I picked up some fresh rhubarb at the organic market last week. I love the bright reddish-pink stalks and the unique, tart flavor that begs to be sweetened. Rhubarb is only in season for a short time so I just had to buy some. Faced with bringing an appetizer to a party (I already had a Naan bread in my freezer), I thought... could I make a savory pizza with my rhubarb? The answer is YES! The rhubarb actually cooks down into a jam-like state, reminiscent of tomato sauce. It's tangy, a gorgeous color, and is a perfect platform for the goat cheese and toasted walnuts. You may want to add more ingredients but keep this pizza simple so the rhubarb is the star. You could also serve this jam along side cheeses on a cheese board or as a condiment to a grilled chicken breast or pork tenderloin for something a bit different.
Savory Rhubarb Jam and Goat Cheese Pizza
For the sauce:
1 /4 of a large red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic chopped
1 T fresh ginger, chopped
1 lb rhubarb stalks, washed, trimmed and cut crosswise into slices
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 cup cranberry juice or pomegranate-cranberry juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T olive oil
Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet, add the onion, garlic, ginger and rhubarb and cook, stirring frequently until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, juice and brown sugar, stirring to combine. Cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, You want it to reduce to a thick jammy consistency.
For the pizza:
2 Naan bread - you can use 2 rectangle shaped or 4 round/oblong
1 - 4 oz chub of mild goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
fresh thyme or basil for garnish
olive oil for brushing on the crust
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the Naan bread from the packaging and place on a sheet pan. Brush with olive oil and pre-bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and spread with the rhubarb jam to cover, leave a little bit of the edge showing. Top with the goat cheese and bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges are browned and the cheese slightly melted. Crush the walnuts over the top, garnish with thyme or basil, cut and serve.
Fava beans are a cruel bit of nature...delicious yet so labor intensive to be able to enjoy. True, but I would not be posting about them if I did not think they were worth the trouble. Simply said, there is nothing else quite like them. They have all the right components, a short season, so you look forward to their arrival, a bright green color, so they brighten up any dish and a buttery flavor not duplicated by any other bean. The prep really isn't all that bad once you get started but if you see them on a restaurant menu, by all means, order them, someone else has gone to great lengths to prepare them for you!
Fava Bean Mash
2 lbs fresh fava beans, unshelled
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped and chopped finely
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
4 T good olive oil (plus a little more for processing to the right texture, and for garnish)
1/2 cup water (maybe a bit more)
lemon zest from half a lemon
1 T fresh lemon juice
Shell the fava beans by breaking the stem end off, pulling the string down and opening up the pod revealing the beans inside. Remove the beans and set aside. Get a pot of water boiling and drop the beans into the water to cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and place in an ice bath until cool, drain. Make a slit with your fingernail and push the tender bean out by pressing gently, they should pop right out. You should have about two cups after shelling. Take a break.
Place the olive oil, salt, pepper and water in a wide skillet along with the beans, garlic and rosemary. Cook for about 15 minutes or until soft enough to mash with a fork. Put into a food processor with the lemon zest and juice and pulse gently until the beans are mashed and have a texture similar to hummus. You may need to add a bit more water or olive oil to get it right. Put into a serving dish, drizzle with oil a bit more lemon zest and a rosemary sprig. Serve with toasted za'atar pitas.
Toasted Za'atar Pitas
4 whole pita pocket breads
1/2 cup olive oil
1 T Za'atar seasoning ( a Middle Eastern blend of spice and sesame seeds)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each pita into 8 triangular pieces then separate the layers so you have 2 pieces. Place on a sheet pan. Mix the Za'atar and olive oil together in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush each triangle with a bit of the oil. Bake until browned and crisp, about 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with some sea salt, cool. Serve with Fava bean mash.
The idea for this stunning appetizer comes from a new cookbook called SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi. "Burrata - which means "buttered" in Italian - is one of life's great pleasures," says Yotam. I would have to agree. Oozy, creamy and rich, it is a ball of fresh mozzarella wrapped around a core of pieces of mozzarella and cream. If you have never experienced this deliciousness, please, do not hesitate, not one more minute! Grilling the grapes adds a bit of whimsy to the dish as well as a smokiness and sweetness that marry perfectly with the cheese. I used some basil as a garnish and flavor direction the first time I served this but then switched to fresh thyme the next, and I prefer the thyme...it's a bit more earthy and rustic. Serve with baguette or some good crackers and you are on your way to heaven.
Burrata with Grilled Grapes
1 lb red flame grapes
2 T Sherry vinegar
3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 t dark brown sugar (light works too)
1 1/2 t fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large balls of Burrata
fresh basil sprigs or fresh thyme
4" wooden skewers for the grapes
Put the grapes in a bowl with the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, sugar, 1 t of fennel seeds, salt and plenty of pepper. Mix well and marinate for at least an hour and up to one day. Thread a few grapes onto each skewer. Save the remaining marinade for later.
Get the grill pan hot and add the skewers in batches, grilling for 2-3 minutes turning once, remove from heat.
Arrange the Burrata on a platter surrounded by the grilled grapes. Pour a bit of the remaining marinade over and sprinkle with the rest of the fennel seeds. Garnish with fresh basil or thyme and serve with crackers or sliced French baguette.
May is such a beautiful month, perfect for celebrating mothers everywhere. Last week, a few of my FaceBook followers asked me to create a picnic for Mother's Day so, here is my idea.
My mother is from San Antonio, Texas so I was inspired to make some of her favorite southern foods. She adores fried chicken and it is the perfect picnic food... you can make it ahead, it travels well and it's delicious! Mom also loves pimento cheese so I turned to my friend Mary Jo, a true southern belle, for her authentic recipe. For a side, I decided to create a salad based on a popular dish in the South called succotash, made with lima beans and fresh corn. I added some fresh tomatoes, jalapeño and cilantro and, wow, it's really good! I used lima beans because that’s traditional to succotash, but it would also be delicious and very spring-like to use favas.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers everywhere!
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated in a food processor, set aside
1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 T mayonaise
1 two ounce jar of pimentos, drained
Turn on the food processor and drop the bell pepper through the feed tube. Process until minced. Add the cheese back in two batches, adding the mayonnaise and blending until creamy bit still a bit dry. Add in the pimentos and pulse to combine. Add a bit more mayonnaise as needed ( I added a bit more) for the proper texture. You want this to be a spread as opposed to a dip.
According to Mary Jo, this is the recipe used in the area of Tidewater, Virginia. You could add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a pinch of smoked paprika to add a bit more spice if you like.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
1 - 4# chicken, cut into pieces or 3# of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 large eggs
2 c buttermilk
1 T hot sauce
3 c flour
6-8 c vegetable oil for frying
Season the chicken generously with salt and allow it to sit out for about an hour (if you have the time) to absorb the flavor. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk and hot sauce together in a large bowl. Whisk the flour with a couple of large pinches of salt in a bowl and set aside. Place a wide, deep pan over medium heat. Add the oil to a depth of 1-1/2" and heat to about 360 degrees. Dredge the chicken pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip into the buttermilk, let the excess drip back into the bowl, then return to the flour mixture one last time. Shake off the excess and place on a baking sheet. Fry the chicken in two or three rounds, turning down the heat a bit to around 325 degrees, while the chicken cooks (I use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the oil). Turn the chicken occasionally until golden brown, about 12 - 16 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
1 c frozen lima beans, cooked per package directions, cool
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off
1 c baby tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 c cilantro leaves, torn
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeño pepper diced (depending on the heat that you want)
salt and pepper
arugula leaves (optional)
1 T white balsamic vinegar (any slightly sweet vinegar works)
3 T mild olive oil
Put the cooked lima beans in a bowl along with the corn, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and jalapeño. Add a grind of pepper and a pinch of salt. Add the oil and vinegar. Toss to combine. Serve over arugula leaves or toss into the salad for added color and a bit of peppery spice.
I lived for a time in Munich when I was in my early twenties and I have a very fond memory of a walk in the Austrian Alps, stopping in a small farmhouse and eating a dish called Kaisersmarrn. Named for the Emperor Franz Joseph, "Kaiserschmarnn" translates to "King's mess". It may look like a mess but the taste is divine. I have thought of this tasty treat so often that I finally decided to see if I could possibly duplicate that food memory...I think i did it! This turned out better than expected when I decided to whip the egg whites separately rather than incorporating them right out of the shell. Wolfgang Puck did a version of this dish on an episode of The Barefoot Contessa but it was a much fancier version than I remembered so I kept looking for a good recipe until I found one that felt authentic. This recipe is about as close as I can remember, crunchy with caramelized sugar, sweet with raisins and fluffy like an egg-y pancake. I just can't wait for you to try it.
Kaiserschmarren - "Emperor's Mess"
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 cup half and half or milk
2 T sugar, divided
1 t Myers rum or Grand Marnier
3 T flour
3 T butter, divided
1/4 cups raisins, if you have time, let them soak in the rum for a bit to plump
powdered sugar for serving
applesauce or plum jam (or compote) for serving
Separate the eggs by placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the yolks with the vanilla, the half and half, about 1/2 T of the sugar, the rum, flour and salt, set aside. Beat the egg whites with 1/2 T sugar until soft peaks form (alternately, whisk by hand with a balloon whisk or use a hand mixer). Add the egg whites into the yolk mixture a little bit at a time, folding in lightly so you don't lose the volume of air, you want this to be fluffy like a soufflé with a bit of a pancake element. Melt 2T butter in a 12" non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook over low heat, covered, until lightly browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the raisins, add a bit of butter to the sides of the pan and sprinkle with a bit of sugar, then flip over by cutting the pancake down the middle and flipping each half over separately. Brown on this side, abut 2 minutes more and then while still in the pan, tear into pieces with two forks (making a 'mess') sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot with a side of applesauce or plum jam. Serves 1 for breakfast or 2 for dessert.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"