Monthly Archives: December 2015

Cheese and Pomegranate Stuffed Figs

 

Robiola-Stuffed Figs with Pomegranate
Photo Credit: Maxime Iattoni, 2011

Simple, sweet, and totally indulgent, these figs will be the talk of your party… even though they will be the easiest appetizer to make! Pungent robiola cheese can be substituted with brie, ricotta, or any other soft cheese in this simple no-cook appetizer.

Makes 15 Individual Figs
Ingredients:
1 pint fresh figs (about 15 figs), stemmed
8 ounces of soft cheese, like robiola cheese, rind removed, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh  pomegranate seeds
Dill sprigs, for garnish

 

Directions:
Working from the stem end of each fig and using a paring knife, cut an “x”, about halfway toward the base; set aside. Mix robiola, honey, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Spoon filling into a piping bag with a plain 1⁄2″ tip; pipe about 1 teaspoon into each fig. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and dill sprigs and serve.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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Golden Curry Puffs

Adapted from Christina Arokiasamy
The Spice Merchant’s Daughter, 2015

The Spice Merchant's Daughter - Christina Arokiasamy's photo.

Curry puffs are very popular tea time snacks in Malaysia. Prepared like Indian samosas, golden curry puffs are lightly spiced, drawing flavors from sweet potato, potato and chicken. For this recipe, Chef Arokiasamy has chosen to use frozen puff pastry for convenience—it is available at most supermarkets or you can wrap the filling in our Malaysian Raya Brand or Kawan Brand Paratha.

 

Makes About 2 Dozen Pastries

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 pound frozen puff pastry
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato,peeled and diced
1 small  Yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 springs curry leaves finely chopped
One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 Tablespoons Madras curry powder
3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

Directions:
Thaw the peas in a medium bowl filled with warm water for 10 minutes. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and set aside to thaw. Preheat the oven to 400°F .

Meanwhile, set up a steamer by bringing a couple of inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place carrots, sweet potato, potato and peas in the steamer insert and set the insert over the boiling water. Cover and steam for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the curry leaf, ginger and garlic and fry until the garlic is golden and the spices release a fragrant scent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken and curry powder and cook, stirring as needed until the meat is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.

Add the steamed vegetables, season with the sugar and salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the ingredients are well combined. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

When you are ready to make the curry puffs, lay one pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to increase by about 1 inch all around and thin it slightly. Cut the puff pastry sheet into 3-inch discs circles. Repeat with the remaining pastry. You will need about 22 circles.

Lightly brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg. Place 1 tablespoon of the cooled filling in the center of each circle and then fold over the dough to form a semicircle. Gently seal the edges with a fork and place the curry puffs on a baking sheet. Brush each pastry with egg and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

A Hogmanay Celebration

There is nothing like exploring a country through it’s food, culture and traditions.

Last year, I ventured into Italy with  dishes to celebrate the Feast of Seven Fishes with family and friends. This year, given my obsession with the Starz Television Series, “Outlander” inspired by the novels written by Diana  Gabaldon, I decided to take a tour of  Scottish foods that celebrate Hogmanay.

So, I know you are asking, “What is Hogmanay?”……..

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Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations begin with a massive torchlight parade.  Photo Credit: Jeff Mitchell/ Getty Images

 

Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Years Eve and can last for days. And no one celebrates the eve quite like the Scots. The origins of Hogmanay are unclear, but it is believed that the Scots inherited the tradition from Norse and Gaelic observances and celebration of the shortest day of the year. However, many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned by the Protestant Reformation in Scotland at the end of the 17th century and not celebrated  until 400 years later in 1958, New Years Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and the excuse to drink whisky and eat good food. And what is a party without a great Scotch Whisky…..

Hogmanay food includes all the traditional foods of Scotland, so expect to find warm hearty dishes as befits this time of year. There are many  customs and traditions surrounding the evening which include  gift giving and the centuries-old custom of First Footing, the greeting of first guest of the New Year into one’s home.

 

Cocktails

It has to be Whisky in Scotland. Scotch Whisky is world renowned and what better time to drink it than Hogmanay. Nobody knows exactly when the art of distilling was first practiced in Scotland but it is believed it was the Ancient Celts who first practiced the art. Uisge Beatha – the water of life – as the Celts call it evolved into Scotch, a drink made only in Scotland, but enjoyed around the world.

Check out About’s Guide to Cocktails Colleen Graham has great info on Whisky and if you don’t like it neat, some great Whisky Recipes.

You can also find an interesting array of festive beverages at Outlander Kitchen, where Highland Coffee made with whisky and Cherry Bounce can add a spark of mirth to your cups.

Slàinte mhath!

 

 

Appetizers/Starters

Keeping the dishes light and simple, a green salad, brie and red onion tartlets and a rich leek soup with bacon croutons are served.

 

 

 

Main Dishes

Savory classics such as a hearty, substantial fare like Venison Pie with a side dish of either Rumbledethumps or delicious classic Tatties and Neeps. Salmon coulibiac also makes a decadent showpiece dish for your guest to enjoy.  Braised beef cheek with roast Orkney fillet, champ mash, carrots and a wild mushroom sauce is also an excellent choice for a main course.

Sides

Roasted artichokes and broccoli can be a gluten-free option that goes well with beef. Although green beans and pickled baby bell peppers are not a traditional Scottish dish, it offers a nice counterbalance to the proteins being served.

Rumbledethumps is a traditional dish from the Scottish Borders. The main ingredients are potato, cabbage and onion. Similar to Irish colcannon, it is either served as an accompaniment to a main dish or as a main dish itself.Cooked leftovers from a roast meal can be used. However, to make fresh rumbledethumps one needs to lightly sauté the shredded onion and cabbage in butter until the onion is translucent and the cabbage wilted, then add some potatoes mashed with butter, salt and pepper; after thoroughly mixing the ingredients, they are placed into an oven proof dish, and cheddar  cheese placed on top, if desired. This is then baked until golden brown on top.

 

 

 

Desserts

For the sweet-toothed Shortbread is always eaten at  Hogmanay and sometimes served with cheese and there will most certainly be Scottish Cranachan – toasted  oatmeal, Scottish raspberries whipped cream and a touch of whisky.

 

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Chocolate Almond Braid

chocolate-almond-braid.jpg

Similar to an almond crescent, this braided pastry creation is  so light and flaky, but is filled with a rich chocolate and  almond center. It is so versatile you can serve it for dessert, breakfast or brunch. It will taste as if it was made from scratch at a bakery, yet the packaged puff pastry makes the recipe quick and easy for both the novice and experienced home cook.  Your friends and family will be amazed by this delightful treat.

Enjoy!

Serves 12
(Makes 2 braids-6 slices each)

Ingredients:
For the Almond Paste Filling:
One 7-ounce  package of  almond paste
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed
Two 3.5-ounce Ghirardelli Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven Bars*
1 medium egg, for the egg wash

For the Glaze:
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds,divided, toasted

Directions:
Place the almond paste, butter and sugar in a food processor; cover and pulse until chopped. Add 1 egg and flour; process until smooth.

Unfold puff pastry sheets onto a parchment lined greased baking sheet.

Spread half of the almond filling mixture down the center third of one pastry sheet. Place the chocolate bar in the center, cut diagonal lines along the left and right side of the chocolate bar about an inch apart.Remove the corner pieces.

Slide2

Starting from the top, fold down the flap then alternate right and left until you are close to the bottom.

Fold the bottom flap up and finish alternating between right and left. Pinch ends to seal. Tuck any extra puff pastry underneath.

Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices.Bake at 415°F / 213°C for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Slide9

Remove to a wire rack.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and almond extract. Drizzle over braids; sprinkle with additional almonds. Cut into slices and serve.

Slide10

*Cook’s Note:
Feel free to  use your favorite chocolate bar in this recipe.
You can also omit the almond paste filling, if desired.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Sausage Stuffed Potato Skins

These potato skins are stuffed with savory  breakfast sausage and shredded cheddar cheese, ingredients that makes for the perfect finger food to serve at a football tailgate, a Super Bowl party, brunch, or for an any time snack.  To top them off, garnish with sour cream and chives.


Serves 4 to 6
 
Ingredients:

One 12-ounce  Pork Sausage Roll *
8  baby Yukon gold potatoes
4 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 Tablespoons  unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded *
2 Tablespoons chives, diced
1/2 cup sour cream *

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Prepare sausage according to package directions. Clean and dry potatoes. Rub skin of potatoes with 2 tablespoons canola oil. Place potatoes on rimmed baking sheet and bake 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove the potatoes from pan and let cool. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out insides, leaving thin layer of potato on the inside.

In small bowl, combine remaining canola oil and melted butter. Brush on inside and out of potatoes; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place potato halves on baking sheet and bake 5 to 7 minutes.

Using tongs, turn the potatoes over and continue baking until potatoes turn golden brown.

Remove potatoes from oven. Top inside of each skin with prepared sausage, sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Return potato skins to oven and bake 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Top skins with chives and sour cream; serve warm.

*Cook’s Notes:
To make these stuffed potato skins a bit more healthy, substitute the pork sausage with 1 pound of turkey sausage links and remove the casings. Also substitute the cheese with shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. In the place of  the sour cream use a good quality Greek yogurt.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

The Fool-Proof Guide to the Perfect Cocktail Party

From Fiestah

Photo: Drinked In

We know, it’s been a long ride since Thanksgiving! Don’t burn out just yet, you’ve got one more cocktail party to whip up, to usher in the New Year with a bang your guests will not forget. It may seem like a daunting task to host a gathering, but we promise, you can get things into shape in two hours.

We’ve got a quick check list of all the things you need for the perfect cocktail party:

Starry, Starry Night 
Whether you’re about to brave the cold outdoors, or you’re blessed with warm weather, twinkle lights will always be a quick way to bring a party space together. It’s inexpensive, and you can even fix removable hooks to your wall and drop the lights so it mimics the falling snowflakes!

Dramatic Pop of Color 
It doesn’t have to be the super fancy, but a strong color is the the perfect party styling to create that lush look. Complement dark tablecloths with flowers in rich berry tones. It will change the entire table!

Candles, Every Single Time 
Another sure fire way to bring it all together and create a cozy vibe are candles! We don’t recommend scented candles near the food, you wouldn’t want to mess with the gorgeous smells of yummy bites, do you?

One Signature Cocktail Or Punch
You don’t need a myriad of cocktails to impress your guests. You just need one cocktail or a boozy punch so that they can top up on their own, and won’t be shy about getting the drinks. A hot toddy will take you less than 15 minutes to make, and it makes about a jug! Just pop the teapot next to the drinks stand and watch your guests flock.

Mixed Nuts and Such
While something is brewing in the oven, distract your guests with a mix of nuts and figs to complement the drinks. Scatter the snack mixes in bowls around the room, and see how guests will gather around the space to mingle! Snack mix recipes here. 

Don’t Stress Yourself, Call On Us! 
If you’re not the type to whip up something in the oven while guests start to enter, take a minute a day or two before the party and call on Fiestah! We’ve got a long list of vendors of all types of amazing food and services, so you just have to call on one of them (or a few!) and deliver your chosen party bites straight to your door. It’s so easy, and you get to enjoy yourself at your own party without fussing if enough food is available.

There you have it, folks! What are some of your go-to fool proof tips?

“Like” Fiestah on Facebook

Follow Fiestah (@Fiestah) on Twitter

Check us out on Pinterest!

Sign up at http://www.fiestah.com to get first access to our beta site.

Source: The Fool-Proof Guide to the Perfect Cocktail Party

Mushroom Canapes

 

Cheesy Mushroom Puff Pastry Bites. An easy and delicious puff pastry appetizer

The Holiday Season is a special time for family and friend to gather and to celebrate with food. These mushroom and  cheese cananpes are the perfect and irresistible puff pastry appetizer. These bite-sized rounds of flaky puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and melted cheese.

 

Makes About 45 to 50 Canapes

 

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
16 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Two, 10-inch square sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
3 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:

Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Line two large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Set side.

In a large skillet over medium low heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the onions and salt. Sauté the onions until beginning to brown, then reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply golden and caramelized, about 25 minutes total. Remove the onions to a large bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium low and sauté the mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and black pepper and sauté 1 additional minute. Place in the bowl with the onions. Stir in the cheese.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into an even 10.5-inch square. With a 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut the pastry into rounds (alternatively, you can slice the puff pastry into squares). You should have approximately 5 rows of 5 rounds (25 total rounds per sheet). Transfer the cut puff pastry to a prepared baking sheet, then brush lightly with the beaten egg. Prick each round with a fork to allow air to escape, then top each round with a scant 1/4 teaspoon of the whole grain mustard, then 1 tablespoon of the mushroom and onion filling. Repeat with the second pastry sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp, rotating the pans 180 degrees and switching the positions of the baking sheets on the upper and lower racks halfway through. Let bites cool 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

 
TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Chicken Thighs in Red Pepper Sauce

Photo Credit: Maren Caruso

 

You can start the meal with a fresh Green Salad with Olives, Manchego & Romesco Sauce. But the star of the dinner  will be the main flavors in this one-pan dish—roasted red peppers, thyme, garlic, and sherry vinegar—ingredients that are quintessentially Spanish. This dish is so easy to prepare. Begin with searing the thighs on the stovetop to crisp the skin and then finish them in the oven to cook evenly as they are braised in chicken broth.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and skin
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup chicken broth
3 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1-inch strips
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
Crusty French bread, for serving

 

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add half the thighs to the pan, skin side down. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook without touching until the skin browns and easily releases from the pan, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a large plate. Add the remaining chicken and cook it in the same manner. Transfer the chicken to the plate. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan and cook until the garlic is lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth, red peppers, potato, and sherry vinegar to the pan, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, return the chicken to the pan skin side up, and transfer to the oven.

Braise the chicken, uncovered, until the potato pieces are tender and the chicken is completely cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve with the  a rustic crust of bread or a baguette for soaking up the broth.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Dairy-Free Egg Nog

 

Cater to your lactose-intolerant guests at your next holiday party with this dairy-free egg nog. This quick and simple recipe is sure to impress!

Adapted from  Chef Aaron Sanchez

Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk (click here for homemade almond milk)
2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large pastured egg yolks
8 cinnamon sticks, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
In a blender or food processor, process all the ingredients on high speed for 2 minutes, until the egg yolks are fully incorporated. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until chilled, for about 30 minutes.

Pour into glasses and serve chilled with freshly grated nutmeg sprinkled on top. Add a cinnamon stick, for garnish, if desired.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Egg and Spinach Cups

Individual Egg & Spinach Bowl

These individual Egg and Spinach Cups make an easy prep breakfast that is so  perfectly suited for those of us with busy mornings and can be prepared and added to the ramekins the previous night and stored in the refrigerator. Plus, this dish is so versatile enough to suit individual tastes. Easily customize your individual creation by swapping out the spinach for kale or another one your favorite leafy greens. You can also switch the tomatoes for chopped sweet red bell pepper. It is literally and omelet in a cup!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
8 large egg whites
1 whole egg
1 cup baby spinach, torn or chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup feta cheese, fat-free
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
Whisk together all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Lightly spray 4 (1/2 cup) ramekins with nonstick cooking spray and evenly divide egg mixture into bowls.

Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes or until eggs puff and are almost set in the center. Serve hot.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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