Monday, June 29, 2015

Shrimp Cakes with Lemon Aioli

These delicious little shrimp cakes are a classic go to for an easy breezy summer dinner.  Served with some rice and sugar snap peas - you have yourself a perfect summer night.  I love this recipe because of it's simplicity and quickness.  My husband and kids love them because of their mouth watering taste - they are really so good!  They're dairy free but do contain egg.  If you aren't a fan of shrimp or for a kosher version, try dicing 16 ounces of salmon and use the same technique and ingredients.  Also, I'm sorry for not getting a post up sooner.  It's been busy over here but I promise to try to post more frequently.  I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful start to summer.  

La Recette:

1.5 lbs. shrimp chopped - buy the shrimp peeled and deveined if you want to save a little time.
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs *
3 eggs
2 scallions - chopped
1/2 cup corn - frozen or fresh
1/4 cup cilantro or Italian parsley - chopped plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup canola oil - plus a lithe extra if needed
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Lemon Aioli-
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic - minced
1 tablespoon tabasco sauce (you can reduce this if you don't like a lot of spice)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Cutting board
Chef's knife
Large bowl
2 -medium bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Rasp or zester
Sautè pan
Large plate or platter lined with paper towel.

-Combine the shrimp, bread crumbs, scallions, corn, cilantro (or Italian parsley), lemon juice and zest, paprika, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and cayenne pepper into a large bowl.  Mix well.
-Crack the eggs into one of the medium bowls and whisk well.  Pour over the shrimp combination and mix until everything is combined.
-Pour 1/4 cup of canola oil into the sauté pan and heat until very hot.  You should hear the shrimp cakes sizzle when they are put into the pan.  Using 1/4 to 1/3 cup, scoop out the shrimp mixture and form into patties.  You can really make any size you would like, but this size make about 16 cakes.  Place them onto the sauté pan and cook for about 3 minutes/side.  Pay attention to the heat - you might need to turn it down a little once the cakes go on.  
-Once the cakes are done, place them on a large plate or platter lined with paper towel so it can absorb any excess oil.  Repeat the process until all of the shrimp mixture has been used.  You might need to add a few more tablespoons of canola oil between batches if the pan starts to look a little dry.  
-For the ailoi, combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl and mix well.  
-Have a your serving dishes ready.  Serve warm and enjoy!

-This dinner pairs well with La Caña 2013 Albariño or one of your favorite beers.
-Makes ~ 16 cakes.  Serves 4 adults.
-Both recipes can be doubled.

*I'm going to post a video about this to show how easy it is, but don't ever buy bread crumbs.  Grind up any leftover bread or ends that you have in a blender or food processor.  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

White and Dark Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies

These cookies are great and they are SO easy.  The different balance of tastes and textures really makes it a perfect bite.  You can make them so quickly, and they store easily in the fridge or freezer if you need to bake them off at a different time.  They are super tasty with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.  So grab a bowl and a mixing spoon and get to work!  My kids and my husband really love these and I make them bigger than a traditional cookie, so it's a nice little snack.  Also, it's fairly easy to substitute ingredients.  If you have a nut allergy, just use raisins or dried cherries.  Earth Balance vegan sticks are always a great substitute for butter.  

La Recette:

2 1/4 cups (315 g) gluten free baking mix
1 teaspoon (4g) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2g) fine sea salt
2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter*, room temperature
1 cup (140g) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (70g) granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla
1 cup (140g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (140g) mini white chocolate chips**
3/4 cup (105g) salted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Measuring cups and spoons
1-medium bowl and a stand mixer or 1 large bowl
Mixing spoons
3 baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat
Hand mixer (if you don't have a stand mixer)

-Using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment or hand mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy, about 1 minute.
-Slowly add in the brown sugar.  Then add in the granulated sugar.  Beat until soft and creamy.  5-7 minutes.
-Next add in your eggs one at a time.  Then the vanilla and mix until everything is well incorporated.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula halfway through to make sure everything throughly mixed.  
-In a medium bowl combine the gluten free baking mix, baking soda and sea salt.  Mix well. 
-Next add in the white and dark chocolate chips and the Macadamia nuts.  Mix well.  
-With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixer.  Mix until everything is well incorporated.  3-4 minutes.
-Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.  You can also freeze the dough for up to three months.  I recommend forming the balls of cookie dough and storing in an airtight container.  
-When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  I use a convection oven when I bake these cookies.  If you aren't using convection keep an eye on the cookies - the timing might need to be adjusted slightly.  
-Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out the dough and form it into balls.  Each ball is roughly 75 grams.  Leave about 2 inches in-between each dough ball and it's typically six cookies per baking sheet.
-Bake for 14 -15 minutes or until lightly browned.  
-Let them cool on the baking sheet.  Store in an airtight container for 5-6 days.
-Make about 18 cookies.  

*Try to use European style butter that has a higher butterfat percentage
**If you can't find mini white chocolate chips, regular sized white chocolate chips work fine.   

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Brandy Old-Fashioned and Blinis with Smoked Salmon Stars and Caviar

I just made this cocktail and canapé duo last Sunday for my Oscars party.  The party really just consisted of me and I only watched about thirty minutes of the Oscars live because the kids were acting up…but regardless, I did have a drink and some tasty hors d'oeuvres.  Next year, I am going to have a real party!    I really loved this hors d'oeuvre though and I loved it paired with the Brandy Old Fashioned.  It's a great starter for any dinner or cocktail party.  I took a lot of photos, so I'll show you exactly how I did everything.  Definitely add this combination into your line up the next time your are throwing a fabulous fête!   

La Recette:

3/4 cup gluten free baking mix like Cup4Cup or Bob's Red Mill
1 extra large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup greek style plain yogurt - I use FAGE 2%
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
8-16 oz. Nova Lox - A quick lesson…real lox is the salt cured belly portion of the salmon and is never smoked.  Nova Lox is salt cured like lox but also cold smoked.  The name Nova lingers from when most New York salmon came from Nova Scotia.  And finally Gravlax is cured, unsmoked salmon with the addition of a lot of spices that usually include juniper berry, horseradish, pepper and aquavit.  
4 oz. crème fraîche
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons clives, chopped
1- 2oz. ish size jar caviar or roe
Dill for garnish
Brandy Old Fashioned- requires overnight macerating
1/2 cup sugar
3 oranges, 2 for zest and one for garnish
5 Maraschino cherries plus more for garnish
1/2 cup hot water
4 dashes Angostura bitters
8 oz. Brandy - Another quick lesson - this is a long post!  Brandy is a spirit the is produced by distilling wine and is typically taken as an after dinner drink.  Some of the most renowned varieties are Cognac and Armagnac produced in Southwestern France.  For the recipe I have used Courvoisier  which is a Cognac.  Another delicious variety of Cognac is D'ussé.  
Chilled club soda
Non stick pan
Medium mixing bowl, mixing spoon and measuring cups/spoons
Container with an easy pour rim
Star cookie cutter - optional
Chef's knife
Wooden or mother of pearl spoon
Cocktail shaker
Medium bowl
Chef's knife
Measuring cups
4 serving glasses
-In a medium sized bowl, combine the gluten free baking mix with the milk and mix well.  Add the egg, yogurt and salt.  Mix well until combined.  Put the batter into a container with an easy pour rim.  Over medium-high heat.  Pour the batter into one-inch rounds onto your All-Clad non-stick pan.  Cook until slightly browned. 2-3 minutes per side. 
-While the Blinis are cooking, start to cut out your Nova stars.  Place in plastic wrap until needed.  Next, combine the chives, 4 oz. of crème fraîche and 1/4 teaspoon or salt and pepper.  Mix well and refrigerate.  It will firm up a little in the fridge.  
-Prepare the dill sprigs.  Just a small amount.  Too much garnish looks like a tree.  
-This recipe makes 48-52 blinis.  You can cut the recipe in half or make them all and freeze half.  They should be served room temperature.
-Top the blini with 1/2 teaspoon of crème fraîche.  Next add the star.  About 1/8 teaspoon of caviar or roe.  And top with the dill.  Enjoy!
-Zest two oranges and combine them with 1/2 cup sugar in a medium sized bowl.  To zest the orange, cut off the peel and avoid the white pith which can be bitter.  Using your hands, mix the zest and sugar together until it resembles sand.  
-Let it sit for 4 hours at room temp.  Add in the 5 Maraschino cherries and refrigerate overnight.  
-After it has sat overnight, add 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Refrigerate again until cool and then strain. 
-Fill 4 cocktail glasses with ice.  
-In a cocktail shaker filled half way with ice, combine 8 oz. of Brandy, 2 tablespoons of the simple syrup and 4 dashes of bitters. Shake well and pour about each glass half way full.  Top each drink off with club soda and your garnish of choice and enjoy!  

This drink was so tasty.  Sweet but not overly sweet - it was really so delicious.  It reminded me of old Hollywood glamour.  I just bought these glasses from Tiffany & Co. as a Valentine's gift for Jake along with some Johnnie Walker Blue.  I love the look of them!  This recipe comes from Food and Wine:

I thought the stars were perfect for an Oscars party but it's not necessary.  You can just simply cut a small piece of Nova.

For the simple syrup for the drink, take the zest of two oranges and rub in 1/2 cup of sugar until it looks like sand and let if sit for 4 hours.  Then add in 5 Maraschino cherries and refrigerate it overnight.  

Next, add in 1/2 cup of boiling water and refrigerate until cool.  Then strain.  You'll have a lot of the simple syrup left over for other drinks.

To make the Blinis, just pour the batter into 1-inch diameter circles on a non-stick pan.  I have the All-Clad non-stick omelet pan and I love it.  I use it all of the time.  

To make the Nova stars, just get a star cutter cookie that is about 1-inch in diameter.

Vermont Creamery is my favorite brand of crème fraîche.  The chives should be a small chop.

I LOVE caviar and roe and you can use any style that you like.  I particularly like this brand that is infused with truffle.  And surprise - it's under $20.  There are definitely more superior versions that you can buy like sturgeon or golden caviar but I think this tastes great and serves it's purpose for this recipe.  Also, it's important to note that over fishing of the Caspian Sea has greatly depleted the sturgeon population.  Consider buying caviar and roe from more abundant species until the Caspian Sea sturgeon can re-populate.   For example, Beluga caviar comes from the Beluga Sturgeon found primarily in the Caspian Sea.  It's about $250 for 2 ounces.  It's absolutely delicious but probably best to leave that one alone for now.  It's better for your wallet and the environment.  Another option would be the Hackleback Sturgeon Caviar.  It's an American caviar derived from the mid-west.  It's about $70 or 2 ounces.  

When serving caviar you should you a mother of pearl spoon or a small wooden spoon.  Some metals may affect the flavor of the caviar.

This is a little late, but because this is an Oscars themed post, I have to share my two absolute favorite  dresses of the night.  Rosamund Pike on the left in Givenchy and Julianne Moore in Chanel both look incredible.  Julianne Moore always makes the most perfect dress choices.  She is beyond stunning.  Rosamund Pike's Givenchy suits her perfectly.  What a bombshell.  I love watching the Oscars for the red carpet dresses.  They are amazing.  

*This recipe makes 48-52 blinis and the drink serves 4 people.  The recipes can be doubled or halved.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Drumsticks in a Lemon Garlic Sauce with Roasted Potatoes and Smoky Aioli

I created this dish because I was craving something new and really good but I needed it to be easy and something that I could get on the table quickly for weeknight dinners.  I am finding that I have less patience than usual for doing dishes, so I needed an easy prep and a no fuss clean up.  This dish can be prepared a few days in advance, so all you need to do is pop it into the oven and you are all set.  Plus, there are few things I find more delicious than these warm baby potatoes and the sweet, smoky aioli with a kiss of lemon.  It's mouth watering and perfect on a cold night -which we are having a lot of lately.   I am becoming very jealous of people who live in southern California.  If it's below 30, I can't deal.  Make this dinner to spice up a weeknight meal.  It's adult and kid approved.  Enjoy!    

Fill a baking dish with drumsticks.  They can sit in the refrigerator over night and the marinade can be made two days in advance.  You just pour the marinade on top and you're all set.  

La Recette:

15-16 organic* chicken drumsticks
2 lbs. baby potatoes (any variety will work)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Marinade- (can be made two days in advance)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/3 cup white wine
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon rosemary minced
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Ailoi- (can be made two days in advance and I keep it in the fridge for up to five days)
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 extra large eggs yolks - room temperature**
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 cup organic canola oil
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
 Freshly ground pepper
4-5 cups arugula 
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 large baking dishes
Small sauce pan
Vitamix, food processor, blender or a small bowl with a whisk will work if you don't have either of 
Mixing spoons and measuring spoons
Small and medium bowls for the salad and dressing
Small whisk

-Salt and pepper the drumsticks generously and place them in a large baking dish.  Set aside and let them rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes before baking.
-Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Immediately turn down the heat and simmer for about 2 minutes.  This can be made one - two days in advance.  If you make it two days in advance just re-heat the marinade.  If you make it a day in advance, pour it over the chicken and keep in the refrigerator overnight.  Turn the drumsticks in the baking dish a few times to make sure that they are coated well.  If  you are making it the same day, just give it a least an hour to marinate and don't forget to let the chicken rest a room temp for 20 minutes.
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
-Place the washed baby potatoes in the other baking dish and toss with two tablespoons of olive oil.  Salt and pepper generously and place in the lower rack of the oven about 15 minutes before the chicken.  Mix the potatoes a few times while they are in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
-When you are ready to put the chicken in, place it on the top rack.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Remove the potatoes and broil the chicken for 5 minutes to get the top extra crispy.  
-Next, you can make the aioli (aioli is basically mayonnaise with garlic) in advance or do it while the potatoes and chicken are in the oven.  In your vessel of choice, place the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and room temperature egg yolks.  Spin it a few times until combined.   With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the cup of canola oil.  After a while, it will start to sound thick and look like mayonnaise.  Next add in the smoked paprika, salt and pepper.  Spin it again for 10-15 seconds and pour into a small serving dish.
-Now you can prepare the salad.  I always try to buy pre-washed greens to save on time.  And you can really use any green you prefer, spinach, kale, etc…
-Place all of the dressing ingredients into a bowl and whisk well for 10-15 seconds.  Pour over salad. 
-Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the potatoes and serve potatoes and chicken warm.  Enjoy!  

-Serves 4-5 adults
*I am pretty much dedicated to eating organic whenever possible so I'll refrain from writing it on every single ingredient going forward.  It's better for you and better for the environment.  And worth every penny.  Eat local, fresh, seasonal and organic!
**When you make aioli, the eggs need to be room temp.  Cold eggs won't work.  If you are forgetful like me and don't remember to set the eggs out, place them in warm water for about 10 minutes.  

Friday, January 16, 2015


This is my all time, hands down favorite ice cream flavor - EVER.  It's so delicious - the perfect blend of refreshing banana and rich, chocolate creaminess.  My good friend Natalie introduced me to this flavor. She is an expert ice cream maker and inspired me to pull out my ice cream machine, dust it off and create some mouth watering flavors.  It's actually a dangerous concoction because the ice cream is so light on your palette, it's easy to keep going back for more.  I definitely have to put a limit on the amount I eat.  It's just so good and I love ice cream so much, I make it right on through the winter months.  If you don't have an ice cream maker, invest in one.  You can find one on Amazon for about $50.  Homemade ice cream is so much better than anything store bought.  On a side note, I'm not really using Nutella anymore.  I prefer to buy a chocolate-hazelnut spread at Whole Foods. It's the same thing, just more natural.  It also makes a great hostess gift if you are going to a dinner party or a play date.  I know it's not nut free but I'll post something soon about just using a chocolate ganache.  It is egg free though! This recipe is based on a recipe from The Ample Hills Creamery cookbook, and Natalie and I have made a few changes to it.  Enjoy and if you don't have an ice cream maker - run, don't walk and buy one.  Have a great weekend!

La Recette-

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup cane sugar (preferably organic - better for you and the earth)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 pound bananas, peeled (3-4)
2 cups heavy cream
Chocolate hazelnut swirl:
1- 13 ish oz. jar of chocolate hazelnut spread
1/2 cup heavy cream

Ice cream maker
Measuring cups and spoons
Blender, Vitamix. or food processor 
Large and medium size bowls
2 mixing spoons

-Place the milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and bananas in a blender.  Blend until smooth.
-Pour the banana mixture into a large bowl and add the 2 cups of cream.  Mix well until combined and refrigerate for at least two hours.  
-Next, start to churn the ice cream based on the instructions for your particular machine.  It usually takes about 15 minutes.
-While the banana mixture is churning, you can make the chocolate hazelnut spread.   Pour the spread into a medium bowl.  Then add in the 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Mix well.  It should have the consistency of honey.  Set aside.  
-When the ice cream is ready, you'll be transferring it into a storage container.  Spread a small amount of the choc-hazelnut swirl on the bottom of the container*.  Then pour in a little ice cream and then the choc-hazelnut swirl again.  Using the spoon, swirl it around to create a kind of marbled look and keep alternating with the swirl and the ice cream.  Don't over mix it though.   A little swirling goes a long way.
-Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.  

*Sur la Table has some really nice inexpensive containers.
**Makes just under 2 quarts.

I love awards season and because the Golden Globes were this past Sunday, I thought I would share my favorite dresses from the night.  There were so many great looks but in my opinion, these were the best.  Clockwise from the left, Dakota Johnson is wearing Chanel Couture, Julianne Moore is wearing  Givenchy Haute Couture (my personal fav - she always looks beyond stunning), Salma Hayek-Pinault is wearing Alexander McQueen, and Jessica Chastain is wearing Atelier Versace.  Although I don't get to see all of the movies I would like (unless they are animated), I love watching the awards shows and seeing all of the fabulous dresses.

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