Sugar and spice and … a little bit naughty. But oh sooo fun. No bourbon in the house, but I do have a fifth of Jack Daniels in the cupboard (next to the oven cleaner) for when my mother comes to visit. Last night I sauteed apples with some sugar and spices, poured in some Jack and popped it in a pie crust and it was awesome. This pie is more on the savory than sweet side, so a dollop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream balances the flavors nicely.
Have you noticed the tiny baby apricots, or plumcots, at farmer’s markets lately? They look so pretty and taste delicious with creamy brie and toasty nuts. This appetizer is quick and easy to assemble, with a great balance of flavors and textures.
- wedge of brie
- baby apricots or plumcots, washed and halved
- Granny Smith apples, sliced thin
- Spiced toasted walnuts
- fig leaves (optional, but gives it a rustic look)
- sturdy crackers for scooping
- Drizzle brie with honey and bake in oven at 350° for about 5 minutes or until slightly oozy.
- Arrange fig leaves on plate and place brie wedge in center.
- Surround brie artfully with fruit, spiced nuts and crackers. Group them separately so your guests can pick and choose their desired accoutrements.
We are a family of banana lovers, but somehow by the end of the week there are always one or two “overly mature” left-overs. Luckily we are also fans of banana bread, banana muffins, banana… so I’m always scouting for new banana recipes. This one is less distinctly “banana-y”, and a nice addition my standard fare. (Amazing how far a little freshly ground organic spice goes. This is a denser loaf—heart-healthy and wholesome tasting—with a yummy hint of cinnamon.)
- ¼ cup margarine, melted
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 or 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
- non-stick vegetable oil spray
- In large bowl, mix butter, sugar, and 1 egg. Beat until smooth. Beat in second egg.
- Add mashed bananas and cranberries. Mix.
- In second bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon.
- Add all of the dry flour mix to the banana mixture at one time. Stir only to moisten.
- Grease 9″x5″x3″ loaf pan with non-stick spray. Transfer batter into loaf pan.
- Bake at 350°F for 1 hour (or until test knife comes out clean).
- Let stand 10 minutes, and remove from pan to cool.
It’s such a traditional dessert that it’s a cliche – but nothing beats that homey inviting smell of an apple pie baking in the kitchen. Once you learn the pie crust, the rest is easy as . . . well, easy as apple pie.
First, make pie crust. Then,
- Apples, peeled and sliced (6-8)
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
- 1/2 stick butter, cut in small pieces
- 1 lemon
You know how sometimes olive tapenade alone is too salty, and fresh figs alone are – well, a little too figgy? This is the perfect marriage of salty and sweet, and pairs wonderfully with creamy goat cheese. Freezes well too.
Combine in a cuisinart and blend to desired consistency, but retaining a bit of chunky texture:
2/3 (ratio, not cups) pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 (ratio, not cups) ripe fresh black figs
Serve with crostini and plain goat cheese.
During peach season, I eat 2-3 peaches a day. I buy them by the case at the farmer’s market from a stand that brings them direct from Palisades. This salsa is excellent with fish and chicken, though sometime for lunch, I just eat it by the spoonful. Adjust the heat by increasing or decreasing the amount of jalapeno. Have a peachy day!
- 6 peaches, peeled and diced
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, peeled and diced
- ½ red onion peeled and diced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and diced
- 1 lime juiced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all the ingredients together
- serve as an appetizer with corn or pita chips, or as a side with grilled chicken or fish
This recipe is compliments of Chef Michael Montgomery an instructor at the Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder Colorado. I took a Basic Cooking Techniques class from him last spring and really enjoyed it. The crunchy shortbread crust marries well with the soft poached pear and light whipped cream. The original recipe calls for apples and red wine, but I have substituted pears. If white wine doesn’t ring your bell, you can replace it with 2 cups water and 2 cups Grand Marnier or rum and fresh grated ginger.
- 14 oz butter (approx 28 Tablespoons)
- 6 oz sugar (scant ¾ cup)
- 1 egg
- 16 oz all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 firm, not quite ripe pears, pealed
- 4 cups light white wine
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 organic cinnamon sticks
- 4 organic whole cloves
- 4 organic black peppercorns
- (1 organic vanilla bean)
- 1 oranges, quartered
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon organic fresh ground nutmeg
- ½ cup toasted sliced almonds for garnish
- Cream butter and sugar together
- Add vanilla, salt and egg. Mix until just combined
- Add flour and mix until just combined
- Press dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Roll and press dough into a tart pan (about ⅛” thick).
- Prick the crust thoroughly with a fork.
- Line the crust with foil and add pie weights to the foil.
- Remove the pie weights and continue baking for 3-5 minutes longer.
- Cool crust before filling.
- Poached Pear Filling (enough for 2 pies)
- Combine wine, sugar, spices and orange in saucepan large enough to hold the pears in a single layer. Slice vanilla bean down the center lenghtwise and add to the wine sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add 4 pears and poach until they are soft throughout, but not mushy (approx 15 minutes). Remove pears from the pan and cool on a rack. Repeat with the remaining 4 pears.
- Reduce the wine mixture until it is smooth and sauce like.
- Whip the cream in a cold bowl until almost firm. Add vanilla, powdered sugar, and nutmeg. Whisk until firm.
- Slice the pears, and place them decoratively in the pre-baked tart shell, drizzle with the wine sauce, and top with a dollop of cream.
- Garnish with toasted almonds and serve immediately.
Here comes the sun … so welcome in the dreary month of February. This colorful montage bursts with antioxidants and bright citrus flavors and is the perfect complement to the Pomegranate Pork recipe.
- 6 cups washed and dried field greens
- ¼ cup toasted almonds
- 2 blood oranges or clementines, peeled and sectioned
- ¼ cup fresh pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup blood orange olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Mix salad ingredients together
- Just before serving, mix mustard with vinegar.
- Whisk while adding oil in a stream.
- Toss salad with dressing and serve on chilled plates.
A few weeks ago, I stopped in the Little Raven Vinyards Wine Shop to pick up a bottle of wine for a friends birthday dinner. It was my first visit, but definitely will not be my last. The unpretentious wisdom of their in-house sommelier makes exploring their diverse collection of undiscovered wines fun and educational. If your a local, give them a visit at 1590 Little Raven, near commons park. If you aren’t local, you can still share their wisdom by signing up for “The Grape Vine”, their weekly e-newsletter. It’s filled with great recipes and information on wine and food pairings. The recipe below was in this weeks newsletter—just in “thyme” for Thanksgiving dinner.
- peel and juice of 1 medium orange
- peel and juice of ½ medium lemon
- 3 cups ruby port*
- 1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, washed
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- 1 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon organic ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon organic ground cinnamon (or organic apple pie spice blend)
- 2 Tablespoons orange liqueur
- Julienne the orange lemon peels. In a small saucepan, heat the juices and ½ cup of the port. Over medium-high heat, cook the peels until tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, onion, 2 cups of the port, ginger, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Over medium-high heat, cook until the relish thickens, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining ½ cup port, the orange liqueur, and the reserved orange and lemon peel mixture. Cool. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate, covered until needed. This will keep up to one week, so it can be prepared ahead of time.
- Recipe adapted from
- Wolfgang Puck’s Adventure in the Kitchen
- (New York: Random House), 1991.
Last weekend, I attended a grilling demonstration at the 8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill in the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, CO. Pascal and Reese, the Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine for the restaurant, prepared this salsa to serve with salmon. It would also be an excellent complement to chicken. Watermelon is one of my favorite fruits… and this is now my favorite salsa.
They will be holding 3 more grilling exhibitions throughout the summer (July 25th, August 8th, and August 15th). If you are in the Vail Valley, stop by the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek and sample some delectable morsels with expertly chosen pairings while picking up great culinary tips in an idyllic setting. The demonstration starts at 4:30 on the patio.
- ½ of a small watermelon cubed
- 1 diced red onion
- 1 diced bell pepper
- 1 diced jalapeno
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup champagne vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients together.