Yesterday, someone asked me how in the world I hosted a party on Saturday night after such a crazy week of work. The truth is, the menu couldn’t have been easier. Especially considering I cheated with the guacamole dip! I purchased ready-made guacamole from The Fresh Market, added olive-bar roasted red peppers and cooked crispy turkey bacon. Done and Done. With blue corn chips and Ginger-Raspberry Margaritas – I looked like a pro. Highly recommended!
Here are too very garlicky recipes that take no time to prepare – and folks will go wild for them! The trick is to roast both of them while guests are beginning to arrive. The aroma is pretty incredible and they will want to dive in with bread, big glasses of wine and their finger tips!
These two dishes pair extremely well with the other dishes from my Spanish Tapas night. And, these are the only two that require much cooking!
Garlicky Roasted Chorizo & Shrimp (serves a crowd – reduce shrimp quantity for smaller groups – but never reduce the chorizo!
- one packaged, dry-cured chorizo – I used Palacios Imported that is available at The Fresh Market
- 2 pounds, pealed and deveined shrimp
- 4 or 5 cloves of fresh garlic, thinly sliced
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
In a large oven proof ceramic dish, throw in sliced chorizo and garlic. Over with olive oil – a bit generously. Roast at 425 degrees until fragrant and chorizo is beginning to get crispy. Toss in shrimp and stir well. Season generously like salt and pepper. Roast until shrimp are cooked to your preference – this will not take long!! Serve immediately while hot and delicious!
- 1 pound mushrooms such as cremini or white, halved lengthwise if large
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. Toss mushrooms with capers, garlic, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a 1 1/2- to 2-qt shallow baking dish. Top with butter and roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and golden and bubbly garlic sauce forms below, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately.
The best thing about our Spanish Tapas Night was the ease of preparation! When you aren’t worrying about getting food out at the right temperature – you can really enjoy yourself! These dishes don’t even need recipes. Here are some ideas for an simple menu for noshing over good Spanish wine!
- Spanish Marcona Almonds with Fresh Thyme
- Spanish Don Julian Manchego and Fiorucci Pre-Sliced Serrano Ham
- Dates Pitted and Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Almonds
- Blanched Asparagus dressed with Lemon Vinaigrette and Hardboiled Eggs
- Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with a Mixture of Goat Cheese, Fresh Mint, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice and Piquillo Pepper Vinegar
With several vegetarians coming to our Spanish Tapas Night we wanted to make sure we had plenty of meat-free dishes. These tomato and goat cheese tarts are perfect for a snack, starter or light entree. We used Ina Garten’s recipe and made a few adjustments. Depending on the occasion, you can make these as small as you’d like. Enjoy them while tomatoes begin coming into season!
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
- 1 box puff pastry sheets
- Parmesan cheese
- 1 large onion
- 1 3.5 ounce log of herb goat cheese
- 1 large tomato
- fresh thyme
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice onion thinly and saute in olive oil for about 20 minutes on low. Once cooked down and translucent – add 2 teaspoons thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until brown and caramelized. Meanwhile, defrost puff pastry sheets and cut rounds. Using a pairing knife, score (don’t cut all the way through) a circle inside the pastry shells about a half inch from the edge. Prick the inside of the circle with a fork to prevent from rising in the oven. Put about 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese inside the pastry. Top with 2 tablespoons of onions, a forth of the cheese and one large slice of tomato. Top with shredded Parmesan. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until brown.
One of the best things about Spring is fresh artichokes. I love the baby artichokes sauteed or fried, whole artichokes for dipping and using the fresh artichoke hearts in pasta dishes. Save the canned artichokes for your party dips.
The easiest way to enjoy artichokes are to steam or boil them and serve with melted lemon butter. This was a childhood favorite of mine and I still love to serve them for guests.
Take advantage of artichokes as they come into season. This is an easy starter for your green menu this March!
Green Artichokes with Lemon Butter
- fresh artichokes
Cut the bottom stem off the artichoke so it stands on its own. Then, using scissors, cut the sharp points off each leaf. Boil (or steam) the artichokes stem side up (I throw juiced lemons and salt into the water for flavor) until the stem is tender enough to easily insert a knife. Serve them with melted lemon butter ( I prefer mine with a little salt too). If you haven’t eaten an artichoke this way, you pluck each leaf off, dip in butter and scrap the ends off with your teeth. Once you reach the center, clean the choke with a knife and eat the artichoke heart!
You know what’s hard to stomach? Eating nachos while watching Beyonce shake it at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Just kidding. Actually, despite the guilt – these Fresh Loaded are incredibly delicious! I made these loaded nachos in less than 30 minutes while in a rush to a Super Bowl Party this Sunday night.
I mixed together a quick fresh salsa, browned fresh chorizo and layered shredded sharp cheddar cheese and black beans in between falafel chips (you could use corn chips too!). Layer everything but the salsa, avocado and sour cream in a large casserole dish – bake for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven to melt the cheese and heat through – top with fresh toppings and they are ready to go!
These nachos were a great addition to the Super Bowl party with delicious turkey chili and dark chocolate for dessert.
So, back to the lighter fare (leftover salsa for salmon tacos!) this week – while everyone is trying to shake off the comfort food pounds and look like Beyonce! Save this one for a night by the TV with friends and cold beer!
Fresh Loaded Nachos!
- 1 bag, Falafel Chips
- 2 or 3 cups, freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 fresh chorizo links, cooked and crumbled
- 1 can, black beans drained
- fresh salsa, recipe below!
- 1 avocado, chopped
Fresh Salsa, mix it all together and taste for seasoning!
- 4 or 5 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 2 scallions, sliced thinly
- 1 jalapeno, corred, seeded and minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- i handful cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon, olive oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo sauce, from canned chipotles in adobo
- 1 lime, juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
February is finally here and I must say – I’m never sad to say goodbye to January. Seasonal depression is never charming. And, while many roll their eyes at the thought of February – a time for sweeties and sweet potatoes – I’m just happy to inch my way into Springtime. February can be a time to embrace any kind of love – the love of food (my Facebook cover photo!), love of city (today is Greensboro’s anniversary of the original sit-in movement up the street from my office) and love of friends. So, in the name of love, I’ll share this photo of my favorite foodie couple – Julia and Paul Child (hilariously enough this photo is a Valentine’s Day card they sent to friends in 1956 in response to FBI questioning of Paul’s sexuality.)
What is better way to celebrate love than with good cheese and wine? So, here are some suggestions for your cheesy love-fests this February. The recommendations were actually curated when I commissioned two love birds to help me with wine and cheese pairings at The Fresh Market. No, not Julia and Paul Child (those adventures are only in one’s dreams) but my friends Mark and Julie. I actually was part of a (not-so)covert operation this summer in setting them up and they’ve been inseparable since. Mark loves wine and Julie loves cheese – which makes them lovely advisors in selecting the best “For the Love of Cheese and Wine” recommendations.
Enjoy and spread the love.
- Sweet & Savory! Pair a pungent blue cheese, like a creamy gorgonzola or classic Maytag blue with a sweeter wine to contrast sweet and savory. Try a Reisling like the Trimbach Reisling from the Alsace region of France or an even a sweeter Moscato wine with a slight effervescence.
- Opposites Attract! Pair a creamy buttery triple cream, like the Saint Andre Triple Cream, with a crisp and acidic wine. Try a French Sancerre! Or, if you prefer a classic Chardonnay – pair buttery notes with each other – a Brie or Triple Cream with the classic Mer Soleil Chardonnay.
- Spicy and Robust! If you like robust flavors, pair a hard spicy cheese that will stand up to a rich red wine, like a Cabernet Sauvignon. Mt favorite combination is the Bellavitano Sartori Black Pepper with the Decoy Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
It’s that time again! For Puppy Bowl 2013! Or, the Super Bowl…and I must admit, I have no idea who is playing. The Ravens, right? I do know one thing – that the game is in Louisiana – which calls for some spicy creole crab dip! I put this dip together over the weekend to test before serving it to friends this weekend. It’s super spicy but you can certainly cool it off with less hot sauce and cayenne. It’s creamy but loaded with vegetables, crab and cheese. I served it with crackers, carrots and celery – which help cut the spice
As you can tell, I’m not big on football. But, I love a casual night with friends, cold beers, good food and funny commercials. And, forcing them to watch the Puppy Bowl for a couple seconds. Go terriers!
Spicy Creole Crab Dip
- 2 tablespoons, butter
- 1/2 small onion chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper chopped
- 1/2 stalk celery chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1lb lump crab meat
- 16 ounces cream cheese – room temperature!
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2 tablespoons (or to taste), Louisiana Gold Pepper Sauce
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
- salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add chopped onion, pepper, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cook down until slightly brown. Meanwhile mix in a large bowl, crab meat, cream cheese, mayo, parm, scallions, and the rest of sauces and seasonings. Once mixed well, add in the cooked vegetable mix. Add to a oven-proof dish and bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish with extra scallions and serve with crackers, carrots and celery!
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and we will be bringing in another year on Mendenhall Street. Time really flies by – for real, ya’ll. I’m not going to lie, 2012 was so good to me that I’m worried that it couldn’t be better! Best day ’til the next day, pretty please…
With that said, Winston and I are just back from a very warm and sunny Christmas Holiday in the Sunshine State. It is always special to be with family over the holiday and this year was no exception. Between a great deal of (much needed) lazy time in my parent’s living room by the fireplace, we did a lot of cooking, entertaining, picking fruit and sipping on fresh citrus cocktails.
On Christmas Day, we hosted (almost!) the entire family for a full table of nine. We made a giant paella with Florida shrimp, mussels, chicken and spicy sausage – plus grapefruit and avocado salad, a colorful roasted beet salad, chocolate mousse and an apricot dacquoise! And, if that wasn’t enough, we fried Florida oysters on the back patio before dinner with champagne! Outdoor hors d’oeuvres are a luxury of Sunshine State living (makes up for brutally hot Indian summers) and we love to take advantage on sunny years. I have a feeling that fried oysters on the patio might become a new Thompson Family tradition! These we’re so delicious and a perfect treat. All and all – a feast for the best family a girl could ask for.
I’m looking forward to spending a quiet night home tomorrow by the fire with a couple friends, Winston, a big lit fireplace and lots of cheese fondue. If you are feeling adventurous, make some homemade fried oysters for your New Year’s Eve party. Serving them to friends will certainly give you good kudos in 2013.
See you then!
Captain Tommy’s Fresh Florida Fried Oysters
- 2 quarts, fresh oysters
- Canola Oil
- Equal parts, crushed Saltine Crackers and Zatarain’s: Seasoned Fish Fry New Orleans Breading Mix
In a deep fryer or a dutch oven, bring the oil up to 375 degrees. The temperature is higher to quickly brown the coating but not overcook the oyster. Cook for just long enough to brown. Do not over cook!
The holiday season is getting trickier and trickier, and as a one-eighth Jewish girl who attended a UCC affiliated University with friends who wish “pagan prayers” and identify online as “spiritual but not religious,” I’m starting to wonder how to navigate – and frankly, devour – all the incredibly special and delicious holiday treats and traditions that are offered this time of year. I covet a home decorated for Christmas and love a latke. My friends are Quakers, Jews and Christians who are flattered by the invitation to any synagogue, mosque or other house of worship. And as a cook who forgoes turkey at Thanksgiving and leaves the star off the top of my Christmas tree, how does a girl offer some depth to friends during this special time of the year?
Last December I received a holiday card in the mail from my friends, The Oakley’s, that simply said “Happy Everything”. In addition to their five bright and smiling faces, the card was beautiful and thoughtful – the perfect December greeting to make anyone’s heart warm. I posted the card on my refrigerator and left it long into the new year as a reminder of this simple yet most inclusive wish.
“Happy Everything” was the solution to my wanna-be ecumenical conundrum this year. I leaned on my friends for ideas and enlisted my friend Jessica, who I declared “Chair of Tradition,” to assist and guide the hosting of a “Happy Everything” party on the first day of Hanukkah. We cooked through the day, sharing Jewish Grandmother stories in the kitchen while singing tunes from Fiddler on the Roof and Miracle on 34th Street. We put modern twists on traditional Hanukkah recipes and served them to a group of our diverse local friends. We fried latkes in duck fat, made traditional brisket in slider-form, roasted beets in edible Belgian endive boats and my Aunt Marsha’s Christmas shortbread cookies. We celebrated the evening with Jessica’s menorah lit in front of the dim sparkle of my Christmas tree.
For the better part of this year, this column has focused on the literal origins of our food – connecting you to purple sweet potatoes growing in refurbished tobacco soil, local lamb grazing on Piedmont Grown grass and pimento cheese handmade with the soulful story of history and honor – but these connections go deeper, creating and reviving our traditions. Yet, both parallel in importance.
Carlo Petrini, the Italian founder of the Slow Food Movement, urged the public to be more aware of our food’s beginnings – to consider the role not of consumers but of “co-producers” in connecting to our food. And here in Greensboro, fertile lands of plenty and diversity, I find these connections both literally and figuratively –through both the engagement of the local farmers and food producers and through the traditions we share, create and carry into our futures.
Open your homes and kitchens to celebrating “everything” this season. Share traditions, test modern twists – those that your grandmother could stomach – and embrace all variations of our collective roots. Happy everything? That sounds like peace on earth to me.
Latkes are traditionally fried in a blend of oil and chicken fat. However, taking hints from Belgian frites, these Duck Fat Fried Latkes are a delicious and decadent twist on the this Hanukkah staple. Duck fat can be rendered from local ducks found at the Piedmont Triad Famers Market or sold in tubs at The Fresh Market.
Duck Fat Fried Latkes
· 5 pounds russet potatoes, pealed
· 3 onions
· 3 eggs
· ½ cup flour
· 3 teaspoons baking powder
· 4 teaspoons salt
· Pepper, to taste.
· Canola Oil
· Duck Fat
In a food processor or by hand, grate potato and onion. Spread the potato and onion mixture out on a cloth kitchen towel, roll the towel horizontally and twist out as much liquid as possible. Transfer mixture into a bowl and add eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix with clean hands to integrate together.
In a skillet, add equal parts canola oil and duck fat and heat to medium-high (about a tablespoon of each). Spoon 2 tablespoons of the latke mixture at a time and flatten with the back of a spoon. Don’t crowd the pan and be patient as the latkes fry until deep brown and crispy. Flip after about 3 to 5 minutes with tongs.
Once crispy and cooked, transfer latkes to a plate lined with paper towels. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Add more duck fat and oil as needed. Keep the latkes warm in a low temperature oven until serving. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.