‘Sourdough Stuffing with Sausage, Red Onion & Kale’

Recipe Courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine

The fabulousness of this recipe is not only in the finished product, but in the cooking method.  Let’s start at the end with the finished product: cubes of sourdough bread baked in a chicken broth-based egg mixture that is flavored with fresh thyme and crushed red pepper flakes.  The entire stuffing is studded with a flavorful mixture of crumbled Italian sausage, red onions and Lacinato kale. Yum, right?

Which brings me to the cooking method. Normally, you would prepare the custard and the bread cubes while you saute the ingredients that go into the baked stuffing or dressing. This recipe is much more hands-off in that instead of standing over the hot stove and sauteing the ingredients, you actually roast the crumbled sausage, onions and kale and then add it into the bread mixture.  The recipe does not call for shredded cheese on top, but I couldn’t help myself…I shredded some gooey Fontina cheese over top of it all, about 15 minutes before the stuffing was done baking.

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sourdough-stuffing-sausage-red-onion-and-kale)

Prosciutto-Wrapped Persimmons with Spanish Manchego

prosciutto-wrapped-persimmon-with-manchego

When I see persimmons in the grocery store these days or as an option on our weekly CSA order, I automatically buy a couple. Similar to fresh quince this time of year, seasonal produce that might be a little out of our comfort zones can really liven up your kitchen!  As for Fuyu persimmons, I have tried cooking with them in baked goods, serving them sliced in salads, and even just enjoying them as an afternoon snack.  This time, I decided to try them as a quick-and-easy appetizer idea.  Slices of sweet persimmon wrapped in thinly sliced prosciutto along with a piece of white cheddar cheese.  I also think a slice of Pecorino Romano, Parmesan or even Gruyere would be a tasty idea.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Truffled Cauliflower Purée & Caperberries

Isn’t this a gorgeous plate?  Perfectly seared jumbo sea scallops resting effortlessly on top of a creamy portion of cauliflower puree that is flavored with a touch of black truffle oil.  Garnished with a snip of lemony fresh thyme, a squirt of fresh lemon juice, and briny caper berries.  A perfect celebratory dinner idea for one of your upcoming Holiday dinners–especially if paired with a rich bottle of chilled champagne.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

Chocolate Chip Affogato

This classic Italian dessert is one of my favorites.  So simple and easy to put together, yet always a big hit at the dinner table.  An affogato is simply cold ice cream served with a shot of warm espresso poured over top; the ice cream slightly melts into the rich coffee which makes for a creamy, dreamy coffee-flavored confection.  I used vanilla ice cream topped with semi-sweet chocolate chips for this version, but feel free to experiment with chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate ice cream or even coffee ice cream for a double-dose of rich coffee flavor.

‘Mushroom Wellington Cups’

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart.com

Recipe Courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

This picture-perfect appetizer is always a hit at my dinner table!  A flavor profile based on traditional Beef Wellington, these small bites start with phyllo cups that are filled with a bit of pâté, then a savory mushroom saute.  I was excited to present these appetizers on a lovely Himalayan pink salt plate that my sister Mary Lauren gave me a couple Christmases ago.  The pink backdrop looked great with a bed of fresh chives, and the salt block imparts the tiniest bit of salt flavor to whatever you serve on it.  A super elegant appetizer that you should consider adding to your Holiday menu or next dinner party menu!

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: http://www.marthastewart.com/866410/mushroom-wellington-cups)

Orange-Scented Brussels Sprouts with Walnut Vinaigrette

One of my favorite oils I recommend you keep in your pantry is that of walnut oil.  The oil is extracted from shelled walnuts themselves and has a rich, nutty flavor that works well in vinaigrettes, but also in sweet baked goods and even as a flavor agent for proteins.  One of my favorite ways to use it it to flavor a vinaigrette like this one; a touch of walnut oil paired with fresh orange juice and chopped walnuts makes for a delicious addition to a mixed greens salad, but also a plate of roasted veggies like these.  A jar of walnut oil keep for a very long time in the pantry, and is available at most supermarkets these days—so start your tasting!

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

Radicchio & Endive Salad with Persimmons, Pomegranate Seeds & Goat Cheese

This is the time of year to go all out with bitter greens! The variety of bitter greens available right now is astounding—everything from magenta-hued radicchio, to crunchy Belgian endive, to curly endive, frisee, escarole, kale…and the list goes on and on…The naturally bitter taste of these greens pairs perfectly with the season’s fruit as well. Take this salad idea for example: watercress, Belgian endive and radicchio chopped and tossed together with crunchy pistachios, creamy goat cheese crumbles, sliced sweet persimmons and the bright ‘pop’ of pomegranate seeds.  For such a colorful and complex salad, a simple vinaigrette will do just fine. I like to pair Dijon mustard with white balsamic vinegar and a splash of nutty walnut oil.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

‘Halibut with Meyer Lemon Relish’

Recipe Courtesy of COOK Real Food Every Day, Premiere Issue

Cooking proteins en papillote is a sure fire way to ensure that they stay perfectly moist.  And what does this French phrase mean exactly?  It translates to in parchment and is a method of cooking where food is cooked in a parchment parcel in the oven. This way it steams with whatever other aromatics, vegetables or spices are in the parchment parcel, making a very healthy dish time and time again.

This lovely halibut dish is cooked this way, and is finished off with a fresh relish made with the season’s juiciest Meyer lemons. The zest and juice of the lemons are combined with green olives, shallots, red onion, green onions and toasted walnuts. A unique relish that would work with just about any fish fillet you like.  I chose to cook grouper en papillote for this recipe, but halibut, snapper, salmon or even shrimp would work beautifully as well.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

‘Smoky Salmon-&-Potato Stew’

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Simple in its ingredients, this lovely stew is super satisfying and warming to all of your senses.  It starts with a base of sauteed fennel, celery and garlic and gets its smoky flavor from the addition of paprika.  Yellow potatoes and cubes of tender salmon give the stew its heartiness, and the lovely flavor of clam juice and diced tomatoes rounds out this cold weather seafood stew.  You can substitute in your favorite seafood stock for the clam juice if you like–either way, the briny taste of shellfish and seafood as the base for this stew is just fabulous.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

‘Winter Salad with Halloumi ‘Croutons”

Recipe Courtesy of Eating Well Magazine

Recipe Courtesy of Eating Well Magazine

Oh what a delight!  I have adored halloumi cheese ever since my family would frequent Zorba’s, a fabulous Greek restaurant in Baton Rouge.  They would bring the cheese out in a heat proof dish, light it on fire in front of you, and put out the flames with lemon juice.  Halloumi is a cheese made from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk, it is semi-hard in texture and because of its high melting point can be (like I said) grilled or heated with minimal melting.  It has a wonderfully salty flavor and when cooked, gets a lovely brown texture on the outside.

I was thrilled to make this recipe that highlights cubes of halloumi cheese as a substitute for croutons on a hearty winter salad.  The cubes of cooked cheese add a lovely texture and salty taste to the salad that believe me, you will  adore.  A hearty salad that could be a main course all on its own, it truly was a memorable addition to our dinner menu last night. Opa!

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/255795/winter-salad-with-halloumi-croutons/)