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

Yogurt Chicken Kabobs, Tzatziki & Toum at Maria’s

Yogurt Chicken Kabobs, Tzatziki & Toum At Maria’s

Wow, this gourmet yogurt marinated chicken kabob recipe is the most scrumptious marinade I have ever had on chicken. It will be my new favorite marinade for summer grilling! There is really nothing to putting together this marinade and the results are outstanding. The grilling goes really quickly here too because you cube up the chicken into small pieces so it only takes about 7-8 minutes for each side on high heat.  I know I will be baking my chicken with this marinade over the winter months. Maria got this yogurt-marinated chicken kabob recipe from epicurious.com and of course making a couple of adjustments as I go through my own test kitchen adding in the fresh ground coriander and the “smoked” Spanish paprika giving it that hint of something extra that I was looking for.

The combination of these three gourmet recipes together are packed full of flavor! My favorite is actually having  this dynamic combo on some warmed or toasted naan adding in a chewy soft texture to this heavenly dish. Using the toum, the garlic Lebanese sauce as a baster for the breads and vegetables when you are grilling in a no brainer.

This homemade gourmet sauce called toum is such an unusual sauce because it’s hard to initially imagine how such a thick and creamy texture can come about from peeled garlic cloves and vegetable oil! You must be patient with this recipe as the slow drizzling of the vegetable oil is crucial in the emulsification of this garlic-oil combo but the efforts are well worth it. Watching the show to see how I get the sauce thick and foamy I hope will help clarify the “how to’s” of it. This toum sauce will last up to 2-3 weeks in your frig and who’s better than you with this little hidden gem just waiting to put a flavor punch of silky garlic on your sauteed veggies, garlic breads, meats, fish, chicken… the options are really endless.

Maria’s homemade tzatziki sauce is a recipe I’m sure you will love and want to add to your go to recipes for summer. The way she has you drain the whole fat Greek Yogurt makes this sauce even creamier and gives your mouth a smooth silky texture yet refreshing at the same time with the grated cucumber, and vinegars and fresh lemon juice. This sauce can easily be used as an amazing dip with pita chips. It’s similar to my cucumber & Vadalia onion salad but definitely different. So nice to have a couple different styles to choose from.

This Mediterranean night of exotic spices and flavorful recipes will not be easily forgotten. You just may start to crave these homemade dishes sooner than you think. I hope you enjoy the show and the gourmet yogurt marinated chicken kaobs, tzatziki and toum recipes.

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INGREDIENTS for Yogurt Chicken Kabobs:

  • 1 tsp ground red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp (Spanish) smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp (Hungarian) sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fine ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • 2 whole lemons thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup whole milk Greek Yogurt
  • 2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs
  • 1 package extra-long wooden skewers (Can find these right at Stop & Shop)
  • 1 package cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 or Vadalia sweet onion sliced into 1″ pieces

Mediterranean Yogurt Chicken Kabobs DIRECTIONS:

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 1/2 hour
  2. Add paprika spices and ground red pepper to a small bowl with 1-2 tbsp warm water (to soften) 5 minutes
  3. Take next 9 ingredients in above list and add to large mixing bowl
  4. Add in spices when they have softened
  5. Mix everything with a spatula then add in chicken pieces and toss to coat
  6. Cover with saran and pop into the frig for 24 hours
  7. Take out and skewer 4-6 pieces of chicken onto each skewer
  8. OPTIONAL: Skewer cherry tomatoes and onion alternating pieces
  9. You can also alternate chicken, tomato, onion, chicken and repeat
  10. Grill on high for 7-8 minutes on each side (even with veggies in the mix)
  11. Serve grilled chicken and tomato/onion on naan or pita bread with tzatziki, and hummus or rice ….YUM!

INGREDIENTS for Tzatziki Sauce:

  • 1 16 oz. container of whole fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 garlic clove put thru garlic press
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil in sauce and some to drizzle on top at the end

DIRECTIONS for Tzatziki:

  1. Slice cucumber in half-length wise, then in half crosswise
  2. Scoop out middle seeds and discard
  3. Grate cucumber halves into a large bowl
  4. Put cucumber gratings into a Ziploc baggie and add 1/2 tsp salt, let sit for 1 hour or over night
  5. Unseal a small corner of the Ziploc & drain water from baggie squeezing the grated cucumber
  6. Add grated cucumber to a medium bowl, and pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess water
  7. Add fresh dill, garlic, s&p, cumin, lemon juice and Greek yogurt to grated cucumber, mix til creamy texture
  8. Drizzle 2 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil on top and voilà you have tzatziki

INGREDIENTS for TOUM – Lebanese Garlic Sauce:

  • 1 cup peeled white garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS for Toum: Approx Time 12 minutes

  1. Add 1 cup peeled garlic and salt to food processor and pulse 3 times
  2. Scrape down sides
  3. Begin the garlic-vegetable oil emulsion by SLOWLY beginning to drizzle in the oil – This will take about 12 minutes to slowly drizzle in all of the oil
  4. When you have reached adding in 1/2 cup of oil you will need to stop and scrap sides one last time then start up processor again and resume adding in oil, at about 1 cup of oil mark begin to add 2 tsp of lemon juice – KEEP food processor going the WHOLE TIME
  5. Go back and forth from oil to lemon juice until it’s finished (I begin to add 3 tbsp of lemon juice at a time after about 1 1/2 cup of oil mark)
  6. You should see the volume doubling then quadrupling
  7. At this point the toum will be thick and foamy
  8. Since the food processor has been running for a while now you will need to let it COOL and put into a container but DO NOT seal at this point because any condensation will ruin the texture of the toum and all your hard work
  9. Just loosely cover with a paper towel til COMPLETELY COOLED
  10. At this point you can seal with a top
  11. It will last in the frig for a couple of weeks
  12. Serve with the yogurt marinated chicken kabobs, sauté vegetables, brush on grill items, naan, pita bread, ciabatta for garlic bread … the options are endless ENJOY 🙂

 

Bloody Mary Shrimp & Mango-Curry Shrimp At Nancy’s

Bloody Mary Shrimp & Mango-Curry Shrimp At Nancy’s

Bloody Mary Shrimp & Mango-Curry Shrimp in Wonton Cups

These two homemade shrimp appetizer’s are fun and delicious! Bloody Mary Shrimp and Mango-Curry Shrimp in wonton cups will soon be on your go to list for summer appetizers! My good friend Nancy passed these wonderful recipes on to me which she found at epicurious.com. They certainly have a an enormous assortment of recipes there to choose from and sometimes it can be overwhelming finding the ones you like so I feel fortunate to have a fellow foodie pass these on.

These two shrimp appetizer’s just might be the easiest and most delicious recipes you’ll have this summer. The Bloody Mary shrimp is so flavorful with all the same condiments that make up “the” cocktail including the vodka but in little nibble sizes.  Serving up this appetizer on a spoon makes for a lovely presentation too. You can find these spoons at party stores and sometimes even at Stop & Shop.

The Mango-Curry Shrimp in wonton cups is another winner with a variety of fresh flavors from the green curry sauce to the mango chutney which both come prepared from the specialty section of the grocery store totally saving you time in the prep department …Hallelujah! You know me with the mayo thing … as much as I love my Hellman’s Mayo I do like to cut the mayo with some plain Greek yogurt to give it a little tang and a wonderful fresh texture so I give you that option in the list of ingredients for this appetizer.

It was an enjoyable day shooting this show and having my good friend Nancy share with us a couple of her favorite appetizer’s that she frequently entertains with. We will definitely be back cooking with Nancy this summer and visiting her garden to pick heirloom tomatoes for that scrumptious homemade Tomato Tartan! Hope you enjoy the show and let me know how you like the Bloody Mary Shrimp & Mango-Curry Shrimp appetizer’s.

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Ingredients For THE BLOODY MARY SHRIMP:

  • 1 pound medium shrimp in shell, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery (2 -3 ribs)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 6)

Directions For THE BLOODY MARY SHRIMP:

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 2 quarts water) to a boil.
  2. Add shrimp, then remove from heat and let stand in water until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain in a colander and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  4. Cut shrimp into thirds and transfer to a large bowl with celery and scallions.

Ingredients For THE SAUCE:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup vodka (preferably Absolut Peppar)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons bottled horseradish (not drained), or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco OR Siracha (also found where the tabasco is shelved at the store)
  • S&P to taste

Directions For THE SAUCE:

  1. Whisk together all sauce ingredients
  2. Just before serving, stir sauce into shrimp mixture.
  3. Spoon 2 shrimp pieces with vegetables and sauce into each soup spoon and arrange spoons on a platter.

NOTE: Shrimp can be cooked and tossed with vegetables 4 hours ahead, then chilled in a sealed bag. Sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Mix the sauce and shrimp right before serving.

Ingredients For THE MANGO-CURRY SHRIMP:

  • 12 wonton wrappers (from one 12-ounce package), each cut into squares
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise OR split the 1/3 cup mayo in half with Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 5 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons mango chutney
  • 1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste (Thai green curry paste is available at Asian markets and in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets)
  • 12 ounces peeled cooked medium shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Fresh cilantro leaves coarsely chopped

Directions For THE MANGO-CURRY SHRIMP IN WONTON CUPS  – Pre-Heat oven to 325º:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Place wonton squares on work surface and brush lightly with oil
  3. Press each into miniature muffin cup, oiled side down
  4. Bake until wonton cups are golden brown, about 10 minutes
  5. Cool completely in tins -Can be made 3 days ahead
  6. Remove cups from tins and store airtight at room temperature
  7. Whisk mayonnaise, chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice, chutney, and curry paste in medium bowl to blend
  8. Stir in shrimp. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Salad can be prepared up to 1 day ahead – Cover and refrigerate
  9. Place wonton cups on serving platter
  10. Spoon 1 tbsp shrimp salad into each cup
  11. Garnish with cilantro leaves

 

Gourmet Caesar Salad

Gourmet Caesar Salad

Caesar salads are probably one of my favorite salads of all time. So many wonderful flavors and textures in this combination from the crunchy garlic croutons (shown below) to the sharpness of the Reggiano Parmesano shaved on top. Then there’s a creaminess with the grated Parmesan and dijon in the actual dressing itself and a tang from the lemon and Dijon. Let’s not forget about that savory flavor in the undertones that you just can’t put your finger on with the anchovy paste and Worcestershire sauce. This Caesar salad is a winner all around!

You will really like how perfectly simple this recipe is and how you can totally make the croutons ahead of time, even weeks ahead. One of the reasons I love this recipe is the make ahead concept which makes our busy lives more enjoyable. You can make my homemade garlic croutons weeks ahead and keep them fresh in a Ziploc baggie in the freezer. Then make my gourmet Caesar salad dressing the morning of your event  storing it in a container in the refrigerator until needed. Last but not least the romaine, which you can clean and cut up the night before storing that in a Ziploc baggie while taking the air out ensuring the freshness as I show you in my VIDEO. Cutting up the romaine into 1/2″ strips is key to serving this at a party or picnic making it easy to eat  and eliminating the need for unnecessary utensils.

Now there’s the whole dilemma on whether or not to use a raw egg yolk. If I am having a small group of foodie friends over I would definitely add in a raw egg yolk to my Caesar salad dressing because it makes it that much more decadent. If you have never tried it with a farm fresh or organic egg yolk yet you should definitely treat yourself! When I do use an egg yolk I drizzle in the full half cup of olive oil and also add in an extra tablespoon or two of rice wine vinegar and lemon juice . Adding in a tablespoon extra of each will give it a nice balance. It’s basically to get the desired thickness you want because that added yolk offers up an extra thick and creaminess to the dressing this way you thin it out a pinch. For the most part when I make this gourmet Caesar salad for parties and picnics where I’m not sure if there will be someone there with an allergy I play it safe and omit the raw egg. And NO, I am not worried about salmonella with the raw egg because I only use farm fresh eggs directly from the farm or organic brown eggs from the food market. The ONLY time I would buy bulk white eggs from the store is when we are boiling and dyeing eggs for a holiday like Easter. You have to be picky about your ingredients, even the eggs are very important.

A large shallow dish like the one I have in the photos and in my video show is a great investment for salads like this. I have found many gorgeous platters and bowls like this at very economical prices at stores like Home Goods and TJ Max…you should definitely check out those deals! When I have many friends over for dinner I often serve the Caesar salad in that large shallow bowl and if it’s a more intimate dinner party I even plate up individual size portions which also make for a pretty presentation. 

Not only can this bold full flavored salad hold up on its own as an appetizer but you can certainly pear it up with some crab cakeslazy mans lasagna, lobster mac & cheese, or some pulled beef taco’s and ending with chocolate eclairs would just put it over the top!

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING 

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING RECIPE:

  • 1 large/2 medium cloves of garlic put thru garlic press
  • 1 egg yolk farm fresh or organic brown eggs ONLY – EGG YOLK OPTIONAL
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon – Grey Poupon or Maille
  • 1 Tsp anchovie paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fine blk pepper
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” (this comes original or seasoned …I prefer seasoned)
  • between 1/3 – 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 good dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Siracha in this recipe)

DIRECTIONS for the CAESAR DRESSING:

  1. In a medium bowl add garlic thru press, anchovie paste, salt, pepper and Dijon
  2. Mash these items together with  the back of a spoon to combine and form a paste in a wooden bowl
  3. Transfer paste to a large glass bowl
  4. Add in 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, dash of Siracha and rice wine vinegar/ lemon juice mixture
  5. Separate egg yolk from white and add to glass bowl (EGG YOLK OPTIONAL) and whisk immediately
  6. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil so it emulsifies JUST DRIZZLE IN DROPS AT A TIME or IT WILL NOT EMULSIFY and you will have to start over
  7. NOTE: Adding in the egg yolk makes it super easy to emulsify the dressing
  8. Lastly, whisk in 1/3 grated Reggiano Parmesan
  9. Put the dressing into a canning jar for ease and pop it into the frig til you are ready to use
  10. Be sure to take out 30 minutes before you use the dressing so it can come to room temperature
  11. Will be good for a few days in the frig

DIRECTIONS- for Assembling the Caesar Salad:

  1. Cut ends off of romaine hearts then cut them in half length wise
  2. Wash and spin leaves
  3. Lay the leaves down on paper towels to catch any additional moisture
  4. Put 3 or 4 pieces at a time layered on top of one another and slice into 1/2″ strips which make it ideal for a party so there no need for a knife
  5. Here you can put the cut romaine pieces into large freezer Ziploc baggies and into the frig til you are ready to assemble the Caesar salad OR
  6. Put into a large shallow bowl, add dressing, and toss
  7. Top with shredded Parmesan and Italian garlic croutons (shown below) and mangia-mangia!

Garlic Croutons

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INGREDIENTS FOR GARLIC CROUTONS: Makes 12 -13 cups of Croutons – 1 Ex-Lg Ziploc Freezer Baggie of Croutons:

  • 1- 1 1/2  large loafs of good Italian bead (14-15 cups croutons-use 1/2 stick butter and 3 tbsp olive oil if you have 10 cup of bread cubes)
    • 4 large garlic cloves put thru garlic press
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3/4 stick butter (salted) melted
    • 4 tsp garlic granules (not powder) – Sprinkle 2 tsp per cookie tray
    • 1 tsp salt
    • A couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce Siracha -you can find this with the other hot sauces at the super market
    • 2 cookie trays

DIRECTIONS FOR GARLIC CROUTONS:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400º
  2. Slice bread into 3/4″ slices length wise
  3. Then slice into 3/4″ squares, you don’t want them to be perfect – that’s what’s lovely about hand made croutons they don’t look like they came from a box
  4. Melt 3/4 stick of butter
  5. In a large mixing bowl add 1/4 cup olive oil, 3/4 stick melted butter, 4 garlic cloves thru garlic press, 1 Tsp salt, and whisk  to mix
  6. Divide this mixture into two and pour onto the 2 cookie trays spreading them evenly all over the tray
  7. Divide up Italian bread cubes into 2 and put onto the 2 cookie trays right on the olive oil mixture
  8. Stir the cut up bread cubes all around the cookie tray to evenly coat and soak up all of the olive oil mixture. I use a pastry scraper (see photo) to do this…a tool which I use a lot!
  9. NOW sprinkle 2 Tsp of garlic granules on each of the cookie trays filled with Italian garlic croutons
  10. Put into the oven for 12 minutes til golden
  11. IMPORTANT – they go quickly at the end so you really need to watch them so they don’t burn
  12. Let the Italian garlic croutons cool before putting them into a Freezer Ziploc baggie
  13. I usually keep them on the counter for a few days then throw them into the freezer to store and keep fresh

Arancini Reuben Balls

Arancini Reuben Balls

My homemade Arancini Reuben Balls are absolutely gourmet. Arancini balls, also called risotto balls, are an Italian appetizer made with left over risotto, stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto, then breaded and deep fried! Oh boy, they are out of this world. They are crispy on the outside, and creamy and cheesy on the the inside. You can eat them plain or serve them with a tomato sauce.

My homemade Arancini Reuben Balls are made with risotto, diced corned beef, Swiss cheese, cream cheese and sautéed jalapeño’s to incorporate that “popper” flavor! I serve them with my gourmet thousand island dressing which I make with Greek yogurt and a creamy horseradish to compliment the corned beef. The flavors of the risotto balls paired up with the thousand island dressing are outstanding!

Do you remember having poppers? You know, those deep fried jalapeno’s stuffed with cream cheese? Wow, I used to love those little morsels and I haven’t had them in ages so that’s why I thought it would be fun to put a twist on my Risotto Reuben Balls. It was a great idea too because the cream cheese lightens up the risotto balls and the jalapeno’s give it that something extra special!

You’ll be so happy when you make these homemade gourmet Arancini Reuben Balls with your left over St. Patrick’s Day corned beef. They freeze up really well too which will make for a nice little treat at a later date although I highly doubt you’ll have any left behind.

My thousand island dressing is fantastic as a dip for my baked sweet potato fries too. You might want some other appetizer’s to go along with the Risotto Reuben Balls like my crab cakes, or bloody Mary shrimp. You could even serve them as an appetizer to a homemade pasta dinner served with a Caesar Salad and some chocolate pecan pie for dessert! Hope you enjoy the show 🙂

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Risotto Ingredients and Directions – Total time to make approx. 30 minutes: I halved my recipe specifically for the Arancini Reuben Balls but I usually make full a full recipe, double the amount below

  • 1 cup Arborio Rice
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tbsp butter and a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth – homemade or store bought
  • 1/2 cup grated Reggiano Parmesano

Directions: 

  1. In small pot heat 4 cups chicken stock til simmering
  2. Melt 1 tbsp butter in different medium size pot 
  3. Add onion to medium size pot and sauté on low til soft and translucent. 
  4. Turn up heat to med. and add in 1 cup Arborio rice and saute til the rice looks chalky while stirring all along
  5. Pour in 1/3 cup white wine, keep stirring and when wine is absorbed begin to add in 4 cups of the simmering chicken stock ONLY 1/2 cup at a time-it will be approx 4 minutes for each addition 
  6. ONLY add in chicken stock when previously addition is completely absorbed while STIRRING all the time
  7. Stir in 1 tbsp butter and 1/2 cup Reggiano Parmesano after the last of the chicken stock is absorbed, then let cool to make Arancini Reuben Balls.

Ingredients- Makes 20 – 1 1/2″ Arancini Balls:

  • 1 1/4 cup diced into 1/4″ pieces of corned beef
  • 2 cups cooked risotto (see below for recipe my recipe for risotto)
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated and packed Jarlsberg swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated and packed mozzarella cheese
  • 2 jalapeno’s finely diced and sauteed just til barely softened 2 minutes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Directions for Arancini Reuben Balls:

  1. Put all of the above ingredients into a large bowl and stir with spatula til mixed
  2. Use cookie scoop and from balls, roll in hands after scooping to get nice and round
  3. Whisk eggs in a med. bowl
  4. Add bread crumbs to another and begin the dip formed risotto balls into egg and them into bread crumbs and place on dish
  5. Put breaded risotto Reuben balls in frig for 20-30 minutes
  6. When the Reuben balls are chilled heat 1/2″ vegetable oil in medium size pan and begin to heat on low for 5 minutes and then turn up to med/high to 350º
  7. Add in Arancini Reuben Balls in 2 batches into hot oil
  8. Fry for about 2 minutes and then turn over for another 2 minutes til golden
  9. Remove to cookie rack covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil
  10. Plate up Arancini Reuben Balls with my homemade gourmet thousand island recipe below 🙂

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This Thousand Island Dressing is great on Reuben Wraps also

INGREDIENTS FOR THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING:

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I ONLY use Helman’s)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 Heaping tbsp finely chopped cornichons
  • 3 Heaping tbsp sweet relish
  • 1 Hesping tbsp grated sweet onion
  • 1 Heaping tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp creamy horseradish
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 3 dashes of Siracha

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put all ingredients into a large bowl and whisk til combined

 

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing


BLUEI can’t think of anything more annoying then being out at a restaurant where they serve up a beautiful mescaline salad or heirloom tomatoes with blue cheese dressing from a bottle! My homemade gourmet blue cheese dressing recipe is gosh darn easy to make and all done in the food processor!

I have been making this homemade blue cheese dressing for over 20 years and it’s one of my favorite recipes. I love all blues whether they are pungent, and or creamy from Stilton, to Maytag, Danish, and Gorgonzola, and to die for sweet and creamy Cambozola. Last but not least is my Italian Gorgonzola Dolce which I make an incredible pasta sauce with (that’s not really “last” …the list of great blues goes on and on). Not to stray from the homemade blue cheese dressing recipe but you really ought to check out my gourmet Gorganzola Dolce Cream Sauce & Fresh Thyme that I serve on pasta or gnocchi featured on May 15, 2014 which you can make in 5 minutes blind folded!

The Chart House Restaurant makes one of my favorite blue cheese dressings and that’s where my recipe was hatched from. Of course, I changed up amounts, procedures and ingredients adding in several others until I got the taste I wanted and this is how I have been making it for over 20 years. My homemade blue cheese dressing is slightly chunky, on the creamier side where you sprinkle extra crumbled blue to the top of your salad at the end. The consistency is really a matter of personal preference. You can actually make it as smooth or chunky as you want by “pulsing” only when blending the ingredients in the food processor. You can also pulse til smooth in the food processor, then throw in a handful of crumbled blue and finish with a gentle mix using a spatula… it’s your prerogative to change it up how you see fit. I offer up the great list of ingredients and now you can be creative on texture!

buffdipI always make this dressing when I make my chicken wings or when I buy blue for my Buffalo Chicken Dip that’s always the first appetizer gone at my parties! Serving the blue cheese dressing up with the chicken wings and all of my favorite veggies on the side you can’t go wrong. Another great dinner idea would be layering grilled beef or chicken fillets, a couple of thickly sliced heirloom tomatoes, a drizzle of my homemade blue cheese dressing and a sprinkle of crumbled blue with crispy chunks of bacon on top of that … hot diggety! When you see how easy and crazy good this blue cheese dressing is you will never be happy with bottle again!

icemohitoYou may want to add in some other yummy appetizers like Homemade Salsa, or Spanakopita with Metaxa Mojito’s, and for an entré try Homemade Potato-Ricotta Gnocchi, easier than you think to make! You certainly shouldn’t forget dessert of Honey-Dripping Baklava or Death by Chocolate Meringue Pie! 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cup (1/2 cup if you like a milder flavor) of Danish, Maytag, Stilton or what ever your favorite crumbling blue may be
  • PLUS 1/3 cup blue cheese extra for sprinkling on top of dressing when you plate the salads
  • NOTE: Should have beautiful blue veining in the blue cheese and Maytag and Stilton are not as crumbly as Danish so you will probably have to cut up with a knife instead of breaking it up with your hands
  • 1 cup Helman’s Mayonaise (I ONLY use Helman’s)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp “seasoned” rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Siracha (Asian hot sauce you can find at local Stop & Shop with all “hot Sauces”)
  • 1/2 tsp Colemans Dry Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground pepper
  • 1 Recipe Buffalo Chicken Dip

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put all above ingredients into food processor EXCEPT 1/3 CUP OF BLUE and pulse slowly for 15 seconds until you get the desired smoothness…You may want to take off the top and get a better peak (you are saving that extra 1/3 cup of blue cheese to crumble on top when plating)
  2. You can also pulse til smooth, pour the dressing into a large bowl, toss in a handful of crumbled blue (that 1/3 cup) and mix in gently with a spatula and voilà!
  3. Dress salad or vegetables and sprinkle with extra crumbled blue on top… Enjoy!

After all this cheesiness  you may want to try my Perfectly Chocolate” Hershey Cakes, my chocolate crackle cookies, or chocolate pecan pie! YUM!

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Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad

This homemade cucumber salad is my version of tzatziki sauce which is a Greek cucumber yogurt dip except I use 1/2 Greek yogurt and 1/2 sour cream. My mother has been making this dish since I was little although mine is a somewhat different version. You can have it as a side with lunch or dinner or even jazz up chicken and steak sandwiches or vegetarian dishes with humus and mango salsa and or guacamole…YUM! . It’s really refreshing and bright on your palate. The Vadalia onion, which is the sweetest, is a wonderful addition to a Tzatziki sauce and fresh dill is always best. The cucumber and onion can be grated instead of sliced to make it more of a sauce then a side dish.

I use thinly sliced cucumbers instead of grating here, garlic, onion and cumin granules in this gourmet sauce which really develop nicely in flavor as you let them sit for a bit. This homemade cucumber salad is certainly not for summer only! I promise you will be delighted with my cucumber salad  recipe…let me know what you think. Enjoy.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cucumbers peeled with thin stripes left on them (only 3 – 1/4 ” stripes) AND sliced PAPER thin on Mandolin or carefully with a knife
  • 1 lg Vadalia onion sliced paper thin with mandolin or sharp knife
  • 1/2 c. Greek yugurt
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt to release water from cucumbers and onions
  • s&p to taste at the end

Directions:

  1. Put sliced cucumbers and onion into a lg Ziploc with 1/2 tsp salt and let sit for 1-2 hrs. or over night
  2. Gently squeeze cucumber-onion mixture and drain liquid from Ziploc
  3. Put into a lg mixing bowl with the next 8 ingredients like in photos
  4. Mix with spatula
  5. Add desired s&p
  6. Can chill and serve or serve immediately …mangia mangia

Curry-Yogurt Dip

Curry-Yogurt Dip

This curry-yogurt dip is an elegant and refreshing way to have serve your vegetables. I really like this combination of the earthy asparagus and the lemony curry-yogurt dip. This dip was originally made with mayo only but mixing the two, half mayo and half yogurt gives you the best of both worlds. The creaminess from the mayo an the tang from the yogurt makes for a refreshing dip. The stalks on the asparagus are peeled with a potato peelers before you blanch them. This gives a vibrant green color and a nice feel when you bite into the asparagus not to mention putting in that little extra effort makes for a lovely presentation.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 asparagus recipe from sun-dried tomato aioli and asparagus
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 Tsp curry powder
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbps Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar
  • Juice from 1/4 lemon
  • A few dashes of Tabasco (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk
  2. Place into a small serving bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour to let the spices develop together
  3. Serve with large room temperature asparagus

If you like this curry-yogurt dip & asparagus you may want to other apps like:

Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Scallop Ceviche

Scallop Ceviche

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Vodka Sauce with Coconut Cream

Vodka Sauce with Coconut Cream

Who said homemade vodka sauce couldn’t be gluten free…well here it is and it tastes amazing! I came up with this recipe when I was catering. A few clients here and there want a penne alla vodka sauce dish that’s gluten free. So I make this vodka sauce exactly like the regular vodka sauce except I substitute the wheat penne pasta with rice penne pasta. And if they are lactose sensitive I switched out the heavy cream with coconut cream and coconut milk.

When making my vodka sauce I use my homemade gourmet tomato basil pasta sauce  which I usually make the day before. If you like a thicker, chunkier texture to the sauce you would puree the first can with the sauteed vegetables and then other can you would pulse only a couple of times.

When you add in the vodka, the extra dry vermouth and the grated Reggiano Parmesan at the end it takes the Asian flair off it and transforms it into the Italian arena. I promise you will love this sauce and not think for a moment that it is even gluten free.

You can also watch my How To Make Vodka Sauce VIDEO by clicking here. This video adds shrimp at the end which you can omit or decide to add if you feel so inclined…it’s delicious!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can coconut cream (14 oz. can from Trader Joes) NOTE: If you want this like a normal vodka sauce just substitute 2 cans heavy cream for the coconut cream/milk.
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (13.66 oz can from Thai at your local market)
  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups pasta sauce from my Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce , see “how to” here: Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce VIDEO OR your favorite store bought plain red pasta sauce -NOTE: If there are any lg basil leafs just remove before putting into cream sauce and ….If you want a chunkier sauce puree til smooth ONLY 1 can with the sauteed vegetables and then other can pulse only a couple of times.
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 2 tbsp vodka
  • 1/4 cup extra dry vermouth
  • 5 dashes or so of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup of Reggiano Parmesan
  • Truffle oil (optional) (Star Fish Market has the best called La Truffiere Tartufo Bianco – a white truffle oil that’s amazing)
  • Red pepper flakes for garnish if you want more heat
  • 1 lb. gluten free penne or rigatoni pasta

Directions:

  1. Make 1 lb. of gluten free penne pasta
  2. Pour the coconut cream/coconut milk into a sauce pan and turn on to medium heat whisking slightly to help loosen up coconut cream
  3. Add 2 1/4 cups pasta sauce into the cream
  4. Add S & P to taste (1/2 tsp salt)
  5. Add vodka and vermouth and bring to a simmer
  6. Simmer for about 10 minutes on low to let alcohol burn off
  7. You can add in a several dashes of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce here …it’s OPTIONAL
  8. When reduced slightly take off the heat
  9. Whisk in 1/2 -3/4 cup of Reggiano Parmesano
  10. Pour pasta into a large serving bowl pour all but 1 CUP of sauce over pasta
  11. Sprinkle with Parmesan and red pepper flakes
  12. Put the extra sauce in a canning jar and into frig for reheating the next day if you have any pasta left over which most likely won’t be the case
  13. Or you can just pop it into the freezer for a nice little dish at a later date …enjoy!

You may want to make one of these to go with your pasta:

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

Asian Grilled Salmon

Asian Grilled Salmon

Cold Asparagus Salad

Cold Asparagus Salad

 

 

 

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Caesar salads are probably my favorite of all time. So many wonderful flavors and textures in this combination from crunchy and garlicky with the Italian garlic croutons, to a sharpness from the shaved Reggiano Parmesano sprinkled on the top of the romaine and a creaminess with the grated Parmesan in the actual dressing itself. Then there is a tang from the lemon and Dijon, and an extra savory flavor in the undertones that you just can’t put your finger on but tastes delicious from the anchovie paste and Worcestershire sauce!

Wow, you will really like the simplicity of this recipe and you can make the croutons a day or more ahead of time and make the dressing the morning of your lunch or dinner. It makes for such a nice presentation if you can use a large shallow dish like the one in the photos.  When I have friends over for dinner I often serve the Caesar salad in that large shallow bowl and then add slices of grilled or sautéed chicken breasts, or grilled salmon pieces going all around the outer edges and everyone loves it. Have fun with this and enjoy!

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CAESAR SALAD DRESSING RECIPE:

  • 1 large/2 medium cloves of garlic put thru garlic press
  • 1 egg yolk farm fresh or organic brown eggs ONLY – EGG YOLK OPTIONAL
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon – Grey Poupon or Maille
  • 1 Tsp anchovie paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fine blk pepper
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar “seasoned” (this comes original or seasoned …I prefer seasoned)
  • between 1/3 – 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 good dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I use Siracha in this recipe)

DIRECTIONS for the CAESAR DRESSING:

  1. In a medium bowl add garlic thru press, anchovie paste, salt, pepper and Dijon
  2. Mash these items together with  the back of a spoon to combine and form a paste in a wooden bowl
  3. Transfer paste to a large glass bowl
  4. Add in 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, dash of Siracha and rice wine vinegar/ lemon juice mixture
  5. Separate egg yolk from white and add to glass bowl and whisk immediately
  6. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil so it emulsifies JUST DRIZZLE IN DROPS AT A TIME or IT WILL NOT EMULSIFY and you will have to start over
  7. Lastly, whisk in 1/3 grated Reggiano Parmesan
  8. Put the dressing into a canning jar for ease and pop it into the frig til you are ready to use
  9. Be sure to take out 30 minutes before you use the dressing so it can come to room temperature
  10. Will be good for a few days in the frig

Directions for Caesar Salad:

  1. Cut ends off of romaine hearts then cut them in half length wise
  2. Wash and spin leaves
  3. Lay the leaves down on paper towels to catch any additional moisture
  4. Put 3 or 4 pieces at a time layered on top of one another and slice into 1/2″ strips
  5. Here you can put the cut romaine pieces into large freezer Ziploc baggies and into the frig til you are ready to assemble the Caesar salad OR
  6. Put into a large shallow bowl, add dressing, and toss
  7. Top with shredded Parmesan and Italian garlic croutons and mangia!

 

Seafood Stuffed Artichokes

Seafood Stuffed Artichokes

Artichokes, any way you cook them are simply a treat because they are a seasonal veggie here on the east coast. 100 percent of all artichokes that are commercially grown in the U.S. come from California where you can pretty much buy them year round. My artichoke recipe is a tasty concoction of shrimp, sea scallops, fresh spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic, Reggiano Parmesan, bread crumbs, red wine, extra dry vermouth and chicken broth. They are a lot of work granted but it’s not like you make these all the time and once you taste them you’ll want to set aside time in the future to plan for these babies!

The Artichoke is actually a relative of the thistle so if you ever see one fully mature they open into this incredibly gorgeous giant purple flower. That’s where the choke comes in because it’s a cluster of immature florets at the center of the artichoke which is not edible. This hairy-like choke in the center MUST be removed when you stuff them. I show you how to prep the artichokes and scrape out that choke in the photos below. This seafood stuffed artichoke recipe is delicious with my sun-dried tomato aioli sauce for dunking the leaf ends and heart and you can make this aioli dip a couple of days ahead. After these stuffed artichokes you may need a sweets recipe that you can make the day before like pavlova with fresh pineapple and berries, or chocolate-avocado mousse.

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Ingredients – Serves 4 People at 1 Stuffed Artichoke Each:

  • 1 recipe of sun-dried tomato aioli sauce
  • 4 large artichokes
  • 3 large sea scallops cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 10 lg shrimp cut into 1/2″ pieces (about 1/2 lb)
  • 3 strips of Boars Head Bacon
  • 6 button mushroom caps sliced thinly and then chopped
  • 6 oz. fresh spinach leaves coarsely chopped (a handful less than a bag)
  • 1/2 large spanish onion or Vidalia onion finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves put thru the garlic press
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Reggiano Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine (1/4 cup to deglaze onion/mushroom mixture and 2 Tbsp in the stuffing and 1/4 in baking dish with vermouth and chicken broth)
  • 3/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tsp salt (1 Tsp for boiling the artichokes)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and sliced up lemon
  2. Cut the ends off of the artichokes
  3. Cut 1  1/2 ” off the top
  4. Using your thumbs in the center of the artichoke pull apart as much as you can to loosen the inner layers a little
  5. Insert pointy spoon and begin to dig in to the center removing the purple pointy leaves and keep digging til you reach the hairy choke and then remove all of that too
  6. Rinse the center holes of the artichokes to fully remove any left over choke
  7. Always keep the all the artichokes in the lemon water bowl while working on them (it helps them from not turning too brown)
  8. Pour the whole bowl of lemon water and artichokes into a large pan and add 1 tsp salt
  9. Bring to a boil ( this will take about 15 minutes) and then simmer for 30 minutes
  10. Drain Artichokes and turn them upside down in a baking dish to further drain
  11. Cook up 3 pieces of Boars Head Bacon til crispy, chop and set aside
  12. Sauté the chopped onion, mushrooms caps and garlic cloves put thru press in 2 Tbsp of olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 Tsp salt til golden about 12-15 minutes
  13. Add in 1/4 cup red wine to de-glaze pan, let reduce for 1 minute
  14. Add in fresh chopped spinach and cover for 2 minutes
  15. Mix spinach with tongs and take sauteed onion/mushroom/spinach mixture off of the stove  and put into a fresh bowl to let cool
  16. Wash, dry and chop sea scallops and shrimp to 1/2″ pieces
  17. When onion/mushroom mixture is cooled add in scallops, shrimp, Gruyere, Parmesan, chopped bacon, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and 2 Tbsp red wine
  18. Mix items gently together
  19. Turn artichoke over in baking dish, drain any water left over at the bottom
  20. Stuff the artichokes with the seafood stuffing making sure to add in to all the layers of leaves going around the artichoke as shown in the photo
  21. When the artichoke is stuffed add in 3/4 cup extra-dry vermouth, 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/4 cup red wine to the bottom of the baking dish
  22. Cover the Artichokes with foil and bake for 35 minutes
  23. Take Foil off and bake 5 minutes more
  24. Serve with sun-dried aioli sauce on the side for dipping the leaves and dunking the heart …mangia!