Category Archives: Sauces and Dips

Greek yogurt based sauces, cream cheese based dips, mayonnaise based sauces and dips, cream sauces, cheese sauces, Demi glacé sauces, fruit sauces

CT Style Making Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Teresa & Scott!

No better way to start out my week then on “CT Style” In The Bender Kitchen with Teresa Dufour and News 8’s newsest ancor Scott McDonnell! It was a fun meeting Scott and having him there in the kitchen too and Teresa’s aura goes without saying…radiant! Summer is still in full swing so oysters were on my mind and here on CT Style I show you how to make my Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Fresh Spinach.

I created this recipe 16 years ago to match a yummy dish I had in New Orleans back in 2001. I have a knack for matching recipes in my test kitchen and that’s what I had done here. The flavors in this dish are a play on the traditional Oysters Rockefeller although with my recipe you don’t have to worry about shucking oysters. I buy my oysters already shucked, flash frozen in their own juices, at my local fish store.

On CT Style I actually used 1 whole quart of flash frozen oysters which contains about 24 oysters. I didn’t quite double the recipe but used 1 1/2 of the amount on the ingredient list. This is a very simple recipe and you will feel like a certified saucier once you taste the outcome.

As for the Pernod, this star-anise liquer is a whopping 40% alcohol although it mellows out quite a bit after simmering for 40 minutes. You’ll end up with a unique and really lovely flavor that’s going to wow you!

One of my favorite things when out a menu for a dinner party is how each dish balances out with the other. To compilment my oysters in Pernod sauce in Pernod Sauce on the CT Style set today I put together a platter of fresh watermelon wedges topped with a very good quality balsamic and feta cheese, sliced peppermint leaves and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. My neighbors have been inspiring me with their watermenlon dishes this summer hence the reasoning behind this combo and what a flavor explosion it is!

The Traveling Epicurean recently presented Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Fresh Spinach at a sold out Merrior-Terrior Event at the Madison Wine Exchange where I served up samplings made with fresh shucked oyters. Joe Dolce, Sommelier at The Madison Exchange teamed up with Joe Dimaggio from “Save the Sound” to hold this event. It also featured special guest and owner of Thimble Island Shellfish Company Life Long Waterman & Oyster Farmer, Jonathan Waters, who supplied the scrumptious freshly shucked oysters. Jonathan Water also talked about the remarkable story of the oyster and its history.

 

 

 

 

 

The oysters on the half shell served at this Merrior-Terrior event were each paired to a particular wine, spirit or beer that best complements their individual style. The pairings and commentary was presented by Court of Masters Certified Sommelier, Joe Dolce. It was tons of fun! You should look on the Madison Wine Exchanges website for up and coming events!

If you want to keep on the seafood train you should check out these recipes too like Lobster Mac N’ Cheese, Cold Cucumber Soup with Seared Sea Scallops, Salmon B.L.T. Sliders or Crab Cakes!

 

 

 

Ingredients for Oysters in Pernod Sauce with Fresh Spinach –                                            Makes 6 appetizers / 4 course size plates:

NOTE: On “CT Style” the finished sauté pan amount was 1 1/2 of the recipe with 1 Quart of Oysters-24, Raw flash frozen from my local seafood store… it’s all in how many oysters you like!

  • 1 pint shucked oysters, fresh or flash frozen raw oysters(12 oysters)
  • 1 package 5 0z. fresh spinach
  • 1 bottle clam juice plus juice from oysters
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream OR can of coconut cream
  • 1 cup half and half OR 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup Pernod plus 1 tsp to add at the end for extra flavor
  • 1/2 cup Vermouth or white wine
  • 1/4 cup plum tomatoes (pureed)
  • 1 garlic clove thru garlic press
  • 2 dashes Siracha
  • 1/4  cup grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion granules
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary tied off with string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp Wondra flour

Directions:

  1. Sauté/steam spinach for 3 minutes with 2 tbsp water
  2. Immediately remove spinach to a bowl of ice water to shock, stop the cooking and keep vibrant green color
  3. Place spinach in a small strainer to squeeze out water then place into a small bowl with paper towels to remove any excess water
  4. Add all the above ingredients EXCEPT grated cheese, oysters and spinach to a large sauté pan including the juice form the oysters but NOT the oysters themselves
  5. Note: Make sure to slowly whisk in the 1 tbsn sprinkling of Wondra flour
  6. Bring to a low simmer, keep simmering on low, stir every 10 minutes for 40 min. (do not BOIL or the cream will break and curdle!)
  7. Remove rosemary bundle and bay leaves
  8. Then stir in oysters and spinach and simmer 1-2 minutes just so the oysters cook thru
  9. Stir in the grated cheese
  10. Serve with hearty dense Italian bread OR rice noodles…mmm!
  11. Ganish with finely chopped tomato and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

 

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Panzanella at Chef Marco’s

Juicy heirloom tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and homemade golden croutons packed with garlic, purple onions, cucumbers and lots of fresh herbs make up this perfectly scrumptious summertime salad called Panzanella! Basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and a special dijon sauce really give this refreshing salad a delicious flavor and brightness.

I was recently able to coordinate schedules with my foodie friend Chef Marco so he could share his Panzanella recipe with you. Marco and his wife Sheryl, another big foodie, had this amazing dish at their house last summer and it still leaves a fresh impression on my mind. Probably because of all the fresh ingredients that come together with bursting flavor on your first bite.

Even though you can make this Panzanella all year long you couldn’t have a more perfect dish to make with the fresh summertime produce the local vendors offer at the farmers markets! Enjoy and make sure to check out Salsa 101, Salmon B.L.T. Slider’s, Lobster Mac N’ Cheese or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie for your next get together!

You need to check out the WTNH Channel 8, “CT Style Morning Show” where I featured THIS recipe with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour! So much fun cooking with them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for the Panzanella Salad (NOTE: it always a good idea to toast croutons the day before if possible)

  • 1 loaf sour dough bread or ciabatta loaf – make croutons out of the whole loaf using 3 1/2 cups only for this Panzanella Salad, saving the rest of the croutons in a ZipLoc baggie in the freezer for future panzanella dishes!
  • 2 lbs assorted tomatoes, reds, yellow, tiger, heirlooms, etc. cut into 1″ pieces – Ratio is a little more tomatoes to bread
  • 1-2 cup fresh mozzarella cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced European cucumber, sliced in 1/2 and seeded…run a small spoon down the center of the cucumber to remove inner seeds
  • 1/2 cup thinly slice purple onion
  • 2 tsp garlic puree -put thru garlic press (1 tsp is for the special dressing below, 1 tsp for Panzanella)
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • fresh herbs: 1/2 cup chopped basil, 1 tsp chopped oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 cup parsley…all finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 special sauce recipe below

Directions for the Salad:

  1. Pre-heat Covection oven to 400º
  2. Make special sauce recipe below and set aside
  3. Cut up sour dough or ciabatta loaf into 1″ cube and place on cookie tray lined with foil
  4. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil all over the cubed up bread pieces and sprinkle with s & p
  5. Bake the bread until deep golden , about 12 minutes …keep an eye on it not to burn
  6. Let croutons cool completely
  7. Cut up tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into approx. 1 ” cubed pieces
  8. Cut cucumber in 1/2 length wise
  9. Peel and seed cucumber running a small spoon down the center to remove seeds then thinly slice cucumber half moons
  10. Cut 1 purple onion in 1/2 and thinly slice
  11. Put garlic thru garlic press
  12. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, garlic puree, herbs and mozzarella to a large bowl
  13. Then add in the croutons, drizzle 1/3 cup of special sauce over salad
  14. Toss and serve immediately…MMM!
  15. NOTE: Add in everything but the croutons and special sauce until right before you are ready to enjoy the Panzanella salad! ENJOY!

Ingredients for ther Special Dressing:

  • 1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup exta-virgin olive oil

Directions for dressing:

  1. Add first 4 ingrdients to a small bowl and slowly drizzle in while continuously whisking 1/4 cup olive oil (the dijon will help to emusify dressing)

Easy Pulled Pork Sliders on CT Style!

Easy Pulled Pork Sliders on CT Style!

Showing you how to make summer sauces, a Bourbon BBQ & a Green Goddess Sauce, to go with Easy Pulled Pork Sliders topped with broccoli slaw is what I was doing today on CT Style! Teresa has that baby glow going on and Ryan always with the funny one liners, doing the cooking segment on CT Style is one of my favorite things about being The Traveling Epicurean.

The Easy Pulled Pork Sliders are made with tenderloins instead of a giant pork shoulder. The reason I love to do this is it’s so darn EASY! The tenderloins are cut in 1/2 then coated with a mixture of light brown sugar, Colemans Dry Mustard, onion & garlic granules, s & P. Placed into a large baking dish with a small 7.5 oz. can of cola poured into the dish. The Coca-Cola helps to keep it moist and gives it a little caramel flavor. It’s baked for 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 hours, cooled and shredded apart. At that time the Bourbon BBQ Sauce has finished simmering and just waiting to be poured of all the pulled pork and warmed thru…YUM! This recipe can easily be duplicated in your crock-pot as well!

I featured my homemade BBQ sauce on CT Style today because I really wanted to emphasis how easy it is to make your own BBQ sauce at anytime and not have to worry about making a trip back to the store when you can whip it up yourself! Add in some Bourbon and wow, how great does that taste. It’s definitely an adult taste so if you need to you can easily divide up the sauce for the kids adding in bourbon to the adult sauce only.

Now the green goddess sauce goes with out saying and once you taste it you’ll understand. This sauce will jazz up just about any dish you are making, grilled swordfish, salmon, chicken, beef, lamb, pork or veggies. It’s made all in a blender and when it sits in the frig for a few hours the flavors only get better.

The best way the make the broccoli slaw, in my opinion, is to buy the pre-packaged broccoli at the store and then just add mayo, cider vinegar (I also throw in some “seasoned” rice wine vinegar) and sugar and violá!

You’ll see how amazing these 4 recipes go together once to taste them in a slider…oh boy! Not to mention how gosh darn easy they are to make. You be the BBQ Slider King of the summer! Don’t forget to check out my oh so chocolatey homemade Hershey chocolate cake for dessert either…Enjoy!

 

 

“Big Game” Party Food on CT STYLE!

“Big Game” Party Food on CT STYLE!

With Teresa Dufour & Ryan Kristafer on CT STYLE Set

Showing you some fun and refreshing foods to make for your “Big Game” or Super Bowl party was the first thing that came to mind when I was deciding what to cook on “CT Style” this week. I went with my Crab Cake Balls with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing, Mango Salsa, and Honey Dripping Greek Baklava because they are all scrumptious make ahead dishes! The key words here being “make ahead” are a huge deal when throwing a party because it helps to take the pressure off, let’s you enjoy your guests and maybe have time to whip up some specailty cocktails like yummy Metaxa Mojito’s!

Metaxa Mojito’s

The crab cake balls are actually from my crab cake recipe. We are just forming the crab into 1 1/2″ balls instead of disc’s. It’s a no nonsense kind of recipe without all the vegetable fillers. Chunks of crab, some seasoning and a few binder ingredients is all that make up this appetizer. Letting the crab cake balls set in the frig for a couple hours or even overnight let’s those flavors meld and the shape to really form making it easy to sauté. Then you briefly sauté them in a little butter and olive oil until golden and crispy on the outside.

The Bender Kitchen

You saw how easy it was to make my homemade thousand island when I had Teresa whisk together all the ingredients in just a few seconds. The secret ingredient in my dressing is adding in creamy horseradish to compliment the crab, like a “crab Louie”!

Make sure to buy a few mangoes a week before game day so they have time to ripen fully on your kitchen counter and they will make an amazing mango salsa. While you are at it check out the avocado’s to see how ripe they are and you may want to pick up a couple of those to leave on the counter as well.

Selfie Ritual w/Benny – CT Style Camera Man

As for the authentic Honey Dripping Greek Baklava recipe that comes from my good friend Maria, it’s to die for! It make’s the perfect party dessert cause you cut them up into little triangles…it’s always a crowd pleaser and again you if make it the day before it’s ideal!

I know you’ll have as much fun making these party dishes as I did with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour on CT Style! Just click on the link above and it will take you to the exact recipe page’s! Enjoy and I hope your team wins!

 

 

Feta-Basil Pesto

Feta-Basil Pesto

No doubt about it once you try this feta-basil pesto you will be hook! The creamy, French sheep’s milk feta pushes this pesto into a whole new arena! Combined with the fresh, floral basil leaves, Italian Reggiano Parmeggiano, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic are a creation that’s just born to go together! Done in mere minutes in a food processor there’s no excuse not to make this delectable sauce bursting with flavor every chance you get!

Making fresh feta-basil pesto can’t be any easier then the convenience of your food processor! There’s no need whatsoever lugging out the ole mortar and pestle making a huge project out of something that literally take’s 2 minutes to make. No cooking, no baking, no washing, NO FUSS, just load up the food processor and pulse. Voilà, you have a gourmet sauce that turns around any dish you add it to into gourmet.

One of the appetizer’s I like to make with feta-basil pesto are Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella and Roasted tomatoes. Let’s not forget to try the feta-basil pesto on seared Scallops, Swordfish or even Sweet Potato Fries! And then there’s the obvious, top EASY PEASY pasta or Zucchini spaghetti with the feta-basil pesto and you feel like a king. Any way you look at it this feta-basil pesto is a no brainer, a win-win situation! So get on it! lol … xoxo

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 sheep’s milk feta cheese – from local cheese shop if you can! It’s the star of the show!
  • 2 packed cups – fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 packed Reggiano Parmasan – freshly grated if you can
  • 1 extra lg OR 2 medium garlic cloves put thru garlic press
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a few dashes of your fav hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Place 2 packed cups of basil, 2 tbsp of olive oil, garlic thru garlic press, a sprinkle of s & p in food processor and pulse 6x
  2. Scrape down sides and add in Reggiano Parmesan and sheep’s milk feta and pulse 4x more
  3. Scrape down sides and add in a few dashes of hot sauce
  4. Drizzle in thru top opening of food processor 3 more tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and pulse 3x more …voila you have feta-basil pesto! It’s as easy as that! 🙂
  5. Add this feta-basil to Crostini with Fresh Mozzarella & Roasted Tomatoes for an appetizer that’s sure to turn heads!
  6. OR EASY PEASY …Add the feta-basil pesto to some sautéed shrimp and pasta! YUM!

BBQ Sauce – BEST Homemade Sweet & Tangy!

BBQ Sauce – BEST Homemade Sweet & Tangy!

It’s like BBQ sauce candy! My Homemade BBQ Sauce is the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and a little spicy! This recipe is one of my versions of a classic “Kansas City” style sauce, meaning it is a tomato based sauce with a sweetener and a vinegar. Ketchup, dark Molasses, brown sugar, cider vinegar and spices are the core ingredient’s that make up this delicious blend of barbecue sauciness. It’s not too sweet or too tangy and it has just a pinch of heat to remind you that it’s a BBQ sauce. It really can’t get any easier to make BBQ sauce then this here recipe. It will definitely make it hard for you to go back to the bottle stuff with the high fructose corn syrup. In fact, I guarantee that you will find yourself dipping that spoon back into the pot to get one more lick of this homemade sassy sauce!

One of my favorite things to do with this sauce is adding a couple tablespoons of bourbon in the last 5 minutes of simmering.  Everyone will be asking you for the recipe for sure! If you have a mix of adults and children spilt the sauce into 2 portions, keeping one with bourbon and one with out.

Using the liquid smoke, which is simple to find at your local grocer now a days, is ideal for emulating that smokiness you would get with outdoor barbecuing. I have you adding in chipolte chile powder and a Spanish smoked paprika too which gives off a delicate flavor to the sauce without being too overbearing.

The 3 basic BBQ sauce type’s out there are a tomato based, a vinegar based and a mustard based. Believe it or not, there actually is a mayo based as well. The “Kansas City” style is the tomato based and probably the most popular through out the U.S. There’s a “Memphis” style similar to Kansas City with the tomato base but a thinner, more vinegar type sauce. The actual vinegar and mustard type sauce’s are quintessential to the Carolina’s. South Carolina being partial to the mustard type sauce and North Carolina to the vinegar type sauce. Then there’s that white BBQ sauce that’s mayo based, a signature sauce of Big Bob Gibson out of Alabama.

Once you see how easy it is to make your own delicious, sassy BBQ sauce I have a feeling there will be no stopping you! Enjoy your summer with this introductory BBQ sauce recipe! You might want to tag team all this barbecuing with some crab cakes, zucchini spaghetti, or spanakopita, and end with my amazing blueberry pie made with my perfect pie crust in 5 minutes!!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Ketchup
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp onion granules
  • 1/2 tsp chipolte chile powder (If you can’t find “chipolte” chile powder just use chile powder it will still be wonderful)
  • 1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 2 dashes of Wocestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp of Bourbon – If you are a party of adults …it’s AMAZING!

Directions:

  1. Put all above ingredients into medium sauce pan and whisk to combine
  2. Bring to a low simmer 20 minutes
  3. The sauce will be delicious in only 5 minutes – delvelops more depth of flavor by simmering longer!
  4. Basting your grilling meats in the last 3-5 minutes with BBQ is deal so as not to burn and oven cooking meats in the last 10 minutes (the sugars in the BBQ Sauce will burn if you put it on too early)

 

Green Goddess Sauce ll

Green Goddess Sauce ll

Having my green goddess sauce ll at your next party will be sure to turn heads. It’s kind of like wearing a new party dress! This green goddess sauce is made in mere minutes in a blender. It’s a blend of Greek yogurt, mayo, fresh mint leaves and cilantro, garlic, green onion, lemon juice, olive oil and rice wine vinegar.  You don’t even have to waste time chopping finely because it all get puréed anyways!

Decorating your party plates with my green goddess sauce will make for a lovely presentation, a more formal one, but having a bowl or pouring cup of the sauce on the table will do the trick quite nicely! In fact, the latter might be better since there’s a good possibility your guest’s will be going back for seconds.

This green goddess sauce is so versatile because it literally goes with all foods! It’s heavenly on seared scallops…all fish for that matter, swordfish, rack of lamb, pulled beef tacos, Sweet Potato Fries , Baked Crispy Fries, or Baked Coconut Shrimp and even cut veggies!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayo (I use Hellman’s)
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves (1 cup loose)
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove put thru garlic press
  • 1/2 jalapeño diced
  • 4 lg stalks, 6 small of green onion chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 Tsp sugar  – (NOTE: I forgot to add this in the show, but it really needs this for balance 🙂
  • s & p
  • If it’s not hot enough with the jalapeno add a dash of Siracha

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender an purée for 10 seconds…be patient – you may need to stop and stir everything to get it going but do NOT add any more liquid
  2. Stop blender and scrap down sides to get the larger leaf pieces and blend for 5 more seconds and violà!
  3. Taste here and add salt and pepper
  4. Add a dash of Siracha – you need to taste the sauce first, sometimes a jalapeño can be super hot and other times it can be a mellow hot
  5. This sauce gets even better if you can pop it into the fridge for an hour and let the flavors mingle, the sauce will thicken up a little too!
  6. Make this ahead of time and keep sauce in a plastic container and refrigerate.  It stays nicely for days in frig.
  7. This green sauce is absolutely delicious on so many things…be creative.

Drunk Blondies & Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Drunk Blondies & Bourbon Caramel Sauce

IMG_6622Drunk blondies are a dessert that will have you and your guest’s reminiscing for days! These drunk blondies are a buttery, chewy cookie bar made with bourbon, butter, toasted coconut, pecans and semi-sweet chocolate chips…could it get any better then that! They get even more decadent when you serve them with vanilla ice cream, homemade bourbon caramel sauce, whipped cream and extra toasted coconut to top it off. In fact, I wouldn’t serve them any other way. You will feel like you are in dessert ecstasy!

The recipe for these mouth watering cookie bars actually originates from the Back in the Day Bakery CookBook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. I Found this recipe on a fellow food blogger, Adam Robert’s website, called Amateur Gourmet. I haven’t had a chance myself to buy this cookbook but it’s high on my list! Adam serves up these drunk blondies with a bourbon caramel sauce from Food and Wine but I have my own which I love that I share below.

The Drunk Blondie bars couldn’t get any easier to make. You don’t even need a kitchen aid or electric mixer to make these just a large bowl and spatula or wooden spoon! It literally take’s all of a few minutes to combine the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, toasted coconut, pecans, chocolate chips and flour mixture. Then off into a baking dish lined with parchment for easy removal.

This is a great dessert if you entertain a lot because is it’s a total make ahead project. You can make the drunk blondies up to 3 days ahead and the bourbon caramel sauce up to a week ahead. The toasted coconut you want to make the same day or night before. You may burn the toasted coconut on your first try because that cooks faster then you think and you only have 6 minutes of toasting time. Don’t worry, just toss out the first round and throw in a second batch. You will be that much more knowledgeable and ready for the toasty quickness in the next round! Be sure to toast up extra coconut too, because it makes for an incredible addition at the end to sprinkle on top of your drunk blondie sundae’s!

As for my bourbon caramel sauce I have you heat up the heavy cream. This is a necessary step that some recipes don’t even mention.  It’s important to do this because adding cold cream into a boiling sugar mixture will most likely seize up and get temporarily lumpy.  There’s no worries here though. If this does happen just put the pan back on the stove, keep whisking and it will become a smooth caramel sauce in a matter of seconds!

Hope you enjoy the amazing drunk blondie sundae’s with ice cream, bourbon caramel sauce and toasted coconut. If you are putting together a whole meal you could start with an appetizer like crab cakes, spanakopita triangles, my famous Caesar salad, salmon BLT sliders, or move right to a main course like my bolognese sauce right from Urbino, Italy made with homemade spaghetti!

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Ingredients for Drunk Blondies – Makes 12 – 24 bars 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter – melted
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temp
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (1/2 cup is for sprinkling over the dessert at the end) sweetened flaked coconut, toasted in a 350º oven on a cookie sheet until fragrant and golden brown – about 5 minutesNOTE: you need to stir every 2 minutes with a spatula and then shake the tray to distribute evenly ….watch it carefully- it burns easily
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

 Directions – Pre-Heat Oven to 350º:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan and line with parchment, allowing the ends of the paper to hang over two opposite edges of the pan
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside
  4. Put the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until smooth
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, and mix until thoroughly combined
  6. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the pecans, coconut, and chocolate chips
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack
  9. Cut the blondies into bars
  10. The blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Tip: The easiest way to toast coconut is in the oven. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350º. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 6 minutes, tossing every couple of minutes. Keep a close eye on the coconut, because it can burn easily.

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Ingredients for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream HEATED – If you don’t warm up the cream the temperature change will temporarily seize up the boiling water-sugar mixture…BUT don’t fret because all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!

Directions for Bourbon Caramel Sauce:

    1. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil over high heat
    2. You can stir the sugar-water mixture at first just to combine then DO NOT STIR after
    3. Cook until the sugar is dissolved washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush…just once
    4. Continue cooking without stirring until an amber caramel forms – from 5-8 minutes
    5. When it turns the pretty light amber color add in the butter and keep whisking
    6. BE CAREFUL NOT TO GET BURNED HERE because the mixture will rise up a little here at the butter/cream stages
    7. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in 1/2 the cream while STILL WHISKING – it will foam up here quite a bit so whisk it down slightly, then add in the rest of the cream and butter
    8. if it seizes up NO WORRIES all you need to do if this happens is put the pan back on the stove while whisking CONTINUOUSLY and it will all come back to a nice smooth sauce!
    9. Let cool for 1 minute and then stir in the bourbon
    10. Put the pan back on the stove and TURN DOWN the heat to medium and simmer any where from 3-15 minutes…how ever thick you like the sauce (it won’t get any darker at this point either just thicker)
    11. Let the caramel sauce cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature
    12. NOTE: as the sauce cools it will thicken anyways
    13. The caramel sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Best Hummus Ever

Best Hummus Ever!

My Best Hummus Ever recipe is going to become a go to dish for you when you see how gosh darn easy it is to make it yourself! Chic peas, tahini paste, garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt in a food processor, purée until smooth and violà you have an amazing dip. Wait, there is one caveat to this best hummus ever recipe. My secret to a silky, smooth homemade hummus is removing the skins from the chic peas. This is actually a very easy task that will take you about five to ten minutes and it makes all the difference in the texture and taste for your hummus. It’s still quicker than taking that trip to the market for the already prepared hummus.

Hummus is such a versatile kind of dip where you can change it up in so many ways to get a new flavor. You can add a teaspoon of cumin to give it a bright, floral and lemony flavor. You could add in smoked paprika, hot sauce, or even throw in some roasted red peppers when you go to purée the chic peas for a beautiful reddish roasted pepper hummus. The options really are endless so don’t be afraid to have some fun here.

Biting the bullet and buying the jar of Tahini paste is totally worth it because it will last a long, long time and you will get many, many hummus dishes from this! For all you local followers I buy my jar of Tahini paste at FoodWorks Natural Market in Guilford, CT.

If you like this best hummus ever recipe you may want to try my Michigan Sauce, yogurt chicken kabobs and tzatziki beef bourguignon where you make an amazing Indian spiced tomato-cream dish on the 2nd day or Sea bass with green goddess sauce. Then you can end the meal with the cake that won’t last or an apple sauce-caramel sundae!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can chic peas – garbanzo beans drained, rinsed and with skins removed (I used Goya)
  • 3 tbsp – In the show I said 1/4 cup but I actually think 3 tbsp is better (a little milder)… Tahini has a strong flavor.
  • Food Works in Guilford has Tahini Paste (note: this is a good investment because it will last a long, long time and you will get many, many hummus dishes from it 🙂
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ex-large garlic clove put thru press for a fine mash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt – will add 1/4 tsp at a time
  • 1-3 tbsp water
  • a few dashes of Siracha or your favorite hot sauce (you can find Siracha near the Tabasco in the store)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Drain, wash and remove the skins from the chic peas by gently squeezing the peas between your fingers to loosen and remove the outer skin
  • Put the chic peas, tahini paste, a garlic clove put thru garlic press, olive oil and fresh lemon juice in the food processor and run for 1 minute
  • Stop and scrap down the sides of the processor
  • Add 1/4 tsp of sea salt, 1 tbsp of water and purée 1 minute
  • Stop and taste, you will probably need to add 1 tsp sea salt more and 1 tbsp water getting it to thin it out a bit (adding the water aerates the dip lightening it up)
  • Run the processor for 1 more minute
  • Check to make sure hummus is the thickness you want – you may want 1 tbsp more of water
  • Turn out hummus into a bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil
  • And, OR Sprinkle with paprika, OR top with 2 tbsp chopped kalamata olives or cucumber salad in the center of the hummus
  • Serve with blue chips, pita or naan
  • CUCUMBER SALAD: 1/4 cup finely chopped European cucumber, 2 tbsp finely chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 tbsp finely chopped kalamata olive and red onion, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of s & p – combine all ingredients in a sm bowl

Michigan Sauce at Kathleen’s

Michigan Sauce at Kathleen’s

We make this incredible Michigan sauce in the show with ground turkey, but many who make this savory sauce make it with ground beef! Michigan sauce is made from simmering ground turkey, warm water, French’s Yellow Mustard, Franks Hot Sauce, Hunts Tomato Sauce, chili powder, ground cumin all awhile mashing the ground meat with a potato masher to achieve a tender, fine sauce.

Now you may think that adding a whole 5 oz. bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce to this homemade Michigan sauce would make it really spicy but it doesn’t at all. The amounts of all the flavorful ingredients are pretty perfect here giving you this nicely balanced combination. You get hints of citrus and floral from the ground cumin, a bit of a kick from the cayenne in the Frank’s Hot Sauce and a little tang from the French’s Yellow Mustard. Lets not forget the chili powder that gives it the right amount of earthiness to complete the circle. Now you know how important it is to me that you always season a dish as you go along but here there is no need for salt or pepper because all of the ingredients added into this recipe take care of that.

These Michigan Sauce recipes go back for generations and are very special to an Upstate New Yorker such as Kathleen and her family. I feel honored that they were willing to share their family recipe that they hold so dear to them so that I might be able to share it with all of you.

clarecarlsOver the years there have been legends and tales going around of how this delicious Michigan Sauce recipe began. One says that the Coney Island hot dog met a sauce made from a woman in Nashville who married a man from Detroit and they moved to Plattsburgh, NY. They started selling hot dogs with this sauce and called them “Michigans”. The other says it was a couple from Detroit that moved to Plattsburgh, NY.  But if you ask some of the locals they will insist that “Michigans” have nothing to do with Detroit! Back in the 1920’s is when the the first “Michigan” stand opened up but Clare and Carl’s is the one very well known to people which opened in the 1940’s along Lake Champlain. To this day, Clare & Carl’s keeps the car hop service that made it popular a half century ago.

A typical “Michigan” is garnished with chopped onion and a line of French’s Yellow Mustard on the top. If you to go into Clare and Carl’s they would ask you if you want your Michigans “with” or “without”, referring to the chopped onions of course. You might reply, I would like two Michigans “with-buried”. This would mean you want onions and they are to be under the sauce. Now you know how to properly order your Michigans when you are in Upstate New York.

Even though this special meat sauce is an Upstate New York summer tradition I think this is the perfect dish for football season! Not to mention it’s a total make ahead dish so you won’t miss any of the game tending to that darn stove. This Michigan sauce also freezes really well so make sure to take advantage of that and make an extra large batch like Kathleen’s mom, Shirley, does for future meals and get together’s. Thank you again Shirley and Kathleen for enlightening us with your lovely Michigan sauce recipe.

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Hope you enjoy the show! You may want to try and make some refreshing Pavlova for dessert to go with this savory Michigan sauce!

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Ground turkey
  • 1 cup warm water – Add 1/2 cup in the beginning and add 1/2 cup after adding the Hunts Tomato Sauce
  • 1 heaping tbsp French’s yellow mustard
  • 1- 5 oz. bottle Franks Hot sauce (whole bottle)
  • 8 oz. can of hunts-plain tomato sauce plain or garlic
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 1 small chopped Vadalia sweet onion – chopped for garnish or a Michigan “with-buried” (if you don’t get this you need to watch the show) 🙂
  • 1 pkg Deutschmacher Frankfurters (mild and delicious) OR Red Hots
  • Hot dog rolls

Directions:

  1. Add 1/2  cup water to 1 lb. ground turkey (beef) in a large sauté pan on medium/low
  2. Continue to mash these two for 10 minutes while simmering with a potato masher
  3. Change to a fork to further mash ground turkey to a finer mash for 5 minutes
  4. Stir in 1 heaping tbsp French’s Yellow Mustard until it disappears into turkey mixture
  5. Stir in 1 whole 5 oz. bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce until it disappears into turkey mixture
  6. Stir in 1- 8 oz. can of Hunt’s tomato sauce
  7. Add in another 1/2 cup of warm water
  8. And then stir in 3 tsp chili powder and 3 tsp ground cumin
  9. Let this simmer on low for 1/2 hour
  10. Then mash a little more with the potato mash to make sure you have a fine texture.
  11. You can let simmer for another 1/2 – 1 hour til a thick consistency
  12. The more you let it simmer the more the flavors develop
  13. This sauce freezes really well for future meals
  14. Serve in a bowl with a drizzle of French’s Yellow Mustard and some chopped onions on top OR on top of a steamed hot dog in a bun with a drizzle of French’s Yellow Mustard and some chopped onions on top …YUM!