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Cheesy Baked Pasta w/ Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, Ricotta & Mozzarella

Posted by on Mar 15, 2014 in Baking, Cheese, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Pork, Savory Dishes, Spring Recipes, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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CheesyBakedPasta1

Spring is on the way, and there’s nothing I love to cook more than fresh greens. Broccoli rabe is one of my favorites, also known as cime di rapa (meaning “turnip tops”), rapini, broccoli di rapa and broccoletti in Italy. The young leaves of the plant are used in cooking along with the clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. The flavor of the vegetable is slightly nutty, bitter and pungent and has tons of vitamin A, potassium, calcium and iron, with its peak season from fall to spring.

Broccoli Rabe

I decided to incorporate it into a cheesy baked pasta dish made with fresh sweet Italian sausage and three cheeses (ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella), along with some fun mushroom flavored pasta, tossed in truffle oil. I picked up some fresh broccoli rabe at the farmers market and sautéed it with some garlic, red pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil until aromatic, then tossed it into a big casserole dish with the pasta, cheeses and a dash of nutmeg and lemon zest, and baked it into a big pot of golden bubbly brown goodness.

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe-Sausage

Pasta

Ready for Oven

The dish is a perfect light one-pot dish, and is  superb served with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping. Andiamo a mangiare!

Baked Pasta Dish

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems removed, chopped into large pieces
1 pound of pasta (dried ziti or penne, or chunky pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
Extra Virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 pound ground sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 (15 ounce) container whole milk ricotta
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 egg, whisked
A dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon zest
Fresh ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x13” or 10” round casserole dish and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set up an ice bath in a large bowl to the side. Cook the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for 1 minute and immediately remove and plunge into ice bath to cool for another few minutes. Pat dry and set aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water and let cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta in cool water to stop cooking, while reserving ¼ cup of hot pasta water. Toss with white truffle oil and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil and bring the pan to a medium heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for about a minute or two, until soft and aromatic. Add the broccoli rabe and toss with olive oil, add salt and heat through. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, heat more olive oil over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for about 3-5 minutes until soft and light golden brown. Add ground sausage and cook until browned, drain off any excess fat.

Return the cooked pasta and broccoli rabe into the large sauté pan with the sausage and onion mixture.

Toss the ricotta cheese with whisked egg, nutmeg, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the cooked pasta, broccoli rabe and sausage-onion mixture in the large sauté pan, mixing ingredients together well. Stir in ¼ cup of pasta water to make a light sauce.

Place the pasta mixture into the greased casserole dish. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish.

Serve with a glass of crisp Italian white wine, a simple Arugula salad tossed with lemon, S&P, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and crusty Italian bread with olive oil and red pepper flakes for dipping.

Serves 8.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

Posted by on Mar 3, 2014 in Asian Food, Chicken, Dressings/Marinades, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Healthy Cooking, Pasta, Sauces, Savory Dishes, Spicy Food, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

I don’t know about you, but Thai food is one of my favorite foods ever. I love the harmony of flavors and textures in Thai food that all play together like a perfect symphony. One of my all time favorites is Thai Peanut Noodles – similar to Pad Thai, but with a smooth peanut sauce with a hint of heat. I decided to kick it up a notch by adding some Spicy Thai Chicken that pairs perfectly with the creamy peanut-y noodles.

This dish is a gorgeous combination of spicy, savory and sweet with a marinade base for the chicken made with sesame, honey, soy sauce, garlic, and chile sauce, mixed with acidic notes of rice vinegar. It’s the perfect marriage of varying textures from the chewy noodles, crunchy peanuts and water chestnuts, all bathed in a smooth and luscious damn-good-peanut-sauce. Then to perfect it even more, it’s topped with fresh bright flavors of cilantro, lime and scallions. It’s so good, it just might be illegal. And don’t be ashamed to dig in right out of the pan. Grab some chopsticks, a pal or two and go to town. It’s rustic Asian comfort food at its best. Serve with a sweeter wine such as a Riesling, which pairs nicely with the spicy Asian flavors in this dish.

Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • Spicy Chicken Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Thai Garlic-Chile Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • Thai Peanut Sauce:
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Garlic-Chile Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Chopped peanuts, for garnish
  • Fresh squeezed lime, for garnish
  • Chopped Cilantro, for garnish
  • Sliced scallions, for garnish
  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 2 pounds chicken breast cutlets, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 can water chestnuts, diced
  • 1 package Thai Rice Noodles (flat, wide or Pad Thai)

Instructions

  1. Prepare Spicy Chicken Marinade:
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all nine ingredients (sesame oil through dried ginger) along with sliced chicken breast and mix together thoroughly, coating chicken well. Top with plastic wrap and let chicken marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
  3. Once chicken is done marinating, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook Thai noodles according to package directions, drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium heat, spray with cooking spray and saute chicken for approximately 8 minutes until cooked through and no longer pink. Add diced water chestnuts and saute for another minute or two until soft and heated through. Note: Make sure to drain and discard extra marinade off the chicken before sauteing to allow the chicken to brown in the pan and not steam. Reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm.
  5. Make the peanut sauce: combine soy sauce, peanut butter, broth, garlic-chile sauce, honey, salt and lime juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat, mixing and stirring well until sauce is smooth and blended. Toss noodles together with peanut sauce.
  6. Add the peanut noodles into the large pan with the cooked chicken and water chestnuts, toss together well with tongs to blend the flavors and ingredients. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top, and garnish with chopped peanuts, cilantro, and sliced scallions. Add additional red pepper flakes or garlic-chile sauce for extra heat, as desired.

Notes

A sweet German Riesling wine would pair well with the spicy acidic flavors in this Asian dish.

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Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles4

Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles 3

Spicy Thai Chicken Peanut Noodles 2

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A Big Bowl of Comfort :: Irish Stout Beef Stew

Posted by on Jan 21, 2014 in Beef, Comfort Food, Ethnic Recipes, Fall Recipes, Food Styling & Photography, Gourmet Food and Drinks, One-Pot Dishes, Potatoes, Savory Dishes, Slow Cooked/Stews, Soups, Stews, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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IrishBeefStew1

Winter is always a little bit depressing without any sunshine and constant grey skies and snow storms every other day in New York City. But there’s something cozy about it too, when I’m pent up in my apartment with not much to do other than cook, watch a good movie and snuggle under a blanket with my heater on. For my birthday last November my Mom got me a gorgeous Wolfgang Puck cast iron ceramic enamel braising pan which I’ve been dying to make a big pot of delicious comforting something or other in. I’ve had a craving for a warm and homey stew and had some Irish Stout Beef Stew Starter on hand from Williams-Sonoma so it was the perfect excuse to get cooking and cure the winter chills outside.

I rounded up some beef chuck, carrots, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, onions and baby peas and threw it all in the big pot. Adding a dark stout beer and beef broth gives it a hearty savory flavor and the stew starter has a nice balance of spices in it like cumin and curry and paprika for a little extra kick. The bad news is, Williams Sonoma has discontinued the Irish Stout Stew starter, but they do have a lovely Beef Stew Braising Base you can use instead that has dark beer and fire-roasted red peppers, chiles and tomatoes in it that would work just as lovely. After a few hours in the oven it’s just a big pot of yum. Kinda like a big hug. Now that’s worth staying in for.

SauteBeef

Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, dredge with seasoned pan-searing flour and brown in 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

SauteOnions

Add onions to the pan along with another 2 tablespoons of canola oil and saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute another minute.

BeerandBroth

Add Worchestershire sauce and beer and cook with onions for a few minutes, stirring and scraping pan to loosen the brown bits. Add the beef broth and cook for another few minutes.

BeefBeerBrothOnions

Return the seared beef to the pot, add the chopped tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and Beef Stew starter and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.

StewReadyForOven

Cover and throw the pot into a preheated 350 degree oven and let the goods simmer for about an hour. Remove from oven, stir and reduce heat to 300 degrees. At this point, if the stew is not thick enough for your liking, add a slurry of starch or roux thickener mixed with some water (about 1/4 cup) into the stew and stir well throughout. You can also smash a few of the potatoes to thicken it up a little bit. Place pot back in the oven braise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Defrost the baby peas and add into the pot the last 5 minutes or so.

IrishBeefStew4

Let the stew cool on top of the stove uncovered for about 15-20 minutes to let it thicken. Serve with rye bread or Irish Brown Bread and a glass of Guinness or dark beer of your choice.

A Big Bowl of Comfort :: Irish Stout Beef Stew

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 8

Serving Size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup seasoned pan-searing flour (Wegmans or Wondra)
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ large onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (3 or 4 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 bottle Irish stout beer (like Guinness)
  • 1 14-ounce can low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped fine in a food processor
  • 2 cups baby carrots or large carrot chunks
  • 6 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered into chunks
  • 1 package frozen baby peas
  • ¼ cup starch or roux thickener and water slurry (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Rye or Brown Bread for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron enamel braising pan or Dutch oven.
  2. Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, dredge with seasoned pan-searing flour and brown in 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add sliced onions to the pan along with another 2 tablespoons of canola oil and saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute another minute.
  4. Add Worchestershire sauce and beer and cook with onions for a few minutes, stirring and scraping pan to loosen the brown bits. Add the beef broth and cook for another few minutes.
  5. Return the seared beef to the pot, add the chopped tomatoes, baby carrots, potatoes and Beef Stew starter and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and place the pot into the oven and let the goods simmer for about an hour. Remove from oven, stir and reduce heat to 300 degrees. At this point, if the stew is not thick enough for your liking, add a slurry of starch or roux thickener mixed with some water (about 1/4 cup) into the stew and stir well throughout. You can also smash a few of the potatoes to thicken it up a little bit. Place pot back in the oven braise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Defrost the baby peas and add into the pot the last 5 minutes or so.
  7. Let the stew cool on top of the stove uncovered for about 15-20 minutes to let it thicken. Serve with rye bread or Irish Brown Bread and a glass of Guinness or dark beer of your choice.
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IrishBeefStew2

Cozy Up.

Other Beef Stew recipes you might enjoy:

Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika – Pioneer Woman

Martha Stewart’s Beef Stew

Old-Time Beef Stew – Paula Deen

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Holiday Brunch! Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart :: Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette :: Chicken Empanadillas :: Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole :: Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in Baking, Breakfast, Breakfast Food, Cheese, Chicken, Dressings/Marinades, Eggs, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Fall Recipes, French Recipes, Gluten-Free Recipes, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Healthy Cooking, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Latin Food, Mexican Food, One-Pot Dishes, Pies and Tarts, Salads, Savory Dishes, Side Dishes, Spanish Food/Tapas, Special Occasion, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

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Holiday Brunch

Holiday Brunch

It wouldn’t be the holidays without catching up with friends and family and coming together for a fun holiday brunch with friends that I only get to see a couple times a year. There’s nothing better than gathering in the kitchen and around the table to eat, drink, and laugh together over some great food and drinks.

Holiday Brunch with the Girls

Holiday Brunch with the Girls

We decided to all bring a dish for our brunch (I love potlucks!) – I made a Caramelized Onion, Ham and Gouda Tart, my Sister brought a Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette. We also had homemade Chicken Empanadillas from my friend Julie, a Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Casserole by Donna (our gracious host!) and Rachel’s Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread was to die for! Teresa brought some gorgeous Christmas cookies and Peppermint Bark for dessert. Here’s a roundup of our recipes for the perfect holiday brunch..enjoy!

Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6

Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart

This savory tart recipe is perfect for the holidays and easy to make. You can either make it in a 9-inch tart pan or in a pie dish. It has tons of chunky ham, lots of gooey melty cheese, and caramelized onions, covered in a creamy egg custard with herbs baked in a crunchy, flaky pie dough. You could also substitute crispy bacon or prosciutto for the ham, and use any melty cheese you like. The caramelized onions and garlic give it a tangy sweet flavor that goes perfect with the cheesy creamy custard.

Ingredients

  • 1 refrigerated pie shell dough (fresh or store-bought)
  • 1 cup cooked and cubed ham
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 cup Gouda cheese, sliced or shredded (can also substitute Gouda, Cheddar or another soft cheese that melts well)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Roll out pie dough into a 9" pie dish, overlapping dough 1 inch over edge of pie dish. Flute edges.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter and onions.
  4. Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft, add maple syrup and stir.
  5. Saute onions for another 5-10 minutes until they become caramelized and golden brown, add garlic and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, light cream, fresh thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to make the custard filling.
  7. Scatter the caramelized onions into the pie shell, and top with diced ham and cheese.
  8. Pour custard over the top evenly into the shell. Bake tart for 10 minutes.
  9. Take tart out of the oven and cover the crust edges with strips of foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown..
  10. Let tart cool on a wire baking rack, cut into wedges and serve.
  11. Note: if using homemade dough, pre-bake tart shell covered in foil with dried beans or pie weights at 400 degrees F for 15-17 minutes, then and add meat and veggies and custard filling and bake for additional 20 minutes or so until the tart is set.

Notes

Recipe inspired by Andrew Zimmern's Bacon-Onion Tart, Food & Wine Magazine

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Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Viniagrette

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Viniagrette

This is one of my favorite Winter salads made with a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. It has fresh sliced pears, toasted pecans, crumbly bleu cheese and red onions, bathed in a slightly sweet honey vinaigrette.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce or 1/2 bag mixed greens, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup crumbly bleu cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1-2 pears, cored and sliced
  • Dressing:
  • 3 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey, heated
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Salad:
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Chop lettuces and slice onion, add to large salad bowl with cranberries.
  5. Core and cut pears into thin slices. Toss some into salad, save some for topping.
  6. Heat honey and make dressing; toss with salad ingredients, top with crumbly bleu cheese and sliced pears.
  7. Dressing:
  8. Combine vinegar, warmed honey, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk together well in a mixing bowl.
  9. Slowly stream in olive oil whisking vigorously until all oil is blended into a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing.
  10. Toss with salad ingredients.
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Chicken Empanadillas (Empanadas)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10-12 empanadillas

Chicken Empanadillas (Empanadas)

This is a classic recipe for Chicken Empanadillas (or empanadas). It has a flaky buttery dough surrounding a savory mixture of shredded cooked chicken, onions and spices, then lightly fried to crispy golden brown perfection. Serve with fresh tomato salsa for some extra heat and Latin flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. Evoo
  • ½ lb. cooked chicken breast & thigh
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup Tomato Sauce
  • 6 Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. Sofrito
  • 1 packet Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
  • 1 tsp. Minced Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. Dried Oregano Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1 package (14 oz.) Discos (Yellow), thawed Corn Oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shredded chicken and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Stir in tomato sauce, olives, Sofrito, Sazón, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until ½” larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal closed, or seal with a fork.
  5. Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2½”. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (350°F on deep-fry thermometer).
  6. Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of salsa.
  8. Makes 10 to 12 empanadillas.
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Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8

Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole

This is a healthy and delicious gluten-free egg casserole made with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheese baked into a fluffy savory dish that will feed a crowd and leave room for the heavier fare at the brunch table.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bag (10 oz. each) spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
  • 1 1/2 packages (8 oz. each) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick® mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. Sprinkle spinach, 1 cup of the cheese, the mushrooms and onion in pie plate.(I personally recommend sautéing the onions and mushrooms for a few minutes first to soften them before adding to the casserole.)
  3. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
  4. Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  5. Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

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Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 12

Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

This recipe for Monkey Bread is sure to be a huge hit at your next brunch gathering with friends. It's super easy to make, using Pillsbury biscuits and is topped with brown sugar, butter, walnuts and cinnamon baked into a caramelized construction of sweet buttery goodness. It won't last longer than 5 minutes - promise!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts among the biscuit pieces.
  3. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  4. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

Notes

Recipe from Pillsbury.com

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Girls-Brunch-Table

As I reflect on 2013, this has been a year filled with challenges and opportunities, adventures and growth both personally and professionally. Good times and bad times, which I’m thankful for and have made me stronger. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year 2014 and health, happiness and good eating! Cheers! xx

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

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

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champagne

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

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

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

Val de Mer Cremant du Bourgogne

 

 

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

 

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

poema cava

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

—–

French Sommelier – Joseph Camper, Sommelier of db bistro moderne

joecamper

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

A few things to know about Champagne:

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

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


RECOMMENDATIONS & FOOD PAIRINGS:

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

Champagne

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

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

Cremant du Bourgogne

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

Cremant du Loire

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

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

Cremant du Jura

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

COCKTAIL RECIPE:

db-bistro

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

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

Try, Try Again

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

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

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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

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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

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

joe campanale

RECOMMENDATIONS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOOD PAIRINGS:

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

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

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

COCKTAIL RECIPES:

Texas-Mimosa

Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Texas Mimosa

Serves One

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

TenPastTwelve

Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

Ten Past Twelve

Serves One

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Recipes by Joseph Campanale, Executive Beverage Director, Epicurean Group

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

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

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Mario Lopez NBC Live

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

WATCH THE VIDEO FROM NY LIVE NBC SHOW 

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa

Serves 3

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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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

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Set and Mario Lopez photos: Kristen Hess

 

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