Monthly Archives: May 2010

Hot Artichoke Dip

(For all my PAWS friends)

Last week, PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) had its annual wine tasting fundraiser.  I have been preparing the appetizers for the event for years, and  a mainstay dish that I serve is Hot Artichoke Dip.  It is a raving hit each time.  There are no surprises with the recipe—it is basically 4 ingredients, but for some reason the crowd goes wild for it.  For parties or events, I triple the basic recipe and bake it in a large casserole dish.

PAWS is a nonprofit no-kill animal shelter located in Norwalk, CT, that I have been volunteering with for the past 7 years.  PAWS uses a network of volunteers and paid staff who provide shelter, medical care and affection while finding loving homes for homeless or abused dogs and cats. I have to say it is the best thing I have done—both for me and the animals. Their website is www.pawsct.org. Feel free to send a donation if you are so inclined.  The animals will greatly appreciate it.

Now, for all my PAWS Artichoke Dip fans, here is the recipe!!

Hot Artichoke Dip
Makes 2 and 1/2 cups

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
paprika
assorted crackers, bread cubes, cut up vegetables

– Preheat oven to 375°.  In medium bowl, stir together artichoke hearts, cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder. Spoon into a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
– Bake about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, bread cubes or vegetables.

Tips

– Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd.

– Do not use marinated artichokes.

Cathy

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Filed under Appetizer, Artichokes, Dips, Entertaining

Best-dressed Chocolate Truffle Cake

To bake or not to bake? That is often the question in our hurried world. We all like to serve up something special, but we do not always have the luxury of time. My cousin ML, who lives in New York City, likes to say “If I can buy it within a six-block radius, I consider it homemade!” Luckily, as my cousin could attest,

there are an increasing number of top-quality desserts available in the freezer section of better grocery stores.

It’s easy to dress up a store-bought confection, especially if you start with a quality product. In this photo, one of my favorites from alacarte, our food stylist Cathy Paukner began with a boxed and frozen single-layer chocolate truffle cake. Using a fine mesh sieve, she dusted it lightly with unsweetened cocoa powder, and added a few luscious fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint. Presented on a pretty pink porcelain plate, the dessert looks as if you had spent hours in the kitchen baking and garnishing, when in fact, all you did was purchase and thaw. Wouldn’t “Purchase & Thaw” be a great name for a new food blog? Maybe my cousin could start it…

Heather

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Filed under Chocolate, Dessert, Entertaining, Foodies

LOL… Lots of Lobster!

New England. While it’s often cold and rainy, and while the winters are ridiculously long, we do have more than our fair share of perks to balance things out—gorgeous autumn leaves, the Red Sox, maple syrup, the list goes on and on. And no doubt about it, we have the world’s best lobster—and really, is there anything better than that?

A few weeks ago, I stopped at Danny’s Drive-In, one of those classic drive-ins where it’s like stepping back in time. Danny’s has been serving up cheeseburgers, milkshakes, fried clam strips, onions rings and more since 1935. (Health food it’s not!) When I pulled into the parking lot, I immediately noticed a sign that read “Yes, we have lobster rolls!” I promptly placed my order and, well…WOW! This was easily one of the best meals I’ve enjoyed ever.

The beauty of a lobster roll is in the simplicity. A soft hot dog bun piled high with warm, buttery lobster meat, served with a little cup of drawn butter and a lemon wedge. That’s it. That’s all you need. Take a bite and let the butter drip down your chin. Mmmm!

Heather

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Filed under Lobster, Restaurants, Reviews, Seafood

Bone Suckin’ Chicken

When Autumn arrives each year, we put everything that is remotely associated with summer weather away for the winter, including the grill. Come May, when the warm weather finally returns, it’s once again grilling time. Out comes the patio furniture, the umbrella, the garden  “chochkes” and of course, THE GRILL. We are once again ready for summer!

I have been saving a jar of Bone Suckin’ Sauce, produced by Ford’s Gourmet Foods, for our first BBQ post of the season. I picked up a sample at the Fancy Food Show last year.  It was worth waiting for!  I decided to use it on chicken, and believe me, it tasted every bit as good as it looks in this picture!  The recipe is so easy and the flavor screams BBQ.  You can find the sauce at Whole Foods Markets, Stew Leonards, and specialty food stores. Or, you can order Bone Suckin’ products from their website. Anyway, here’s the recipe (I’m telling you, it is so easy!)

as photographed by our team, alacartepartners


Bone Suckin’ Grilled Chicken

Makes 4 servings

3 pounds chicken parts
1 cup Bone Suckin’ Sauce

– Spray grill grate with non-stick cooking spray, then preheat grill to medium heat.

– Place chicken on grill and cook about 40 – 50 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until juices run clear.

– During last 20 minutes of cooking, brush with Bone Suckin’ Sauce, turning frequently. (Total cooking time is 40-50 minutes).

Tip

– Serve with grilled corn on the cob.  Soak the whole cobs in a pot of cold water for 15 minutes. Remove from water and pull the husks of the corn back without removing them. Remove and discard only the silk, keeping the husks attached. Brush corn with vegetable or olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt or a seasoned pepper. Wrap the husks back over the kernels and tie each ear with a piece of  husk or twine. Place the  corn on grill, rotating it occasionally  to prevent it  from getting charred too much on one side. After a couple of turns, place the corn  on  indirect heat and close the cover.  The total cooking time should be about 15 minutes.

Cathy

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Filed under BBQ, Chicken, Reviews

Cheese, Please!

On a gloomy & rainy spring afternoon a few weeks ago, I met a colleague for lunch in the city. She took me to Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro, a charming place just around the corner from her office on Park Avenue. “Everything’s good here,” she said as the waitress handed us menus, “but I usually  order the Cheese Board.”  I quickly scanned the menu and, although there were lots of tempting choices, I decided to take Helene’s advice and ordered the Cheese Board.

The waitress reappeared with a beautifully arranged plate featuring wedges of  three different cheeses, a halved fresh fig, a cluster of red grapes, pear slices, walnut halves, and delicate spring greens. Did I mention we also had a basket of fresh baguette slices? Mmmm. A little bite of cheese, a nibble of pear, a crunch of walnut, perhaps another slice of bread….just a happy mix of flavors and textures. So very civilized!  My day had brightened considerably by the end of this wonderful meal. Upon leaving, I requested the names of the three featured cheeses. They were Buche du Poitou (a French goat cheese), Coolea, and Cashel Blue (both Irish cow’s milk cheeses).

Try this at home… a Cheese Board is so simple to make. Start by selecting a couple of interesting cheeses—perhaps a sheep’s milk, a cow’s milk and a goat’s milk. Allow one ounce of each cheese per serving. Arrange your Cheese Board with the cheeses, lightly dressed (just a touch of oil and vinegar) greens, nuts, fruit, and of course, fresh French bread. Bon Appetit!

Note: the selection of cheeses in our photo are a Rosenborg Castello (Danish Blue), a Wisconsin Gouda, and a Chevre.

Heather

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Filed under Cheese, Entertaining, Main Dishes, Salad

Brie ‘n Basil Bites

Next to my Famous Chicken Casserole that’s technically not even mine, this pretty little appetizer is my most requested recipe. Last week, my loyal & hardworking foodie friend Patti whipped up a double batch of these for me to take to a charity event for which I had volunteered to cook. (I have really nice friends.) The Brie ‘n Basil Bites were, as always, a big hit, and there were numerous requests for the recipe. Luckily, I had the foresight to ask Patti to save some of the cheese mixture so I could take it to the studio the next day and have Joe shoot the “bites.”  So here goes, an enticing photo from ALACARTE and the recipe!

Brie ‘n Basil Bites

Makes about 4 dozen

Adorable and totally delicious—as every good appetizer should be.

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 small garlic clove
4 ounces Mascarpone cheese
4 ounces  Brie or Taleggio cheese (rind removed), cut into 4 pieces
3/4 ounce lean prosciutto, minced
about 4 dozen crisp crackers, such as Wheat Thins Big
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
about 4 dozen tiny basil (or parsley) leaves

– In food processor with motor running, add  basil and garlic through feed tube and process until minced.  Add Mascarpone and Brie cheeses; process until smooth.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add prosciutto.  Process just until combined. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate mixture for 1 or 2 days.)

– Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe cheese mixture onto each cracker or  use a small spoon to dollop  cheese mixture onto crackers.

– Garnish with pine nuts and basil leaves.  Serve immediately.

Tips

– There is nothing as wonderfully creamy as Mascarpone, an Italian triple cream cheese. If you cannot find Mascarpone, mix together 4 ounces of best-quality cream cheese with 2 tablespoons heavy cream as a substitution.

– You can substitute ham for prosciutto.  A suggestion would be Black Forest ham, but any cooked ham would be fine.

– Taleggio is a pungent cow’s milk cheese from the Lombardy region of Italy. The cheese is cave aged and becomes quite tangy.  Taleggio is sometimes referred to as “Italy’s answer to Brie!”

Heather

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Filed under Appetizer, Cheese, Entertaining, Foodies

Curry in a Hurry

I was driving home to Connecticut after a long workday in Manhattan, and I got a craving for curry.  Don’t ask me why, it has been a long time since I’ve had it.  Anyway, I had taken a few chicken breasts out of the freezer to defrost for dinner, so I knew I had that to start with when I got home.  I really didn’t want to stop at the store on the way home, because as it is, I feel like I live in the supermarket for work!!  So when I got home, I searched my cabinets and refrigerator to see what I could make that would satisfy my curry craving.  I had red peppers, potatoes, and coconut milk (the real stuff, not the pina colada kind!) and all the spices I needed.  I also found duck sauce which I knew would add a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of tartness.  I am all about quick meals during the week, so here goes—Cathy’s Curry in a Hurry!  Serve it over brown or white rice.

Curry in a Hurry

Makes 2 servings (recipe can be doubled)

3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
4 baby Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound boneless, skinless, chicken tenders, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon duck sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk

– In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat.  Add potatoes, red pepper and onion; cook, stirring, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute.

– To vegetables in skillet, add curry powder, coriander, cumin and salt; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Remove mixture from skillet.

– Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet; heat until hot.  Add chicken; cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Stir in duck sauce.

– Return vegetable mixture to skillet.  Stir in coconut milk; cook and stir until heated through.

Tips

– The next time you get a craving for something,  rustle through your kitchen and see what you can find. It’s creative and fun to put ingredients together—and even more fun to know you came up with your own creation!

– Real coconut milk can be found in Asian section of your supermarket.

– If you have frozen peas, throw a handful into the skillet with the coconut milk.

Cathy

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Filed under Chicken, Main Dishes, Potatoes, Skillet Dinner