Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Small Plates, Big Fun!

Monday, September 14th, 2015 Comments Off on Small Plates, Big Fun!
Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel Saffron Broth

Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel Saffron Broth

If I could add another chapter to my book, it would be a Small Plates chapter. Small plates give you an opportunity to explore so many wonderful options to satisfy your palate. You don’t have to go to a trendy restaurant to achieve a dining adventure like that, however. You can do it by inviting a group of friends to create this experience in the comfort of your own kitchen – which is exactly what we did on Saturday night. There were 10 people involved in our Small Plates/Big Fun evening. We divided the group into 5 teams of two chefs each. Each team was responsible for one of the courses. I had most of the ingredients prepared in advance (measured, chopped, etc.) Each team took “Center Stage” in the kitchen as they prepared their assigned dish. We had an extra special bit of fun with this concept when everyone picked a song to go with their dish…Kristina started it all with Hukuna Crostata as she and Marc prepared their Apple Crostata. We also heard Les Poissons during the preparation of the fish dish, among others.

Our menu was as follows:
A few items prepared by hosts to give our chefs some nourishment during cooking:
Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomatoes
Blistered Green Beans

Then the fun started:

Peach and Burrata Arugula Salad by Juan and Karin
Pear + Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion + Candied pecan+arugula+aged Balsamic as improvised by Annette and Peter
Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel Saffron Broth by Gary and Louise
Chicken Bastilla by Genevieve and Dan
Apple Crostata with Almond-Crumb Topping by Kristina and Marc

The recipe for the Halibut and Penn Cove Mussels in Fennel, Leek and Saffron Broth follows:

Serves 6 as a Main Course or 10 Small Plates

1 cup thinly sliced fennel (bulb only)
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1 large tomato, chopped

2 ½ lbs. Alaskan halibut, washed, dried and cut into 3 oz. pieces
3 dozen Penn Cove mussels

4 tablespoons EVO (3 for vegetables and 1 for browning fish)
32 oz. box of fish stock or chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
Sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons flat leave parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons G-Rub (recipe in Cook the Part)

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté onion and fennel for about 5 minutes. Add chopped carrots and leeks and cook until soft.
Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato. Add wine and saffron and cook for 5 minutes until all vegetables are soft and flavors are blended. Add ½ of the fish stock. Cook for additional 5-10 minutes.
Brown halibut in an iron skillet.
Add mussels to stock mixture and cook for 2 minutes until most of mussels are opened. Add browned fish to pan and cook just until done, adding more stock if needed. Discard any unopened mussels.

Divide seafood into 10 bowls. Add broth to each bowl. Sprinkle parsley over top. Serve with toasted bread.


The Perfect Summer Side: Recipe for Honey Cornbread

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 Comments Off on The Perfect Summer Side: Recipe for Honey Cornbread

There’s something about cornbread that always tastes of Summer. Perhaps it’s the honey? In any case, this recipe for Honey Cornbread Mini Muffins is the perfect side dish to any BBQ this summer. Serve these with Paper Wrapped Salmon or even with some delicious bbq Baby Back Ribs.

Honey Cornbread Mini Muffins

Honey Cornbread Mini Muffins


Makes 24 mini muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup butter, melted
¾ cup plain yogurt
¾  cup milk
¼  cup honey
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 cup cooked corn
Butter for mini-muffin pans

Step 1: Mix together corn meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Step 2: Combine eggs, melted butter, yogurt, milk, honey, jalapeño and corn in another bowl.

Step 3: Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Refrigerate mixture until 30 to 45 minutes before baking (up to 6 hours).

Step4: Bake muffins!

Preheat oven to 400.  Butter mini-muffin pans. Bake muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.


Let me know what you think! 






Luncheon Pick: Chicken Salad with Toasted Pecans and Grapes

Monday, April 14th, 2014 Comments Off on Luncheon Pick: Chicken Salad with Toasted Pecans and Grapes
Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

With Spring in the air, picnics and potlucks are right around the corner. One of my go-to dishes is a chicken salad. Light, creamy, and a little bit sweet, this recipe for Chicken Salad with Toasted Pecans and Grapes has always been a crowd pleaser.

Try this recipe next time you’re invited to a potluck this Spring, or even as a light appetizer for an Easter or Mother’s Day luncheon:

Chicken Salad with Toasted Pecans and Grapes

4 organic skinless, boneless chicken breasts, grilled
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 roasted red bell pepper, skinned and chopped
2 cups seedless grapes, halved
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tarragon, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

Toss together all ingredients and chill for several hours. Serve with fresh baguette.


Want more recipes? Get $5 off your own copy of Cook the Part now. Buy yours here. 


Empellón Cocina: Mexican with a Twist

Friday, May 31st, 2013 Comments Off on Empellón Cocina: Mexican with a Twist

We recently had the great pleasure, while visiting New York City, to have an early dinner at Empellón Cocina, a new restaurant recommended by Gavin Kaysen for their creative interpretation of Mexican Cuisine.  We were curious about the meaning of Empellón and learned that it means “push or shove”, which tells you that this must be an adventuresome chef who wanted to infuse a bit of fun into the atmosphere.  Rising Star Chef Alex Stupak has created an incredible menu with offerings that must only exist on his menu, as we have never seen them anywhere else.  Guacamole made with pickled Jalapeños, Pistachio Guacamole, instead of the usual corn chips, the guacamole and salsas are offered with Masa Crisps.  All seven salsas can be sampled for $15.  There were so many tempting selections, but the portions were too generous to try everything on the menu.  We shared the Soft Shell Crab Tacos and the Shrimp Tacos after our starters of Pistachio Guacamole and the 7 Salsas, my favorite was the the Smoked Cashew Salsa (with smoked cashews and chipotle pepper).

Shrimp Tacos with Smoked Potatoes, Brown Butter Crema and Pickled Pasilla Oaxaquena.

Shrimp Tacos with Smoked Potatoes, Brown Butter Crema and Pickled Pasilla Oaxaquena.

7 Salsas, including such flavors as pumpkin seeds, smoked cashews, tomatillos, chipotle peppers, and the spiciest of all : Salsa Habanera.

7 Salsas, including such flavors as pumpkin seeds, smoked cashews, tomatillos, chipotle peppers, and the spiciest of all : Salsa Habanera.

Soft Shell Crab Tacos with lightly roasted tomato petal and lime mayo.

Soft Shell Crab Tacos with lightly roasted tomato petal and lime mayo.

Chef Alex shared the recipe for the Arbol Chile Salsa – Recipe and below commentary from the Chef:
This salsa lasts indefinitely and improves with age. It is extremely picante and can be used in place of pretty much any store bought hot sauce. We use this salsa on our tongue tacos as well as in our micheladas but it goes well on just about anything.
100 each Arbol Chiles
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1/4 cup Hulled Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
10 each Allspice Berries
5 each Whole Cloves
1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
5 each Garlic Cloves
2 cups Cider Vinegar
1. Remove the stems from the chiles and discard.
2. Roll the chiles between your fingers to remove all the seeds and discard seeds.
3. Place the chiles in a blender.
4. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until they begin to pop and turn a deep brown color. Add the sesame seeds to the blender.
5. In the same skillet, toast the pumpkin seeds until they pop and all turn a golden color. Add the pumpkin seeds to the blender.
6. In a molcajete or spice grinder, pulverize the cumin, allspice, cloves and oregano. Add the ground spices to the blender along with the salt, sugar and vinegar.
7. Blend the mixture for several minutes. It should be quite smooth.