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Posts Tagged ‘comfort’

Healthy Party Snack: Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Black Truffle Dip

Posted on: November 13th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

When entertaining, you never want your guests to be without food or drink! That’s why it’s important to plan to have some nibbles around while you are preparing dinner and starting to imbibe. I came up with this healthy party snack to take advantage of the fall harvest, when Brussels sprouts are at their peak of sweetness and are abundant everywhere. I paired it with a dip made of  black truffle pâté mixed with sour cream, to give it even more dimension. Tip: Make sure to really caramelize the Brussels sprouts in the pan for full flavor effect. You can have this dish served in 15 minutes, to great applause.

I developed this recipe as part of a plan for hosting weekend guests. The plan gives you ideas for serving from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. This is the welcome snack, the one to serve before dinner on Friday night. See the whole plan at this link.



1 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped

1 TB olive oil
4 CUPS Brussels sprouts, cut in half (14 oz)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Heat olive oil and add onions. Saute until caramelized, about 7 min. Add in garlic about 6 min, and saute with onions for one minute. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add olive oil to the pan with Brussels sprouts. Let sit for 5-7 min to caramelize and blacken, then stir and let cook for an another 5-7 min. (Add oil to the pan if it starts to dry out.) Stir onions/garlic back in. Season with flaky sea salt.


1 CUP sour cream
2 TB La Rusichetta Black Truffle Pâté
pinch salt

Mix together in a small bowl.

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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese: A Halloween Treat

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Soup is a super easy way to get copious bites onto your party buffet. We paired tomato soup with grilled cheese to tie into a Halloween theme of black and orange hues, The bright orange tones of the soup and dark rye bread create a nice, spooky presence, much like the other recipes from our Halloween party plan.  Check the link to see the entire repertoire.

Serve this soup warm or cold. Guajillo pepper, avocado and cilantro add to the flavor mix.



2 LB heirloom tomatoes, quartered
EV olive oil
s + p

Spread tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with s + p. Roast on the middle shelf for about 1 hour, till the skins are blistered and the tomatoes have shrunk in size.


1 whole dried guajillo chile

Simmer for 10 min to soften. Let sit in water for 10 min more.


3 TB EV olive oil
1 med onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 guajillo chile, soaked
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over med heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 min. Stir in the garlic and pepper, sauté another 4 min. Incorporate crushed tomatoes, simmer covered for 10 min.


2 CUPS organic chicken broth
roasted tomatoes
1/4 CUP cilantro, minced
1/4 CUP turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Add ingredients to the pot, bring to a boil, then continue to simmer covered, about 30 min, stirring occasionally. Remove guajillo chile. Let soup cool slightly, then transfer to a blender in batches. Blend until smooth.


1 stick butter, room temperature
10 slices rye bread
1 LB extra sharp cheddar cheese, room temperature

Toast the bread, then butter one side of each slice of bread. Into a heated skillet, place bread buttered side down, top with cheddar, and 2nd slice of bread with butter on the outside. Press together. Heat for 4 to 5 min, flip and heat another 5 min. Move to a cutting board and let cool slightly, cut in half, then each half on the diagonal, into 4 triangles.


1 avocado, cut into small cubes, for garnish
sprigs of cilantro, for garnish

Pour soup into shooter glasses about 3/4 of the way, top with a cube of avocado and sprig of cilantro. Insert grilled cheese triangle into the top at an angle.

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


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.


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.


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

Richard Caruso of Javelina Shares his Recipe for Habanero-Glazed Spicy Chicken Wings

Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Looking for a more upscale, tongue-tingling recipe for spicy chicken wings? Try this Tex Mex combination from a NYC chef know for his bbq creds.

Those looking for a taste of Tex-Mex in NYC have been gathering at Javelina, which is known for its boisterous vibe and melty, goo-ey fare. Perhaps it’s their selections of tequila that gets the place all riled up (see our post) but we like the bar bites too.

For this month’s party theme for hosting an upscale party event,  Chef Richard Caruso shares his recipe for creating the most juicy and spicy chicken wings on the planet. A plate of these at your next sports viewing party might have you hosting your own fan club.

Only for the consummate host, these are not your Tabasco-infused, finger-staining wings, but a lively mix of hot and sweet proportion, with fantastic side dips. Caruso comes to Javelina from the BBQ world, so really knows how to keep meat flavorful and perfectly cooked.


Habanero Glazed Chicken Wings


(for 12-18 wings)
2 TB chili powder
2 TB salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 TB paprika

Mix together in a bowl.


1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 TB chopped cilantro
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped jalapeño chili
1 TB cider vinegar

Mix together in a bowl and refrigerate (will last 1-2 weeks).


1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
2 habanero chilies (finely diced with seeds)
1/4 cup honey
1 TB corn starch
2 TB water

In a pot, bring all the ingredients except the corn starch and water, to a boil, then lower to simmer.
In a small bowl, mix the corn starch and water together. Slowly whisk in the mixture into the glaze until there are no lumps and the glaze becomes thicker. Set aside and cool. Note: you can set aside some of the glaze for a spicy dipping sauce.


1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

In a large bowl toss the wings with the vegetable oil, then add the spice mix and toss until evenly coated.
Place the wings on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 min.

Remove from oven, move wings to a clean bowl and coat with the habanero glaze. Bake for an additional 5 min, remove from the oven and let stand.

Place wings on a platter, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with celery and carrots and jalapeño-ranch dressing.

hobnobmag recipe spicy chicken wings

See more tips for hosting a five-star sports viewing in the UP YOUR GAME issue.

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.



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


5 LB pork loin, butterflied
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


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

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.



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.


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.


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.

Halloumi Appetizer with Honey-Lime Syrup: Grilled Cheese Greek Style

Posted on: August 3rd, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Cheese is always welcome in a party setting. I’ve put a little more thought, though, in creating this halloumi appetizer. Paired with a crisped salty ham and a drizzle of honey-lime syrup, you combine creamy, salty, and sweet in one bite. This recipe was inspired by Greek foods, which seem extra delicious in the summer heat.

In keeping with the Greek theme for this party menu, I searched NYC shops for pastourma (aka pastirma), a type of Greek charcuterie, but could not find any in time for recipe testing. What I did have on hand was Surryano, a dry cured ham from Virginia that was featured on pizza in our Lazy Pizza Party. The saltiness and perfect fry-ability of the ham worked perfectly with the halloumi grilling cheese.

To give it a slightly sweet and citrus-y bent, I then matched it with Greek honey infused with lime and lemon verbena. These are great just off the skillet, and may get a little chewy when cooled, but the flavors are absolutely perfect together.



1/4 CUP Ariston Greek Wildflower Honey
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp lemon verbena, minced

Pour honey into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for about 15 secs, till honey is warmed through and thinner in consistency. Whisk in lime juice and lemon verbena. Remove lemon verbena leaves. Funnel into a plastic squeeze bottle. Refrigerate if not using right away.


11 oz halloumi cheese
10 slices Surryano Dry Cured Ham
bamboo picks

Cut brick of halloumi through the center lengthwise, then each half into 1/4-inch thick slices, then cut those into 3/4-inch slices. You should end up with slices approx 3/4-inch wide by 1.5-inches long by 1/4-inch thick. Next, cut the ham into 1/2-inch strips to wrap around the halloumi. (It should slightly overlap, ideally) Spear the halloumi onto bamboo picks carefully, driving the stick directly through the center. Heat a skillet. Brown about 1 to 2 min each side. Fan out on a plate.


halloumi-ham bites
10 lemon verbena leaves, cut into thin ribbons
honey lime syrup

Sprinkle lemon verbena ribbons over the bites and drizzle syrup liberally.

Healthy and Phenomenal: A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Cold soups and summer make for a fine pairing. In our review of cookbook A Change of Appetite, author Diana Henry shares her recipe for a cucumber and yogurt soup dressed with walnuts and rose petals. This is a true party hit.

As part of my summer entertaining party plan, a cold soup was called for. Luckily we found one in this cookbook devoted to healthy eating. Too often “healthy” eating means deprivation and sacrifice, where food becomes the enemy and every mouthful of bland, sad diet food is a form of punishment in the name of whittled waistlines. A Change of Appetite completely upturns those notions with its bright, fresh, abundantly delicious and satisfying dishes that just happen to be good for you too.


Celebrated British food writer and cookbook author Diana Henry, who shares her weakness for French pastries and really fantastic crusty bread, is a true food lover who believes that cooking should be full of joy, pleasure, and care, never suffering. In A Change of Appetite, she shows us what healthy eating really means, in which deliciousness is key, and healthiness is just a happy bonus—no fanaticism in sight.

hobnobmag cookbook review A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry

To start, it’s not about what you can’t eat, but the incredible abundance of what you can eat. Henry, who proclaims in the book’s introduction that she is “more into living life to the full” than she is “into thinking of [her] body as a temple,” sought out dishes that are so good that you would never think you were missing out.


Organized by seasons and beautifully photographed and designed, A Change of Appetite features recipes that are loaded with vegetables, legumes, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and just a bit of red meat and sugar too, because no food should be forbidden and overall balance is what we should strive for.

These are lighter, fresher takes on the classics, but in no way boring. Inspired by the “accidentally healthy” cuisines of the Middle East, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam, her dishes are full of what she calls “big front-of-mouth flavors”—think chiles, ginger, lime, bright herbs, and lively spices. And what does she suggest if you do indulge in that perfectly rich and buttery golden croissant? Really love it and enjoy yourself. See if you don’t agree with her recipe for a spectacular and beautiful cold soup.



I always love the look—and the idea—of Middle Eastern cucumber soups, but have never tasted one that actually has enough depth of flavor (not for me, anyway). So this isn’t purely Middle Eastern, because I’ve used some stock, which they wouldn’t do, but it has the right spirit: light, healthy, and “green” tasting. I actually prefer it without the dried fruit garnish, but that is traditional.

Serves 8

For the soup

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped, plus matchsticks of cucumber to serve
1 CUP walnuts, plus extra chopped walnuts to serve
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
3 TB chopped mint leaves
3 TB chopped dill leaves, plus extra to serve
pinch of dried red pepper flakes
leaves from 5 sprigs of tarragon
1 3/4 slices stale white country-style bread, crusts removed, torn
1 CUP strong chicken stock
1 CUP Turkish yogurt (or Greek, Turkish is thinner)
2⁄3 CUP extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste
2 TB white balsamic vinegar, or to taste
salt and black pepper

To serve

handful of raisins (optional)
pink or red rose petals

If you will be serving the soup with raisins, put them in a small bowl and cover with just-boiled water. Let stand for 30 minutes to plump them up, then drain.

Put all the ingredients for the soup into a blender, in batches if necessary, and process. You will have to stop every so often and move the ingredients around so that all of them get to be near the blade. Taste for seasoning; this soup needs really careful adjusting. You may find you need a drop more lemon juice or white balsamic or extra virgin oil instead of salt or black pepper.

Chill well, then serve in small bowls, with the raisins (if using), chopped walnuts, cucumber matchsticks, dill, and rose petals.

Try a heartier version Cucumber soup is wonderfully adapatable and can be dressed in all kinds of ways. Instead of rose petals and walnuts, top this with spoonfuls of Salmon tartare or flaked hot-smoked salmon, or even with chopped, still-warm hard-boiled egg and sautéed shrimp. You could also try replacing the dill in the recipe with basil, and the walnuts with almonds, to make a more Italian soup. Top with finely chopped tomatoes and torn basil leaves mixed into a vinaigrette, or Almond and basil gremolata.

A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley 2014. Photos: Laura Edwards

Liran Mezan of The Fillmore Room’s Luscious Smoked Trout Rillettes

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Summer recipes call for cool, light bites. This chef’s recipe for Smoked Trout Rillettes covers all of the above. Try serving with pickled vegetables and a grainy mustard.

Next time you are gallery hopping in West Chelsea, NYC or taking a stroll on the High Line you must make a stop at The Fillmore Room, the newest project from Chef Liran Mezan, formerly of STK. You might think this restaurant has been a NYC staple for a 100 years or more, with its sprawling, deco-style bar, tin ceilings, and fireplaces, but it has just been thoughtfully renovated to achieve the feeling of nostalgia. [UNFORTUNATELY, this place has permanently closed since this post ran. But please make the fab recipe at your next hosting, and get the details for the rest of the menu for throwing a fun summer bash at this link.]

You can also welcome a straightforward menu of well-made American fare with a French influence. For starters, dive into a bounteous raw bar platter, sweetbreads, or steak tartare with gribiche sauce. Nicely-priced entrees include a brown-butter trout, pea/ricotta gnocchi, and roasted eggplant, mushrooms, with pecan-faro ravigote. Steak lovers can feast on a peppercorn NY strip or share a dry-aged bone-in ribeye. Brunch offers a trio of drinks from the Bloody Bar: the classic Bloody Mary, Fiddler’s Green includes a medley of fresh veggies along with gin, or the Mellow Yellow, which pairs tequila with peppers, pineapple, herbs and hot sauce.

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe

Mezan welcomes neighborhood folks and those wandering on the west side to partake in the casual, bustling space—and to host a party room in the cavernous room in the back. The venue would be ideal for weddings—or a birthday bash with your 100 closest friends.

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe

Chef Liran Mezan shares the recipe for this seriously seductive bite. (I tried the Smoked Trout Rillette at the opening party and just had to know how it was made.) Be sure to serve on toasted slices of a baguette with a side of pickled vegetables.

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe


Smoked Trout Rillettes

1/4 lb butter
2 TB chopped onion

1/2 LB smoked trout, skin removed, bones removed, shredded
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
pinch white pepper

2 TB chopped chive
1 TB mascarpone

Heat a medium size heavy bottom sauté pan. Add the butter and melt until foaming slightly. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the trout meat, white wine, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Cook until wine evaporates.

Cool the mixture slightly before mixing. Spoon the mix into a bowl and add the chives and mascarpone cheese. Cool over ice and refrigerate.

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe

Vegetable Ribbon Tart in Colorful Stripes

Posted on: July 6th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Vegetables add to the design of this tart and to the taste. We mixed shaved strips of carrots, zucchini, and eggplant to create a beautiful pattern in this vegetable ribbon tart.

I tried this recipe two ways. First in a 9.5-inch square pan that was only 1-inch deep, and then in a scalloped 9-inch round pan, about 1.5 inches deep. They both came out well, so decide how you want to serve: in small elongated bites, or cut into triangles from the round.

If this recipe appeals to you, we’ve got even more recipes geared for summer in the Stripes party theme.



1/2 pkg Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry

Remove one pasty from package. Securely wrap remaining pastry and return to freezer immediately. Let pastry thaw for 40 min.


1 CUP ricotta
1 CUP mozzarella, shredded
1/2 CUP sour cream
1 egg
2 TB parsley, minced
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.


2 large carrots, peeled
2 zucchini
1 eggplant

Using a peeler, shave strips of carrot lengthwise, holding the larger end. Cut zucchinis in half lengthwise, then cut into strips. With the eggplant, slice into it keeping in mind that you want to keep the skin for its color. The slices should be about the same height as the depth of the tart pan, so adjust accordingly.


9.5-inch square ceramic dish, 1-inch deep
thawed pastry
cheese mix
veggie strips

Into a lightly greased pan, lay the puff pastry. Trim excess. Add the cheese mixture. Alternate the vegetable strips.

Bake 35 min on the lowest shelf in the oven, until the veggies have browned a little. Allow to cool a bit before cutting and serving. For the square, cut into 9 rows, then in half to get 18 petit servings. If you chose the round tart, then cut into 8 or 10 triangles.

Sweet Paul Eat & Make: Charming Recipes + Kitchen Crafts You Will Love by Paul Lowe

Posted on: June 20th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Hobnob gets their hands on Paul Lowe’s cookbook/craftsbook Sweet Paul Eat and Make and finds lots to admire. Especially a quick and easy recipe for bruschetta that looks like a party on a plate.

Raised in Oslo, Norway by his great-aunt Auntie Gunnvor and grandmother Mormor, Paul Lowe, otherwise known as Sweet Paul, wasn’t your average child. Obsessed with cooking, crafting, and decorating since he was a wee one, Paul’s bewitching sense of whimsy and fun has stayed with him through his successful career as a food and craft stylist and has certainly made his blog, magazine, and now book, irresistible to millions.


Part cookbook, part craftbook, Sweet Paul Eat & Make bursts with sheer joy and love of life. With handwritten typography and bright watercolors splashed across its pages, it’s hard not to be taken in by its simple yet stylish recipes and projects. You’ll very quickly find yourself imagining inviting your own friends over for easy entertaining recipes like Bruschetta with Peas Pancetta and Ricotta, Fish Tacos with Salsa and Red Cabbage, and Lemon Tarts with Almond Crust.

hobnobmag book review Sweet Paul Eat and Make

Paul has adopted his grandmother’s motto “perfection is boring,” which imbues his work with an easy, breezy simplicity while remaining impressive and chic. Sweet Paul, full of lovable charm and affection for all that surrounds him, makes you feel like you can conjure this domestic magic too—and with this book, now you can. Please enjoy this recipe from the book next time you have guests over. Especially in Spring, when you can get fresh peas.



I love making bruschetta and often try out new topping combinations on my partner and guests. Other possibilities are prosciutto and figs; blue cheese and nuts; cream cheese and roasted vegetables; and, for dessert, Nutella with baked strawberries.

Serves 4

4 oz pancetta, cubed
1/2 CUP peas, fresh or frozen, thawed
1/2 CUP whole-milk ricotta
12 baguette slices, toasted
Fresh basil leaves (torn if large)
About 2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

[1] Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the pancetta until golden, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.
[2] Have ready a bowl of ice water. In a small saucepan, cook the fresh peas in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then dunk them into the ice water. Drain on paper towels. (If using frozen peas, cook for 30 seconds, rinse under cold water, and drain on paper towels.)
[3] Spread a layer of ricotta on the baguette slices and top evenly with the pancetta, peas, and basil.
[4] Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and serve.

Photos © Alexandra Grablewski; Excerpted from SWEET PAUL EAT & MAKE, © 2014 by Paul Lowe Einlyng. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Hot or Cold Soup: Asparagus & Potato with Toasted Pepitas

Posted on: June 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

I like the idea of serving soup at a party. You can set out cups and allow guests to serve themselves, whenever they get the urge to nibble. We created this recipe to work in our rainbow of foods party menu: A YELLOW-GREEN dish, which makes a cool color statement in between your yellow and green slots. This soup can be slurped either hot or cold.See the other six recipes in our party theme:  a rainbow menu.

Some other yellow green foods to consider: zucchini, celery, granny smith apples, limes, lima beans, kiwis, pears, gooseberries, and wax peppers. See our picks on PINTEREST for more fantastic rainbow party ideas and recipes.



2 TB EV olive oil
1 onion, minced
5 sage leaves, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt

In a large pot, heat oil, add onion and sage. Saute 5 min. Add the garlic and cook another min.


2 LB asparagus, woody ends trimmed, chopped
2 CUPS russet potatoes, peeled, chopped

4 CUPS chicken broth

Add the asparagus and potatoes. Cook 3 min. Add the chicken broth. Cook about 20 min, until the potatoes are soft. Allow to cool. Puree in batches.


pureed soup
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 CUP pepitas and pistachios, toasted, for garnish

Stir ingredients together. Pour soup into small cups, garnish with toasted pepitas.

Raw Party Dip: Zucchini and Cauliflower Curry

Posted on: June 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

In order to get an intense yellow coloring on this raw party dip we relied on a mix of curry spices, which includes turmeric. This refreshing dish that stars as the color YELLOW is part of the six colors that we used  in our party theme for create a buffet in a colorful  rainbow menu.

Tip: Make sure to remove all the water from the zucchini, so your mix will be dry enough to eat without messy drips. Best to prepare day of the party.

Rainbow Shortcut for the color Yellow: Order a curry dish (one with lots of turmeric, and very yellow) from your favorite Indian restaurant, chop into small bites, mix with rice and set out in small cups.

Other yellow foods to consider: mango, curried rice, yellow bell peppers, plantains, yellow squash, lemons, pineapples, yellow soups. See our picks on PINTEREST for more fantastic rainbow party ideas and recipes.



2 oranges, peeled, separated into quarters
2 carrots, peeled, cut into chunks
1 yellow tomato
1 avocado
1/4 CUP basil
1/2 TB turmeric
1/2 TB curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt

Process ingredients together till fully combined.


3 large zucchinis, grated in food processor

1/2 head cauliflower, grated in food processor
1/8 CUP sesame seeds, toasted w salt
curry sauce

Place the grated zucchini in a shallow platter, sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 1 hour. Drain, move to a strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. Transfer to bowl, add cauliflower and sesame seeds. Toss with curry sauce. Set out in small bowls with yellow tortilla chips for dipping to stay with the yellow theme.

David Nichols Shares His Recipe for Luscious Roasted Baby Carrots

Posted on: May 7th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Check out this “wild” looking dish from a new chef on the NYC scene, David Nichols. You may never think of vegetables in the same way. He definitely has a way with roasted baby carrots.

The roasted carrots are paired with whipped feta and zingy pistachio vinaigrette, almost making them a meal unto themselves. For party purposes, set out carrots on a platter, and use the whipped feta as a dip, with vinaigrette on top. I thought this was an excellent recipe to include in my party plan that features all thing wild and foraged.

HOBNOBMAG Roasted Baby Carrots Irvington

Originally from Washington State, Nichols grew up in a farm-to-table environment, encapsulating the soul of Irvington—which happens to be conveniently located across the street from the Union Square Greenmarket.

HOBNOB sampled some other dishes: roasted radishes in a bath of crème fraîche match zesty bitter tastes with a creamy accents; grapefruit and fennel accent scallops in the freshest way. I hope they never take this cocktail off the menu, Stramaro Never Dies (the name brings that hope to life) has a perfect blend of fresh strawberries, vodka, amaro, and lime with a salty accent on the rim. Makes for an ideal, summer cocktail offering in color and taste. Go try one!

HOBNOBMAG Roasted Baby Carrots Irvington


Roasted Carrots with Whipped Feta and Pistachio Vinaigrette



2 bunches baby carrots
s + p

Season carrots with s + p. Roast for 10 min.


1 CUP feta, crumbled
2 TB heavy cream
4 TB créme fraiche
juice of one lemon
s + p

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.


1/2 CUP pistachios, chopped
zest and juice of 2 limes
zest and juice of 2 lemons
zest and juice of 1 orange
4 TB parsley, chopped
1/2 bunch chives, chopped
4 TB mint, chiffonade
1/2 CUP olive oil
s + p

Whisk together all ingredients.


mint leaves (for garnish)

Place the whipped feta in a bowl. Top with roasted carrots, then the pistachio vinaigrette. Garnish with mint leaves.

Exotic Sausage Bites with Two Dijon Dips: Explore New Tastes

Posted on: May 4th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

If you are a sausage lover, as I am, then these four exotic sausage varieties will be a tempting lot. We matched the four kinds: Venison, pheasant, wild boar, and rabbit with a couple of dipping sauces. Serve this at your next party to introduce new tastes to your friends.

The two sauces fall into very different categories, and are super simple to make. Tangy Dijon Beer Sauce infuses German reduced wheat beer into the dip, and the Creamy Old-Style Mustard Sauce is a lush, slightly sweet alternative, whose plump mustard seeds pop in your mouth. This dish can be made a day ahead. Reheat the sausage just before the party in a microwave. They’re great eaten at room temperature.

We’ve discovered a great source for healthy, and unusual, meats in Fossil Farms, located in NJ. Order this sausage sampler online, and be sure to check out their other offerings. Like this recipe? See other exotic recipes made with wild ingredients at this link.



12 oz Venison w Blueberries and Merlot
12 oz Wild Boar w Cranberries
12 oz Pheasant w Hazelnuts
12 oz Rabbit w White Wine & Dijon Mustard

Place each variety of sausage in a separate baking pan with a little water on the bottom. Bake 20 min (make sure there is space around each sausage so they cook thoroughly. Sausages should be firm to the touch).

In a cast iron pan, brown each sausage variety separately. Allow to rest before slicing.


1 CUP Paulaner Hefe-Weizen Natural Wheat beer

1/4 CUP Maille Dijon mustard
1/4 CUP mayonnaise
2 tsp Breitsamer Honig Forest Honey

Reduce the wheat beer: simmer in a small pot for 15 min (the end result will be about 1/4 cup). Allow beer to cool, then whisk with rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.


1/2 CUP sour cream
1/2 CUP Maille Dijon Old-Style mustard
4 TB Maille Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Breitsamer Honig Forest Honey

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.


Slice the sausages and place in bowls. Serve with small bowls of the dipping sauces. Add labels, so guests know which is which (swipe image below and print).

hobnobmag exotic sausage ID tags

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.

Gourmet Sliders with Balsamic Onions & Avocado Cream

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Sliders are a welcome treat at any gathering, they provide a nice-sized portion: something you can sink your teeth into, but not be overwhelmed. Our gourmet sliders are extra special due to the great mix of ground meat, and a duo of toppings that will set them apart. The balsamic onions adds a tangy sweetness, and the avocado cream offers a creamy base that holds the whole thing together.

To conserve some money, we  bought hot dog buns and cut then up  to act as the slider holders. No need to worry about custom buns in mini portions. FYI: this recipe is part of a really cool party scenario: all items on the menu  are mini versions of things, so check out the rest of the menu for a bevy of mini delights.



2 LB ground angus beef
1/2 LB ground veal
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 CUP panko breadcrumbs
1 TB thyme, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a bowl, mix all ingredients gently. Roll into 2-inch balls. Transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate.


3 TB grape seed oil
2 large sweet onions, cut into 1/4-inch rings

1 CUP balsamic vinegar
3 TB ponzu
2 chipotles, chopped
1 tsp salt

2 TB butter

Heat a large saucepan, add oil. Heat oil over med high heat, add onions and saute for 10 min, till onions have browned slightly. Add balsamic, ponzu, chipotles, and salt. Cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 25 min. The liquid should by syrupy. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Allow to cool, and refrigerate until ready to use.



1/2 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, room temp
1/2 avocado, cut into chunks

Mash ingredients together.

Preheat oven 375ºF… MAKE THE SLIDERS

trays of sliders
2 pkg organic hot dog buns
Avocado Cream
Balsamic Onions

Bake sliders for 15 min. Meanwhile, prepare the rolls. Cut off the ends of each hot dog bun, then cut into 4 sections.
Smear the creamy avocado spread on the bottom bun. Place one slider on each, top with onions. Top with other bun half, push down and skewer together.

Small Bites: Baby Blue Potatoes with Caviar

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Every time I am in the supermarket and see the bags of baby potatoes, I think, “ooh, how cute.” Well, these can come in really handy for creating small bites at your next gathering. And the blue ones add a bit of mystique to the dish, though the tri-color potatoes would be lovely as well. Tip: Monitor the potatoes when boiling, so they do not overcook, they should not be mushy. Pierce one with a knife, and when it can go through easily, they are done. To plate, cut a tiny bit off the bottom which creates a flat base.

To add more delight to hosting guests in your home, I created an entire party menu of little bites which you can view in my Mini Party theme.



1 bag blue baby potatoes

Boil potatoes for 7-8 min. Run under cold water to cool, drain. Let cool.


When cool enough to handle, cut a slice off the top and bottom, so potato will sit upright. With a sharp knife, core out the centers of each potato, maintaining the shape.


1/4 CUP Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, room temp
3 slices lox, minced
1 TB dill, minced

Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
dill, minced
John West Black Lumpfish Caviar

Mix the Tofutti cream cheese with lox, and dill. Using a small spoon, stuff each potato with the mixture. Top with a small dollop of Tofutti sour cream, a sprinkling of dill, and a little pile of the caviar.

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.