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Posts Tagged ‘artsy’

Not-Too-Sweet Blue Cocktails & Grand Vintage Champagne

Posted on: June 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Go natural. The color in this blue cocktail comes from iris flowers immersed into the artisanal gin. Make a pretty and unusual statement on your party bar.

In planning this month’s menu of rainbow colors, the most practical choice for representing the color BLUE turned out to be the cocktail. In order to keep things on an upscale note—and not offer a menu of sickeningly-sweet junk booze—we went on the hunt for more sophisticated and subtle flavors. Luckily, we encountered a light sparkling blueberry liqueur and floral gin deluxe, see the details below.

Offer both at your gathering to cover those who prefer light and fruity or demand a crisp martini.

And for those who prefer a little bubbly with their celebrating, offer a sip of a cellar master’s crowning achievement, see details on Moët’s 2006 vintage below.


[1] Touch of Cyan This month’s signature cocktail gets served up in a coupe glass, mixing slightly fruity flavors with lime. See the recipe with this post.

[2] Gin-Tastic The initial attraction of this gin was its show-stopping color. Upon tasting, we were pleasantly surprised to experience its soft, complex floral notes. Choose to serve either in a cocktail with lime accents or straight up for the martini-lovers in your crowd. Recipes appear with this post.

HOBNOBMAG Blue Cocktail for the Rainbow Party

[3] Blue Ice American Vodka
An honest pure vodka, made from russet potatoes, perfect for those avoiding gluten in your crowd. Mixed with water from deep within the Rocky Mountains, this vodka is distilled in five-stages and filtered through charcoal, garnet, and crystal. Blends perfectly in the cocktail. Nicely priced for parties. $20.

[4] LeSutra Sparkling Blueberry Liqueur This Blueberry liqueur announces itself in a pale turquoise tone with just a bit of sweetness and sparkle. Made in Michigan, the brand was inspired by hip hop artist Timbaland and is a blend of vodka, chardonnay, and fruit liqueurs. Sutra in Sanskrit means “a thread that is used to hold things together”. Perhaps this liqueur will stimulate conversation and relationships that will linger. About $30. NOTE: HAVING TROUBLE LOCATING THIS ITEM, PERHAPS HOBNOB HAS PURCHASED THE LAST BOTTLES OF THIS.

[5] Santa Cruz Organic Limeade
A go-to brand for building cocktails, Santa Cruz offers all types of all-juice blends ranging from apricot to white grape. They were the pioneers of organic practices in the early 70’s starting with founder John Battendieri’s efforts to revitalize orchards in the Santa Cruz mountains, an area known for its outstanding fruit. Lately, they have led in efforts to conserve water and pooled together organic growers to sustain the brand and the planet. About $4 for 32 oz.

[6] Magellan Iris-Flavored Gin In the final part of the distilling process of this gin, iris flowers are immersed, thus lending a lovely blue tint. This also adds a distinctly floral taste, with beauty in its subtlety. Also in the mix: cloves, cinnamon, juniper berries, orange peel, cassia, coriander, licorice, grains of paradise, cardamom, and nutmeg. It works wonderfully in the cocktail or as a simple sip. About $30.

[7] Fee Brothers Blue Curacao Cordial Syrup A non-alcoholic version of a classic cordial, Blue Curacao is sweet with the flavor of orange. Add this to any clear cocktail to get a blue effect. For this party you might want to get the 32 oz bottle, about $15.

HOBNOBMAG Blue Cocktail for the Rainbow Party

[8] Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2006 Every so often, Moët allows the cellar master free-reign in developing a grand vintage with charisma, ending up with a champagne that is unique and original. The last time this happened was 2006, the house’s 40th vintage rosé, and is a blend of the season’s most interesting grapes. Its flavor is designed to be paired with food of any persuasion. We sampled it at a tasting with spicy Korean fried chicken. Drink through 2019. $69.

Franky Marshall Mixes Up a Winning Carrot Juice Cocktail

Posted on: May 12th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

This carrot juice cocktail is loaded with extra vitamins and takes on a super-hot color. Special thanks to mixologist Franky Marshall for sharing her winning recipe with adorable garnish.

World traveler, linguist, gourmande, and bon vivant, Franky Marshall has her finger on the cocktail pulse. If you follow this trendsetter, you will always be at the coolest spot in NYC. [Holiday Cocktail Lounge; The Dead Rabbit; Monkey Bar; Clover Club, to name a few!] I asked Franky to share a recipe for my party plan, whose theme is wild. When she suggested the carrot juice in the mix, I knew it was a winner, but little did I know…

hobnobmag Carrot Juice Cocktail by Franky Marshall

I was lucky to catch Marshall before she took off to France, as the winner of the Grand Marnier cocktail contest—with this very recipe. I urge you to make the Garnier, or sample it from Marshall herself. It’s quite an original mix, just like her! You can accomplish this at Le Bar at Le District near the World Trade Center Memorial.

hobnobmag Carrot Juice Cocktail by Franky Marshall

You can also catch her now at The Roof at Park South, where we did this photo shoot. This rooftop cocktail lounge boasts loads of comfortable seating areas situated around glass-front fireplaces and views. A 36-foot long bar sets the stage for bar director Ted Kilpatrick’s artisan cocktails. Delight in the ultra-thin vintage glassware selections that add to the cocktail experience, as seen in the photo.

Macadamia Crusted Halibut Fish Tacos with Sweet Sour Mayo

Posted on: May 4th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

I had this idea to do a party menu featuring wild ingredients of all sorts. So, in keeping with the Wild theme of this party menu, we are featuring wild-caught halibut in these tacos. But not just plain old fish!  The macadamia crusted halibut coats the fish with buttery macadamia nuts and panko breadcrumbs—which will impress your guests even further, and make the bites a bit more substantial and succulent. If you don’t want to put the fish into tacos, you can just serve the fish bites with the dipping sauce, they are sensational.

In this recipe we made our own mini taco shells from large wraps, using a glass to cut the circles. Adding the frisee not only presents a cool, citrus-y green color, but the bitterness cuts through the sweetness of the chutney in the sweet sour mayo. This is really an exceptional trio of tastes wrapped in a tortilla shell.



1 1/4 LB halibut fillets, remove skin and cut into 1/2-inch slices (you should end up with 32)

Set up a breading station, 3 bowls:
1 cup spelt flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/4 CUPS macadamia nuts, finely chopped (process in food processor for the quickest results)
1 1/4 CUPS panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne

Dredge fish in flour, then eggs, then macadamia-breadcrumbs mixture. Place fish on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake about 15 min, flipping once mid-way through baking, till breading is golden.

HOBNOBMAG macadamia crusted halibut tacos


1/2 CUP Stonewall Kitchen Old Farmhouse Chutney
1/4 CUP mayonnaise
2 TB sriracha
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

HOBNOBMAG macadamia crusted halibut tacos


4 wraps (11-inch) Aladdin Gourmet Sandwich Wraps
6 wraps (9-inch) Toufayan Hearth Baked Wraps Whole Wheat

Create 3.25-inch taco shells from the large wraps. Take a sturdy glass (or cookie cutter), and starting at the very edge, press down and rotate glass to cut. Pull up the wrap while glass is on top to help separate. Work your way around the edge of the circle. You should get 9 taco shells from the 11-inch, and 5 perfect shells from the 9-inch (plus 2 with a little missing on the side). Keep these in a sealed container until ready to use so they don’t dry out.


32 mini taco wraps
Sweet Sour Mayo sauce
cooked fish

Slather sauce generously onto the taco wrap, lay a bed of frisee lettuce over one side, and top with a slice of fish (you can cut the fish pieces in half to maximize your taco offering). Fold taco shells over and press to seal. Line the tacos in a row to help keep them closed.

Vegan Party Bite: Fresh Cranberry Bean & Barley Wraps

Posted on: May 4th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Some people might thing being vegan is boring. Well , this vegan party bite might change your mind. Have you ever seen lettuce in a light citron yellow with pink stripes? We chose to incorporate this lettuce as an ingredient in our “wild” party theme based on looks alone. Known as RADICCHIO CASTILLO FRANCO, they work as wraps—so no need for utensils. Their slightly bitter taste contrasts nicely with the cranberry bean and barley filling.

When I spotted the fresh cranberry beans at the market in matching color to the lettuce I thought I struck gold. Though the beans start out as pink and yellow, after cooking the color is lost (darn!). But, the benefit of using fresh beans is that they cook a lot faster than dried, and there’s no soaking involved. If you love surprising guests with new taste sensations, then check out the other recipes in our Wild Party theme’s menu.

hobhobmag Vegan Party Bite Cranberry Bean



1/4 CUP pearled barley
1 CUP water
1 tsp salt

In a medium pot, combine barley and water, bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, about 25 – 30 min, till soft and chewy, and liquid is absorbed (add water if barley is not soft enough). Let sit covered for 5 min. Fluff with fork.


1/2 LB fresh cranberry beans in the pod, shucked
1 bay leaf

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add beans, simmer about 35 min, till beans are soft. Drain.


3 TB EV olive oil
10 fresh sage leaves, cut into strips
cooked beans
1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced

juice from 1/2 lemon
salt, to taste

EV olive oil

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sage, fry for 1 min, till starting to crisp. Add beans, saute for 2 min. Add the garlic, saute for 1 min, till golden. Remove from heat, toss with lemon juice. Season with salt. Combine the beans and barley. Drizzle with a little olive oil.


4 TB vegenaise
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp parsley, minced
1/4 tsp ground coriander

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.


radicchio castillo franco, separated into leaves

beans and barley mixture

fresh parsley sprigs, for garnish

Remove 28 medium leaves from the center of the radicchio. Place a teaspoon, or so, of the bean and barley mixture into each leaf. Add a small dollop of the sauce and garnish with parsley leaf.

A Baijiu Cocktail—the Unusual Spirit You’ve Probably Never Had

Posted on: May 3rd, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Baijiu (pronounced bye-jo) comes from China and has a unique taste, unlike any other spirit. The aromatics have been likened to blue cheese, mushroom, sesame, and some unappealing things. You might say it’s an acquired taste, definitely not for the meek. Our baijiu cocktail  is a take on a piña colada.

When tasting baijiu for the first time, the first sip will tease your brain—and have you wanting to sip more to actually define it. In this cocktail, a take on a piña colada, the savory notes of Baijiu marries fruity caramelized pineapple and mangosteen with touches of sesame. A unique taste sensation, to say the least.

See the recipe for Sesame Colada, by Orson Salicetti, with this post. I chose to include this cocktail in my party plan featuring all things wild. The menu features foraged and some out-there ingredients.


[1] Mixologist Orson Salicetti launches NYC’s first Baijiu cocktail lounge, Lumos. HOBNOB got a first peek at the space and a tasting of the high-proof, and high-priced spirit. Salicetti (seen in photo above) has been experimenting with loads of brands and has planned an extensive cocktail menu, highlighting the nuances of each one. Head to West Houston near West Broadway, and take the stairs under the hat shop. Have fun tasting! (sadly, this place has since closed)

HOBNOBmag Baijiu Cocktail Orson Salicetti

[2] Lumos First look at the space, which features an extra long marble bar, that plans to be bar-stool-free. Owner Orson Salicetti wants everyone to get a chance at a taste of Baijiu, and be able to mingle and move freely. A shelf will be added to the back wall facing the bar for resting drinks. The bar features an extensive assortment of brands of Baijiu, plus a curated selection of traditional spirits for those who insist on classic offerings. A lounge area with benches of reclaimed wood is situated at the back. For upcoming events, see details at

HOBNOBmag Baijiu Cocktail Orson Salicetti

[3] Kweichow Moutai Baijiu (50% Alc./Vol., 106 Proof) is a rare, small-batch blend perfect for sipping at special occasions. This exceptional aged baijiu is rich, earthy, and incredibly fragrant, with a long rounded finish, full of umami-soy notes. About $250.

[4] Hong Kong Baijiu (43% Alc./Vol., 86 Proof), in its distinctive bright red bottle, is one of the most popular brands of baijiu, and was first designed with the Western consumer in mind. Handcrafted in Sichuan, China, its fruity, lightly sweet taste may be less traditional, but it’s a great place to start for baijiu novices. About $50.

HOBNOBmag Baijiu Cocktail Orson Salicetti

[5] Portobello Road Gin Fast becoming popular with gin lovers comes this brand from London’s famous shopping street. Juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, lemon and orange peel, licorice root, cassia bark, and nutmeg blend together for a clean and herbacious taste. Next time you are in London, book a session at their Ginstitute, where you can sample and create a gin to your liking.

[6] Lakewood Organic Mangosteen Juice is made with 100% Fruit Juice Fresh Pressed Mangosteen maintaining micro-nutrients. Restores electrolytes and supports digestion, and adds another indescribable taste to the cocktail—something in between a strawberry, kiwi and plum.

[7] Chinese Sesame Paste differs from tahini, in that roasted sesame seeds are used to make it. It comes in a dark brown and full-on sesame flavor.

Wild Recipes: Mustard Gougères & Venison with Ramp Pesto

Posted on: April 5th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

As part of our recipe plan for hosting a wild and foraged themed party, I’ve included these 2 spectacular wild recipes perfect for entertaining. The first came after doing a tasting at the new Maille Mustard Boutique that opened on the Upper West side of Manhattan, where I was totally wowed by the possibilities of dijon mustard—and more. The photos (at the top of this post) show two of the items we sampled at the tasting, which also included a Beef Tartare, Spring Root Vegetable Roulade, and Lox, all with mustard as the surprise ingredient. Executive Chef of Tastings NYC, Cedric Duran has generously shared his recipe for gougères with us, which includes a White Wine Mustard with Fine Herbs as the surprise ingredient.

If you prefer adventures of the meatier kind, then take a look at the recipe for Venison, that pairs perfectly with the ingredient of the Spring season, ramps! Fossil Farms, which we featured on our website this month for exotic meat sources is located in Boonton, NJ and offers weekly samplings every Saturday. You might have just missed the Cinco de Mayo Emu Tacos wrapped in lettuce that were on their menu!


Comte Gougères with Fine Herb Mustard Sweet Onion Cream


Make the Gougères…Preheat oven 350º

9 oz water
7 TB of butter
3 tsp salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch nutmeg

7 oz all-purpose flour
5 whole eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 CUP aged Comté cheese, grated
1/2 CUP heavy cream

Mix water, butter, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg together in a pan over heat till it boils.
Add flour and stir for 5 min. Put the dough into a mixer bowl with wire whip and mix it for 3 min to cool down. Add the eggs one by one to obtain a nice, sticky dough. Add baking powder, Comté cheese, and heavy cream. Mix again.
Spoon the dough into a pastry bag and pipe the gougères onto a sheet pan. Bake them in the oven for 10 min.

Make the Onion Cream

5 Spanish onions
1/2 stick unsalted butter
4 TB Maille White Wine Mustard with Fine Herbs
s + p

Thinly slice the onions, cook them with butter for 15 min. Once cooked, blend in a blender with the mustard for 2-3 min to obtain a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble

Pipe the mustard filling inside the gougères with and serve warm.

—Recipe by Cedric Duran, Exec Chef of Tastings NYC.


BBQ Venison Flank Steak, Ramp Pesto, and Smoky Mushroom Potato Hash

Make the Ramp Pesto

8 oz fresh ramps
2 oz extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

Place in a food processor and puree.

Make the Smoky Mushroom and Potato Hash

1 oz applewood smoking chips, soaked for 1-2 hours
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 oz chanterelle mushrooms, chopped
1/2 oz morel mushrooms, sliced
1/2 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
8 oz yukon gold potatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 bunch chives, thinly sliced, for garnish

Add soaked wood chips to coals (ideal temperature is 325º). Heat cast iron pan on grill. Add all the mushrooms, potatoes, and garlic to the pan. Allow to cook and hot smoke until potatoes are tender. Season to taste and finish with chopped chives.

Make the Venison

2 venison flank steaks
s + p

Season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until medium rare. Allow to rest a few minutes and slice thin. Top with pesto, and serve with mushroom potato hash.

—Recipe by Ben Del Coro, Executive Chef, Fossil Farms.

Wee & Wry: Rye and Jasmine Unite in this Mini Cocktail

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

In this issue’s mini cocktail, the rye and jasmine liqueur complement each other like a match made in heaven. Lime tones down the sweet factor, and the touch of lavender in the bitters add a touch of complexity.

I developed this cocktail as part of my party plan which features everything mini, as in mini ingredients. Stay with the mini theme with your choice of glass: either a mini wine glass, mini martini glass, or cordial glass. Here are the details on the ingredients:

[1] Templeton Rye

Get ready to experience an exceptional spirit, born during the time when spirits were banned. Inspired by stories told by his uncle and grandfather, Scott Bush sought to resurrect the rye that his family was famous for making during prohibition time. Though the recipe was lost among his kin, he was able to track down a nearly 100-year-old recipe, handwritten on a small scrap of paper, through the Kerkhoffs, a rival bootlegging family. They joined forces and found a distiller who would honor the independent methods that created the legendary rye, and eventually built a distillery in the original town of Templeton, Iowa.

Today the Templeton Archive Project is currently documenting the lore of their product with interviews of the area’s oldest residents, preserving unique memories of the Prohibition era and the role it played in this small town. TASTING NOTES: hint of caramel, butterscotch, toffee and allspice. About $40.

[2] Fruitlab Organic Jasmine Liqueur

Floral and exotic, this rich liqueur does a number with the rye, almost as if they were designed to be a couple. This liqueur is brought to you by the Greenbar Craft Distillery, who represent the world’s largest portfolio of organic spirits. Husband-and-wife team Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew began making spirits in 2004, and hooked up with local organic farmers, leading to award-winning spirits. They consider the environment with the packaging as well, with lightweight bottles and 100% recycled labels. A tree is planted for every bottle sold. About $30.

HOBNOBMAG mini cocktail

[3] Junior Merino Cachaça Intesive Bitters Yuzu & Lavender

Just a couple of drops of this intense bitters will do the trick. Made with a base of cachaça it adds a light citrus with floral notes of French lavender. Keep it on hand to add not only to cocktails, but food—salad dressings, marinades, ceviche, soup, stew, desserts or seafood. $17. Junior Merino

[4] Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

Get out your juicer and a big batch of limes. If you don’t already have one, I highly recommend the Cuisinart Pulp Control Citrus Juicer. This baby gets every drop out of lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, and cleans up with just a rinse. Turning the top allow you to control how much pulp you want in your juice—none to every bit of pulp. About $30.

HOBNOBMAG mini cocktail ingredients

[5] San Pellegrino Mineral Water

This cocktail gets an addition of water spawned from the earth. San Pellegrino flows from the foothills of the Italian Alps and surfaces as perfectly sparkling and naturally enriched with mineral salts. TASTING NOTES: The immediate impression on the taste buds is one of tingling freshness, followed by moderate acidity that stimulates salivation, while the high mineral content leaves a pleasant aftertaste.

Mini BLT: Speck, Micro Greens, Cherry Tomato & Spicy Mayo

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

We took the winning flavors of a classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich and turned it into a gourmet mini BLT, perfect for serving as a passed hors d’oeuvre at a party. Each of the ingredients got special consideration.

In this BLT, speck from northern Italy is substituted for the bacon. Its flavor is slightly more robust than prosciutto. Speck is cured, then lightly smoked over the course of a few months, allowing the smoke to penetrate the meat thoroughly. Make sure to lightly crisp the speck, it should still be pliable, so it can be folded to fit into the mini sandwich. The softness of this ingredient makes it ideal for these mini BLTs.

Instead of just mayo, we added a little spice to ratchet up the flavors. For the lettuce, micro arugula greens were the right size to go into these, and added a bit of extra bitterness and spice themselves. Of course, for the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, which tend to be sweeter than most tomatoes, added their bit. For the bread, focaccia was sliced into cubes, then cut in half.

Tip: Buy your micro greens day of the party, they do not last more than two days, and you want them to be ultra fresh. To see more ideas on hosting a party with all dishes “mini” check out this link, Mini Party Theme.



spray oil
8 slices speck

Spray coat a heavy pan with oil. Fry strips briefly, about 1 min each side, to just crisp. Cut each slice into 3 pieces.


1/2 CUP mayonnaise
1 TB sriracha
1/2 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp organic garlic salt

Whisk together ingredients in a small bowl.

HOBNOBMAG mini blt focaccia


focaccia (12-inch square)
spicy mayo
arugula micro greens
cherry tomato, sliced into rounds
crisped speck

Cut focaccia into 1-inch squares, then slice in half horizontally to create the top and bottom. On each half slather the spicy mayo then top with arugula and a slice of tomato. Fold the speck to fit bread, fit in between the two halves and secure with a pick.

Colorful Mini Stuffed Peppers with Spiced-Up Couscous

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

 These mini stuffed peppers will make an adorable bite at your gathering and the recipe is absolutely fool-proof. Couscous is one of the easiest grains to cook, just boil water, add in the couscous, and remove from the heat. Voila! To attain uniformity and a one-bite size, cut each pepper so it sits about 1 to 2 inches high, and save the trimmed pieces for future use.

If you like these mini peppers, you must see the  entire party menu with a mini ingredients theme in mind, at this link.



1/2 CUP water
1/2 CUP dried couscous

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil, stir in couscous, cover. Remove from heat, let sit for 10 min. Fluff with fork.


2 TB EV olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 TB thyme, minced

2 CUPS cooked couscous
1/4 CUP pumpkin seeds, toasted, finely chopped
1/2 TB cumin
1 TB coriander seeds, crushed and toasted
3/4 CUP parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1-2 TB EV olive oil (to moisten)

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and thyme, sauté for 5 min. Turn off heat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and combine well. Add the olive oil if it seems dry.


2 bags mini bell peppers
couscous mixture

Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream

Cut tops off peppers, remove seeds. Stuff with couscous mixture and move to baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake 15 min. Remove from oven, allow to cool a little. Top with a small spoon of Tofutti sour cream.

Fresh Pea Pods Stuffed with Shrimp Dip

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

These are a refreshing mix to your party bites. The snap of the pea pods adds a nice contrast to the creamy shrimp dip. It’s a little bit fussy to plate, but worth it for the freshness of these flavors meld together. I used an Xacto blade to carefully cut a slit across the tops of the pea pods and a pastry bag with fancy tip to fill the pea pods and make them extra pretty.

Hack Tip: If you don’t have the proper pastry bag, you can put the shrimp dip into a plastic sandwich bag and cut one of the corners off. You won’t get the pattern, but you can squiggle it in for the artistic effect.

Everybody loves mini ingredients, they are just extra cute. See my other MINI recipes and party plan at this link.

Makes about 40 bites


24 shrimp (51-60 count)

Steam the shrimp for 2-3 min. Finely dice.


1 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
6 TB Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
juice from 1 1/2 lemons
2 tsp lemon zest
2 TB dill, minced
1 tsp thyme, finely monced
1/2 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp coarse black pepper
diced shrimp

Pulse together all the ingredients. Move to a bowl, refrigerate covered for at least 2 hours.


40 pea pods (on the large side)
shrimp dip
dill, cut into tiny fronds

With a sharp knife or xacto blade, slit open the pea pods on the top. Pipe in the dip. Garnish with dill fronds.

Shannon Stiggins of Cosme Treats Us to a Potent Dessert Cocktail

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Our guest mixologist this month is a breath of fresh air behind the bar at NYC hotspot Cosme. This Mexican City -influenced restaurant is featuring a large selection of unique, artisanal tequilas, rums, and mezcals—which find their way into her refreshing cocktails, including this fab dessert cocktail.

Stiggins started bartending in college and worked the country club scene around Long Island before landing in Manhattan at Vero Uptown and Downtown, STK, and American Whiskey. I asked her to come up with a cocktail for our party with a Mini theme, which features ingredients that are all miniaturized.

HOBNOBMAG Shannon Stiggins of Cosme Treats Us to a Potent Dessert Cocktail

Her cocktail, Montegato Coke Float is born out of a dilemma of a couple of guests with conflicting interests: one wanting coffee and dessert, the other a cocktail. She pleased them both with this intense ensemble. Be forewarned, though, the espresso and ice cream will keep you awake for hours—or maybe that’s what you already planned.

HOBNOBMAG Shannon Stiggins of Cosme Treats Us to a Potent Dessert Cocktail

Stay tuned for Stiggins’ take on the new cocktail menu at Dylan’s Candy.

HOBNOBMAG Shannon Stiggins of Cosme Treats Us to a Potent Dessert Cocktail

Behind the bar, a breathtaking selection of unique, artisanal tequilas, rums, and mezcals beckon.

One-Bite Mini Pies with Blueberries, Lavender & Hibiscus

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When entertaining, I love the idea of one-bite morsels. No need for plate or utensils, just pick up and munch. This adds to the mobile energy of the scene. Hence, these adorable mini pies.

I used a mini-muffin tin to form these mini pies. You can leave off the decorative top, but I think that’s what makes them that much more fetching. To create the decorative pastry tops, I pulled out my a diamond-shaped cookie cutter, but whatever design you have that’s about 2 inches would work. See more one-bite recipes in our party theme: Mini.

MAKES 24 mini bites


Immaculate Ready-to-Bake pie crusts

Remove both crusts from the box and let thaw for 25 min.


1/2 CUP natural sugar
2 TB cornstarch
1/2 tsp dried lavender

3 CUPS frozen blueberries, defrosted
2 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 TB Fruitlab Hibiscus Organic Liqueur

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and lavender in a large bowl. Mix in the blueberries, butter and liqueur.

HOBNOBMAG Recipe Mini Pies Blueberries Lavender Hibiscus2


When crust has thawed, carefully unroll on a lightly floured surface. Using a round 2-inch cookie cutter (or glass) cut 24 rounds. Grease a mini-muffin pan, and insert the rounds into each cavity. To create the tops, use a decorative cutter, cut one shape for each.


powdered sugar

Fill each crust with the blueberry filling. Top with decorative shape. Bake for 25-30 min, till golden. Let cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Andrea Montobbio of Asellina’s Addictive Bar Bite: Stuffed Olives

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Here’s a mini appetizer that’s delivers big. Stuffed olives are delectable with a meaty-cheesy-truffle oil concoction that no one can eat just one of.

Our guest chef Andrea Montobbio developed a passion for cooking and all things culinary in the small town of Capriata d’Orba in Northern Italy, where he grew up in a family who made their own wine and grew bountiful produce in their garden. (ASELLINA HAS SINCE CLOSED, BUT YOU CAN CREATE A SPECTACULAR DISH BY CHEF ANDREA MONTOBBIO WITH RECIPE BELOW)

hobnobmag stuffed olives asellina

He landed his first job in picturesque Il Fattore, a Michelin restaurant known for its impressive selection of specialty wines. He learned pasta making at Il Archivolto, and at prestigious Albergo Ristorante de Corona, he became Head Chef after only six months. It was here he received the opportunity to travel to Atlanta where he honed his skills further, opening one fine restaurant after the other.

At Asellina at the Gansevoort Park Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City you can savor all that talent and experience. The fresh pastas on the menu are truly transcendent. The agnolotti with short ribs is a flavor-packed taste sensation, with meat juices and vegetables that mix together in a sauce reminiscent of a rich pot pie. Squid ink linguini is laden with a bounty of perfectly done lobster and shrimp. You will have trouble deciding what to order here, but, rest assured, every dish is stellar.

hobnobmag stuffed olives asellina

For the mini party, a plan featuring a menu of miniature bites, we were able to snag the recipe for stuffed cerignola olives from Andrea Montobbio, which may just be the most luxurious bar bite ever. A tangy, rich veal mixture gets stuffed into fresh cerignolas, which are then breaded and deep fried. Serve these at your next gig and I guarantee, people will go absolutely crazy. asellina

hobnobmag stuffed olives recipe



makes 20 olives


1/2 onion, minced
2 TB carrots, minced
2 TB celery, minced

1/2 LB ground veal shoulder
1/2 LB ground chicken breast
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, caramelize onion, carrots, and celery. When golden brown, add the ground veal and chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium-high heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, or till browned thoroughly.


1 slice mortadella, minced
1 1/2 TB parmesan, grated
3/4 CUP bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp truffle oil

Empty the pan into a large bowl and allow to cool. Add the mortadella, parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, and the truffle oil. Mix well.


20 large Cerignola olives
1/2 CUP all-purpose flour, in bowl
1 egg, whisked in a bowl
breadcrumbs (for coating the olives), in bowl

parmesan, for sprinkling
herbs, for garnish

With a very sharp knife, cut a slit down one down one side of the olive, cut around the pit, and remove. Open carefully and add stuffing. Once stuffed, close, then dust in flour, and soak in the egg. Lastly, roll them gently in breadcrumbs.

Heat 2 inches of olive oil in a large saucepan to fry. Once oil becomes hot, fry stuffed olives until golden brown. Make sure to cook both sides.

Remove from oil and transfer to a paper-towel-lined dish. To plate, sprinkle with more parmesan, add herbs and serve.

Check out our other recipes featuring mini ingredients in the PARTY OF MINI PROPORTIONS issue.

Aphrodisiac Recipe from Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook By Amy Reiley

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Learn the basics of seduction in this informative cookbook. Amy shares an aphrodisiac recipe for Chocolate Smothered Brie to get things started.

Use the power of aphrodisiacs to seduce your loved one with this cookbook by leading aphrodisiac authority Amy Reiley. She’ll show you how to incorporate twelve ingredients for amorousness—almonds, vanilla, rosemary, mint, chocolate, chile, ginger, mango, peaches, saffron, and figs—to turn the night into a magical one.

Enjoy this recipe from the book for Chocolate Smothered Brie, and plan to serve for your next date.

featured recipe



2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp butter

6 oz wedge of ripe brie
1 pint strawberries, washed with stems on

1 1/2 CUP dark chocolate chips
1/2 CUP heavy cream

1/2 French baguette

Put garlic on a baking tray and sprinkle chunks of butter on top. Toast under the broiler until just brown. (Adult supervision recommended.) Remove from broiler and toss the hard, golden chips in the melted butter and set aside to rest.

Arrange the brie and strawberries on a serving platter.

In a double boiler or a metal mixing bowl fitted onto a small pot of simmering water, gently melt the chocolate chips with the cream over low heat, stirring steadily with a gentle motion. When chocolate reaches a smooth, creamy texture, remove from heat and fold in the hard garlic chips.

Smother the cheese with the hot chocolate and allow the sweet topping to drench a few berries. Serve immediately with a hunk of French bread and a total lack of inhibition.

—from Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook by Amy Reiley

Romantic Dinner for Two: Filet Mignon in Cherry Port Reduction

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Filet mignon is a most special cut of steak, and will show your lover you care! Here’s a simple dinner for two: filet mignons are dressed in a hot dose of reduced port infused with cherries—and a touch of butter whisked in at the end. Serve with mashed potatoes and fresh greens.

See other romantic recipes in our  Aphrodisiac-themed menu,



1 1/2 CUPS port (we used Ramos Pintos Collector Reserve Port)
1/2 CUP balsamic vinegar
1/2 CUP dried cherries
1 TB tamari
fresh mint bouquet
1 large shallot, minced

Combine ingredients in medium saucepan; simmer over medium-low heat until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 25 min. Set aside, covered.


2 filet mignon, at room temperature
s + p

Get a grill pan hot. Generously s + p both sides of the steak and place on the grill. Do not move the steak for 4 to 5 min, so you get a nice grilled crust. Flip steaks with tongs, grill another 5 min. Let rest for 5 min under a foil tent.


1 TB butter

While steaks are resting, reheat sauce. Strain sauce through mesh into a heatproof bowl, whisk in the butter. Season with salt. Plate the steaks and spoon the sauce over each and serve.

A Dish for Lovers: Cajun Tuna Tataki by Brian Tsao of Mira Sushi

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Tuna Tataki provides a light, almost raw tuna, doused in cajun spices and served with a spoon of tangy mango salsa. Make it even prettier with edible blossoms, to entice your lover.

Mira Sushi might be the perfect rendezvous spot for lovers. With sexy dim lighting, a graphic setting, and happy hour that begins at four, you could slip away and delight in feeding each other small bites from the innovative menu.

You may have seen Chef Brian Tsao compete with Bobby Flay, and one-up him, with his Beef Bulgogi Tacos—an exciting mix of crispy wonton shells, bulgogi-marinated beef, kimchi and Asian pear. (Tsao was the only chef to beat Bobby Flay that season.)

hobnobmag TUNA TATAKI recipe


Cajun Tuna Tataki with Mango Salsa

For this Valentine’s Day party, Chef Brian Tsao of Mira Sushi & Izakaya, NYC, shares his recipe for a flavor-packed Cajun Tuna Tataki with Mango Salsa—it has a bit of spice, a touch of sweet, and barely cooked tuna, matched with crunchy daikon. Head to Mira Sushi and share an order with one you hold dear, or be daring and serve it at home.



1 mango, diced
2 shallots, diced
1/2 CUP pineapple juice
1 TB lemon juice
2 TB EV olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ichimi chili powder

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and reserve, allowing to sit at room temperature.


2 LB tuna saku
1/4 CUP Cajun spice
high-temp cooking oil

Rub tuna saku well with Cajun spice on all sides. Preheat a large sauté pan with cooking oil, filling it slightly less than 1/4-inch high. Once the oil in the pan is smoking slightly, quickly sear all sides of the tuna evenly. Once seared, place the tuna on a pre-cooled cooking tray to rest.


1/3 cup EV olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley, leaves picked

Place blender pitcher into your freezer with olive oil. Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the parsley leaves into a strainer with handle. Slowly dip the strainer into the boiling water and allow the leaves to wilt and become a vibrant green color. Once the leaves are vibrant green, move the parsley into the pre-cooled blender pitcher and blend on high speed for 10-12 seconds or until completely smooth.


3 TB Tobiko Black
daikon radish, in fine strips
edible flowers (optional)

Slice the tuna into 1/4-inch strips and place onto a plate decoratively. Place 1/2 TB mango salsa on top of each slice. Dress plate with salsa juices and parsley oil. Top each slice of tuna with tobiko and serve.

Get in the mood with more recipes from the APHRODISIAC issue.

Just a Little Bite: Exquisite Handmade Chocolates in Fun Shapes

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

With Valentine’s Day on the agenda, choose a gift that’s as adorable as you are. These chocolates in fun shapes show your playful side.

L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates Sometimes you just need a mini-chocolate fix, and L.A. Burdick offers a teeny box that houses tiny bites of exquisite chocolate in a size that can be enjoyed by two. This assortment comes with LA Burdick’s signature mouse in white chocolate, plus 8 other assorted bon bons. Other signature figures include penguins and bunnies. Stop into their adorable store with someone close and share a hot chocolate, cake or mini chocolates—and pick up a box of chocolates to enjoy when you get home. Available online at

Get in the mood with more recipes and ideas from the APHRODISIAC issue.

Learn to Make Irresistible Fresh Pasta at Home: Flour + Water: Pasta by Thomas McNaughton

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Making gorgeous fresh pasta at home has never been more appealing than with Chef Thomas McNaughton’s beautiful new cookbook which gives you the techniques for creating all sorts of shapes and flavors.

With such minimal ingredients (the eponymous flour, water, and occasional eggs), technique is king, and McNaughton delves into all the right details to transcend his recipes beyond the simple “how-to.” McNaughton’s passion for his craft and his hard-earned wisdom and expertise shine in his super clear step-by-step instructions, demystifying a process that may have once seemed messy and fussy. After you’ve turned that big pile of flour on your counter into supple, silky pasta, turn to the appealing seasonal recipes that are fresh and modern, yet rustic and steeped in tradition.

HOBNOBMAG Fresh Pasta at Home

Don’t have time to make your own pasta? McNaughton’s got you covered with store-bought options for every recipe. We included this recipe for Corzetti with Sausage, Clams, and Fennel to tie in with HOBNOB’s pasta buffet party plan. See the entire plan here for party finesse.

featured recipe

Corzetti with Sausage, Clams, and Fennel

by Thomas McNaughton

It’s always exciting to see how the textures of various clams play so well with pasta. At the height of the season we have a gamut to choose from: manila clams, littleneck clams, cherrystone clams, and even razor clams. They’re nearly always used in pasta dishes, because basically everything about clams—the fork-size bites, the briny flavor, the meaty nuggets of texture—pairs well with pasta.

hobnobmag fresh pasta at home
When dealing with clams in pasta, I steer away from my East Coast roots and the classic Italian-American combination of linguini, whole clams, and a smothering cream sauce. I’m never high on including clam shells in pastas; I feel like it detracts from the rhythm of eating, and having a shell bowl on the table is just one more thing that the waitstaff has to worry about in our tiny dining room. So instead of Italian-American menus, we look to Spanish ones, where sausages and clams are a classic combination. Corzetti stampati—easy to make, but increasingly available dried in stores—are the logical pasta to use, though I suppose linguine is not a bad option either.


1 TB pure olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 CUPS white wine
2 LB Manila clams, scrubbed
1 1/2 CUPS flour
2 TB squid ink
1 egg
1/2 CUP white wine

To make the clams, in a 12-inch sauté pan over high heat, add the olive oil and shallot. Cook until translucent, about 6 min. Add the white wine and clams to the pan, cover, and cook until the clams all open, about 8 min. Remove the clams and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half. Let the liquid cool completely. Remove the clams from their shells, cover with the cooled liquid and refrigerate until ready to use.

To Finish

1 TB pure olive oil
8 oz fresh pork sausage, broken into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 medium red onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 CUP white wine
1 CUP chicken stock
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TB chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 TB finely minced chives

In a 12-inch sauté pan over high heat, add the olive oil and the sausage. Brown all sides of the sausage, about 3 min. Add the red onions and cook until translucent, about 90 seconds. Add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic starts to brown, about 3 to 4 min. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, the clams, and their liquid. Bring to a simmer.

Drop the pasta in the boiling water. Once the pasta is cooked 80 percent through, until almost al dente, about 2 to 3 min, add it to the pan. Reserve the pasta water. Continue simmering the pasta over high heat until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 3 min. Drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.

To serve, divide the pasta and sauce between four plates. Finish with the parsley and the chives. —Serves 4

Reprinted with permission from Flour and Water: Pasta © 2013 by Thomas McNaughton, Ten Speed Press. Photography by Paola Lucchesi.

Dark, Sweet & Mysterious Comfort Cocktail: The Mad Herbal

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

This sweetly intense comfort cocktail is pretty potent, and somewhat mysterious with its dark color. Serve it as a welcoming drink as guests arrive, or wait till after dinner, and offer it with dessert.

Dense flavors mix in this issue’s comfort cocktail, designed to go with my party plan for Comfort, which includes a pasta bar setup. The deep brown color of the mix adds to its presence, and totally qualifies it as being in the comfort zone.


[1] BLANDY’S 5-year-old Bual Madiera This wonderfully aged madeira, starts with the fermentating of Bual grapes in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After about three days, it gets fortified with grape brandy, then the the traditional Canteiro System of aging begins. The wine is placed in American oak casks and gently heated up in lofts. Over the years the wine is transferred down floor to floor to the ground floor where it is cooler. The flavors that develop make for a wonderful after-dinner drink, matching perfectly with fruit, milk chocolate, cakes and hard cheeses.

Blandy’s does not require decanting, and will keep for several months after opening. TASTING NOTES: Clear, amber color with tinges of gold; a bouquet of dried fruit, vanilla, wood and toffee with a smooth, medium-sweet finish and an excellent balance between the fruit and acidity.

[2] Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock This traditional English soda is an herbal sensation made with infusions of dandelion leaves and burdock root, sweetened with pear juice and spiced with a touch of ginger and anise. In the cocktail it balances the sweet notes of the madeira.

[3] Fee Brothers Plum Bitters is a fruity blend of plum and spices, reminiscent of the flavor of British plum pudding.

Daniel Rutkowski of Middle Branch Offers a Comfort Cocktail

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Bitter flavors mix with tequila in a comfort cocktail especially nice for snuggling up and basking in herbal  splendor. Serve this cocktail as a late-night nightcap to sip, relax, and review.

For this party’s theme of comfort and coziness, we asked a guy to design something for us that would fit the bill. As a lover of all things bitter and intense, Daniel Rutkowski delivered with an intense mix of tequila, Punt e Mes vermouth—a sweet/bitter combo from the 1800s, and Cynar, an herbal liqueur which also includes artichoke. That last ingredient is a tough one to incorporate, but in this drink it works perfectly.

Although Daniel has but few years mixing under his belt, he has solid plans to make a career out of his trade. He’s already off to a good start, after convincing the managing partner of Middle Branch, Lucinda Sterling, to train him in Sasha Petraske methodology and style. Daniel is overjoyed to call Middle Branch his home. We got the inside scoop on his line of thinking.

Do you have a comfort go-to?
An amaro adds bitterness and sweetness, but beyond that provides a warmth and a vast herbal complexity that no one other spirit offers.

Middle Branch offers bespoke cocktails that cater to guests’ mood. What’s been your most unusual request?
One is ingrained in my memory forever: gin, lemon juice, cucumber, egg white, no sugar. After a few misfires of sneaking a bar spoon of simple syrup in just to make the drink palatable, we learned to accept that this particular guest simply loves frothy and unbelievably tart concoctions.

Describe the scene at Middle Branch
At times, the downstairs can be a tad overwhelming with a sea of thirsty millenials. Monday through Wednesday, we have live jazz trios and a bluegrass band downstairs, so it’s rare to see the room not filled. We try to keep the upstairs a serene and romantic safe haven, but even that becomes impossible on the weekends.

Any new spirits catch your eye?
I’ve been obsessed with Cynar since I tasted it, so I’m always playing around with it, and lately I’ve been fascinated with Black Strap Rum. It is an aged, molasses-driven, extremely rich spirit that pairs with anything bitter and anything in the cacao family—the perfect bottle for the frigid months ahead.

Middle Branch, 154 e 33 St (btw Third/Lexington) NYC

HOBNOB Magazine