Rare Beef Bruschetta with Blue Cheese Horseradish Sauce & Basil Gremolata



1/2 pound beef tenderloin or filet

2 tablespoons steak seasoning

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 baguette, sliced in 1/2 inch thick pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon of prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cream

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Pinch of salt and black pepper

15 basil leaves

2 lemons, zest only

3 large cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon each, salt and cracked black pepper



Place the beef on a plate and rub the steak seasoning into the meat. Heat a grill pan to high and add the cooking oil. When the oil begins to smoke, add the beef. Let the meat sear on each side for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and let the meat rest and cool for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush the baguette slices with oil on both sides and place on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove and turn the bread to the other side and cook for an additional couple of minutes or until lightly toasted and golden. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl combine the horseradish, blue cheese crumbles and sour cream. Mash the ingredients together with the back of a spoon until smooth. Stir in the cream and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste for flavor and add more blue cheese or horseradish, to taste. Spread a small amount of sauce onto each baguette slice.

To make the gremolata, stack the basil leaves and roll tightly. Slice into ribbons and then chop into smaller pieces. Place the basil in a bowl with the lemon zest. Crush the garlic cloves and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the garlic and roughly chop into small pieces. Add the garlic to the bowl with the basil and lemon zest and stir to combine.

Slice the beef thinly, fold over and place a slice on each piece of baguette. Place the bruschetta on a serving platter and sprinkle the gremolata over the bruschetta pieces. 



Arancini Risotto Balls



1 cup arborio rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

3 cups chicken broth, heated

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup Italian salami, chopped

1 egg

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes

2 cups flour

4 eggs

2 cups panko bread crumbs

Canola oil, for frying




Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to coat. Pour in the wine and reduce by half. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and stir into the rice until it is absorbed. Continue to add broth to rice in 1/2 cup amounts, stirring constantly, until rice is tender. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and set aside to cool. Risotto can be made a day in advance.

Place the risotto in a large bowl. Add the salami, remaining Parmesan, egg and basil andstir to combine. Begin forming the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls placing a cube of mozzarella in the middle of each ball. In 3 separate bowls place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. In a saucepan heat the oil to 325 degrees. Roll each ball in the flour, then the eggs and finally the breadcrumbs. Place the ball in the oil and fry until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining balls. 



Caprese Prosciutto Balls



12 slices prosciutto, paper thin

12 grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 pound ball fresh mozzarella

12 basil leaves, cut in half

Olive oil and balsamic glaze, for garnish




Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the mozzarella into 1/2 inch cubes. Trim the outside strip of fat from the prosciutto and discard. Cut the strip in half and lay the strips out individually on a clean work surface.

Take a cherry tomato half and place a mozzarella cube on top of it and then a basil leaf half on top of that. Holding the stack together place it on top of a prosciutto slice and roll up diagonally. Tuck the corners under and place on a baking sheet so that the tucked corners are underneath. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place a toothpick in each ball pushing it all the way through the ball. Place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook for no longer than 5 minutes. This is just enough to crisp the prosciutto and slightly melt the cheese. Drizzle a platter with streaks of olive oil and balsamic glaze. Place the balls on the platter. Makes 24 pieces. 



Fig & Pistachio Baked Brie



1/4 cup fig jam

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup shelled, chopped pistachios

1 four inch wheel of brie



Place brie in a shallow baking dish or on a baking pan lined with foil. Spread jam and honey over the top of the brie and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with the pistachios. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes or until the brie softens and begins to ooze, but not melt. Remove from oven and, using a wide spatula, transfer to a serving plate. Serve with crackers, toasted baguette slices or sliced apples.



Noonday Onion Tart


1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

2 pounds Noonday Onions, halved & sliced in ¼ inch slices

2 tablespoon melted butter plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using floured rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry to a 10x14 sheet. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and form a raised crust around the edges. Place in the refrigerator while preparing other ingredients. In a saute pan, over medium heat add the butter, oil and onions. Saute slowly allowing the onions to caramelize and soften. Add the brown sugar and stir until it melts into the onions. Caramelizing usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. Lower your heat if the onions begin to brown. Remove from heat and cool slightly. In a bowl mix ricotta, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Using offset spatula, spread ricotta over chilled pastry crust. Arrange onions over ricotta. Sprinkle with chopped thyme. Bake tart until crust is lightly golden & puffed, about 20 minutes.



Crawfish Corn Cakes



1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Creole mustard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 cup crumbled corn bread, just enough to hold cakes together

8 ounces of crawfish tails, roughly chopped

1/2 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with butter. Set aside. Whisk together all ingredients, except crawfish and cornbread in a large bowl. Gently fold in crawfish and the cornbread crumbs. Form the mixture into loose patties. Place on the greased baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. In a small bowl combine the melted butter and hot sauce. Serve with crawfish cakes. 



Goat Cheese Balls



2 goat cheese logs

Fresh thyme leaves, fine chop

Black pepper

Fresh parsley, fine chop

Lemon zest

Pecans, fine chop

Ancho chile powder

Extra virgin olive oil

Crushed red pepper



Cut goat cheese logs into 1 inch pieces. Roll each piece in the palm of your hands to form a ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

Set out 3 small bowls. In the first bowl combine the chopped thyme leaves with a small amount of black pepper. In another bowl combine the chopped parsley with a small amount of lemon zest. In the third bowl add the chopped pecans. Lightly coat some of the cheese balls in the various toppings.

On a plate sprinkle the chile powder in a long continuous strip. For the balls with the chile powder, roll the balls down the strip of powder to create a strip around the center of the ball.

Drizzle a large plate with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Place the cheese balls in the olive oil. Serve with toothpicks and crackers. 



Spanish Empanadas
with Date-Balsamic Dipping Sauce



1 box of refrigerated pie dough

1 cup Manchego cheese, grated

1 cup thinly sliced Serrano ham, diced (1/4 pound)

1 cup Medjool dates, pits removed, chopped

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2/3 cup water

2/3 cup Medjool dates, pits removed, quartered

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Keep the dough chilled until ready to use. On a large well-floured surface unroll the rolls of dough. Using a three to four inch round biscuit cutter, cut out circles of dough.

In a large bowl, combine the Manchego cheese, Serrano ham and chopped dates. Add a tablespoon to the top of each dough circle leaving a 1/2 inch border from the edge. Brush the edges of the dough with a small amount of water. Fold the dough over the filing to create a 1/2 circle. Using the tines of a fork, press the edges together to seal the empanada and create a decorative edge.

In a small bowl combine the egg and tablespoon of water. Stir to combine and brush t mixture over the top of the empanadas. Transfer to a greased baking sheet with a thin spatula and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

While baking, combine the balsamic vinegar, water, sugar and quartered dates in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring. Bring down to a low boil and allow to reduce to 1/2 its volume. Strain out the dates and place the completed sauce in a bowl. Drizzle some of the sauce over the empanadas after they have cooled. Also sprinkle with the chopped thyme. Makes 12 to 15 empanadas depending on size of the cutter.



Fig & Goat Cheese Galette



1 roll of pie dough (found in refrigerator section)

5 fresh figs, stems removed and quartered

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup pine nuts

4 ounces of goat cheese crumbles

Pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon melted butter



Toss the quartered figs with the honey and set aside until ready to fill the galette.

Roll the pie crust out to 10 inches and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Add the goat cheese, then the figs and pine nuts. Scatter over a pinch of salt. Begin folding the edges up over the filling and continue around clockwise while turning the pan. Brush the edges with the melted butter and a sprinkle of salt. Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden and bubbly for about 30 minutes.



Spicy Chicken Tostada Cups



1 bag of scoop-shaped tortilla chips

2 soft avocados

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup sour cream

2 chicken breasts, shredded

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers, chopped

Salt and pepper

Chili powderLime zest



In a bowl mash together avocados, sour cream, lime juice, salt and pepper.In another bowl combine the chipotle and mayonnaise. Stir in shredded chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Place a small amount of the avocado mixture in the bottom of the Tostito scoops.Top with the chicken. Lightly dust with chili powder and lime zest as a garnish. Serve immediately. 



Mango Avocado Salsa



3 avocados, 1/2 inch dice

3 roma tomatoes, seeded, 1/2 inch dice

1 mango, 1/2 inch dice

1 lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper



Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to combine. Serve with chips or spoon over grilled fish. This is also a good salsa for shrimp or fish tacos. 



Polenta Pops


1 cup polenta
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup Italian salami or ham, chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms, sautéed
2 cups flour
4 eggs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Canola oil, for frying

Heat milk and water in a saucepan to a light boil. Add the polenta and stir until thick. Add 1/2 cup parmesan and stir until melted. Stir in the olive oil and place polenta in a separate bowl and bring to room temperature. When cool, stir in the remaining parmesan, basil, salami, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Begin forming the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls and refrigerate for about an hour to set. In three separate bowls place the flour, eggs and bread crumbs. In a saucepan heat the oil to 325 degrees. Roll each ball in the flour, then the eggs and finally the bread crumbs. Place the ball in the fryer and fry until golden brown. Repeat with the remaining balls. Use short skewers or Popsicle sticks to turn the polenta balls into polenta pops.



Cornmeal-Crusted Ravioli
with Pesto Dipping Sauce



1 – 7 ounce container of basil pesto

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons mustard

Vegetable Oil, for frying

1 package of cheese ravioli from the refrigerator case

2 cups flour

3 eggs, plus 1/4 cup milk

2 cups cornmeal

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese



In a jar or salad dressing bottle combine the pesto, olive oil, 1/2 cup of milk and mustard. Cover tightly with the lid and shake to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Set out three bowls on the counter near the stove. In one bowl place the flour, in another scramble the eggs with 1/4 cup milk and in the third bowl combine the cornmeal and parmesan cheese. In a large fry pan pour enough oil to reach a depth of two inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees. Working in small batches, dip ravioli in flour, shake off the excess, then in the egg mixture and then completely coat with the cornmeal and Parmesan. Place the ravioli in the oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove with tongs to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Serve immediately with the pesto sauce. 



Caprese Cherry Tomatoes



20 cherry tomatoes

8 ounces of fresh mozzarella

1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

1/4 cup prosciutto di Parma, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt & pepper

Balsamic glaze  


Cut the tops of the tomatoes and using a spoon or a small paring knife remove the seeds and the guts. Discard the insides of the tomatoes and place the hollowed tomatoes on a plate. Chop the mozzarella into small cubes. Combine in a large bowl with the basil, prosciutto, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon the cheese mixture into the hollowed tomatoes. Place on a platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Note: Make your own balsamic glaze by combining 2 cups balsamic vinegar with 3/4 cup of sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and let reduce by almost half. Stir occasionally. Transfer to a squirt bottle and keep on hand for garnishing salads, steaks, roasted vegetables, pork chops or chicken.