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Posts Tagged ‘clients’

Roasted Grapes Crostini

Posted on: October 23rd, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

If you love raisins, you will especially love this softer, fresh version. These roasted grapes would also work well with on the side of main courses: think duck, or pork. I even put them on the party buffet by themselves, for sweet snacking near the cheese board.

I included the ribbons of shiso as garnish, which add a nice look and mint-basil zing. I already had a bunch to make another recipe for this party: Roasted Delicata Squash.  And it worked in this recipe too, especially since it had flowered adding a sweet suggestion. 

MAKES ABOUT 50 CROSTINI

PREHEAT OVEN 450ºF

1 LB seedless red grapes, removed from stem
1 TB olive oil
salt
sprigs of thyme

In a large bowl, toss together. Spread out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for about 22 min, on the top shelf, or until grapes just begin to burst.

MAKE THE CROSTINI

baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 containers (16 oz) fresh ricotta
garnish with red shiso leaves (optional)

With a small knife, spread about a 1 TB of ricotta over each slice, add 2 grapes, smashing them into the bread. Top with ribbons of red shiso if you are using.

See more recipes with secret, surprise ingredients in Hobnob’s party #22 Hidden Secrets at this link.

Skirt Steak Pinwheels: A Rare Steak Treat

Posted on: June 16th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

Steak lovers, here is a rich recipe that adds much fanfare to just a grilled steak. Skirt steak pinwheels take butterflied skirt steak, pounded thin, then rolled up with cheese inside. It’s a way to wow dinner guests with something different and special.

The stuffed skirt steak pinwheels make a graphic statement of red and white, with the spiral of cheese, which is why I included this recipe a part of our 4th of July menu for a buffet, where all the food is red and white. Tip: Good skirt steak can be a little pricey, but pounding them thinly allows you to stretch your dollar. Make sure to start with it butterflied from the butcher, unless you have good knife skills.

Skirt steak has nice marbled fat, which is why I chose it over flank steak, for its extra richness of flavor. Two important tips: When rolling the steaks into logs, make sure the grain is parallel to the length of the roll. That way when you cut the spirals you will be cutting against the grain. Two: Do not overcook it—you want all those juices intact.

Another very important point, choose a cheese that does not melt easily, like a halloumi or paneer, or the Yanni Grilling Cheese with  jalapeño as I did here.  That way the cheese will stay inside the steak (not melt out and make a mess of your pan. I tried this recipe with three other cheeses until I got it right!). But it was fun eating the mistakes.

MAKES 16 SKEWERED BITES OR 32 HALF SLICES

PREPARE THE STEAK

1 1/2 LB skirt steak, butterflied
grapeseed oil
s + p
grilling cheese, cut into 1/8” slices

Cut steak into 6-inch lengths. Pound till about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Trim odd sections (throw in pan as a snack while cooking!) Spread oil on both sides of steak, sprinkle salt and pepper inside. Line cheese slices inside the fatty side of the meat, leaving a little free space at the top. Roll tightly. Tie at 2” intervals. Trim ragged ends.

HOBNOBMAG steps to make skirt steak pinwheels

SEAR THE STEAK

1/2 TB grape seed oil

In a large skillet heat oil on medium-high heat. Sear steak for one minute each on all 4 sides, until nice and brown. Remove from pan and let sit for a few minutes. (At this point you could put aside and cook when you are ready to serve.)

HOBNOBMAG steps to make skirt steak pinwheels

FINISH COOKING STEAK

seared steak rolls
thyme, broken into snippets
EV olive oil

When slightly cooled, insert 4 large bamboo skewers into each roll through the top fold, in order to secure. Cut in between each, so you end up with 4 spirals. Push skewer completely through.

Cook each piece with spiral facing up about 2 minutes on each side using the skewer to flip. Remove from pan, discard twine. Serve as is with skewer, or remove skewer and cut in half to reveal the cheese spiral design. Sprinkle thyme snippets, and drizzle EV olive oil to decorate the plate.

First Blush: Celebrating Rosé in a Summer Cocktail

Posted on: June 16th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

This summer cocktail features an unusual mix of sweet, bitter, and fruity flavors that play with bouncing blueberries. See the cocktail recipe and the exceptional ingredients used in the mix.

A light sipper accompanies red and white bites on the buffet. Garnish with blue or white straws if you have them.

DETAILS ON THE INGREDIENTS:

[1] Hangar One Handcrafted Vodka

Since launching in an airplane hangar in 2002, HANGAR ONE’s handcrafted vodkas have won fans around the world, so rest assured you will be tasting an exemplary spirit here. The creators were not happy with the “straight” vodkas that were in the market, so they decided to take matters into their own hands and create something new. Known for distilling brandies, Ansley Coale and Jorg Rupf started with wheat from the midwest, then combined that with a California Viognier grape eau de vie. The Viognier grapes are distilled using the whole fruit—including the stem, leaves, skin and blossoms, thus capturing its full flavor profile. Then, by distilling the same day it’s picked, flavor is captured at its peak. The vodka is known for its smoothness. Besides “straight” there are three infusions to choose from: Mandarin, Citron, and Kaffir Lime, all lovingly created. Available online at reservebar.com (check your state’s shipping details). About $35. hangarone.com

hobobmag summer cocktail

[2] Lillet’s Rosé Wine

Can you think of anything more suitable for a hot summer night than a nice glass of rosé? The debut of Lillet’s Rosé wine is the first time in over 50 years that the renowned French company has launched a new product, and it was well worth the wait. Consisting of a blend Grand Cru Bordeaux used in Lillet’s Rouge and Blanc, plus light aromas of berries, orange blossom and grapefruit, its flavor is a delight. Lillet Rosé is best served chilled. About $18. lillet.com

[3] Mathilde Framboise Liqueur

This formula comes from an old French family recipe. Only the best raspberries are hand picked from various parts of Scotland and the Hautes Côtes de Bourgogne, to give the liqueur it’s delicacy and sweetness. Just a spoonful is all you need. Berry nice. About $14. liqueurmathilde.com

[4] DRY Rhubarb Soda

Forget about traditional tonic, or generic soda—instead, add sophisticated flavor with this soda. The tartness of rhubarb in a refreshing bubbly drink, what’s not to love? And at only 60 calories, it is a perfectly guilt free option. Great to offer those not consuming alcohol as a elegant sip. Try all their amazing flavors like blood orange, vanilla bean, apple, cherry, lavender, juniper berry, wild lime, pear and cucumber. Available online at store.drysoda.com. $32 for a 24-pack of 12 oz bottles.

[5] Blueberries for garnish

Line the bar with blueberries in white bowls so guests can nibble and play with them in their cocktails.

Food Science Cookbook: Revealing the Chemical Secrets Behind Perfect Food Pairings

Posted on: October 1st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

This book ventures beyond convention. Instead of relying on already established complementary food pairs, this process uses the chemistry of shared molecular structures as its basis. That is, the aromatic fingerprints of each item are compared scientifically—and where they overlap, is where they complement each other. By proceeding with this method, unexpected and unusal results come to life.

The science behind food pairing started as an inspiration from James Briscioine, an instructor at ICE who interacted with Watson, IBM’s famous computer. Since then, food scientists have taught chefs that ingredients contain a complex network of chemical structures called volatile compounds. These compounds give each food its own unique flavor.

Starting with the six basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, and fat, we perceive each of these tastes via chemical reactions that take place on the tongue, mouth, and throat when we consume food. According to the book, these tastes comprise only 20 percent of what we perceive as flavor—the other 80 percent is experienced through the nose via aromatic compounds.

The book takes 58 basic foods and zeroes in on each one’s tasting profile. Each food then lists the best pairings, some surprise pairings, and how to substitute each food. A recipe most unusual demonstrates one of the pairing ideas to get you started. The book contains charts galore that beautifully spell out the options, and provide ideas for future experimentation.

HOBNOBMAG Food Science Cookbook

PEA: Sweet Pea, Pork, and Coconut Tacos recipe with accompanying pairing chart.

HOBNOBMAG Food Science Cookbook

VANILLA: The recipe for Vanilla Butter, shown on corn, with vanilla’s tasting profile.

HOBNOBMAG Food Science Cookbook

More unusual recipes: FISH: A Coffee-Cured Salmon sits on a bagel, left. GRAPE: Spice-Roasted Grapes turn something sweet into something more savory.

The book ends with more analysis of flavors, textures, tastes, and aromas that encompass the eating experience. I particularly liked the section on Aromas, which describe and list everything from Fruity to Maillard (found in baked bread, roasted meat, and chocolate).

Check out this recipe from the book for an attractive and unusual pairing of chocolate and beets. (photo at the top of this post.)

recipe

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH CRISP BEET MERINGUE

This recipe delivers unexpected flavors atop a familiar foundation. There is nothing more comforting than a creamy bowl of chocolate mousse. Beets, camomile, and orange zest punch up the flavor of that classic dish, while the beet meringue adds crunch and makes for a dramatic presentation.

SERVES 6

BEET MERINGUE

3 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar (optional)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup roasted beet purée (or 1 cup peeled and chopped beets, boiled until very soft, peeled, and puréed in a food processor or blender until smooth)

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

3/4 cup heavy cream
Grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon dried camomile flowers (optional)
8 ounce semisweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
6 large egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Make the beet meringue: Preheat the oven to 150 to 200°F. Line a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar (if using) with an electric mixer until frothy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form and the whites are smooth and glossy. Sift the powdered sugar over the meringue, then gently fold it in.

Place dollops of meringue all over the baking pan. Measure out 1/2 cup of the beet purée; set aside the remaining 1/4 cup for the mousse. Drop spoonfuls of the beet purée in between dollops of meringue, then gently swirl with a spatula and smooth into a thin layer. Bake for about 6 hours at 150°F or 3 hours at 200°F, until crisp but not browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Make the mousse: Combine the cream, orange zest, and camomile (if using) in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let steep for 10 minutes.

Combine the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Strain the cream through a fine- mesh sieve into the chocolate and let stand for 3 minutes. Whisk until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the reserved beet purée.

Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture one- third at a time until fully incorporated. Refrigerate until well chilled.

When you’re ready to serve, divide the mousse among six bowls and top each with pieces of beet meringue.    

Excerpted from THE FLAVOR MATRIX © 2018 by James Briscione with Brooke Parkhurst. Photography © 2018 by Andrew Purcell. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

The Flavor Matrix: The Art and Science of Pairing Common Ingredients to Create Extraordinary Dishes by James Briscione

Vegetarian Tea Sandwich: Beets & Apple & Curry

Posted on: August 31st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

Sweet, crunchy golden delicious apples pair with creamy beets in this stunning vegetarian tea sandwich. The special ingredient that makes this sandwich sensational is the Good Spoon Vegan mayo, which works so well with all the components, and has that super bold color. In lieu of this mayo, I would suggest adding curry spice to mayo to get a similar effect. I love that these look like cake, due to the black pumpernickel bread from Northside Bakery in Brooklyn. I found it in my local health food store. 

The quickest way to get these sandwiches done is to purchase already cooked beets which seem to be available a better stores. If you can’t find them precooked, then boil in salted water till tender, about 35 min. 

MAKES 16 TRIANGLES

MAKE THE BEET/ CREAM CHEESE MIX

2 med beets, precooked, diced
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 TB poppy seeds
pinch salt
pinch white pepper

With a fork, mash together the beets and cream cheese, until beets really meld into the cream cheese, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

MAKE THE SANDWICHES

4 slices Northside Bakery Pumpernickel Pullman bread
beet/cream cheese mix
The Good Spoon Curry Vegan Mayo
3 golden delicous apples, cut in half, then sliced thinly

Place bread side by side. Spread cream cheese mix liberally on one slice. On the other slice, spread about a TB of the mayo. Layer rows of the apple slices on top of the mayo. Close sandwich, press to unite both halves, and trim the crusts off.

Cut on the diagonal into 2 triangles, then cut those in half so that you end of with 4 triangles. Cut those 4 triangles in half again, so that you end up with 8 total.

Chicken Salad Tea Sandwich with Sesame & Herb Crust

Posted on: August 31st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

Give your chicken salad tea sandwich an elevated twist.  The fresh lemon verbena has the most intoxicating scent, which will add to the eating experience immensely. I like the addition of thin strips of lemon verbena in many dishes—it adds a birghtness, and its lovely aroma to yogurt, salads, sandwiches, cocktails, and even ice cream. 

Traditional tea sandwiches call for white bread, but I recommend going for something along more healthier lines, like I did here. This white bread is made with better flours is from Berlin Natural Bakery. What really adds great flavor to the chicken salad here is the herbed vegan mayo, which is eggless and made with microalgae. I tasted the Good Spoon line recently at the Specialty Food show in NYC, and was thoroughly impressed. It makes preparing this dish that much speedier!

MAKES 12 TEA SANDWICHES

POACH THE CHICKEN

3/4 LB chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt

In a large saucepan, place chicken breasts and cover with water. Add herbs and spices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer about 15 min. Remove breasts to a bowl. When cool, shred completely with 2 forks. You really want the meat to be separated so that there are no clumps.

MAKE THE CHICKEN SALAD

shredded chicken
3 TB onion, diced
4 TB celery, diced
3 white grapes, sliced in half then dices
1 TB sesame seeds
1/2 CUP The Good Spoon Garlic & Herbs Vegan Mayo

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

MAKE THE SANDWICHES

6 slices Berlin Natural Bakery Classic White Spelt Bread
chicken salad

The Good Spoon Garlic & Herbs Vegan Mayo
6 tsp lemon verbena, diced

Open 2 slices of bread, on one side pile about a half inch of the chicken salad. Close sandwich. Cut on the diagonal into 2 triangles, then cut those in half so that you end of with 4 triangles.

With a spoon, coat one side of the sandwich with a thin layer of mayo. In a shallow dish, put a thin layer of the lemon verbena and dip the coated side into it. Serve garnished with sprig of the lemon verbena.

BONUS

The Good Spoon mayo comes in four varieties: Classic, Smoky Spicy, Curry and and the Garlic & Herbs that I used in this recipe. If you love fresh food with a punch of color, try the Beet & Apple & Curry Tea Sandwich recipe I created at this link. Those who love a smoky batch, mix a TB or more of the Smoky Spicy in with a can of tuna, add diced onions and  black olives. Serve on tortilla chips or crackers.

hobnobmag tuna smoky spicy

Sirloin Steak Toasts with Zesty Crumbs

Posted on: February 4th, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

Generally speaking, men love sports just as much as they love steak, which is why these sirloin steak toasts had to be incorporated into this party theme of recipes to watch the game with (see more recipes here). This recipe provides a simple way to get steak into your guest’s hands, sans utensils. Just broil or grill the steak, set out on sliced bread and sprinkle the lemon and parsley crumb mixture, which gives the dish a dotted effect and an extra zip of flavor. (See this recipe made with sardines, to offer along with the steak for fish lovers, A Canape with Pizazz.)

MAKES 14 TOASTS

MAKE THE ZESTY CRUMBS

zest and juice 1 lemon
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 CUP breadcrumbs
3 TB olive oil

Mix together in a bowl. Crumbs should be kind of sticky.

SEAR THE STEAK

1 LB sirloin steak
s + p

Right before cooking, season steak with s + p. Grill the steak or broil in the oven. Let rest. Slice thinly.

MAKE THE SIRLOIN STEAK TOASTS

semolina bread, cut loaf into 1/2-inch rounds
olive oil
orange or cherry tomatoes, sliced thinly (horizontal slices)
seared steak
zesty crumbs
2 TB capers
1 small onion, cut into very thin rings

On each slice of bread, drizzle a little olive oil. Line with slices of tomato, top with steak. Sprinkle crumb mixture over the steak, add a couple of capers, and a ring or two of the onion.

Zucchini Falafel Balls with Yellow Tomato Dipping Sauce

Posted on: November 29th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

Zucchini falafel balls are a little lighter than what you might expect in a falafel. These mini bites are baked, and look great in tones of yellow, especially with the yellow cherry tomato dipping sauce which adds its fresh twist.

Making these from fresh chickpeas takes a little extra time, but the end result is worth it. I suggest starting the chickpeas the night before. Then the next steps are pretty straightforward. If you want to used canned chickpeas, you will need 4 cups. Note: if you freeze the balls, they will fall apart, so these are best cooked the day of the party. See more “ball” recipes in our party menu, Have a Ball, made with meat, fish, and more.

MAKES 62 BALLS (ABOUT 1 INCH)

DO AHEAD: SOAK THE CHICKPEAS

2 CUPS dried chickpeas

Pick through chickpeas to remove any debris. Rinse in a colander. Place in a large pot, topped with 4 inches of water. Cover. Soak overnight. OR bring the chickpeas to a boil for 5 min, then let them soak in the water for 1 hr.

COOK THE CHICKPEAS

soaked chickpeas, rinsed well
bay leaf
black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

Add all ingredients, except salt, to a large pot with 4 qts of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1.5 – 2 hrs. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough water in the pot. When chickpeas are nice and soft, turn off the heat, add salt, and allow them to sit in the water and cool, and soak up the salt. Drain, and mash with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor.

REMOVE MOISTURE FROM THE ZUCCHINI

2 CUPS zucchini, grated

Spread zucchini on a large plate or shallow bowl, sprinkle with salt and let it sit for an hour. Drain the liquid that has oozed out, move to a strainer, and press out any more remaining liquid.

PREHEAT OVEN 400ºF…GET OUT THE FOOD PROCESSOR… MAKE THE zucchini falafel BALLS

chickpeas
zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 CUP parsley, minced

1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In batches, pulse chickpeas, zucchini, garlic, parsley. Transfer to a large bowl, add the spices and mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 45 min.

HOBNOBMAG Recipe Zucchini Falafel Balls

MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE

10.5 oz container yellow cherry tomatoes
1/4 CUP EV olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sriracha sauce
s + p

Place all ingredients in a Blendtec blender, on soup mode, which heats and spins ingredients together. OR, place in a normal blender, then move to a small pot and heat gently for 5 min.

Duck Breast Hors d’oeuvre with Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce on Endive

Posted on: September 20th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

I love a rich and savory duck breast, nothing compares to its luscious, game-y decadence. That’s why I wanted to include this duck breast hors d’oeuvre in a party menu. Set on endive and topped with a semi-sweet sauce, you have the makings of something special to offer at your next gathering.

This recipe was developed to work with our paleo party theme, which focuses on meats and vegetables. As for the paleo part, there’s a tiny bit of cheating here, in reference to the pomegranate molasses in the sauce, which does contain sugar, but oh-so-worth the combo with the duck. Substitute a high-end balsamic vinegar if you don’t want the sugar.

Let the duck breast sit out at room temp for 20 min to 1 hour before cooking. I was inspired by the recipe from Honest Food for cooking the duck breast, read up if this is your first time cooking it. It’s really quite simple.

MAKES 30 BITES

SEAR THE DUCK BREAST

1 1/2 TB almond oil
duck breast

To a cold skillet, add oil, then place duck breast fat side down, cook for 7 min. Flip over and cook another 4 min. Remove from pan and let sit for 5 min. Slice into thin strips, then cut those in thirds to fit on the endive.

MAKE THE CRANBERRY POMEGRANATE SAUCE

1/4 CUP pine nuts
1/4 CUP dried cranberries, soaked for 15 min to soften, then chopped
1/4 CUP pomegranate arils
1 TB red onion, finely chopped
2 TB mint, chopped
1 TB orange zest
1 1/2 TB pomegranate molasses
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

In a bowl combine all ingredients.

 

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

2-3 heads endive
sliced duck
cranberry pomegranate sauce

garnish: mint, finely chopped

Cut the stem of the endive and pull off leaves in sections. Place one slice of duck on each leaf, top with sauce, then sprinkle chopped mint.

Paleo Party Finesse: Crunchy Cumin Spiced Crackers with Mixed Seeds

Posted on: September 20th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

If you have committed to a Paleo diet, then you know that grains are verboten. But there is no reason to ignore those cravings for crunchy crackers. This recipe not only addresses those “crunch” cravings, but will also give you paleo party finesse when you serve them along with a stocked charcuterie board or along with guacamole. Enjoy them no matter what dietary leaning you follow. 

When developing this recipe, I did a few versions of these babies, in order to decide what flavors matched best with what. The cumin seeds add an almost a lemony zing, with the flavor profile akin to Indian and Moroccan cuisines. Therefore, they make a perfect vessel for dipping into hummus, (for non-Paleo participants, that is—beans are also not allowed). For traditional Paleoists, pair with guacamole, a swath of butter or sliced avocado, or enjoy nakedly on their own. If you like this recipe, you might want to take a look at our Grain-Free Crunchy Bagel-Style Almond Crackers, which tops the crackers with a slew of nuts and seeds for a slightly different take.

We included them on our charcuterie board, so people could match them with meat slices. You can also eat them with or in a salad, in lieu of croutons, they soak up the dressing nicely while keeping their crunch. Include some red pepper in the salad, the flavors really work especially well together. See my other paleo recipes, in the theme Purely Paleo

MAKES ROUGHLY 45 PIECES

PREHEAT OVEN 325ºF… PREPARE SEED MIX

1 1/2 TB sesame seeds
1 1/2 TB hemp seeds
1 TB chia seeds
1 TB golden flax seeds
1 TB cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a small bowl, mix thoroughly.

MAKE THE DOUGH

2 CUPS almond flour
seed mix

1 TB almond oil
1 egg, beaten

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients, then add the oil and egg. Knead well, and shape into a ball. Place onto a sheet of parchment paper that fits a baking pan. Transform dough ball into a rectangle echoing the shape of the parchment. Top with second piece of parchment and roll out dough to between 1/16- and 1/8-inch thickness. I like keeping the edges ragged so the tips will get more brown. You may need to fill in some holes as the dough escapes the parchment, so just break off those parts and fill in as necessary.

BAKE THE CRACKERS

Bake for roughly 27 min. The crackers should be browned on the edges. Move with parchment to a cooling rack and allow to cool about 10-15 min. Break apart by hand into irregular shapes. Store in an airtight container. Try not to eat them!

Rafael Reyes on How to Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

Posted on: December 12th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

If anyone can show you how to serve cocktails at home like a mixologist, it’s this guy. I’ve never seen a more well-stocked bar, between tools, spirits,  fresh herbs and concocted syrups. Learn the tricks.

Mixologist Rafael Reyes and his wife love throwing parties in their lovely Brooklyn apartment. HOBNOB stopped in to investigate the scene and got some great tips on hosting guests and making creative cocktails.

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

How did you get started in the spirit biz?

My journey started in the early days of the cocktailing about ten years ago, when I worked in Northern NJ with the former bar manager of Patria. It was the first time I saw someone create cocktails with fresh juices daily—pressing fresh cane and even coconuts. Soon after that experience, I ended up working at a cocktail lounge in Nolita. After my shift I would visit Remy and Tim Cooper at Gold Bar and was amazed at how great a team they were. There was something about the style of Gold Bar that I really identified with—it was fast paced, with great cocktails, badass bartenders and that rush of having massive amounts of people in front of you and wanting more. I was determined to get to this level.

I had the chance to work on the opening of Yerbabuena Perry and was able to push my craft further with the help of Cervantes (PDT, Little Branch, The Ship) and Artemio (Pegu Club), who had deep roots in the classics. After that I started venturing off by myself, doing brief stints with renowned chefs where I was exposed to a variety of culinary toys and ingredients. It made me realize that my cocktail style was definitely kitchen-inspired. With this focus, I continued to develop my style at 1534, ECC, and with Chefs Jesus Nuñez, Andres Grundy and Didie—and most recently at Betony, where the level of skill and discipline was mind blowing. I will forever be grateful to Chef Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey for welcoming me into in their  kitchen and allowing me to stage and put my free time to learn from their chefs.

What are your 5 statement bar essentials?

[1] Herbs I’m the biggest sucker for herbs—I cannot create a menu or live without them in my apartment. When delicate herbs like lemon verbena are in season, it makes me happy! Basil blossoms, lemon balm, flaming shiso, anise hysop, lemon thyme, coriander flowers… the list goes on and on.

I buy herbs from websites like Fresh Origins and the Chefs Garden. They are a bit pricey, but the key is to always have more than one use for them. To save money, my wife and I grow them at home and make sure to grow a diverse selection during the warm months, so we can use them for parties all year round.

[2] Spices I’m a big believer that you should always try to introduce people to new flavors, and the options with spices are unlimited, and the level of complexity that you can add to your drinks is amazing. As opposed to herbs, most spices are not too expensive and last for a long time.

My style has never been classic, the more obscure an ingredient, the more I want to use it. My rule of thumb: For every weird ingredient, balance it with a familiar one. Examples: cherry tomatoes and champagne, or Orujo liqueur & grapefruit with IPA. Some of my favorite spots for buying spices are Lhasa Karnak and Mountain Rose Herbs. If you prefer using extracts, Terra Spice has pretty good ones, just be careful with amounts, as they are not quite like bitters, and need to be used sparingly.

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

[3] European Hawthorne Strainers & Multilevel Bell Jigger Some people dislike Hawthorne strainers, but I feel it’s the only one you need at your bar for making stirred, rolled and shaken drinks, plus, it allows you to drop pours really high, with a perfect flow. Multilevel bell jiggers are also my favorite. It takes practice getting the measurements correct, but once mastered, it becomes a pretty stylish and functional tool. I like how it allows for flair and stylish moves behind the bar.

[4] Sous vide & Dehydrator I love the Sous vide machine. If you love to create amazing syrups and infusions you should own one of these. Controlled temperatures can help you in so many ways. There is no evaporation, stronger flavors, better infusions. It is also pretty handy during cold months, for making hot drinks.

The dehydrator allows you to create edible garnishes and preserve delicate herbs, especially, when they are hard to find and you want to to keep them in your repertoire.

[5] Kitchen & Home Bar Throughout my career, every cocktail program I have created has had deep roots in the kitchen. I love to cook and I believe the more you do it, the more you develop your palate, thus giving you a point of reference for future creations. At home I have an open kitchen which allows me to view my all my spices and liquor bottles while I’m cooking, making for inspired choice in drinks, food or desserts.

My wife eats super healthy. She is Paleo and also owns a paleo, gluten-free dessert company. So there are always some healthy factors that play into the dishes that I cook for her (Yes, I do the cooking!). No flours, no sugars, no dairy, etc. always creates an exciting challenge. (Me on the other hand, I eat whatever I want to eat! haha.)

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

Give us some of your party throwing tips.

You might say my wife and I are party-friendly people. We love to fill the room with great friends, cocktails, charcuterie and cheese platters, and plenty of foodie-food for everyone. We even sneak in the healthy desserts.

Every Christmas, we throw a big party. Last year, there were about 20 of us up on the roof, where we sent paper lanterns into the sky and made wishes for the next year. It was a very unique moment with special people—what I think the holidays are all about.

In our kitchen, we have a self serve wine unit that is meant to store 3 bottles at selected temperatures that lets you press a button and fill your glass. We use it at parties for bottled Negronis, Rum Manhattans or any kind of a stirred drink, creating a kind of a self serve, easy access bar.

On the bar there are about 300 bottles to choose from—so anything’s possible. We also set up a cooler on the counter, full of sherry and other vino options. Usually, someone will start making drinks for everyone and when they start shaking, everyone starts cheering them on. There is no fakeness in the room. You get a sense of community and friendship, which reminds me a bit of the holidays back home in Colombia—lots of smiles and laughing. It is an affirmation of what I stand for. No matter what, its always, always, ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE.

HOBNOBMAG Serve Cocktails at Home Like a Mixologist

We love the new bottle for Santa Teresa Rum, the spirit featured in this issue’s bar—it’s so elegant. What other mixers do you recommend with this spirit?

The new bottle was designed to portray the rum’s premium level, while still showing that nothing inside has changed. Santa Teresa 1796 has always been perfect to drink on its own, like any good whiskey or cognac. It’s blended with spirits aged from 4 to 35 years, and has hints of dry fruits and American and French Oak. It finishes dry, which makes it perfect for cocktails like an Old Fashioned. It also tastes delicious in long time classics like a Right Hand or a Presidente. Perhaps you can make an amazing daiquiri or a tasty Hemingway. I personally invite you to get out of your comfort zone and let this rum express itself in a stirred drink, like a Manhattan or a Negroni. Keep it simple, though, in this case less is more!

Massimiliano Eandi of Mulino a Vino’s Pasta Stuffed Tomato

Posted on: November 29th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

A most unusual and special stuffed tomato recipe comes from a up-and-coming Italian chef. His choice of stuffing: spaghetti.

Chef Eandi brings his Michelin-trained talent to this sweet, cozy Italian hideaway near Meatpacking in NYC (SORRY, THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED, BUT YOU CAN ENJOY CHEF EANDI’S FANTASTIC RECIPE BELOW). The menu at this place is so wine-driven that guests are first asked to choose from the 100-bottle wine list before selecting their food, so that a perfect match can be made. For our holiday issue, Eandi shares a recipe for a traditional pasta served in an untraditional way. He confits a tomato, then stuffs it with spaghetti, and sets it atop a parmesan crisp. HOBNOB suggests this recipe would make a wonderful first course for a glamorous sit-down dinner. (see our plan for hosting weekend guests for the holidays here)

HOBNOBMAG Stuffed Tomato

Chef Eandi’s enthusiasm for cooking pushed him to start his career early, at the age of 14, and by the age of 16 was already working at a Michelin-status kitchen in Combal.Zero, in Rivoli, Italy, under the tutelage of Davide Scabin. He then went on to London to work at ARBUTUS, before joining 3-Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsey. Just before his move to the New York, he returned to Combal.Zero as Chef de Partie when it was awarded 28th place out of the top 50 restaurants in the world. “…my mind was opened to new ways of seeing food through constant experimentation…and really grasped what rules needed to be respected and where freedom could come into play.”

HOBNOBMAG Stuffed Tomato

The wine list has been carefully curated by wine aficionado and owner Paolo Meregalli, who has assembled selections of both esoteric and more-known Italian wines. All wines are available by the glass, thanks to the Coravin system, and are poured at the table. Offerings range from $13 up to $500, for some very hard to come by vintages from their special collection. Meregalli has traveled extensively—London, Paris, Bejing, Geneva, Dubai, and chose NYC as the spot to open this intimate venue. “It was my move to the States that truly invigorated me… I found the energy, open-mindedness and diversity amongst the people living here inspiring.” Wines are categorized by their flavor profiles ‘Bright & Lively’ or ‘Clean & Earthy’ to help with the decision making, and dishes can be ordered in small, medium, and large portions to match appetites.

HOBNOBMAG Stuffed Tomato

The cozy space, is designed by SGS Architetti Associati, and lends an industrial feel with soft lighting throughout. There is a private dining room in the back which houses a wine cellar, plus an adjacent lounge outfitted with comfortable leather chairs, for those interested in having events. mulinoavino.com

recipe

PASTA+POMODORO 2

Here’s how you can make Mulino a Vino’s PASTA+POMODORO 2 at home.

hobnobmag pasta stuffed tomato

SERVES 4

FOR THE TOMATO CONFIT

4 nice heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup EV olive oil
1 oz granulated salt
1 oz granulated sugar
1 sprig rosemary
1 clove garlic

Preheat oven to 280ºF. Cut off the top of the tomato, and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, taking care not to break the skin of tomato. Set the pulp aside for the sauce.

Season tomato shells and tops with oil, salt, and sugar. Break up the rosemary sprig and clove and sprinkle across a baking sheet. Place tomato shell and tops on the baking tray, leaving about 2-3 inches between each tomato. Place in the oven and bake for 20 min.

FOR THE SAUCE

pulp of 4 tomatoes (from above), blended
1 oz soy sauce
2 oz concentrated tomato paste
1/2 cup EV olive oil
1 pinch sugar
20 basil leaves
4 oz tomato puree (canned or fresh)

Blend all ingredients together in a blender, and then pour sauce into a big pot. Cook for 20 minutes on medium fire.

FOR THE PASTA

7 oz spaghetti
3 oz parmesan, grated
1 oz butter
salt, to preference

Bring an abundant amount of salt water to a boil. (I recommend about 2 teaspoons of salt for every quart of water.) Cook spaghetti for 8-10 min until it is al dente. When the pasta is done, remove from water with tongs, put in the pot with tomato sauce and stir.

Continue to cook tomato sauce and pasta on medium heat for two min. After 2 min, add parmesan cheese and butter. Stir for 1 min. With tongs, place the pasta and sauce inside the confit tomato and close with the tomato top.

FOR THE PARMESAN CHIP

To make parmesan chips: grate parmesan cheese on a sheet of baking paper the size of plate. Microwave on high for about two min. Place tomato on top.

Roasted Cod in Lemon Beurre Blanc Sauce: Quick & Decadent

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

You can definitely place roasted cod in the comfort food category if you add a rich sauce to it. That’s where this lemon beurre blanc sauce comes in, with its buttery goodness.

I created this recipe to go with a plan for hosting weekend guests, which includes extra sauce to use with the next day’s lunch. Do not refrigerate the sauce, as it will separate. Keep out in a cool spot, covered.

SERVES 4 PLUS EXTRA SAUCE

MAKE THE LEMON BEURRE BLANC SAUCE

4 shallots, minced
16 oz prosecco
zest and juice (about 1/2 cup) of 2 lemons
bay leaf
big sprig of thyme on the branch

3 sticks cold salted butter, cubed
s + p

Combine first five ingredients in a non-reactive deep saucepan over high heat. Reduce liquid to 1/4 cup, about 20 min. Lower heat to med, remove thyme, and whisk in butter, one cube at a time until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Season with s + p. Serve sauce with fish, and keep extra out on the counter for crepes the following day.

ROAST THE COD… PREHEAT OVEN 450ºF

4 cod fillets (6 oz each)
2 TB organic sunflower oil
s + p

Get a large skillet hot over med-high heat. Add the sunflower oil and heat, then add fillets skin side down. Sear 5 min till golden. Flip fish, then move skillet into the oven. Roast about 10 min, till the center is opaque, and fish flakes easily. Serve with sauce on the side, and Roasted Winter Vegetable Medley (see recipe).

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp & Toasted Breadcrumbs

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

If you’ve never tried squid ink pasta, then this is the recipe that will make you fall in love with it. Not only does it have a captivating look, it lends a flavor all its own.

We thought it would be a great dish to serve at a Halloween or Day of the Dead party, and paired it with toasted breadcrumbs and shrimp to adhere to an orange and black menu that we developed especially for Halloween entertaining. This dish is truly spectacular, and so simple to make. It ranks as one of my top recipes on this website, when I see the photo, I just crave it. Do not leave off the breadcrumb mixture, they complete the dish beautifully.

MAKES ABOUT 20 SMALL BOWLS

COOK THE PASTA

1 LB Filotea La Pasta Originale Spaghetti Chitarra al Nero di Seppia (squid ink pasta)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for 3 min. When draining pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for the sauce.

TOAST THE BREADCRUMBS

2 TB EV olive oil
1 CUP panko breadcrumbs
1/8 CUP thyme, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon

Heat olive oil gently in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in breadcrumbs, herbs and lemon zest, saute for about 3 min, till the crumbs have browned. Set aside.

MAKE THE SAUCE

1/2 CUP EV olive oil
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 CUP white wine
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 min. Add garlic, saute for about 1 min (do not let it brown). Add wine, crushed red pepper, and salt and let reduce by half, about 5 min.

ADD THE SHRIMP

1/2 CUP pasta water
1 LB shrimp, shells removed

Add water and shrimp, bring to a boil, cover and let shrimp poach for 2 min, stirring once. Toss with cooked pasta, and let flavors meld another 2 min.

To serve individually, use small bowls or cups and top with 1 shrimp apiece, with a sprinkling of breadcrumb mix on the top. Place dessert forks in each serving.

Lamb Ribs Elevated: Classic Recipes for Modern People by Max and Eli Sussman

Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

This cookbook’s food is fun and creative, with recipes extremely crowd-pleasing and party friendly. Enjoy this recipe from the book for lamb ribs with touches of honey and lavender.

When a cookbook’s introduction tells you to “crank up the Stairway to Heaven, pop on some Ray-Bans, strip down to your underwear and socks, and slide into the kitchen,” you know you’re in for some fun.

Back with their fourth cookbook, Classic Recipes for Modern People, Brooklyn-based chefs (and brothers) Max and Eli Sussman take on beloved classic dishes, re-imagining them with a modern twist while bringing the same irresistible high energy and humor that imbued their previous titles. They tell us that recipes “should be ever expanding and evolving. We believe that a dish—no matter how classic and iconic—has the ability to morph into something new and fantastic.”

All the flavors you crave and remember are still there, but just heightened, bolder, bigger. The results are recipes that are adventurous yet doable, fresh and modern yet shaded with comforting nostalgia. With dishes “reinvented, re-jiggered, reordered, and re-created,” this means a classic TV dinner of ketchup-topped meat loaf and mash becomes Lamb Meat Loaf with Curried Potatoes, tuna casserole turns into Linguine Tonnato, and their Franks ‘N’ Beans becomes creamy white beans, sweet caramelized onions, spicy chorizo, and even kale, with no chopped-up hot dogs in sight.

hobnobmag review-Classic-Recipes1

CHILDHOOD INFLUENCES

Mining from their own childhood growing up outside of Detroit with their “vegetable-loving, always-cooking-from scratch,” junk-food-free parents, also means contemporized classics that are more veggie-forward and Jewish-influenced, including Crispy Artichokes with Miso Aioli, Salmon with Chermoula & Sautéed Vegetables, and dishes like a crispy layered Brisket & Potato Kugel and a “Gefilte” Fish Terrine that seems just as much at home at a French bistro as it would on a Passover table.

Crowdsourcing from friends and their diverse childhood food memories yields dishes like an Italian Sunday Pasta any nonna would be proud of and Arroz Con Pollo re-imagined into breaded, deep-fried balls, arancini-style.

CLASSICS IN THE MAKING

The Sussmans even delve into “Future Classics,” as in “spankin’-new Sussman bros dishes that one day will be classics,” where we get a collision of bold, brash flavors in recipes like sticky-hot-sweet Lamb Ribs with Hot Honey & Lavender (recipe follows) and the ingenious Corn Bread & Brisket Patty Melt. If we learn anything from the Sussman brothers’ raucous headnotes, it’s that they sure know how to have fun—and eat fantastically as well.

We’ve included a recipe from the book that’s ideal for serving while watching the game, as part of a party theme for hosting an 5-star menu for sports fans.

recipe

Lamb Ribs with Hot Honey and Lavender

Serves 4-6

2 large shallots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
2-inch (5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 TB extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup (6 oz/185 g) honey
2 1/2 TB kosher salt
1 TB freshly ground white pepper
1–2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending how hot you like the ribs)
1/2 tsp dried lavender

2 racks lamb ribs, about 2 lb (1 kg) total weight
Fresh mint for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
In a bowl, toss together the shallots, garlic, ginger, and olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until browned, 15—20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F (120°C).

Let the shallot mixture cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor, add the honey, salt, white pepper, cayenne, and lavender, and purée until smooth.

Rub the honey mixture evenly on the lamb racks. Place the racks, meaty side up, on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, 3—4 hours. Remove from the oven, cut the ribs apart, and eat immediately. Or let the racks cool, scrape off the excess rub, and rewarm the racks under the broiler or over a hot grill until the outside is crispy and the inside is warm, then cut apart just before serving. Garnish with the mint and serve right away.

Classic Recipes for Modern People by Max and Eli Sussman (March 2015; Publisher: Olive Press; Photographer: Erin Kunkel

A Cognac Cocktail from Gregory Buda of The Dead Rabbit

Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Enjoy this exquisite sipper from the bar voted “best in the world”. This cognac cocktail includes a touch of rye, madeira, and amaro, a trifecta of smooth, intense notes.

This party’s suggested  cocktail comes from the renowned bar located all the way downtown, NYC. The Dead Rabbit models itself on a traditional Irish bar from the 1800s, where a shop selling pantry favorites would be located on the ground floor. There are two more floors boasting truly excellent cocktails, some served in tea cups, and all in a boisterous atmosphere. The second floor is where you want to be for the full-service exoerience.

See more of my tips for hosting a five-star sports viewing in the UP YOUR GAME party plan. You’ll see recipes for upscale small bites, and more. Serve this potent cognac cocktail sipper to your fellow fans at the end of the game, to drown your sorrows, or celebrate!

Read our interview with Gregory Buda, and his take on working at this extremely popular establishment.

The Dead Rabbit was just awarded “World’s Best Bar” at Tales of the Cocktail. Has there been an increase in customers? Is the pressure on?
I would say that there has definitely been an increase in volume resulting from the press about our awards, which is great, especially in the summer. As for the pressure, it’s always on! Being the best means being dynamic, and we recognize that we can always do better and always improve. We have an awesome staff that constantly brings new ideas to the table on how we can up our game. We won that award not because our drinks are better than everyone else’s, but rather because we offer a really cool and unique experience when you come in.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

What is the most asked for spirit at the bar?

Dead Rabbit is known for having one of the most extensive Irish whiskey selections in the world, and a lot of people come in curious to try something new. It is also one of our goals to promote Irish whiskey as a category, which we do through cocktails, education, and tastings. However, in terms of other spirits, I have been thrilled that more and more guests come in asking about Japanese whisky, mezcal, and Armagnac, three categories that I am very excited about and that have been under people’s radar until recently.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

You are a photographer as well as mixologist. Are you influenced by how the drink looks as well as tastes?
Without question! Your experience of a drink has many facets to it. The obvious ones are aroma, taste, and texture, but presentation and glassware play a huge part as well. The visual appearance of a cocktail is the first part of your experience, so if I make sure it is spectacular, it sets your expectations appropriately for how the drink will taste. A normal comment that I get when I am behind the bar is “What is THAT drink over there?! I’ll have one of those.” And this is said without the guest having any idea what is in the cocktail or how it tastes. Personally, I prefer drinks to be presented in a classic but elegant way. Overly extravagant garnishes and glassware make me question whether the cocktail can speak for itself.

hobnobmag Cognac Cocktail The Dead Rabbit

How many cocktails at The Dead Rabbit can be credited to you? What’s your favorite ingredient that can improve almost any mix?
Currently, 12 of the cocktails in our third edition book menu are my creations, and I have come up with another seven or so for our seasonal menus. My secret ingredient is sherry, and I use different styles of sherry in almost all of the drinks I come up with, whether for menus, competitions, or articles. Before coming to Dead Rabbit, I worked at a beautiful sherry and cocktail bar called The Beagle (now closed) on the Lower East Side, and fell in love. As a bartender, it is a personal mission of mine to promote sherry as a category, and my favorite way to introduce people to its beauty is with a good sherry cocktail. I find that sherry really is a magical ingredient, and if I just can’t get a cocktail to taste the way that I want, adding a little sherry is usually the answer.

deadrabbit.com

Host an Exotic Tequila Tasting, Featuring Easy Prickly Pear Margaritas

Posted on: September 7th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Tequila is what we like to call the cognac of Mexico. You have to appreciate the artisanal quality of the spirit, birthed from the purest of environments. Host a tequila tasting at your next gathering to learn to discern the nuances.

Doing a proper tasting educates your palate to the nuances of each spirit, allowing a proper appreciation for the subtleties and leanings. Try this tasting at your next big sporting event gathering and check out my party menu of upscale bites to serve.

In this month’s crusade for party fodder we met with Chef Richard Caruso of Javelina (who shared his recipe for Habanero Glazed Chicken Wings) and there we also got to sip and taste a selection of premier tequilas. It certainly was a heady afternoon.

DETAILS ON THE INGREDIENTS:

[1] Signature Cocktail If you are not sipping tequila straight, try the Prickly Pear Margarita enhanced by Bungalow 23’s mixer for Prickly Pear Margarita. (see recipe with this post, and details on Bungalow 23 below)

[2] Dulce Vida Organic Tequila Los Altos, in the Tequila region of Mexico, is known for its abundance of large and fruity agave, which is the sole source for this organic tequila. Powerful at 100 Proof, this spirit definitely provides an extra kick. Our fave, the Añejo, is aged in American bourbon whiskey barrels, where it achieves its rich, amber color and full-bodied flavor. Tasting Notes: intense agave and fruit notes with delicate flashes of vanilla and wood, giving way to a sweet, smooth finish. An excellent sipping tequila, especially delicious with a slice of orange sprinkled with cinnamon. About $53. dulcevidaspirits.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[3] Selección Suprema de Herradura This was the most popular of the tasting, and adored for an exceptional smooth and mellow experience. Estate bottled at Casa Herradura, this 100% pure agave, extra añejo tequila is allowed to age a whopping 49 months in imported oak barrels. Savor a sip of this one for sure. About $300. brown-forman.com

[4] Milagro Tequila In 1998, college friends Danny Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi loved the creativity happening in Mexico City and wanted to bring this passion to the world of Tequila. They teamed up with Pedro Juarez, a Master Distiller, who created a master plan starting with 100% blue agave from the Jalisco Highlands, then cooked the piñas in traditional, hand-built, brick ovens for 36 hours to pull out the most flavor. The Barrel Reserve Reposado Select, then gets aged in both American and French oak barrels for 3 to 6 months, resulting in a perfect balance of agave and oak. Tasting Notes: Focus on vanilla, white pepper and cinnamon, with a dry finish. About $55. milagrotequila.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[5] Blue Nectar Tequila A father and son with a shared love for tequila, who made a tradition of gifting each other special bottles, led them to creating a special brand of their own. They took a journey searching the lowlands of Jalisco, and on one horrid day in the pouring rain, and at the end of a muddy road, they came across a pair of wild brothers in cowboy hats whose passion for tequila matched their own. Blue Nectar tequila is the result, and is totally true to the terroir of the region’s volcanic soils. Distinct and well-balanced with a rich, earthy body. Aged in North American white oak whiskey & bourbon barrels. About $45. bluenectartequila.com

[6] 1800 Milenio Extra Añejo Originally released in 2000 to celebrate the millennium, the 1800 Milenio exemplifies the taste of fine Weber Blue Agave and worthy of only those who appreciate the best sipping tequilas. This brand is aged for five years, then finished in French oak ex-cognac barrels for four months before bottling. The dark amber gold color shows off its association with oak and is compared to many major bourbons on the market. Tasting Notes: balanced and soft with unique flavor—notes of vanilla, red fruit and cinnamon. About $125. 1800tequila.com

hobnobmag Exotic Tequila Tasting Party

[7] Bungalow 23 Mixers Premium spirits deserve a mixer of the same caliber. By sourcing optimal ingredients, Bungalow 23 has developed a trio of intricate mixers that elevate and enhance a spirit—with just a pour. Their mixes are complex and dense and can stand up to a glassful of ice. For this month’s cocktail, we chose to accompany our top-notch tequilas with the Prickly Pear Margarita mix, whose star fruit comes from California’s Salinas Valley and mingles with fresh limes and oranges plus a smattering of blue agave and cilantro. (See the recipe with this post for creating a sophisticated, mixologist-worthy margarita) Other flavors include Pear Ginger Martini, which starts with pears grown from the Cascade Mountains in Washington and mixes with ginger, lemon, lemongrass, and a touch of sugar. Light and luscious, it marries beautifully with rich dishes, ripe cheeses, and Asian cuisine. Blueberry Lemon Drop harvests blueberries from Willamette Valley in Oregon, and rounds it out with not only lemons but lemongrass and lavender to complete the experience. Stock this assortment in your bar. $17.50 b23mixers.com

Host this tequila tasting at your next big sports match-up. We guarantee a raucous time will be had by all!

Stuffed Pork Loin with Caramelized Plantains for a Party

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Make this party-perfect pork for serving during game breaks. It will be a welcome slice of hearty meat-and-side-dish in-one. This stuffed pork loin looks great, with its swirling pattern, and definitely tops serving chili or hot dogs.

One of the recipes that’s part of our upscale game plan for game watching—keepin’ it classy. Make sure to select plantains that are yellow, just starting to turn black, which are sweet but not overly so.

As for butterflying the loin, you could ask a butcher, or give it a shot yourself. You will need a very sharp, long knife. Watch this video by Chef John on the FOOD WISHES channel, on YouTube and you may become hypnotized by the chef’s very pleasant, amusing and informative voice as he explains the steps.

MAKES ABOUT 12-15 SLICES

PREPARE THE STUFFING

1/2 TB vegetable oil
4 yellow plantains, peeled, cut into ½ inch slices
salt, to taste

1 1/2 tsp powdered sugar

Heat oil over medium heat. Add the plantains. Sprinkle salt. Brown both sides, about 3 min each. Move to dish. Sprinkle with sugar and a little more salt.

HOBNOBMAG Recipe Caramelized Plantains

PREHEAT OVEN 375ºF … STUFF THE PORK

5 LB pork loin, butterflied
salt
pepper
chili powder

cooked plantains
1 small red onion, cut into thin rings
fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp honey

Season the meat with salt, pepper, and chili powder.

Line the plantains in rows, leaving about an inch on the left, bottom and top. Leave about 2 inches clear on the right so when you roll the pork it will seal at that end. Toss onion rings, parsley, and honey over the stuffing. Roll pork. Tie with string every 1 1/2 inches or so.

HOBNOBMAG Recipe Stuffed Pork Loin

ROAST THE PORK

1 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick rings
stuffed pork
Sweet Hot Sauce
parsley leaves for garnish

Place intact onion rings at the bottom of a roasting pan with some water. Place stuffed pork on top. Move to oven, middle rack. Cook for about 1 hr (internal temperature should be 135ºF).

Move roast to a cutting board, top with an aluminum foil tent. After 15 min, cut strings with scissors, slice into 3/4-inch slices. Line slices on a plate, drizzle pan drippings, top with Sweet Hot Sauce, garnish with parsley leaves. Serve with a small bowl of Sweet Hot Sauce and another bowl with the onions from the bottom of the pan.

HOBNOBMAG Recipe Stuffed Pork Loin2

Health-Conscious Party: Sesame-Crusted Tuna in Miso Ginger Sauce

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Not every party dish needs to be corruptive to your normal focus on nutrition. Health-conscious party fare can be just as delicious as the junk. These barely-cooked tuna bites will provide a gourmet bit. Tip: Make sure to buy sushi-grade tuna, (here’s a great source) since it will be only seared. Your health-conscious and dieting sports fan friends will be duly impressed when they see this on the roster. The lettuce leaf not only makes a pretty wrap, it makes it easy to pick up and eat.

If you love to entertain in style, I’ve come up with a whole menu for impressing your favorite sports fans, see it all here. Forget hotdogs and chili.

MAKES 10-12 BITES + ABOUT 3/4 CUP OF SAUCE

MAKE THE MISO GINGER SAUCE

2-inch pc fresh ginger, chopped
3 TB brown rice miso
juice of 1 lime
1 TB tamari
1 TB grape seed oil
2 TB brown sugar
3 TB sesame oil
3 TB white balsamic vinegar

In a food processor, blend all ingredients until creamy. Refrigerate overnight for more intense flavors.

PREPARE THE TUNA

10 oz sushi-grade ahi tuna steak (if frozen, defrost overnight in the fridge)

Pat dry. Cut tuna into elongated cubes (about 1 1/2 inches square).

COAT THE TUNA

2 TB black sesame seeds
2 TB white sesame seeds
salt

In a flat bowl, add the sesame seeds and salt. Coat tuna on all four sides.

COOK THE TUNA

1 TB grape seed oil
tuna

In a warm skillet, heat oil. Sear tuna about 30 sec each side, using tongs to turn.

MAKE THE BITES

seared tuna
baby bibb lettuce leaves
miso ginger sauce

Cut tuna into 1/2 -inch slices. Place each slice on a leaf of bibb lettuce, top with sauce.

Beef & Veal Meatballs & Port Reduction: Rich and Decadent

Posted on: September 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

If you are hosting the gang to come over and watch the game, these beef and veal meatballs will show off your culinary style. Super easy to throw together, just mix the ingredients and bake in the oven for 25 min. Though they can be eaten at room temperature, but if you put them in a half hour before half time, you can enjoy them hot out of the oven. The port reduction adds another upscale element. See our entire menu featuring high-end nibbles to serve while watching sports  at this link.

As an alternate serving  idea, make sliders out of these, and add sauteed onions as a topping. Guests will love them.

MAKES 62 BALLS (ABOUT 1 INCH)

PREHEAT OVEN 375ºF… MAKE THE MEATBALLS

1 LB ground beef
1 LB ground veal
2 oz prosciutto, minced and cooked till crispy
1 1/2 CUPS parsley, minced
1/2 CUP pignoli nuts, toasted, crushed
s + p
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 CUP panko bread crumbs

Mix all ingredients together, and roll into 1-inch balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 25 min, turning once for even cooking.

MAKE THE PORT REDUCTION

1/2 CUP prunes, pitted, chopped
1/2 orange, chopped
1 TB orange zest
3 CUPS port wine

In a small saucepan, bring ingredients to a boil, then simmer about 40 min till reduced and syrupy. Push through a fine mesh strainer, and discard the prunes.

TO SERVE

parsley, broken into individual leaves or finely chopped

Put a pick into each ball, drizzle with sauce, and garnish with parsley. Set a bowl of the sauce for dipping alongside.