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Luscious Lobster Pies

Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Appetizers, Baking, Fall Recipes, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, One-Pot Dishes, Pies and Tarts, Sauces, Seafood, Seafood Recipes, Special Occasion, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Luscious Lobster Pies

 

There’s nothing better in the Summer time than fresh seafood. Lobster is one of my favorites and an indulgence, at that. Lobster Rolls and Lobster Salad are great picnic and backyard BBQ dishes to serve a crowd. But once the end of Summer arrives, I start to crave some comfort food and one-pot dishes for the cooler days ahead.

This is a classic recipe for Maine Lobster Pie, something I made in a recent cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education – it’s a luscious pie made with fresh Lobster meat, cream, sherry and butter (um, not diet-friendly!) topped with a buttery, crispy topping made of Ritz crackers, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and paprika. We made a bunch of pies in small ramekins for appetizers, but you could also make one big luscious pie in a medium pie dish and serve it as a main one-pot course with a salad and some rice or pasta on the side.

It’s perfect for entertaining guests during the holidays, or even just for a homey comforting dinner on a crisp Autumn night. Go on – indulge a little. I won’t tell anyone.

Boil Lobster

 

Cooked Lobster

 

Lobster Meat

 

Luscious Lobster Pies

Yield: Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 whole pie.

Ingredients

  • Lobster Pie Filling
  • 10 tablespoons butter (1 ¼ sticks), divided
  • ½ cup good quality sherry
  • Meat from 2 cooked lobsters, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Topping
  • ½ cup crushed Ritz crackers
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • Fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, minced, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, add sherry and boil 1 minute.
  3. Add lobster and remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt remaining butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles; cook at least 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Drain and reserve the sherry from the lobster meat, then slowly whisk sherry and half-and-half into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to desired to taste.
  5. Spoon 4 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl. Add beaten egg yolks, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  6. Return egg mixture to sauce and mix well. Whisk constantly over low heat about 3 minutes; do not allow to boil, or the eggs will cook and get clumpy. Remove from heat and add lobster. Turn into four individual ramekins or a small, deep pie plate.
  7. Combine topping ingredients, blend well and sprinkle over pies. Bake about 10 minutes to heat through and until the topping gets crunchy and golden brown. Garnish with some fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, if desired.
  8. Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 medium pie.
  9. Recipe adapted from Yankee Magazine
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/09/07/lobster-pie/

 

Lobster Ingredients

 

Butter

 

Lobster and Butter

 

Bechamel

 

Lobster Pie Filling

 

Lobster Pies Ready for Oven

 

Lobster Pies

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Spring is here! Spring Canapes & Cocktails Party with KitchenAid

Posted by on Apr 12, 2014 in Appetizers, Cocktails, Drinks and Cocktails, Food and Cooking How-To's, Food Styling & Photography, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, One-Pot Dishes, Savory Dishes, Spanish Food/Tapas, Spreads/Dips, Spring Recipes, Summer Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies | 0 comments

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Spring Canapes & Cocktails!

Spring Canapes & Cocktails!

Spring is here, and there’s nothing better than gathering a few friends together for a casual get together with some canapés and cocktails featuring the fresh produce of the season. Fava Beans, Baby Garden Peas and Strawberries are a few of my favorites that start popping up in April and May with the first bloom of Spring.

I love to use my KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor for making quick and tasty dips and spreads – I simply toss all the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and give it a few whirls to make easy canapés and appetizers for sharing with friends.

An easy, fun idea is to serve crostini with a spread made of baby garden peas and fava beans, mixed with roasted garlic, mint, greek yogurt, feta cheese, lemon zest and olive oil. The flavors are bright, and it’s a light and healthy appetizer, perfect for spreading on toast and serving with fresh veggies for dipping. I love to serve them with some light Spring cocktails made with vodka, lemonade, fresh strawberries, mint and soda – perfect complement for the bite sized crostini! You can also make crostini with different veggies such as roasted red pepper, artichokes, avocado, olives – whatever you’re in the mood for!

Check out my post on KitchenAid’s Kitchenthusiast Blog for recipes, party ideas and how-to’s to get your Spring party started!

Spring Ingredients

Spring Ingredients

Minted-Pea-&-Fava-Bean-Crostini

Minted Pea & Fava Bean Crostini

Strawberry Mint Vodka Lemonade Cocktails

Strawberry Mint Vodka Lemonade Cocktails

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Break out the Bubbly! Sparkling Wine Recipes + Holiday Food Pairings from NYC Master Sommeliers

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Appetizers, Chef Interviews, Cocktails, Ethnic Recipes, French Recipes, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Latin Food, Mediterranean, Mexican Food, NYC, Seafood, Seafood Recipes, Side Dishes, Spanish Food/Tapas, Special Occasion, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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champagne

The Christmas Holiday and New Year’s Eve is right around the corner and there’s no better way to celebrate the occasion than to pop open a bottle of gorgeous bubbly sparkling wine. Most people automatically think of Champagne when it comes to sparkling wine but there are actually some great selections of Cava and Prosecco that fit the bill too. But what is the difference between them all and how do you pick one that suits your palette and your budget?

I interviewed some of NYC’s top Wine Directors and Sommeliers in town: Joseph Camper of db Bistro, Laura Williamson of Jean-Georges, Jason Arias of Txikito,  Peter Mastrogiovanni of La Cenita/EMM Group and Joe Campanale from Epicurean Group; to unveil the mystery behind all three sparkling wines and get some recommendations, food pairings and recipes to help you plan your holiday cocktail party in style.

The main difference in the three sparkling wines comes down to a few things: the grapes, the region, the soil, the fermentation process and temperature.

Val de Mer Cremant du Bourgogne

 

 

Champagne (also known as “cremante”, comes from only two regions of France: Rhones and Epernet, from either large houses that use blends of grapes or grower champagne from smaller private farms (also known as “farmer fizz”), according to Joseph Camper, Sommelier at db bistro moderne. Champagne has a distinct taste as well – a bit chalky and ‘yeasty’ with a minerality flavor.

 

drusian_prosecco_valdobbiadene_exdryProsecco is an Italian sparkling wine; generally a Dry or Extra Dry wine; normally made from Glera (“Prosecco”) grapes. Prosecco is produced in the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy, and traditionally, mainly in the areas near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso. It is the fruitiest of all three sparkling wines, and unlike Champagne is usually produced using the Charmat method in which the secondary fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks making it less expensive to produce. Prosecco comes in either fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) varieties.

poema cava

 

 

Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain made in the traditional method of the French sparkling wine Champagne. The wine was originally known as Champaña until Spanish producers adopted the term “Cava” (cellar) in 1970 in reference to the underground cellars in which the wines ferment and age in the bottle. Cava has an ambiguous, well-balanced and neutral flavor. It’s looser knit, and has a less complex process in its making compared to Champagne.

 

 

 

 

—–

French Sommelier – Joseph Camper, Sommelier of db bistro moderne

joecamper

When people think about sparkling wine and France, of course their mind goes to the wonderful region of Champagne–which is in fact wonderful, because Champagne (in my opinion) is THE best wine producing regions in the world. While Champagne may be my dessert island wine, there are several other noteworthy sparkling wines from France. The top regions, aside from Champagne are: Burgundy, the Loire and even the Jura.

A few things to know about Champagne:

1) There are three primary grape varietals used, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  Most wines are a blend of all three, though there do exist some special bottlings that focus on just one of the three grapes (i.e., Blanc de Blanc is made entirely from Chardonnay)

2) With the arrival of the age of “Grower Champagne” (or as Terry Theise would say, “Farmer Fizz”) there is more focus on soil and specific sites, and we are seeing more vintage and single vineyard wines in the market than ever before!


RECOMMENDATIONS & FOOD PAIRINGS:

Sommelier Joseph Camper says that “Champagne works with almost all foods. It’s the greatest wine in the world.”

Champagne

Vilmart, Grand Cellier: (not to be confused with Grand Cellier d’Or from the same producer): Vilmart GC, is in my opinion one of the greatest “entry-level” (price wise) Champagnes made, even though it is better than most prestige cuvées.  It has incredible balance and precision, and therefore I would pair it with opening courses–raw fish, oysters, lobster, etc.

Egly-Ouriet, Viellissement Prolonge: Egly-Ouriet V.P. is crazy good.  It tastes almost like Burgundy with bubbles.  DON’T serve it in a Champagne flute, but rather in a larger, more typical wine glass to really enjoy the full array of the wine.  It spends somewhere around 70 months on the lees, or yeast (!).  For this wine, richer fare is called for–Turbot or Dover Sole, Veal. Butter! Also due to the autolytic quality of the wine it is unreal with umami flavors like soy. Crazy tasty with Asian food.  BYOB anyone?!

Cremant du Bourgogne

Val de Mer Cremant du Bourgogne: Sparkling wine made entirely from Chardonnay from the region of Chablis.  Kimmeridgean limestone at its best! Serve with shellfish.

Cremant du Loire

Francois Chidaine, Montlouis-Sur-Loire, Brut “Method Traditionalle”: Sparkling Chenin Blanc from one of the hot shot producers of Mountlouis and Vouvray.  It’s technically, a Multi-Vintage wine, but there is always a code on the back of the bottle that reveals the vintage. Current release is 2011.

Domaine Huet Petillant: Also sparkling Chenin Blanc, but bottled at a low atmospheric pressure (less bubbles and certainly less aggressive–sometimes appears “flat” in the glass).

Cremant du Jura

Tissot Cremant du Jura: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Poulsard:  A ringer for champagne in its aromatic profile, though a bit softer and more floral.  The perfect aperitif.  Just drink it, by the gallon with or without food!

COCKTAIL RECIPE:

db-bistro

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Sometimes cocktails take not one, not two or three, but MANY rounds of testing to get it just right! This cocktail is just that: just right. Head Bartender at Chef Daniel Boulud’s Upper East Side cocktail lounge Bar Pleiades, and consulting bartender for the new db bistro cocktail menu, played with chocolate and red wine’s affinity for each other with this drink, as well as berry shrub’s red wine-berry fruitiness and Byrrh (a French wine based aperitif flavored with quinine). To make the drink, Byrrh is infused with cocoa nibs overnight. Pomegranate seeds are dropped into a champagne flute, and topped with a mixture of Rye, Cocoa nib infused Byrrh, White Crème de Cacao and Berry Shrub and Orange peel. When the drink is topped off with Champagne, the pomegranate seeds try, and try again, to rise to the top of the glass with the Champagne bubbles!

Try, Try Again

1 ounce Rittenhouse Rye
.5 ounce Cocoa nib infused Byrrh
.25 ounce White Creme de Cacao
.25 ounce Berry Shrub
Orange peel

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass.  Stir and strain into champagne flute with bar spoon full of pomegranate seeds at bottom of glass.  Top off with champagne.

—–

French Sommelier – Laura Williamson, Master Sommelier, Jean-Georges

Laura Williamson

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Cava
Raventos i Blanc, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Spain
Cavas Llopart Brut Rosé, Catalonia, Spain

Prosecco
Drusian Brut Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy

Champagne
NV Hebrart Brut Rosé Champagne, France
1996 Legras and Haas Blanc de Blanc Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne, France

Semi-Sweet Sparkling
Renardat-Fâche Bugey Cerdon Rosé, Savoie, France

FOOD PAIRINGS:

Semi-Sweet Sparkling – Grilled Foie Gras Dumplings, Papaya, Red Wine Syrup, Passion Fruit paired with Renardat-Fâche Bugey Cerdon Rosé, Savoie, France

Champagne – Toasted Egg Yolk, Caviar and Herbs paired with 1996 Legras and Haas Blanc de Blanc Chouilly Grand Cru, Champagne, FranceRoasted Venison, Quince-Madeira Puree, Broccoli Raab and Cabrales Foam paired with NV Hebrart Brut Rosé Champagne, France

COCKTAIL RECIPES:

blood orange bellini-photoKHESS

Blood Orange Bellini

photo credit: Kristen Hess

Makes 8 drinks:

1 1/4 cups fresh blood orange juice
1 bottle (750 ml) dry Crèmant d’Alsace, chilled (Prosecco or Cava can be substituted)
3 tablespoons orange liqueur, preferably Cointreau
Pour the juice, Crèmant, and orange liqueur into a large glass pitcher. Immediately and carefully pour into 8 champagne flutes and serve.

For 1 drink:

5 ounce Champagne (Prosecco or Cava can be substituted)
Juice of 1 blood orange
splash of Cointreau

blood orange french 75 -photoKHESS

Blood Orange French 75

photo credit: Kristen Hess

1 ounce Gin
Juice of 1 blood orange
3 oz Champagne (Prosecco or Cava can be substituted)
2 dashes Orange Bitters
1 splash Cointreau

Serve in a Champagne flute and garnish with a blood orange triangle (made by slicing a blood orange wheel into 3rds)

Recipes by Laura Williamson, Master Sommelier, Jean-Georges

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Latin/Argentinean Sommelier – Jason Arias, Txikito

alex raij and jason ariasMaster Sommelier Jason Arias and Executive Chef Alex Raij of Txikito NYC recommend Cava and Champagne choices that reflect their Basque, Catalan and Argentine holiday traditions with a classic Basque 75 cocktail and high quality seafood and pasta pairings.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
Cava
Gramona (entry level to vintage)
Brut Nature (driest) – Juve y Champs
Avinyo and Raventos
Mas Foraster – rose cava

Champagne
Pol Roger
Guy Larmandier
Alfred Gratien
Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque
Krug

FOOD PAIRINGS:

Cava and Champagne – High quality whole fish and mollusks and crustaceans (raw or cooked, or served in soup); Salt Cod Cannelloni (Canelons) and Pasta

COCKTAIL RECIPES:

basque75

Photo Credit: Txikito

Basque 75

Beach plum Gin or Patxarran (Basque sloe berry liqueur)
Cava
Grapefruit Twist
Bruised sage leaf
On rocks with splash of 7 up

Recipe by Sommelier Jason Arias, Txikito

—–

Spanish/Mexican Sommelier – Peter Mastrogiovanni, La Cenita -Emm Group

peter mastrogiovanni

La Cenita is a new Spanish/Mexican tapas restaurant in the Meatpacking District, part of the Emm Group. They have a focus on using very fresh and unique ingredients in their cocktails and also do a lot of house infusions with tequila including creative flavors such as prickly pear, jalapeno, coffee, cocoa nibs and bacon.

Head Corporate Beverage Manager, Peter Mastrogiovanni recommends the following Sparkling Wines and food pairings for the holidays if you’re looking for a Latin twist to your menu. Head Bartender Billy Potuin also shares his special cocktail recipe for La Ciderita – a light and boozy, warm and wintry cocktail that has an interesting take mixing sparkling Cava with tequila and Spanish cinnamon. It’s all natural, using honey and lemon and cranberry bitters and not too sweet making it a great cocktail for the holidays.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Cava
EverydaySegura Viudas Brut
SplurgePoema

Champagne
EverydayMoet & Chandon Imperial Brut Reserve
Splurge –  Perrier – Jouet 

FOOD PAIRINGS:

Cava and Champagne – Chicken Mole Taquitos and Snapper Nectarine Ceviche

COCKTAIL RECIPE:

La-Ciderita

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

La Ciderita

2 ounces Canela-infused Herra Durra Reposado
.75 ounce Cinnamon Syrup
.75 ounce Apple Cider
.75 ounce Laird’s Applejack
.5 ounce Honey Syrup
.25 oz Lemon Juice
4-5 dashes Spiced Cranberry Bitters

Shake, strain up in martini glass, top with Sparkling Cava wine. Garnish with a Canela (or cinnamon) stick and dried cranberries

Recipe by Lead Bartender Billy Potuin, La Cenita

—–

Italian Sommelier – Joseph Campanale, Executive Beverage Director, Epicurean Group (dell’Anima/L’Artusi/Anfora/L’Apicio)

joe campanale

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Cava – is from the Cava region in Spain. It is made in the same method as Champagne as is less fruit-forward than Prosecco. It doesn’t have the acidity or minerality of good Champagne but the best examples can be quite delicious. Some of my favorites are:

Everyday – German Gilabert $12
Mid – Avinyo Cava Brut NV $20
Splurge – Cava Recaredo Brut Nature $32

Prosecco – Made from the Prosecco grape in the Veneto region of Italy. This is fruit-forward and can be a little sweet. If you use prosecco in a cocktail remember that it can have some sweetness. Also it lacks the yeasty flavors of Champagne/Cava.

Everyday – Ca’ Furlan Prosecco NV $10
Mid – Sorrelle Branca Prosecco di Valdobbiadenne “Extra Dry” NV $15
Splurge – Case Coste Piane Prosecco Frizzante Naturalmente 2011 $20

Champagne – The highest quality of all sparkling wine, it comes from the Champagne region of France and is made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and a local grape known as Pinot Meunier. Go for the smaller producers who grow their own grapes (Grower champagne). At their best, Champagne is crisp, mineral driven wine with a ton of complexity from high-quality grapes and aging on the lees (spent yeast). I think it would be unwise to use one of these in a cocktail.

Everyday – Pierre Brigandat NV $30
Mid – Gaston Chiquet Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs NV $52
Splurge – Vilmat et Cie “Couer de Cuvee” 2004 $125

FOOD PAIRINGS:

Cava Parmigiano Cheese – this hard, nutty cheese will complement the creamy bubbly Cava. Cava’s earthiness will be reflected in the cheese as well as the creaminess from the lees aging but the bubbles will cut through the richness.

Prosecco – Thai Food – Prosecco’s fruit-forward aromatics will complement the exotic, full-flavored Thai food. The chill of the wine and (sometimes) residual sweetness will cool down spicy Thai or complement the sweeter food.

Champagne Fried Chicken – There is something just absolutely fun about the high-low pairing of fried chicken and Champagne. They were made for each other. Fried chicken is the fatty, crunchy poultry that needs a crisp, bubbly wine to cut through the grease and complement the crunch. This is a great flavor and texture experience.

COCKTAIL RECIPES:

Texas-Mimosa

Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Texas Mimosa

Serves One

Ingredients

1 oz. Milagro Silver tequila
2 oz. Grapefruit Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
2 oz. Prosecco
2 dashes Fee Bros. Grapefruit Bitters
Grapefruit Peel for Garnish

Directions

Shake tequila, grapefruit juice and simple syrup over ice and double-strain into a flute. Top with prosecco and grapefruit bitters. Garnish with a grapefruit peel. Enjoy!

TenPastTwelve

Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Ten Past Twelve

Serves One

Ingredients

1 1/2 oz. flor de cana white rum
3/4 oz. Lillet
½ oz. Orchard Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz. Lemon
Rose Cava topper

Directions

Stir all ingredients together. Spank beer glass with rosemary stem. Pour ingredients over ice in a beer glass, top with Rose Cava of your choice. Enjoy!

Recipes by Joseph Campanale, Executive Beverage Director, Epicurean Group

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Food Styling for Mario Lopez and Avocados from Mexico on NBC Live and Bethenny Shows!

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Appetizers, Cheese, Chicken, Dressings/Marinades, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Fall Recipes, Food Styling & Photography, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Latin Food, Mediterranean, Mexican Food, Nutrition, NYC, Salads, Savory Dishes, Special Occasion, Spreads/Dips, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Mario Lopez NBC Live

I recently did a fun food styling TV segment for Mario Lopez and Avocados from Mexico on the Bethenny show and NBC New York Live. The segment featured Mario discussing his new cookbook Extra Lean,  demonstrating how to use fresh avocados in your everyday cooking for delicious healthy meals. I made his Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa for the show – it turned out absolutely delicious and was a hit backstage! I also made some gorgeous Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad Bites for the Bethenny Show that were super cute and delicious. Here’s the recipes and some fun behind the scenes photos from the show!

WATCH THE VIDEO FROM NY LIVE NBC SHOW 

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa

Serves 3

Ingredients:

6 corn tortillas
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 oz cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 tbsp canned green chiles
1/2 cup mild tomato salsa, divided
1/2 cup low fat shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack recommended)
Chopped scallions
Hot sauce (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the oven to warm.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onions and peppers. Season with salt and oregano and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken, green chiles, 1/2 cup salsa, and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
  5. Remove tortillas from the oven and spray a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
  6. Place 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in a tortilla, roll up and transfer to baking dish; repeat with remaining tortillas.
  7. Top tortillas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and cheese and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
  8. Garnish with chopped scallions, additional Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and serve with hot sauce, if desired.

—–

Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa

Serves 4 – 8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 fully ripened avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

Directions:

In large bowl, whisk together salad dressing, scallions, cilantro and lime peel. Stir in beans, corn and red pepper. Add avocado; toss gently. Season with salt, if desired.

photo: Kristen Hess

Avocado-Mozzarella-and-Tomato-Salad

Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 Hass Avocados from Mexico, sliced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 ounce bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • With a small knife or “shark”, cut the little stem end out of the tomato using a serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices.
  • Slice the mozzarella 1/4 inch thick.
  • Alternate slices of Avocado, tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves like playing cards on individual plates.
  • Drizzle on the olive oil and vinegar.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

photo: Avocados from Mexico

Mario Lopez

mariolopez1

mariolopez2

mariolopez3

Set and Mario Lopez photos: Kristen Hess

 

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Baby Asparagus, Garlic & Three-Cheese Tart

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Appetizers, Baking, Cheese, Eggs, Fall Recipes, French Recipes, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, One-Pot Dishes, Pies and Tarts, Savory Dishes, Special Occasion, Spring Recipes, Thanksgiving Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Baby Asparagus, Garlic & 3-CheeseTart

Whenever the holidays roll around, I love to bake and experiment with luscious pies and savory tarts. Puff pastry is such an easy way to make appetizers fit for a crowd, especially when you buy it pre-made from the grocery store. (I especially like Dufour brand which I get from Whole Foods and Fairway stores in NYC, it’s super flaky and buttery and light.) You simply roll them out on to a floured surface or a non-stick silicone baking mat (try Silpat), score the edges and prick a few holes in it and pre-bake it for about 15 minutes.  Then, you can top it with any sweet or savory topping you like and bake it into a buttery, crispy delightful tart (or cut the pastry into smaller rounds with a biscuit cutter) to feed a crowd for brunch or a holiday appetizer.

Asparagus-Garlic-3Cheese-Tart2

I decided to top this one with some sauteed baby asparagus and garlic with red chile flakes along with three creamy melty cheeses: ricotta, gruyere and parmesan and a hint of lemon zest. All you gotta do is create your masterpiece, pop it in the oven and cut it into squares and you’ve got a crowd-pleaser waiting to happen and a party in your mouth. If you’re not a big asparagus fan, try experimenting with some other veggies: broccoli, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, spinach – whatever you fancy, and play with other cheeses, as long as they are good for melting such as Monterey Jack, Brie, Gorgonzola or Mozzarella. The ricotta base I wouldn’t substitute though – it gives it a creamy layer of flavor and texture that’s just too good to give up and protects the pastry base from getting soggy from the vegetables and cheese. Throw some cooked bacon, ham or prosciutto on it too if you really want to add some savory flavor. And if you want to go the extra mile and make your own pastry dough, go for it – but it takes a lot longer and a little more elbow grease to get it perfect. Happy Holidays!

Baby Asparagus, Garlic & Three-Cheese Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 puff pastry sheet (pre-made frozen or homemade)
  • 1 bunch of baby asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute asparagus spears with the shallots for about 5-7 minutes until they get soft. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta, whisked egg, half of the Parmesan cheese, thyme, lemon zest, sea salt and pepper.
  4. Roll out pastry sheet into a 16"x10" rectangle on to a Silpat (silicone baking mat) or parchment paper. Score around the edges 1 inch border and prick the base of the pastry with a fork in several places. Bake the pastry in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before adding toppings.
  5. Spread the ricotta and cheese mixture over the base of the puff pastry evenly. Top with sauteed asparagus, shallots and garlic, laying out asparagus spears in a flat row across the pastry.
  6. Sprinkle over the top the shredded Gruyere cheese and the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle additional fresh thyme if desired.
  7. Place the tart (on the Silpat or parchment paper base) on a rectangle baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is crisp and golden brown and the cheese on top is bubbly.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Cut tart into squares and serve.

Notes

Delicious for a holiday brunch or appetizer (you can always cut tart into bite size pieces to feed a crowd). Serve with a crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Chenin Blanc.

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Cool off with a Cucumber-Melon Martini & Prosciutto-Melon-Feta Bites

Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 in Appetizers, Drinks and Cocktails, Food Styling & Photography, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Savory Dishes, Special Occasion, Spring Recipes, Summer Recipes, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Martini-Bites

Summer is in the air and it’s that time of year to cool down with some refreshing cocktails and light small bites. I love melon in the Summer time, especially paired with cucumbers with their light flavors that make a great refreshing cocktail.

I created a Cucumber-Melon Martini that’s made with Stoli vodka, cucumber liqueur, agave cayenne lemonade (or regular lemonade or limeade),  garnished with cucumbers, mint and cubes of honeydew melon. It has a hint of sweetness from the lemonade and a lovely refreshing flavor from the melons and cucumbers and a spike of minty freshness and kick of  heat from the cayenne lemonade.

A great small bite pairing to go with the martinis are Prosciutto, Melon and Feta Bites. They’re super easy to make and just as light and refreshing as the cocktails that go with them.

A little bit sweet, a little bit tangy and a whole lot delicious. Here’s to the lazy days of Summer! ENJOY :)

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Martini-Hero

Stoli Cucumber-Melon Martini Recipe

1 part Stoli vodka

1 part cucumber liqueur

2 parts lemonade or limeade

Garnish with Cucumber slices, honeydew melon cubes and fresh mint sprigs

Pour vodka and lemon or limeade into a drink shaker over ice. Shake well and strain into martini glasses. Drop cubes of melon into the martini. Garnish with cucumber slices and fresh mint sprigs.

Makes 1 cocktail.

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Prosciutto-Feta-Melon-Bites

Prosciutto-Melon-Feta Bites Recipe

1 package of prosciutto, sliced thin and cut in half (about 20 slices)

1 package of feta cheese, sliced into ¼ inch sliced cubes

8 ounces honeydew melon, cubed

8 ounces cantaloupe melon, cubed

Prep all ingredients by cutting the feta cheese and melons into similar size chunks. First layer the melon with the feta, then top with a slice of prosciutto folded into small squares and secure with toothpicks. Serve on a platter along with the Cucumber-Melon Martinis.

Makes approximately 20 small bites.

Note: You can also include watermelon in the mix for some extra flavor or serve the bites over arugula with a cucumber melon vinaigrette. Simply throw the melon and cucumber slices in a blender with some olive oil and vinegar, a dash of salt and pepper; then drizzle over the bites.

Happy Summer!!!

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