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Grilled Feta Stuffed Figs

10 Nov

Yesterday I saw some lucious, ripe Black Mission Figs and after seeing this recipe today, I wish I had bought them! Check out this tasty idea…

Grilled Feta Stuffed Figs

Of course, you can’t go wrong with a simple pairing of Figs with Prosciutto or Gorgonzola Cheese! I might just have to add one more appetizer at Thanksgiving!

Egg Salad Garnished With Smoked Salmon

25 Aug

Here’s an idea for breakfast or brunch…

Make some Egg Salad (I usually leave out 1/2 the yolks to lighten it up, and I also like to add a few dashes of dried Dill Weed, finely chopped Celery and Shallot, and just enough Mayonaise to combine so it holds together–if it sits overnight, expect it to get a little more moist and use less Mayo).

Tip: if your Eggs are very fresh, they can be hard to peel so instead of peeling the Eggs, a quicker way is cutting them in half, with peel on, then take a small spoon and scoop out the egg. It works really well!

Cut up a slice of Pumpernickel into quarters and top with the Egg Salad.

Then place some small pieces of Smoked Salmon to garnish. It’s so simple yet elegant and delicious!

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Birthday Cupcakes

18 Aug

We celebrated my sister’s birthday last night. It was a blast. Her friend baked these cupcakes and I thought the flavors were delicious and very fun…Snickerdoodle (Vanilla cake with Cinnamon frosting), Strawberry Lemonade (garnished with fresh, sliced Strawberries and Lemon Zest), and I think the third flavor was Chocolate Mousse. I got the idea to lay out the cupcakes like this from Martha Stewart who I get a lot of inspiration from. It was a hit!

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Chicken On A Stick

22 Jul

This recipe is adapted from one that a friend gave to me…I wanted something for a summertime luncheon that I could make ahead and would be appealing to kids. It’s basically oven-fried Chicken Drumsticks, but I think this name is more fun! If you do a Google search, you’ll see that most Chicken On A Stick recipes involve skewers and you could definitely do this with breast or thigh meat in the same manner, but the idea of the Drum “stick” makes it even easier and probably a little safer for young kids too.

  • 8 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 c Buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsn Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Tabasco
  • 2 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsn Paprika (I prefer the Spanish Pimenton which has a smokey flavor)
  • 1/2 c finely grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • 1/2 c Breadcrumbs (I had Breadsticks on hand last time I made this and crushed them in a bag with a rolling pin–worked well too!)
  • 1 Tsp dried Oregano
  • Black Pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsn Olive Oil

1. In a medium bowl, mix Buttermilk, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco, Paprika and Salt. Let the drumsticks marinade in this for at least 30 minutes or more (up to 12 hours or overnight).

2. On a small sheet pan or shallow dish, mix up the remaining dry ingredients.

3. With tongs, remove Drumsticks one at a time, drain off the liquid and roll in the dry mixture.

4. Place Drumsticks on a Sheet Pan, drizzle Chicken lightly w/Olive Oil

Bake @ 375 F for 35 minutes, turn Chicken over, continue baking 30 minutes. Note: if you have a rack to put on top of the Sheet Pan, it will help to crisp up the chicken–put it under the Chicken when you turn it after 35 minutes.

You can serve them hot, room temperature or cold–delicious either way and great for a picnic too!

Organic Blueberry Brown Butter Tarts

19 Jul

I absolutely love fresh berries in the peak of summer and when I see a local farm stand selling them, I can’t resist stocking up! In the winter time, the location of the Sonoma Swamp Blues Organic Blueberry farm stand is under water from the Laguna de Santa Rosa, but in the summer, Blueberries are grown here. We bought a pound of them and when I got home, I started thinking about what kind of dessert I could make with them.

One of the simplest ideas is to make a Compote, which is so versatile and can be stored in the refrigerator for about up to a week. Compotes can be made out of many types of fruit, such as Berries, Apples, Pears, Apricots, and various others.

For breakfast, I especially like to put warm Compote on Pancakes or cold Compote on Yoghurt, with my homemade Granola sprinkled on top (I’ll share that recipe another time).  For a no-fuss dessert, it’s a great topping on Vanilla Ice Cream.

Since I was on vacation when we bought these, I decided to do something a bit more fancy and baked up some Brown Butter Tarts. The Tart Shell recipe is from Paule Caillat. I love it because it doesn’t involve any rolling of the dough. You press it into the Tart pan with your fingers and poke the bottom all over with a fork before baking them until golden brown (see before and after baking photos below). I didn’t have the suggested size Tart pan, so I used four 4.75 inch individual tart pans, which are particularly convenient for individuals or couples, since you can add the filling right before you are ready to eat dessert. The Tart Shells store well in an airtight container for at least a week.

To make the Blueberry Compote, over low heat, cook the Blueberries in a medium pot on top of the stove with a 1/4 cup of water and 1-2 Tablespoons of Sugar (or to taste, depending on the fruit’s sweetness). You could use Agave or Maple Syrup if you prefer. I like to add the zest of 1/2 Lemon or Orange, and a Teaspoon of Cinnamon or Garam Masala spice blend. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes on the pot since it will bubble over and make a mess if you’re not careful.

I spooned approximately a 1/3 cup of the Compote in the Tart Shell, and garnished with a sprig of Mint. Of course, there are many other options for filling the Tarts, like Lemon Curd, sliced Peaches or Plums on a layer of Pastry Cream, or fresh Raspberries on top of a thin layer of melted Chocolate, but this couldn’t have been easier!

Mushroom & Gruyere Omelette

3 Jul

Omelettes are wonderful for a satisfying meal any time of day! I enjoyed this one for lunch at K & L Bistro. Eggs are a great option for eating vegetarian, and I prefer a meatless meal much of the time. I love vegetables and just about any of them go with eggs.

There are so many ingredients for filling them, such as sauteed red and yellow peppers, onions, spinach (one of my favorites in an omelette!), feta, peaches, sliced prosciutto, crab, and more! They are also a great vehicle for using up leftovers, like a ratatouille, or sausage ragu.

If you’re not comfortable with the idea if making an omelette, you could also use the same ingredients to do a frittata or even just scrambled eggs. Add a salad of greens and you’ve got a quick, delicious and affordable meal that won’t heat up your kitchen for more than about 10 minutes!

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Learning How To Make Sausage

23 Jun

I took a class not too long ago at The Local Butcher Shop and came home with a total of 5 pounds of Sweet Italian Sausage and Goat Merguez. I learned that making sausage is actually quite easy and involves only a few steps and I hope this inspires you to give it a try.

Basically, you start with some good quality coarsely ground meat, including Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Goat, or even Seafood, which you can ask your butcher to grind, or do it yourself. Next, with impeccably clean hands or with rubber gloves, mix in your spice blend (the photo above is Merguez — a sausage with North African flavors such as Harissa, Sumac, Fennel and Garlic) and a chopped, fresh herb. Wash your casings and stuff them (not too densely) using an attachment on your meat grinder (KitchenAid has attachments for grinding and stuffing). Then twist the sausage into the size link you prefer (twisting each link in the opposite direction) and cut them apart, or if you have a smaller casing, you can roll it into a spiral, like I did with my Goat Merguez.

I have to say, after making my own sausage, it’s tough to go back to store-bought. One of the tips from The Local Butcher Shop is to include some chopped fresh herbs (like Sage, Oregano, or Cilantro) and that really does make a difference in the flavor.

Unfortunately, since the recipe for Sweet Italian Sausage and Goat Merguez are protected via copyright, I’m unable to share them with you, however, I did find a recipe for Simple Homemade Sausage Patties on Martha Stewart’s website (from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s cookbook Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys) that you might like and it doesn’t even require the casings.

Here are some additional links for purusing:

 http://www.sausagemaker.com/

http://ruhlman.com/2011/05/the-no-nitrites-added-hoax/

http://ruhlman.com/2011/02/meat-curing-safety-issues/

If you have a good local butcher shop in your neighborhood, you can try to buy the casings and curing salt from them, otherwise, you can buy them online. Now I just need to find the time to make another batch!

Strawberry Lemonade

9 Jun

Strawberry Lemonade made with Meyer Lemon Juice, Agave Nectar and Frozen Strawberries (to help keep it chilled). Very refreshing!

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Moroccan Inspired Dessert (or Breakfast)

19 May

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This is one of my new favorite recipes! Put some plain Yoghurt on a dish with a couple slices of Orange (Cara Cara have a lovely pink hue), thinly sliced Dried Apricots and Dates (pitted), Toasted Almonds, Sesame Seeds, a drizzle of Honey, Cinnamon, and a splash of Orange Blossom Water (or it’s also good with a few drops of Rose Water).

The recipe is from a Moroccan Street Food class I attended last week at Kitchen On Fire. They have classes for all levels and I highly recommend them!

A Quick Lesson To Properly Cook Beans

13 May

This video is from the owner of Rancho Gordo who grows delicious varieties of heirloom beans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSbXHusX16g&feature=youtube_gdata_player

He also has a cookbook and a monthly newsletter that includes recipes. The latest May newsletter has a Garbanzo Herb Salad that sounds perfect with the warmer weather. If you visit Napa, you can find his beans at The Fatted Calf and in The Oxbow Market, or go online to shop…there are some great gift boxes!

Another bonus about dried beans compared to canned is that you will save money plus they have much better flavor and texture. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!