Raspberry and Blackberry Buttermilk Shortcakes

This is a Guest Post by my wonderful and very culinarily talented sister Martha Biddle. Martha is a knitter, baker, juice enthusiast, summer camp counselor, and aspiring psychologist.    My favorite summer dessert is strawberry shortcake. While my girlfriend’s family make … Continue reading

Pear and Gorgonzola Bites

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Earlier this summer I attended a wedding and, true to form, the first thing I did after the ceremony was find the door that the servers were walking out of so that I could nab food in as efficient and yummy a way a possible. My favorite bite of the night was puff pastry with pear, gorgonzola cheese, and caramelized onions. I was determined to figure out how to make it and decided to test it out at a gathering for Nick Troiano at my apartment. I’m proud to say that they came out wonderfully and were super simple to make. Definitely found my new go-to party bite!

Pear and Gorgonzola Bites (20-25) 

  • 1 box frozen puff pastry (I suggest Pepperidge Farm)
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • 2 pears
  1. Slice onions 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. Caramelize in a medium skillet over low heat with a little olive oil, stirring occasionally. The key here is to give the onions lots of time and not to rush, ideally cook for 1-2 hours.
  2. Remove puff pastry from freezer. Preheat oven to 375F.
  3. Cut pears into a small dice.
  4. Slice puff pastry (not frozen, but still as cold as possible) into medium-sized rectangles, approx. 3.5″ x 1.5″.
  5. Transfer puff pastry rectangles to 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
  6. Place a small dollop of caramelized onions in the center of each rectangle. Top with about 1/2 tsp of pear and 1/2 tsp crumbled gorgonzola.
  7. Place baking sheets in freezer for 15 minutes. This is important because for the puff pastry to puff (which is sort of the point) it needs to go into the oven cold.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve warm.

 

Need other party nibbles? Check out these recipes!

Chilled Shrimp Salsa

Polenta Triangles with Honeyed Goat Cheese 

4 Easy Party Bites 

Chilled Shrimp Salsa

As I’ve written about on my other blog, I cater events at my loft sometimes for shits and giggles. For these events, I have a bad habit of trying out recipes that I’ve never done before. I come up with the menu, buy the ingredients, and hope for the best. So far I haven’t had any major catastrophes and it’s generally a lot of fun!
Tuesday night we hosted an event for Nick Troiano, an independent, citizen-funded candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District who also happens to be totally awesome. Since the weather has been unbearably hot lately in NYC, I wanted to put food out that was light, fresh, and healthy without sacrificing bold flavors. Cue the idea for a seafood salsa. This chilled ‘salsa’ is delicious served on thinly sliced cucumber, as a dip for tortilla chips, or as a taco filling with avocado, sour cream, and queso fresco.

Chilled Shrimp Salsa on Cucumber Rounds

Chilled Shrimp Salsa 
*Serves 30-40 as an hors d’oeuvres or 10-15 as an appetizer
2 lb fresh or thawed shrimp, deveined and tails removed
4 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon, sliced
3 Tomatoes, minced
1 red onion, minced
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro, minced
3 limes, juiced
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Fill a large pot with water and place over medium/high heat. Add garlic, lemon slices, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn heat off, add shrimp, stir gently until shrimp are cooked – about 2 1/2 minutes. Strain shrimp and set aside until cool.
  3. Once cool, chop shrimp into small pieces less than 1/2″ in size.
  4. Combine tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and shrimp in a bowl. Add lime juice and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cover and return to fridge until chilled. Serve cold.

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Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mint Pesto

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Grilled Leg of Lamb with Mint Pesto (Serves 6-8)
  • LAMB
    • 3 1/2 -4 1/2 lb Butterflied Leg of Lamb
    • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
    • 1/2 cup chopped mint
    • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  • MINT PESTO
    • 1/2 cup mint
    • 1/3 cup parsley
    • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Coat lamb in olive oil and lemon juice. Combine Salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs in a small bowl. Press into the lamb and let sit covered in a cool room for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hrs.
  2. Start grill. It should be VERY HOT.
  3. Blend all pesto ingredients together in a blender, set aside.
  4. When the grill is hot, lift the lamb from the marinate, allowing excess oil to drip off and place on the hottest part fatty side down. Because of the oil and herbs it will probably flair up. That’s awesome. Just step back so you don’t burn your eyebrows off.
  5. Grill for ~10 minutes per side depending on the size of the roast. Note: grill longer if you don’t like your meat rare/medium rare.
  6. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, preferably longer, before slicing. Top with mint pesto and serve with warm pita, grilled vegetables, and tzatziki sauce.

A Twist on A Classic Mignonette

 

 

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Mignonette, the acidic sauce served beside or on top of oysters, helps to balance out oysters salty sweetness. You might not make one often, but having a mignonette in your cooking repertoire is a must. This is especially true as the weather heats up and summer barbecues fill our calendars. When you pick up your oysters, say no to the sickly sweet cocktail sauce and whip up your own quick mignonette. This recipe uses the milder and more nuanced white balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and makes enough for one dozen oysters, scale up as needed and serve in a small dish.

Mignonette

  • 2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp minced parsley

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve.

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Spaghetti Carbonara

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Oh pasta, how I love you. Carbs are a good friend of mine as are bacon, eggs, and cheese, all key ingredients in the Italian classic carbonara. It’s a simple dish but also an easy dish to mess up. Add the pasta without tempering the eggs first and you might end up with an unappetizing scramble.

I topped my carbonara with a bunch of green beans because veggies are important and I like my veggies covered in silky sauce and bacon. Traditional carbonara is veggie-free and so I apologize to all you traditionalists, go authentic by going veggie-free. Using dried pasta is also important. Fresh pasta is amazing, but it actually doesn’t hold onto sauce as well as dried pasta. More important than carbonara’s veggie-less state or pasta is the black pepper. Go big or go home as freshly cracked black pepper gives carbonara the blast of flavor that it’s iconic for.

Spaghetti Carbonara (Serves 4)

  • 3/4-1 lb dried spaghetti
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated or shaved parmesan
  • 1 tsp salt
  • lots of cracked black pepper
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  1. Cut bacon into 1/2″ pieces and cook until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Save 1 tbsp of bacon fat.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  3. Whisk 2 eggs in a large heat proof bowl. Add bacon fat, parmesan, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Whisk together.
  4. Cook pasta till al dente.
  5. Drain pasta reserving 1/2 cup water.
  6. Slowly pour hot pasta water into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously.
  7. Add bacon and pasta to the mixture. Toss to combine and serve immediately.

Turkey Chili for a Crowd

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I’ve put myself on a pretty strict budget lately. The best way to keep to it? Cooking for myself. Big pot meals like casseroles, pasta dishes, and the like are the easiest and most cost effective way to stick to my financial plan.

Every Halloween my mom makes a huge batch of chili and invites everyone in town over. Her chili is legendary and is based primarily on the Silver Palate Cookbook’s “Chili For a Crowd.” To make chili healthier and more inexpensive per serving I’ve substituted in turkey and added mushrooms. I suggest topping it off with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream.

TURKEY CHILI FOR A CROWD (serves 10)

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound yellow onions coarsely chopped
1.5 lb ground turkey
6 oz tomato paste
1 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tbsp cup ground cumin
1.5 tbsp cup chili powder
2 tbsp cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt to taste
1 tablespoons freshly-ground black pepper
2 cans Italian plum tomatoes – (28 oz ea) drained
10 oz sliced white mushrooms
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp cup chopped parsley
1 can dark-red kidney beans – (16 oz ea) drained

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 15 minutes. Add the ground turkey; cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the meat is cooked through. Stir in mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, cumin, chili powder, mustard, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, parsley, mushrooms, and kidney beans. Stir well and lower to a simmer. Cook covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for another 30 minutes.

Serve immediately or portion into containers to freeze.

(adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook)

4 Easy Party Bites

We do events at my office pretty frequently and I often have the pleasure of taking the lead on making sure people are fed. Sometimes it’s dinner, sometimes it’s cocktail party fair, but it’s always vegetarian (with the occasional sustainable seafood thrown in the mix). As an avid carnivore, when I think canapes and hor d’oeuvres my mind immediately goes to bacon wrapped dates, bacon wrapped scallops, sausage stuffed mushrooms, pigs in a blanket…basically a lot of pork products. That said, I love myself some vegetables and so I embrace the challenge to create bites that are yummy enough that you don’t miss the bacon and filling enough that you don’t start gnawing on the compostable plates. Which are not actually edible, I have tried.

Below are 4 super easy canapes/hor d’oeuvres that are sure to please even the most cantankerous carnivore while keeping the veggie lovers happy!

Goat Cheese and Fig Jam Toast Drizzled with a Honey Balsamic Reduction
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Cut a baguette thinly (<1/2") and on a bias. Toast the pieces until lightly browned. Reduce 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp honey in a small saucepan until reduced by at least 1/2. Smear toasts with goat cheese and a small amount of fig jam. Drizzle with honey balsamic reduction. If the reduction hardens, microwave for 5 second intervals. Makes about 30.

Smoked Salmon with Red Onion and Dill Cream Cheese on a Cucumber Slice
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Slice a cucumber into 25-30 1/4″ slices. Stir together 8oz softened cream cheese, 2 tbsp finely minced red onion, 1 tbsp minced dill, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and a pinch of salt until fully combined. Transfer to a piping bag. Pipe about 1 tsp of the cream cheese mixture onto each cucumber slice. Top with a piece of high-quality smoked salmon (about 1″ sq). Garnish with a sprig of dill. Makes 25-30.

Vegetarian Take on Smoked Salmon on a Cucumber Slice
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Follow all of the directions of the previous recipe but replace the smoked salmon with a shaving of carrot.

Traditional Bruschetta
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Combine 2 cups diced tomato (with the seeds removed), 1/3 cup finely diced red onion, 2 cloves of garlic finely minced, 6 large basil leaves cut chiffonade, and 2 tbsp olive oil in a bowl. Mix gently and season to taste. Refrigerate for at least 2 hrs for flavors to combine. This can be made a day ahead. Slice a baguette into 1/4″ rounds. Brush each slice with olive oil and toast under the broiler for 1 minute or until golden brown. Top slices with bruschetta. Makes 30-40.

A big thank you to all of my taste testers and Adam Beal for the artistically unfocused photos 🙂

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

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A whole lot of flavor with a little kick of spice. This one is a winner.  I served it with brussels sprouts roasted in duck fat and an apple potato hash.

Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin (serves 2-3)

  •  1, 1-1.5 lb pork tenderloin 
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients (excluding pork) in a bowl, this is the spice rub!
  2. Coat pork in spice rub and let sit at room temp for about 1 hr.
  3. Sear pork on all sides in a hot pan.
  4. Transfer pork to a roasting pan.
  5. Roast at 400 F for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  7. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and serve.