The holidays are the perfect time of year for me to flex culinary muscles I normally leave dormant most of the year. I love sweets but like to cook savory 99% of the time and buy my confections from those whom are experts. However, I am passionate about giving edible gifts which are practical wonders of joy for people to enjoy as they eat. Truffles are my favorite way to eat chocolate. They are rich yet because they are small you can appreciate every morsel without guilt. Here is an easy recipe to add to your repertoire as a way to win over your loved ones with each nugget. Feel free to double or triple the recipe. Make sure to present in a box with a bow for extra flair and effort.
Makes 30-40 chocolate truffles
Basic truffle ingredients
8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality, 62% cacao or higher), well chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional base flavorings:
Mint leaves (1 bunch, stems removed, chopped, about 1 cup)
Cinnamon and Cardamom (1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods)
Ground Nutmeg, Allspice, Cocoa (2 tablespoons)
Amaretto (1-2 tablespoons)
Almond extract (1 teaspoon)
Rose extract (1 teaspoon)
Toasted Coconut Flakes
Finely chopped Walnuts
Finely chopped Almonds
1. In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer (this may take a while, be sure to stir and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula every few minutes).
If you are using one of the other recommended flavorings, stir it in with the cream (and ignore vanilla in the next step). If adding mint or other solids, after the cream simmers, remove from heat and let seep for an hour. Then strain away solids, and return the cream to a simmer and proceed with recipe.
2. Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the vanilla, and allow to stand for a few minutes then stir until smooth. (This chocolate base is called ganache.)
Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and with a teaspoon roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Roll in cocoa powder, coconut, chopped nuts, or other covering and serve, or place back in the refrigerator until needed.
WHOLE ROASTED TANDOORI CAULIFLOWER WITH MINT CHUTNEY
Cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable, is in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards. A cruciferous vegetable from a health standpoint, you will find several dozen studies linking cauliflower-containing diets to cancer prevention. It has a compact head (called a “curd”), with an average size of six inches in diameter, composed of undeveloped flower buds. The milk, sweet, almost nutty flavor of cauliflower is at its best from December through March when it is in season. I love this white vegetable roasted. Indian flavors lend itself to the open canvas, cauliflower provides. Tandoori spices lend spice and multi layers of flavors while the mint chutney balances out the punch of the tandoori. You can adjust the flavors based on your comfort level. For your next dinner party, you can serve this dish as a smart side dish or to impress vegetarians for a stunning yet satisfying entrée that feels like you put in some effort. As winter and eating local seem mundane with a standard rotation of root vegetables, cauliflower does not get a fair shake due to unimaginative cooking methods. This recipe is sure not disappoint and is a global local gourmet regular.
1 large head cauliflower, washed well, leaves removed
For Tandoori Marinade
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoons minced ginger
21/2 tablespoons store bought tandoori spice blend
Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.
For Mint Chutney
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 shallot, minced
½ red chili, minced (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
A couple pinches of salt
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
In a mortar and pestle (or food processor) smash garlic and ginger into paste. Add the tandoori spice, lemon and salt and mix until well blended. Fold in the yogurt. Place the whole cauliflower in a large bowl and spread the marinade all over, making sure to coat the bottom as well. Place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour minimum up to 12 hours maximum. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place cauliflower on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 45-60 depending on the size of the cauliflower. Garnish with cilantro leaves, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
For Mint Chutney…
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to form a chunky pesto-like sauce. Season to taste. Store leftovers in fridge for up to 5 days.
Winter is impending. We fluctuate between cold and temperate weather. I have wanted to squeak in a trip to the tropics for business and pleasure, however because of work commitments in the states, it is not going to be possible until the New Year. Sweet tropical flavors meet crunchy winter vegetables in this Caribbean style coleslaw. Cabbage is eaten in abundance in the tropics since it is readily available and local now in the North East, I thought this was an easy way to bring me to a beach and at least prepare my body for swimsuit weather. So when those snowy winter days come in the near future, make this recipe and think of eating it on your favorite sandy isle so you can get over your cabin fever.
Approximately 3 cups of each sliced into thin ribbon around 1/4 head
3 med carrots cut into matchsticks or grated
Dressing: ¼ c roughly chopped fresh ginger 1 pkg. (170g) coconut cream – chopped or 1 small can coconut milk just the thick cream part
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup fresh lemon juice ¼ cup fresh lime juice ½ cup water ¼ cup maple syrup 2 tablespoons tamari ¼ cup sunflower oil
Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. To make the dressing put all of the ingredients except for the sunflower oil in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the sunflower oil in a fine stream while the blender is still running. It should be smooth and creamy. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss till it’s evenly covered.
I have always had a love affair with lobster. The first one I probably had was in Jamaica where they are only tails with no claws. My grandfather was a fisherman and from our house you can see what you might eat for the night with personal deliveries from the men of sea coming up the street with freshly caught lobster, shrimp, fish, and the always crazy looking octopus. People always ask me as a chef, “what is your favorite food?” I feel funny saying lobster because for the most part, I love it plain, butter poached or grilled with a good butter. I might flavor it with herbs, take it back to my Jamaican heritage and curry it, or be decadent and make this gluttonous truffle sabayon. I love the aroma of truffles. The smell and taste is so distinctive of mushroom, earth, and fresh air. Elm City Market has been having some amazing lobster tails for $5.99 each. They are wild, local, and a welcome treat to celebrate just being you. I buy a bunch and leave them in the freezer so when unexpected company comes over or I want to be indulgent, I make this quick and easy gourmet recipe that will make you smile bright with ecstasy.
Makes Sauce for 6- 8 Servings
6 large egg yolks
½ cup dry white wine
6 oz. heavy cream, whipped stiffly
8 oz. clarified butter, room temperature
4 oz. white truffle oil
to taste - salt and pepper
In a large metal mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and the white wine. Using a whisk, combine the two until they appear frothy and well mixed. Over a double boiler, whisk the egg mixture continuously until the eggs are cooked. The mixture should be creamy in appearance and silky smooth in texture. No scrambled looking eggs should appear.
Using the whisk, slowly add the clarified butter in a steady stream until completely mixed together. Use the same method for the white truffle oil. Spoon and fold the cold whipped cream into the egg mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve until final assembly.
“SPRING BREAK” OYSTERS WITH MANGO MIGNONETTE (VINEGAR)
The oyster has been the ultimate symbol for edible aphrodisiacs. It is the universal emblem for sex and fertility. As Spring is the time to plant seeds and the Oyster has the magical ability to make pearls, in Connecticut we are lucky enough to have some wonderful Atlantic bivalve mollusks that are plump and appealing in salinity. Oysters thrive in Connecticut’s tidal waves and brackish coasts. Consumed by Connecticut’s Native Americas in great numbers, the early Europeans saw oysters as a viable staple in their colonial diets. There are many shellfish species associated with the Connecticut shoreline; however the oyster is king and respected for its flamboyant history, economic foundation, and revered reputation for excellence. I love serving them because they are sexy and an easy amuse bouche or starter for your honored guests. Once you get the hang of opening them which is easy when you have the right tools, all you have do is make a simple dressing or just have some interesting hot sauces and a little horseradish if you like and you have a superb start to a great evening. Elm City Market is one of few places to get local fresh Oysters for home consumption. They have shucking knives and all the accoutrements necessary for an epicurean feast. The mignonette below is super fast and compliments the brininess of the oysters with the sweetness of mango. Since we are longing for Spring in the midst of so much snow and we all need a break, this recipe makes a tropical bite size treat for now.
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup mango juice
¼ cup minced chives
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground white pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and serve over freshly shucked oysters and clams.
A DUO OF SAUCES AT WOOSTER SQUARE CITYSEED FARMERS MARKET AUGUST 17 11- 1
ASIAN PLUM SAUCE
Asian Plum Sauce makes a great unique gift for the foodie in your life. You can use it on meat or mix it with mustard for a dipping sauce for dumplings, fresh spring rolls, tofu or vegetables. It is an extremely versatile condiment to add to your canning repertoire.
6 cups chopped & pitted plums (8 cups un-chopped/un-pitted gives you approximately 6 cups chopped & pitted)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoons minced fresh basil
Place all the ingredients in a large thick bottom pot and bring to a boil untill it reaches 215F. Turn down the heat to medium but make sure the temperature stays the same.
Keep stirring the mixture every so often (I did every 10 minutes or so) for 45 minutes. It will get really thick and glossy looking. During the last 10 minutes, use an immersion hand blender to get rid of any peels or chunks that were left or leave it chunky if you like. Then, laddle sauce into clean/warmed canning jars. Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes, then take the lid off and let sit in water for another 5 minutes.Store in a cool dry place.
One of my favorite herbs is shiso, which is also known as Japanese basil, perilla and beefsteak. It is part of the mint family and has an exotic and alluring taste. You can use it to wrap rice, fish, or in this dressing that is easy and fast to make. It is a little different and a standout for any menu.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until shiso leaves become finely chopped. This dressing goes well over sashimi, boiled or grilled chicken, cucumber salad, as well as steamed or grilled fish and vegetables.
YELLOW PLUM BRUSCHETTA WITH HOMEMADE VERMONT TRUFFLE CHEESE AND MAINE WHITE HONEY
Photo by Amy Christensen
Yellow Plums, sliced
1 Vermont Creamery Mascarpone Cheese
1 Vermont Creamery Goat Cheese
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon truffle oil or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Honey (We used Maine White Honey) for drizzle and garnish
Mix cheeses together with herbs, truffle oil and salt and pepper to taste. Assemble bruschetta with cheese and top with a few pea shoots and sliced plums. Drizzle with Maine white honey. Serve and enjoy.
1 ½ pound yellow and green zucchini, julienned or sliced to your liking
2 tablespoon minced red onion, sweet onion, scallions, or shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped walnuts, almonds, or pistachios
¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, mint, basil or chives
To julienne zucchini you can use a mandolin, grater placing the zucchini lengthwise, a julienne peeler, or cut them with a knife. Place a colander in a slightly larger bowl, then put julienned zucchini in colander. (The slightly larger bowl will catch liquids released from zucchini). Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss and sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 10-20 minutes. Zucchini should be limp but still have a bite and texture to them. In a small bowl, combine onion, garlic and lemon juice. Shake off moisture from zucchini and taste them. If too salty, just rinse under some water and pat dry. If you feel you need more salt, sprinkle some more onto the vegetables. In a medium bowl, toss zucchini with olive oil and nuts. Spoon lemon/shallot mixture and fresh herbs on top and gently toss again. Season with black pepper.
It is getting hot, hot, hot this summer. I love cooking, but a couple times a week, I indulge in a cold soup to give the stove a break and to keep real “cool”. Cold soups are refreshing and are staples in many parts of the world. You can make them with fruits or with vegetables. Soup is very forgiving and left overs from your CSA share or trip to the farmers market make a welcome menu addition to the summer meal rotation. Whether it is a chunky gazpacho from Spain, a Caribbean inspired curry carrot soup or a Vegan rendition of yellow beet and corn loveliness, soup is always good food even when cold.
½ teaspoon allspice 1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 4 cups) 2 ½ cups vegetable broth or water 1 to 1 ½ cups canned unsweetened coconut milk 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice plus additional to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
ice water for thinning soup trimmed scallions for garnish (optional)
In a large heavy saucepan cook chopped scallion, onion, and gingerroot in oil with curry powder and allspice over moderately low heat until softened and add carrots and broth or water. Cover mixture and simmer for 20 minutes, or until carrots are very soft.
In a blender purée mixture in batches with coconut milk until very smooth. Transferring to a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill soup at least 6 hours or overnight. Thin soup with ice water and season with additional lime juice and salt and pepper. Garnish soup with trimmed scallions if you wish.
Bhajji is an Indian version of vegetable fritters. I was looking for some non-traditional ways to use ramps, spring onions, my young chives, and thought this would be a fun and different way make them the star of the dish. My four year old daughter likes eating alliums of all kinds. Every time we enter the house, she pinches the chive plant in our garden to eat with the opposite influence of mint on her breath. I guess she is like her mama who loves shallots, onions, leeks, and all the loud flavors of this stinking vegetable family. There is something about raw onions too because those who eat them with abandon look for those who like the sweet stench of our breath and kiss us anyway.
Great with drinks, especially a few very cold beers.
Makes about 16 bhajis, to serve four to six.
¾ cup chickpea ( besan) flour 2 tablespoons plain flour 2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspsoon fine sea salt 1 good pinch cayenne pepper 1 good pinch black onion (nigella or kalonji) seeds 3-4 tablespoon coriander leaves, minced ½ cup spring onions(chives, ramps, red onion), trimmed and cut into quite chunky slices 1/3 - ½ cup beer (or water) Peanut Oil, for deep-frying
To make the bhajis, sieve the flours, ground coriander, cumin, salt and cayenne into a bowl. Whisk in the onion seeds, coriander and spring onions. Stirring as you go, gradually pour in the beer or water until you have a smooth batter - you may not need all the liquid.
Pour the peanut oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan to a depth of about 3 inches and warm over a medium heat - you want the oil to be hot, but not too hot, because the spring onions and flour need to cook through without the outside of the bhajis burning - Proper deep-frying technique requires maintaining the oil’stemperature between 325°F and 400°F. (as a rough rule of thumb, that’s when a cube of white bread dropped into the pan should turn golden in 90 seconds). You’ll need to cook them in batches, so don’t overcrowd the pan - drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and cook until golden, about four to five minutes. Drain on kitchen paper briefly and serve hot, with the raita alongside.
For the raita
¼ cup fresh, firm radishes, topped , washed, and minced ¼ cup fresh, soft goat’s cheese 2/3 cup whole yogurt 1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1-2 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves 1 pinch flaky sea salt
Mash the cheese into the yogurt and beat until smooth. Stir in the radish, red onion, mint, along with a good pinch of sea salt.
When Brigid from DIGITAS first e-mailed and told me about “Snack Hack”, a project where you create a dish using two or more Mondelēz International (formerly known as Kraft foods Inc.) products to add to the already drool-worthy spread at Snackworks, the first thing that came to mind…
Moqueca is a Brazilian seafood stew. Since it was Fat Tuesday this week and right before Carnival, it seemed appropriate to plan to make a dish from such a sensual country. Flecked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and chives, Moqueca is sultry, easy, and reddish to hint of passion and love. I based my version on the Bahia state which uses coconut milk to add a rich silkiness and draws its’ culinary inspiration from Africa. Everyday should be like Valentine’s Day but hopefully this day is especially filled edible love.
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 teapoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1 pound large shrimp
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound squid
2 tablespoons extra – virgin olive oil
2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cup red pepper, finely chopped
3/4 cup green onions or chives, minced
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
14 oz diced canned tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro , minced
cups chicken broth
2 cups clam juice
1 cup light coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound of mussels, cleaned
1 lobster cut in half
4 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced
In a large bowl combine:
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large shrimp (21-25 count)
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound squid
Marinate seafood in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Heat a large Dutch over medium heat and add two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. When oil has heated, add onion, red bell pepper, green onions or chives , minced garlic , bay leaves and cook vegetables for about six minutes stirring occasionally. Then, increase heat to medium-high and add diced tomatoes and cook for two minutes adding 1/4 cup cilantro, chicken broth, clam juice bringing to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer ten minutes. If using a hand blender, puree vegetables in the pot until smooth. If using a blender, allow to cool to room temperature and place one-third of vegetable mixture in a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour pureed vegetable mixture into pan. Repeat procedure with remaining vegetable mixture. Add to vegetable mixture 1 cup light coconut milk and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for three minutes then mix in marinated fish mixture, top with mussels and lobster. Cover pot and cook 5 – 10 minutes or until seafood is done and mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that have not opened Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.
1 pound chorizo (Spanish sausage), cut into 1” pieces
1 small onion, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup red wine
1 can figs (or 2 cups dried figs, soaked and chopped)
½ cup sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 stick cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the chorizo and onion; sauté until golden brown. Add red wine, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves and simmer 10 minutes on medium until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Just before serving, stir in the drained figs. This can be made in advance and reheated just before serving.
LOBSTER WITH A VANILLA AND SWEET CHILI BUTTER SAUCE & ASIAN GUACAMOLE
Lobster with Vanilla and Sweet Chili Butter Sauce
1 Lobster, steamed and shelled – claw meat, lobster tail, cut in half
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
fresh cracked pepper
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
Juice of one lime
Sauté lobster meat in melted butter. Sprinkle lightly with allspice, fresh cracked pepper; stir in sweet chili sauce, vanilla paste, and lime juice until heated through.
2 large or 3 medium California (Haas) avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, minced
2 large scallions, thinly sliced
¼ to ½ cup fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
1 ½ tablespoons fine-chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger root
1 teaspoon Asian hot sauce
To make guacamole: In a nonreactive bowl, gently stir together avocados, tomatoes, onions, scallions, 1/4 cup lime juice, salt and pepper, as needed. Add cilantro, ginger root, and hot sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lime juice or salt.
To Plate: You can garnish with chives, mint, and shrimp chips.
Lime, wine and dine in Trinidad & Tobago on a tropical radio tour from Jessica B. Harris on “My Welcome Table”. Learn about the history, culture and traditions of one of the liveliest places on earth. Happy Carnival.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, menu planning for love or libido are of the essence. My attitude is to make sure the meal preparation is easy yet memorable. This easy appetizer uses curry, a bit of salt, rough ground garam masala spice, and olive oil to sear jumbo, wild shrimp. The sauce is made from equal parts The Gracious Gourmet’s Tropical Fruit Spread (you can use mango chutney or a tropical jam to substitute), mayonnaise and grainy mustard. I have garnished with basil to enhance this aphrodisiac Amuse-bouche or starter which literally means mouth teaser in French. Let this be your opening to a thoroughly romantic meal.
Inspired by the family kitchen as a gathering place, Public Kitchen invited Upham’s Corner and Dudley Street residents to feast, learn, share, imagine, unite and claim public space. Hundreds joined us as the Public Kitchen launched a week of fresh food, cooking classes & competitions, a mobile kitchen and Hub, food-inspired art and much more…
Public Kitchen was an intervention aimed at social and food justice— an experiment in how more vibrant public infrastructures can improve the quality of our lives. Our art and design team included Chef Nadine Nelson of Global Local Gourmet and the Golden Arrows design collective. Many thanks to our community partners : Upham’s Corner Main Street, The Food Project, Shirley Eustis House, Haley House, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and City Growers.