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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Show Stoppers

Holidays are the one time a year to get the tricks out of the sleeve and onto the tables! Here are a few if you are still one of those wondering: "What's something "different" and that will be part of the conversations of one of the many nightly topics?". These recipes will make a nice addition to any Holiday occasion!

Here are a few pantry basics from my own kitchen that make quick, elegant,and last minute entertaining a breeze!!!

2 choices artisan cheese
Wildflower honey
Sophia (or medium priced sparkling wine)
Truffles or Dark Chocolate
Hot Coppa or Sopressata
Olive Oil Flat bread Crackers

Marinated Camembert with smoked Grey Sea Salt

8oz Camembert cheese, room temperature for at least an hour
2 garlic cloves that have been pressed
1/4 c. Olive Oil (great quality)
2 Sprigs Rosemary, minced
Crushed Red Pepper
Grey Smoked Sea Salt
3TBS Pine nuts, toasted

Combine garlic, oil, Rosemary,pepper, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and marinate at room temperature at least 2 hours or overnight. Scrape off top rind of the cheese, making a slight indention. Pour oil mixture over cheese and sprinkle with additional smoked salt. Garnish with pine nuts.

In a Snap Dark Chocolate Fudge

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 pinches salt
2 cups %60 chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped and toasted walnuts or pecans

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil, pressing it into the corners and up the sides; leave an overhang on 2 sides. Brush the foil with butter.
Combine condensed milk, the chocolate chips and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chips are melted and smooth.
Spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan, Brush an 8-inch square of parchment paper with butter and lay it directly on top of the fudge; press to flatten evenly and fill any gaps. Press nuts on the top of the chocolate. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes. Lift the foil to remove the fudge from the pan and cut into 1-inch squares. Store up to 1 week in an airtight container.

**Thanks to my mixologist friends of William Grant & Sons for this yummy Holiday cocktail treat!!

Solerno Celebration Punch
1 bottle Solerno
1 bottle Lillet Rouge
1 bottle dry, sparkling white wine
16 oz freshly brewed, strong, chai spiced black tea (no cream or sugar
8 oz Fever Tree Ginger Beer
8 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
16 dashes Angostura bitters
Over a large block of ice in a punch bowl, pour all of the ingredients and
stir to combine. Garnish with thinly sliced orange wheels. Serve in punch
cups with a cinnamon stick and small wedge of orange.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Two are better than one. The perfect pairs

There are a few flavor combinations that are can truly be classified as "Culinary Wonders of the Palette": silky honey & crumbly Blue Cheese, threads of angel hair pasta & delicate marinara, spicy tacos $ Mexican beer, buttery fillet & Bearnaise, buttermilk biscuits & sausage gravy, and last but definitely not least....rich and delicate chocolate & clouds of whipped, creamy peanut butter. All of these immediately make my mouth tingle with anticipation, but it's the chocolate and peanut butter combo that I tend to gravitate to, especially during the indulgent days of the Holiday season.
The classic Reese's cup is definitely the all-time favorite not only of mine, but of thousands (if not millions) around the globe. Although they are the candy of choice when stealing from my children's Halloween bucks, over the last decade,I've noticed that they are not as satisfying and richly delicate as they were when I was younger. In seeking out the perfect PB & Cocoa combo, I learned that two things were essential 1)I want real chocolate 2) having a straight peanut butter creaminess without an ounce of being dry or breaking apart in my mouth. Now, without further adieu, my secret indulgence as well as my all time favorite Holiday gift-on-a-plate.....

The Melt-In-Your-Mouth-Real-Dark-Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Cream-Truffles

2 cups creamy peanut butter (yes, you can use crunchy if you insist)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
9 oz. dark chocolate chips or chunks(at least 60% cocoa)
2 tablespoons shortening
¼ c. peanuts, finely ground

Mix together peanut butter, butter, salt, and vanilla extract.

Work in the powdered sugar until it's completely incorporated.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1" balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 15-20 minutes.

Melt the chocolate and shortening in a double boiler.

Using a toothpick, dip the balls one at a time in the chocolate. Or you can use two forks to roll the peanut butter balls in chocolate, completely coating them. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
Let set and store in fridge!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Should Tacos be "FUZZY" or "VELVET"???? Velvet, please!!

Late night Tacos aren't a new concept, but the popularity of them is far reaching beyond the "munchie" crowd. People are drawn to fresh, different, and full flavors that are all done with a bit of an attitude. I had the joy of accompanying Steve Doyle on a Taco Tour of Dallas and was amazed at the quality and flavors that are lurking all around this eatery of a city. They were off the beaten path, small, full of the local culture, and truly a treat to be had on a chilly Saturday. Ever since my tour, I have tried other taco joints to see if I can find the tried and true authentic flavors of that day. I have been successful and have also tasted some failures. My conclusion: when wanting to enjoy the complete authentic experience, one must venture off the beaten path and be prepared to speak 2 languages. One the other hand, I am also intrigued by the new concept of "Gourmet" tacos. I love new flavors and infused cuisines, so when I see those two concepts under one roof, I'm all in.

I visited the Velvet Taco twice. The first time was defiantly an after-midnight stop with lots of laughs, burning mouths, and cake. Fun night, but not so much focused on a review. The next time was lunch. So many mouth-watering choices that it was a difficult decision (not to mention possibly frustrating to the people behind us). Defiantly a winner! For a meatless option you can't go wrong with either the fried paneer cheese or wild mushroom.The wild mushroom taco was smokey, full of flavor, and was perfectly paired with goat cheese. I chose the Ahi Poke in lettuce wrap for a lighter option. Filled to the brim with tuna and perfect slices of watermelon radish. Since the traditional salsa wasn't exactly "Asian", I was missing the back heat that one usually finds in tacos. Maybe some type of wasabi sauce or cream could be offered with the tacos that don't directly go with the Mexican flare. The lettuce wrap was a great option to not overpower the tuna as well as appealing for the carb-conscience devourer. The special for the week was a must order after I read the white board..... Kung Pow Chicken taco. Again, very pleased with the amount of filling, however, the lack of the "slaw" that was on top made my mouth sincerely miss the "crunch" that I was expecting when reading the description. The beef with portobella mushrooms and rotisserie chicken with queso fresco were a hit, and after sampling the flour tortillas, I am sticking with the fresh-made corn from now on. I always give extra points for homemade tortillas as it seems to be a lost art. Don't pass up on the delicious sides that are offered. The corn and potatoes are both visual appealing as well as make your mouth water from the smell alone. For you local beer drinkers, you would be appreciative of the fact that Franconia out of McKinney is on draft. Beer and tacos...almost a perfect combination. I had favorites and I also tried one's that were not for my personal taste, but overall, it's a fun atmosphere, open 24hrs for you late nigh-ers or pregnant women that get that hankering' at 3am, have enough choices which makes it great for a group to appeal to the array of tastes, and my personal favorite...family style seating! Have fun trying out this Henderson Taco joint, and as always, go with a laid back approach, and an open palette.

Only for those......