Here are a few of my favorite things I am crushing on – some new and notable, and others just downright awesome and worthy of a shout out – people, places, things that are just absolutely THE BOMB.
If you’re looking for a magical place to wine and dine near NYC’s Theatre District, this is the place you must see and experience before or after a night on Broadway. Chez Josephine, owned by Jean-Claude Baker and Jarry Baker, is located on 42nd Street and 9th Avenue. This beautiful restaurant is in tribute to Jean-Claude’s mother (adopted) Josephine Baker, and a vivid return to 1920s and 1930s Paris – the city she loved and thrived in during her career as a premiere entertainer and stage and screen star. It’s a great place to relax with a cocktail and live music – the jazz piano and singers located in the center of the dining room will entertain you as you dine in this enchanting place. The decor is elegant and charming, with its ornate blue tin ceilings, red velvet walls, black glass chandeliers and life-sized vintage portraits of Ms. Baker throughout the restaurant. The French Bistro-style cuisine is delightful in every way with elegant cocktails, salads, entrees and desserts. On a recent visit I experienced a truly delicious and enchanting dinner here with a friend. We started out our meal with some lovely French Sauvignon/Semillon wine and an appetizer of Sauteed Jumbo Sea Scallops wrapped in crispy flavorful Prosciutto with a gorgeous sauce over the top. For our entrees, we ordered the Amish Roasted Chicken, over a bed of crushed zucchin, garlic and fresh goat cheese and their spectacular Lobster Salad. For dessert, we sampled the elegant Peach Raspberry Melba Ice Cream, Creme Brulee and Cappuccino before another cocktail to finish off the evening as we listened to the beautiful jazz music in the buzzing dining room. They also have a weekly Prix Fixe Sunday Brunch for $20 including a Soup or Salad for starters, a main Brunch item such as French Toast or Spaghetti Bolognese, and coffee or tea and a dessert. You don’t want to miss this place the next time you visit NYC. It will take you back in time and space to a beautiful early century Paris and envelop you with all the glitter and drama and beauty of Ms. Josephine Baker herself.
photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet
I recently visited this awesome Spanish restaurant in the West Village called Tio Pepe – and had an amazing meal there. We started out with some lovely Rioja wine and Stuffed Piquillo Peppers and Gambas al Ajillo — sauteed shrimp with garlic, olive oil, and Albarino wine for an appetizer, then had the Entrecote a la Parilla — grilled choice sirloin steak with garlic, olive oil and sea salt served with sauteed julienned vegetables and a potato cake; and Paella Valenciana — Saffron laced Bomba rice with clams, mussels, shrimp, chicken, and chorizo for our entree. For dessert, we had the luscious Flan al Caramelo — a traditional Spanish custard topped in caramel sauce to finish off our meal. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!
It’s in a gorgeous elegant space, with a back sun-lit patio area with a wood burning oven where they make their own pizzas and other main dishes on the menu, including the Paella. Tio Pepe is the only restaurant in New York – and one of the only in the US – to use this type of wood burning oven when preparing traditional Spanish fare. The oven was installed this year as a new addition to Tio Pepe, a cornerstone of the West Village for 44 years. Chef Jose Zamora joined Tio Pepe as part of the restaurants commitment to authentic Spanish cuisine.
The owners of Tio Pepe are Jimmy Sanz and his family. Originally from Spain, the Sanz and has been serving NY locals and tourists traditional Spanish and Mexican cuisine for over four decades at their stable of NY restaurants including: Tio Pepe, Casa Pepe, Las Ramblas, Burrito Loco, The Taco Shop and Da Rosina. Chef Jose Zamora is a native of Tarragona, Spain. He began his career working at a family friend’s restaurant. He received two culinary degrees, one from Le Cordon Bleu in the U.S. and one from the Institution Culinario de Cambrils in Spain. His cooking is inspired by both Spanish and French cuisine. He is devoted to using the best ingredients and implementing a simplistic stylist technique with dynamic presentation. As the new executive chef at Tio Pepe, his goal is to provide memorable dining experiences through passionately created culinary dishes.
photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet
There’s tons of cool hotels in New York City – but I recently discovered one that is not only super cool but gorgeous inside with its modern design and rooftop patio deck outside.
YOTEL New York collaborated with NYC-based custom bike company Mott Street Cycles Customs (formerly STRADA Customs) in honor of Bike Month in May. I got to preview these cool cruisers at the YOTEL X MSC: The YOTEL Cruiser Launch Event earlier this month for cocktails & light bites from China Grill Management’s brand new menus for this season at The Terrace at YOTEL New York. They had a live DJ and raffles to to win an MSC Customs bike while we sipped cocktails on the roofdeck.
The YOTEL x MSC Customs partnership provides a fun and eco-friendly experience that is integral to the New York City lifestyle and offers hotel guests specially designed bikes to use as a complimentary amenity throughout their stay. The 2014 fleet of bikes feature three color variations – purple, green and white –along with the YOTEL logo, hand-painted wood grain fenders, leather grips and leather saddles, creating a distinct look exclusive to YOTEL and brand new for this year. Guests can book their bike reservation through the concierge desk who will direct them to Bike and Roll at Pier 84, along 12th Avenue to pick up their custom cruisers.
photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet
Mouth is a really cool online foodie store, but it’s not your average online shop, it’s only indie food by indie artisan food producers and everything is handmade, small batch, and made in the USA. Mouth curates and hunts down the coolest new indie products on the market and then curates all these goodies into cool gift packages based on a holiday, occasion, or gift ideas such as: Birthday in a Bag, Breakfast in Bed, Bring Home the Bacon, Bee Happy Taster, or Brooklyn Taster, just to name a few. Maple Bourbon Bread and Butter Pickles, an endless array of honeys and jams, cheese, chocolate, sea salts, salami, cookbooks, herbs and spices, jerky, caramels, condiments, and the list goes on and on. This is a foodie’s dream come to true, and their site makes it super easy to search for and buy super cool gourmet artisan food to your favorite foodie friends and family. I could just shop here all day long.
photo credit: Mouth
Bacardi just released nationwide the newest addition to its flavored rum family: Bacardi Mango Fusion. The new flavored rum fuses refreshing juicy mango and orange flavors and can be consumed as a shot or mixed with fruit juices, lemon-lime soda, or sweet-and-sour mix as a cocktail. It has a light, crisp flavor profile and is perfect mixed with OJ, or angostura bitters, or with Bacardi Coconut Rum and a splash of grenadine. Check out some of their new Cocktail Recipes!
photo credit: Bacardi
If you haven’t tried a SmashBurger yet, well, you need to. They just opened a new location in NYC near the Empire State Building, and I was able to attend their Grand Opening not too long ago where they gave out free burgers all day long to New Yorkers to sample their goods. Their handcrafted burgers are smashed, seared and seasoned to order, using our fresh, never frozen 100% Certified Angus Beef. They have tons of amazing sides to go with of course, I tried the Signature Smashfries which are hand-tossed with garlic, rosemary and olive oil – and absolutely DELICIOUS. They also have fun menu items like hand-breaded haystack onions and fried pickles, hand-spun shakes, grilled or crispy chicken sandwiches, split and grilled hot dogs, crisp entrée salads and black bean veggie burgers with tons of fresh toppings including Truffle Mushroom, Avocado, and Spicy Jalapeno. This is no ordinary burger joint – it’s outta control super good.
photo credit: SmashBurger
Maia is more than just delicious Less-Sweet Non-Fat & Low-Fat yogurt. It is packed with 25+ Billion strands of live active probiotic bacteria, Prebiotic Fiber, Protein, and all the other goodies you need to empower health & wellness. Maia’s grass-fed milk comes from local dairy farmers (never giving their cows hormones) so every cup is fresher and friendlier to the environment. Maia is Gluten-Free too! They have eight delicious flavors: Plain, Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Raspberry Lime, Peach, Pineapple and Pomegranate Cherry. This Greek yogurt is rich and creamy and perfect for making Fruit and Granola parfaits, topping Quesadillas, or making a delicious low fat yogurt dip for crackers and fresh veggies. Delicious! Click here to see what all the buzz is about!
photo credit: Maia Yogurt
The Wonut – Waffle Cafe, Chicago
First we had donuts, then we had croissants, then we had cronuts. Well here;s the coolest new food fad by a place in Chicago called Waffles Cafe who’s created the WONUT. A cross between a waffle and a donut – these babies are made with a thick waffle batter in either chocolate, vanilla or red velvet. Then they are poured into an iron press and then deep-fried until they are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Then the fun begins – they are glazed and topped with all kinds of gorgeous toppings – chocolate, sugar, maple, sprinkles, pistachios, cocoa, granola, dried fruits, marshmallow, chopped nuts, you name it. These sweet treats are selling for $2.35 a piece and yes, they’ve been selling like hotcakes since they invented these gorgeous things. I’m sure it won’t be long before they hit the streets of NYC. At least I’m hoping. Otherwise, it’s a great excuse to take a roadtrip to Chicago for one for these delightful creations.
photo credit: Waffles Cafe
The Redhead NYC
This is a groovy little place I stumbled upon in the East Village one night when I was looking for a quick bite and a cocktail. It’s cozy, busy (in a good way), and the moody lighting and delicious wafts of the food will draw you in – just grab a seat at the bar and be prepared to swoon over their awesome menu of Southern comfort food and cocktails. Must try the fresh baked homemade pretzels with beer cheese, the redhead buttermilk fried chicken over creamy grits, with a soy-molasses jus, sesame, ham, b&b pickles. Other favorites are the cheeseburger with homemade waffle chips, the homemade bacon peanut brittle, stout braised short ribs, and the brussels sprouts seared in duck fat, wine and apples are to DIE FOR. And you can’t leave this place without trying their signature cocktail -the redhead fizz made with orange vodka, elderflower cordial, fresh lemon juice. This has to be one of my favorite finds yet.
photo credit: The Redhead
Bocca di Bacco, NYC
Bocca Di Bacco is an Italian restaurant with six locations in NYC, their newest one opening on the Upper West Side on W 85th Street. It’s a favorite spot for celebrities, tourist and native New Yorkers and they are famous for their Sunday Brunch. Their top-notch Italian cuisine is designed by Food Network Judge Chef Kristin Sollenne, and they also have an excellent wine selection with 500 of the best wines from renowned Italian wineries. I recently went to the 7th Ave & 21st street location for dinner and sampled the Eggplant Involtini, made with fresh buffalo ricotta, fresh eggplant and mint served in a gorgeous red sauce. For dinner my friend and I had the Braised Short Ribs over Stewed Cabbage and the Roasted Pork Chops with Rosemary Potatoes. We finished off our lovely meal with a boozy dessert made with Prosecco, Mango Puree and Whipped Egg Whites topped with a sprinkling of ground espresso. Delicioso!
photo credit: Kristen Hess/The Artful Gourmet
Last Sunday on a cold rainy night last week, I started craving some homey pan-roasted chicken. And since I had some fresh asparagus from the farmer’s market I wanted to make some roasted asparagus to go with.
I found a recipe on Food.com‘s website by Rachael Ray for Garlic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon that looked pretty delicious and decided to make my own version by tweaking the recipe and the cooking method a little bit.
Rachael’s recipe uses boneless chicken breasts and lemon along with the rosemary and garlic, and is roasted in the oven for about 25 minutes. It’s a simple recipe but I wanted to change it up a bit by using boneless chicken thighs for a richer, meatier flavor, and I added some paprika and cayenne pepper for some extra zing and savory flavor. I started out by pan-searing the chicken and garlic cloves in a Rosemary-Garlic infused olive oil for 20 minutes until they got caramelized and browned, then added the rosemary and finished the dish in the oven for another 20 minutes or so until cooked through and a lovely, golden brown. Then I made a savory pan sauce made with chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and butter to top the chicken, giving it a silky luscious sauce to bathe in.
I also made some lovely roasted asparagus to go with it simply made with olive oil, salt and pepper, some fresh lemon juice, sliced toasted almonds and a dash of dill seasoning and lemon zest to give it some bright flavor at the end.
The result? Crispy, savory chicken with tons of roasted caramel-y flavor and a fresh, lemony side dish of spring green asparagus topped with crunchy almonds and a hint of dill. Perfect for a Spring Sunday Supper!
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Rosemary and Caramelized Garlic
2 tablespoons Rosemary Garlic infused olive oil
4-5 boneless chicken thighs
6-8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of sweet paprika
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 475 degrees and heat olive oil in a cast iron or large skillet.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, cayenne and paprika, and sear over high heat skin side down for about 2-3 minutes. Lower heat to medium-high, add the garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs; cook for another 10 minutes until golden brown.
Turn off the heat, turn chicken over in the skillet, baste with some of the pan juices, and broil in the oven for another 10-12 minutes until chicken is crispy and cooked through.
Turn chicken over once more (skin side up) and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so.
Remove chicken, garlic and rosemary sprigs from the skillet, reserving the drippings in the pan. Add chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until sauce has reduced by half. Swirl in the butter at the end to make a silky sauce. Serve sauce over the chicken and caramelized garlic.
Roasted Lemon Asparagus Almondine
1 bunch of fresh asparagus, thick woody stems trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh or dried dill seasoning
1/2 cup unsalted almonds, thin sliced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Wash and trim asparagus and place on a roasting sheet or in a baking dish.
Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add lemon juice and dill. Add sliced almonds over the asparagus
Roast in the oven for 7-10 minutes until asparagus and almonds are a toasty, golden brown. Sprinkle some additional lemon zest for garnish, if desired, and serve immediately with the Pan-Roasted Rosemary Chicken and Caramelized Garlic.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
There’s nothing better than a big pot of soup in the Winter – and this has been the longest one..ever. I’ve always loved my Gram’s Minestrone soup – chock full of veggies, ground beef and pasta and thought I would make a spin on it by making it a combination of her Minestrone and Italian Wedding Soup just for fun. I made a batch of chicken meatballs with lots of parmesan cheese, garlic, onion and fresh parsley..browned them up a bit before adding some kale, carrots, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and orzo and let it all simmer up into a big batch of healthy, heartwarming goodness. I topped it off with some extra grated parmesan, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper and mopped it up with some fresh baked Italian Rosemary bread from Todaro Bros. down the street.
Who says you can’t have some fun during a blizzard? I’m happy as a clam right now. Or as a meatball, bathing in that gorgeous broth with veggies.
Chicken Meatball Soup with Kale, Chickpeas & Orzo
- Chicken Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (plain, dried)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon minced dried onion
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Tony Chacere's Creole Seasoning (or sub seasoned salt or poultry seasoning)
- pinch of cayenne
- pinch of nutmeg
- dash of red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Deliciously Dill Blend (The Spice Hunter)
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 20 baby carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water (use 3 or 4 if you like a thinner soup)
- 1 (28 ounce) can chopped Italian tomatoes
- 1 bunch kale, torn (ribs and stems removed)
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 cup orzo or other small pasta (ditalini, pastina, risi or stars)
- Make the meatballs:
- Preheat a dutch oven over medium heat and spray with some cooking oil.
- Add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir. Mix together well with your hands and roll into small meatballs (about 1 1/2 inch size), place on a baking sheet or plate.
- Brown meatballs in batches for about 6-8 minutes until lightly golden brown (but not cooked all the way through).
- Remove meatballs, cover and set aside while prepping soup ingredients.
- Make the soup:
- Add additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the Dutch oven and saute onions, garlic and carrots for about 6 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Stir in broth, water, and tomatoes; cook over medium-high for about 5-7 minutes until liquid comes to a boil.
- Add kale, chickpeas, orzo to the pot, let soup come to a steady rolling boil for about 5 mins or so.
- Add browned meatballs, cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until orzo and meatballs are cooked through. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve in large soup bowls topped with additional grated parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley for garnish and a side of crusty Italian bread or Rosemary Foccacia bread for mopping up the soup.
- Don't forget the wine, fireplace, and your Valentine to make it a complete meal.
Recipe adapted from my Grandma’s Classic Minestrone Soup and Italian Wedding Soup by Whole Foods.
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 with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa
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)
Hot sauce (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the oven to warm.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onions and peppers. Season with salt and oregano and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add chicken, green chiles, 1/2 cup salsa, and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
- Remove tortillas from the oven and spray a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
- Place 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in a tortilla, roll up and transfer to baking dish; repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Top tortillas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and cheese and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
- 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
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
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
Serves: 4 – 6
- 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
- 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
Set and Mario Lopez photos: Kristen Hess
The Fresh Honey Cookbook
I love cooking with honey – not only in the Fall or dead of Winter, but all year around. It’s such a nice substitute for regular sugar and gives a warm, homey flavor to almost all types of recipes. I recently picked up a copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook, by Beekeeper, Caterer, Chef and Spokesperson for The National Honey Board and Café owner Laurey Masterson of Asheville NC. I fell in love with her vibrant recipes using different varieties of honey throughout all 12 months of the year – she offers honey-tasting tips and recipes featuring seasonal ingredients for dishes both savory and sweet.
Each chapter is organized around a specific honey for the month including orange blossom, tupelo, avocado, eucalyptus and blueberry honey and more. In January, she has a recipe for Meyer lemon and Honey-Marinated Chicken Skewers, Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey Mustard and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic. In the Summer, she features delicious fresh recipes for Grilled Garlic Shrimp with a Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Vermont-Style Summer Squash Casserole, and Broiled Peaches with Sourwood Honey.
She also goes into detail about her experience as a beekeeper and teaches readers how bees make honey, how it’s harvested, what they can do to help the bee population and what is going on in the hives throughout the year.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the book for the chilly months of the Winter season. Enjoy!
roasted delicata squash with tuscan kale
Delicata squash is naturally sweet and pairs so nicely with the kale and the other tastes of Italy and the Mediterranean. This recipe calls for pine nuts, which are quite expensive these days, but the buttery texture and flavor is so delicious that I am reluctant to suggest an alternative. This dish is great as a lunch salad or as a warm side dish. She recommends pairing this with her Deviled Beef Bones recipe made with Eucalyptus Honey (recipe follows).
3 Delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 bunches Italian (Tuscan Lacinato) kale
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into 1-inch chunks (there’s no need to remove the edible skin). Arrange on a baking sheet and spray or brush with olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool.
3. Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
4. Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems and cut into large pieces. Set up a steaming basket over boiling water, and steam the kale just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and keep them bright green.
5. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Stay nearby while you’re toasting. Left unattended, they can easily burn.)
6. Combine the pasta, kale, squash, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss, and then add the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!
deviled beef bones
Laurie grew up with these wonderful beef bones, which were leftovers from the standing rib beef roast served at her Mother’s Blueberry Hill restaurant. The fat rib bones have a lot of meat and are enough to make a substantial meal out of them. They are served in a barbecue sauce that is a dark, wintry mixture featuring Eucalyptus Honey, which resembles molasses or Louisiana cane syrup. It is then combined with mustard and served as a delicious sauce for the beef bones.
Eucalyptus Honey varies from light amber to very dark brown, depending on where the eucalyptus is growing. It has a stronger taste then the lighter honeys, but is very pleasing to folks who have a more adventurous palate. This dark honey is perfect for the chillier days of Autumn and Winter.
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon eucalyptus honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6-8 whole beef rib bones, cooked
- Preheat the oven to 425°F if using cooked ribs, or 450°F if using uncooked ribs.
- Combine the dry mustard, salt, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, molasses, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Whisk well.
- If your ribs are already cooked, place them on a baking sheet, brush with the barbecue sauce, and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish them under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until crispy.
- If your ribs are not cooked, place them in a baking pan, brush with the barbecue sauce, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F. Brush the ribs again with the sauce and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the ribs once more and brush with more sauce. Turn the heat to broil and broil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the ribs are crispy (but not burned!!). Serve warm.
pears with blue cheese, toasted pecans, and chestnut honey vinaigrette
I get excited by the proliferation of pears in the market in the winter. I imagine what it would be like to live in Washington or Oregon. And so, though they are not local to me in December, pears are available and abundant and become the foundation for this delicious salad. Sweet, salty, bitter, and sour: All four tastes are in this salad, which makes it a memorable one for your guests.
This recipe uses a Chestnut Honey, which is one of the stronger honeys prized in Tuscany as a local taste. Italians appreciate many more bitter flavors than we do, and it has a big taste explosion for your palate. The color, flavor and smell of Chestnut Honey varies depending on the source of the Chestnut trees. Descriptors go from light and slightly pungent to extremely strong, breathtaking and lingering.
For the vinaigrette
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, preferably chestnut honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
4 ripe but firm pears
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (Maytag)
1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. To make the salad, toast the pecans in a small dry saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, watching carefully and tossing often so they don’t burn.
3. Cut the pears in half from the stem to the blossom end. Remove the core, and cut each half in half again.
4. Arrange the pear quarters on individual salad plates. Sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pecans and, just before serving, drizzle with the vinaigrette.
easy tarte tatin
I love tarte tatin, the inverted apple pastry, but I am not the best baker in the world, as I’m not really patient with careful measuring. Frankly, I am much more comfortable cooking than baking. But this recipe will produce a grand result even if you’re not a serious baker. And if you have any leftovers, they make a great breakfast.
Get the best tart local apples you can find. With that start, you’ll do very well.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup honey, preferably eucalyptus or local honey
3 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for the pastry
Ice cream for serving (optional)
1. Following the instructions on the package, thaw the puff pastry. This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of pastry. You should be able to unfold it without breaking. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the honey. Stir well to blend thoroughly. Carefully arrange the apple wedges in the bottom of the skillet in a decorative pattern, taking special care on the first layer, as it will end up being the top of the tart. Take care, also, to fill in any holes with other apple pieces. Continue to layer the apples until you have used all the apple slices. Since they will shrink as they cook, you want the uncooked apples to be higher than the edges of the skillet, so add more if needed.
3. Cook over medium heat on the stove until the juices bubble up and change from clear to a rich amber color, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat and the consistency of your apples. As they cook, press the apples down with a rubber spatula; once the juices are visible, baste the apples with the juices. Keep an eye on them and don’t allow them to burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
5. Roll out the thawed pastry on a floured surface, until it is a square that can comfortably fit over the skillet. Lay the puff pastry over the cooked fruit, making sure that the pastry completely covers the apples. Tuck the pastry into the sides of the skillet, sealing in the apples.
6. Bake the pastry-covered skillet in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry puffs up and turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
7. Place a serving platter on top of the cooked pastry and, holding tight, flip the skillet over so that the tart comes out of the skillet and ends up on the platter, pastry side down. Remove any of the cooked apples that might have stuck to the skillet and tuck them into the tart as needed.
8. Serve with ice cream, if you like, though it is perfect just as it is.
“Excerpted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook (c) by Laurey Masterton, photography (c) by Johnny Autry, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”