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caramelized onion, red pepper and feta galettes

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These puff pastry bites are simple to make and perfect for a picnic. The seasoning here has a Mediterranean flare to it, but you can be creative and try a variety of different spices and herbs to find your favorite combination. The filling makes a great pizza as well. Delicious, it’s a crowd-pleasing dish.

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Caramelized Onion, Red Pepper and Feta Galettes

Ingredients
1 medium onion
1 small red pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped, stems removed
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese (more or less based on preference)
1 tbsp sour cream
1 sheet of puff pastry dough
1 ggg for an egg wash
Filling makes about 4 individual size puff pastry bites

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the pepper (discard the seeds) into long strips. Peel and slice the onion into strips as well. Sauté the pepper and onion in a pan on the stove, medium heat, for roughly 10 minutes. Add the fresh thyme sprigs and seasoning. Continue to cook for an additional minute or so until onions are golden to light brown in color and the red pepper is soft. The vegetables will continue to cook once in the oven.

Roll out the puff pastry and cut into squares, then place on a baking tray. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash. Spoon a thin to medium layer of sour cream around the center. Add a spoonful of the sautéed vegetables on top along with crumbled bits of feta cheese. (Note, preferable to crumble the cheese on your own). Bake for roughly 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven, remove when the crust is browned. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Enjoy!

yumivore feta pastry picnic

Notes and Variations
– Pitted Kalamata olives are a wonderful addition to the onions, peppers and feta
– Additional toppings that would work well here include: roasted garlic, artichokes, pine nuts
– Try adding a sprinkle of the spice blend za’atar, add chili flakes

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together in the kitchen: the cookup club

Bourbon Maple Glazed Pistachios by @cheekyattitude

Bourbon Maple Glazed Pistachios by @cheekyattitude

We did it again! another month, another theme – the CookUp Club meets again. This time we gathered together in my kitchen for an evening filled with Beer Bread, Bourbon Maple Glazed Pistachios tossed over salad, Sake Soaked Clams, Drunken Pasta, wine-drenched Stuffed Mushrooms, and Guinness Chocolate Whiskey and Irish Cream Cupcakes for dessert – we basically cleaned our liquor cabinets dry. With alcohol as the inspiration, it seeped its way into every dish. Being together in the kitchen not only brightened our spirits, it also inspired us to try new recipes, cooking methods and ingredients; some of the many perks of cooking together as a group. If you’re curious for a taste, snapshots from the evening and recipes courtesy of the CookUp Club are below.

Beer Bread
Not part of her usual repertoire, but for the evening Tal of Eva Sweets baked a moist beer bread. Slathered with butter, it’s a treat and a great way to kick-off the evening.

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Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients:
375 grams of flour
375 ml beer
1 tablespoon of salt
15 grams fresh yeast
50 grams sugar
75 grams chopped walnuts

Preparation:
Grease and flour a loaf pan. Combine the yeast with half of the beer in a bowl and place aside for 10 minutes to rest. When the yeast has bubbled, add the flour, salt, sugar and the rest of the beer to the yeast and mix until all the ingredients are well combined (take care to not over-blend). Add the walnut and gently fold into the batter. Pour the mixture into the pan and let rise for at least an hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Bourbon Maple Glazed Pistachios
As we all chopped, sliced, diced, mixed, and poured we nibbled while we worked and tasted Bourbon Maple Glazed Pistachios. Tricia who whips up the blog Cheeky Attitude made the pistachios ahead (see top right photo) and then tossed them into the salad. Whether added to a salad or as a snack, it makes a fun bite.

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Sake Steamed Clams
To add some fun to the kitchen, Beth who dishes up OMG! Yummy brought a couple bottles of sake to sip on, and sake was also an ingredient in her Sake Steamed Clams recipe. The clams surprised us all at how relatively easy they were to prepare (once they were cleaned) and a small bite made a big impression. Served over steamed rice drenched with the broth, it was wonderful to try with a shot of sake. I believe in Japan before eating a meal one says ‘itadakimasu’ and to toast with a drink ‘kampai’ — cheers!

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Drunken Pasta
Things started heating up in the kitchen when the clams went on the stove and water and wine started boiling to make the Drunken Pasta. Yes, you read that right, water AND wine. It was an interesting preparation; for many Drunken Pasta elicited thoughts of a vodka cream sauce, but this was a new take on cooking with alcohol. Drenched in a butter sauce that would make even Julia Child blush, this dish warmed us up and was welcome on the plate.

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Homemade Fettuccine:
2 cups of flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. water (approx)

Mix everything to a firm dough, then use a pasta roller to make the fettuccine, and let dry for 2 hours.

For boiling the pasta:
Mixture of 50% red wine and 50% water

Sauce:
1 stick of unsalted butter
3/4 chopped onion
1 cup of white wine
1/4 cup Parmesan for sauce, and another 1/4 cup for plating
1/4 cup sage
Salt and pepper

Preparation:
Bring the red wine mixture to a boil. In a separate large pan, melt the butter, and add the onion, cook until soft, but not brown. Add the white wine, and continue to cook. Add the pasta to the boiling wine-water, and let it cook for at least 3 minutes, to release the starch. Strain pasta and move it to the pan. Coat the pasta well with the sauce, and add Parmesan, sage, salt and pepper to taste before serving. Sprinkle more Parmesan on top before plating, and voila!

Stuffed Mushrooms
While friends were preparing the pasta, I was busy cooking wine-drenched mushrooms. Playing host and cooking has it’s disadvantages. Not fully paying attention to my pan, I grabbed a Côtes du Rhône red for the recipe, but don’t try this at home, opt for a dry white wine instead to enhance the earthiness of the mushrooms. This classic appetizer is delightful, full of flavor and indeed worth a bite. Here’s the recipe for scrumptious Stuffed Mushrooms.

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Guinness Chocolate Cake Whiskey Ganache and Irish Cream Cupcakes
If bowls of creamy gooey chocolate, luscious whipped cream and rich chocolate cake makes you swoon — brace yourself. No doubt the sweet smell that wafted through the kitchen while preparing the batter and cream for the cupcakes overwhelmed us all. It was impossible not to catch a whiff of the whiskey and crave the Irish cream as these were being prepped by Tal with a little help from us all. If sweets are your thing, this recipe takes the cake.

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Recipe for Guinness Chocolate Cake, Whiskey Ganache, and Irish Cream Cupcakes:
Ingredients:
12 Cupcakes:
140 gram flour (1cup)
½ cup beer
pinch of salt
120 gram butter
200 gram sugar (1 cup)
35 gram cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream

Whiskey Ganache:
120 gram bitter sweet chocolate
40 ml heavy whipping cream
15 grams butter
1 tablespoon Whiskey

Irish Cream Topping:
120 grams white chocolate
100 ml heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoon Irish cream
250 ml whipping cream

Preparation:
Irish cream topping: melt the chocolate with the whipping cream on a ‘bain marie’, add the Irish cream and mix well. Let cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Cupcakes:
In a small pot mix the beer and the butter until well blended, add the cocoa powder and mix until smooth, set aside to cool down. In a bowl mix the flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. In the mixer, mix the sour cream and egg until well blended than add the beer mixture – mix well. Fold in the flour mixture. Divide evenly and pour into a cupcake pan (fill each mold ¾ full). Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Whiskey Ganache:
Melt the chocolate, butter and whipping cream on a ‘bain marie’, add the Whisky and mix well. Let cool down. Add the Irish cream mixture to the remaining whipping cream and mix until you get a soft cream. Cut out the middle of the cupcake in order to make a small hole. Pipe a teaspoon of the Whisky Ganache inside. Decorate with the Irish cream topping.

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Finally after all the cooking, we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor and savor a meal together. Thank you for joining us for a taste, and hope you get to try the recipes in your kitchen!

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stuffed mushrooms

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A home cookbook isn’t complete without at least one recipe for stuffed mushrooms. It’s the kind of dish that’s coveted by a crowd and goes fast at any party. Easy to make, the variations are endless. This classic appetizer is widely popular in many cookbooks worldwide and worth a bite.

Stuffed Mushrooms
20 medium white button or crimini mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (more or less to taste)

Directions: Wash and dry the mushrooms. Grasp one at a time, cap face down in the palm of your hand, and gently gripping at the base, wiggle the stalk loose and remove, then set aside. Repeat this step until all the mushroom have a hollow center. Prep the stalks by slicing and discarding the dark ends then finely chop the rest. Note that some stalks may not be suitable for cooking and should be discarded. In a large pan on the stovetop, melt the butter on medium heat. Cook the mushrooms cap face down for several minutes until lightly brown before turning over and cooking on the opposite side for another minute or two. At this stage add the wine to the pan and cook for an additional minute. Remove the mushrooms and place them in an oven-proof baking dish. Using the same pan, sauté the scallions for a couple of minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Taste and add additional seasoning as required. When the mixture is ready, spoon a portion into the hollow center of each mushroom. Place the stuffed mushrooms in a 300 degree oven; bake for approximately 15-20 minutes prior to serving. Serve warm.

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Notes: Once you get a hang of removing the stems, all sorts of fillings can be stuffed inside. In place of scallions, shallots are a superb and tasty option as are leeks. Fresh chopped garlic is also a great addition. For an extra bite add Parmigian-Reggiano cheese to the mix. For a vegan version, replace the butter with an olive oil that is naturally buttery in taste.

The filling inside the mushrooms can be mile-high and overstuffed, or the filling filled up to the rim, it’s up to the cook to decide. Try adding sausage for a meat-lovers version or crab if you’re craving seafood fare. Different types of cheese can be blended in as well, or the mushrooms can even be stuffed with a creamy spinach or artichoke mix. There’s lots of room for creativity. I can assure though this simple recipe is mouth-watering as is. Since the recipe calls for a dry white wine, try Dry Creek Fumé Blanc which is enjoyable both for drinking and cooking. Cheers and bon appétit!

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spring pea and ricotta crostini

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With spring bursting across the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s hard to not be inspired in the kitchen by the bright green grass and early buds suddenly covering the landscape outside. This open-faced sandwich can easily be prepared year-round, though the combination of flavors seems to suggest spring. No matter where you’re located, the ingredients are relatively easy to find, and as with any dish, using the finest will add zing to the plate and your palate. This creamy ricotta and garden pea combination works wonders with pasta, or is perfect spread across crostini. Bright, fresh it’s like biting into the season.

Spring Pea and Ricotta Crostini
Adapted from Sonali, the Foodie Physician | Food52

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen spring peas
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 1/4 cups fresh ricotta cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf of rustic bread or baguette
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings for garnish*

In a saucepan on the stovetop, sauté the shallots and garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Cook until translucent, then add the peas and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pan; cook until the peas are tender. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and add the lemon zest, tarragon and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The original recipe* calls for 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese added to the mix; I omitted this and changed the quantity on the ricotta to accommodate. Either way, it’s a matter of preference. Purée until smooth. Add the ricotta and pulse until combined. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

On the ricotta, I recommend Grande Ricotta Sopraffina if you’re able to locate it at your market. It’s beyond delicious and worthy of being eaten just with a spoon. A friend suggests Bellwether Farms ricotta (I trust their opinion, though I haven’t had this yet myself). In Israel, Romania, Bulgaria and other parts Urdă is almost identical to ricotta and can be found at many markets.

For serving, select a rustic hearty bread. I choose to use a loaf I picked up from the Manresa Bread Project available at a local farmers’ market. Slice your bread or baguette, place on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the remaining olive oil. Place the sheet in a hot oven and bake until lightly toasted on both sides. Spread some of the pea and ricotta mixture across each slice. Top each with a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings and tarragon, along with crushed pepper. A simple, creamy and delightful way to enjoy the season. Bon appétit!

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a mad men cocktail party

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Grab a glass and a plate, the menu for this cocktail party is inspired by the many seasons and episodes of Mad Men. Mushroom Canapés are the quintessential cocktail party appetizer of the 1960s. Savory bites on Melba toasts are a perfect and easy hors d’oeuvre. Blinis topped with caviar or smoked salmon adds a little elegance to the party. A plate of crudité is perfect for dipping in and enjoying Bagna Càuda. Devoured out of the oven, Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot adds a little intrigue to the evening. The recipes are below; go ahead and have a taste.

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For the Vodka Gimlet, mix vodka with simple syrup and a squeeze of lime. Be sure your glass and the vodka is ice cold. For more cocktail party inspiration and recipes along with tales from Mad Men peruse through The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin. Cheers to a new season of Mad Men, more cocktails and happy eating!

recipes on yumivore
Mushroom Canapés
Buckwheat Blini
Bagna Càuda
Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot

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mushroom canapés

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Canapés are the quintessential cocktail party appetizer of the 1960s. Recipes abound for these little treats. Melba toasts smothered with anything from decadent caviar to seasoned cream cheese can be found in most cookbooks from that era. Sure enough The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook highlights these hors d’oeuvres with several recipes. Savory or sweet, canapés make a tasty addition to any cocktail party menu. Whether you make the Melba toast on your own, or go for a good-quality store-bought option (which saves a bit of time) there’s an endless amount of creative toppings to try on these toasts. It’s fun to serve more than one variety, certainly your taste buds and guests will agree.

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The recipe below for mushroom canapés comes out of the pages of Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin’s cookbook. The Worcestershire sauce wooed me from the beginning. It makes the dish taste retro right from the start. I modified the preparation by slicing the mushrooms instead of finely chopping them (the finely chopped version wasn’t cooperating with the camera). I also omitted the Parmesan cheese for the pictures, but grated cheese can be added to the mix then heated under the broiler until bubbling.

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Mushroom Canapés
1 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
20 Melba toast rounds
chopped parsley for garnish

Sauté the mushrooms until browned. Add the sauce and seasonings, taste and adjust. Spoon a bit of the mixture on each Melba toast and sprinkle with parsley before serving. Voila!

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Whether you’re planning a Mad Men cocktail party or any celebration, canapés are easy to prepare and are an hors d’oeuvre that can impress a crowd. Melba toasts accommodate a wide range of flavors so consider whipping up more than one recipe. For more appetizer ideas for your menu try Bagna Càuda, a quick garlic and anchovies recipe, freshwater prawns prepared as Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot and Buckwheat Blini topped with caviar.

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buckwheat blini

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Blinis, Russian in origin, are small pancakes that are traditionally made with buckwheat flour. It’s served with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche on top, along with either caviar or smoked salmon. Other smoked, pickled or salted fish can be substituted; the slightly sweet almost nutty-flavored pancakes are incredible with the contrasting salty fish and creamy crème fraîche. Paired with Champagne, it’s a classic appetizer to serve during the winter holidays, and is popular for Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, but there’s no reason not to prepare blinis year-round. It’s wonderful not just with a flute filled with something bubbly, vodka is the drink of choice in Russia and makes a crowd-pleasing drink with this pancake.

Blini and caviar is a dish that’s on the Mad Men menu for those who are fans of the hit television show. Season one, episode six, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism finds itself shopping for an advertising agency and delegates pay a visit to Sterling Cooper. Early 1960s, Roger Sterling proposes positioning the young Jewish state as a land of “exotic luxury”. There’s a lot of thought behind serving the blini which speaks to the roots of many early pioneers of Israel of whom hail from Eastern Europe and Russia. More details can be found in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. Regardless if you’re preparing a Mad Men cocktail party, buckwheat blini is a hint sweet and savory hors d’oeuvre to add to your menu any time of year. As I often say, it’s a party for your taste buds.

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Buckwheat Blini
recipe adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous
My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups warm whole milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs, separated
butter, canola oil or cooking spray for frying
makes approximately 24 blinis

In a bowl dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the honey (or substitute with sugar) and set aside until bubbly for about 7-8 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the first three dry ingredients together. Pour the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture, add the egg yolks along with the melted butter and blend well. Cover with a dish towel and set aside in a warm area for an hour.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff then slowly fold into the batter just before it’s ready to prepare on the stove. The secret to relatively round blinis is a squeeze bottle usually used to serve condiments. Pour the batter into the bottle. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat and coat lightly with butter. Squeeze a small amount of the batter in a circular motion onto the pan. When the batter starts to bubble on the surface, flip the blini over with a spatula and cook for roughly an additional minute. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Serve with sour cream or crème fraîche topped with caviar or smoked fish such as salmon or lox, whitefish or trout. Garnish with dill or chopped chives.

The caviar captured here is called Tobiko, Flying Fish roe or Tobiuo in Japanese. Tobiko is referred to as the “poor man’s caviar“. Sustainable seafood is the preferred choice for any recipe; a few tips on selecting sustainable caviar on a budget. For more appetizer ideas to nibble on, try Bagna Càuda, a scrumptious and easy garlic and anchovies recipe, and try delicious freshwater prawns prepared as Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot. Cheers to happy eating!

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gambas au beurre d’escargot

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With appetizers on my mind and a new season of the hit television show Mad Men to look forward to, I’ve been flipping through the pages of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin for cocktail party inspiration. The recipe for Lutèce Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot (prawns with snail butter) is one that caught my attention. The original recipe hails from The Lutèce Cookbook by Andre Soltner with Seymour Britchey. Lutèce was a famous and highly praised restaurant in New York back in its day. It opened in the early 1960s and closed after forty-three years of service in 2004.

Oddly, despite it noting ‘beurre d’escargot’, there are no actual snails in the snail butter. To bring the recipe up to date (slightly) I replaced the butter with a mild olive oil. I was also heavy-handed with the Pernod and all too happy to chop shallots and garlic to add to the mix. The prawns are more drenched than coated in this version; either way makes a nibble worthy hors d’oeuvre.

Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature / or 3/4 cup olive oil
1 generous tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/2 tablespoon anise-flavored liqueur such as Pernod
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
24 freshwater large or jumbo prawns, rinsed in cold water, split and deviened but left in shell
Makes 6 servings

In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the beurre d’escargot until thoroughly blended. Place the cleaned and prepped prawns, shell down, in a gratin dish and cover with the butter (or olive oil) mixture. Place the dish in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 8 minutes. Serve hot.

The dish is easy to whip up and takes very little time to prepare. It makes a wonderful addition to a cocktail menu, and served either with your favorite cocktail or wine, is satisfying enough for a simple but flavorful dinner. For more appetizer ideas to nibble on try Bagna Càuda, a garlic and anchovies recipe. Cheers to happy eating!

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