Haute Hot Food

Only for the adventurous in eating that want to tantalize their taste-buds and make food dance on their palate.

For I am not afraid of letting the food
overtake my desires, nor am I afraid of letting my desires be my food. Food is my expression, not just my livelihood. Cooking is my art, not out of responsibility, but purely out of passion.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let me entertain you...

Halloween candy has been devoured, (or at least put in a baggie to be used for the Christmas gingerbread house) the Turkey and stuffing has been reinvented so many times that you are sure to go into a Thanksgiving coma, and now your mind turns to another eventful holiday season. Red and green glow from every direction, and the sounds and smells are just as mesmerising to you as they were when you were a child. Nights consist of sitting around the tree sipping eggnog and cider all while the fire crackles through the carols playing in the background. Yes, I adore this time of year. It's as if a book from time past has opened up and I am walking in the storybook for a moment.
With the anticipation of that glorious Christmas morn, always brings forth parties and gatherings to celebrate and remember. I have a passion to entertain. Not just in a casual, slap-some-crackers-on -a-plate kind of way, but with elegance and grace. I light the candles, turn on the carols, pull out the shined silver, and wear my Christmas party clothes. Many times I am asked "why go to all the trouble", or if I even "live in reality", or "how do I do it", but my answer is always simple and to the point. Love and Service.
Yes, it is some work and extra effort on my part, yes, it usually results in the breaking a few glasses or dishes, but at the end of the day, all of that is no longer in my mind. The glow of a guests eyes when they see the holiday spread and the pure pleasure of the somewhat nostalgic experience is why I do what I do. For many that live in the day to day and mundane world, I want to offer a sense of old world that is so long forgotten yet everyone longs for.
So, during this Christmas season, make a point to love the season, go a little extra, and bring back the art of entertaining.

Two wonderful entertaining recipes you can make ahead and have on hand:

Caramel Coconut Creams with Toasted Walnuts

1c. Salted butter
1 ¼ c. Packed Brown Sugar
2c. Toasted walnut halves, chopped (reserving ¼ c. for topping)
1c. Toasted coconut
1 ½ TBLS Vanilla
1PKG. (10oz )Marshmallows

Melt butter with brown sugar over med heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly. Bring to full boil and cook 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and add marshmallows. Stir over low heat until melted. Take off heat and add vanilla, nuts, and coconut. Mixing thoroughly until combined. Spread into buttered. 8 x 11 foil lined pan. Top with reserved walnuts. Refrigerate until firm. About 1 hr Cut into small squares and place in a large zip lock baggie with 1c. Powdered sugar. Shake to coat. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Miniature Goat Cheese Balls with Pistachios

11oz Goat Cheese
8oz Cream Cheese
1tsp Dill
1/2 tsp Salt
1Tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Dried Basil
1TBL Chopped fresh Rosemary
1c. shelled pistachios, finely chopped

In food processor, finely chop nuts and set aside. In large bowl, combine cheeses,herbs, and seasonings until well blended. Spread out 2 sheets of plastic wrap on counter. To make 2 lrg cheese balls: Pour about 1/4 c. nuts on the center of each sheet. Separate the cheese mixture in half and place over pistachios. Top with 1/4 c. more nuts and work into forming a loaf shape. Pack nuts on all exposed areas. Wrap tightly and refrigerate up to a week or freeze for up tp a month.
To make minis: Roll cheese into golf ball sized balls. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Remove and roll each ball in ground pistachios.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Apple of My Eye

Keeping in theme with this wonderful season of Autumn, I now turn my attention to the apple. There are so many types, textures, flavors, and sizes of this wonderful juicy fruit that it is difficult to keep track of them all. A stroll through the produce section in October takes my mind on a maze of possibilities. However, just as everyone has their favorite brand of comfy jeans, the same goes for the individuals' taste in apples. Pink Lady and Granny Smith are my personal favorites, and of course, one dipped in caramel with a drizzle of chocolate is always welcomed.
Mornings are greeted with Hot Skillet Apples, lunches are kissed with crispy slices, and dinners are graced with the occasional chutney with a succulent pork tenderloin. Oh, and then there is dessert! My thoughts immediately go to a steamy hot apple pie layered with mounds of cinnamon and thinly sliced apples all sandwiched in between two perfectly flaky, buttery crusts. (A la mode, I might add) What about richly coated caramel apples, or a gooey cobbler accompanied by a cup of hot cider on a cold winter night. So many ways to enjoy this amazing and beautiful fruit, and so many ways there are yet to explore.
My new journey meets one of my old favorites: crispy gingersnaps dunked in a glass of ice cold milk. This crispy cookie encompasses all the elements my senses are seduced by this time of year. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger all wrapped up in one small yet power packed pleasure. Why not combine the smells and childhood favorite with the fresh, hand picked produce that is in abundance this time of year? The smells are amazing, the color is rich, and the flavor will sweep your mind and mouth away. Put your milk glasses in the freezer, turn the oven on, and transform your Autumn day into one amazing culinary delight!

Gingered Apple Snaps
¾ c. Butter at room temperature
1c. Brown Sugar, packed
½ c. Grandmas Molasses
1 egg
2 ¼ c. Flour
½ tsp Salt
1tsp ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Allspice
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
¼ c. Crystallized ginger, finely minced
1 small Granny smith apple, finely minced (about 1c.)
½ c. granulated sugar to roll dough balls in

Preheat oven to 350.
With electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and molasses. Add egg and mix just until combined. In small bowl sift flour, salt, and spices. Slowly incorporate dry into wet ingredients careful not to over mix. Fold in ginger and apples. Chill dough 1 hour. Form into 1” balls and roll into sugar to coat. Bake on slightly buttered cookie sheet 10-12 minutes. Cool on pan 5 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

I must admit, I love fall....no, I ADORE fall! The air gets crisper, the sun sets a little earlier, leaves change into beautiful shades of bronze and yellows, and the array of pumkins and squash are out in full force! The smells from the kitchen are intense and fill the air of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and molasses. It truly doesn't get much better. My kitchen has been churning out fall flavors in all shades, tastes and cuisines. At the market, the root vegetables have been catching my eye, but I am always a little hesitant. Sure, I love them smothered in brown sugar and butter, or roasted with apples and cranberries, but I was leaning a little more lighter to accompany my rich walnut/goat cheese paninis. Yes, a bisque!! Lighter, creamier, and sure to catch your taste buds slightly off guard, but what a enjoyment of a ride you will take them on. Perfect for a weeknight dinner, game day lunch, or even more perfect for a pre trick-or-treating treat. Let's think oranges, golds, and yellows here as you are shopping this week. Get your stock pot out, grab a crusty loaf of bread and creamy butter, sit by the fire, and let the Autumn season take you by the hand!

Winter Root Bisque with Honey Balsamic Reduction and Crème Fraiche
This recipe makes pletny or a crowd! It's just as easy to hlaf for a family!

2 small Butternut Squash
2 6” Parsnips
1Lrg Sweet Potato
3TBL Olive Oil
1TBL Fresh rosemary, chopped
2 TBLS Fresh Sage, chopped
2 White onions
1/2tsp Cinnamon
1TBL Balsamic vinegar

2TBL oil
4 garlic pods
1 Cinnamon stick
10c. Vegetable Stock
½ c. White Wine
2c. Whole Milk or half and half

-Preheat oven to 425
-Halve squash and remove seeds
-Cut all other vegetables into 2” cubes
-In a small bowl, combine 3 TBLS Oil, herbs, spices, and vinegar.
-Toss over cut vegetables and halved squash
-Roast on 2 foil lined baking sheets about 30-40 minutes
-Scoop out pulp from squash
-In a separate stockpot, heat 2TBL oil.
-Add garlic, cinnamon stick and cook until fragrant, 4 minutes
-Add roasted vegetables (not pulp)
-Deglaze pan with wine and simmer on med/high 2 minutes or until evaporated
-Add stock and pulp.
-Simmer on medium heat about 30 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick
-With immersion blender (or transfer to a blender in small batches), blend until smooth
-Heat on low and gradually add milk.
-Generously add salt to taste.
-Drizzle with Honey Balsamic Reduction, Crème Fraiche, snipped chives, and sprinkle finely chopped walnuts

Honey Balsamic Reduction
½ c. Aged Balsamic Vinegar
¼ c. Honey

-Place in skillet and heat until reduced by half. It should be thick and almost coat the back of a spoon.

Friday, October 1, 2010


HEY ALL YOU FOOTBALL FANS........Cheddar Pepper Crackers!

Hey all you TEXAS / O.U FANS: (or any crazed football junkies out there)

No matter if your having a college football watching party, NFL party, or tailgating for Dallas's huge college ball event of the season, why not have these rich, tasty treats instead of the tasteless boxed version! These crispy cheesy bites are the perfect game day snack AND the even more perfect accompaniment to beer! Have a safe football weekend and happy cracker making!

Cheddar Pepper Crisps

2c. Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, finely graded

½ c. Salted Butter at room temp

1- 1/2 tps black pepper

¼ tsp Cayenne pepper

1 ½ c. Flour

I mixing bowl, combine butter and cheese and mix until combined. Add flour and spices. Separate dough into 4 sections. Roll mixture into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 4 hours or freeze up to a month. Slice into 1/8 “ rounds. (Tip: Freeze right before cutting about 30 minutes for an easier slice). Bake in cookie sheet at 350 for 12-14 minutes

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Going Green!

Everywhere I turn, I hear the phrase "GO GREEN". Seems as though everybody doing it from new grocery bags, separate trash cans, recyclable foil and chip bags, to drop boxes for old electronics, and even the new canvas shoes made from other pre-used materials!
Yes, I'm following the trend! I'm coming out and GOING GREEN! Maybe not in the way you are thinking......
If you know me at all, my passion is to get others out of their square, brown, boring and predictable box. This one is sure to broaden not only your palette, but your concepts, as well.
Why does a dip always seem to fall into 3 basic categories: bean based, sour cream based, or salsa. Let me be very clear here. I adore dips all kinds of spread and dips, but there are times I need to be stretched and my palette needs a change.
Many people shy away from so many flavors or cuisines and continually make the same three or four recipes for every football game, birthday party, or holiday gathering. How do you feel about curry? What are your thoughts about about Indian? Before I loose your interest, and you eyes, let me say that until a couple of years ago, I had never bought curry powder! I liked to eat Indian, but why would I want to learn how to make it or even use the spice associated with it? I bought it, tried it, and now have created new concepts and recipes for all my parties! This recipe brings all the senses in your mouth to a new level and takes you out of the predictable dip rut we all seem to find ourselves in.
Come out of your brown recyclable box, and GO GREEN!

Curried Spit Pea “Hummus”

1LB Green Split Peas
5 cloves of garlic
1 small eggplant
4 toasted red dried chilies
2c. Plain yogurt
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 TBL white wine vinegar
1 TBL Madras Curry powder
1/3 -2/3 c. Olive oil

Preheat oven 450.
Cut eggplant lengthwise rub with 1 TBL Olive Oil. Roast on baking sheet 20-25 minutes. Cool and scrape inside out
Boil peas in 2 qt. pot. Cook peas until tender about 30 minutes. Drain.
Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor.
Pulse until mixed well.
While motor is running, add oil until creamy.
Serve this yummy spread in a shallow bowl, or plate, topped with Cilantro Ginger Chutney and pita chips and cucumber slices.

Cilantro Ginger Chutney

3 green onions cut into 2-inch lengths
2 small Serrano chilies
1 (1 1/4-inch-long) piece peeled fresh ginger roughly chopped
2 c. Cilantro, packed
2 TBL fresh lime juice
2 TBL water
3 TBL plain whole-milk yogurt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

With small processor running, add green onions, chilies, and ginger through feed tube; process until minced. Add cilantro, lime juice, and water. Process until smooth. Add yogurt, sugar, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Keep chilled.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh, where have you gone??

After years of harsh reality about "homemade" in the restaurant business, I decided it is my quest for freshness. When I go to eat Italian food, I want authentic food and fresh pasta. The same goes for Mexican. I want fresh sauces (not pools of grease) and homemade tortillas. Is that so much to ask for?? Obviously, it is, but I have found a great 5 table Mexican hole -in- the- wall in my town that produces the most amazing homemade corn tortillas that your taste buds have ever experienced. I will forgo the Guisada, and Relleno, and stick strictly to the tortillas and hand formed Gorditas! I seem to find a few places that serve fresh flour tortillas, but corn seems to be a novelty. If I find them, I want them....and l want lots of them!! I have found that taking the extra time to hand form and roll these wonderful vehicles for even more fabulous of meats, is truly appreciated. I seem to go out if my way and over indulge if I know it has truly taken extra moments, and extra care to serve me truly authentic food! Thank you to La Flor, and Urban Taco.....you have both pleased my palette!

Here is my take on wonderful hand-formed mesa cakes (sopes) that I had the privilege to share at Texas' Largest Food and Wine Festival....Grapefest!!

Chipotle Roasted Pork Served on Fresh Sopes and topped with Serrano Mango Slaw


4-5lb Shoulder Pork Roast
1/2cup Brown sugar
1 tablespoon Chipotle Powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
1-teaspoon ground toasted Cumin Seeds
1-teaspoon ground toasted Coriander
1 Spanish white onion sliced
Mix all dry ingredients together and rub on roast until coated. Top with onions. Wrap roast in foil and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 275 and roast until tender enough to shred with a fork. About 5 hours. (OR place in slow cooker ). Shred and keep warm until ready to use

Serrano Mango Slaw with Honey Lime Dressing

1/2 cup finely shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup finely shredded green cabbage
1 medium carrot, grated
1 small red onion finely sliced
3 Serrano peppers, deseeded and minced
1 ripe mango, diced
Combine and toss with dressing. Let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes

1/4-cup fresh limejuice
1/4-cup olive oil
2 -3 tablespoons honey
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste


2 cups masa harina
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Canola oil, for frying

Mix flours, baking powder, and salt, and add the warm water. You may need a little more warm water to make moist, smooth dough.
Make balls the size of a walnut, a few at a time, and keep the dough in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out. Moisten a cloth napkin and spread out on a flat surface. Roll each ball of dough in moistened palm of you hand until smooth, lay on the damp towel, cover with a plastic bag, and press down with your hand to flatten to the size of a silver dollar. Heat a cast iron skillet and add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When hot, slide the patties into the hot oil and fry until they are a light golden brown and slightly crisp on top, about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels

To assemble: Top warm sopes with meat, slaw, and garnish with Mexican Crema!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Headed to Italy

I may not be boarding a plane and crossing the Atlantic, but my kitchen can sure smell like the flavors that linger in an old Italian cottage. Marring a man from a very "Soprano" family opened my eyes to the vast world of Italian food. I very quickly realized my ideas and flavors that I had grown up with were far from accurate, and the "Olive Gardens" and "Spaghetti Warehouses" of this nation were no where close to the decedent and pure flavors of Italy. Everything was not swimming in sauce or drowning in a pool of cheese. During our 2 years of dating, I accompanied him to family reunions, weddings, Sunday dinners, birthdays, and every other engagement that had to do with this large new family. I quickly realized three things: 1) I may need to be a little scared 2) "The Family" was everything! 3) They know how to have a party for ANY occasion.
This new culture was eye opening and intriguing to me. I wanted to savor every aspect. I was constantly asking the older generation to share recipes and ideas, but what I always got was not mearly just recipes but priceless life lessons and family stories. These moments are why passing tradition on through the table is so important to me. To relive the moments that are precious and to pass on love that encompasses the table can't be duplicated and should never be taken for granted. Tell your story, always take time, and never pass on an opportunity to teach.

Italian Wedding Soup

4 oz Pancetta
2TB Olive Oil
1c. diced onion
4 cloves garlic
3 celery ribs. chopped
1Lb diced Chicken Thigh
1/2 recipe homemade meatballs ,made into 1" bite size meatballs (recipe follows)
1qt Chicken Broth (homemade preferably)
1 TB salt (or to taste)
1qt water
2c. Cannellini beans
1c. Shredded Parmesan cheese (and the RINE of the cheese)
4oz fresh chopped Spinach
4 oz Spaghetti broken into bite size pieces
2 eggs (beaten)

Heat oil in large pot. Add diced pancetta and cook 3-5 minutes. Add onions, garlic, celery and saute 4 minutes. Add diced chicken and brown. Pour in broth, water and add rine of cheese. Bring to a boil and then simmer 1 hour. Add uncooked meatballs. Simmer 45 minutes. Bring back up to a boil and add beans and noodles. and cook 5 minutes. Take off heat and add fresh spinach and cheese. Put the lid on 5 minutes. While stirring, pour in eggs. They will cook in a ribbon form. Serve with toasted baguette and shaved pecorino.
(You may also used meatballs that have been previously made and frozen for a quicker week night meal. I usually have a MEATBALL day on a lazy Sunday and freeze them in bags of 12)

1lb ground chuck
1 lb Italian Sausage, casing removed
½ c dried bread crumbs (I use Panko)
2 large eggs
½ c whole milk
1 ¼ c. grated Romano
¼ c. grated Spanish onion
2 TB finely diced fresh garlic
¼ c finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
¼ c finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Mix all ingredients in large bowl. If mixture seems a little loose add more bread crumbs. Roll meatballs loosely about the size of a golf ball and place on baking sheet. For Italian wedding soup, make them the size of quarters and leave raw. Place into preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.

LINK TO AMAZING FRESH RAVIOLI BUSINESS IN DALLAS! Another example of family tradition. My husband brought me here to meet the rest of the family! Fun place so check it out!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"How much do you want for those nuts??????"

Whether I'm walking down the Midway at the Texas Fair, or in the local Bass Pro Shop, or even at the Annie's Pretzel store in the mall, I get a whiff of that ever so tantalizing smell of candied, roasted nuts. The amazing smells of cinnamon and caramelizing sugar is enough to turn this non-eater-of-nut-girl immediately fall in lust over them! I always go over to the stand and watch them slowly turn and coat the pecans and almonds as the fire blazes beneath the black kettle.
My delima: $4.50 for the smallest little cone shaped holder and that isn't even full! My mission was to make the perfect at home candied nuts!
I keep these savory sweet treats on hand and usually in the freezer ready to be served in bowls, martini glasses,or even waffle cones laying on a platter. They are perfect accompaniment to homemade ice cream (see me blog for a recipe), brie cheese, or cupcakes. No matter what your occasion is or for none at all! My lusts are full filled......."CHEERS TO THE NUTS" (candied, that is!)

Maple Candied Nuts

1 Egg White
1tsp Salt
1/3c 100% Pure Maple Syrup
2 TBL Brown Sugar
1/2tsp ginger
1/2tsp cloves
1/2tsp Allspice
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp Sweet Paprika
1/4tsp cumin
1/2tsp nutmeg
6c raw nuts Any combo of your favorites! I love Cashews, Pecans, Almonds, and pumpkin seeds!

Preheat oven 350
line 2 baking sheets with foil and butter completely
Beat egg white and salt until foamy
Add sugar and syrup. Mix
Add spices and combine
Add nuts and toss, making sure all are coated
pour in a single layer on sheets and bake 17-20 minutes
Cool completely on racks, and break into pieces. Store them in air tight bags or containers. They freeze wonderfully!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ode to the Crab Cake!

Why does it seem so difficult to get a great crab cake? Am I asking too much that a crab cake be full of lump, sweet, succulent meat and not bread fillers or over spiced to the point the delicate flavor is lost? I must be honest, I have consumed dozens of crab cakes with in my life, yet only a small handful have I been pleased with.
Last night I had a great date night! My mission: to find an amazing crab cake. We started off at a nearby lobster lounge. Yes, I'm a sucker for a great lounge! There is something about sipping martini's as a pianist plays Jazz and Sinatra, and the dim lights and bow ties on the bartenders only add to my secret indulgence. The ambiance was perfect, but I was there for more.
We ordered the infamous crab cakes, and I was ready for the critiquing to begin. One, single, beautifully crisp, lump crab cake over a creamy ribbon of sauce. It looked like perfection, but I had been fooled before. I gently cut the cake to reveal the center. There were no fillers visible to my eyes, and no over sized chunks of sauteed vegetables, but yet more of the same jumbo pieces of crab. So far, the dish was passing with flying colors, but the taste was going to be the deciding factor. I placed the bite in my mouth, and to much of my amazement, I was speechless. This was it! This is what I had been looking for in a crab cake all these years! The meat was simple, yet decadent, and the texture was firm but not tough. The flavor was delicate and sweet and the sauce complimented each aspect of the perfectly browned, crispy cake. I was satisfied, no, I was elated. Not only did I experience an amazing date with my best friend, but my confidence in the usually over-filled, over mixed, over cooked an drenched crab cake was restored. Thank you Steve Fields, my confidence has been restored and my passion has been revisited that there are others out there that appreciate all the true and simple pleasures that one simple crab cake has to offer.

Succulent Crab Cakes with Herbed Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 TBL minced fresh dill
1 TBL minced fresh tarragon
1 TBL minced fresh cilantro
1 TBL minced green onion
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

For vinaigrette:
Whisk oil, lemon juice, dill, tarragon, cilantro, green onion, and mustard in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Crab cakes
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 large egg yolks
2 TBL fresh lemon juice
4 tsp minced fresh dill
4 tsp minced fresh tarragon
4 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 TBL Dijon mustard
1 TBL finely grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1LB Blue crabmeat or Dungeness crabmeat
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). divided

2 tablespoons (or more) butter
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil

2 5-ounce containers herb salad mix
Fresh dill sprigs
Fresh tarragon sprigs
Fresh cilantro sprigs

For crab cakes:
Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in crab meat and 1 cup panko, breaking up crab meat slightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Place remaining panko on rimmed baking sheet, spreading slightly. Form crab mixture into sixteen 2-inch-diameter patties, using about 1/4 cup for each. Press both sides of patties into panko. Transfer patties to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 5 minutes total.
Place salad mix in very large bowl. Add 1/2 cup vinaigrette; toss. Arrange crab cakes on platter. Garnish with herb sprigs, drizzle with some of remaining vinaigrette, and serve with salad.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Southern Hospitality

The phone rings, a few nice words are exchanged along with the pleasantries of chit chat. Then, you end the conversation with a "see you in a bit!" Last minute company in an unexpected home is a nice surprise, but it throws us into a whirlwind of panic. Last minute dishes need to be put away, quick run through of the bathrooms, toys go into odd places that you swear you'll remember where you've put them, but we all know we will be searching frantically for later! As for me, I was taught that in a good Southern home, always have something to eat. Whether it's fresh cookies, a cheese ball with crackers, fruit salad, or the infamous block of white stiff cream cheese bathed in some kind of jelly or bottled sauce, something was brought out and placed on a platter.
I love to play hostess, and I have decided that I not only wanted to be prepared for unexpected guests, parties, or impromptu get together, but I wanted to wow the crowd. That doesn't always mean a fabulous beef wellington or decedent 3 layer cake, but I have learned that fresh food and fresh ideas that are packed with flavor can speak volumes. A little extra effort and a few additional minutes in preparation not only gives others a delicious treat, but it also shows others that they were worth the extra effort. People appreciate efforts and they always notice when you have put just a little extra care in the anticipation of their arrival.
Reach beyond the cheese ball, and past the jar of salsa. When your at the store, grab a specialty bag of pita or sweet potato chips to keep on hand. Stock the fridge and pantry with assorted nuts, fresh cut vegetables, rich sour cream, and local herbs. Try wondering over to the specialty cheese selection and olive bar at the market. These things are always sure to be turned into a fabulous quick spread or fabulous anti-pasta platter of some kind, and if no company calls or parties are scheduled, you have wonderful snacks for the kids or at home movie nights!
No matter where you live, or who you entertain for, bring a little Southern hospitality into your home. A little extra effort speaks volumes, and it is truly the little things that make people smile.

Roasted Pepper and Walnut Spread

12oz jar Grilled Piquillo Peppers( by the jarred roasted peppers or in the ethnic section of the store) (can use roasted red's)
5 garlic cloves
3 Serrano peppers
1 lg Poblano pepper, roasted and peeled
5 3" Hatch Chilies, roasted, and peeled
1/4c packed fresh Basil
1/2c. packed, fresh Parsley
1c. fresh Cilantro
2 Bay leaves
1tsp salt
1tsp Mexican Oregano
2c. Toasted walnuts
1/4c. Olive Oil
juice of 2 medium limes

-Roast Peppers over hot grill until charred. Place in a resealable bag and let sit 5 minutes. Peel away black skin and remove seeds.
-Toast walnuts over low heat in a large skillet just until they are aromatic
-Place all ingredients except oil in a food processor
-Pulse until finely chopped.
-With motor running, slowly add oil.
-Serve at room temperature with pita chips and blanched asparagus

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Little Taste of Cajun Heaven

My kids go on a special vacation with their Nana every summer. Seven nights, 8 days of fun, travel, and every indulgence a 10 and 8 year old could ever imagine!! This year, she made a special plan to go on a Cajun adventure! Sugar plantations, alligator farms, Mississippi River boat rides, and Civil War battle spots were all on the agenda. Not only did they hit these amazing Louisiana hot spots, they also got a mouthwatering taste of the delectable culinary world of New Orleans. Needless to say, they both came home with a new found love of light, fluffy, snow capped pastries....Beignets!
They requested them every morning, noon, and night. I can't blame them, I mean, what's not to love! Deep fried, and covered in powdered sugar, warm and soft with a perfectly crisp crust that immediately opens up to a soft, steamy center. Perfection!! Add a cup of espresso, and you have a perfectly rounded out, full- on, guilty pleasure.
After a few batches, I wanted to experiment. I wanted to stuff them for an even more decedent dessert....CHOCOLATE!
No, they are not the traditional way to eat them and yes, they are perfectly wonderful the way they are intended to be enjoyed, but sometimes, experimenting can take us just a little bit closer to that nirvana that our pallets seek!

Chocolate Stuffed Beignets

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2tsp pure vanilla
7 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shortening
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
4oz cream cheese at room temperature
4oz Nutella
1TB Cocoa
1tsp pure vanilla
-Mix in a small bowl and set aside

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, eggs, evaporated milk,vanilla, and blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the shortening, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.
Roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares using a pizza cutter. Place rounded spoonful of filling into the center of each square, Gently fold and seal edges by crimping with finger tips being careful not to over stuff and escape. Fry in 360 degree F (180 degrees C) hot oil. If beignets do not pop up, oil is not hot enough. Drain onto paper towels.
Shake confectioners' sugar on hot beignets. Serve warm.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Eve....

Emotions were running high and nerves were getting the best of me. My hand shook, and my voice cracked. I was in a constant battle in my head...."Will He love it?" Will He hate it?" Like an argument between a two year old and his friends over the latest and greatest toy at a birthday party. Am I forgetting salt? Did I put enough heat in the dish?....too much? The agonizing wait at the infamous doors was going to determine my fate. I wanted so bad to stay, I didn't want to walk ahead, but nothing could hold me back. My heart and soul were confined to a small silver cart handling the most precious of cargo's.......my dish!
Through the months of testing and retesting recipes, interviews, and on camera questionnaires, this was it. My heart pounded and the sweat trickling down my back was hitting every nerve. The doors opened and the judges await. I knew whatever the outcome, and wherever this landed me, one thing was certain: I was never going to be the same and I was never going to be satisfied until I was showing the world and sharing my vision: the greatest moments and the grandest memories are all made over one of life's most basic needs....FOOD!

Think beyond the bottle.
Can I change your mind.....

Extra Effort Whipped Cream: But Oh! So worth it!

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream:
1c. Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Vanilla Bean
1TB Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4c. Powdered sugar
- For intense vanilla flavor chill cream in a bowl overnight with the vanilla bean in it.
-Pour very cold cream in a large bowl.
-Cut bean lengthwise and gently scrape beans from pod and add it to cream.
-Add powdered sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
-Add vanilla and mix thoroughly
-Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reviving the Egg

Are eggs really just for breakfast? For a majority, people still pair eggs with bacon, top it on a dainty muffin and glaze it with rich buttery sauces, or boil it to the point the yolk is a shade of green. I am determined to chase people back to the carton and get cracking!
Over the last year, I have revived my love for the rich taste of that simple pleasure of the egg. I was always the kid at the breakfast table that wanted to "poke" my dads runny egg and watch it explode in the plate, but never really wanted one for myself. I ate them because that is what was served, but never out of enjoyment. I did not appreciate the look, texture, or taste of the mount of yellow on my plate until I truly realized what I had been missing.
My wonderful friend had been buying her eggs from a local farmer for years, and gave me a carton to try. I wasn't exactly thrilled about them, but I did want to test these out considering she thought they were fabulous. She was right! The eggs I had been using from the store had no volume or color. The taste was always bland and it took a lot of butter or bacon grease to get them to take on any desire of my palette. These were different! The yolk was perfectly at attention on the pan. No watery, thin substance oozed from the white, and the taste was as though I had churned fresh cream ans slathered it on my plate. These miss-shaped, beautifully colored eggs was just what I had been missing all these years, but didn't even realize it.
My conclusion: try to find a local farmers market or farmer! If a farmer has chickens, many times they will sell the eggs. Just ask!
Poach them on a salad, toss them in pasta, or fry them gently for a great topper on mushroom risotto! My personal favorite is a creamy chicken enchilada with steaming Verde sauce topped with a perfectly white, lightly pan seared egg. I think I'm driven to the kitchen as I'm typing this.....
The possibilities are endless, and your taste buds will thank you!!!

Asparagus and Pancetta Salad Topped with Pecorino
and a Perfectly Poached Egg
Tossed in a Fresh Lemon Basil Dressing

1Lb Asparagus
1/2c.Pecorino, shaved
4oz Pancetta
6 lg eggs

2TB Fresh Lemon Juice
Zest from 1 small lemon
1TB Fresh Basil, chopped
1/4c. Olive Oil

-Bring a large pot o water to rolling boil.
-In another bowl, prepare a ice water bath for asparagus
-Salt boiling water generously
-drop trimmed asparagus in for 3 minutes and immediately transfer to ice bath to shock
-Drain and cut into 1" pieces, set aside
-chop pancetta and fry until crispy. Drain and pat dry then add to blanched asparagus
-Combine all ingredient for dressing in small bowl. Season to taste with salt/pepper
-Toss dressing into salad and mix until coated
-Gently fold in pecorino shavings.
-Serve room temp with the Perfectly Poached Egg
First bring water in a saucepan to almost boiling. If the water is already boiling, lower the heat until it is no longer boiling. At this point, you can add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water, if you want. The vinegar will help the egg whites to congeal more easily.
Working with the eggs one by one, crack an egg into a small cup, then place the cup near the surface of the hot water and gently drop the egg into the water. With a spoon, nudge the egg whites closer to their yolks. This will help the egg whites hold together.Turn off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked.
4 Lift eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon.
**One trick to make the eggs stay somewhat contained is to take a ring from a mason jar and place it in the pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat and cover.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Passing the passion

Many times we pass by so many delicious options, but we never stop. Maybe they are not our normal, or maybe we have decided we no longer can indulge in things that may not make perfect sense. I have a passions. I have desires. I will seek out my dreams. I long to shift the paradigm of the cook whether in home or afar. My desire is to change the thought process of the way we shop for food, prepare food, cook food, and consume food. Passing on my passion to pursue food in a whole new light.
I have opened a new door and I will run through it whole heartily.
Swing open the doors and shout it in the market:
What a delicious world we live in! All it needs is a little creativity of the mind and passion from the heart!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Simple Summers!

I know it's summer, but at times I still log for that southern taste of something warm, crispy, and fried. Not drenched in oil, or smothered in a heavy sauce, but rather light and and crunchy with a smooth inside texture. Oh yes, being from Texas, I always love a little heat as well as that wonderful roasted flavor. The perfect summer meal of that Southern greatness with a slash of summer.....Roasted Corn Fritters with Chile Lemon Sauce served over fresh Arugula.
I must admit, growing up I never liked corn. The taste was void to me. Sweet, yes, but nothing I really wanted to indulge in. Whether on the cob, from a can, frozen, or, creamed the taste never appealed to me. All of this was until I was twenty-something and I discovered the wonderful flavor of roasted and slightly charred corn on the cob rolled in lime butter and covered in Cojita cheese. I can still taste it. Sweet yet tangy yet savory and creamy. This was the way I should have grown up with corn. Where was this wonderful concoction my entire childhood and young adult life??
With that being said, I am always looking for new fun ways to use roasted corn, and especially in the summer when it is picked at its peek! The carmalization of the sugars in the corn brings out another layer of goodness that would never be found in just adding it to a casserole or boiling it in a pot of water. Roasting, for me, is my only way to eat it! I know summer means lighter meals and quicker prep time to make up for the hours spent in the pool and therefore this was my inspiration for comfort in the summer. Not only are these fritters amazing in themselves, I also love to top them with blackened Tiger Shrimp or Jumbo Lump Crab meat. The marriage of the sweet meat, delicate sauce, and roasted corn is almost perfection! No longer will you look at corn in the same way, you will surely be drawn to put it on a hot fire, and get some color on it!

Roasted Corn Fritters:

1c. Fire roasted corn on the cob (grilled on med/high heat 25 minutes) scraped from the cob (about 2 full ears)
1 Jalapeno, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1/4c chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp Tony's Cajun seasoning
3/4tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1c. Course ground cornmeal
1/2c flour
2TBS melted butter
1 egg
1c buttermilk
3/4c Pepper Jack or Regular Jack cheese, shredded
oil for pan frying

In a bowl whisk together the cornmeal, the flour, salt, baking soda, and Cajun seasoning. In another bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of the butter, the egg, and the buttermilk, stir in the corn, onion, peppers, garlic, and Monterey Jack, and stir in the cornmeal mixture, stirring until the batter is just combined. Heat a skillet over moderately high heat with about 2" oil until it is hot. Working in batches, drop the batter by a 1/4-cup measure onto the griddle. Spread the batter slightly. Cook the cakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden, transferring them as they are cooked to a heatproof platter, and keep them warm.

Chile Lemon Cream Sauce:
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice from small lemon
1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded and grated
1 green onion finely chopped
Salt/pepper to taste

Serve these fritters on a bed of Arugula or Bibb with cherry tomatoes and fresh lemon wedges for a perfect outdoor lunch, or even better, top fritters with Cajun blackened Tiger Shrimp or Lump Crab for a full meal!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So many fish in the sea!

I have to say that my love for everything ocean related started long before my obsession with food. Who doesn't love to hear the ocean rolling before the sun awakens. Who doesn't smile when they see a dolphin playing in the distance. Who doesn't wonder the beaches in search of the perfect shells. Yes, the ocean is another world. The colors are unmatched and indescribable, and the silence of this amazingly lively world as you swim though coral reefs is enough move you to tears. It's a simple yet complex world that we have only began to scratch the surface of understanding. I may not be a scientist full of all the explanations, but one thing I am certain: the bounty of the ocean is rich on the eyes,therapeutic for the body, and succulent on the palate.
Why do so many shy away from seafood? Is it the texture, color, look, smell, fear of raw or being overcooked? The truth of the matter is this. People have had so many ideas in their head about fish, that they are not willing to open themselves up again to the idea of this food being utterly amazing.
When choosing fresh seafood it is important to remember; the smell should be sweet, and not that of the infamous "fishy" smell, and the texture should be smooth that slightly bounces back when gently pressed. Wild caught is the only way to buy. So many people choose to "save" a few extra dollars on the farm raised, but in reality, you loose everything beneficial and beautiful about the experience. Fish should be caught and not farmed, and they should survive on what God has created them to eat on, not grain. I fear that many have never experienced the true flavor of fish, thus producing a very distorted view of the savory meat.
Save a few extra dollars, go into the market with an open mind, and be amazed. Yes, the ocean is a different world, but what an glorifying one it is!

Pan Seared Sea Scallpos with Serrano and Cilantro Pesto

1lb Sea Scallops
Olive Oil
Sat/ Pepper

6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 dried bay leaves
3 key limes (or 6 teaspoons bottled key-lime juice)
1 fresh poblano pepper, coarsely chopped with the seeds left in (optional)
2 fresh serrano chili, coarsely chopped with the seeds left in (optional)
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup olive oil

Combining the garlic, bay leaves, peppers, and sea salt in a mortar and mash with a pestle until a smooth paste is formed. (If you don't have a mortar and pestle, put all the ingredients in a blender along with just a teaspoon or so of vinegar.) Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the parsley, oregano, and basil. Juice the key limes into the bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until well combined.

Heat skillet with 2 TBLS olive oil. Salt/Pepper scallops
Sear in pan each side 3-5 minutes. Serve on top of room temperature pesto.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dirt Between Your Toes...Isn't it Grand!!!!

Playing in the dirt is therapeutic, and being an adult, doesn't mean we can't enjoy the mud-pie, squishing between the toes fun that all of us enjoyed as a child. So, maybe I label it "gardening" now, but never the less, I still enjoy it. Maybe it's the growing up in what used to be rural America, spring always meant planting, and summer always meant more fruits and vegetables we could possible consume! Sauteed, grilled, fried, raw, and canned......we ate our bounty every way the mind can imagine. For the vegetables, it meant tomato and cucumber salads, freezing battered okra, and shelling the black eyed peas. Fruit trees always brought on a different excitement.
I knew the outcome of the small fragrant blossoms was going to be even better than my slight addiction to the salty fried okra. I remember my mom boiling the jars, pressing the almost over ripe plums and peaches through the sieve, and hearing the little "pop" of the seal as the preserves cooled.
I live in a suburbia neighborhood, of which I thoroughly enjoy, but it does limit the space of my desire for a large garden. I plant what I have room for, and I am blessed enough to live not too far from the acreage where I grew up, so my parents have graciously allowed me to still use a few of the tilled rows of their garden in order for me to ease my itch. Yes, the hot days of picking weeds may be a little backbreaking, early morning watering's can come too early, and the fire ant bites are inevitable, but knowing the outcome far outweighs any part that may be grueling at times.
The first harvest came at a perfect time this year. I made sure to plant all my "normal" veggies: jalapenos, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, and onions, but this year I branched out and also decided to try my luck with a variety of pepper plants as I have been experimenting with different prestos and also trying different ways to enjoy the abundance of squash that will be healthy yet appeal to my three little mouths. This, my dears, is the fun part: picking ( not knowing what you will get for the day), cooking, testing, re-testing, and enjoying. From my first harvest of many more succulent recipes and trial and errors to come, let the summer veggies do their thing!

Fresh Garden Skillet

2c. Spaghetti Squash, cut in half, sprinkled with seasoned salt, olive oil and roasted in 425 degree oven (skin side up) 30 minutes then scrapped with a fork
2c. assorted garden peppers and onions (bell, Serrano, jalapeno, Anaheim, poblano, red onions, white Spanish onions) sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, minced
2TBS Olive oil
1TBS Fresh oregano, chopped
2 Roma Tomatoes chopped
2 Green onions, sliced
1/4c Queso Fresco, crumbled

-Heat Oil in Skillet
-Add garlic and cook 3-4 minutes
-Add peppers and onions
-Cook until soft 5-7 minutes
-Add Tomatoes
-Add cooked squash and cook until mixed and tomatoes have broken down a bit (5minutes)
-Season with Salt/pepper
-Off heat, fold in Queso Fresco
***Keep in mind, this is YOUR garden skillet! Use what you have for your peppers/onions. There is never a wrong way to enjoy your harvest!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Seduction of an Avocado

"Pura Matnequilla". I had no idea what this meant nor had I ever heard the phrase, but little did I know, that this term would forever change the way I felt about the world of avocados. Over thousands of miles, and years of travel, I have enjoyed the vastness of the culinary world. From savory sauces to decadent desserts, my palette has experienced some of the most fantastic and complex flavors there is to offer, yet none has compared to one of the richest, purest there is. The AVOCADO.
1,769 miles south, lies a land that is rich in tradition, beauty, and the love of everything pure. Simplicity of life and food are the keys to the most tranquil place I have ever witnessed. The water that flows over the land and falls with force over high cliffs, is the purest in the world. Crystal clear pools seem to dot the jungle roadside, and every one we pass by, I long to linger in the serenity it offers.
Each village we come across has a small open air market that is bustling with business. As soon as we settled in to our jungle get away, I went for a walk and discovered the one that would eventually become my daily stop. Although the size of this market was not large, and the uneven posts were topped with a woven roof and open air sides, the abundance of fruits and vegetables picked at their peak, were endless. I did not speak the language, and I had not the first clue what many of these native foods were; there was one thing in common....a passion for taste. With each glance of the produce, I was offered a taste. With pride, they would cut into each one and hand it over. As they watched me sample, they studied my face. With eager anticipation, they awaited my reaction. They wanted me to love each bite, and savor the hard earned labor they had sown. I was mesmerized by the farmer's excitement over each morsel I devoured. I walked over to a few crates that had just been brought by his son's and took a glance. The man ran over to me and insisted I eat one. He called them "Pura Mantequilla" - Pure Butter........Avocados.
Sure, I loved guacamole. I'm from Texas, so naturally I was brought up smearing it on fajitas or mounding it on a chip, but I never would have gleamed with excitement or compared it to my love for butter! He slowly cut it open with his rusty knife, and handed me a thick slice. My hopes were not high, but I wasn't going to let him see the hesitancy in my eyes. As I began to taste the fruit, I realized how distorted my taste had become from over mixing and concocting this lovely and delicate food. My taste buds danced with enjoyment as I savored each bite. He was right! Pure butter is the only words in the English language that could even begin to compare the smoothness of my new found gem. No longer was I going to be masking the identity or buffering the taste, and no longer will my firsts thoughts of them go straight to a tortilla or chip.
Do I still love my Mexican dips? Yes. Do I still crave them being layered with meats and salsa? Of course!
But now, I appreciate the true identity and I try to reach beyond the conservative realm that so many times seems to take precedence. Shift your paradigm. Go beyond the norm and take a chance. You never know, for you too, could become seduced by an avocado!

Southwest Seafood Avocado Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing served in a Grilled Avocado
Garnished with a Roasted Poblano Pesto

***GRILLING the Avocados, keeps the color vibrant and adds to this beautiful presentation!
4 Haas Avocados halved, seed removed and set aside
-Heat grill or grill pan to med-high heat.
-Rub avocado with lime wedge and oil
-Lightly salt
- On oiled grill, place avocados down and grill until marks achieved. (1-2minutes)
-Remove and set aside

Poblano Pesto:
2 lrg poblano peppers, roasted and chopped
1/4c. Toasted pine nuts
1/4c. Packed cilantro
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
-Combine all but oil in a processor. Puree until finely chopped. Add oil to desired consistency. Set aside

Chipotle Lime Dressing:
2 cloves garlic
1 Chipotle pepper canned in Adobo
1½ TBLS Adobo sauce
2 small limes juiced
2tsp Cumin
1TBLS chopped white onion
1/2c. Mayonnaise

-Pulse in a blender until well chopped and combined. Salt/pepper to taste

For the Salad:
1/3c. Finely chopped red onion
3 avocados small diced
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4c. Manchego Cheese, chopped small
12 oz lump crabmeat
1c. Rough chopped shrimp, cooked and cooled

-Combine all ingredients except crab and avocado. Fold until combined. Add dressing by tablespoon-full’s until desired creaminess is achieved. Gently fold in avocado and half of crab. Reserving the rest for tops of individual salads.

To serve:
-place grilled avocado on a plate
-Top with scoop of salad
-Place extra crabmeat on top
-Garnish with pesto on plate and lightly over salad for color.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Secret Sundaes

Oh to be a child again. No worries about life haunted my thoughts and reality never stomped out dreams. Summers were long and evenings were magical. Life was all about indulgences.
Running through the house on a warm summer day, just long enough for a tall glass of lemonade, I hear the most amazing sound ringing through the house. The sound is not of lively music nor is it the sound of laughter, but rather the nostalgic and repetitious sound of the ice cream maker churning away. Nothing brings me back to July summer nights than to hear once again the glorious sound of ice cream being made.
Even now, it has comforted many tears, been the secret midnight snack, and make little ones dance with anticipation. We have limited this after dinner treat to birthday parties and snack shops. We have passed over the ice cream recipes because they look so plain, ordinary and child-like. We choose the complex over simplicity.
Ice cream brings out memories we have long forgotten, and helps us to make new ones that fill our hearts with the same excitement we felt as a child when we were licking the melted ice cream as it ran down the cone. Is it not to be confined to a half gallon bucket or a sweet crunchy cone.
 Whether we admit it or not, adults as well as children like to build and play with their food. Get out your wine glasses, martini glasses, or tea cups and serve this frozen deliciousness with as many toppings as you can imagine. Chances are, you will get smiles and giggles as stories will be shared and memories will be forever ingrained in our hearts.

So many times, we pass over the simplest and most pure form of happiness to fulfill the sophisticated side we think will make us happy, but at the end of the day, it's really about the simple little pleasures that fill our lives with the greatest amount of joy.

Crunchy Dulce De Leche Ice cream

1 can sweetened Dulce De Leche milk (in the Mexican section of the grocery store)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 c. sliced almonds that have been toasted and cooled
1/3c. toffee bits

Make the ice cream base: In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the cream and milk and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. In a heatproof large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 3/4 of the dulce de leche, and granulated sugar until smooth and pale. When the milk comes to a boil, whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk-sugar mixture until smooth. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream to the hot cream in the pan, whisking to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is nearly completely churned, spoon in the remaining dulce de leche to create a swirl in the ice cream. Add toasted almonds and toffee bits. Let churn 3-4 minutes until combined. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

For The Love Of The Spoon

What a wonderful sight to see. A small little bite of bursting flavors. Just enough. Nothing more. One bite and that's it? Yes. It's the wonderful course of the "Amuse Bouche". It is seldom seen yet richly desired. One bite that is usually amidst white table cloths and a Steinway. This bite is meant to literally wake up your mouth and prepare it for the on coming rich food that we seek. These morsels of food that are served on the delicate little spoons have become my favorite indulgence of the dining experience. The amuse takes time to prepare and the attention to detail must be perfectly executed. This is the first representation of the chef to the diner, and this is the diner's first impression and foretelling of the next hours to be enjoyed. Each piece must be precisely placed in order to fit into the spoons perfectly concave shape. No spills, nothing out of place, and a flavor that must speak loud enough to be heard yet subtle enough not to overtake the palette. Perfect balance. -Why is this small piece of luxury only enjoyed out? Why can't we start having amuse-ing times at our table? It will be fun. It will be new. It will teach us this: We have become too focused on the third and forth course of life, and have forgotten about the small yet explosive little details that can get us started.

"Amused" Smoked Salmon Roll

3 oz Smoked salmon
1 lemon, juiced
2 oz lump crab
smoked sea salt
fresh dill

-Start with dry salmon laying flat.
-Brush lightly the lemon juice over salmon
-Lay crab in single row
-Roll salmon and cut into small rolls
-Plate each roll separately or in amuse spoons
-Top each roll with one caper, pinch of dill and a few granules of sea salt

Friday, April 30, 2010

Grilled Goat Cheese Crostini

Grilled Goat Cheese costini topped with Pine nut Bruchetta

1 loaf baguette sliced 1/2\" thick
2finely minced garlic cloves
1/4c olive oil
4 oz herbed goat cheese
4 TBLgrated parmesean cheese
1/2 c toasted pine nuts
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 lrg basil leaved, chopped

heat grill to med-high.
combine cruched garlic and olive oil in bowl and set aside.
Slice bread and brush on olive oil. Top with salt and pepper.
Stir together goat cheese and parmesean cheese.
spread mixture onto each bread evenly. In a separate bowl combine garlic, tomatoes, nuts and salt and fresh ground pepper.
Grill bread for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and slighly brown on the edges. Remove and immediatley top with Pine nut mixture.Serve and enjoy!!!!

Have we forgotten.....

Everywhere we turn, we are reminded of a complicated and busy world. We have conformed to the busyness that entangles our every breath. We have forgotten the simple pleasures in life. We have forgotten how the taste buds can dance with excitement in our mouth with each bite, and we have forgotten how to enjoy every savory morsel in our mouth. We have become a busy, ever changing, over consumed, over stimulated society that has forgotten the simple pleasures.
When was the last time you looked your "Sunday" best? When was the last time you shined your shoes, when did you last put on a party dress "just because" , and when was the last time there was a cocktail hour at a social event? These little pleasures seen to be a lost art. Why? When did the world that surrounds tell us to be numb to everything around us? Our mouth is a sensual palette that awaits new adventures around every corner. Delight in the the little things that await. Enjoy every moment, and savor every second. Our tongue is no exception. Make the flavors come alive. Let the bites linger on your tongue. Let the aromas overtake the senses. Food is a lost art that needs, once again, a painter to lift the brush, and take your breath away.
There are moments in time where simplicity is best.we have forgotten.
we are a smothered, flamed broiled, deep fried, hurry up, microwave, extra cheese, super sized world that needs to be stripped and shown it's true colors. Food is tantalizing, food is art, and food is sexy. Enjoy the real flavors, and savory the moment.

Only for those......