Friday, June 29, 2007

Bostini Cream Pie

(picture coming shortly---or see it here: daring bakers, take 1)

Bostini Cream Pie

(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)

Daring Bakers Challenge #12: October 2007

Host: Mary (Alpineberry)

Post Date: Monday, October 29

Serving Size: 8 Generous Sevings

Allowed modifications:

1. You would replace the large volume of orange juice in the cake recipe and you don't have to use orange for the flavoring. You can substitute with a flavor that you think complements the other components as long as you keep the chiffon cake "light colored". So nothing "dark" like chocolate or coffee/espresso. You are on your own to figure out how to replace the orange juice.

2. Since the serving size is quite large, please feel free to half the recipe. Mary cannot guarantee that the recipes for the chiffon cake and custard will scale down successfully without affecting the final product.

3. The chocolate glaze recipe makes a lot. You may make as much or as little glaze as you would like. Scaling is straightforward since it's 1 part chocolate to 1 part butter.

4. You can play with the "size" of the dessert. You can make the custard and the cakes in smaller ramekins so that you'll have a bunch of miniature desserts instead of 8 regular sized ones. EDITED: It's okay to bake the chiffon cake in a large pan and cut out pieces to top the custard.

5. High altitude modifications are allowed as long as you stay "true" to the recipe.

6. Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. is allowed too.

7. Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in your region.



3/4 cup whole milk

2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch

1 whole egg, beaten

9 egg yolks, beaten

3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED:vanilla extract is okay)

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake:

1 1/2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)

3/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze:

8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate

8 ounces unsalted butter


To prepare the custard:

Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.

Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.

Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.

Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze:

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.

To assemble:

Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Roasted Garlicky Corn Risotto

Roasted Garlicky Corn Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1-2 cobs of corn, off the corn
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. rosemary finely chopped
Chicken stock (have a quart ready, you will not need that much but the amount differs)
pat of butter, optional
kosher salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat with garlic cloves until they turn begin to soften, not brown.

Add in cobs of corn and rosemary and stir through, then leave, for about 2 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

The corn should get golden at which point you stir in the rice and coat with corn, garlic, rosemary mixture. This is sealing in tons of taste to the rice by slightly roasting it before actually cooking it. Mix thoroughly for about 2 minutes, you don't want to brown the rice.

Add in a cup of stock at a time, adding more in when the rice absorbs most of it.* Season the rice mixture again and continue adding in stock a bit at a time until it is the tenderness you desire!

Serve and enjoy!

*This is where it becomes a 'tasting' technique because there is no set time. It may take 15 minutes or 30, depending on if you like your risotto al dente or gooey and soft. There is no right way, just what you like.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash
4-5 cloves of garlic (your preference)
chicken/veggie stock of choice
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
kosher salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Cut butternut squash in half the lengthwise. Take out the seeds. Place garlic cloves in the cavity.

Pour olive oil, kosher salt, pepper over the pulp side, then place face down in an oven proof dish.
stick in oven for at least 35 minutes or until the flesh pulls away from the skin.

Remove from oven and when it's cool enough to handle peel the skin away, take the garlic out of the skin, mash the garlic up, put the garlic and squash into a pot.

Add a cup or so of milk and chicken broth/veggie broth to desired thickness. Then, use an immersion blender to make it a puree. Bring it to a simmer, adjust seasonings (add nutmeg) and voila! the easiest yummiest soup ever.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Not Your Mama's Noodle Kugel

1 8 oz. package of egg noodles
1 c. milk
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 pint sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup each: dried apricots, cherries, cranberries (or any other dried goodies you have lying around!)
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. melted butter

For topping:
1 cup crushed corn flakes
4 tbsp. cinnamon sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil noodles until al dente. While noodles cook mash up the cream cheese in the milk, then add all other ingredients. (Except for the topping)

When the noodles are done, drain and add to the bowl with all of the ingredients. Mix gently but thoroughly and put into a 13x9 sprayed glass square pan. Top with crushed corn flakes, then butter, then cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes or until top turns light brown and the eggs poof up.

If you refrigerate it in the pan over night it will set and you can easily cut and store the pieces. It is excellent served hot, cold, or eaten straight from the pan! Enjoy :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jack-O-Lantern Soup!

Jack-O-Lantern Soup, adapted from Barbara Kingsolvers' Pumpkin Soup in it's own Shell

1 five lb. pumpkin (if smaller or larger, adjust the amount of liquid)
Cut a lid off the top, scoop out the seeds and stringy parts, and rub the inside flesh with salt. Set the pumpkin on a large roasting pan.

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 quart milk
1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
½ cup fresh sage leaves (use less if dried)
2 cloves roasted garlic
2 tsp. sea salt
Pepper to taste
2 tsp. nutmeg

Roast garlic cloves whole in oven or covered pan on low heat, until soft. Fill pumpkin with all ingredients and bake at 375° for 1-1.5 hours, depending on the thickness of your pumpkin. Occasionally open lid and check with a spoon, carefully scraping some inside flesh into the hot liquid. Do not over scrape the inside or you will lose your beautiful tureen (but don't worry, nothing will ruin the incredible taste of this soup!)

When finished roasting, ladle out ingredients and whatever pumpkin can be easily scraped from inside the shell into a pot on the stove. Use an immersion blender to blend the ingredients, or just use a blender.

Return to the pumpkin shell and await the silence of success!

Optional garnish of sage leaves

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Apple Identity Crisis

Ahh...the comforting days of fall and the catalyst to the super yummy, really easy, and just plain ole' fun to say, Apple Identity Crisis.

For the tart/crust (pre-identity crisis):

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 large egg yolks

For the apple identity:

2 medium sized apples sliced (i like the opalescent variety, they are sweet, crisp, with ever the slightest bit of tart)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
.5 tbsp nutmeg
.5 tbsp ginger
1 tsp corn syrup

For the crumble crisis:

1 cup flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
2 tbsp. oats
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 stick cold butter diced

Preheat oven to 325/350.

Start with tart crust ingredients. Sift all dry ingredients, add yolks then butter until it sticks together. Don't be afraid to get dirty, your hands are your most prized tool for this. Form it into a crumbly ball, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (you can cheat like I did and keep it in the freezer for 20 minutes too :)!!)

Slice apple and toss to coat with ingredients in the 'identity' section.

Make the crumbly topping in a separate bowl sifting dry ingredients first and then adding in the vanilla and cold butter. Your hands work best for this, too!

If you are fancy, roll out the tart crust and place it on the bottom of your greased/sprayed pan of choice. Otherwise, use your hands to rustically lay it along the bottom of said pan.

Place apples on top of crust, sprinkle with crumble (the crisis part).

Place in oven and await heaven!

Cocoa Macaroons with Dark Chocolate Ganache

These little guys were inspired by the macaroon craze we encountered recently in Paris. While they are nowhere near as good as those at Laduree, nor as beautiful, they are a very yummy treat that you should definitely try once.*

Here's how:


1/2 cup ground almonds
1.5 c. confectioners sugar
3 egg whites
8 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)

For chocolate ganache
.5 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate (or any chocolate of your choice)
Special equipment: parchment paper; a gallon-size plastic bag

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 300.

Grind whole almonds in a spice grinder until they are very fine. Then grind in .5 cup of confectioners sugar until the mixture is smooth and integrated.

Pour almond and confectioners sugar mixture with remaining confectioners sugar and the cocoa through a sieve until it is smooth and not at all lumpy. Make sure all these ingredients are well incorporated and reserve.

Whisk egg whites until they have soft peaks. Then add the granulated sugar a little bit at a time. Don't let the peaks get too hard though!

Fold in the dry mixture and any food coloring you may wish. The batter deflates a bit here, but try to use the old fashioned turn and fold method to keep it as fluffy as possible.

Pour ingredients into the gallon bag, cut a small hole at one of the corners and make little 2-3 inch disks.

Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes, then bake for about 15 minutes or until the tops are starting to gently turn golden.

Take them out and let them rest on a cooling rack for atleast 10 minutes before adding the ganache.

Make the ganache while the macaroons bake. Heat .5 cup of heavy cream over medium heat on the stove. Put chocolate in a stainless steel or glass bowl.

When cream starts to simmer take it off the heat and pour it on top of the chocolate. Gently stir together the cream and chocolate until combined and allow to cool.

When macaroons and the ganache is cool, assemble using a small dollup of chocolate on each. (About a .5 teaspoon, but you can be the judge of that.)

*There are many other blogs, sites, chefs that have similar recipes with similar results. My favorite so far has been these adorable macaroons from Tartelette who has certainly mastered the art.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Faux fried chicken and pan seared harvest gnocchi, I mean c'mon... does it get any better?

6 breasts of boneless, skinless chicken (I prefer Kosher or organic, it tastes better)
1 c. flour
1 c. breadcrumbs (the 3C low carb are really great and already seasoned)
2 eggs lightly beaten
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
drizzle of olive oil

Set up your 'stations' with flour on the far left, egg mixture in the middle, breadcrumbs on the right. Spray a nonstick cooking sheet and preheat oven to 375-425.

Clean and pat dry chicken. Coat in flour, shake off excess. Coat in egg. Coat with breadcrumbs evenly around all sides. Place in sprayed cooking sheet.

Repeat with other chicken breasts (or thighs, legs, wings, whatever makes you happy :)

Sprinkle salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil on the top of all the chicken to ensure crunchiness. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top gets golden brown.

Pan Seared Harvest Gnocchi

1 package of potato gnocchi (i know, so organic and local of me :P)
1/2 lb. crimini mushrooms (or any mushroom of your choice)
1 neck of butternut squash cut into cubes
2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
olive oil
salt & pepper

Heat nonstick pan with olive oil and put in butternut squash (sliced in cubes) and sage (sliced in thick ribbons). Add kosher salt and pepper and sautee on medium/high until all sides are light brown (approximately 10 minutes). Place sage and squash on a plate, cover, and reserve.

Put gnocchi, mushrooms, and thyme in same nonstick pan with olive oil. Salt & pepper to taste. Sautee until the gnocchi is browned on both sides and the mushrooms have given off liquid (approximately 10 minutes for both).

Toss squash/sage back into the pan and sear together for another minute. Plate, and serve!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Roasted Eggplant Stuffed with Sauteed Veggies and Free Range Beef

1 large eggplant
1 head of garlic
1 ear of corn, cut off the cob
1 red pepper roughly chopped
1 medium onion

2 tablespoons of good olive oil (maybe more, maybe less!)
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (less if you use dried)
1 tablespoon of cumin (or to your taste)
1 pinch of chili flakes

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350.

Slice the eggplant lengthwise and drizzling it with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Place it face down on tin foil.

Slice the top 1/8th of the head of garlic and drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Replace the top and wrap it in tin foil.

Place eggplant and garlic in oven and roast for about 20-30 minutes.

While it is in the oven prepare the stuffing:

You only really need one large non stick pan.

Put a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a large nonstick pan and saute the onions and a clove of garlic until tender. Then add the fresh corn off the cob, red peppers, and thyme and briefly saute. You don't want either to lose their bite so this should only take a few minutes.

Remove the corn, pepper mixture and keep the oil in the pan. Add the free range beef to the remaining oil and season with the cumin, chili peppers, salt and pepper. When the beef is almost done, add some fresh spinach and covered the pan to wilt the spinach.

At this point the eggplant is probably finished, take it out of the oven and gently remove the flesh. Open up the head of garlic and squeeze out the roasted garlic. Put the flesh and 4 cloves (or more!) into a food processor and pulse until chunky but combined.

Add the corn and pepper mixture to the beef and spinach and heat it through.

Plate the eggplant with a generous dollup of 'poor man's caviar' and then fill with this healthy mixture. For some added pizzaz grate some fresh cheese over top and return it to the oven to bubble. Serve and enjoy!

Breakfast of Champions

Serves 2

.5 onion, diced
1 clove garlic (more if you dare!), minced
1 small squash, diced
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
.5 pepper (red, orange, yellow)
2 tablespoons fresh dill and basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 eggs
splash of milk or cream fraiche
6-8 oz. lox (you can substitute any protein, smoked turkey, sausage, tofu, etc...)
4 oz. smoked gouda (or cheese of your choice)
1 teaspoon salmon caviar (.5 for each plate)
Salt & pepper to taste
Nonstick pan, never allow heat to exceed medium.

Heat olive oil in pan on medium and saute onion and garlic until soft and yellow, about 2 minutes. Add squash, pepper and saute for another 2 minutes. Add cherry tomato
and heat through.

Beat eggs with dash of milk/cream fraiche and pour into pan. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, lox, and cheese. Use wooden spook to gently stir the eggs to create a slow, fluffy scramble. Should only need about 2 minutes to cook through.

Serve with .5 tsp of salmon caviar and sprinkle of fresh herbs, and a toasted piece of pita bread.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The famous zucchini cake

Zucchini Cake/Bread (*Variations on a theme, i.e. clean pantry cake)

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour (plus 1/4 cup for coating zucchini)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1 tsp. nutmeg

3 eggs
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup oil

2 cups of ground zucchini

1 cup each: dried cherries, chocolate chips (dark chocolate variety), toasted pecans or almonds, the list goes on..

Destructions, ahem, directions:
Preheat oven to 350.

Mix first 8 ingredients together and sift well. Either mix the next 4 ingredients separately and then add in, or use the well method to mix them in the center of your dry ingredients and then incorporate the rest of the dry mixture.

Coat zucchini with the 1/4 cup of flour and fold in with whatever accoutrements strike your fancy (this is where you add chocolate, cherries, dates, nuts, etc...).

Put into a well sprayed/greased cake pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Dust with cinnamon/nutmeg sugar or glaze with chocolate/butter glaze. Watch it disappear.

Seared Atlantic Yellowfin Tuna & Sweet Potato Fries

Seared Atlantic Yellowfin Tuna with Sweet Potato Fries

For the tuna:

2 tuna filets (size, weight of your choice)
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine worcestershire, soy, & olive oil in bowl. Liberally season both sides of the filets with salt & pepper. Put filets in the bowl with sauce one at a time, making sure to coat each side evenly.

Keep tuna in the marinade for no longer than 5-10 minutes before cooking.

Heat nonstick skillet on medium high and place tuna in pan when it starts to sizzle. (You can test this by dipping a fork into the sauce and seeing when the sauce sizzles, before putting the tuna on the heat)

Cook the tuna for 4-5 minutes* per side but DO NOT touch it other than to flip it. (This is how you get that beautiful crust.)

Rest, and serve!

*this will give you a nice medium/medium rare piece. If you like your tuna cooked well then add another minute or two. You don't have to buy sashimi grade tuna to have it medium rare so enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries (or chips!)

2 sweet potatoes
kosher salt & black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
palm full of cumin (we like a lot on ours so sometimes it's a whole handful!)

Preheat oven to 375-400.

Clean (but keep the skin, it's good for you) and slice sweet potatoes into your desired size. Put 'fries' into a large bowl and add the olive oil, then liberally add salt, pepper, and cumin.

Spray a large cookie sheet and evenly spread fries. Don't worry if they overlap a bit, they will cook down a lot.

Bake for at least 1/2 hour or until at desired crispy-ness! Our oven is funky so it changes, but with a normal oven you might even be able to broil these bad boys.

Have fun with alternate seasonings and let me know how else you like to eat your fries.

Happy eating!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Simple, Local, Seasonal Mediterranean Flounder

1 lb. filet of meaty white fish, flounder or halibut work wonderfully
1 heirloom tomato
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
chili flakes or a few teaspoons of diced chile (remember the seeds carry the heat so season to your taste!)
fresh seasoning of your choice, I prefer thai basil or thyme

.5 cup of stock (vegetable, chicken, whatever) and you might not need all of this, it is just to make sure the sauce isn't soup or paste!

Dice one onion (into rainbow/ribbon slices) and sauteeing them with olive oil until they carmelize (not brown). Add garlic and let it join the party, getting soft and a little caramelized. You aren't looking for brown but a soft yellow is great. Slice in big sloppy chunks, squeeze and add your heirloom tomato.

When this mixture is nice and blended add any herbs/seasonings you like (i love fresh thyme or thai basil and a sprinkle of chili flakes) and then rest a nice filet of cod, flounder, halibut (whatever is available) on top of the mixture, add a bit of vegetable stock, cover and cook on medium for about 7 minutes.

Plate and enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cakes

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake

- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 stick of butter, softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules (i omitted it for the bundt cakes)
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cup zucchini, unpeeled & grated
- 1 cup chocolate chips (or more!)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda & powder) in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine butter and sugar first and mix well before adding vanilla & eggs. (you get the best consistency if you DON'T use a hand blender)

Slowly add the dry mix into the wet mix and when thoroughly combined add in the zucchini and chocolate chips.

Put the mix in a buttered/sprayed pan of your choice and allow it to bake for:

15 minutes for mini bundt pans
20-35 minutes for most other cake pans

Or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Not Carrot, Carrot Cake Recipe

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups (give or take) of your favorite carrot variety, peeled and grated
4 large eggs
.5 cup of canola oil
.5 cup vanilla yogurt
.5 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cinnamon, & ginger
.5 teaspoon each: allspice, & cloves

*1 cup toasted and coarse chopped walnuts
*1 cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, etc..
*1 cup dark chocolate chips
*1 cup creativity

**this could easily be used with zucchini as well!

Preheat oven to 400 and generously spray, oil, butter (whatever your lube of choice) the pan of your liking. Combine dry ingredients and whisk well to blend, especially for the spices. Add eggs, oil, yogurt and mix well. Fold in carrots and any additional accoutrement's, the walnuts and dried cherries were quite good!

Using an ice cream scoop, put about 3/4 of a scoop into each mini bundt mold and bake for 15 minutes. If you are making a cake, set the timer for about 25 minutes and check for doneness by noticing golden brown edges or when a toothpick comes out clean.

Usually yields 2.5 trays of mini bundts. But don't worry, they'll be gone before you can say mini purple carrot bundt cakes 5 times fast!

Friday, June 1, 2007

clafouti deconstructed

(adapted from a course I took at the ICE several years back)

A traditional dessert of the Limousin region in France, a clafouti is a custardy tart made with fruit, usually cherries.

2 pounds cherries, pitted; or blueberries, peaches, pears, apricots, apples, etc...
3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
8 oz. heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 400 & butter and flour 2-quart baking dish
2) Place fruit in the prepared dish and reserve
3) In one bowl combine dry ingredients (flour & sugar)
4) In another bowl combine eggs, cream & vanilla.
5) Make a well in center of dry ingredients and begin to whisk in the egg mixture in a slow stream. Let rest 15-20 minutes.
5) Pour batter over the fruit and bake until the batter sets and the top begins to turn golden brown, about 30-40 minutes but keep an eye on it.
6) Before serving sprinkle with confectioners sugar or a dollup of fresh whipped cream. Serve at room temperature or warm. Either way, it's delicious!

Double Salmon Dip with Fresh Dill

2 8-ounce containers whipped cream cheese (not the silver wrapped logs type, but actual whipped cream cheese, it makes a difference in texture and allows you to make this without a mixer)
4 tablespoons of craime fraiche
3 tablespoons milk (I use skim plus because it's already in the fridge)
6 ounces of thinly sliced smoked salmon
2 tablespoons chopped dill (reserve some for the garnish)
1 2-ounce jar red salmon caviar
white pepper to taste

Blend whipped cream cheese and milk in a bowl and then gently add craime fraiche. Fold in salmon and dill. Season with white pepper to taste. Gently fold in caviar.

Cover and refrigerate 2 hours to blend flavors.

Sprinkle dip with remaining dill and additional salmon caviar before serving. Serve pita chips or fresh pita bread sliced into 1/8's along side chilled dip.

Always Perfect Paella

Remember: never be afraid to play with your food, be creative and change the ingredients. If you come up with a winning combination, don't forget to share!


2-3 lbs chicken parts (thighs, legs)
1 Spanish chorizo sausage
.5 pound jumbo shrimp
12 mussels, washed and debearded
6-8 squid (calamari), cleaned and sliced into rings

1 head of garlic cloves crushed and minced
1 medium diced onion
2 ripe large tomatoes (beefsteak or heirloom are excellent-substitute 1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes drained and crushed)
1/2 cup sweet peas, shelled fresh if you can but frozen and thawed work just fine
.5 pepper sliced in ribbons
**1 small mild/hot pepper (extra spice, not necessary)
2 cups Arborio rice, or any short to medium grain

1 teaspoon saffron threads

6 cups warm chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried oregano/ 2 teaspoons fresh
1 teaspoon dried thyme/ 2 teaspoons fresh
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fresh chopped parsley leaves & lemon wedges for serving

Rinse chicken pieces and pat them dry. Mix oregano, thyme, cumin and paprika with some salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the pieces of chicken and let sit for at least 1/2 hour to marinate.

Mise en place (literally: everything in it's place; make sure to always have your ingredients washed, chopped, minced, etc... before you begin) onions, garlic, tomato, peppers, peas, etc...

Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or any wide shallow pan over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add chorizo and cook until the oil is a vibrant red color. Remove the chicken and sausage to a platter lined with paper towels.

Return pan to the stove with 'red oil' and lower the heat to medium. Make a sofrito by sauteing the garlic, onion, and tomatoes; cook until the mixture is soft and well combined. About 5-7 minutes. You are looking for carmelization, not crispiness! Season with salt and pepper.

Fold in the rice, stirring to coat the grains. When the rice is coated add the saffron and mix well. Then pour in the stock and simmer on medium for 10 minutes. The idea is to make sure the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid WITHOUT over stirring the rice.

(Note: Traditional paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat that is heavenly if made properly, i.e. Don't over stir or heat over too high heat!)

Add the shrimp, mussels, squid, the reserved chicken and chorizo. Give the paella a couple of good stirs and tuck in all the pieces and just let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes.

Scatter the peas on top and continue to cook for 5 minutes, until the paella looks fluffy and moist.

Allow to rest, off the heat for 5 minutes, and garnish with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges

*This looks complicated but it's really not, you can do it...I promise!

Also, You could easily substitute lobster tails, clams, scallops, flounder, or any dense fish/poultry/meat for any of the ingredients.

Macerated Blueberries over Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Cinnamon Sugar

2 pints of fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 quart vanilla bean ice cream
Cinnamon/Sugar mixture (equal parts cinnamon and sugar)

Combine first 4 ingredients and set in fridge for at least 3 hours.

Scoop ice cream into bowls. Spoon blueberry mixture over ice cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Watch it disappear :)

Spicy Shrimp and Soyccotash over Whole Wheat Pesto Couscous

Bag of frozen uncooked shrimp (16/lb count or higher)
Bag of soycutash (Trader Joe's, and no, that is not my flickr account!)
1 cup whole wheat couscous
Basil Pesto (home made or jarred)
Sriracha (the king of all hot sauces) to your preferred spiciness
Soy sauce to taste
1 tablespoon of flour
Chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
1 tablespoon oil (you can use hot sesame if you want to be fancy)
1 tablespoon peanut butter (we like the crunchy kind)
sesame seeds (optional)

Immerse bag of frozen shrimp in a warm water bath with faucet running.

Bring one cup of chicken stock to boil on the stove. Once it boils add 1 cup whole wheat couscous and 2 tablespoons of pesto, turn off the flame, replace lid and allow this to sit.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil (canola/olive/your lube you pick!) with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix thoroughly. When the mixture is fully mixed add in a tablespoon of stock to make sure it remains the right consistency (again, think elmers). After about two minutes the roux is not going to taste flour-y and you can begin building your sauce.

To the roux add soy sauce, sriracha, peanut butter and bring to a boil. Make sure it is a bit more liquid-y than you want (remember we still have to cook frozen veggies) and add frozen soycottash mix.

Remove shrimp from the bag, peel and reserve shells (what, you don't make your own seafood stock! don't worry, that post will follow shortly), and add to the wok with the veggies and sauce.

Cover and leave to cook for about 3 minutes. Remove top and make sure to mix it around a bit so that everything gets ample heat. Once the shrimp has curled and the veggies are crisp but warm turn off the heat.

Toss couscous with a fork to fluff, put .5 cup in each bowl followed with a generous serving of the soyccutash and shrimp, ladle a bit of the sauce on and enjoy yourself a quick and healthy meal.