Category Archives: Appetizers

Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme

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Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

So it’s Friday. And a lovely Spring day. I was in the mood to make something lovely to eat, preferably with a sweet and savory twist. I’ve also been on a baking kick lately, not sure why but I’m loving experimenting with different flavors and textures of pizzas and tarts and pies.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some red grapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and some thin cut Italian ham. I simply rolled out some refrigerated pizza dough and then topped it off with some olive oil, all the pizza ingredients, and some fresh thyme.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

I popped it into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes until all the cheese and crust was bubbly and golden brown, then finished this beauty off with some sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some fresh basil and drizzles of honey.

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

This is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. The contrast of the sweet grapes, shallots and honey with the sharp and tangy cheddar cheese and salty, crispy ham are like a true love affair…in Paris.

I’m thinking the only thing better than this would be an actual trip to Paris..on the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. With a chocolate croissant and cafe au lait in hand. With a really cute French guy. Ooh La La.

Aaah – a girl can dream, can’t she? (Happy Friday!)

Rustic Pizza with Grapes, Shallots, Ham & Thyme

Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Serving Size: 1 slice/wedge

Ingredients

  • 1 package of refrigerated pizza dough (or homemade if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp White Cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 thin slices Italian ham or prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Honey for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
  3. Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add the sliced shallots, ham, grapes and White cheddar cheese on to the dough evenly. Top with some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
  5. Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
  6. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Notes

You can also substitute prosciutto or bacon for the ham, and top with some fresh ricotta cheese if desired.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2015/04/17/rustic-pizza-with-ham-grapes-shallots-cheese-honey-thyme/

 

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Food Trends of 2014 + Flavor Forecast for 2015

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2014 Food Trends

As the year 2014 is coming to an end, it’s always interesting to see what was hot and what was not in the culinary world and what new food and flavor trends we will see in the New Year 2015. Popular trends seem to come and go each year affecting everything we see: restaurants, blogs, online stores, magazines, TV shows, and even fast food and packaged goods and advertising.

2014 had plenty of interesting ones that went big this year:

Culinary mashups: Cronuts (croissant donuts), Wonuts (waffle donuts), Quesarito (a quesadilla rolled into a burrito), bananas fosters pancakes, bagel burgers, ramen burgers, pretzel subs, Chicken waffle sandwiches, you name it – crazy Frankenfood dishes hit the scene this year.

Spicy burgers: burgers went nuclear this year with everything and anything spicy – Sriracha mayo, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, spicy onion rings, melted pepper jack cheese, harissa, ancho chipotle sauce, Mexican burgers with spicy ranch sauce…the list goes on.

Bahn Mi – a traditional Vietnamese sandwich made with roasted pork, marinated vegetables, and herbs on a baguette

Savory Jams – fig jam, pepper jellies, lingonberry jams topped creative sandwiches everywhere this year.

Paleo Diet – this meat-heavy, vegetable-laden, dairy and gluten free diet went crazy. Huge protein portions, cookbooks, blogs and new restaurants opened with a core focus on MEAT.

2015 Food Trends

And here is the flavor forecast for 2015:

Middle Eastern mezze: hummus, pepper spreads, herb-marinated olives

Creative cookies: decadent makeovers on classic cookies

Umami veggies: savory flavors will infuse new recipes such as tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, nori, sweet potatoes

Smoked spices: deeper richer flavors for foods through smoked spices

Sour notes: coarse salt with sour notes from sour cherry, pickled ginger, mango and lemon zest add zing and bling. Burgers topped with kimchi. Shrubs (preserved fruits with vinegar and sugar) will show up in cocktails.

Liquid revolution: juice blends from fruits and vegetables to make healthy flavorful sauces

Global blends: Japanese 7 spice (aka shichimi togarashi) combines chilies, sesame, orange zest and nori. Shawarma Middle Eastern blends made with cinnamon, cumin and black pepper are also going big.

Tacos: regional and modern taco joints and pop ups are going to be everywhere

Scrambled eggs: forget poached and deviled – scrambled eggs for dinner with savory sauces and ingredients are hot.

Spicy flavors: Sriracha will still be in style, as well as international spices like Thai bird chiles that give a serious kick.

Flavor without fat: Chefs are now infusing meats and vegetables with flavor by grilling, rotisseries and smoke.

Meat spreads: Nduja is an Italian meat spread made with ground pork and spices, great for spreading on toast or filling ravioli.

Artisanal candies: Bourbon and sea salt caramels, ice cream gummies and other creative confectionaries will be everywhere.

Soft serve ice cream: seasonal flavors and innovative sundae creations are another hot item in the dessert scene.

Spanish cuisine: Tapas and small plates from the Spanish region will be hot in the fast-casual restaurant world.

Savory pancakes: think potato pancakes on steroids – infused with different vegetable flavors and creative toppings and sauces.

Patty melts: this classic diner dish heats up the food scene with innovative twists on this half burger / half grilled cheese sammie.

Mini cocktails: smaller versions of cocktails served in half portions are popping up to give customers the opportunity to taste more varieties

Artisanal hard cider: move over craft beer, the new trend is using artisanal hard cider to create libations with unusual ingredients such as bourbon, house-made Dijon syrup and thyme.

Gin: new places opening up that solely serve the classic Gin and Tonic in different ways

High-end daiquiris and frozen drinks: new twists on the daiquiri and slushie drink infused with fun flavors and alcohol combinations

Meals to go: restaurants and food brands understand the consumers shrinking leisure time by creating high end meals to go making it easier to eat gourmet food without spending hours eating out or cooking at home.

Family-style dining: more restaurants will be serving meals family style with larger portions to share around the table.

Sources: McCormick and National Restaurant News

 

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Luscious Lobster Pies

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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
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

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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

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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: 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!

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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

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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.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/11/24/asparagus-three-cheese-tart/

asparagus-tart3

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

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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 :)

—–

Martini-Hero

Stoli Cucumber-Melon Martini

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.

—–

Prosciutto-Feta-Melon-Bites

Prosciutto-Melon-Feta Bites

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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Holiday Cocktail Party! Photoshoot + Recipes

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It’s that time of year again – holiday parties filled with plenty of cocktails, socializing and finger food much to our heart’s desire to celebrate this sparkly season. I teamed up with a photographer friend of mine, Maike Paul, to do a Holiday Cocktail Party photo shoot and we had waayyyyy too much fun!

We chose five of our favorite cocktails to concoct, style, shoot (and drink, of course), along with a few nibbles to compliment. So here’s the lineup: Whiskey Sour with Stuffed Mushrooms, Classic Martini with Spiced Mixed Nuts, Mulled Wine with Cheese and Crackers, Pisco Sour, and a luscious White Russian for dessert. I know you’ll love all of these recipes for your next holiday cocktail party as much as we did. And Happy Holidays to all of you – CHEERS!

Whiskey Sour
Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour

1 small lemon wedge
Turbinado sugar, for rimming glass
1/4 cup bourbon, preferably Maker’s Mark
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated sugar, preferably organic
1 cup ice cubes

Rub the lemon wedge around the rim of a 12-ounce rocks glass. Place turbinado sugar in a shallow dish. Dip the rim of the glass in the sugar to coat; set aside.

In a large cocktail shaker, combine bourbon, orange juice, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and ice. Cover, and shake vigorously until all ingredients are well combined and cold. Pour into prepared glass, and garnish with orange slice.

Stuffed Mushrooms

1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
Garlic salt
Fresh ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons EVOO
16 large white mushrooms, stemmed
White Truffle Oil (a few sprays or 1-2 tablespoons for brushing)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stem the mushrooms and chop the stems into fine pieces, set aside. In a mixing bowl, blend together bread crumbs, cheese, chopped mushroom stems, garlic, parsley, chile flakes, garlic salt and pepper with EVOO. Adjust olive oil amount to your liking until filling is soft and blended well.

Stuff mushroom caps (cavity side up) with the filling (generously) on a greased baking sheet. Spray or brush truffle oil on outer mushroom caps.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are golden brown. Garnish with fresh mint.

Makes 16 servings.

Classic Martini
Classic Martini

Classic Dry Martini

1 2/3 oz Gin
1/3 oz Dry Vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with twist of lemon peel or olives.

Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts

1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup cashews
3/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Dash Louisiana-style hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the salt and spices; set aside. In a large heavy skillet, melt butter. Add cashews, pecans and cashews; cook over medium heat until nuts are lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with spice mixture. Add the brown sugar, water, Worcestershire and hot sauce. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until sugar is melted.

Place nuts on a large baking sheet lined with foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until nuts are golden brown. Remove from oven and let nuts cool before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 2 cups.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

Mulled Red Wine with Brown Sugar
Mulled Red Wine with Brown Sugar

Mulled Red Wine with Brown Sugar

Two bottles of fruity red wine (Zinfandel or Merlot)
Zest strips from one orange
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

Put the peppercorns, fennel seeds and cinnamon in a large tea ball or wrap them in cheesecloth and secure them with kitchen string. In a large saucepan, combine aromatics with the wine, bay leaves and orange zest.

Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered for 30 minutes. Remove the aromatics and orange zest strips. Stir in the sugar until dissolved.

Serve warm in glasses or mugs with a variety of cheeses and crackers and spiced nuts.

Recipe from Food and Wine Cocktails.

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour

2 oz Pisco
1 oz Lemon or Lime Juice
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/4 oz Sugar
1/2 Egg White

Shake all ingredients except bitters with ice. Strain into champagne flutes.

Dash with bitters and drag with a toothpick to make design.

White Russian
White Russian

White Russian

2 oz Vodka
1 oz Kahlua
Half and Half Cream

Pour coffee liqueur and vodka into ice-filled old fashioned glass and fill with milk or cream.
Alternatively you can shake it all up in a cocktail mixer and strain over ice.
Garnish with coffee beans or cocoa powder.

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5 Holiday Appetizer Recipes and Colavita Olive Oil Holiday Giveaway!

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Holiday Appetizer Recipes & Colavita Holiday Giveaway
Holiday Appetizer Recipes & Colavita Holiday Giveaway

The holidays are here, and what better way to celebrate by throwing a holiday cocktail party with friends and family? I’ve teamed up with Colavita this season to celebrate with all of you, by creating  some delicious Holiday Appetizer recipes using their World Selection and Private Selection Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Flavored Cooking Oil blends. 

Colavita Olive Oil Collection

Colavita Olive Oil Giveaway!

*THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED – Congratulations to Manda Kay, the winner of our Colavita holiday giveaway! Hope you cook up lots of goodies with your EVOO & Balsamic Glace! Happy Holidays :)

I’ve teamed up with Colavita this holiday season and giving away some of their delicious olive oils and balsamic vinegars so you can celebrate the season by cooking up some holiday goodies of your own! The winner will receive: one (1) 3/4 liter of Colavita Private Selection Fruttato EVOO, one (1) 32 oz Roasted Garlic EVOO plus one (1) 29.5 oz bottle of their Balsamic Glace. 

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave me a comment at the end of this post telling me what your favorite Holiday Appetizer to make with olive oil is.

*For extra entries, just follow me on twitter, facebook, pinterest, google+, tumblr or sign up for my newsletter (at the top right hand side of this page) and tell me you did so in the comments section. **As an added bonus, Colavita is also offering a 25% discount to all of my readers on any purchase in their online store. Simply enter the code ‘AG25′ to receive the discount upon checkout!

**This giveaway begins on Sunday, Dec 9th and ends Sunday Dec 23rd at midnight EST, where one person will be selected by random from the comments section below.**

Colavita World Selection Olive Oils are a new collection of extra virgin olive oils exploring the tradition in countries outside of italy from estates and farms in Australia, Argentina, California, Greece, Spain and Portugal as well as other prime olive oil growing nations. Read more about a few of my favorites that I used in my recipes below!

Colavita California EVOO

 

Colavita 100% Californian EVOO

The warm climate in the “Golden State” of California fosters both grape and olive cultivation perfect for wines and olive oils. The Colavita 100% Californian EVOO is pressed from olives grown in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys of California. The mild flavor makes this oil perfect for all culinary applications. Enrich your favorite meal with a drizzle of EVOO and a glass of wine.

Read more and get it online

 

Colavita Roasted Garlic EVOO

 

Colavita Roasted Garlic EVOO

Colavita Roasted Garlic EVOO is a product originally created exclusively for BJ’s Wholesale Stores. To many it has become the “gateway product” that exposes customers to the entire Colavita family of products. It is raved about on their online store so we wanted to share it with all of you! It’s the perfect finishing oil and wonderful for enhancing garlic already present in your dish. Try it on Garlic Bread or my Homemade Pita Chips (recipe below).

Read more and get it online

 

Colavita Argentina EVOO

Colavita 100% Argentina EVOO

The Argentina EVOO was a hands-down favorite at this year’s New York Wine and Food Festival. Arbequino, Coratina and Manzanilla olive cultivars grown in the Catamarca and Mendoza regions of Argentina give this EVOO and intense, fruity aroma and taste. Pair this EVOO with soups, roasted fish, grilled vegetables and red meat for an unbeatable duo.

Read more and get it online

 

 

 

Colavita Private Selection EVOO

Colavita Private Selection Fruttato EVOO

Colavita’s Fruttato Oil has recently been inducted into the Colavita “Private Selection” line. This line was created to highlight the products which have received the honor of being marked a Colavita family favorite. It is made by cold pressing new harvest olives just before their peak ripeness. The result is a full bodied EVOO which is slightly pungent with peppery flavor notes.

Read more and get it online

 

 

 

Colavita Roasted Garlic Oil Blend

 

Colavita Roasted Garlic Oil Blend

This Colavita Premium Blend is an all-purpose cooking, frying, and salad dressing oil which combines the delicate hint of roasted garlic in a light Canola Oil and Virgin Olive Oil Blend. It is a versatile oil that is naturally low in saturated fats and has no trans fats.

Read more and get it online

 

 

 

 

 

 Holiday Appetizer Recipes

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Bites
Sweet and Spicy Chicken Bites

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8-10

These yummy sweet and spicy Asian Chicken bites combine honey, soy sauce, orange and Sriracha to make a fun bite-sized appetizer with a delicious glaze.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, plus 1 tsp zest
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Colavita Roasted Garlic EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Colavita Roasted Garlic EVOO
  • Fresh ground white pepper
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 tablespoon black and white sesame seeds, toasted (for garnish)
  • 1 green onion, sliced thin (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients from honey through minced garlic and place inside a large plastic freezer bag.
  2. Cut up chicken into bite-sized pieces and trim visible fat, place in bag and marinate in refrigerator for at least an hour to overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Remove chicken from freezer bag, reserving marinade, and place on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, turning one time until chicken is browned nicely.
  6. Strain marinade and discard solids, and pour into a saucepan bringing to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 3 minutes.
  7. Combine water and cornstarch and slowly pour into glace in saucepan. Add fresh cracked white pepper and red pepper flakes, stirring well.
  8. Turn oven up to 500 degrees.
  9. Toss chicken bites with the glaze and broil for about 5 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds for a few minutes in a pan over medium heat and chop green onion.
  11. Serve chicken bites garnished with sesame seeds and green onions with cocktail toothpicks on a small platter or small plates.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light March 2003

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/12/09/5-holiday-appetizer-recipes-and-colavita-olive-oil-holiday-giveaway/

 

Caramelized Onion, Ricotta & Pancetta Tart
Caramelized Onion, Ricotta & Pancetta Tart

Caramelized Onion, Ricotta & Pancetta Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 8

This is a lovely tart recipe that combines sweet and savory flavors. The caramelized onions give it a sweet flavor with a hint of fig balsamic vinegar, balanced out by creamy ricotta, nutty Gruyere cheese, fresh herbs and crispy pancetta.

Ingredients

  • 1 package pancetta (8 thin slices)
  • 3 tablespoons Colavita Fruttato EVOO
  • 2 sweet Vidalia onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons Fig balsamic vinegar (Tavern Direct brand)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoons dried Fines Herbes (or 2 tablespoons fresh herbs)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1 frozen pie shell, defrosted, or homemade tart dough

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and cook pancetta until browned but not fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain fat from pan and place pancetta on paper towels to drain to the side. Once cooled, chop pancetta into small pieces.
  3. Peel onions, remove top and bottom stems and cut in half lengthwise.
  4. Slice onions thin (about 1/8" thick or desired thickness).
  5. In the same saute pan, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium high heat.
  6. Add onions and cook over medium high for about 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle brown sugar, salt and pepper over onions and stir well, cook another 10-20 minutes, reducing heat to medium low if onions start to brown too quickly.
  8. Continue cooking and stirring onions over medium low for another 15 minutes, add a few teaspoons of water if desired.
  9. Add the fig balsamic vinegar to the onions, turn heat down to low and let cook until they are caramelized, soft and sweet, up to an hour total.
  10. Combine the ricotta, egg yolk and Fines Herbes together in small mixing bowl.
  11. Spread the ricotta mixture over the pie shell in a 9" tart pan with removeable bottom.
  12. Sprinkle Gruyere cheese over ricotta.
  13. Top with caramelized onions and pancetta.
  14. Bake the tart in the oven for approximately 30-45 minutes until pastry and filling are golden brown, and pancetta is crispy.
  15. Let tart cool on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  16. Serve tart cut into wedges.

Notes

If you prefer to make your own tart dough rather than using a frozen pie crust, Martha Stewart has a great recipe for Flaky Tart Dough on her website at http://www.marthastewart.com/319448/flaky-tart-dough

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/12/09/5-holiday-appetizer-recipes-and-colavita-olive-oil-holiday-giveaway/

Parmesan Garlic Artichoke Dip w/ Homemade Pita Chips
Parmesan Garlic Artichoke Dip w/ Homemade Pita Chips

Parmesan Garlic Artichoke Dip

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 8

Hot Artichoke dip is one of my all time favorite holiday dip recipes, and this one is extra special, using Colavita's California EVOO, lemon zest and minced garlic with lots of gooey cheese. Instead of using mayonnaise, I substitute a light sour cream to cut some of the fat and calories. Serve with my homemade baked pita chips or crackers.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Colavita California extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 package frozen artichokes, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Garlic salt with parsley (to taste)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded light monterey jack cheese, plus 1/2 cup for topping
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • dash of cayenne (optional)
  • dash of paprika (for garnish)
  • 1 green onion, sliced thin (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add artichokes and minced garlic, saute about 5-7 minutes until heated through.
  2. Add lemon juice, zest, garlic salt and pepper, mix well and cook another few minutes, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, add shredded cheeses and sour cream together in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add sauteed artichokes, garlic and lemon to cheese and sour cream.
  5. Sprinkle with a dash of cayenne (if desired), mix well and transfer to a casserole dish.
  6. Sprinkle additional monterey jack cheese over the top and bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted on top.
  7. Let cool a few minutes, sprinkle with paprika and green onions. Serve with homemade baked pita chips (recipe follows), crackers or crudites.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/12/09/5-holiday-appetizer-recipes-and-colavita-olive-oil-holiday-giveaway/

Baked Garlic Pita Chips

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes 36 pita chips

Making homemade pita chips is super easy and way better than buying the storebought kind for your holiday party. Mine are made with whole wheat pita bread, drizzled with EVOO, and sprinkled with garlic salt and cumin for some extra flavor. So delicious and crispy straight out of the oven and so addicting you'll never buy them again! Serve with Hot Parmesan Garlic Artichoke Dip or any of your other favorite party dips.

Ingredients

  • 6 whole wheat pita rounds
  • 2 tablespoons Colavita California EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut pita rounds into triangles (6 wedges per pita).
  3. Lay out pita wedges on a baking sheet and brush each wedge with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle garlic salt and cumin on top.
  5. Flip over pita wedges, repeat coating with oil, salt and cumin.
  6. Place baking sheet(s) in oven and cook pita wedges for about 15 minutes (checking to make sure they don't burn!)
  7. Let cool, and serve with Hot Parmesan Garlic Artichoke Dip.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/12/09/5-holiday-appetizer-recipes-and-colavita-olive-oil-holiday-giveaway/

Sage, Lemon & Garlic Cocktail Meatballs
Sage, Lemon & Garlic Cocktail Meatballs

Sage, Lemon & Garlic Cocktail Meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 18 medium or 36 small meatballs

Serving Size: 2-4 per person

Everyone loves cocktail meatballs at holiday parties! These lovelies have a hint of lemon and sage and are light and fluffy, made with ground pork or chicken. They are first browned on the stovetop and then finished in the oven until golden brown. They're delicious alone, or dipped in a hot pepper jelly (Williams-Sonoma brand is great), balsamic pear jam (there's one by Academia Barilla that is to die for) or simply dipped in balsamic vinegar glace.

Ingredients

  • 3 slices of bread, crusts removed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground pork or chicken
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • zest and juice from half a lemon
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Colavita Argentina EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon Colavita Roasted Garlic Cooking Oil Blend
  • Red Pepper jelly, for dipping (Williams Sonoma brand)
  • Balsamic Pear jam, for dipping (Academia Barilla brand)
  • Colavita Balsamic Glace, for dipping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Remove crusts from bread and tear into small pieces in a large mixing bowl, add milk and let soak for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Mix in ground pork or chicken, sage, garlic, onion, lemon juice and zest, cheese, pepper flakes, egg, salt and pepper with soaked bread crumbs with your hands in a claw-like motion to keep meatballs light and fluffy.
  4. Roll meat mixture into small to medium size meatballs (small makes approximately 36, medium makes approximately 18).
  5. Heat olive oils in a large saute pan over medium heat (if not using cooking oil blend, mix EVOO with a tablespoon of butter to avoid temperature from getting too high and splattering).
  6. Cook meatballs in batches in the oil for about 5 minutes each batch until meatballs are browned on all sides, drain on paper towels.
  7. Once all meatballs are browned, place them on a large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray to avoid sticking.
  8. Bake in the oven for approximately another 15 minutes until cooked through and to keep warm.
  9. Top with additional garlic salt (if desired), fresh chopped sage, and serve with red pepper jelly and balsamic pear jam, and Colavita Balsamic Glace for dipping.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/12/09/5-holiday-appetizer-recipes-and-colavita-olive-oil-holiday-giveaway/

Crunchy Zucchini Sticks w/ Yogurt Dill Sauce
Crunchy Zucchini Sticks w/ Yogurt Dill Sauce

Crunchy Zucchini Sticks w/ Yogurt Dill Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8-10

These zucchini sticks are a great appetizer for any holiday party. They have a light crunchy coating of Japanese Panko seasoned bread crumbs and are finished with a splash of lemon and sprinkling of sea salt. They go perfect with the cool and creamy yogurt dill sauce or even a ranch dressing for dipping.

Ingredients

  • CRUNCHY ZUCCHINI STICKS
  • Colavita Roasted Garlic Cooking Oil Blend
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into half, into long strips
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups Panko Japanese-style seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  • Fresh minced dill, for garnish
  • YOGURT DILL SAUCE
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoon minced dill
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. CRUNCHY ZUCCHINI STICKS
  2. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large deep saute pan, about 2 inches high.
  3. Trim ends off zucchini, cut in half and then in half again lengthwise.
  4. Cut zucchini into large strips about 1/2 an inch thick.
  5. Pour the flour and Panko breadcrumbs into one large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Beat eggs in a separate bowl.
  7. Dip zucchini sticks in egg, shaking off excess, then dip in bowl to coat with flour and breadcrumbs.
  8. Place coated zucchini on a baking sheet.
  9. Fry in batches until golden brown, draining excess oil on another baking sheet lined with paper towels.
  10. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top of zucchini and sprinkle with fresh dill and additional sea salt to taste.
  11. YOGURT DILL SAUCE
  12. In a medium bowl, mix together greek yogurt, dill, salt and pepper to taste.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/12/09/5-holiday-appetizer-recipes-and-colavita-olive-oil-holiday-giveaway/

*This is a sponsored post by Colavita, but as usual, all opinions expressed are my own. I received 5 bottles of Colavita olive oil samples to create the recipes for this article and holiday promotion. Winners of the giveaway will receive the prizes directly from Colavita by mail and should expect 2-3 weeks delivery time due to the holidays. 

**All photographs, recipes and copy are copyrighted by Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet 2012 and cannot be republished without my permission or credit on the reposted original material from this article or website.

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