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Posts Tagged ‘gourmet’

Celebrate Spring: Chantarelle and Foraged Fiddlehead Pizza

Posted on: March 19th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

At this month’s party, foraged ingredients make an artistic statement on fiddlehead pizza. Take advantage of the season—and the subtle taste of fiddleheads (which are immature ferns) and have a light asparagus taste—and match them with bright orange chanterelle mushrooms.

For the base, some puff pastry and a combination of ricotta and scharfe maxx cheeses creates a luxe pairing, plus a creamy bed for these earthy ingredients. This pizza will surely make a statement at your gathering, and celebrate Spring’s wild bounty.

MAKES 12 MINI PIZZAS

MAKE THE BASE… THAW PASTRY 40 MIN

1/2 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (makes 3 long pieces)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Unfold thawed pastry and cut into thirds to achieve long sections. Bake for 15 min. While still hot, push gently down on the tops of the puff with a spatula to create the valleys for toppings.

PREPARE FIDDLEHEADS & CHANTERELLES

1/4 LB fiddleheads
1/4 LB chanterelles

3 TB EV olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
sprinkle of red pepper flakes

Triple-wash fiddleheads thoroughly. Trim brown parts. Blanche for four min and move to an ice bath. Drain and set aside. Clean mushrooms with a soft brush to remove all dirt. Cut mushrooms decoratively, keeping in mind how you they will look on the pizza.

Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the fiddleheads and chantarelles, saute for 3 min.

PREPARE THE CHEESE

1/2 LB fresh ricotta cheese
s + p
1/4 LB scharfe maxx cheese

In a bowl, season ricotta with s + p to taste. Shred the scharfe maxx cheese and place in a separate bowl.

PREHEAT OVEN 400º… CREATE THE FIDDLEHEAD PIZZAS

puff pastry
ricotta cheese
scharfe maxx cheese
ramps, cut in half vertically (optional)
dandelion leaves, cut into small bits, for garnish

When puff pastry has slightly cooled, add 3 dollops of the ricotta, spread evenly over the entire surface of each pastry, then sprinkle the scharfe maxx. If using, place 1-2 ramps lengthwise on the cheese, then spot the fiddleheads and chantarelles around the entire surface. Bake for 5 min on the oven’s top shelf. Remove from oven and toss on the dandelion leaves. Cut each long piece into 4 minis.

A Colorful and Festive Scallop Ceviche with Blood Orange Sauce

Posted on: February 12th, 2020 by Ellen Swandiak

A Valentine’s Day dish. Winter is the season for blood oranges, and the brightness of their juice makes for a festive scallop ceviche indeed. Add the sprinkling of jalapeño pepper bits and pomegranate for an extra happy touch.

I included this recipe in our Aphrodisiac party menu specifically to create a stir. The color red is purported to arouse passion. So I’ve included not only the blood orange juice, but a sprinkling of pomegranate arils—which also adds a nice crunch. Let’s get the night going! The goddess Aphrodite is credited with planting the first pomegranate tree which has since been associated with fertility.

If serving for a crowd, plate individually in clear plastic glasses, with diced ingredients as a topping.

MAKES ENOUGH FOR 4

PREPARE THE SCALLOPS

1/2 LB bay scallops
1/4 CUP lime juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 limes)
1/4 CUP pink grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed (about 1/2 grapefruit)

Cut scallops horizontally into 3 pieces. Toss ingredients together in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

HOBNOBMAG scallops CEVICHE marinade

MAKE THE BLOOD ORANGE SAUCE

1/2 CUP blood orange juice (about 1-2 oranges)
juice from 1/2 lime
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 TB EV olive oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce
squirt of sriracha
s +p

Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl or pitcher. Cover and refrigerate till ready to use.

PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

1 pink grapefruit, cut into supremes
2 TB cucumber, diced
1/2 jalapeño, diced
garnish:
1 TB fresh mint, cut into thin strips
pomegranate arils
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced (optional)

Remove scallops from refrigerator, drain excess liquid. Set up your plating dishes. Arrange scallops, alternating citrus in between. Spoon the blood orange sauce over a little at a time, do not drown. Sprinkle cucumber and jalapeño. Garnish with mint, pomegranate, and radish.

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.

Chicken Tacos with Green Harissa

Posted on: March 15th, 2019 by Ellen Swandiak

Go green! These chicken tacos are a welcome party mini-bite with personality. I developed this recipe to add to a buffet made up of the colors of the rainbow. Upon discovery of these adorable, green mini taco shells, I knew this had to be the dish that took the GREEN spot on the rainbow buffet. To add to the green effect, I mixed up a green harissa—parsley, cilantro, mint, and spices— to “dye” the shredded chicken. To complete the taco, I topped with slices of of avocado, sprigs of cilantro, and skinny jalapeño ribbons.

Shortcut: instead of cooking the chicken, purchase a rotisserie chicken from your local market and shred, then you just have to make the harissa.

Other green foods to consider: spinach wraps, pesto, avocado, pea and mint soup, green salad served in cups. See our picks on PINTEREST for more fantastic rainbow party ideas and recipes.

MAKES 28 TACOS

MAKE THE CHICKEN

1 1/4 LB chicken breasts
1 bay leaf
1 tsp pink 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 10 – 12 min. Remove breasts to a bowl. When cool, shred completely.

GET OUT THE FOOD PROCESSOR… MAKE THE GREEN HARISSA

1/2 CUP parsley
1/2 CUP cilantro (save some for garnish)
1/2 CUP mint
1/4 CUP lemon juice
3 jalapeños, seeded, sliced
1 TB ground cumin
1 TB ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1/2 CUP EV olive oil
1 clove garlic

Process all ingredients till fully combined, but with some texture, about 1 min. Combine the shredded chicken with the green harissa.

ASSEMBLE THE CHICKEN TACOS

spinach mini taco shells
chicken mixture
avocado, cut into thin slices
2 jalapeños, cut into thin ribbons
cilantro, for garnish

Fills shells about halfway with chicken. Top with avocado slice, then garnish with jalapeños strips and cilantro.

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

A Romantic Look at Outdoor Cooking—the Australian Way—in Wild: Adventure Cooking

Posted on: October 1st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

The gorgeous photos in this book absoutely take you away—to isolated beaches and rugged camping spots all over Australia. Author Sarah Glover, who grew up eating in the great outdoors,  shows you how to cook gourmet meals over a bonfire. How cool is that? She makes everything from pizza to pancakes to full dinners featuring fresh-caught fish, whole chickens suspended over an open fire, or sausages intertwined with branches of an apple tree laded with fruit. It’s a totally romantic look at experiencing the outdoors while maintaining gourmet standards.

Recommended equipment ranges from area-sourced logs and branches with accompanying camping grills, large pots, and frying pans that can take the heat. Imagine being beachside with a roaring bonfire while you scour the area for driftwood and the perfect branch for tying the fish you just caught, wrapped with spring onions and kaffir leaves. It’s a style of glamping that respects nature in all its glory. Glover explains how to determine the temperature of the fire, and how long cooking will take. This is the epitome of slow cooking, and using what’s available to gourmet heights. Local ingredients like pine needles, saltwater and hay factor into some of the recipes, which are truly unique in their approach.

HOBNOBMAG outdoor cooking

Here are some of the recipes that caught my eye:

—Hung Snags and Apple which takes lengths of attached sausages and pairs them with branches of apples, just picked off a tree. The recommended sides are a Burnt Tomato Relish and Walnut Cabbage.

—Hot Chicks are chicken wings coated in polenta, grilled, then tossed in crumbled feta and cilantro.

—Fish on Log calls for hammer and nails, thus attaching it securely to a log stripped of its bark, and set aside raging coals to cook.

—I think this might be my favorite recipes, Mustard Beef with ‘Shrooms & Black Lettuce. The mushrooms sound absolutely heavenly cooked in butter, garlic, and heavy cream, while the beef tenderloin gets coated in peppercorn and mustard seeds. Grilled lettuces complete the meal perfectly.

—Smashing Pumpkin takes pumpkin eating to a work of art—after a few hours in the coals, the pumpkin is ready to be smashed and dressed in tahini and chopped pecans.

HOBNOBMAG outdoor cooking

Of course, many of these recipes can be made on an ordinary barbecue on your deck, which is a bit more tame, but delicious nonetheless. Or, if you have some space for a bonfire at your weekend house, I encourage reading this book for inspirational dinners that will remain unforgettable in your guests’ minds.

Enjoy this recipe from the book, which douses a crustacean in two lively sauces: one with sesame seeds, the other with lemon verbena, one of my favorite herbs.

recipe

THAT BE CRAY CRAY

Feeds 2

EQUIPMENT: Camping grill

SESAME SEED DRESSING

MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 CUPS

1 cup (150 g) sesame seeds

1∕3 cup (80 ml) rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup (240 ml) grapeseed oil

Heat the sesame seeds in a frying pan until they become golden brown. Pour the seeds into a mortar and pound with a pestle until the seeds start to release their oils.

Add the rice wine vinegar and soy sauce and continue to pound. Slowly add the grapeseed oil – it will slightly emulsify. Store in a glass jar with an airtight lid until it is ready to be used. It will keep for a month.

LEMON VERBENA OIL

MAKES 1 CUP

Bunch of lemon verbena
1 bush lemon or regular lemon

1 cup (240 ml) good-quality olive oil

Pick the lemon verbena leaves from the stalks and slice them very thinly with a sharp knife (if it’s not good and sharp you will bruise the leaves). Remove the rind from the lemon and slice it as thinly as you can.

Put the lemon verbena leaves and lemon rind in a small jar, pour the olive oil over and allow to infuse for at least 2 hours. Eat within 48 hours.

THAT BE CRAY CRAY

1 live Australian crayfish (or small lobster or langoustine)
3 tablespoons lemon verbena oil (see below)
dollop of anchovy aioli (see below)
1 teaspoon crushed dried wakame seaweed

Light your fire and let it burn down until you obtain a medium heat. Put the camping grill about 8 inches (20 cm) over the coals. Just before you are ready to cook, use a sharp knife to cut through the middle of the crayfish head between the eyes, then cut down towards the face. Halve the cray from nose to tail, and remove the digestive tract and clean the guts out. Rinse in saltwater.

Place the clean crayfish on the wire part of the camping grill, flesh-side down, and cook for about 4 minutes. It will char a little, which is a good thing as this will help the flesh come away from the wire grill easily. Flip the crayfish over so it’s shell-side down and drizzle the lemon oil over the flesh.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until the flesh goes white and the shell turns bright red-orange. I like to add a little aioli to the flesh while it is still on the grill so that it gets a nice smoky flavor, too. Garnish with wakame and eat immediately, straight out of the shell.

Reprinted with permission from Prestel Publishing.

Wild: Adventure Cooking by Sarah Glover

Umami Cookbook: Flavor Bombs Showcases the Fifth Taste with Aplomb

Posted on: October 1st, 2018 by Ellen Swandiak

Founder of Umami Burger, Adam Fleischman takes the elements of umami and creates combinations that will have your taste buds dancing in his new cookbook. The meaty leanings of umami carry through many foods: tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, asparagus, and much more. Fleischman loves to stack these foods together for extra spectacular results.

It all started with his analysis of the typical American burger, one with melted cheese, caramelized onions, tomatoes, and ketchup. All those ingredients are umami-based, and together really add up to much more than a sum of their parts. Same idea with pizza—tomato sauce plus melted mozzarella cheese plus mushrooms plus sausage makes it that much more special. Hence, the Flavor Bombs.

HOBNOBMAG Umami Cookbook2

The term “umami” is a Japanese word that roughly translates to “tasty,” or “delicious.” Coined by Dr. Kikunae Ikeda who was amazed by the meat-like flavor in a bowl of dashi. It got him wondering why his soup had a distinctly savory, meaty flavor even though there was no meat in it. He would later link the taste to tomatoes, cheeses, asparagus, and meats.

Fleischman even looks at the chemicals compounds found in many umami which falls into three categories: glutamate, inosinate, guanylate. Each of these groups have a phenomenal tastes on their own, but when combined the flavor amplifies exponentially. Then Fleischman offers up the techniques for amplifying umami: searing, salting, long-cooking, fermenting, and curing in his recipes to create his Flavor Bombs.

The section on stocking your pantry to get even more impact, includes anchovies, duck fat, dried mushrooms, miso, and—are you catching my drift?

To start your umami journey, you might want to try his master recipes that can be used for many purposes. Umami Master Dust can be sprinkled on foods or used as a rub. Umami Master Sauce is perfect for use in extended cooking, like stews or braised meats. Umami Ketchup is guaranteed to wow. There are seven other basic condiments that he has designed to umami-up your cooking gauge, so you will be set.

Please enjoy this recipe for a Veggie Burger from the book, and see if it doesn’t hit the spot.

recipe

Veggie Burger

I use mushrooms as the primary component for my veggie burger and infuse them with miso, a bit of Umami Master Sauce, and egg yolks—all from the Umami Pantry—to bump up the flavor even more.

Because the patties need a few hours to set, prep them the night before and they’ll be ready to go when it’s time to start cooking.

Note: Textured vegetable protein (TVP), also sold as textured soy protein, is available at Whole Foods, health food stores, or online at Amazon.

MAKES 2 BURGERS

UMAMI MASTER SAUCE

MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS

2 cups top-quality tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sherry wine
1/4 cup dried wild mushrooms, like porcini
1/4 cup red or white miso
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon Marmite
1 tablespoon shio koji
Hot sauce
1 (4-by-4-inch) piece dried kombu

Start with the tamari or soy sauce, in a pan over medium heat; do not let boil. Add the sherry wine, dried wild mushrooms, and miso. Stir.

Add the honey, Marmite, shio koji, some hot sauce, and the dried kombu. Stir for a minute, remove from the heat, and strain. Add water to taste to dilute its intensity, then cool.

Store, covered, in glass jars for up to around 6 months in your pantry.

VEGGIE BURGER

4 dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup medium-dry sherry, like amontillado
1 tablespoon white miso
Splash of Umami Master Sauce (see above)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs or textured vegetable protein (see headnote)
2 tablespoons toasted or regular sesame oil
1 cup stemmed and sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 potato buns or white hamburger buns, split
unsalted butter

OPTIONAL CONDIMENTS AND TOPPINGS
Mayonnaise
Ketchup
Mustard
Lettuce
Tomato

MAKE THE VEGGIE BURGER

Place the dried porcinis, sherry, miso, and master sauce in a small saucepan. Set the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is almost gone, rehydrating the mushrooms, about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, cool, then add the egg yolks and panko (or textured vegetable protein). Pulse the mixture in a food processor to incorporate. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over high heat for a few minutes—you want it to get superhot. Add 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, wait a minute, then throw in the shiitakes, being careful not to crowd the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté until they’re nicely caramelized, about 6 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a large bowl and let cool.

When the mushrooms have cooled, add the egg yolk mixture and stir to incorporate. I use a 3-inch ring mold to press out the patties, but if you don’t have a mold, free-form 2 patties with your hands. Be sure to pack the patties fairly tight so they don’t fall apart when you cook them. Refrigerate the patties at least 6 hours or overnight, to set.

You can also place the patties side by side on a baking sheet or dish and stick them in the freezer; when they’re frozen, place the patties in an airtight bag and keep them in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw completely before cooking.

When you’re ready to cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and sauté the patties for 3 minutes on each side. Remove the patties and set aside. Place the Koji-Porcini Resting Sauce or butter in the pan and place the buns cut side down in the pan for a few minutes, just until they’re toasted and warmed through.

Place the patties in the buns and serve with the condiments and toppings of your choice.

Flavor Bombs: The Umami Ingredients That Make Taste Explode by Adam Fleischman

Excerpted from FLAVOR BOMBS © 2018 by Adam Fleischman. Photographs © 2018 by Wendy Sue Lamm.  Used by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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.

Chicken Paillard Salad with Garlic-Parsley Mayo + Chorizo Butter

Posted on: July 18th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

Sometimes when eating out, you find a simple dish that just wows. How many times have you had a salad with grilled chicken? In this case, the chicken paillard salad prompted me to inquire about its secrets, which I will share with you here. All the elements play so wonderfully together, I can still taste it in my mind. Thank you, Chef Gordon Watton for coming to our table and sharing the secrets to this extraordinary dish.

This recipe is truly a labor of love, and has touches that only the most ambitious will create for themselves. But, perhaps, if you are entertaining guests, you might want to create all the elements. (for the lazy, in London, be sure to order this at Berners Tavern.)  Even if you do some of the components, you will have the makings of an absolutely superb salad.

MAKE THE CHICKEN PAILLARD

Pound chicken breasts thinly, and grill. (They use a Spanish Grill with charcoal.)

MAKE THE CHORIZO BUTTER

Dice chorizo and caramelize. Let cool. Incorporate into butter. Smother on top of chicken after grilling.

MAKE THE GARLIC PARSLEY MAYO

Chop garlic and parsley and combine with mayo. Dollop 3 spoons onto chicken.

MAKE THE SALAD

Combine arugula, roasted piquillo peppers, manchego shavings, and thinly sliced red onion rings.

ADD THE DRESSING

oil, mustard, lemon, lime, vinegar

THE GARNISH: CRISPY SHALLOTS

Fry thinly sliced shallots in cold pan of oil, cook slowly until golden brown, then dehydrate.

Taco Bar: Grilled Mole-Marinated Pork with Salsa and Pickled Jalapeño

Posted on: June 10th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

When you are cooking for a crowd, shortcuts are very welcome. That’s why we always have an eye peeled for helpers that are chemical-free, and are made with love. The magic behind the pork lies in the marinade. Hernán Mole Poblano paste comes in a concentrated form which can be used to create a rich, authentic mole sauce, or be used as a marinade. And if you’ve ever tried making mole, you know that it is a labor of love that takes several days to accomplish. So, having pre-made mole flavors is a fantastic time-saver. This jar can offer up those intense flavors because they put the time into it.

The joy of the make-your-own-taco buffet are the toppings. Suggested taco bar pairing: Grilled Mole-Marinated Pork with White Peach Salsa, pickled jalapeño, cilantro, and dijon mayo. Find more recipes for the Taco Bar here  that cover all culinary leanings: beef, fish, and vegetarian recipes included.

MAKES ENOUGH FOR 8 TACOS

MARINATE THE PORK

4 TB Hernan Mole Poblano paste
2 LB pork loin, cut into 1-inch chops
1 tsp salt

Scoop paste and spread evenly over the pork with your hands, or a spoon. Marinate covered or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

GRILL THE PORK

On a heated bbq or grill pan, cook the pork about 5 min on each side.

You can cook this ahead of time and keep the chops intact. If you do, when you are ready to serve the tacos reheat the pork on the top shelf of your bbq or in a microwave. Cut into thin slices and place in a serving bowl on your taco buffet. Suggested taco bar pairing: Grilled Mole-Marinated Pork with White Peach Salsa, pickled jalapeño, dijon mayo, cilantro.

HOBNOBMAG Recipe Taco Bar Grilled Pork

Cooking Elk Medallion Sliders: Like Steak but Better

Posted on: May 4th, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

Here is an ingredient you may not have come across: elk. I chose to use it in developing a party menu of WILD ingredients, and though unfamiliar, it turned to be somewhat familiar. Cooking elk is quite simple. Elk tenderloin medallions can be treated just like filet mignon. Do not overcook it! This recipe calls for a quick grill then a slicing of the meat for sliders—with accoutrement: bacon, a gouda-style cheese from Ireland, and bitter radicchio and topped with Creamy Old-Style Mustard Dip (also seen in our exotic sausage recipe). To preserve all the wonderful juices, be sure to flip the tenderloins with tongs, instead of a fork.

You can order elk, and other exotic meats from Fossil Farms, where we purchased the sausages as well. See more at this link.   And if you are intrigued at the idea of using wild and foraged ingredients, see our entire party menu, Exotic & Foraged.

MAKES 24 SLIDERS

MAKE THE CREAMY OLD-STYLE MUSTARD DIP

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.

COOK THE BACON

8 slices bacon

In the microwave, place 4 slices of bacon between paper towels. Cook for about 1 min per slice (start with 3 min to see if crispy). Cut (or snap!)  each slice into 3 parts.

cooking elk tenderloins

GRILL THE ELK

4 elk medallions
s + p

Let meat come to room temperature before cooking elk. Generously season with s + p. Grill 1 1/2 min on each side. Let meat rest before cutting into 1/4-inch slices.

cooking elk sliders with bacon, cheese, and radicchio

ASSEMBLE THE elk medallion SLIDERS

24 Martin’s Party Size Potato Rolls
Kerrygold Blarney Castle gouda-style cheese


mustard cream sauce
sliced elk
radicchio castillo franco, trimmed to fit on the rolls

Slice rolls in half and add a slice of cheese to the bottom. Place under broiler for 1 min (or less, watch!) to melt the cheese.

Slather mustard onto top of the roll. On top of the cheese, add bacon, two slices of elk, and 3 radicchio leaves. Close roll, and push together.

The Philter: A Tantalizing-Tricked Up-Tequila Love Potion

Posted on: February 2nd, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

Your night is about to get interesting. The Philter (another word for love potion) brings together a trio of flavors: a tantalizing tequila, chai tea, and freshly-squeezed blood orange juice.

HOBNOB’s signature cocktail for the Aphrodisiac party plan begins with an exquisite tequila as its base, adding a delicacy of spiciness not found in other spirits, providing a nice tingling on the tongue. Add to that some chai tea, which is considered an aphrodisiac because it’s packed with antioxidants—which increase blood flow and sensitivity to sexual organs. A little dose of caffeine also does its part to add focus and energy. Lastly, the blood orange balances out the drink, adds some vitamin C, and lends its beautiful stimulating, red color.

DETAILS ON THE INGREDIENTS:

[1] Fortaleza Reposado Tequila Fortaleza Reposado has a very distinct character, and is made with 100% of the finest estate-grown Blue Agave Tequilana Weber, aged in oak barrels for 6 to 9 months. The full story: Picture a thick-walled brick oven which cooks the agaves for 36 hours. Afterwards, a horse-drawn stone mill crushes the agaves, which then get washed with pure mountain water that separate the pulp from the woody fibers, creating an agave juice called mosto. The agave mosto is then naturally fermented for five days in small wood vats, and then double distilled using small, labor-intensive copper pot stills. TASTING NOTES: Flavors include cooked agave, citrus, vanilla, apple, earth, and cinnamon. The finish is long and rich, delicately spicy, and it has an oily texture the make this a joy to drink. Tequila Fortaleza is the American label for Tequila Los Abuelos, due to a Rum with the name “Abuelos” already being distributed in the USA. About $65. tequilafortaleza.com

HOBNOBMAG love potion cocktail w tequila

[2] Dona Chai chai tea concentrate is a convenient pre-brewed chai, made in Brooklyn. The brewing process begins with cold-pressed fresh ginger and freshly-ground whole spices: cinnamon bark, cardamom, vanilla bean, cloves, black peppercorns. Organic, loose-leaf black tea is then slowly brewed in small batches to bring out a powerful balance of flavors. The caffeine and mix of herbals will enhance your energy levels. A little goes a long way, just one of these bottles will create many a cocktail. Available in Manhattan at Forager’s Grocery on 22nd/9th. donachai.com

[3] Blood Orange Juice Blood oranges are in season over the winter, and lend a special orange aroma and unique flavor. If you cannot find fresh blood oranges, or cannot be bothered to fresh squeeze, try a carton of Noble’s Blood Orange Juice instead. noblejuice.com

[4] Luxardo The Original Maraschino Cherries One taste of these cherries, offered to me by a die-hard fan, and I was sold, and thankfully only one block from where I could purchase a jar of my very own. They are perfectly textured, sour Marasca cherries in a sweet syrup. From the Veneto region of Italy, The Luxardo family has been cultivating cherry trees for this treat and its renowned Maraschino Liqueur. No preservatives or thickeners added. About $20. luxardo.it

Quick Dessert: 10-Minute Cherry Chocolate Mousse

Posted on: February 1st, 2017 by Ellen Swandiak

Sometimes you are just looking for a simple, quick dessert, that still wows in delivering a sweet jolt. This mousse can be served on its own, or as an accompaniment with cookies or fresh fruit, as we have done here. Cherries and currants top this 10 minute work of art.

We included this recipe as part of the menu of aphrodisiacs. Chocolate has THE reputation for promoting amorous feelings. Casanova is known to have indulged in cups of chocolate to help sustain his lustful wanderings. The passion-inducing results come from phenethylamine, a chemical released in the brain when people fall in love, and tryptophan which produces serotonin, leading to elevated moods and sexual arousal.

In searching for a sensational, and easy, mousse recipe I came across this recipe for Bill’s Food Processor Chocolate Mousse. It turned out to be a cinch to make. Below, you will see that I doctored his recipe with a spoon of Kirschwasser, a cherry liqueur, for extra lusciousness, and garnished with red berries: fresh currants, and sugar-coated cherries.

MAKES ENOUGH FOR 6 (YOU WILL WANT EXTRA)

GET OUT THE FOOD PROCESSOR…

7 oz semisweet chocolate (62% cacao or less), broken into pieces

Process the chocolate until finely ground.

PROCESS THE CHOCOLATE…

ground chocolate

2 TB grape seed oil
1 TB Kirschwasser liqueur
1 TB pure vanilla extract

1/3 CUP milk
2 TB sugar

You will be adding these ingredients into the food processor to start the mousse. Combine oil, liqueur, and vanilla in a measuring cup. Separately, in a small saucepan, simmer milk and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Turn on the processor, and with it running, pour the warmed-up milk in, and process for 15 to 20 sec, until the chocolate is melted. Add the oil mixture and process additional 5 to 10 sec, till thoroughly blended. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, let cool in the fridge for 5 min (so chocolate is not warm for the next step).

WHILE CHOCOLATE COOLS PREPARE THE CREAM

1 CUP heavy cream
Pinch salt
cooled chocolate mix

GARNISH:
currants on the stem
fresh cherries, brushed with egg white and rolled in sugar, cooled in the fridge (optional)

With a hand mixer, beat the cream and salt until it holds a soft shape, but not stiff. Remove cooled chocolate from the fridge and fold 1/3 of the cream into it, then the rest. Stop folding the moment the cream is incorporated, and scoop into glasses. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving. Garnish with currants and sugared cherries.

Adorably Mini: Where to Find Micro Veggies, Chocolates, and Customizable Candy

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016 by Ellen Swandiak

Make party bites even more tempting with micro-minded ingredients: baby veggies, mini-printed bon-bons, and candy you can customize.

[1] Elevated Crudite Supermarket plastic trays of cut-up cauliflower, baby carrots, and celery sticks, anchored by a tub of ranch dressing, no more. Upgrade your tired crudité platters of yore with mini versions of your favorite spring veggies, small, tender, and crisp. These tiny varieties of produce, perfect for a healthy, raw party bite, can come either as “baby” vegetables picked before growing to their full-size or miniature varietals cultivated to petite proportions. Think mini heads of spiky bright green romesco cauliflower, micro cucumbers that look like tiny watermelons, and real baby carrots with their tops on, not the whiddled, dried out versions from a bag. Not only do they look very cute, these veggies tend to be milder and sweeter than their adult counterparts to boot. Dunk in your favorite hummus or whip up a quick Green Goddess-inspired dip by zapping Greek yogurt, your favorite fresh, leafy herbs, a bit of garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor.

[2] Mini Produce Sources Look for mini produce in local specialty food shops and farmers’ markets in spring and summer or special order through an online source. Marx Foods sells a “Tiny Crudite Mix” that includes a seasonal variety of veggies with their slender stalks still attached, making it the perfect cocktail food, no toothpicks necessary. Specialty Produce carries a huge variety of unique produce varietals, including mini sweet bell peppers and cucumbers with colorful yellow flowers attached. Go to The Chef’s Garden for their beautiful tender microgreens of all types and their sweet, crisp baby turnips, radishes, and carrots.

HOBNOBMAG micro veggies, chocolate, candy

[3] Tumbador Chocolate The mini patterns on these fine chocolates will get your gang cooing. Executive Pastry Chef Jean-François Bonnet (formerly of restaurant Daniel) works with only the finest ingredients in the world—exotic fruits, spices, fresh herbs and regional flavors. You can also order custom designed chocolates, attuned to your palate. tumbadorchocolate.com

[4] Papabubble New York Take a look at these tiny bits of fun. Papabubble is an artisan candy making academy, where aspiring candy artists get trained in the intricacies of working in the medium of molten sugar. Picture these cuties atop a cupcake, or set around the party in tiny dishes. The flavors are bright, fresh and fruity. Check the website for their other styles, like the #1 Dad mix, the Mazel Tov mix, the Thank You mix—or have a custom candy made just for you. papabubbleny.com

Instant Success: Dinner Party Shortcuts

Posted on: December 21st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

With weekend guests, you need to have stuff on hand. HOBNOB suggests stocking your pantry and freezer with these sophisticated flavors and dinner party shortcuts—so you come off as a hosting pro.

As part of the plan for hosting weekend guests, we found some fab ingredient to have on hand: a sensational American caviar in two price ranges, a collection of intense sophisticated sauces to accent your cooking, a line of instant cheesecakes and for the purists, the taste of just picked herbs from the freezer.

[1] Kelley’s Katch Kaviar This company produces caviar that rivals its Russian counterparts. Kelley’s Katch, a small producer based out of Savannah, Tennessee, harvests roe from wild fish from throughout the American South. The Kelleys, a husband and wife team, have been in the caviar business for over twenty years, and they own their own boats and processing and packing facilities, cutting out the middleman and passing savings along to their customers. Choose from their most popular paddlefish roe ($30 for 2 oz tin) or an even more luxurious option, American sturgeon ($99 for 2 oz tin) , seen in the photo. kelleyskatch.com

[2] La Maison Signature Sauces Whipping up dinner for weekend guests without sacrificing flavor and quality is easy with these sauces. La Maison’s line is made with fresh, flavorful ingredients, that can be used as a sauce on pan-seared steaks and chops; a glaze for roasts or vegetables; or as a creamy base for casseroles and pastas. Choose from a range of flavors, including red-wine based Burgundy Peppercorn, smoky Chipotle cream, spicy Thai Coconut Curry, herbaceous Pesto Cream, and rich Sherried Mushroom. $8 for 9 oz jars. vermontsigsauces.appspot.com

HOBNOBMAG Dinner Party Shortcuts

[3] Just in Time Gourmet: Key Lime Cheesecake Just in Time Gourmet’s dessert mixes are perfect for busy weekenders with a sweet tooth. So easy to put together that guests can get in on the cooking action too, their mixes only require a few additional ingredients like cream cheese and a graham cracker crust. Luscious and not too sweet, their cheesecake line, which includes Lemonade, Key Lime Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie, and Caramel Apple flavors, is our favorite for family gatherings. About $9. phoenixfoodco.com Get it online at amazon.com

[4] Daregal Frozen Fresh Herbs Daregal’s frozen fresh herbs are the next best thing to picking herbs straight from your garden. Their herbs are harvested, washed, chopped (only the tender leaves are used), and frozen within three hours, maximizing freshness and flavor. Stored conveniently in your freezer for use all year, they can be used straight from the container, no thawing necessary. With more flavor than dried herbs, and more convenience than fresh herbs (no spoilage, no prep), stock your kitchen with chopped basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, chives, and more (organic varieties also available). About $3. Darengal

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!