Tag Archives: Appetizer

Fall in Love with Sardines, Save Dinner

Bela Sardines. Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Bela Sardines. Photo by James Ransom for Food52

When I was a wee little one, I remember my dad coming in from an afternoon tending to his garden and popping open a can of sardines for lunch. Curious about these little guys, I was not. Usually his offer to share a bite was met with a prompt and firm “ewwwww, no.”

It’s taken me 30 years to question why these cans of conveniently packed, flavorful little fiddies get such a bum rap. I don’t think twice when cranking a can of tuna open to save the day when I have nothing in the fridge for lunch. I recently read an article by Nicholas Day on Food52 speaking the praises of sardines — in his case because it conveniently saves dinner in a pinch for his own children. He feeds his kids sardines? This made me take pause. Well why not.

And then I was contacted by BELA Sardines to see if their cans of fresh-packed {within 8 hours of being caught and never frozen} Portuguese sardines would be something we would be interested in selling in the Food52 shop. We popped a few cans open at the office, broke out the crackers and started snacking. They were good — really, really good. Each is slightly smoked and packed in either Portuguese extra virgin olive oil or tomato sauce {4 flavors to choose from}. Beyond just the flavor, there are other reasons to love these little guys — they’re low-mercury, sustainably caught, and full of healthy fats. They are a pantry staple everyone should pile high.

I’m a convert. To be perfectly honest, I would be happy opening a can of these, pouring a nice glass of wine and calling that alone a mid-week meal. But it doesn’t take much to use them in a slightly more creative way, with still minimal effort, and have a dish to be proud of. Go ahead, give sardines a chance — you may be surprised by a new love.

Need a Little Inspiration?
Linguine with Sardines, Fennel & Tomato
Sardines, Avocado and Radish Salad with Upland Cress
Sardine Butter

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recipe goodness :: homemade soft pretzels and mustard from scratch

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Fall is the time for wooly sweaters, weekend projects and Oktoberfest. Instead of a typical apple pie pastime, I had my taste buds set on a rather adventurous experiment of making homemade soft pretzels and from-scratch mustard. After grabbing several generously sized bags of mustard powder and whole mustard seeds at Kalustyans, the idea of making my own mustard swelled into making four different kinds — it is my favorite secret ingredient, after all. It also didn’t hurt that my cousin and her beer-brewing fiance were in for the adventure and came bearing homemade suds and the same amount of experimental exuberance.

The result? After tasting a piping hot pretzel from my own oven, dare I say I’ll never buy a pretzel from the corner cart again. As for the mustard — four may have been excessive, but it revealed a few standout favorites which I’ve included below. Each of these Oktoberfest treats was made with relative ease, but you may want to consider making the mustard ahead of time as it will continue to mellow out each day — and at first taste, you {and your nasal passages} will quickly understand why mustard plaster was a treatment for pleurisy back in the day.

Homemade Mustards

Homemade Mustards (left to right clockwise: coarse rosemary, brown sugar, red wine)

Homemade Soft Pretzels
Recipe From the Fresh Loaf Makes 6 large pretzels — you might as well double it!

1 teaspoon instant yeast {or bread starter}
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2-3 cups all-purpose unbleached or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (approximately 110 degrees, which is 1 minute in my microwave)

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until it forms a ball. I start with 2 cups of the flour and mix it together until it forms something like a thick batter, then add more flour a handful at a time until it’ll form a nice ball that I can knead by hand.
  2. Either use an electric mixer to mix the dough for 5 minutes or remove it from the bowl and knead it by hand for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough begins to get smooth and satiny.
  3. Return the ball of dough to a clean, greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it has doubled in size, approximately an hour.
  4. Before shaping, start preheating the oven to 425 degrees and bring a large, wide pot of water to a boil.
  5. Roll and rest the pretzel dough

    Roll and rest the pretzel dough

  6. Cut the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each one into a short log, cover with a towel, and let the dough relax for 5 to 10 minutes. After it has relaxed you should be able to roll it out and stretch again fairly easily.
  7. Let them relax again and give each a third roll and stretch session until about 15 inches long and about as big around as your index finger. They’ll nearly double in width while baking, so it is ok to roll them out quite thin.
  8. Place a rope of dough on the work surface in front of you. Take each end in a hand, loop the dough away from you, and bring the ends back toward your stomach, crossing them about an inch above the rope. Apply a little bit of pressure to make the loops stick together, but not too much because you don’t want then to flatten out.
  9. Dunk each of the pretzels into the boiling water for 5 seconds, then place them onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt immediately while wet (I use the kosher stuff that is easy to find at the grocery store).
  10. Place the baking sheets into the oven. It took around 15 minutes for my pretzels to get golden and brown. Remove from the oven and eat immediately.
Homemade Fig Mustard

Homemade Fig Mustard

Fig and Port Grainy Mustard (slightly sweet)

½ Tablespoons Brown Mustard Seeds
1½ Tablespoons Yellow Mustard Seeds
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 ¼ Cup Mustard Powder (not Coleman’s)
1½ Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Tawny Port
3 Tablespoons Chilled Fig Simple Syrup (recipe below)

4 Fresh Figs
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
½ Cup Water

  1. Add figs, sugar and water to a small saucepan.
  2. Over medium high heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking a few minutes longer until figs become very soft.
  3. Mash the figs into the syrup and keep stirring. Once the figs are well mashed and fully incorporated into the mixture, remove from heat. Pour contents of saucepan through a strainer and remove the large bits of fig.
  4. The syrup that’s left is the fig simple syrup. You can use the fig bits in oatmeal, ice cream or just eat them. You will have syrup left over after making the mustard.
  1. Grind the mustard seeds in a spice or coffee grinder for a few seconds, or in a mortar and pestle. You should leave them pretty chunky (near whole) because you want this to be a grainy mustard…but you could grind them to whatever consistency you like.
  2. Pour the ground mustard seeds into a bowl and add the salt and mustard powder.
  3. Add in the vinegar, port and simple syrup and stir well. Once everything is thoroughly mixed, pour everything into a glass jar (with a lid) and refrigerate.
  4. Wait at least 12 hours before using.
  5. Mustard made this way will last several months if refrigerated in a sealed jar. This recipe makes 1/2 – 3/4 cups of mustard.

Brown Sugar Mustard (#1 crowd fav)

1 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp salt
dash cayenne
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Coarse Rosemary Honey Mustard (a standard whole grain)

½ Tablespoons Brown Mustard Seeds
1½ Tablespoons Yellow Mustard Seeds
½ Teaspoon Rosemary Salt
¾ cup mustard powder
¼-1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2 tbsp honey

Coarse-Ground Red Wine Mustard (packs a red vinegar punch)

1/4 cup white or brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup dry mustard
2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tbsps cold water

  1. For any of the recipes above, place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Process for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides and process for 30 seconds more.
  3. Add additional liquid if to thick as mustard powder & seeds will absorb more of the liquid.
  4. Put in an airtight container and let stand at room temperature overnight or up to 1-2 days more. The mustard will mellow out in heat over time. Once it reaches desired mildness store in the fridge.

Favorite Dishes with Mustard:
Cumin & Dill Dijon Egg Salad with Radish Sprouts
Roasted Dijon Chicken Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Sunflower Seeds
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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recipe goodness :: not your mother’s spiced sweet potato hummus

spiced sweet potato hummus

spiced sweet potato hummus

Ok, I’ve been making hummus for years. My mother has been making hummus even longer. And her mother taught her, further extending our family hummus history. When a dish is so central to your family traditions, sometimes you have tunnel vision. Must. Be. Made. This. Way. Only. And then one day you stumble upon a recipe that hits you like a ton of bricks and you think to yourself, why in the world have I never strayed out of this damn tunnel. Welcome to the family spiced sweet potato hummus.

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

the goods

I was reading one of my favorite lusty food blogs, Spoon Fork Bacon, and came across this recipe. I knew before trying it that it was going to be brilliant. While the makings are rooted in the same ingredients we’ve been employing for years {chick peas, lemon, garlic, tahini, salt}, this hummus is elevated by the sweet additive potato, providing color and amazing flavor, as well as several of my favorite spices that give this dish a counterbalancing earthiness to complete perfection.

spiced sweet potato hummus

Pre and Post Blend

Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus

Recipe adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

1 sweet potato, peeled, chopped and boiled until fork tender
1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
1/4-1/2 cup drained chick pea liquid
3 tablespoons tahini
1 garlic clove
1 lemon, juiced and zested {meyer lemon if in season}
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika {smoked or sweet}
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of olive oil
sprinkle of za’atar

  1. Peel, dice and boil sweet potato until fork tender.
  2. Heat chick peas in the microwave for 2 minutes. Heating will help provide a smoother texture.
  3. Place ingredients for hummus into a food processor and blend until smooth. Start with a smaller amount of the reserved chick pea liquid and add more to adjust to desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. Top with a small drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of za’atar.
  5. Serve with pita bread, pita chips, veggies, on a sandwich or whatever your creative heart desires.

Rooted in Tradition:
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries {bottom of post}

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recipe goodness :: za’atar-pecorino toasted crostini

za'atar-pecorino crostini

za'atar-pecorino crostini

Sometimes the best things in food are created by opening your cupboards and blindly grabbing one ingredient with your right hand and another with your left. I love crostini — I think it’s the answer to any last minute appetizer need or the way to add a crunchy bite to a smooth bowl of soup or stew.

When I was experimenting with my balsamic and fish stew, I thought anyone without dentures might appreciate something with a different texture to round out their bowl. So with a few swipes of butter, a grating or two of pecorino and a sprinkle of za’atar {a spice mixture I think everyone should have in their cupboards}, this tasty little crostini came to life and proved worthy of sharing with you all. Who needs Stella D’Oro when you can make these from scratch in under 5 minutes.

Za’atar-Pecorino Crostini

1 fresh baguette
butter or olive oil for spreading
pecorino for grating
za’atar spice for sprinkling

  1. Heat oven to 450° F.
  2. Slice the baguette at a 45 degree angle, cutting as many pieces as you think will suit  your crowd {I underestimated their popularity, so ended up making a second batch — plan wisely!}
  3. Spread butter or brush olive oil on each piece to lightly coat. Using a microplane, zest pecorino on top of each crostini. Take a pinch of za’atar and sprinkle on top of the pecorino.
  4. Place all the crostini on a baking sheet and bake in the oven 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is slightly melted and the breaded is lightly toasted.
  5. Serve with soup, stew, roast chicken, fish, brisket, braised rabbit, whatever your heart desires!

Crostini Partners in Crime:
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup
Wild Child Broccoflower and Celery Root Soup

Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Spicy Balsamic and Fennel Fish Stew

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recipe goodness :: homemade ricotta and melted leeks — the easiest winning appetizer you MUST make

Homemade Ricotta

Homemade Ricotta

I don’t typically like to tell people what to do. But I’m going to tell you — and you’re going to listen to me — you must make this NOW. Sure, I get a little more experimental in the kitchen than most, but when I tell you this will have you channeling your inner Italian Grandmother with ease and will also have you wanting to make fresh ricotta everyday, I hope you believe me. The beauty of this recipe is 1) how easy it is, 2) how proud you will be that you made YOUR OWN ricotta, and 3) it will have your guests ooh-ing and aah-ing over this deceivingly perfect flavor combo — let’s face it, this is really just onions and milk we’re talking about. It happens to also be an extremely inexpensive way to create an impressive appetizer, so with the holidays around the corner let’s get curdling!

I’ve included a few other variations in case you want to serve this different ways at all your holiday line-ups {everything can be made ahead of time, so you can enjoy a cocktail instead of sweating over a hot oven}. Plus 1.5 lbs of ricotta will probably get you through 2-3 evenings, depending on the size of your crowd.

Homemade Ricotta 

Makes ~1 lb post-drained ricotta 

1 pint whole milk {I use Grazin’ Angus Acres}
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup cultured buttermilk
Maldon sea salt

Equipment:
Large 1 gallon+ pot {le creuset if you have one}
Cooking thermometer that reads to 200 degrees
Very fine cheesecloth or clean tea towel
String
Colander and large bowl

  1. Using a large 1 gallon+ stock pot {I use my le creuset} heat whole milk, cream, buttermilk and a few pinches of salt on medium heat until it comes to a light boil. Stir milk frequently to ensure bottom does not scorch.
  2. Boil milk for 2 minutes, stirring, then remove from the heat and let rest in the pot for 1 hour to let the curds form some more.
  3. Place a large colander over a large bowl in the sink. Line the colander with very fine cheese cloth or a clean white tea towel so edges hang over the edge of the colander.
  4. Slowly pour the curdled milk into the colander/cheesecloth, letting the whey pour through to the bowl below and keeping the curds in the cheesecloth. You can use the whey to soften the cheese later or simply discard.
  5. Lift the colander out of the bowl and grab the edges of the cheesecloth/towel together. Hold up and let drain for about 1 minute+ until the the ricotta reaches the consistency you desire.
  6. Note: I like to keep it a little creamy so it is easy to spread, but if it gets thicker than you desire, you can always pour a few tablespoons of milk {or the strained whey} back into the cheese to soften.
  7. When you’re ready to serve, season with maldon sea salt to taste and prepare any of the variations below or your own inspired pairing.
Appetizer Variations:

  • Serve with water crackers or garlic crostini {recipe below}
  • Top with warm melted leeks {recipe below}
  • Top with drizzled honey or your favorite chutney
  • Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt, a drizzle of good olive oil and fresh thyme, destemmed
p.s. you can also make this ricotta for Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother

Melted Leeks

1 bunch leeks
1 stick butter
Kosher salt

  1. Cut off and discard root end and half way up the firm green stems. Slice each leek in half lengthwise to expose inner layers. Add leek halves to a bowl of cold water to release dirt. Use your fingers to check and clean outer layers.
  2. Pat dry and place each leek half flat-side down on cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch thick half-circle slices.
  3. Melt butter in a large pan on low-medium heat {or the cleaned le creuset you just used for the ricotta} and add leeks.
  4. Slowly cook leeks in butter until tender, ~10-15 minutes. Turn heat down if they start to brown before they are soft. Add salt to taste.
  5. Serve immediately while warm with the ricotta on the side or place in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds just before serving to soften butter.

Garlic-Rubbed Crostini

1 baguette
Olive Oil for brushing
1-2 garlic cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice baguette at a 45-degree angle, creating 1/4-inch thick slices.
  3. Place slices side by side on a baking sheet. Brush each piece with olive oil and place in oven for 10-15 minutes until toasted.
  4. Remove baking sheet and while the crostini are still hot, rub a whole garlic clove with 1-2 swipes on each piece of bread.
  5. Note: can be made ahead of time on the day you plan to serve and stored in an air-tight container or bag once cooled, until ready to serve.

1. Pour whole milk, cream and buttermilk into a large pot

2. Heat to 200 degrees F, or until it starts to boil, stirring frequently

2. Turn heat off and let rest for 1 hour

3/4. Pour ricotta into cheesecloth-lined colander over a large bowl in the sink. {Bowl shown next to the colander to show whey that runs through}

5. Gather edges of cloth and tie tightly with string, hanging to let drain ~1-2 minutes

6. Voila! Homemade Ricotta

Melted Leeks

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recipe goodness: aw nuts! darn good roasted rosemary nuts for the holidays

Roasted Nuts

It’s the holidays and that means we’re all running from party to party or even planning our own. We never want to show up empty handed and we’re often looking for a way to put out a great spread, without a lot of work. This recipe is your solution to both dilemmas. The recipe comes from the long-standing popular Union Square Cafe in New York City and it takes beer nuts to a new level. Hitting on every taste-bud, I guarantee the bowl will be empty faster than the mini-hot dog platter. This salty treat will also make any gifted bottle of wine extra special when you walk through any guest’s door on your party route. Gifting Tip: buy cellophane bags from a party or paper store and tie the bag with a red ribbon that you can hang around the neck of a wine bottle — easy, inexpensive and extra impressive.

Coating Goodness

Roasted Rosemary Union Square Bar Nuts

Cook time: 10 minutes

2 1/4 cups unsalted mixed nuts
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread nuts out on cookie sheet and toast for 10 minutes or until just turning golden brown.
  3. In a bowl combine all other ingredients and combine with nuts while warm.
  4. Toss thoroughly until well mixed and let cool before adding to an air tight container or gift bags.

Aw Nuts, I Need More Party Ideas!
Cinnamon Sugar & Dark Cocoa Almonds
Inside-Out Scotch Eggs w/ Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata
Mini Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie w/ Scotch! {bottom of post} 
Autumn Manhattan {Herby Garnished Classic a la Tippling Bros.}
Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
Smokey Margarita {a la Tippling Bros.}

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recipe goodness :: peppers padron at home

Peppers Padron

Anytime I see these little suckers on a restaurant menu, I am almost always certain to order them. They are simple, salty little snacks that are most often found in Spanish tapas bars. They are mostly very mild, but every now and then you get a surprise spicy one which is part of the fun. After a recent trip to Barcelona I brought back a packet of seeds to see if I could grow and replicate this plate at home. The result: success. If you can’t find your own seeds or seedlings to grow in your garden, these peppers are growing in popularity and can often be found in grocery stores or local farmers’ markets.

Roasted Peppers Padron

1/2-1 lb of Padron peppers
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Maldon salt for sprinkling

  1. Add olive oil to a hot pan, when the oil is hot and shimmering add the peppers.
  2. Cook and stir the peppers until the skin is brown and blistered about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove the peppers from the pan, place on a plate and sprinkle with Maldon salt to taste.

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Recipe Inspiration: Take the Labor Out of Labor Day Grilling

Woo-wee, this summer has flown by. In the same way I love to start BBQ season off with a bang on Memorial Day, I think a proper summer send-off is essential come Labor Day. Here are a few last minute favorites if you’re looking to make the most of the long weekend, your Weber and cocktail shaker.

DRINKS {start the party out right}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep
Bottle of Baron {Refreshing “Island Cocktail” a la Tippling Bros.}

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

Stand-Out Spanish Sangria
Summer Strawberry Chilled Chamomile Tea {non-alc or a mixer!}

SNACK’EMS {your guests eat, while the grill heats}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon{double duty bites}

SALADS {beautiful and delicious}

Lime-Kissed Peach and Corn Summer Salad
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {this is what I’ll be serving! So FUN}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot
Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

FOR THE GRILL {that’s what it’s all about}

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

DESSERT {life is short, eat it first}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups
 {bottom of post}
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries{bottom of post}

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Recipe Inspiration: Happy 4th of July!

Well we all know how I feel about BBQs — any excuse to play with food and fire is a good time to me. It’s easy to throw a few burgers on the grill and crack a few cold ones, but there is no reason you can’t jazz up a 4th of July BBQ and still keep it easy and relaxed. Here are a few of my favorite recipes — I hope this inspires some BBQ fireworks.

DRINKS {start the party out right}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep
Bottle of Baron {Refreshing “Island Cocktail” a la Tippling Bros.}

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat

Stand-Out Spanish Sangria
Summer Strawberry Chilled Chamomile Tea {non-alc or a mixer!}

SNACK’EMS {your guests eat, while the grill heats}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon{double duty bites}

SALADS {beautiful and delicious}

Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas {this is what I’ll be serving! So FUN}
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot
Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins

FOR THE GRILL {that’s what it’s all about}

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops
Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

DESSERT {life is short, eat it first}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups
 {bottom of post}
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries{bottom of post}

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recipe goodness :: inside-out scotch eggs w/ ground lamb, harissa yolk & panko gremolata

Inside-out Scotch Egg

What is an inside-out scotch egg you ask? If you want to be a traditionalist, the scotch egg usually involves enrobing a hard boiled egg with ground meat, breading it and deep frying that sucker. As I prepared for 8.ate@eight’s Robert Burn’s night with the Tippling Bros., I knew I didn’t want to be deep frying, nor serving something that ends up being the size of your fist, so I took inspiration from these flavors, flipped them inside out and created an appetizer that is creamy, spicy and somewhat devilish — the perfect drinking companion. Serve this at your Superbowl party and you will be legendary!

Inside Out Scotch Egg With Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata
Makes 12 | Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

6 Eggs, two-weeks old

Lamb:
¼ lb ground lamb
1 teaspoon harissa paste
salt

Harissa Yolk:
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chives, chopped very fine
1 teaspoon harissa paste {add more for spicier kick}
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Panko Gremolata:
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped

For the eggs and lamb:

  1. Use two-week old eggs to allow hard boiled egg to separate from the shell more easily. The night before you plan to make, rest each egg horizontally in the carton with the lid open. This will help center the yolk for better presentation.
  2. Bring eggs to room temperature for 30 minutes {still resting on their sides}.
  3. Add eggs to a large pot and fill with water, covering the eggs by at least an inch. Salt the water and bring to a boil.
  4. When water is boiling, remove from heat and cover with a lid for 30 minutes.
  5. While eggs rest, sauté ground lamb, harissa paste and salt until no longer pink. Remove from heat and drain any excess oil.
  6. After 30 minutes, cool eggs in ice bath immediately and rest for 20 minutes.
  7. While eggs cool, make gremolata.
  8. Once cooled, roll each egg along the counter to crack shells and place back in cold water for 5 minutes to allow for easy separation between egg and shell.
  9. Remove the shell, cutting each egg in half and remove the yolk into a separate bowl.
  10. Mash the egg yolk till powdery and then add remaining ingredients. Taste mixture and add additional harissa if you prefer spicier flavor.
  11. When ready to assemble, use a small spoon to scoop lamb into the cavity of each egg half.
  12. Using a pastry bag and tip with a large opening, pipe the egg mixture on top of the lamb in each cavity.
  13. Right before serving, sprinkle the gremolata on top of the yolk and enjoy!

For the Gremolata:

  1. In a small sauté pan heat olive oil on medium heat and add panko breadcrumbs. Continue stirring until panko breadcrumbs are light brown in color.
  2. Add minced garlic and lemon zest and stir to release the flavors, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add to chopped parsley.
  4. Set aside until ready to serve {may get soggy if added to eggs to early}

You Might Also Like These:
How To Cook The Perfect Sunny Side-Up Egg
How to Cook the Perfect 8.5 Minute Egg
Mini Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie w/ Scotch! {bottom of post}

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recipe goodness :: flaky cheese straws, as easy as being barefoot

Inspired by her planned trip to Paris, my roommate purchased the Barefoot Contessa’s cookbook, Barefoot in Paris. And eager for the departure, we sat down one evening to plan a meal to bring a little taste of French cuisine to the comforts of our NYC apartment. The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for cheese straws is simple, but outstanding! I would encourage everyone to keep a box of puff pastry in the freezer at all times for an impromptu addition to your next dinner party or to simply add a little flavor flare to a mid-week meal. And you could really substitute a number or herbs and cheese to take these straws in your own direction (rosemary and parmesan, chili powder and aged gouda, or cinnamon and sugar for a breakfast/dessert straw)

Barefoot Contessa’s Cheese Straws

Prep Time: 5-10 mins | Cook Time: 10-15 mins
Makes 22-24 Straws

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the fridge
1 extra-large egg (large is fine)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board or counter until it’s 10×12 inches. Beat the egg with 1 TBS of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 cup of Gruyere, 1/2 tsp of the thyme, 1/2 tsp of the salt and some pepper.

Step 1. Roll flavorings into puff pastry

With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11-12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Step 2. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don’t overbake or the cheese will burn. Cook and serve at room temperature.

Step 3. Bake, cool and enjoy!

What Else To Put on the Plate:
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Gourmet Grilled White Truffle Corn

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recipe goodness :: creole roasted fresh corn-tomato salsa

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa

It’s not very difficult to make your own salsa and it’s fresher, cheaper and often solicits a lot of “mmmmms” from anyone you share it with. Plus, a really good salsa can not only  make a good app, but goes really well with something like grilled fish, chicken, burgers, nachos, you name it, adding a more interesting and flavorful accompaniment than anything you’ll find in a plastic bottle.

Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa

2 ears of corn, shucked
butter or olive oil for  brushing
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning for dusting
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2 scallions, chopped
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 jalapeno or red chili, finely chopped
small handful of cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Light the grill and while that warms up, shuck each ear of corn and brush with butter {or olive oil if you prefer} and sprinkle a generous amount of Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning on all sides of the corn until covered. Wrap each ear of seasoned corn separately and cook on the grill for  10 minutes, rotating every 2-3 minutes. While the corn is cooking add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. {Tip: Use only half a jalapeno or chili if you prefer a milder salsa}. Once the corn is done, let it cool slightly and then stand on the flat end of the cob and take a sharp knife down length of the corn to remove all the kernels. Add the bowl and toss well to break up the corn and mix all the flavors together. Serve in a bowl or to jazz it up a bit, take a tablespoon and fill tortilla chip “scoops” individually on a plate.

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa and Chips

If this sounds appetizering, you might also like these recipes:
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa
Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into

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