February 18, 2011

Crostini with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Red Onion, Topped with an Apple Slice

I have been wanting to make a crostini with Gorgonzola, but most of the recipes I found featured it with pear. While I love pears, I wanted a little more crunch on the top of my crostini. So I put my own twist on this all time favorite.


1 loaf of French bread
crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 red onion slices thin
1 granny smith apple or any apple, you chose the sweetness or
   tartness. (Tip: after slicing the apple, place slices in lemon water,
   this will help to prevent the apple from turning brown)


Pour olive oil into a skillet and when the oil is hot, saute the onion until caramelized, stirring continually to prevent the onion from burning, about 15-20 minutes.

Slice the French bread into 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the sliced bread on the sheet, then drizzle a little olive oil on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 5-8 minutes or until the bread turns slightly golden in color.

Remove bread and immediately place the Gorgonzola on top. The cheese should melt a little. (If your cheese does not melt you can pop the bread with the cheese on top into the microwave for a few seconds until the melting process begins) Then place the sauteed onion on top of the cheese and then top with a slice of apple and serve.

February 17, 2011

Liquid Gold...Olive Oil

                                  Santorini, Greece

I have always been a big fan of Mediterranean fare, particularly the food of the Greece. Greek food shares many of the same characteristics as the food of both Turkey and Italy. Fresh lemon paired with fish or poultry, olives, tomatoes, and it includes herbs like basil and oregano. But probably the most ancient element of Greek cuisine and most prime to the Mediterranean diet is olive oil.

Homer called it "liquid gold." In ancient Greece, athletes ritually rubbed it all over their bodies. Olive oil has been more than mere food to the peoples of the Mediterranean: it has been medicinal, magical, an endless source of fascination and wonder and the fountain of great wealth and power. The olive tree is a symbol of abundance, glory and peace.

In recent years we have heard about all the health benefits we get when we ingest olive oil. Olive oils pocesses antioxidative substances, and studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels.
Olive oil is also very well tolerated by the stomach and actually can serve to protect it. And the regular consumption of olive oil can reduce the incidence of gallstone formation.

But what I like best about olive aside from its health benefits is it versatility. The *Extra Virgin Olive has a high smoke point which means it can be heated up to 400 degrees and is an excellent choice when frying. I also love the taste! Olive oil has to be one of, if not my absolute favorite, kitchen must haves. I use it every day either in cooking or just alone on a cracker! Homer had it right…olive oil is pure liquid gold!

* All olive oils that are less than 1% acidity and produced by the first pressing of the olive fruit through the cold pressing process is called extra-virgin olive oil.

Pomegranate with Sliced Banana and a Lime and Brown Sugar Drizzle

One fruit which has been in the headlines as far as having antioxidants and wonderful health benefits is the age old pomegranate. I had never had this tart flavored fruit until last year. Actually what you eat are the seeds of the fruit. Brightly colored and deep red seeds which can be a bit tricky to extract from the fruit, but what you get back is well worth the effort. I usually de-seed this fruit using a large bowl or pot filled with water. These juicy seeds tend to squirt as you pull them off their membranes and you can end up with both a counter to and shirt full of juice sprays. Opening them under the water eliminates the risk of the seeds making a big mess.
This recipe is so easy and quick, not to forget the abundance of  potassium, vitamin C and fiber it packs.

All you need is half a banana and the seeds of half of one pomegranate. Slice the banana and place on plate, then pour your seeds over the top. In a small bowl, mix together 1 T of fresh lime juice and 1-2 T of brown sugar, it should have a syrup-like consistency. You can adjust these amounts depending on whether you prefer a more sweet or more tart dish. I like the sweet because it balances out the pomegranate's tartness. 

Then pour the mixture over your fruit and enjoy!

February 16, 2011

Dukkah...an Egyptian Spice Blend

The first time I made this blend was for a party I threw during the 2008 Olympic games. My husband had invited our neighbors to join us and taste "Foods from around the world". This of course had not been cleared with the chef (me) first. So I felt compelled to deliver what was promised. I went on the internet and started to do searches on different ethnic foods and I came across this one. Dukkah is a blend of nuts, seeds and spices, and with its unique flavor it is totally addicting. Typically I serve it with olive oil and a bread. I dip the bread in the oil and then pick up some of the spice blend. The flavor is nothing like I had ever tasted before and once I started eating it I just didn't want to stop. You will notice that the ingredients, as we know now, are very healthy for our bodies. Sprinkle a little on your salad for an exciting new twist!


2/3 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon flaked sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and bake for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant. While the nuts are still hot, pour them onto a tea towel. Fold the towel over them to cover, and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Set aside to cool.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until light golden brown. Pour into a medium bowl as soon as they are done so they will not continue toasting. In the same skillet, toast the coriander and cumin seeds while shaking the pan or stirring occasionally until they begin to pop.

Transfer to a food processor or blender. Process until finely ground, then pour into the bowl with the sesame seeds. Place the cooled hazelnuts into the food processor, and process until finely ground. Stir into the bowl with the spices. Season with salt and pepper, and mix well.              

This is in 2 parts, but in the first part Chef Ramsay shows how to season the scallops and put them into the pan properly!

February 15, 2011

Sea Scallops with a Tarragon Butter Sauce

You can't go wrong with scallops and white wine, and the tarragon adds an extra dimension of flavor. One trick to making sure your scallops are cooked properly is tohave the oil in your pan hot, the scallops should sizzle when they hit the pan. Also place the scallops in the pan, don't toss them in.


2 T of olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 lbs sea scallops
1 tsp salt
about 3-4 grinds of fresh pepper
1/3 dry white wine
1T lemon zest
2 T of fresh chopped tarragon


In large non-stick frying pan, heat 1 T of olive oil with 1 T of butter over medium heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Put half of the scallops in the pan and cook until brown. Repeat process with the remaining scallops.
When done with the scallops, wipe out the pan and add you wine. Boil wine until it is reduced to about 2 T. Whisk the remaining butter into the wine, but make sure the butter does not melt completely, just soft enough to form a smooth sauce. Add some salt, lemon zest and tarragon and pour over the scallops.

For more information and demonstration on how to cook perfect scallops click on the hyperlink below!


Smoked Salmon and Arugula Tossed with Spaghetti

I think this dish would be a wonderful addition to a brunch menu as well as a great alternative for serving smoked salmon. The bled of the salty smoky salmon with the bite of the arugula compliment one another beautifully. (Although the arugula does loose some of its bite after sauteing.) You only need to season with a little salt and some pepper. I really like this dish!


12 oz of dried spaghetti
2 T olive oil
1 garlic clove finely chopped
4 oz smoked salmon sliced into thin strips
2 oz of arugula
salt and pepper


Bring large pot of water to a boil and add your spaghetti, cook 8-10 minutes.
Heat olive oil in skillet and add the garlic (I love olive oil and garlic, so I always keep a carafe of olive oil with garlic cloves in it so I have a flavored oil to work with when recipes call for this combination) Watch your garlic so it doesn't burn and saute for one minute. Toss in the arugula and salmon and stir for one minute.
Drain your pasta and toss with the salmon and arugula. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

February 14, 2011

A Very Decadent Chocolate Cake

This cake  recipe calls for semi-sweet dark chocolate and drizzles of Raspberry Liguor...

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Chambourd raspberry liqueur, for drizzling
  • Chocolate Chip Butter Cream, recipe follows
  • Dark chocolate shavings, for decoration

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 3 minutes. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the cold water. Beat for 1 minute after each addition to incorporate the ingredients. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut 2 circles of parchment paper to fit the pan bottoms and place them inside the pans; then spray the paper for added non-stick insurance. Pour batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula; the pans should be 2/3 full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes,.

Leave to cool for 45 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and remove the paper. Drizzle them with a several tablespoons of Chambourd. Using a spatula, spread 1/2 cup butter cream on top 1 of the layers. Carefully place the second layer on top. Smooth the sides with butter cream then spread the rest over the top so that the cake is completely covered. Refrigerate for 5 minutes before decorating or cutting.

With a large knife scrape some shavings from a block of dark chocolate. Scatter shavings over cake and around the diameter of cake. Top with some fresh raspberries!

Chocolate Chip Butter Cream:
3 cups powdered sugar                                                                 
7 tablespoons hot water
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 T. cocoa powder

In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the sugar and water at low speed. Beat in the dark chocolate and vanilla and add cocoa powder. Add butter gradually in small bits. Mix until everything is completely blended. Using a spatula, fold in the chopped chocolate and give a final quick spin.

Chris's Rating...8 out of 10

Happy St. Valentines Day...

...From the Big Giant Food Basket

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