December 10: Sending You Holiday Fishes!
Gravlax - A cured raw salmon with sugar, salt, and dill. Bursting with flavor, this salmon has a 15 minute preparation and then cures in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Cortney and I love this recipe with Fresh Sour Cream and Buckwheat Blinis (and a little topping of caviar... if that's your thing.
- 1 x 2.5 # side of salmon, skin on
- ½ T. caraway seed
- ½ T. coriander seed
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1.5 oz. salt
- 1 oz. sugar
- 4 oz. fresh dill
- In a saute pan, toast the caraway and coriander seeds for 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool and transfer to a spice grinder with the black pepper and grind until smooth. Mix together with the salt and sugar. Set aside.
- Cut the belly meat off of the salmon so you are left with 1 even strip of salmon side. Fill a large bowl with salted water and soak the salmon side for 15 minutes. Remove from the water, pat very dry and season, skin side with an equal amount of the seasoning mixture on 1 side. Lay out a long sheet of plastic wrap and place half of the dill down and place the seasoned side of the salmon on top of the dill evenly. Season the skin with the remaining seasoning and top evenly with the remaining dill. Wrap the salmon side up tightly and place on a sheet try, skin side down with a heavy baking pan on top. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, flip the salmon over so that the skin side is up, place the heavy baking pan on top and put back in the refrigerator for 24 more hours.
- Remove the wrap and remove the dill and remove as much seasoning as possible. Pat both sides with a paper towel.
- Slice very thin with a very sharp knife diagonally.
December 11: Saganaki? Put Some Windex!
What's better and more impressive than presenting ouzo marinated flaming cheese to your guests? NOTHING! Serve this alongside your favorite Mezze platter and lots of fresh pita bread! OPA!
- 5 – 6 oz. kasseri cheese – or halloumi, or feta
- 1.5 T. olive oil
- 3 T. flour
- ¼ C. ouzo
- 1 lemon, wedged, for garnish
- Pita Bread, toasted
- Marinate the kasseri in the ouzo in a Ziploc bag for 2-3 hours, turning often.
- Heat a small saute pan over medium high heat. Add the oil. Remove the cheese from the ouzo (reserve the ouzo) and dredge the cheese in the flour and flash fry on both sides until the cheese is nicely browned.
- Pour the reserved ouzo back into the pan and immediately light on fire with a lighter. Serve with pita bread and garnish with lemon wedges.
December 12: Love Is In The Pear
Pear and Stilton has been a classic pair, since, like... forever! This soup is super quick and builds a ton of flavor fast. Generally we say to make your soups 24 hours in advance and let them sit to develop flavor, but this soup is best made and served immediately!
Roasted Pear and Stilton Soup
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 ribs of celery, diced
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 3 allspice berries
- 4 pears - 2 raw, 2 roasted
- ½ c. white wine
- 3.5 c. stock
- 4 oz. stilton
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Take 2 pears, peel and quarter them, and rub them with olive oil and roast on the top rack of the oven until they are caramelized (15-20 mins).
- Meanwhile, sweat the onion, celery, garlic, thyme and allspice in 2 T. butter for 10-12 minutes. Then add the 2 diced raw pears and cook for 4 more minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Then, add the stock and roasted pears and bring to a simmer for 45 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium high and add the stilton, working in small batches. When the stilton is all incorporated, transfer to vitamix or food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
December 13: You Can Tune A Piano, But You Can't Tunafish
Ahi - Tuna, Poke - To Cut of Slice. There.. now you know. This marinated raw tuna salad is a Hawaiian favorite! This dish can be assembled in less that 10 minutes and will make you think you're spending Christmas in Waikiki.
Ahi Tuna Poke
- ¼ C. chili sambal
- 3 T. sesame oil
- 3 T. soy sauce
- 1 T. ginger, grated
- 1 lime, juice and zest
- 4 green onions, sliced, green top only
- 2 tsp. sugar
- ½ T. roasted sesame seeds
- 1 # fresh ahi tuna, diced
- Combine the chili sambal, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice and zest, green onions, sugar, and sesame seeds in a bowl. Stir to combine.
- Fold in the tuna. Serve chilled immediately.
December 14: This Smoked Salmon Flatbread Is Second To Naan
Use either cold or hot smoked salmon for this simple, elegant, and quickly prepared flatbread. Make sure you put the smoked salmon on the flatbread after it comes out of the oven.
Smoked Salmon Flatbread
For the Lemon Ricotta:
- ½ C. whole milk ricotta
- ¼ lemon, zested
- 5 threads saffron, crushed
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Smoked Salmon
- Shaved Red Onion
- Sliced Peppadew Peppers
- Shredded Smoked Gouda
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 flatbread sheets or 3 naan
- Mix all ingredients together for the ricotta, set aside.
- Brush a small amount of olive oil over the flatbread sheets. Spread shredded smoked gouda evenly over top. Sprinkle the peppadew peppers over the cheese. Bake the flatbread until crispy and bubbly in a 425 degree oven.
- When the flatbread is done, lay over the slices of the smoked salmon, then add the red onion, and the capers. Spoon the ricotta mixture randomly over the top. Drizzle with more olive oil if desired.
December 15: Hello... Is It Brie You're Looking For?
Baked brie in puff pastry is the perfect way to add that "wow factor" that'll leave your guests in awe! The peppadew date relish brings a unique extra layer of flavor, and is a great alternative to other jams or marmalades more commonly found in baked brie recipes. The relish can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a week - also makes a great topping for baked ham. *For a really top notch meal, stuff the relish inside the cavities of 3-4 pheasants or squab, wrap with speck or proscuitto and roast until the birds are cooked.*
Baked Brie in Puff Pastry with Peppadew & Date Relish
- 2 C. dates, halved and pitted
- ½ C. white wine
- ½ C. sugar
- 2 c. peppadew peppers
- ½ orange, zested
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
- Salt, to taste
8 oz brie wheel
½ sheet puff pastry
Peppadew Date Relish, as needed from above
1 egg, beaten
For The Relish:
Place the dates in a small bowl. Mix together the wine and the sugar well, and pour over the dates. Wrap and let sit overnight.
Next, drain the peppers from the brine. Place in a food processor with the zest, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt. Then, with a slotted spoon, get all the dates out of the soaking liquid and put in the food processor. Pulse a few times, and depending on how dry the relish is, add some of the date soaking liquid, and pulse a few more times. This is a chunky relish so don’t just turn on the food processor and walk away. Keep pulsing and add more soaking liquid as needed until a chunky relish is formed.
Roll out the puff pastry to thin out slightly. Place as much relish as desired on top of the brie wheel, and then place the pastry over the top and fold in underneath. Place on a sheet tray with a silicone liner or parchment, and brush with egg wash. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven until the pastry is golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
December 16: It's Getting Hot In Here... So Take Off All Your Cloves
Translating into "Hot Bath", Bagna Cauda is a mouth pleasing dip made from garlic, anchovies, and olive oil - kept warm in a fondue pot. For extra authenticity, make sure you stock up on plenty of cardoons for dipping. (They are available in the produce department at the Safeway in Rockrimmon - as of today 12/16 - I looked when I went for coffee this morning at 5am :) .)
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste
- 1 ½ C. olive oil
- 5 oz. white anchovies, drained, patted dry and chopped
- ½ C. butter, cut into pieces
- Black pepper
- Vegetables, bread, seafood for dipping
- In a small saucepan, cook both garlics in the olive oil with the anchovies, over low heat. Cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to let the garlic brown.
- Stir in butter and serve in a fondue pot. Serve with vegetables, bread, seafood for dipping.
December 17: This Chicken Liver Pate Is
If you have never made Pate, you will be shocked at how easy it is! This quick Pate is easy on your budget and does not require a topping of aspic. If possible, make 1-2 days in advance and let sit, covered, in the refrigerator so the flavors can develop. Serve this pate with plenty of sliced and toasted baguette.
Chicken Liver Pate
- 8 T. unsalted butter, divided in half
- 1.5 shallot, cut into half moons
- 2 garlic cloves, cut into thin rounds
- 1 pint chicken livers, rinsed and drained
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tsp peppercorn
- ¼ c. madiera
- 3 – 4 T. heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large sauté pan, melt 1 of the halves (4T) of butter over medium low heat. When the butter is melted, add the shallots and garlic and peppercorns and sweat out for 6-8 minutes, do not let brown.
- Next turn the heat up to medium – medium high and add the thyme and the chicken livers. Caramelize the livers on both sides, all while keeping the insides at medium rare – (4 mins per side).
- When the livers are done, add the madiera and cook briefly, only to cook off the raw alcohol flavor. At this point, transfer to a food processor and puree with the heavy cream and the rest of the butter. Make sure the mixture is fairly smooth, but not over worked – also check for final seasonings at this point.
- Transfer immediately to a mold and cool, placing a piece of saran wrap over the top the mixture only so a skin doesn’t form. Eat when cool.
December 18: Say Hello To Friends You Know, and Everyone with Beets
Roasting the beets for this hummus-esque dip will add another level of flavor to this already very flavorful and fun colored dip! Serve it with lots of fresh pita bread on your favorite Mezze platter!
Beet and Sesame Dip
- 1 ¼ # cooked/roasted beets
- 1 C. Greek yogurt
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ C. tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- ¼ C. olive oil
- 1.5 T. za’atar
- 1 tsp. sumac
- 1 T. honey, optional (taste for sweetness of beets before adding)
- ¼ C. feta
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish
- In a food processor, combine the beets, garlic, yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Process until smooth.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the olive oil, za’atar, and sumac. Blend again. Taste for sweetness, if the dip is not sweet enough, add the honey. If it tastes great, omit the honey.
- Transfer the dip to a serving dish and garnish the outside with the feta and garnish the center with the green onion slices.
December 19: Happy Caulidays!
Sottaceti, which translates to "under vinegar" is a pickled vegetable relish (giardiniera) that gets better the longer that you let it sit. Pickled vegetables are a great way to cut through extra fatty foods, and they also provide another dimension of flavor to meat and cheese boards.
Sottaceti (Italian Pickled Vegetables)
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut into 1-1 1/2 “ florets
- 1 red pepper, cut into medium sized strips
- 1 zucchini, cut into batonettes
- ½ # carrots, cut into batonettes
- ½ # green beans, cut into 1 ½” pieces
- ½ # cipollini or pearl onions
- 1 C. gherkins
- 2-4 serrano peppers, cut lengthwise, depending on spicy preference
- 3 c. water
- 3 c. apple cider vinegar
- ½ c. white vinegar
- ¾ c. sugar
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 T. salt
- 1 T. ginger, minced
- 1 ¼ tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns
- ½ tsp. mustard seed
- ¼ tsp. fennel
- 1/8 tsp. celery seed
- In a large pot, combine the water, both vinegars, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, salt, ginger, coriander, peppercorns, mustard seeds, fennel, and celery seeds and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Do not let reduce.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the vegetables and pour the hot pickling liquid over them. Let sit out at room temperature for 2 hours, then place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 days – the longer the better.
* You may need to place a heavy plate on top of the vegetables to keep them completely submerged.
December 20: Grandma (Smith) Got Run Over By A Reindeer
It doesn't get any easier than this dessert. This prep can be finished in less than 15 minutes leaving you free to mingle and not be stuck at the stove. Not only is this a great dessert, but it also makes a filling breakfast/brunch side dish
Apple Cranberry Crumble
- 2 # granny smith apples, diced
- 2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 c. mandarin orange segments
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1T cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp. cardamom, ground
- 1 c. quick cooking oats
- 1 c. flour
- 1.5 c. brown sugar
- ¾ c. butter, melted
In a large bowl, mix together the apples, cranberries, orange segments, sugar and spices. Toss well to combine. Place in the bottom of a large greased baking dish. In the same bowl mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar and butter until crumbly. Divide the oat mixture evenly over the apple mixture. Do not hard pat the oat mixture down over the apple cranberry filling. Bake on 375 until the top of the crumble is golden brown. Serve immediately while hot with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.
December 21: Baby It's Cod Outside
Extra crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy on the inside, croquetas are the perfect snack while enjoying cocktails. This popular Spanish bar food combines salt cod with potatoes and life just couldn't get much better. Serve these up with a side of allioli (aioli) or romesco sauce!
Salt Cod Croquetas
- 1 Lb. salt cod, soaked and salt purged
- 2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cooked, and riced
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 T. parsley, chopped
- 1 egg
- Oil for Frying
- Prepare the salt cold by soaking in water in the refrigerator overnight, changing the water often. Remove any bones.
- In a large bowl, flake the salt cod and mix with the potatoes, nutmeg, parsley and egg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well, but do not over work the flaked fish into minced pieces.
- Heat oil in a large pan to 350 degrees. Using a round scoop, scoop the mixture into balls, gently roll them in panko, and fry in batches until crispy and golden brown. About 30 seconds per side. Remove from the oil, place on a napkin lined plate, season with salt and serve immediately while hot.
December 22: I'll Have A Bleu, Bleu Christmas
If you love blue cheese, and you love soup, there's no going wrong with this recipe! Smooth and creamy and extra rich, this is the perfect soup for any cold weather evening!
Blue Cheese Soup
1/3 C. each Celery, Onion, Carrot, finely chopped
1T. Garlic, finely chopped
1/3 C + 2 tsp Flour
3 C. Roasted Chicken Stock
1/2 lb Cheddar, shredded (I use a blend monterey jack/cheddar)
1/4 lb. Blue Cheese crumbles
1/4 lb. Excellent Quality Blue Cheese, I used a Dolce Gorgonzola, but you could use Stilton, Roquefort, Cabralas etc.. if you'd prefer.
1/8 tsp. Baking Soda
1 C. Heavy Cream
1/3 C. White Wine
Salt, White Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper, To Taste
1 Bay Leaf
Tabasco, To Taste
2-3 Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Melt butter in a 4 qt heavy bottom stock pot over medium to medium high heat. Add in celery, carrot and onion and saute until tender (about 8 minutes). When vegetables are tender, add garlic and cook for another minute. Be mindful of the heat here.. you don't want your garlic to burn. Next add your white wine to deglaze the pan - reduce down to 2T. Then add your flour and stir it in to the vegetables to coat and make sure there are ZERO LUMPS. Cook for a minute to 2 minutes to start cooking off the starchiness of the flour.. Again, watch the heat. DO NOT LET THE FLOUR BURN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN!!!! Then add your chicken stock and cream and bring to a boil. When boiling, turn down to a simmer and begin adding your cheeses. Cheddar blend at first, and not all at once either. Incorporate slowly into the soup stirring to make sure all the cheese is evenly incorporated otherwise you will get grainy clumps. This is what you want to avoid. Do this until all the cheeses are added and blended into the soup. Finally add your seasonings/tabasco/Worcestershire/bay leaf etc. and let simmer for 20 minutes or so stirring often so it doesn't burn to the bottom of the pot. If you final result is too thick, you may thin it out with a little more stock or white wine, which ever you prefer.