salmon from smokers in the Burren, Connemara or Cork. With online shopping available from some Irish producers — or if you know someone who’s crossing the pond in the next few days who can do some shopping for you — you can serve some yourself for Father’s Day, a graduation celebration, or any springtime occasion. Short of the real thing, you can still make these easy apps will more accessible ingredients from your local market. Close your eyes and you’re almost there!

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1 (10 ounces) package dried Calimyrna figs, stemmed and chopped

1 3/4 cups water

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

12 slices raisin bread

2 (4 ounce) logs goat cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons milk

Fresh chive sprigs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, for topping

  1. Make fig spread. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring figs, 1 ½ cups of water and sugar to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated and figs are nearly tender when pierced with a fork.

  1. Transfer mixture to a food processor, add lemon juice, and process for 20 to 30 seconds, or until smooth (add remaining 1/4 cup water if necessary).

  2. Make toasts. Preheat broiler. With a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out a round from each slice of bread. Arrange rounds on a baking sheet and toast under broiler for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.

  3. In a small bowl or food processor, combine goat cheese and milk. Whisk or blend until smooth; pipe or spread cheese onto each round of bread. Top with a spoonful of fig spread and garnish with 2 pieces of chive.



Widely available Dubliner cheese melts beautifully and is delicious in salads and dips. This one has a slightly Mediterranean taste that it gets from the marinated artichokes, lovely color from the spinach, and a creamy texture from two cheeses and mayonnaise. Try it with crostini, pita chips, wheat crackers, or raw vegetables.

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 (16 ounce) jar marinated artichokes, drained, and chopped

4 tablespoons dry white wine

1 (20 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into pieces

1 (7 ounce) package Dubliner Cheese, grated

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Crostini, crackers, or pita chips, for serving

Raw vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, carrot or celery sticks, for serving

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft but not browned.

  2. Add artichokes and cook, stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes or until warm. Add wine and cook for 3 minutes, or until evaporated. Add spinach and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes, or until evenly blended with artichokes.

  3. Stir in cream cheese and Dubliner and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until spread is creamy. Stir in mayonnaise; season with Tabasco and pepper. Transfer to a heatproof bowl.

  4. Serve at room temperature or warm in microwave for 30 to 40 seconds. Surround with the vegetables, crostini, and crackers. (Dip can be made one day ahead; cover and refrigerate).




This delicious mousse is even better with Irish smoked salmon, so use it if you can. Spread it on water biscuits, like Carr’s or Jacob’s brand, or wheat crackers.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, plus more for sprinkling

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

4 ounces smoked salmon

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon drained capers (optional)

Crackers and water biscuits, for serving

  1. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, sour cream, chives, horseradish, salmon, lemon juice, and pepper; process for 20 to 30 seconds, or until smooth. Transfer to serving bowl; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

  2. Bring back to room temperature for spreading. At serving time, top with capers (if using) and sprinkle with chives. Spread on crackers.




Anyone who’s looking for easy and impressive appetizers need look no further than the freezer section of the supermarket for mini fillo shells from Athens brand. The crunchy little tart shells are fully baked and can be filled with hot or cold ingredients. I love these tasty little bites made with crabmeat and apple, but you can substitute lobster or shrimp.

6 ounces fresh crabmeat

1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise

Pinch Tabasco sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped cilantro

1/2 Granny Smith apple, grated or finely chopped

2 packages mini fillo shells

  1. Flake crabmeat with a fork into a medium bowl. Stir in mayonnaise, Tabasco, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon cilantro and apple. (Filling can be made 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate).

  2. Spoon the mixture into shells and sprinkle with remaining parsley and cilantro.

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page expands this year to “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed cookbook, visit www.irishcook.com

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