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

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

Holiday Brunch

Holiday Brunch

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

Holiday Brunch with the Girls

Holiday Brunch with the Girls

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

Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6

Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

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

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10-12 empanadillas

Chicken Empanadillas (Empanadas)

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8

Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

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Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 12

Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

Recipe from Pillsbury.com

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Girls-Brunch-Table

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

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

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

Mario Lopez NBC Live

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

WATCH THE VIDEO FROM NY LIVE NBC SHOW 

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa

Serves 3

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

—–

Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa

Serves 4 – 8

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 fully ripened avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

Directions:

In large bowl, whisk together salad dressing, scallions, cilantro and lime peel. Stir in beans, corn and red pepper. Add avocado; toss gently. Season with salt, if desired.

photo: Kristen Hess

Avocado-Mozzarella-and-Tomato-Salad

Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 Hass Avocados from Mexico, sliced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 ounce bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • With a small knife or “shark”, cut the little stem end out of the tomato using a serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices.
  • Slice the mozzarella 1/4 inch thick.
  • Alternate slices of Avocado, tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves like playing cards on individual plates.
  • Drizzle on the olive oil and vinegar.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

photo: Avocados from Mexico

Mario Lopez

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mariolopez2

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Set and Mario Lopez photos: Kristen Hess

 

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

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Asian Food, Entrees, Ethnic Recipes, Fall Recipes, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Grilled Recipes, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, Italian, Italian Dishes, Italian Food, Latin Food, NYC, Pork, Potatoes, Savory Dishes, Seafood, Seafood Recipes, Spanish Food/Tapas, Special Occasion, Thanksgiving Recipes, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

International Holiday Menus

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

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

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

Canelones de Bakalao

Canelones de Bakalao

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

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

Executive Chef Alex Raij, Txikito

Serves 6

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

Filling and topping

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

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

Serve 2 pieces per person.

Printed with permission of Alex Raij. All rights reserved.

—–

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

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

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

Cured or Smoked Fish

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

Hot Fish or Pasta

Poultry

Beef or Game

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

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

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

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

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

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras and Pommes Macaire

Executive Chef Olivier Quignon, Bar Boulud

Serves 4

Pommes Macaire

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

Celery Root Puree

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

To Finish

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

For the Pomme Macaire

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

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

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

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

For the Celery Root Puree

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

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

To Finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

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

Roasted Whole Branzino

Sautéed Green beans with EVOO and Soy Sauce

White or Brown Steamed Rice

Miso Soup

Fresh fruit

Roasted Whole Branzino

Roasted Whole Branzino

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Roasted Whole Branzino

Executive Chef Hung Huynh

Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients:

1.5 to 2 pound Branzino
1 tablespoon of Aged Balsamic

Seasoning Rub:

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

Directions:

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

—–

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

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

Peking Duck with Cucumber, Scallions and Sesame Hoisin

Wild Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta

Gravlax and Dilled Creme Fraiche

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

VLT – Veal Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato

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

Crispy Potato Latkes

Crispy Potato Latkes

Photo Credit: Kutsher’s Tribeca

Potato Latkes Recipe

Zach Kutsher, Kutsher’s Tribeca

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

Finish in oven if necessary.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

—–

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

Grilled Pork Chop

Grilled Pork Chop

Photo Credit: Epicurean Group

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

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

Orecchiette — turkey sausage, sage, sweet potato

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

Warm Cranberry-pumpkin Budino – served with apple cider sauce

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Roasted Acorn Squash Salad Recipe

Executive Chef Gabe Thompson, Epicurean Group

Serves 4-6

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

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

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

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

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Baby Asparagus, Garlic & Three-Cheese Tart

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Appetizers, Baking, Cheese, Comfort Food, Eggs, Fall Recipes, French Recipes, Gourmet Food and Drinks, Holiday, Holiday Recipes, One-Pot Dishes, Pies and Tarts, Savory Dishes, Special Occasion, Spring Recipes, Thanksgiving Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 0 comments

Baby Asparagus, Garlic & 3-CheeseTart

Whenever the holidays roll around, I love to bake and experiment with luscious pies and savory tarts. Puff pastry is such an easy way to make appetizers fit for a crowd, especially when you buy it pre-made from the grocery store. (I especially like Dufour brand which I get from Whole Foods and Fairway stores in NYC, it’s super flaky and buttery and light.) You simply roll them out on to a floured surface or a non-stick silicone baking mat (try Silpat), score the edges and prick a few holes in it and pre-bake it for about 15 minutes.  Then, you can top it with any sweet or savory topping you like and bake it into a buttery, crispy delightful tart (or cut the pastry into smaller rounds with a biscuit cutter) to feed a crowd for brunch or a holiday appetizer.

Asparagus-Garlic-3Cheese-Tart2

I decided to top this one with some sauteed baby asparagus and garlic with red chile flakes along with three creamy melty cheeses: ricotta, gruyere and parmesan and a hint of lemon zest. All you gotta do is create your masterpiece, pop it in the oven and cut it into squares and you’ve got a crowd-pleaser waiting to happen and a party in your mouth. If you’re not a big asparagus fan, try experimenting with some other veggies: broccoli, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, spinach – whatever you fancy, and play with other cheeses, as long as they are good for melting such as Monterey Jack, Brie, Gorgonzola or Mozzarella. The ricotta base I wouldn’t substitute though – it gives it a creamy layer of flavor and texture that’s just too good to give up and protects the pastry base from getting soggy from the vegetables and cheese. Throw some cooked bacon, ham or prosciutto on it too if you really want to add some savory flavor. And if you want to go the extra mile and make your own pastry dough, go for it – but it takes a lot longer and a little more elbow grease to get it perfect. Happy Holidays!

Baby Asparagus, Garlic & Three-Cheese Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 puff pastry sheet (pre-made frozen or homemade)
  • 1 bunch of baby asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute asparagus spears with the shallots for about 5-7 minutes until they get soft. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta, whisked egg, half of the Parmesan cheese, thyme, lemon zest, sea salt and pepper.
  4. Roll out pastry sheet into a 16"x10" rectangle on to a Silpat (silicone baking mat) or parchment paper. Score around the edges 1 inch border and prick the base of the pastry with a fork in several places. Bake the pastry in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before adding toppings.
  5. Spread the ricotta and cheese mixture over the base of the puff pastry evenly. Top with sauteed asparagus, shallots and garlic, laying out asparagus spears in a flat row across the pastry.
  6. Sprinkle over the top the shredded Gruyere cheese and the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle additional fresh thyme if desired.
  7. Place the tart (on the Silpat or parchment paper base) on a rectangle baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is crisp and golden brown and the cheese on top is bubbly.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Cut tart into squares and serve.

Notes

Delicious for a holiday brunch or appetizer (you can always cut tart into bite size pieces to feed a crowd). Serve with a crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Chenin Blanc.

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Big Pot of Comfort :: Spicy Cajun Chili with a Kick!

Posted by on Nov 9, 2013 in Beef, Cajun/Creole Recipes, Cheese, Chicken, Comfort Food, Fall Recipes, Gluten-Free Recipes, Healthy Cooking, One-Pot Dishes, Savory Dishes, Slow Cooked/Stews, Spicy Food, Stews, Turkey Recipes, Uncategorized, Veggies, Winter Recipes | 2 comments

Spicy Cajun Chili

Spicy Cajun Chili

Chili is one of my go-to recipes when the Autumn leaves start turning colors and the weather starts getting cooler – especially on a crisp weekend night cuddled under some fuzzy blankets with me and my kitty cat watching some movies. Or with a group of friends watching everyone go crazy on college football game day. There’s nothing better than that. And, it’s an easy thing to make and dishes out a big dose of comfort. The best part is once I make a big pot, I can eat it for a few days and then throw the rest in the freezer for later (unless all my crazy friends dig in and there’s nothing left to show for it which actually makes me the happiest!)

I decided I wanted to make a spicier version of the chili I normally make and added a kick to it with some Cajun/Creole seasoning Tony Chacere’s (or you can try Emeril’s Southwest Essence) which adds an extra layer of spicy, savory flavor with green and red bell pepper and celery flavors.  I added some red pepper flakes, diced green chilies and a few tablespoons of hot sauce to the mix and used half ground chicken (you can also use ground turkey) / half ground beef and threw in some garlic, onions and black beans to make it a little healthier too. If you want to make it even more authentically Cajun, you could throw in some Andouille sausage or corn or green and red peppers for even more flavor and texture.

It’s perfect on its own, but you can cool the heat a little bit with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top. If you want it even spicier, just throw in a little extra hot sauce – I love Evil Ooze by Hotline Pepper Products (my friend Kerry Stressel makes it in Texas) and classic Tabasco hot sauce, or you can do a little milder sauce like Frank’s RedHot or Cholula) and top with extra diced chilies or sliced jalapenos. I usually serve my chili with plain crackers or corn chips, but you could also make some yummy cheesy garlic bread to serve with it instead. Cozy up and enjoy! :)

Spicy Cajun Chili with a Kick

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere's)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 -28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce or 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced green chilies, drained (or 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced)
  • 1 cup of corn kernels (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, for garnish
  • Extra hot sauce, diced chilies or jalapeno (if desired)
  • Crackers, garlic toast or corn chips, for serving (if desired)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the chopped onion until soft and translucent, for about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Add the ground chicken or turkey and beef to the pot and mix with the garlic and onion, stirring with a wooden spoon to brown the meat. Continue to cook until all the meat is brown and no longer pink, for about 8-10 minutes. Drain the fat off the meat into a colander and place meat and onion-garlic mixture back into the pan.
  3. Add the Cajun-Creole seasoning and all the dry chili spices and red pepper flakes, stir and cook for another minute or so.
  4. Pour in the stock, water, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce (or chopped fresh tomatoes) and hot sauce; turn up the heat until chili starts to bubble, and lower heat to a simmer.
  5. Stir in black beans and and diced green chilies, cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes, up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (Note: You can play with the thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock as it simmers, but be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking if you do this.)
  7. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. Top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.

Notes

You can play with the desired thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock but be sure to taste and season it to your liking if you do this.)

You can also add some fresh or canned corn to the chili while cooking.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. You can also top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.

Fresh cilantro or lime adds great flavors as garnish for a little bit more green.

Enjoy with a big hearty glass of red wine or a beer and some crackers, corn chips or cheesy garlic bread.

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Other Chili Recipes you may enjoy:

Southern Style Taco Soup

Emeril Lagasse Kickin Chili

Cooking Light Turkey and Bean Chili

White on Rice Couple Spicy Bacon Cowboy Chili

How Sweet Eats Chunky Fire Roasted Chili

The Pioneer Woman Simple Chili

Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Barefoot Contessa)

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Melt Cookbook: Taking the Art of Macaroni & Cheese to a Whole New Level

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Baking, Book Reviews, Cheese, Comfort Food, Entrees, Fall Recipes, One-Pot Dishes, Pasta, Savory Dishes, Special Occasion, Uncategorized, Winter Recipes | 1 comment

Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything more delicious on the planet than a big creamy bowl of luscious Mac and Cheese. It’s one of those foods that takes you back to your childhood, bringing a huge dose of comfort on any dreary day.

Welcome the launch of the new cookbook Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by authors Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord – who have taken this classic comfort food to a whole new level. Melt fuses gourmet ingredients with a wide array of pastas and handcrafted cheeses for rich, creamy and elegant comfort dishes that will appeal to all mac and cheese lovers alike and to cheese lovers everywhere. Their recipes are grown up versions made with artisanal cheeses and gourmet pasta combinations that will put your Mama’s Mac and Cheese to shame.

Inside the cookbook you’ll find a whole chapter dedicated to Cheese and another to Pasta: they discuss their research on the history and origins of all the different types of cheeses available and how to choose, prep and pair them with gourmet ingredients, wines and pastas for the maximum amount of flavors. You’ll also find some great recipes for fresh, unique Salads including Asparagus Salad with Ricotta, Fava Beans and Mint and Farfalle or Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo. A whole chapter of Stovetop Delights has recipes made with creamy, velvety cheese and pasta combinations such as Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles or Moody Blue and Roaring 40s with Honey Roasted Delicata Squash and Sage Butter with Rotini. There’s plenty of Hearty and Satisfying Mac and Cheese recipes with baked combinations full of texture and flavor too: Aged Mahon Gratin with Chorizo, Shallots, Spinach and Cavatappi or Cahill’s Irish Porter Cheddar with Bacon and Stout. They have another recipe chapter dedicated to Sweet dishes such as Sweet Potato Kugel and Fromage Blanc with Chevre, Peach and Ghost Pepper Canneloni.

If you’re a sucker for a creamy pot of Mac and Cheese like I am, you definitely need to try the recipes in this book – it will open your eyes to all the gorgeous gourmet combinations you can create if you just get a little bit creative and think outside the box (the BLUE box, that is!). Definitely a keeper – and great for the chilly months ahead to keep you cozy and comfy with a big old bowl of cheesy goodness.

Check out the trailer below with Stephanie and Garrett discussing the concept behind the book!


Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese – The Official Trailer from Stephanie/SJS on Vimeo.

Le-Creuset-Giveaway-Border

To celebrate the official release of Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, they are giving away yet another $500 set of Le Creuset cookware and a $100 gift certificate for Murray’s Cheese. No purchase is necessary to enter the giveaway.

Enter to win the giveaway online

Red Hawk with Prosciutto and Raspberry Jam

Red Hawk with Prosciutto and Raspberry Jam

Red Hawk Macaroni with Prosciutto and Raspberry Jam

Red Hawk, perhaps the most popular cheese made by California’s Cowgirl Creamery, is a mellow and complex washed-rind cheese. While it deserves its moment in the spotlight, it doesn’t fare well with complicated pairings; rather, this triple-cream appreciates a modest presentation that allows its pungent, meaty notes to speak for themselves.

For this dish, we decided to let Red Hawk’s heartiness take center stage, accompanied by only a bit of salty prosciutto and a touch of tart jam. You’ll be surprised how these two ingredients accentuate what makes Red Hawk so beloved—an understated intensity that puts it at the top of many cheese lovers’ top 10 lists.

Serves 4

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
1 full wheel Red Hawk, rind intact, chopped into chunks
4 thin slices prosciutto, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons raspberry jam (plus more per your indulgence)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix pasta, cheese, and prosciutto. Sprinkle with salt and a few good turns of the pepper grinder. Toss until well combined.

4. Lightly oil four 8-ounce ramekins and fill them with equal amounts of the pasta, cheese, and prosciutto mixture. Add a scant ½ cup of cream to each ramekin.

5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place your ramekins onto the sheet.

Slide into oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the cream has thickened into a nice gratin. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. The cheese is supposed to bubble over the edges of the ramekins—that’s part of the charm of this dish. And it’s why you lined the baking sheet with foil.

6. Top each ramekin with 1 tablespoon raspberry jam before serving. Add more spoonfuls of jammy goodness if you see fit.

Alternative cheeses: Époisses, Langres

Wine pairings: domestic Pinot Noir, sparkling rosé, champagne

Additional pairings for the cheese: honey, panforte, dried apricots

Penne with Garrotxa, Serrano Ham, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Penne with Garrotxa, Serrano Ham, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Penne with Garrotxa, Serrano Ham, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Native to Catalonia, Spain, Garrotxa is a throaty, goaty cheese that imparts an almost Cheddar-like tanginess. A gray mold blankets this pasteurized flavor titan, which gets its smooth earthiness from the lush coastal grasses that feed the goats raised to make it. Cutting away the rind on this firm cheese is easy, and a sharp knife run down the sides will shave off the moldy exterior without sacrificing much of the Garrotxa beneath.

Here, Garrotxa coalesces with two other signature Spanish ingredients, sun-dried tomatoes and Serrano ham, to create an ethereal cheese gratin polished with just a touch of butter, milk, and crème fraîche. This recipe isn’t your typical melty, creamy macaroni and cheese; rather, it’s a drier dish that allows the ingredients to mingle coyly while remaining somewhat independent.

Serves 2 to 4

8 ounces penne
1 pound Garrotxa, shredded
¼ cup milk
½ cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
6 ounces Serrano ham slices, torn coarsely by hand into chunks

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander. Set aside.

3. In a saucepan, combine cheese, milk, crème fraîche, and butter. Cook over medium-low heat until cheese is mostly melted and you have a creamy sauce. To keep the cheese sauce from breaking, remove the sauce from the heat before the cheese is entirely melted. Season with pepper, adding more to taste if you like.

4. In a shallow buttered casserole dish, toss pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and Serrano ham. Pour the sauce over the pasta, then stir together until combined. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.

Alternative cheeses: Ibores, Twig Farm Goat Tomme, Bardwell Farm’s Equinox

Wine pairings: Txakoli, Catalonian white wine, Grüner Veltliner

Additional pairings for the cheese: fig jam, picholine olives

Recipes: Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company Photos: Matt Armendariz, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

About the Authors

Stephanie Stiavetti

Stephanie is a freelance food writer, recipe developer, and multimedia producer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared on KQED, NPR, the Huffington Post, and a host of other outlets. Stephanie can be found most regularly on her food blog, The Culinary Life, where she explores the boundless world of flavor and texture.


Garrett McCord

Living in the city of Sacramento, Garrett McCord works as a food writer and recipe developer. His blog, Vanilla Garlic, looks at how life and food intertwine. His writing has appeared publications such as Saveur.com, The Huffington Post, Gourmet Live, the James Beard Award winning Epi-Log, Cheese Connoisseur, and the Sacramento News and Review and Edible Sacramento. He holds a master’s in English Composition from California State University, Sacramento, where he studied the rhetoric of the Slow Food Movement.

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