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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 25th, 2010

Our Chefs Advice for Roasting  and Carving the Perfect Turkey!

Make this thanksgiving bird your best ever with our favorite recipe!

Easy Holiday Turkey

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 pound) fresh turkey
  • Plenty of Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 Spanish onion, quartered
  • 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted (3/4 stick) melted butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the thyme, lemon, onion, quartered, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey liberally with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. For best results, place some of the salt, pepper, and thyme between the turkey’s skin and meat. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.

Roast the turkey for 2 1/2 hours, basting from time to time with pan juices, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with foil; let it rest for 20 minutes. Slice the turkey and serve hot!

Chefs Advice: How to Carve your Turkey

Step 1

Remember to let your Turkey sit for at least eight minutes before carving!

Place the bird breast-side up. Slice the skin between the legs and body; using a fork, pull the legs away from the body until the joints pop. Cut the joints to remove each leg.

Step 2

Separate the drumsticks from the thighs: Locate the joint in the middle of each leg and cut through it.

Step 3

Pull the wings away from the body and cut through the joint to remove the wings.

Step 4

Remove each side of breast meat by slicing downward along the top breastbone, following the curve of the body. Place each breast on a cutting board and slice against the grain.

Enjoy!

Chicago Private Chef Austin’s Thanksgiving Menu

November 23rd, 2010

Can you believe it’s already Thanksgiving?   Where does all the time go?   For those who have too little time to whip up a big Thanksgiving holiday dinner with all the trimmings, a private chef is the perfect treat to relax and enjoy and extra-spectacular menu.

For those of us who won’t be able to enjoy the luxury of hiring a private chef this Thanksgiving, get ready to drool and perhaps find some holiday menu ideas and inspirations from our lead Chicago area chef, Austin, formerly of Grant Achatz’s Michelin-rated Alinea Restaurant.  Here is the menu he’s cooking for a special client this week.  Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Hors D’oeuvres

Parmesan Crisp With Cabbage Jam & Herbs

Braised Beef With Celery Root & Carrot Canapé

Blue Cheese & Bacon Dates

 

Amuse

Shot Of Beet

Lemon Froth, Chervil

 

First Course

Squash Soup

Apple, Brown Butter And Pecorino

 

Second Course

Arugula Salad

Celery, Honey, Melted Tomato, Chive

 

Third Course

Crispy Salmon

Asparagus, Lemon Butter, Citrus Wild Rice, Fine Herb Salad

 

-Intermezzo-

Celery & Lemon

 

Fourth Course

Choice Of Beef Tenderloin Or Turkey

Potato Puree, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Whiskey Carrots, Pan Jus

 

Dessert 1

Vanilla Custard Brulée

Cherry Jam, Chervil, Oatmeal Cookies N’ Cream

 

Dessert 2

Chocolate Pot du Crème
Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Stewed Berries, Sponge Cake, Tarragon

Scrumptious Holiday Cookie Seeks Devoted Lifetime Companion

November 9th, 2010

Ah, yes.  Love is in the air.  And if, like us, you pledge your deep, eternal love to butterscotch, gingerbread spices, chocolate, and peppermint during the holiday season, then these delectable holiday cookies will find their soulmates in your kitchen.  So go ahead, adopt a lonely holiday cookie this season.  Your loved ones will appreciate these new additions to the family.

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

(Makes 32 large cookies)

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
11/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons honey
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/3 cup light molasses
11/2 cups butterscotch flavored morsels (butterscotch chocolate chips)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in small bowl.

2. Beat butter, honey, brown sugar, egg and molasses in large mixing bowl until fluffy and creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well blended. Stir in butterscotch chips. Use cookie scoop to drop dough (about 2 tablespoons) onto baking sheets that have been coated with canola cooking spray. Press dough down with fingers or palms to lightly flatten.

3. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned but still soft. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

French-Style Holiday Macaroons with Peppermint-Chocolate Ganache Filling

Ingredients:
Peppermint-Chocolate Ganache Filling
36 ounces Bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups Whipping cream
1/4 cup Light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons Peppermint extract
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Macaroons
6 ounces Sliced blanched almonds (not slivered; 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups Confectioners sugar
3 large Cage-Free Egg
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 tablespoons Granulated Cane Sugar

Directions:
1. PEPPERMINT-CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING:
Place chocolate in large bowl. Bring cream to boil in small saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate. {Step Three} Add corn syrup and extracts; whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Transfer 3 cups ganache to medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until very thick and light colored, about 12 minutes. Set aside.

2. MACAROONS:
Make macaroons:
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse almonds with 1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Sift in remaining cup confectioners sugar, stirring to combine.

Beat egg whites with salt in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Add drops of food coloring to reach desired shade and mix at low speed until evenly combined. Stir almond mixture into meringue with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. (Meringue will deflate.)

Spoon batter into bag, pressing out excess air, and snip off 1 corner of plastic bag to create a 1/4-inch opening. Twist bag firmly just above batter, then pipe peaked mounds of batter (the size of a chocolate kiss) onto lined sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until crisp and edges are just slightly darker, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on racks, about 30 minutes.

3. ASSEMBLE COOKIES:
Carefully peel cookies from parchment (they will be fragile). Sandwich a thin layer of ganache (about 1/2 teaspoon) between flat sides of cookies.

NOTE: Filled macaroons keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days

Halloween Dessert Recipes!

October 31st, 2010

Make your Halloween party a hit with these delicious dessert recipes!

Iced and Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
  4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Halloween Themed Black and Orange Brownies

Ingredients
  • 1 (13x9x1-inch) disposable aluminum baking pan
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 10 tablespoons (11/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup toasted pistachios, toasted sweetened flaked coconut, or untoasted sweetened flaked coconut
  • Directions

    Set oven rack in lower middle position; preheat to 325°F. Spray disposable aluminum baking pan with nonstick spray. Press 18×12-inch sheet aluminum foil over bottom and up long sides of pan, leaving overhang on each long side. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl. Stir both chocolates and 10 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until melted and smooth; remove from heat. Whisk sugar and vanilla, then eggs into chocolate mixture. Whisk until glossy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add dry ingredients and whisk just to blend.

    Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 24 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack.

    Using electric mixer, beat room temperature cream cheese and next 3 ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Spread cream cheese frosting over brownies. Sprinkle nuts or coconut over. DO AHEAD Chocolate brownies can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Using foil overhang for handles, remove brownies from pan. Cut into 18 squares; serve cold or at room temperature.

    Hello, Pumpkin!

    October 26th, 2010

    We adore pumpkin.  Whether it’s pumpkin ravioli with brown butter and crispy sage, classic pumpkin pie, or Linus Van Pelt sitting in the pumpkin patch waiting in vain for the Great Pumpkin like an autumnal Samuel Beckett character, we can’t get enough of the stuff.  Heck, even our office is covered in pumpkins.  You may have enjoyed some of our previous pumpkin recipes this season, but we promise, these will be the last of them.  (Well, maybe.)   So we implore you, join us in celebrating the Halloween season with these delicious pumpkin recipes!

    Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup Served in a Baby Pumpkin Shell

    Ingredients:
    1 Small Organic Butternut Squash, Peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
    4 Organic Sugar Pumpkins, 2 Peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes; 2 hollowed
    1 Large Yellow Onion, Thinly sliced
    1 Tablespoon Madras Curry Powder
    1 slice Ginger, 1″ slice; peeled and thinly sliced
    1 Clove Garlic, Peeled and sliced
    1 Cup Unsweetened coconut milk
    5 Cups Low-Sodium Free-Range Chicken Broth
    Salt and Pepper to taste
    2 Tablespoons Unsalted organic butter
    1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
    1 Teaspoon Cilantro Leaves, Finely chopped
    Salt and Pepper to taste

    Directions:
    1. In a large stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat.

    2. Add the onion and cook until it’s tender and translucent (approx. 10 minutes).

    3. Add the curry powder, ginger and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.

    4. Add the squash and pumpkin; season with salt and pepper.

    5. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

    6. Stir in the coconut milk and chicken stock; bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

    7. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender when poked with a fork (approx. 20 minutes).

    8. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth.

    9. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.

    10. For the garnish, whip the heavy cream, cilantro and salt and pepper until stiff peaks form; refrigerate until ready to use.

    11. Serve the soup in the baby pumpkin shell topped with the cilantro cream.

    Pumpkin Buttermilk Pudding Cake
    Serves 8

    Ingredients:
    1.5 cups canned pumpkin
    4 ea large eggs
    2.5 cups buttermilk
    4 Tbs unsalted butter
    1.5 cup sugar
    1.5 cup all purpose flour
    1.5 tsp baking powder
    1.5 tsp baking soda
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    ½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
    ½ tsp kosher salt

    Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light. Add pumpkin puree, buttermilk and melted butter. In a separate bowl sift the remaining dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture whisking until incorporated.

    Coat a 3 quart baking dish with butter. Add the mixture and bake in a water bath in a 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

    Bourbon Caramel Sauce

    1 cup granulated sugar
    ¼ cup water
    ¼ cup bourbon
    1/8 cup buttermilk
    1 Tbs butter

    Place sugar in a small non-reactive pan. Wash sides of pan with the water and make sure there is no sugar coating the sides. Turn flame on medium and melt sugar until golden brown. Do not stir!! When sugar is caramelized and the color of a penny, add buttermilk and bourbon, stirring quickly to incorporate. Add butter and stir until smooth. Serve over Pumpkin-Buttermilk Pudding cake

    Clam Chowder Recipes from Our San Diego Private Chef Josh

    October 23rd, 2010

    Enjoy today’s guest blog, courtesy of our very own San Diego private chef Josh!  Please visit his professional profile.

    ——————————————-
    Chowda!

    I friggin’ love clam chowder. I love most soups, but this one tends to be my first soup of the new football–I mean, fall season. Check out this rad poem in the Boston Evening Post from September 23,1751. This was the first printed recipe for a chowder.

    Legal Disclaimer: Chef Josh or any other private chef from Big City Chefs will arrive at your home in a more contemporary chef coat.

    First lay some Onions to keep the Pork from burning
    Because in Chouder there can be not turning;
    Then lay some Pork in slices very thin,
    Thus you in Chouder always must begin.
    Next lay some Fish cut crossways very nice
    Then season well with Pepper, Salt, and Spice;
    Parsley, Sweet-Marjoram, Savory, and Thyme,
    Then Biscuit next which must be soak’d some Time.
    Thus your Foundation laid, you will be able,
    To raise a Chouder, high as Tower of Babel;
    For by repeating o’er the Same again,
    You may make a Chouder for a thousand men.
    Last a Bottle of Claret, with Water eno; to smother ’em,
    You’ll have a Mess which some call Omnium gather ’em.

    I’m talkin’ about New England clam chowder, not the “soup” labeled from Manhattan that is nowhere near a chowder. I love the dish for many epicureal reasons, but I swear, sometimes I think it’s all in a name. How awesome is the word chowder. Say it! Say it with a North Eastern accent and it sounds even better! (I’m gonna name my next dog Chowdah.) Feelings of comfort and happiness are conjured with this word, but probably only if you’ve had a good bowl of it. I lived in the San Fransisco Bay area for several years; while I was there I spent a little time in the city looking for “The Best Clam Chowder.” Alas, my search was shortened by the disappointment of three consecutive LAME-O chowders. So, as the adage goes; “If you want something done right…better do it yourself.” Choices for the direction you want to steer your chowder are innumerable. Canned or fresh? Brothy or thick? Bacon or salt pork? Conformity to “tradition” or breaking the mold? Fatty Mcfat-fat cream or milk? The list goes on… Here are two recipes; one with fresh clams, a few extra ingredients and a couple extra steps. The second is made with canned clams, one pot, less time and with more ease. If cooking is not your thing, so what…do it…do it.

    E-Z Clam Chowder

    2 slices bacon, hacked up
    1T butter
    1/4c flour
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 stalks celery, diced
    3-4 potatoes, peeled and diced
    1/2tsp dried thyme
    1 small can chopped clams in juice
    1 5oz can clams, drained and rinsed
    salt and pepper
    1c cream or half ‘n half
    1tsp dried dill *optional
    1tsp dried or fresh parsley *optional

    Heat a pot over medium heat, add the bacon to render some fat and brown. Add the next five ingredients along with a small pinch of salt and some fresh pepper. Saute until the onion is wilted, then stir in the flour o cook for a minute. Whisk in the chopped clams with juice being sure to smooth out any lumps of flour. Whisk in a couple cups of water in the same fashion, then add enough water or bottled clam juice to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked. Stir vigorously to mash up some of the potato, then add the remaining ingredients to heat through; taste for seasoning and serve.

    Fresh Clam Chowder

    4 slices bacon, chopped
    2T butter
    1 onion, chopped
    1 stalk celery, diced small
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 bay leaf 20-30 littleneck clams, scrubbed well
    4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2tsp dried
    1c white wine
    1c clam broth
    3c water
    1-2c heavy cream
    2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 stalk celery, diced small
    1 tsp dried dill
    1-2 T chopped Italian parsley

    Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until the bacon renders most of its fat and strain off all but 1-2 tablespoons. Add the butter, onion, garlic, bay and thyme; cook until the vegetables are good and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile; in a large pan, bring the clam juice and wine to a boil. Add the clams; cover, and let steam for 3 minutes. Strain off the juice and reserve, then remove the clam meat from the shells and slightly chop the meat (unless the clams are small.) Toss the shells. Dust the sautéed vegetables with flour and stir to coat everything well. Whisk in the water until the flour is incorporated and smooth. Add the reserved clam broth and the potato. Bring to a boil, cover, and boil hard for about 7 minutes or until the potatoes break down. Add in the chopped clams, parsley, dill, celery and season with salt and pepper. Add the cream, bring up to heat and serve.

    You’ll Yodel Over These Oktoberfest Recipes

    October 21st, 2010

    October is almost over.   That means you either (1) didn’t celeberate Oktoberfest yet, or you (2) didn’t celebrate Oktoberfest enough.  So what are you waiting for?  Enjoy these super easy, hearty recipes perfect for a weeknight family dinner, a football-watching get-together, or a relaxed Sunday supper.  Please let us know how these turn out for you, and feel free to email us your dirndl and lederhosen photos!  Prost!

    Artisanal Bratwurst with Caramelized Onions and Cabbage Braised with Red Wine

    Ingredients:
    7 Bratwurst
    2 Large Yellow Onions, Sliced
    2 bottles 12 oz Newcastle Ale
    1/4 Cup Olive Oil

    1 Head Cabbage, thinly sliced
    2 Tablespoons Unsalted organic butter
    1 Yellow Onion, sliced
    2 Granny Smith Apples, Peeled and sliced
    1 tablespoon Dill, plus more for garnish, Chopped
    1/2 Cup Free-Range Chicken Broth
    1/3 Cup Cider Vinegar
    2 Tablespoons Granulated Cane Sugar
    Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
    Sachet of 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 6 juniper berries, 2 bay leaves

    Directions:

    1. Heat a pot with the olive oil and brown the bratwurst on both sides; remove and set aside.

    2. Add the onions to the same pot; season with salt and pepper; cook until golden brown and lightly caramelized.

    3. Add the beer and return the bratwurst to the pot.

    4. Simmer uncovered for approximately 15 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.

    5. Cut the sausages into serving pieces and top with caramelized onions, spooning some of the sauce on top.

    6. For the cabbage, melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat.

    7. Sauté the onion and apples for 2 minutes until they begin to soften; add chopped dill, cabbage, chicken broth and the sachet.

    8. Cook for 5 minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, S&P and cook for 20 minutes until the cabbage is soft.

    9. Garnish with fresh dill before serving.

    Chedder Potato-Beer Soup with Shredded Ham

    Serves 6

    Ingredients:
    2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
    10 packaged baby carrots
    5 red potatoes, peeled, cut into large pieces
    1 onion, sliced
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    Freshly ground pepper
    Red pepper flakes
    1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
    2 cans (141/2 ounces each) chicken or vegetable broth
    21/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
    1 cup shredded or julienned cooked ham

    1. Heat butter in large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, potatoes and onion. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Add beer; heat to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Add chicken broth; heat to a boil. Cook until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 12 minutes.

    2. Pour soup, in batches if necessary, into blender or food processor container. Puree. Return to saucepan. Stir in cheese; heat, stirring, until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add more pepper flakes if needed. Ladle into bowls. Top each with shredded ham.

    Eat Like a Celebrity with the “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills”

    October 14th, 2010

    Season Two of Food Network’s “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills” kicked off with Chef Stuart and Chef Sasha planning a launch party for 80’s icon Lorenzo Lamas’s Ducati motorcycle shop.  Lorenzo’s favorite beef empanadas, hearkening back to his South American ancestry, were the star attraction of this exciting event.  Eat like a celebrity at your own party with these  delicious recipes from the new season of “Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.”

    FAMOUS BEEF EMPANADAS

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 pound ground beef steak
    • 1/4 pound fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed
    • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
    • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 package store-bought pie crust or your favorite pie crust recipe
    • 1 egg

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    In a medium-sized skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the beef, chorizo, onion, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly so that the ingredients are well blended. Add additional cumin, if desired, and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside and let the filling cool.

    Roll out the pie crust dough and cut out rounds using a 3-inch cutter. Put 1 tablespoon of filling on half of the round. Fold the other half of the round over and using a fork, press down on the edge of the dough making sure it is sealed all the way around. This forms the empanada. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush the top of each empanada with the egg wash. Arrange the empanadas on a nonstick sheet pan and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the empanadas to a serving platter and serve.

    LOBSTER NACHOS with Home Made Chips

    Recipe courtesy Brooke Peterson, 2010

    Ingredients

    • 1 cups cooking oil
    • 4 large white flour tortillas, cut into quarters
    • Salt
    • 2 cups lobster meat (can substitute crab or shrimp)
    • 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon oil
    • 1 cup white corn kernels
    • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
    • 3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
    • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
    • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
    • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1/4 cup jicama, diced
    • 1/4 cup lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
    • 1 cup creme fraiche
    • 1 avocado, halved, pitted and flesh sliced into eighths
    • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
    • 1/4 cup chopped chives

    Directions

    In a medium, wide skillet, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Add the tortillas to the skillet, a few at a time, and fry for about 1 minute on each side. Put the fried tortillas on paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt, to taste.

    In a saute pan, warm the lobster meat with the lemon oil over low heat minutes until warm, about 5 minutes.

    In a large bowl combine the corn, tomatoes, mint, cilantro, jalapeno, black beans, jicama, lime juice, chili powder, and the garlic salt.

    Start assembling the nachos by stacking the tortilla chips on each plate. Add the black bean salsa then top with half a cup of the lobster meat. Garnish with creme fraiche, avocado, queso fresco, and chives. Serve.

    Good Bye Bikinis, Hello Chocolate!

    October 12th, 2010

    Fall has finally arrived, and for much of the country, that means bikinis are off the fashion menu for the next six months.  The good news is that, at last, you can unbutton those tight jeans and satisfy your chocolate cravings with these decadent desserts!  There’s plenty of time after the New Year to work it all off.

    These are two of our all-time most popular chocolate desserts.  The brownies have a slight kick of spice and heat, while the mochas offer a legitimate way to sneak a bit of liqueur into your final course of the night.  Enjoy, and please let us know how they turn out!

    Decadent Chocolate Brownies with Vosges Cinnamon and Chipotle Chocolate Chunks

    Ingredients:
    1 pound Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
    1 pound Organic Unsalted Butter
    6 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate
    6 extra large Cage-Free Eggs
    3 tablespoons Instant Espresso
    2 tablespoons Madagascar Vanilla Extract
    2 1/4 cups Granulated Cane Sugar
    1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1 tablespoon Baking Powder
    1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
    12 ounces Vosges Cinnamon Chipotle Chocolate, Broken into Chunks

    Directions:
    1. Melt together the butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler.

    2. Cool slightly.

    3. Whisk together the eggs, instant espresso, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and allow it to cool to room temperature.

    4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.

    5. Toss the chocolate chunks with a 1/4 cup of flour to coat and add to the chocolate batter.

    6. Line a 13″x18″x1.5″ pan really well with 3 layers of tin foil; grease the foil and add the brownie batter, spreading evenly.

    7. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes; tap the pan against the oven rack to remove air bubbles.

    8. Bake for another 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean; let cool thoroughly!

    9. Remove and cut into cubes while still on the tin foil.

    Miniature Hot Chocolate Liqueur-Scented Mochas

    Ingredients:
    1 Quart Organic Whole Milk
    8 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Coarsely chopped
    1/4 Cup Liqueur (such as orange- or raspberry-scented)
    1 Cup Brewed Instant Espresso
    1 Cup Heavy Cream
    1 teaspoon Vanilla
    2 Tablespoons Kahlua
    3 Tablespoons Granulated Cane Sugar

    Directions:
    1. Heat the milk until it begins to simmer, then pour over the chocolate, whisking until smooth.

    2. Add the hot brewed espresso and Kahlua.

    3. For the whipped cream, combine heavy cream, Kahlua, vanilla and sugar until medium-stiff peaks form.

    4. Pour into miniature cups and garnish with whipped cream and one chocolate-covered espresso bean (optional).

    Elegant Fall Desserts to Impress

    September 29th, 2010

    While some people consider Costco’s giant $5.99 pumpkin pie to make all autumn dessert-making obsolete, we stand firmly behind the notion that fall is the season for excessive indulgence in all kinds of sweet treats.  Whether you enjoy our incredible pumpkin parfait or our rustic fig crostada, your guests (if you choose to share) will be sure to rank you among their favorite friends in the upcoming holiday season.  Bon apetit!

    Pumpkin Parfait with Gingersnap Cookies and Candied Ginger

    Ingredients:
    1/4 Cup Dark Rum
    2 Teaspoons Unflavored Gelatin Powder
    1 15 oz can Pumpkin (Note: Do not use pie filling, but rather canned pumpkin puree)
    1/2 Cup Granulated Cane Sugar
    1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
    2 extra large Free-Range Egg Yolks
    2 Teaspoons Orange Zest
    1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
    1/4 Teaspoon Freshly ground nutmeg
    1/2 Teaspoon Kosher salt
    1 1/2 Cups Cold, heavy cream
    1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
    2 Cups Sweetened whipped cream
    10 Ginger cookies, Chopped
    1 Package Candied Ginger

    Directions:
    1. Place the rum in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it; set aside for 10 minutes until it softens.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

    3. Set the bowl of gelatin and rum over a pan of simmering water until the mixture is clear; immediately whisk the gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

    4. Whip together the heavy cream and vanilla on high speed until soft peaks form.

    5. Fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture.

    6. To assemble, spoon the pumpkin mixture into parfait glasses and add a layer of whipped cream; top with chopped cookies and candied ginger pieces.

    7. Repeat this order, ending with the third layer of pumpkin. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    Rustic Black Mission Fig Crostada with Lavender-Honey Mascarpone

    Ingredients:
    Pastry:
    1 pound short crust pastry (recipe follows)
    Filling:
    1 basket Black Mission Figs, thinly sliced
    1/3 cup Brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon Ground cardamom

    Streusel Topping:
    1 cup Unbleached Organic Flour
    1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    1/4 cup Granulated Cane Sugar
    1/2 cup Unsalted Organic Butter

    Honey-Lavender Mascarpone:
    1 cup Mascarpone
    2 tablespoons Lavender Honey
    1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
    2 tablespoons Heavy Cream

    Special equipment:
    Rolling pin

    Short Crust Pastry:
    3 cups Unbleached Organic Flour
    1/4 teaspoon Salt
    4 ounces Unsalted Organic Butter, cold
    8 ounces Shortening, cold
    1/2 cup Ice cold water

    Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    2. For the crostada: Roll the short crust pastry 1/4 -inch thick and cut into 6 (6-inch) rounds.
    Refrigerate the pastry rounds for at least 30 minutes. Cut 5 evenly spaced 1-inch slits around the edge of each pastry round (perpendicular to the edge). Whisk together the egg yolk and water to make an egg wash. Brush the edge of the pastry with egg wash.

    3. For the filling: Toss the figs with the brown sugar and cardamom. Pile an equal amount of fig mixture inthe center of each pastry round. Fold the pastry around the figs, overlapping the pastry at the slits, and press firmly to seal. Place the crostada on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush the outside of the pastry with egg wash.

    4. For the streusel topping: Combine the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles corn meal. Sprinkle the streusel on top of each galette.

    5. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for 20 minutes longer.

    6. To make the mascarpone cream, stir together mascarpone, honey, vanilla, and heavy cream until well blended.

    7. Serve the crostada warm with a dollop of mascarpone.

    8. Short Crust Pastry: Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using a cheese grater, grate the butter and shortening into the flour. Combine the mixture with you fingers until it resembles cornmeal. Add the ice cold water, and mix with a spoon, pulling the water into the flour until a dough forms.

    9. With your hands, shape the dough into 2 balls and flatten them into disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month

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