Dec 8, 2017

Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

1 loaf crusty (day old) Italian bread, cut into crouton sized pieces
1 medium butternut squash, cubed into 1” pieces
5 oz Baby Spinach
1-2 tbl olive oil
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
4 eggs
4 Cups of shredded cheese (I used Fontina, Pecorino, Mozzarella, and Parmesan)
1-2 tbl fresh sage, minced
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Ramekins or casserole dish
Nonstick cooking spray
Freshly grated Grana Padano

Set the oven to 375 F on convection mode and spray the ramekins/casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside on a sheet tray.
Toss the butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and spread flat on a parchment lined sheet tray. Transfer to the oven and roast for 25 minutes or until nicely caramelized. 

While the squash is roasting, prepare the custard base.  In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, eggs, and spices, whisk together.  Add the cubed bread and set aside.  Allow the bread to absorb as much of the custard as possible.
Bring a saute pan to a medium high temperature, and 1 tbl olive oil.  Once the oil is glistening, add the spinach plus a little salt and pepper.   The spinach will wilt quickly, remove it from the heat and set aside.  
Once the butternut squash has been removed from the oven and cooled slightly, add to the bowl with the bread and custard along with the spinach and sage.  

Lastly, add the cheese and mix all the way through. 

Transfer the bread pudding to the ramekins or casserole dish and transfer to the oven on the sheet tray (to catch any spillover).  The ramekins will cook in 25 minutes, the casserole dish will take around 45-50 minutes.  Remove from the oven and grate fresh Grana Padano cheese on top. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.  ENJOY!

Gingerbread Spiced Egg Nog

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch of Kosher salt
6-8 egg yolks (more or less depending on how rich you would like it)
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbl dark molasses
1 ½ oz Rum Chata (Optional)
½ oz Ginger Brandy (Optional)

Fresh made whipped cream (for Garnish)
Gingerbread cookies (for Garnish)

Combine the milk, cream, and cinnamon stick into a saucepan and bring to just under a boil.  While that comes to temperature combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk until you achieve a pale yellow color and the sugar has dissolved. 
Once the milk/cream mixture heats up, add the spices, vanilla, salt, and molasses, mix through.
Now temper the eggs by slowly ladling the milk/cream mixture into the sugar/egg yolk mixture by whisking vigorously and pouring slowly. This step will prevent the eggs from scrambling.

Next transfer the mixture back into the saucepan, and bring the temperature up to 170 F whisking periodically through the process.  A digital or candy thermometer comes in handy for this step.  Now remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.  Chill and serve with fresh whipped cream and gingerbread cookies.  Happy Holidays!

Oct 19, 2017

Ahi Tuna Poke Wonton Cups

     Tuna Poke
1LB large sashimi grade Ahi tuna steaks cut into 1/2 “cubes (Whole Foods sells this frozen)
1 shallot, sliced (rinsed in cold water)
1/2 cup chopped green onion
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Sambal (chili garlic sauce)
1 tbl toasted sesame seeds
1 tbl black sesame (for garnish)
1-2 tbl chives (for garnish

Wonton Cups
Nonstick Cooking Spray
Wonton Wrappers
Sea Salt
Mini Muffin Pan

Pull the tuna from the freezer and allow to thaw slightly on the counter top.
Preheat the oven to Convection 375 degrees F. Spray 2 mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.
Place each wrapper into a section of a mini-muffin tin. Press each wrapper into the tin and arrange so that it forms a cup shape, gently so the wrapper does not rip. The wrapper will overlap and stick up out of the cup. Spray with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and bake for 6-8 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove from the tin and allow wrappers to cool.
Tuna Poke:
In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sambal, whisk to combine, then fold in shallots, green onion, and toasted sesame seeds. Season with salt to taste.  
When the tuna has thawed a bit, but is still firm, cut into (1/2”)cubes. This texture makes it easier to cut. Now transfer to the bowl with the dressing. Toss together and season to taste.  Use immediately or cover and chill. 

Fill the wonton cups with 1-2 tbl of tuna poke, garnish with black sesame seeds and chives.  Enjoy!

Oct 17, 2017

Lamb Meatballs with *Greek Goddess Dip


Preheat oven to Convection 350 F

For the Dip:

Place all the herbs plus garlic, scallions, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times until finely chopped. 
While the motor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  Next add the feta and pulse until well combined.  Now add in the yogurt until you achieve a nice smooth consistency.  Add the lemon juice and season with more salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

For the Meatballs:

Line a half sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper. 
Heat your small skillet to a medium temperature, and add the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot add the onions, spices (oregano, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon).  While the spices bloom and the onions sweat, place the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl (ground lamb, egg, panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper).  Once the onions have softened and spices have melded, add to the bowl.  Using your hands, mix all the ingredients thoroughly. 

Using a cookie scooper or a spoon, portion out 24 meatballs and place them on the lined sheet pan.  Transfer to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Alternatively you could sear/brown the meatballs in a large skillet on the stove top. 
Once the meatballs are cooked through, transfer them to a platter and serve with chilled Greek Goddess Dip.  Enjoy!

 *Adapted from NY Times recipe

Aug 23, 2017

Peach and Ricotta Crostada

2 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 TBL Sugar
2 Stick Cold Unsalted Butter Cut Into Small Cubes
¼ to ½ Cup Ice Water
2 Cups Whole Milk Ricotta
1 Lemon Zested
2 TBL Honey (or to taste)
2 Ripe Peaches, Thinly Sliced
2 TBL Toasted Chopped Pistachios

1 TBL Demarara Sugar
1 Egg beaten wih 1 TBL of heavy cream


Combine all the dry ingredients together in a food processor, pulse to combine. Add the butter; pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal, with some pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly, if the dough is dry, add more cold water, 1 TBL at a time. Careful not to over process.

Transfer half of dough onto lightly dusted work surface. Form dough into a disk 3/4 inch thick; wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days). Repeat with remaining dough. Makes 2 disks.

To Make the Crostada:

Preheat oven to 375 F or on Convection at 350 F

In a medium bowl, whip together the Ricotta, lemon zest and honey.  Add a couple pinches of sea salt to balance the sweetness if you like.  Set aside.

Roll out the dough to a 12” diameter on a lightly floured work surface, flipping over during the rolling process to ensure the dough does not stick.  Transfer to a parchment or silpat lined sheet tray.  Spread out the ricotta mixture in the center of the dough, leaving at least a 2 inch border all the way around.

Arrange the peach slices, artfully in concentric circles all the way around the ricotta.  Fold the edges of the crostada dough up around the ricotta/peach filling and create pleats all the way around. 

Brush the edge of the dough with the egg wash, and sprinkle with demarara sugar. 

If you want a flakier dough, place in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. 

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to rest and sprinkle with pistachios before serving. 

Aug 16, 2017

Carnitas Quesadillas

·         4-5 lbs Pork Butt or Shoulder trimmed and cut      into large chunks
·         2 TBL Canola or Vegetable Oil
·         1 TBL Kosher Salt
·         1 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
·         1 TBL Dried Oregano 
·         1 TBL Ground Cumin
·         1 Large Brown or White Onion, cut into        wedges
·         6 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
·         2 Limes, Juiced
·         2 Large Oranges, Juiced
·         2-4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock (or    enough to cover the meat while braising 
·         2 Bay Leaves
·         3 Sprigs Cilantro

      2 Cups Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
      8 Flour Tortillas
      ½ Cup Steamed Corn Kernels
      ½ Cup Diced Red Bell Pepper)
      1 tbsp Canola or Vegetable Oil
      ¼ Cup Thinly Sliced Scallions
      Salt and pepper
      Fresh Cilantro, Finely Chopped (optional garnish)
      1 Cup Sour Cream, For Garnsih

Preheat the oven to 400 F
After the pork has been cleaned, trimmed and bone has been removed, season generously all around with salt and pepper.
Heat a large dutch oven to a medium high temperature, add the oil, then add the pork pieces and sear on all sides until a nice crust forms.  Next, add the onions and garlic, plus a little bit of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom.  Now add the cumin and oregano, cook until fragrant.  Next add the orange juice, lime juice, bay leaf, cilantro sprigs, remaining chicken stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. 
Cover and transfer to the oven for 2 ½-3 hours.

Remove pork and shred with two forks (DO NOT DISCARD THE LIQUID!) Ladle left over, strained liquid over the shredded pork, and set aside. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead of time)

Preheat griddle to 375 F.

Lay out the tortillas. Divide the cheese between the tortillas, scattering evenly across half of each tortilla. Top with pork carnitas, corn, diced red pepper, scallions, and more cheese. Season to taste with pepper and salt. Fold the tortillas in half.

Brush the griddle or griddle pan lightly with oil. Add as many quesadillas as will fit in the pan. Cook until nicely browned on one side then flip over the folded edge. Cook the other side until browned, then remove from pan. Tip: Keep cooked quesadillas warm in a very low oven. Keep then in spread out in a single layer so they stay crisp.

Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

Petite Farcis Nicoise

4 Medium Zucchini
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

½ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan
1 tsp Finely Minced Thyme
1 TBL Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
1-2 TBL Olive Oil or Neutral Cooking Oil
1 lb Ground Lamb
1 small onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ cup Grated Parmesan
1 tsp Finely Chopped Fresh thyme
½ tsp Fennel Seeds
1 Small Clove Garlic, Minced
¼ tsp Crushed Red Chili Flakes
1TBL Minced Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cut the zucchini into 2-3” long pieces, with a melon baller, scoop out the inside of the zucchini, but leave the walls about ¼” thick. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F
Make the stuffing: Bring your skillet to a medium-high temperature.  Add the olive oil, then onion and garlic, cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Remove from the heat. Next, add the fennel seeds, and crushed red chili flakes.  Once the essential oils in the spices have been activated and they become fragrant, add the ground lamb, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cook until the lamb is no longer pink.  Remove from heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl with a slotted spoon, discarding any extra fat or oil.    
Add the egg, bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.  Using your hands; combine until everything has been mixed through. Set aside.
Next brush the zucchini cups lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Now assemble the topping by combining the rest of the panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. 
Divide the meat mixture among the zucchini cups, stuffing it carefully and deeply inside each one. Stand the vegetables, on a wire rack lined sheet tray, and top with bread crumb cheese mixture.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the tops are browned.  Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, can be served lukewarm.

Quail Egg Shakshuka

3 TBL Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Onion minced
3 Cloves of Garlic Minced
1 Large Red Bell Pepper Diced Small
1 tsp Toasted Ground Cumin
1 tsp Sweet Pimenton
1/8 tsp Crushed Red Chilies
1 (28 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Dozen Quail Eggs
1 Cup Crumbled Feta (optional)
2 TBL Chopped Cilantro
Pita Bread for serving

Preheat Oven to 375 F
Bring a large cast iron skillet to a medium temperature, add olive oil.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and pepper and cook until softened.  Add the garlic, after 1 minute add the spices.  Once you smell the aroma of the spices add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the Feta (if using), remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Using a spoon, make small evenly spaced wells in the tomato mixture.  Crack the eggs, one at a time into a small ramekin, and transfer into wells.  Season the tops of the eggs with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven and bake until the eggs set, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with warm pita bread. 

Dried Cherry Vanilla Scones

·         2½ cups all-purpose flour
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 tablespoon baking powder
·         cup granulated sugar
·         1 egg
·         ½ cup cream
·         1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
·         ¾ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
·         1 cup dried cherries
·         1½ cups confectioners sugar
·         2 tablespoons milk (may need more)
·         2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste
Egg wash, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon heavy cream, beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet tray with silpat or parchment paper

In a food processor pulse together the flour, salt, baking powder, and granulated sugar. Add cold cubed butter and pulse until course crumbs forms - do not to over-mix, transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, and vanilla then add it to the large mixing bowl with the dry ingredients, Mix with a wooden spoon or by hand, add dried cherries and mix through. The mixture will be sticky.

Lightly flour a clean work bench and turn the dough out.  Lightly kneed until the dough comes together. Form the dough, by hand, into a large circle (or 2 circles for smaller scones) about 1” thick. Use a bench scraper to cut scones into 8 wedges. Place on the silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until edges are slightly golden. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.

Glaze: add all the glaze ingredients into a bowl and whisk - glaze will be thick.  Transfer to a squeeze bottle, and drizzle on top of the scones. Allow glaze to set, serve.