It’s finally Fall (Yay!) and football season is in full force which means fun tailgating and parties with friends mixed with lots of delicious football party food and drinks! My favorite time of year.
I’ve partnered with Mission Foods to create a delicious Game Day recipe for serving a crowd with their awesome flour tortillas, and I present to you my Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole.
It’s made with ground beef and taco seasoning, onions, garlic, corn, jalapeños, chopped tomatoes, beef broth and LOTS of cheese, all baked in layers of spicy, cheesy, ooey-gooey goodness with the flour tortillas in a 9-inch pie pan. Then it’s served cut into wedges and topped with some fresh green onions. You can also serve it with some sour cream and cilantro for extra garnish, if you like, on the side.
I love making casseroles and one-pot dishes in the Fall, and especially for parties with friends because they’re easy to make and easy to transport and serve, and they are usually a huge hit on the food table! This one will disappear fast so you might want to double the recipe for a big crowd – trust me!
I’m also hosting a giveaway for my readers to win 2 packs of Mission Foods Tortillas – all you need to do is leave a comment and your email below telling me how you would use the tortillas to make a delicious recipe for your Fall Football party! A winner will be chosen at random.
Hope you enjoy my super yum recipe and enter for a chance to win tortillas to make your party more delicious and fun too!
This Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole is a super easy and tasty dish to make for Football season! Made with Mission Foods flour tortillas, all layered with a spicy enchilada beef, mixed with onions, garlic, corn, tomatoes, broth and jalapeño and lots of cheese in the layers and on top! Garnished with scallions, sour cream and cilantro if desired...and DIG IN!
1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1 cup petite diced tomatoes and juice (or 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce)
1 cup frozen corn
1 jalapeno, chopped
4 large Mission Foods flour tortillas
1 6-ounce package shredded Mexican Blend cheese (Colby, Monterey Jack and Cheddar)
1-2 scallions, sliced, for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish (optional)
2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and onion to pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes until browned and crumbled.
In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter and sauce the garlic for 1 minute until lightly golden, sprinkle with flour and stir, cooking for 30 seconds.
Add broth, taco seasoning, tomatoes, corn and jalapeños to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the tomato-corn-jalapeno mixture to the cooked ground beef and onions in the large saute pan, mixing together and reserving the rest for the top layer of the casserole.
In a 9-inch pie plate, place 1 tortilla on the bottom. Top with 1 cup of the beef mixture, and sprinkle with a layer of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with the 4th tortilla on top.
Spread the reserved tomato mixture over the tortilla and top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.
Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve with sliced green onions, and sour cream and cilantro (if desired).
You can also substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef.
For a large crowd, I suggest doubling the recipe to make two casseroles as this one will disappear fast!
As the year 2014 is coming to an end, it’s always interesting to see what was hot and what was not in the culinary world and what new food and flavor trends we will see in the New Year 2015. Popular trends seem to come and go each year affecting everything we see: restaurants, blogs, online stores, magazines, TV shows, and even fast food and packaged goods and advertising.
2014 had plenty of interesting ones that went big this year:
Culinary mashups: Cronuts (croissant donuts), Wonuts (waffle donuts), Quesarito (a quesadilla rolled into a burrito), bananas fosters pancakes, bagel burgers, ramen burgers, pretzel subs, Chicken waffle sandwiches, you name it – crazy Frankenfood dishes hit the scene this year.
Spicy burgers: burgers went nuclear this year with everything and anything spicy – Sriracha mayo, poblano peppers, jalapeño peppers, spicy onion rings, melted pepper jack cheese, harissa, ancho chipotle sauce, Mexican burgers with spicy ranch sauce…the list goes on.
Bahn Mi – a traditional Vietnamese sandwich made with roasted pork, marinated vegetables, and herbs on a baguette
Creative cookies: decadent makeovers on classic cookies
Umami veggies: savory flavors will infuse new recipes such as tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, nori, sweet potatoes
Smoked spices: deeper richer flavors for foods through smoked spices
Sour notes: coarse salt with sour notes from sour cherry, pickled ginger, mango and lemon zest add zing and bling. Burgers topped with kimchi. Shrubs (preserved fruits with vinegar and sugar) will show up in cocktails.
Liquid revolution: juice blends from fruits and vegetables to make healthy flavorful sauces
Global blends: Japanese 7 spice (aka shichimi togarashi) combines chilies, sesame, orange zest and nori. Shawarma Middle Eastern blends made with cinnamon, cumin and black pepper are also going big.
Tacos: regional and modern taco joints and pop ups are going to be everywhere
Scrambled eggs: forget poached and deviled – scrambled eggs for dinner with savory sauces and ingredients are hot.
Spicy flavors: Sriracha will still be in style, as well as international spices like Thai bird chiles that give a serious kick.
Flavor without fat: Chefs are now infusing meats and vegetables with flavor by grilling, rotisseries and smoke.
Meat spreads: Nduja is an Italian meat spread made with ground pork and spices, great for spreading on toast or filling ravioli.
Artisanal candies: Bourbon and sea salt caramels, ice cream gummies and other creative confectionaries will be everywhere.
Soft serve ice cream: seasonal flavors and innovative sundae creations are another hot item in the dessert scene.
Spanish cuisine: Tapas and small plates from the Spanish region will be hot in the fast-casual restaurant world.
Savory pancakes: think potato pancakes on steroids – infused with different vegetable flavors and creative toppings and sauces.
Patty melts: this classic diner dish heats up the food scene with innovative twists on this half burger / half grilled cheese sammie.
Mini cocktails: smaller versions of cocktails served in half portions are popping up to give customers the opportunity to taste more varieties
Artisanal hard cider: move over craft beer, the new trend is using artisanal hard cider to create libations with unusual ingredients such as bourbon, house-made Dijon syrup and thyme.
Gin: new places opening up that solely serve the classic Gin and Tonic in different ways
High-end daiquiris and frozen drinks: new twists on the daiquiri and slushie drink infused with fun flavors and alcohol combinations
Meals to go: restaurants and food brands understand the consumers shrinking leisure time by creating high end meals to go making it easier to eat gourmet food without spending hours eating out or cooking at home.
Family-style dining: more restaurants will be serving meals family style with larger portions to share around the table.
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.
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.
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 Yorkcollaborated 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 Rollat Pier 84, along 12th Avenue to pick up their custom cruisers.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
a thicker version of their signature waffle batter. Red velvet, vanilla and chocolate batter get poured into the iron press and cooked to the perfect crunchy-on-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside texture. Next, the wonuts are dipped and fried in vegetable shortening, then covered in gobs of marshmallow, glaze and sprinkles.
Read more at http://www.foodbeast.com/2014/04/24/wonuts-waffle-donuts/#PhUiKMfIQYRxoMXA.99
a thicker version of their signature waffle batter. Red velvet, vanilla and chocolate batter get poured into the iron press and cooked to the perfect crunchy-on-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside texture. Next, the wonuts are dipped and fried in vegetable shortening, then covered in gobs of marshmallow, glaze and sprinkles.
Read more at http://www.foodbeast.com/2014/04/24/wonuts-waffle-donuts/#PhUiKMfIQYRxoMXA.99
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
1 refrigerated pie shell dough (fresh or store-bought)
3/4 cup Gouda cheese, sliced or shredded (can also substitute Gouda, Cheddar or another soft cheese that melts well)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out pie dough into a 9" pie dish, overlapping dough 1 inch over edge of pie dish. Flute edges.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter and onions.
Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft, add maple syrup and stir.
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.
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.
Scatter the caramelized onions into the pie shell, and top with diced ham and cheese.
Pour custard over the top evenly into the shell. Bake tart for 10 minutes.
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..
Let tart cool on a wire baking rack, cut into wedges and serve.
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.
Recipe inspired by Andrew Zimmern's Bacon-Onion Tart, Food & Wine Magazine
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.
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
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)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned.
Chop lettuces and slice onion, add to large salad bowl with cranberries.
Core and cut pears into thin slices. Toss some into salad, save some for topping.
Heat honey and make dressing; toss with salad ingredients, top with crumbly bleu cheese and sliced pears.
Combine vinegar, warmed honey, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk together well in a mixing bowl.
Slowly stream in olive oil whisking vigorously until all oil is blended into a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing.
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.
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
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.
Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
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.
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.
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).
Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of salsa.
Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
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.
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
Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
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.)
In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
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!
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
The Christmas Holiday and New Year’s Eve is right around the corner and there’s no better way to celebrate the occasion than to pop open a bottle of gorgeous bubbly sparkling wine. Most people automatically think of Champagne when it comes to sparkling wine but there are actually some great selections of Cava and Prosecco that fit the bill too. But what is the difference between them all and how do you pick one that suits your palette and your budget?
I interviewed some of NYC’s top Wine Directors and Sommeliers: Joseph Camper of db Bistro, Laura Williamson of Jean-Georges, Jason Arias of Txikito, Peter Mastrogiovanni of La Cenita/EMM Group and Joe Campanale from Epicurean Group; to unveil the mystery behind all three sparkling wines and get some recommendations, food pairings and recipes to help you plan your holiday cocktail party in style.
The main difference in the three sparkling wines comes down to a few things: the grapes, the region, the soil, the fermentation process and temperature.
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.
Prosecco 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.
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
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.”
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.
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!
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!
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
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
Latin/Argentinean Sommelier – Jason Arias, Txikito
Master 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.
Cava and Champagne – High quality whole fish and mollusks and crustaceans (raw or cooked, or served in soup); Salt Cod Cannelloni (Canelons) and Pasta
Photo Credit: Txikito
Beach plum Gin or Patxarran (Basque sloe berry liqueur)
Bruised sage leaf
On rocks with splash of 7 up
Recipe by Sommelier Jason Arias, Txikito
Spanish/Mexican Sommelier – Peter Mastrogiovanni, La Cenita -Emm Group
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.
Shake, strain up in martini glass, top with Sparkling Cava wine. Garnish with a Canela (or cinnamon) stick and dried cranberries
Recipe by Lead Bartender Billy Potuin, La Cenita
Italian Sommelier – Joseph Campanale, Executive Beverage Director, Epicurean Group (dell’Anima/L’Artusi/Anfora/L’Apicio)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 SaladBites for the Bethenny Show that were super cute and delicious. Here’s the recipes and some fun behind the scenes photos from the 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.
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.
Photo Credit: Kristen Hess
Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche)
Executive Chef Alex Raij, Txikito
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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)
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!
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
2 acorn squash (1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
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.
This is a quick and healthy weeknight dish I whipped up the other day with some fresh ingredients I had on hand in the fridge. It’s got some savory and slightly spicy sauteed chicken made with olive oil, garlic and cajun seasonings (I use Tony Chacere’s Creole seasoning which is awesome). I also added a secret ingredient that I absolutely love which gives it a boost of flavor – Sazon seasoning – a type of seasoned salt found in Spanish and Latin markets (you can also find it online or in the international food section of your grocery store.) The seasoning is used on meats, fish, poultry and to add savory flavor to soups and stews. Typical ingredients include coriander, cumin, paprika, cilantro, achiote, garlic, salt. Try the Sazon by Goya Foods or you can make your own seasoning following this recipe.
Now back to my recipe. I cut up some red, yellow and green peppers and broccoli, (you could also add some corn, peas and carrots into the mix if you like), which I then sauteed with minced garlic and olive oil and tossed into the chicken and garlic mixture, served over cooked rice. For leftovers, I heated up some more garlic infused oil back in the pan and reheated the rice, then added the chicken and veggies into the pan and stirred it all together to mix all the savory flavors together into one big yummy rice bowl. It’s healthy, full of flavor and color and has a little kick to it too. Who said cooking tasty food had to be difficult? This dish absolutely ROCKS. x
This is a quick and easy and healthy weeknight dish made with sauteed chicken and veggies with Cajun seasonings served over cooked rice.
For the sauteed veggies:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small yellow pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic salt
For the sauteed chicken:
2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
2 lbs thin chicken cutlets, cut into strips or chunks
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 packet Sazon season
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
White or saffron/yellow cooked rice, for serving
extra red yellow and green diced peppers for garnish
Cook the white or yellow rice in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions and drain, set aside.
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium and add minced garlic, cook for 1 minute.
Raise heat to medium high and add bell peppers, broccoli and garlic salt; saute for about 5-7 minutes until soft. Remove from heat and set aside in a mixing bowl.
Add an additional 2 tablespoons of garlic-infused olive oil and heat in same saute pan for another minute.
Add chicken (make sure to pat dry after rinsing to remove excess water or the chicken will steam instead of saute) to the pan, add Cajun and Sazon seasonings and saute for about 8 minutes until it starts to brown. Sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Return sauteed veggies to the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low and saute the ingredients together for another few minutes.
Place rice into individual serving bowls and serve chicken and veggie mixture on top of the rice.
Add additional cajun seasoning or salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional red, yellow and green diced peppers if you wish (makes it prettier and more colorful!)
Chef's Note: this tastes better the next day and is awesome if you saute the chicken and veggies in a pan with the rice. Simply add a few tablespoon of oil and start reheating the rice over medium heat and then add the leftover chicken and veggie mixture, stir together and cover with a lid. Let it reheat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and serve. YUM.
I happened to stumble upon this place on my way home one night, lured in by its moody lighting and buzzing atmosphere. Taproom 307 is a bar and restaurant with over 40 varieties of local and domestic craft beers, beer cocktails, wine, unique artisan cocktails and amazing food. I tried their Hawaiian wood-fired pizza which was delicious, served on a wooden board, crispy crust, savory ham, gooey cheese and juicy pineapple. They also have delicious burgers, sandwiches, salads and bar food appetizers, which I”ll be sure to go back to try next visit! Beer Sommelier Hayley Jensen curates at Taproom No.307 – she fell in love with beer after college, and has been obsessed ever since. She discovered old world ales and went abroad to learn more. After moving to London and working in the craft bar scene there, she came back to NYC and joined famed Chef Daniel Boulud, as Beer Sommelier at DBGB Kitchen & Bar. They serve brunch, lunch and dinner every day of the week. Perfect place for happy hour after work with a group of friends!
The name Marimekko is a play on words, yet completely descriptive. ‘Mari’ is an anagram of the first name of the company’s founder, Armi Ratia,while ‘mekko’ means ‘dress’ in Finnish. And it was indeed Mari’s dresses that started it all in 1951. This place is a must-see if you ever come to visit NYC. The store in Flatiron District next to Eataly on the corner of 5th Ave and 23rd Street is a mecca full of beautiful, bright patterns and totally irresistable. They have a full line of dining and kitchenware, pillows, clothes, fabric to make your own custom items. Everything in the store is sleekly designed and fun – if you’re a stylist? its a dream come true.
Todaro Bros. is a small, local market in Murray Hill that specializes in Italian imported goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, imported cheeses, epicurean delicacies and fresh prepared foods. There’s also handmade fresh pastas, olives, an extensive range of imported olive oils, sauces, spices and freshly prepared breads. It reminds me of a place you’d see on the streets in Italy and it’s my failsafe place to go when I need fresh meats and fish, fruits and veggies or just some downright delicious food for dinner or a party.
Located in Midtown on 3rd Ave and 40th St, Zengo is my new favorite local hotspot for happy hour. The decor is vibrant and dramatic with decorative full length windows, hardwood floors and contemporary lighting and the cuisine is a lovely mix of Latin-Asian styles and flavors created by Chef-owner Richard Sandoval, whose accolades include Bon Appétit Restaurateur of the Year and Mexico’s Toque d’Oro. Chef Sandoval spins regional ingredients into beautifully balanced dishes designed for sharing – you’ll find small plates on the happy hour menu such as Sushi, Shrimp-Vegetable potstickers, an assortment of flatbreads and churros. The beverage menu features innovative, hand-muddled cocktails as well as Latin wines, Japanese sakes and over 400 Tequilas. There are three bars inside – one in the main level and one downstairs, and their Sake & Shochu lounge upstairs is a great place for groups or private parties where you can experience a tasting of their many varieties of imported Sake or Shochu.
622 3rd Ave (btwn 40th St & 41st St) New York, NY 10017 (212) 808-8110
If there was ever a store I’d like to just move right into, this is the one. Yep, don’t even need to pack my things – they’ve got everything in there imaginable to live a deliciously luxurious life. If you’ve never been to ABC Carpet and Home in NYC you MUST visit next time you’re here. All I can say is when you walk in the store you feel like Alice in Wonderland that just fell down the rabbit hole into a beautiful, glittery, artistic place that you’ve never experienced before. Or got swept away to the Land of Oz like Dorothy did, minus the midgets and ugly witch. All joking aside, this is probably my favorite home store in NYC – there’s homemade pottery and glassware, linens, pillows, jewelry, soaps and candles, fabrics, rugs, furniture – you name it. And everything in the store is artisan-made (which yes, lends to its hefty prices) – even if you just buy ONE thing, you’ll make your kitchen or home that much more beautiful. THE BOMB.
I have been going here ever since I lived in NYC and its still one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. Located centrally in the Flatiron District, Stuzzi is an authentic Italian restaurant that specializes in Italian cuisine from all different regions and has an amazing bar and a daily happy hour from 4-7 pm – buy a drink and you get a small plate for free! Chow down on some Crostini with Ricotta and Honey, Meatballs, Risotto Balls, Cheese plates, Salumi plates with Soppressata and Parma Prosciutto, Flash-fried Roman style Artichokes, Battered Cod with Lemon Aioli…and the list goes on. My go-to drink is an Aperol Spritz made with Prosecco, Aperol bitters and a lemon twist – perfect pairing with the delicious appetizers! Of course they have an extensive Italian wine and beer list too. It’s never too crowded and the atmosphere is beautiful with gorgeous lighting, dark wood and brass. There’s a larger dining room in the back or you can just sit near the bar or outside patio and enjoy a drink and a quick bite. One of the best and reasonably priced for a great Italian place in the city.
Fishs Eddy is a purveyor of Dinnerware, Glassware, Flatware, Serveware, & Sturdyware, born in 1986 by the owners finding antique goods in Upstate NY and hauled them back in a van to the city to open this awesome shop. Millions of edgy, unique and incredibly fun dishes and glasses have come in and out of their doors. Retro patterns and prints, bright colors, classic styles and fun unique kitchen items are what you’ll find here. The best part is you can buy one-off items if you wish – a single piece of flatware, a fun kitchen towel, quirky straws, canning jars – you name it, they got it. And you won’t find this cool stuff anywhere else but here. As a food photographer and stylist, I’m in heaven in this store – and I guarantee you won’t walk out of here with a million fun and cool gadgets for yourself, without breaking the bank. Talk about FUN!
So if you’re in the mood for some amazing, authentic Mexican food in NYC, this is the place you need to be. Located in Nolita; you can’t miss the old movie theatre style sign on the corner of Lafayette and Kenmare with its bright neon lights. Think street-style Mexican – grilled fresh corn with spices and cojita cheese, lovely tacos in every flavor, homemade guacamole, tortas, quesadillas, ceviche, grilled chorizo, chile relleno, tortilla soup, fresh salads- all made with fresh tasty ingredients. The Taqueria in front has a few bar stools and offers takeout, or you can sit in the Brasserie or Cafe for a full meal. Definitely top on my list for the best tacos in town – and its fairly priced too! Oh, and you just might happen to run into a celebrity while you’re here – Claire Robinson, Chef on Food Network, was enjoying lunch and margaritas right outside on the patio while I was there! Awesome grub for an awesome price – don’t miss this one!
Now here’s a cool place I discovered recently – who would have ever thought that the MOMA Design store would have such cool stuff for the kitchen and a serious cook? An extension of the Modern Museum of Modern Art, the store is a mecca for high design. Kitchen tools, glassware, silverware, dishware, cookbooks, bowls and baskets made of modern metal design, funky kitchen gadgets, all brightly colored and sleekly designed with modern materials (metal, plastic, glass, silicone, etc.) by notable artists and designers. I wouldn’t go here to stock up your kitchen though, as the prices are a bit steep – but if you’re looking for a collectible kitchen or home item that you can actually use and proudly display, this is the place to go.
Last but not least, is a really fun place I discovered down in Nolita – Le Labo fragrance lab. Originating in France, this store makes high-end custom fragrances in the store based on your preferences and desired scent. Made from natural ingredients and essential oils like lavender, vanilla, lemon, bergamot, rose, patchouli, orange blossom – each fragrance has a unique scent. They do have about 10-15 pre made fragrances to choose from too but its too cool that you can make your own – and they even print your name on the bottle label so its truly a personalized scent! Check out their online store if you can’t make it to NYC. Too cool to ignore.
233 Elizabeth St New York, NY 10012 (212) 219-2230