CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Summertime Recipes!
Back on CT Style in The Bender Kitchen with Ryan Kristafer and Teresa Dufour this past Thursday morning! I feel so fortunate to be working with such a wonderful group of people at WTNH Channel 8 who make it so fun to share The Traveling Epicurean recipes with all of you.
My goal for this segment was to show you a couple of creative and really delicious ideas for all your summertime produce. Panzanella and Berries in Dreamy Cream came to mind.
One of the wonderful things about making these dishes is the abundance and variety you have to choose from at the farmers markets in the summer. The incredible flavors in this Panzanella recipe go without saying. All the aroma’s from the fresh herbs, basil, parsley, thyme & oregano to the fresh vegetables like the heirloom tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, red onions really get you salavating. The creaminess from the fresh mozzarella and the crunchy from the homemade croutons balance it all out.
As for the Berries in Dreamy Cream, you can whip this one up in a matter of minutes as well. I’ve been making this sauce for over 20 years and always get the same delightful response from guests after their first bite. You would never think that melting Fluff and cream cheese together could make such a delectable sauce on fresh berries. It’s a sensation you have to treat your self to and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The first holiday appetizer I have for you is my baked asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto that has a smear of a cream cheese, sweet onion and Parmesan spread on the Prosciutto. These Proscuitto wrapped Asparagus are one of my favorite appetizers and can be a topping to a salad or a pretty side vegetable to lunch or dinner. I first had these delicious little bundles at my sister-in-law’s, Anita’s house, twenty years ago. She is an amazing chef who’s always cooking up a storm. They can totally be made a day ahead, placed on a cookie tray and stored in the frig until you need them. The asparagus is blanched and shocked in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to keep that vibrant green color before they are wrapped with Proscuitto. You want to make sure you buy “Proscuitto di Parma” for this holiday appetizer because it’s the best and most delicate in flavor. There are other tasty Prosciutto’s out there but they won’t be as tender as the Parma and may get too salty or waxy after baking.
The second quick and easy, gourmet tidbit i have for you are my holiday crostinis with Gorgonzola, fresh chopped tomato, basil and garlic that bakes for seven minutes. These take the same amount of time as the asparagus-Prosciutto appetizer’s. How convenient is that? You can buy already crumbled Gorgonzola at the market in small plastic containers. A little chopping of cherry or grape tomatoes and basil and voilà! The crostinis are beyond simple to make and you can check out that recipe by the hyper-link.
The last wicked easy and delicious holiday appetizer I have for you is something a little sweet. It’s a dollop of goat cheese, fig jam, fresh chopped pear and a mint leave all in a pre-baked fillo shell. Yes, I said pre-baked!!! Can you believe that one? This one you serve at room temperature so all you need to do is thaw the pre-baked shells which takes all of two minutes. It just can’t get any easier than that.
You can totally be flexible with these perfect little holiday appetizer’s too. If you don’t like Gorgonzola switch it out with some cubed up fresh mozzarella to top the crostinis and tomato-basil mixture. As for the pre-baked phylo cups, you can always swap out the goat cheese for a slice of brie if that’s more your taste.
If ever a party had a guest who showed up taking center stage this delicious buffalo chicken dip would be it! This mouth watering party dip really perks up those taste buds so much you may find yourself not straying too far in fear that it will be gone if you turn your back for too long. The layers start with room temperature cream cheese spread in the bottom of the baking dish, then the chicken that was cooked in Franks Hot Sauce, a drizzling of homemade buffalo sauce, and finally a sprinkle of crumbled blue cheese, sharp cheddar and mozzarella. Then it’s off to the oven until bubbly and served with tortilla chips, and of course the traditional carrots and celery. Yum, all I can say is bring it on!
When ever you make buffalo chicken wings you have that extra step of making a blue cheese dressing and with this dip you don’t need to because there’s that crumbled blue in the top layer of the dip. That’s what’s so great about this buffalo chicken dip you get all the amazing flavors of that typical “buffalo wings and blue cheese” with out all the work! Heck, you could even use the meat from a store bought rotisserie chicken, toss with some of our homemade buffalo sauce and voilà continue on with all the layers of the dip! I do happen to have the most incrediblehomemade blue cheese dressingrecipe if you are so inclined.
This buffalo chicken dip recipe came from my friend Lisa who just recently made it for a party we were at and it didn’t last very long! I was sure to get the recipe because I thought it was such an ideal party appetizer with minimal prep and cook time! You just can’t go wrong not to mention totally awesome for football season. In mid-November I will be shooting at Lisa and Vin’s house for a special afternoon of homemade pasta. Lisa’s husband Vin is going to share his father’s homemade pasta recipe with us. So make sure to watch for that exciting show.
I first had these delicious little bundles at my sister-in-law Anita’s seventeen years ago. She is an amazing chef is always cooking up a storm. These Proscuitto wrapped Asparagus are one of my favorite appetizers and can be a topping to a salad or a pretty side vegetable to lunch or dinner. What’s great about this appetizer is it can totally be made ahead of time (the day before preferably) placed on a cookie tray and into the frig until you need to put them in the oven. The asparagus is blanched before they are wrapped with Proscuitto and shocked into an ice bath to stop the cooking and to keep that vibrant green color. When buying the prosciutto you want to make sure it’s Proscuitto di Parma because it’s the best and has the most delicate flavor. There are other tasty Proscuitto’s but they are not as tender as the Parma and may get too salty or waxy after baking. The slices of the Proscuitto will vary in size and usually large enough where you can cut a piece right down the middle vertically and get 2 out if it . You can add in other hors d’ oeurves if you are having a party like baked coconut shrimp, zucchini torta, roasted chick peas, or smoked salmon on crostinis with cream cheese-caper spread.
20 large asparagus (the bigger the better)
1/4 lb Proscuitto di Parma sliced thinly
4 oz cream cheese room temp (Philadelphia)
1 Tbsp grated vidalia onion (yellow or white is fine too)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
Hold the asparagus with your fingers in the middle and on the end and bend.
The asparagus will break where it’s supposed to.
Line them up and cut evenly across the bottom so they are all at a consistent length.
Put them into a pan of water with 1 Tsp salt and bring to a simmer approx 5 min only (DO NOT OVER COOK). Drain and put into a ice bath.
Dry the asparagus with paper towels.
At this point you can pop them into a zip lock and into the frig until you are ready for them.
Mix together in a small bowl the room temperature cream cheese, grated onion, Parmesan and lemon juice just til combined
Take a piece of Prosciutto and smear 1 Tbsp of the cream cheese mixture down the length of it.
Place the asparagus on a bit of a diagonal (see photo) and roll up.
Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes.
Use a spatula to remove from pan and be sure to flip them over when you plate them to see the lovely caramelization on the under side.
Drizzle a little olive oil, a fresh squeeze of lemon and some shaves of Parmesan on top for a little extra!
TIPS:Using a micoplane grater or rasp to grate the onion is a wonderful culinary tool which actually started out back in the day as a wood planer for woodworkers!
Tips: Shocking the asparagus or any vegetable for the matter into a ice bath will stop the cooking and keep the vibrant green color.
These Clam Puffs are a take on a Traders Vic’s recipe yet different. I remember having these at my mother-in-law Louise’s many years ago and thinking how elegant they looked ……and scrumptious they were (and still are). What an uncomplicated appetizer to make. You can whip up the mixture in a matter of minutes and cut out little bread rounds a day or two before keeping them in a Ziploc baggie. Then when you are ready butter the bottoms and place on a cookie tray and top the rounds right before baking with the clam mixture, which only takes 5 minutes. You can use cookie cut outs for making the bread rounds or as I have shown you here it’s really easy to use a glass if you prefer a certain size.
1 can minced clams-DRAINED
24 bread rounds from a loaf of Wonder bread-8 pieces of white bread
4 oz. cream cheese room temp. (either reg. or 1/3 less fat – Philadephia)
1/4 cup mayo (Hellman’s)
3 Tbsp grated Parmesean cheese
1 Tbsp grated vidalia onion with microplaner (yellow or white is good too)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 stick melted butter
fresh chives finely chopped
Pre-heat oven to 375º.
Cut out 1 3/4″ bread rounds.
You should get 3 per slice.
Add the remaining ingredients in the list to a small bowl and mix together.
Melt the butter for the bottoms of the bread rounds and begin to dunk the bottoms in only…this helps to get a delicate and tasty crust on the bottom of the rounds once you bake them.
Place all the buttered rounds onto the cookie tray and begin to top with 1 Tbsp of mixture per round.
Put into the oven for approx. 12 min.
LIGHTLY GOLDEN ONLY keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.