Category Archives: Chinese Recipes

Mix it Up! Non-Traditional Holiday Menu Ideas & Recipes from NYC Top Chefs

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International Holiday Menus

It’s that time of year again to start planning menus and recipes for the holidays. But instead of just serving traditional turkey or ham,  mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, why not mix it up a little bit and serve your holiday meal with an international flair? I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and interview several Top Chefs and restaurants in NYC to get some creative ideas for non-traditional holiday menus for the holidays. Whether it have a Spanish, French, Asian, Jewish or Italian twist; here are some great international menu ideas and recipes for a fabulous holiday meal with family and friends that break the norm.

Spanish Holiday Menu – Alex Raij, Executive Chef at Txikito NYC     

Executive Chef Alex Raij from the Spanish restaurant Txikito in NYC always makes a classic, festive dish for the holidays. This Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche) feeds a crowd and references Basque, Catalan and Argentine family holiday traditions that Chef Raij grew up with in Spain. Serve with other traditional Spanish hot and cold tapas such as: Pikillos: roasted Navarran sweet peppers with ajoarriero; Kroketas: crispy creamy croquettes; Boquerón: marinated white anchovy with eggplant and piquillo; Cogollos: butter lettuce, Basque anchovy, and Bonito del Norte and Tutera: gratin of artichoke, Roncal, Jamón.

Canelones de Bakalao
Canelones de Bakalao

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche)

Executive Chef Alex Raij, Txikito

Serves 6

1 9×9 inch baking dish, preferably earthenware
12 – 4 inch square pieces fresh pasta sheets boiled and shocked in ice water (The Chef recommends cooking longer sheets and then cutting them after they are cooled in ice bath so they are more uniform)

Filling and topping

2.5 pounds cod
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 cups olive oil
1.5 cup tomato pulp pref. pomi brand
2 cups Creme fraiche
2 tablespoons  finely chopped chives
50 grams hackleback or other high quality caviar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Salt the cod with the 2 T. kosher salt and let stand 10 minutes.
Rinse and pat dry.
Place the cod in a small pot and cover with olive oil.
Place on medium low heat and poach the cod in the oil until it flakes when prodded
Remove the fish to a mixing bowl to cool.
Pour 1/2 cup of the poaching oil over the cooling cod to cool with it.
Heat remaining oil add the tomato fry the tomato until cooked and a little sweet, season with salt.
Pour the tomato oil mix I the bottom of the baking dish.
Break up the cooled cod and flake it with clean hands.
Whip it up with the oil with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Place 6 pasta sheets side by side and place 1/12 of the filling at the end of each sheet.
Roll away from you and place on the tomato.
Repeat with the rest of the filling and next 6 sheets.
Season the crème fraiche with salt and pour over the caneloni.
Bake at 375 until bubbly.
Sprinkle with chives and top with caviar just before serving.

Serve 2 pieces per person.

Printed with permission of Alex Raij. All rights reserved.


French Holiday Menu – Olivier Quignon, Executive Chef at Bar Boulud

Even as Chef Olivier Quignon of Bar Boulud prepares to celebrate his seventh Christmas in NYC, he hasn’t lost touch with the French holiday traditions of his hometown, the Northern French town of Beauvais. Christmas in the Quignon household, and in the restaurant he helms on behalf of renowned French Chef Daniel Boulud, Bar Boulud, is traditional to a tee, lasting up to six hours and spanning just as many courses. What does a typical French holiday meal entail?

Oysters “Always oysters. We shuck them at lunch and the eating begins.”

Cured or Smoked Fish

Foie Gras “This can be hot, seared, or served as a terrine.”

Hot Fish or Pasta


Beef or Game

Cheese “ALWAYS cheese. French people eat cheese at practically every meal. We may sometimes skip dessert, but we never skip cheese.”

Pastry “At Christmas this is often a Bûche de Noel. But my wife is a pastry chef, so there are usually many desserts.”

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras
Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Traditionally, Tournedos Rossini is a French steak dish, purportedly created for the composer Gioachino Rossini by French master chef Marie-Antoine Carême. The dish comprises a tournedos (beef tenderloin) pan-fried in butter, served on a crouton, and topped with a hot slice of fresh whole foie gras briefly pan-fried at the last minute. A few slices of black truffle and Madeira demi-glace sauce garnish the dish.

At Bar Boulud New York, ‘Rossini’ is a dish that makes an appearance on the menu every holiday season, and on the tables at many French holiday meals. It is rich in ingredients and flavors, hearty, and the perfect celebration dish. There are several way to prepare Rossini, but Bar Boulud sticks to the traditional preparation—seared beef tenderloin atop a brioche toast, topped with seared foie gras and Madeira-beef jus, served with Pommes Macaire dotted with a celery root puree.

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras and Pommes Macaire

Executive Chef Olivier Quignon, Bar Boulud

Serves 4

Pommes Macaire

Kosher salt, as needed
4 yellow gold potatoes
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Black truffle butter or oil
2 egg yolks
Canola oil for frying
½ cup flour

Celery Root Puree

1 small (about 3/4 pound) celery root, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
Freshly ground white pepper

To Finish

1 ½ lbs angus beef tenderloin, tied with butchers twine
12 ounces fresh grade A foie gras
6 tablespoons beef jus or demi glace
2 ounces Madeira
1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
4 ¼ thin slices of brioche, cut into 3 ½-inch circles, toasted
8 small light green celery leaves
1 small black winter truffle

For the Pomme Macaire

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make a bed of salt on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and place potatoes on top. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash the potato with a fork, season to taste with salt, pepper, and truffle butter (or oil). Stir in the egg yolk to combine.  Press mixture into a bread loaf pan and chill overnight.

Turn the potatoes onto a cutting board and cut into (at least 8) 3 x ½-inch batons. Lightly coat the batons in the flour and shake off excess.

Fill 1/3 of a saucepan with canola oil and heat to 350°F. When ready to serve, fry the potatoes  in batches until golden brown. Strain onto a paper towel-lined tray, sprinkle with salt.

For the Celery Root Puree

Cut the celery root into medium dice. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned. Add the celery root, milk, and water to cover; bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the celery root to a blender and puree with enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth puree. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl.

When ready to serve, transfer to a small saucepan and stir over medium heat to heat through.

To Finish

Slice the tenderloin into four portions and season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Cut the foie gras into four slices and season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Once very hot, sear the foie gras on both sides to brown, about 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a platter, cover with foil and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and return the pan with the foie gras fat to the heat.  Sear the beef on all sides, about 3-4 minutes each, basting the meat constantly with the fat. Brown the beef on all sides while basting the constantly with the fat in the pan, about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120°F for medium rare.  Transfer the beef to the platter with the foie gras, cover, and rest in a warm place.

Add the shallots to the same pan over medium low heat, and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the Madeira and simmer to reduce by 2/3. Stir in the beef jus and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

For each serving, place a brioche toast on a plate and top with a portion of beef. Top the beef with a piece of roasted foie gras, and shavings of black truffle. Place two pommes macaire next to the beef and top each with a spoonful of celery puree. Garnish puree with two celery leaves.  Spoon the sauce from the pan around and serve.


Asian Holiday Menu – Hung Huynh, Executive Chef at Catch Restaurant NYC       

Whole Roasted Branzino is a favorite recipe of Chef Hung Huynh of Catch NYC for the holidays. It’s simple, delicious and easy to make and great for feeding a crowd. Chef Hung also recommends adding some miso, ginger, soy and lemongrass to the seasonings to amp up the Asian flavors in this beautiful seafood holiday dish. His Asian inspired holiday menu includes:

Roasted Whole Branzino

Sautéed Green beans with EVOO and Soy Sauce

White or Brown Steamed Rice

Miso Soup

Fresh fruit

Roasted Whole Branzino
Roasted Whole Branzino

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Roasted Whole Branzino

Executive Chef Hung Huynh

Serves 2-4 people


1.5 to 2 pound Branzino
1 tablespoon of Aged Balsamic

Seasoning Rub:

1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of picked chopped thyme
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime


Before cooking, the Branzino must be scaled, gutted and scored.
Combine all the seasoning rub ingredients.
Rub entire fish with seasoning including the cavity, distributing evenly.
Make sure that the entire fish is covered in the rub.
Take a half sheet pan and roast at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Reserve the remaining olive oil in the sheet pan.
Place the fish on a platter and drizzle with the reserved olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.


Jewish Holiday Menu – Zach Kutsher, Proprietor, Kutsher’s Tribeca

Zach Kutsher, Chef and Owner of Kutsher’s Tribeca, always serves Latkes for the Hanukkah holiday. These crispy potato latkes are a traditional Jewish dish made of grated potatoes, onion, eggs and matzo meal, shaped into round potato pancakes and fried to a crispy golden brown. The traditional way to serve them is with a spoonful of sour cream, but Zach likes to also add ½ ounce of caviar (salmon roe, paddlefish caviar and wasabi flying fish roe) to the latkes to give them a special holiday touch. Some other fun ideas that Chef Zach does to dress up the latkes are to use some non-traditional savory toppings such as:

Peking Duck with Cucumber, Scallions and Sesame Hoisin

Wild Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta

Gravlax and Dilled Creme Fraiche

Pastrami Reuben (pastrami, sauerkraut, emmentaler and thousand island dressing)

VLT – Veal Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

To make it a complete Jewish holiday menu, serve the latkes with: Chopped Duck and Chicken Liver, Seasonal Pickles, Golden and Red Beet Salad with Lemon Ricotta, Arugula and Pecans, Turkey or Brisket with Challah Chestnut Stuffing, Cheesy Spaetzle Kugel, Brussels Sprouts and Pumpkin Shlishkas with Amaretto Matzo and Sage Brown Butter and Babka Sticky Buns for dessert.

Crispy Potato Latkes
Crispy Potato Latkes

Photo Credit: Kutsher’s Tribeca

Potato Latkes Recipe

Zach Kutsher, Kutsher’s Tribeca


1 pound potatoes
1 egg
1 egg yolk
6 ounces onion
3/4 ounces matzo meal
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons lemon juice


Grate onion on the fine side of a cheese grater and then line a strainer with some paper towels and let drain in sink as dry as possible.

Mix egg, yolk, matzo meal, salt, lemon juice, and drained onion together, set aside.

Julienne the potatoes (cut into thin small matchsticks) or grate on the large side of cheese grater, and periodically put the potato in the egg mix to prevent browning. Do not wash potato after it is cut.

Mix all together, fry in schmaltz (rendered/clarified chicken or goose fat – or you can substitute canola oil)

Take one handful of mix, twisted in the palm of your hand like you would spaghetti on a fork, till golden brown and crispy, then flip.

Finish in oven if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Italian Holiday Menu – Gabe Thompson, Executive Chef of Epicurean Group (dell’anima, L’Artusi, L’Apicio, and Anfora)

Grilled Pork Chop
Grilled Pork Chop

Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Chef Thompson, Executive Chef of the Epicurean Group in NYC loves creating special menus for the holidays. It is all about the food, flavors and family. His menu below puts his crave-able Italian twist on some fall favorites to make for a classic holiday menu!

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad– radicchio, agrodolce raisins, pecans, fiore sardo (aged Sheeps milk cheese)

Orecchiette — turkey sausage, sage, sweet potato

Grilled Pork Chop — roasted vegetable and chestnut panzanella, pork sugo

Warm Cranberry-pumpkin Budino – served with apple cider sauce


Roasted Acorn Squash Salad Recipe

Executive Chef Gabe Thompson, Epicurean Group

Serves 4-6

2 acorn squash (1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash into 8-9 wedges, each wedge about 1 inch thick. Remove and discard seeds. In a large bowl, toss the squash wedges together with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of butter. As soon as the butter melts, add half of the squash to the pan, arranging the pieces so that they are cut-side down. Sprinkle half of the sage over the squash. Cook undisturbed until it is golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn each squash piece over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown on the other side. Remove squash from the pan and place on a half sheet tray or cookie sheet. Repeat this process with remaining olive oil, butter, squash and sage leaves.

Drizzle maple syrup over the squash segments. Place in the oven and bake until each piece of squash is easily pierced with a fork, about 25-30 minutes. Remove and set aside.



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Citrus Honey Soy Chicken with Toasted Almond Farro

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Citrus Honey Soy Chicken with Toasted Almond Farro

Tuscan Fields, provider of organic, Italian farro, is offering a scholarship to this spring’s Eat Write Retreat food bloggers conference in Philadelphia. They sent some of their delicious samples to me to create a farro recipe for a chance to win a scholarship to the conference this year!

If farro is new to you, you’ll love discovering this ancient grain made of 100% organic semi-pearled farro. It has a mellow, nutty taste, a pleasing “al dente” texture when cooked, and offers loads of nutrients in each bite. Plus, it’s versatile enough to elevate side dishes, salads, soups and main courses to culinary excellence. You can use farro in place of white or brown rice, couscous or pasta and pair it with roasted vegetables, meats and poultry or make a fresh spring salad with farro as your whole grain base, layered with vegetables, fruit or fresh herbs tossed in a vinaigrette dressing.

I decided to create a recipe for Citrus Honey Soy Chicken with Toasted Almond Farro – made with stir-fried chicken marinated in honey, soy sauce, orange juice, garlic, sriracha hot sauce, ponzu sauce, white pepper, black and white sesame seeds, and water chestnuts topped with green onion, fresh orange slices and toasted almonds over a bed of cooked farro. The sauce has a sweet and tangy zing that pairs great with the nutty farro and toasted crunchy almonds. The fresh orange slices give it a fresh and healthy twist.

I am lovin’ this grain – and plan to come up with some other cool recipes to make with it!

Learn more about Tuscan Fields Farro

Learn more about Eat Write Retreat food bloggers conference

Citrus Honey Chicken with Toasted Almond Farro

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4


  • 1/4 cup organic wildflower honey
  • freshly squeezed juice from half of a large navel orange (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon citrus Ponzu sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha (asian hot sauce)
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon black and white sesame seeds
  • White pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 can water chestnuts, diced
  • 4-5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into medium-size chunks
  • 1 box Tuscan Fields Organic Farro Perlato
  • 1 orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
  • 2 green onion, sliced for garnish


  2. To make the Citrus Honey marinade, add the first ten ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir together well.
  3. Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat, then cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for up to one hour.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse farro in a colander under cold water and then cook in salted boiling water for approximately 20 minutes, drain and set aside.
  5. Toast almonds in a saute pan over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes until lightly browned.
  6. Peel and section oranges and slice the green onions.
  7. Once chicken is done marinating, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat.
  8. Add the water chestnuts and saute for a few minutes.
  9. Remove chicken pieces from marinade, shaking off extra sauce and set marinade aside (do not discard).
  10. Add chicken to the saute pan and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until chicken is no longer pink and starts to brown.
  11. Pour the reserved marinade into the pan with the chicken and water chestnuts and stir thoroughly, cook for another few minutes on medium-low heat to let the sauce thicken a little bit.
  12. To serve, make a bed of farro on to each dinner plate. Top with the chicken and water chestnut sauce mixture.
  13. Garnish with toasted almonds, sliced green onions, fresh orange slices, and additional white pepper to taste.

Citrus Honey Soy Chicken with Toasted Almond Farro

All photographs, copy and content on this website are copyrighted © 2010-2013 by Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet. Please do not use, share or distribute without expressed permission from me first. Thanks!

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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.


  • 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)


  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.


Recipe adapted from Cooking Light March 2003


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.


  • 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


  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.


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

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.


  • 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)


  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.

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.


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


  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.

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.


  • 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


  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.

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.


  • 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
  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoon minced dill
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste


  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.
  12. In a medium bowl, mix together greek yogurt, dill, salt and pepper to taste.

*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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Tamarind Shrimp Soba Noodles

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Tamarind Shrimp Soba Noodles
Tamarind Shrimp Soba Noodles

This is a typical Asian dish with warm, smooth and bright flavors. Soba noodles are typical Japanese noodles made of buckwheat and wheat flours (you can find soba and most of the ingredients in this recipe in any Asian store, Kaluystan’s in NYC, Whole Foods or online).

The velvety flavorful sauce is semi-sweet and made with tamarind concentrate and coconut milk, infused with bright tangy Asian flavors – lime, red Thai chili, crispy shallots, mint and fennel seed. The shrimp are grilled to perfection (you can also sauté them if desired), then tossed with the Soba noodles and sauce to make a light, refreshing dish for Springtime. Garnish with cilantro, red pepper flakes, cashews or diced mango for some extra layers of flavor.


2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
36 shrimp, cleaned and deveined
½ cup tamarind concentrate (or use paste dissolved in coconut milk, strained)
1 cup coconut milk
4 Keffir lime leaves (or 1 tablespoon lime zest)
1 red Thai chile, diced
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed, ground
½ cup rice vinegar

½ pound buckwheat soba noodles
3 tablespoons sesame oil

Garnishes: chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes, cashews, diced mango


Heat a 6-inch sauté pan over a medium heat and add the oil and shallots. Cook the shallots until golden brown and slightly crisp. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Shrimp Tamarind Mixture
Shrimp Tamarind Mixture

In a small bowl, mix the tamarind concentrate and coconut milk. Add the shrimp, lime leaves or zest, chili, mint, garlic, fennel seed, rice vinegar and crispy shallots together and let marinate for at least 1 hour up to 6 hours in the refrigerator.

Tamarind Coconut Sauce
Tamarind Coconut Sauce

Remove the shrimp from the marinade and reserve the marinade.

Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add the soba noodles. Immediately add a cup of cold water to the pot. When it comes back to a boil, drain the noodles. (You can also sauté the noodles in some sesame oil after boiling and draining them, over high heat to crisp them on the bottom before serving).

Shrimp on Grill
Shrimp on Grill

Heat a 10-inch sauté pan or a grill over high heat, cook shrimp for 6 minutes.

Grilled Shrimp
Grilled Shrimp

Pour the marinade into a 2-cup sauce pan and bring to a boil, and reduce until thickened. Return the reduced marinade to the shrimp and divide the noodles among plates (or a large serving platter for the table), and serve the shrimp with sauce over the warm noodles.

Garnish with desired toppings: cilantro, red pepper flakes, cashews, cubed mango.

Serves 6.

Adapted from recipe by Richard Ruben, Techniques of Healthy Cooking, Institute of Culinary Education.



Similar recipes you may enjoy:

Epicurious Coconut Shrimp with Tamarind Ginger Sauce

Chipotle and Tamarind-Glazed Shrimp

Soba Noodles in Sesame Ginger Sauce with Grilled Veggies

Camille Cooks Sauteed Shrimp with Tamarind and Soba Noodles

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Chinese New Year Potluck :: Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

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Chinese Potluck Event
Chinese Potluck Event

In spirit of the Chinese New Year, I attended a Chinese Potluck party with a group of NYC food bloggers hosted by Tiger Beer, Jackie of The Diva that Ate NY and Ken of Hungry Rabbit NYC. We were all asked to make our favorite Chinese dish to share with the group for the party and I decided to make my all-time favorite, Kung Pao Chicken. This is a semi-spicy Chinese dish made with soy and rice vinegar marinated chicken, chile sauce, garlic, water chestnuts, green onions, and peanuts, served over white or fried rice. You can adjust the heat by adjusting the amount of chile sauce, and if you prefer a spicier dish just add a little Sriracha and red pepper flakes to give it a kick.

Gold Dusted Cookies
Gold Dusted Cookies

Thanks to Jackie and Ken for a great time and to Tiger Beer for sponsoring a great party full of amazing Chinese food and fellow New York foodies!

Click here to see a slideshow of all the food and the festivities at the party!

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in to chunks
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp sesame oil
4 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in equal part water
fresh ground black or white pepper to taste
2 1/2 tbsp hot chile paste
1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (omit if you like less spicy)
1/2 tbsp Sriracha sauce  (omit if you like less spicy)
2 tsp white wine vinegar
4 tsp brown sugar
6-8 green onions, sliced
2 tbsp garlic, chopped (approx 2 garlic cloves)
2 (8 oz) cans water chestnuts, diced
2/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
garnishes: green onion, peanuts, sesame seeds, red pepper chile flakes

Soy-Chile Sauce & Marinade
Soy-Chile Sauce & Marinade

Marinade and Soy-Chile Sauce: 

Marinade: Combine 2 tbsp wine, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil, and 2 tbsp cornstarch/water slurry, a sprinkling of white or black pepper and mix together in a large mixing bowl. Add chicken and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 30 minutes.

Soy-Chile Sauce: combine additional 2 tbsp wine, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil, and 2 tbsp cornstarch/water slurry in a separate mixing bowl, and add chile paste, vinegar, brown sugar and mix well with a whisk to combine.


Meanwhile, preheat a wok or large saute pan over medium heat. Chop green onions, garlic, water chestnuts and peanuts and mix together with the soy chile sauce marinade. Pour the sauce and vegetables and peanuts into the wok/saute pan and cook approximately 5-7 minutes until sauce becomes aromatic and vegetables are slightly browned. Remove sauce and veggies from the pan and set aside.

Kung Pao Chx
Saute chicken and veggies in Soy-Chile sauce

Remove the chicken from the fridge and with a slotted spoon add to the large skillet and saute approximately 8-10 minutes until chicken is browned. Add the sauce and vegetables back to the pan and simmer over medium-low another 5-7 minutes until sauce is thickened. Serve hot over white or fried rice and garnish with sliced green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes (optional) and peanuts.

Chinese Treats
Chinese Treats
Fortune Cookie
Fortune Cookie
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Asian Five Spice Sesame Beef and Sugar Snap Peas

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I love Chinese food. Especially when it’s raining outside and there’s nothing else to do but cozy up under the covers and watch a movie or two like I did last weekend. I was craving some stir fry that day but instead of ordering the usual from my favorite place on 3rd Avenue, I decided to whip up my own dish with some steak, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts and scallions that I had on hand. I thought I would spice it up a little bit with a 5-spice powder I found in my pantry that I have to admit, have never used.

5-spice powder has a slightly sweet and spicy flavor to it that should be used very sparingly, as it is quite potent! It’s a mixture of cinnamon, anise, fennel, ginger, clove and licorice root and the smell actually reminds me of those little German holiday cookies flavored with anise and covered in powdered sugar that my Mom is obsessed with. You really only need a sprinkle of it in the steak marinade so it doesn’t overwhelm the stir fry dish with its intense flavoring. You might even want to try 5-spice on duck, spare ribs or pork as it complements these meats quite well when prepared as an Asian Barbecued Char Siu dish.

Super easy to make and super tasty to eat.. it definitely hit the spot for my lazy, rainy Sunday when I would have rather ordered an egg roll and some Won Ton soup and analyzed my fortune or learned a new word in Chinese. And yes, the leftovers tasted even better the next day.


1 lb. Angus Steak, sliced thin
1/4 c. Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Cornstarch
1/2 tbsp Sesame Seeds
1/2 tsp Five Spice Powder
1 can of water chestnuts, diced
4-6 oz. Sugar Snap Peas, Ends Trimmed
3 Scallions, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil
Crushed Red Pepper
Brown or White Rice, cooked


Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch, sesame seeds and five spice powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced steak and let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes up to an hour.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet or wok over high heat. Add sugar snap peas and cook, stirring often for about 1 minute. Remove peas and set aside. Add water chestnuts and cook for another few minutes and remove from pan, adding to reserved sugar snap peas.

Add the additional 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and allow pan to heat up again to high. Add half of the steak and scallions, reserving marinade in bowl, and cook for about 1 minute (don’t stir to allow a nice golden browning of the steak). Turn the meat over and cook for about another 30 seconds (don’t overcook as you don’t want the steak to get tough). Remove steak and scallions from the pan and reserve on a plate to the side.

Let the pan heat to high again, and then add the rest of the uncooked steak and scallions. Cook for another minute and turn steak over, adding the first batch of steak and scallions, sugar snap peas, water chestnuts, and reserved marinade to the pan. Stir everything together over high heat for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Let sit in the pan for another minute so the sauce has a chance to thicken a little.

Serve the stir fry mixture over the rice, sprinkling some crushed red pepper and additional sesame seeds for garnish.

Serves 4.

Other Stir Fry recipes you may enjoy:
Spicy Beef Stir Fry
Stir-fried Beef with Broccoli and Ginger
Ginger Beef Stir Fry

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