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A Last Minute Holiday Starter with Endive

20 Dec

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Snow is falling on Mendenhall Street this morning and it couldn’t feel more like the holiday season. I’m looking forward to winding down and enjoying time with my family and friends in the Sunshine State. Our tables will be full of fresh citrus and local seafood. My childhood home continues to be a place of constant cooking and surprise guests. Our living room hosts a ongoing fire by the Christmas tree with the coming and going of my childhood friends, neighbors and family. There is something special about warming by the fireplace with the view of grapefruit trees in full fruit outside.

An easy holiday starter in Florida (or really anywhere with a good seafood market) is Roasted Shrimp Salad in Endive. I love endive because it’s healthier than a cracker with a fresh crispy bite. I’ve served everything from beet salad to blue cheese, pear and walnut in endive leaves. They present beautifully stacked like soldiers or presented like a blooming flower on a round platter. Also, if you haven’t seen this clip of Steven Colbert on endive, its a hilarious.

Shrimp salad is quick and unique. I roasted mine in good garlic olive oil (I’m loving my tin of Nudo Garlic Olive Oil right now) and mix with fresh dill, fresh lemon juice, white wine, red onion and salty capers. A little mayo will help everything stay together. An extra drizzle of garlic olive oil will help with presentation!

This is perfect to serve for an afternoon cocktail hour, before a late dinner or even a lunch. Serve with cocktails or red wine. I’m currently enjoying Rios de Chile red wine from the Cachapoal Valley. 

Happy Everything! I’ll share photos of my family celebration next week.

Roasted Shrimp Salad in Endive 

  • 1 pound shrimp
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Nudo garlic olive oil
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 5 heads of California endive

Assembly: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss shrimp in garlic olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together mayo, lemon juice and zest, dill, vinegar, capers and onions. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss hot shrimp in dressing and refrigerate until cold. Arrange shrimp in the endive leaves to serve. I found that cutting the shrimp in half helped them fit nicely inside each leaf. Garnish with a drizzle of fresh garlic oil.

Truffled Deviled Eggs + Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

18 Dec

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Tis the season for holiday treats.  I am looking toward to wrapping up the year and wrapping up a few small gifts to celebrate the most cherished people in my life. If you are working on last minute gifts before the holidays wrap up (that’s me!), here are some gifts I’ve been giving and in envy of!  And, a recipe for a delicious and easy homemade appetizer fit for any season.

  • For really good friends, a Nudo Olive Oil Subscription could be the coolest gift ever. Literally adopt a olive tree in Italy and have seasonal shipments of freshly pressed olive oil! Or, a gift box of their excellent garlic oil is might be the sweetest food packaging I’ve ever seen. I’m in total envy of anyone who gets this!
  • For your favorite kiddos, I suggest the children’s book “Good Boy, Fergus.” I was lucky enough to read this book to a class of Lindley Park Elementary School kindergarten students this year. The book is a sweet narrative of a Westie who gets in a variety of troubles – much like my own, Winston.
  • For my teammates at work, I made these homemade truffled deviled eggs for our holiday happy hour at Dabney’s house using olive oil from the local MidTown Olive Press. And, gifted a take home of Makers Mark Boubon. You could certainly gift the ingredients – Midtown Truffle Oil, black sea salt from Savory Spice Shop and Massey Creek Farm Eggs! Check out the recipe below.
  • Any gift of consumables are perfect. I’ve already received many a cookie, some delicious homemade cheese straws and a jar of homemade jalapeno pimento cheese that I can’t wait to devour with friends. Tis the season for calories – so step up the pace on your walks and lean into the season.

Truffled Deviled Eggs 

  • 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dijion mustard
  • 3(ish) tablespoons truffle oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon, white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Black lava salt

Halve the eggs  and transfer the yolks to a mixing bowl. I cut mine vertically to give the eggs a different look – you’ll need to trim the bottom to get them to stand up!

With a stand up mixer, whisk the yolks to a smooth consistency. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, truffle oil, mustard, white pepper and salt, and mix until smooth. Taste and season accordingly.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain or large star tip, then pipe the mixture evenly into the egg white halves.

Top each egg half with a tiny sprinkle of black lava salt.

Brrr It’s Cold Out There – Must Have Warm Brie

18 Nov

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Life has been so hectic lately that the chilliness of Fall has totally snuck up on me. This weekend, I walked out the backdoor of my house to find a carpet of pecan tree leaves covering my garden. And I spent Sunday searching for last year’s sweaters and coats.

The calmness of the Thanksgiving holiday is something that I’m looking forward to. A couple quiet days spent lounging by the fireplace with family and pets, wondering when it’s close enough to five o’clock to start cocktail hour. Some wine, a warm brie, seasonal apples and crackers are the perfect effortless snack for these occasions.

I warm brie for just a few minutes (10 at most) in a 350 degree oven. If honey and nuts are in your pantry, they are a nice sticky addition. Add your favorite crackers and crisp apples for the best edible cheese travelers.

I’m looking forward to reporting back from a relaxing and fun Thanksgiving.

 

Halloween Deviled Eggs

4 Nov

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Ive vie decided that deviled eggs are for for any season and any party. While one used to think they were only fitting for summer picnics, I’ve seen them dressed up for winter in caviar or truffles or perfectly decorated as tiny pumpkins with a little extra paprika for Halloween. This weekend they were a perfect starter before friends came over for Halloween chili by the fire.

We had too few trick or treaters this year which was a total bummer. But a little scotch punch helped forgot the angst. I’ll post the recipes for chili and scotch punch this week.

How do you dress up your deviled eggs?

Grilled Brie with Fresh Figs and Mountain Honey

7 Sep

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When my friends informed me that their new condo had an outdoor grill over looking the mountains, I planned the entire weekend around cooking outside. Every meal utilized the grill – including when I brought out the pots and pans and heated them directly on the grill. Nothing beats outdoor cooking – especially in the mountains with a great breeze.

Grilling Brie was an experiment that turned out extremely well. The trick is to keep the cheese very cold until your ready to cook and heat the grill to high. The process won’t take too long – you’re grilling just enough to make beautiful grill marks and heat the cheese through. This will take about four minutes on each side – but please use your own discretion. And, by no means should you press down on the cheese with a spatula.

Meanwhile, warm honey with a handful or two of quarter fresh mission figs.

Once the cheese is starting to ooze slightly and you can see the grill marks, transfer to a platter. Drizzle with honey, figs and a pinch of good sea salt. Serve with crackers or grilled baguette. Crazy good.

Smoked Salmon Dip

17 Jun

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There is something about summer that screams HAPPY HOUR! Gin and Tonic, a splash of Saint Germain, a pour of rose – anything will do. But, you’ll need a good snack to go along.

This past weekend, I modified this Ina Garden recipe for a happy hour gathering.  I added more smoked salmon for more of a fishy bite (closer to my favorite childhood Smoked Mullet Dip). This took less than 10 minutes to make and was a big hit. Save it in your back pocket for your next happy hour.

Smoked Salmon Dip, inspired by Ina Garten

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound cedar smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in a stand up mixer until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers.

Easy Chicken and Pineapple Quesadilla

13 Jun

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I’m perfecting the weeknight single person meal these days. Nothing speaks “I need Friday” more than rushing home to open a bottle of red wine and make a simple dinner. Last night, I put together a Easy Chicken and Pineapple Quesadilla with all store bought items from The Fresh Market. Whole wheat tortilla, a rotisserie chicken breast, precut pineapple, cilantro, jalapeno slices and a little BBQ sauce or hot sauce. It was no work of art, but hot the spot after a long week and lean towards Friday. TGIF!

Stock up. Summer Starts Now

2 Jun

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The weekend is already feeling distant at this point in the day on a Monday afternoon but the start of the summer felt great while it lasted. I spent my weekend drinking wine (obviously), doing some cooking and taking paddle boarding lessons! Just when you think there is nothing new to do in the area, you stumble on a unique adventure that changes all perceptions. Check out SUP Paddle Boarding lessons with Soraya! It couldn’t have been more fun.

With lots of t time seeking adventure, I love an appetizer that take almost zero time. A sweet peppadew pepper stuffed with salami and parmesan cheese was suggested on thekitchn.com a couple weekends ago. It’s a charming bite sized appetizer that is a punch of color and flavor. Just like all things summer should be. Stock up on staples and you’ll always have time to host.

 

Sweet Pea Crostini with Proscuitto

15 May

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I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything less than perfect about crostini. They are versatile and perfect for a meal or a snack. And, nothing beats a nice piece of toasted bread. This combination is unusual, beautifully green and perfect for Springtime. It might scare the average Joe with it’s color but it won’t disappoint with flavor. Try it. I promise.

Sweet Pea Topping

  • About 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • small handful of basil
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Pulse everything together into a nice chunky paste. Taste for seasoning.

Crostini

  • good crusty bread
  • more olive oil
  • prosciutto

Slice the bread into thick pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil until toasted. Top with pea mixture, a slice of prosciutto and more pepper. And, a splash of lemon olive oil, if you have it.

Asparagus Deviled Eggs

29 Apr

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This weekend, my friend April and I hosted a small gathering of friends to celebrate the re-definement (retirement) of our friend Judy. It was the hottest day of 2014 and perfect for champagne cocktails, fried chicken and waffles, fruit salad and asparagus deviled eggs. As Judy likes to say, “yum, yum, yum!”

I love things that can be made in advance for brunch celebrations. These were perfect because they were portable and delicious. I always forget how much labor is involved in deviled eggs -but these are so worth it and perfect for the season!

Asparagus Deviled Eggs

  • 12 large eggs
  •  1 bundle, asparagus spears
  • 1/2 cup  mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup smooth Dijon – or more to taste
  •  white pepper, to taste
  • old bay seasoning, to taste

Hard-boil eggs using whichever method you prefer.

Roast asparagus spears until bright green and tender. Cut 1/2-inch off the tips of each spears. Puree remaining asparagus in food processor. Smear on a paper towel to remove some moisture.

Peel your eggs. Cut each in half lengthwise . Remove the yolks and add to a stand up mixer. Whip together remaining ingredients and asparagus puree. Season.

Spoon our pipe the mixture into each egg half, or use a piping bag with a star tip for a fancier presentation. Decorate each stuffed egg with a reserved asparagus tip (you’ll be a little short of what you need), and the remaining with the extra shallot, scallion or chives. Wrap tray in plastic and keep in fridge until ready to serve.

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