quick - HOBNOB Magazine

Posts Tagged ‘quick’

Store Bought Dessert: Maple Cream Cookies and Ice Cream

Posted on: June 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

In compiling a menu for our party theme, The Wild Party, I was at first flummoxed for the end of the night dessert offerings. But after doing a little shopping, I found a bunch of store bought desserts that were special enough to make an impression.

Dessert here has matched organic maple cream cookies (since maple syrup is our featured Wild ingredient here) with two types of ice cream. First offering: Wild man Stephen Colbert’s ice cream with chocolate covered crushed waffle cones and a caramel is surprisingly not too sweet. The second offering  is everyone’s favorite—vanilla—but this one is topped with Wild Maine Blueberry Syrup.

If you like the idea of using wild ingredients, see our WILD PARTY PLAN containing recipes with foraged ingredients, and items from the exotic end of the spectrum.


HOBNOBMAG store bought desserts


DeLish Organic Maple Cream cookies
Ben and Jerry “Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream” Ice Cream
Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream
Stonewall Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry Syrup

Put 3 small scoops of ice cream in mini ramekins/bowls. Pour syrup over the vanilla ice cream, and leave out on the table for guests to help themselves. Line the cookies on a nice dish and place with ice cream.

Mini Desserts: Order A Table Full of Colorful Sweets for Your Party

Posted on: June 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

It seems that everyone loves macarons nowadays, and if you are not up to baking those on your own, we’ve got a great suggestion on how to supply these mini desserts. This bakery features the colors of the rainbow, plus flavors from champagne and strawberries to peanut butter and jelly.

We added these two dessert option to include with our menu that features the colors of the rainbow in each food. The rainbow party has recipes in the six color tones, that will make your buffet pop! Click on the link to see the full menu.

Here are a couple of ideas for fulfilling the rainbow effect, or offer anytime: eye-candy mini desserts you can order to please guests’ taste buds and aesthetic sense.

Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses For a super easy dessert in the color VIOLET, set out bowls of chocolate candy kisses, which come wrapped in bright purple foil. They have a mildly sweet, rich dark chocolate flavor at only 22 calories a pop. Order them in bulk from Candy Warehouse, each bag has 100 pieces. candywarehouse.com

Dana’s Bakery Macarons Just 30 minutes from NYC, in Hawthorne, NJ is a macaron bakery supreme. Order your own rainbow selection for this party in an array of tantalizing flavors. Just make sure if you are ordering more than 200 macarons, to place your order at least 7 days prior to the party. They even offer classes for macaron-making, so perhaps you can sign up for one and come up with a flavor of your very own. danasbakery.com

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.

Wild Ingredients: Colorful Lettuce, Alligator Sausage, Foraged Foods, & Wild-Caught Fish

Posted on: May 20th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Your guests will be wowed when you take them off the beaten track and treat them to tastes of wild, unexpected ingredients that they wouldn’t find in their regular grocery aisle. Whether it’s foraged food, wild-caught, or just simply wild in its taste and appearance, we’ve got the goods.

Elevate your party food to adventurous, daring, and bold new heights with these extraordinary selections. It will get the conversation flowing.

[1] I’ll Take My Lettuce in Pink, Please

This gorgeous fuschia-flecked yellow lettuce, radicchio castillo franco, looks like it came from a blooming field of fresh flowers, but we found ours at Eataly, a great source for specialty produce. Vibrant colors don’t just belong in your flower vases—get inspired by nature’s palette and visit your local farmers’ market or specialty grocer for veggies that pop. See our recipe for Fresh Cranberry Bean & Barley Wraps that will make your table pop. eataly.com

hobnobmag MAILLE wild ingredients

[2] Maille Dijon Mustard Boutique

Maille, the Cadillac of mustards, recently opened its first mustard-only boutique in New York City featuring dozens of incredible flavor combinations. Try mustards infused with some of our favorite wild ingredients such as Roasted Onions, Wild Thyme & White Wine and Shallots, Chervil & Chanterelle. Your picks will be freshly hand-drawn into beautiful earthenware pots and carefully sealed with cork stoppers on the spot. Feeling overwhelmed by too many good choices? Don’t worry—their in-house mustard sommelier is there to assist. See a great party recipe for Gougères with Mustard.  maille.com

hobnobmag sausage wild ingredients

[3] Exotic Meat Sources

Get adventurous with all-natural, farm-raised game and exotic meats from Fossil Farms. Their combo packs are perfect for bold party-goers to try a range of exotic offerings. The sausage pack includes varieties such as Venison Sausage with Blueberries and Merlot Wine and Wild Boar Sausage with Cranberries (see our recipe featuring these exotic sausages paired with two dijon dips in this month’s issue), while the daring should go for the wild game assortment that includes alligator, antelope, elk, and more. Other great sources for exotic meats include: Belmont Butchery, Marx Foods, and BuyExoticMeats.com.

[4] Foraged Finds at the Union Square Greenmarket

Support your local farmer’s market. In NYC the Union Square Greenmarket has foraged finds at: Lani’s, Mountain Sweet Berry Farm, Berried Treasures, Bodhitree, Gorzynski Ornery Farm, Yellow Bell, Deep Mountain Maple, Lucky Dog. Union Square Greenmarket


[5] Wild-Caught Fish

Do your best to avoid farm-raised fish and support amazing wild fish purveyors such as John Dolan’s World Wide Direct Seafoods at the New Fulton Fish Market in New York. Get the best, freshest wild-caught seafood, including black cod, wild arctic char, American red snapper, wild Atlantic striped bass, Pacific pollock, and much more. Worldwide Direct Seafoods

Make it Quick Ravioli Sauce: Hazelnut Brown Butter

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

I developed this quick ravioli sauce to include as part of my aphrodisiac theme of recipes, due to the rapidity of preparation. That is, this dish can be ready in SIX minutes. So you don’t have to slave over the stove.

As for the aphrodisiacs? Well, I can’t guarantee anything, but the ravioli, In addition to being bathed in brown butter, is topped with hazelnuts—a rich source of vitamin E, associated with sexual function. Hmmm. In addition to that, in pagan days the hazel bush came to represent fertility because it is the first to flower in spring. The pagan’s tradition to “bless” fertility? Hazel bush twigs were entwined into whips to stroke—or strike—[ahem] the private parts. This dinner is much tamer, though, lol. And the creaminess of this dish alone will make for sensual eating.



butternut squash ravioli

Follow directions on pasta, but usually, boil for 6 to 8 min. Drain.


1/8 CUP hazelnuts, chopped

4 TB salted butter
10 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne

juice of 1 lemon

Toast hazelnuts with a sprinkle of salt on a heated skillet, about 3 min. Add butter, sage, salt and cayenne. Stir constantly, until butter is melted with golden brown color and nutty aroma, about 3 min. Squeeze in lemon juice. Pour over ravioli. Garnish with small sage leaves.

Unusual Pesto with Pecan & Parsley: Pasta Buffet Sauce No. 3

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

With pesto there are so many variations you can play with, as long as you have some sort of nut, a green, olive oil, and grated cheese. In this unusual pesto, we chose to replace pignoli with pecans, and basil with parsley. Try it!

If you are creating a pasta buffet, as mapped out in my party theme Comfort Pasta, you can choose to offer this recipe as one of the two you will be serving. There will be extra sauce which you can put out so guests can add more to their plate, or save it for future. To store, put in a glass container, cover with oil so it will not turn dark.

MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS (enough for 1 lb of pasta with extra)


1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts
sprinkle of salt and hot pepper flakes

Toast pecans on a heated skillet, about 3 min. Add pine nuts, toast another 2 min, shaking pan frequently so as not to burn. Move to a small bowl.


toasted pecans and pine nuts
2 TB oregano, minced
3 CUPS parsley
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 CUP EV olive oil
3 – 4-inch piece of Olieman Gouda cheese, grated
2 tsp salt

In batches, pulse together all the ingredients.

Quick Pasta Sauce: Spicy Oil & Garlic

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

This is my go-to for comfort: a simple garlic and oil with a little kick. This tastes even better the next day. You can make this quick pasta sauce in less than 10 minutes.

This sauce keeps it really simple. Oil and garlic meld their flavors together accompanied by a little salt, red pepper flakes, and a touch of parsley. Done.

I’ve included this recipe in our Comfort Pasta Buffet menu, which gives you the whole plan for creating a simply grand, pasta buffet to serve to guests at a party, with only a little bit of effort.



1 CUP EV olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 TB parsley, chopped

Gently heat oil. To test if oil is ready, add a piece or two of the garlic, it should sizzle softly and immediately. Cook on low flame for 5 min, till garlic is slightly brown. Strain into heatproof container. Stir in the salt, pepper flakes and parsley.

Finishing Touches for a Pasta Buffet: Prosciutto Bacon

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

This ideas shows the dazzling finishing touches for a pasta buffet, where each guest can help themselves and create a pasta dish they love. If you want to see the rest of our plan for creating a wonderful pasta buffet, head to this link.

Once you’ve tasted prosciutto bacon, you might get into the habit of adding it to lots of dishes—like salads, dips, sandwiches, and burgers, to name a few. It’s like bacon, but thinner, with its own flavor profile.



6 slices La Quercia prosciutto, cut into strips
1 tsp olive oil

Add strips to a hot skillet and sauté until crispy.

Old Fashioned Dessert at Your Door: Homestyle Brownies Delivered

Posted on: January 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Does anything give more comfort than a stack of brownies? Imagine you can have these homestyle brownies delivered—just in time for your party.

These brownies come from BAKED, where owners Matt and Renato are obsessed with the regional desserts of America. They’ve spent much of their time scouting bakeries, chocolate shops, coffee houses and used book stores around the USA. Both left the world of advertising to pursue their passion. I thought these would make a great addition to the Comfort Party plan, which features a myriad of pastas you can set up as a pasta bar.

Order a 6-pack for your party, and it will come in a gift box with: 2 Deep Dark (the classic), 2 Sweet & Salty (infused with caramel and fleur de sel), and 2 Brown Sugar Blondie (classic blondie with the deep flavors of dark brown sugar). $23. Order online or visit their shops in Red Hook, 359 Van Brunt Street, Bklyn, or in Manhattan at 279 Church Street. bakednyc.com

See more ideas for throwing a laid-back affair in the COMFORT BINGE issue.

Cure Your Hangover with The Hungover Cookbook by Milton Crawford

Posted on: November 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

A hangover, seen through the eyes of author Milton Crawford, is an opportunity. His positive attitude and helpful suggestions can take you from feeling bleh to glorious in his entertaining book The Hungover Cookbook.

With the help of funny multiple choice quizzes and visual tests, The Hungover Cookbook helps to determine which of six types of hangovers you have: The Broken Compass, The Sewing Machine, The Comet, The Atomic, The Cement Mixer or The Gremlin Boogie—and gives you the recipes to put you on the right track.

The recipes are a mixed bag of brunch dishes and hail from all parts of the globe, along with stories of a life well-lived. Lose the guilt! This is the book to pull out when having overnight guests—the morning after—for a dose of hilarity and cure. Enjoy this recipe with a focus on sweet-tooth pleasures.

featured recipe

Croissants, Nutella and Hot Chocolate

4 good-quality croissants
1 jar Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread

For the hot chocolate

5 CUPS whole milk
8 oz good-quality dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa), broken into small pieces
1 TB superfine sugar (optional)
whipped cream from a can
cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375°F, for warming the croissants later.

Warm 1 1/4 cups of milk in a saucepan over a low heat and add the broken-up chocolate. Stir continuously until the chocolate has melted, then add the rest of the milk. Keep the pan on the heat, stirring regularly, for about five minutes, but don’t let it boil. Add the sugar if you like your hot chocolate slightly sweeter.

Meanwhile, heat the croissants in the hot oven for about five minutes, then slather on the Nutella.

Serve the hot chocolate in bowls that can be lifted to your lips with both hands. Finish with a squirt of whipped cream on top and a dusting of cocoa powder.

Dip and sup your way through your croissants and hot chocolate and by the end I guarantee that you will not only feel warm inside, you’ll be glowing with pleasure.

—Reprinted from The Hungover Cookbook. Copyright © 2010 by Milton Crawford. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by 300million. Published by Clarskon Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House LLC.

Booze Infused Gourmet Food: Cheese, Paté, Cake & Chocolate

Posted on: November 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

Last Call for Alcohol: I found a nice assortment of booze infused gourmet food that you can serve at your next gathering to great acclaim. From starters to dessert, only the finest examples are included in this list.

We’ve gathered some of the finest ingredients that have fine spirits incorporated into their flavors. Be sure to add these to your party repertoire for our IN THE SPIRIT party plan. Choose from a duo of pâtés—one spreadable, the other coarse, both should have a spot on the cheese board. Speaking of cheese, try one of these four, infused with whiskey, kirsch, calvados, or cognac. Dessert is extra special with buttery booze cakes and handmade chocolates from Oregon.

[1] Party With Pâté:

Duck Mousse With Port Wine This silky mousse is made of fresh duck livers and marinated in Port Wine. 7oz, $9.30. markys.com French-Style Rabbit Pâté With Prunes & Cognac This Terroirs d’Antan Pâté is a rich and flavorful experience. It is a coarse textured game pâté prepared from tender rabbit meat, then flavored with prunes and brandy. $24 lb. markys.com

[2] Spirited Cheeses:

Kerrygold Aged Irish Cheddar With Irish Whiskey Think cheddar plus woody, nutty notes of pure Irish whiskey. Available in 8 oz, 1 lb, or a 5 lb wheel encased in black wax. About $20 lb. gourmet-food.com Gourmandise With Kirsch A soft, spreadable cheese from France, with the sweet addition of cherries. Available in 8 oz, or 1 lb wedges. About $15 lb. gourmet-food.com Le Grain D’orge Affiné Au Calvados A Normandy tradition: The rind is removed from a semi-cured Camembert and then soaked in Calvados, giving it a fruity, milky flavor with a hint of mushrooms. About $18 for 8 oz. elite-gourmet.com Sartori Ltd. Edition Cognac Bellavitano Aged at least 18 months, then steeped in Rémy Martin Cognac for 7 to 10 days. Award-winning tastes of smoky, nutty, oaky flavors with toasted notes of vanilla and caramel. About $60 lb. sartoricheese.com

Booze Infused Gourmet Food

[3] Full Spirited Flavours Prosperity Cakes

Looking to serve an amazing dessert, no muss, no fuss? Three sisters from Pennsylvania can supply you with the sweet that will have everyone raving. After their own families ooh-ed and ahhhh-ed over their cakes for years, the sisters combined their talents to showcase their fabulous liqueur-infused buttery cakes. Whether you choose the amaretto, limoncello, raspberry liqueur, or coconut rum cake, they will arrive beautifully presented. Available in two sizes: the FULL serves 10 to12 ($30), the JUNIOR ($13) serves 2 to 4. Cakes can be served right away or frozen for up to 3 months. Order one for the party, and a couple more to have tucked away, just in case. Available online at fullspiritedflavours.com

[4] Lillie Belle Farms Spirit-Infused Chocolates

My friend Mary brought me to this wonderful shop in Oregon, known for its handmade chocolates. Lillie Belle Farms makes artistic, decadent creations filled with butter cream, caramels, toasted nuts, and truffles. For this party, check out their collection of alcohol-infused bon-bons. Try the Martini Cup with Bombay Sapphire Gin in a white chocolate ganache which is also infused with wild Oregon juniper berries. The Margarita Cup uses Don Julio tequila and fresh key limes in a white chocolate ganache, filling dark chocolate cups with a rim of salt. Create a Custom Assortment (Box of 12) for $25 lilliebellefarms.com

Shrimp Kebabs with Tamarind Glaze: Adding Fantastic Indian Flavors

Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

Looking for a special glaze on shrimp kebabs? I’ve come up with a fantastic party bite, starting with shrimp marinated in a tangy tamarind glaze, then set on wraps of lettuce leaves.  Makes for a sensational, light Indian-flavored hors d’oeuvre that you can eat with your hands.

The tamarind glaze can become a tool in your party roster. Think about its dramatic qualities as a marinade or sauce on many things. I could see it matching with grilled steak, pork, or chicken; used as a sauce over roasted squash or carrots; or even as a dip for egg rolls or fried wontons. I created this recipe as part of a menu a party plan of Modern Indian small bites meant to show off the vibrant flavors of Indian cuisine.



2 TB coconut-canola oil
1-inch pc ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, pressed in a garlic press
1 tsp ground cumin
1 TB tamarind paste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 TB all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp pistachio oil

1 LB frozen shrimp (26-30 count), defrosted, peeled, tails removed

Mix all ingredients for the glaze in a bowl. Toss shrimp, coating each piece in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.


marinated shrimp
3 TB coconut-canola oil

1 TB date molasses
1 TB tamarind paste

exotic lettuce leaf, for wraps

Remove shrimp from the marinade. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook shrimp for 1.5 min each side. In a small bowl, combine the date molasses and tamarind paste. To serve, put each shrimp on lettuce leaf and drizzle with the molasses/tamarind mix.

Instant Indian Dessert: Fig Chutney & Masala Chai Ice Cream

Posted on: October 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

Every party needs a great finale. Why not feature the exotic spices of the Indian continent in a dessert. As part of my entertaining scheme for hosting a super, modern, party of small bites, try adding a chutney to your cheese board, and a spectacular chai-based ice cream for a fantastic Indian dessert.

To complete the party menu for our Modern Indian theme, I couldn’t help but suggest a couple of excellent products to add to the buffet. In these items, Indian flavors infiltrate the dessert phase in the most sophisticated way.

[1] Virginia Chutney Co  I love chutney. It’s got such a fine assortment of textures, sweetness, and a tanginess that can’t be beat. I like to think of it as a great shortcut ingredient to add in many recipes, including salad dressings and as a spread on sandwiches. (Think turkey.) The Virginia Chutney Co offers six interesting flavors and combinations, which are family-made in the blue hills of Virginia. For the Indian-themed party, I suggest a pairing with cheese—you can’t go wrong with any of their mixes.

The Balsamic Fig Chutney would be a nice complement with a goat cheese or a blue cheese. I couldn’t resist repeating the wonderfully descriptive tasting notes from the website… “Fig chutney is our lush hedonist, the notorious Italian uncle who arrives in Virginia with armloads of gifts, dances with all the ladies at the wedding, and keeps everyone awake singing operettas late at night. It’s all fig and no leaf, a loud sweetness rounded with a rich balsamic.”

Also fantastic is their Spicy Plum variety, whose spice-iness comes from caramelized onions and ginger. Match it with with Brie or cheddar. If you are more interested in presenting a sweet juxtaposition, go for the Sweet Peach which pairs up with just about any cheese. $8, available online at virginiachutney.com.

[2] TEA•RRIFIC Ice Cream The Masala Chai mixes Assam black and rooibos teas with cardamom, ginger, clove, and peppercorns, a truly sophisticated treat. $7, available at Whole Foods, Garden of Eden, and other local NYC markets. They’ve also got six other flavors, all tea-based. Try them all!  tearrificicecream.com

Peter Gevrekis of Desnuda Wine Bar & Cevicheria Shares His Restaurant’s Most Popular Recipe for Shrimp Ceviche

Posted on: September 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

Desnuda Wine Bar & Cevicheria, the destination in the East Village, NYC for ceviches exotic and adored, has added a location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Peter Gevrekis is giving this spot his personal attention, in creating the atmosphere (impressive tarnished copper), and the ceviches themselves. A revamped bar menu features an assortment of rums, cachaças and tequilas to accompany his selection of wines from the great terroirs of South America. Gevrekis shared his popular recipe for Ceviche de Camarones. desnudany.com

hobnobmag Desnuda Wine Bar


ceviche de camarones

One of the most popular ceviches at Desnuda is a cinch to make. Make sure your ingredients are stellar.

10 shrimp, 16-20 count, poached for 20 seconds
1/2 English cucumber, cut into chunks
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 small jalapeño, diced with some seeds remaining
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin strips
1/2 avocado, cubed
2 TB cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin, toasted
1 CUP orange juice
1/2 CUP lime juice
1 TB olive oil

Cut the shrimp into four pieces. Add all ingredients to a bowl, toss together. Allow to sit for five min. Serve with popcorn.

hobnobmag Desnuda Wine Bar

Taco Toppings: Nine Colorful Options

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

In our plan for entertaining, this taco bar offers spectacular, and offbeat, taco toppings to round out the flavors and allow each guest to customize their taco to their liking. In addition, see our recipe for a unique and healthy colorful slaw. And a unique, tangy peach salsa.

It’s important to offer a lively spread of fresh toppings and sauces along with tacos. Variety is key since everyone has different dietary preferences. Non-cook items: cilantro, jalapeños, corn, black beans, and arugula.

[1] cilantro
[2] dijon mayo (see recipe below)
[3] fresh jalapeño slices
[4] corn
[5] black beans
[6] Aveyo avocado mayo (this product is no longer available, but you can mix a ripe avocado with a little mayo or put out thin slices of avocado)
[7] Pickled Pink Sweet Heat Jalapeños
[8] Rogue Hot Sauce
[9] baby arugula



Dijon mayo may not a traditional taco bar topping, but a squirt of this on any of the tacos heightens flavor.


2 TB mayonnaise
6 TB olive oil
1 TB red raspberry vinegar
1 tsp Maille Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed in a garlic press
s + p
pinch of cayenne

Whisk ingredients together. Put in serving bowl with a small spoon or squirt bottle.

Don’t miss our recipes for a couple more toppings: a salsa and colorful slaw.

Fish Taco: Smoky Paprika Blackened Grouper with Peach Salsa

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

There’s something so refreshing about a fish taco. And they make the perfect dish for entertaining.

Choosing the type of fish: Grouper and mahi mahi are available in nice thick fillets, making them perfect for grilling. They won’t fall apart, especially if you use a fish basket to grill them. In this recipe, we’ve added a smoky, slightly hot spice mix to both sides. Suggested taco combo: Grilled Blackened Grouper with White Peach Salsa, arugula, and fresh jalapeño. This recipe is just one of the recipes for our Taco Bar Buffet in which we feature all types of gourmet fillings. 



1 tsp Safinter Smoked Spanish paprika
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cornstarch

In a small bowl, mix ingredients together. Store extra in a glass jar in cool spot.


Smoky Spice Mix
3 LB grouper or mahi mahi fillets, skin removed

Sprinkle spice mix over both sides of filets. Grill on hot bbq inside a fish basket about 1–2 min on each side, depending on thickness of the fillet. Remove from basket onto serving platter.

HOBNOBMAG Recipe Taco Bar Blackened Grouper

If you make the fish ahead of time, when you are ready to serve the tacos: Reheat fish in the microwave, or in the fish basket on the top shelf of the grill. Break into large chunks and place in a bowl on the taco bar buffet. We’ve got more recipes for pork, chicken, beef, and vegetarian tacos at this link.

Other Fish Taco recipes on Hobnob:

Fish Tacos with Style: Macadamia Crusted Halibut with Sweet Sour Mayo Sauce 

Learn to Make Alex Stupak of Empellon Taqueria’s Delectable Crispy Fish Tacos with Cabbage and Lime Mayo

Cocktail Ice Pops: How to Make Instant Pop Art

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

Wind down your dinner party with a fun treat— cocktail ice pops —and allow your guests to indulge in some creativity. The ZOKU Quick Pop Maker takes your concoctions from liquid to ice pop in less than 10 minutes. Here’s how it works: Store the base in the freezer.  Pull out when you are ready to make the pops. Pour your mix into the cavity. It will make 9 pops before having to refreeze the base—which will give you enough time to enjoy one, and come up with a new idea for the next round.

The kit comes with a cool accessories for the very creative, so you can experiment with tilted layers, and use different ingredients for the inside and outside of the pop. Think about using fresh fruit, yogurt, fruit juices, sodas—you get the idea. There is also a cool case to house the pops, if you want to make them ahead of time. $50 for the triple-base, with tools/sticks; $20 for the accessories; $20 for the storage case. Available online at zokuhome.com

For the mix, think of any low-alcohol cocktails that are kind of fruity—that will work as a pop. Sangria with lots of fruit would also work perfectly. Martinis, not so much.

HOBNOBMAG Instant Cocktail Ice Pops E


1 part vodka
3 parts cranberry juice
1 part prosecco
strawberries, sliced

If you are using the Zoku pop maker, then just pour in the mixture, and wait 5 min for it to freeze. Voila! An instant cocktail ice pop. (Alternatively, pour into regular pop molds ahead of time, and allow at least 5 hours to freeze.)

Where There’s Smoke by Barton Seaver Shows You How to Smoke Food

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

Everything you’ve ever wondered about grilling and how to smoke food is answered in this photo-filled cookbook. Focusing on sustainable techniques, Seaver uses smoke as an ingredient and shows how to manipulate this flavor in everything from cocktails to soups to shellfish. Read our review of this important cookbook.

Included in the basics are analysis of his favorite woods, a variety of salt mixes to complement the wine you are drinking, and a bevy of marinades, sauces and unique touches that are just genius. Grill masters and beginners alike can learn new methods of how to smoke food, with a surplus of inventive recipes to try. Here is a sampling from the book. See the recipe below for Wood Grilled Snap Peas with Smoky Aioli.

HOBNOBMAG Cookbook Review Where Theres Smoke

featured recipe

Wood-Grilled Snap Peas with Smoky Aioli

When I was writing FOR COD AND COUNTRY, I included a recipe for aioli that I paired with pan-fried potatoes. In testing that recipe, I chose to make the aioli a little creamier by omitting some of the oil. Then, as I had all these batches of aioli around the house after recipe-testing sessions, I would add a little more oil to make it thick and voluminous and use it as a dip for whatever vegetables I had in the fridge, as well on sandwiches and in soups, pink salmon salad … just about everything.

Vickie Reh, one of the best chefs in DC and a good friend, serves a similar sauce with grilled young fava beans—the combination is incredible. In this version, I use sugar snap peas, but feel free to grill up almost any kind of vegetable—green beans, asparagus, young carrots, parsnips, whatever looks good at the market—and serve it with a crock of this smoky mayonnaise on the side. Note: You might be tempted to toss the snap peas with a little oil before grilling them; don’t. If the peas are given even a light coating of oil, the mayonnaise will slip off when you go to dip them. Also, be sure to use farm-fresh eggs for the mayo.—Barton Seaver



1 LB sugar snap peas, ends trimmed

Place the snap peas in a grill basket and set it directly over the coals of a small charcoal and wood chip fire. Grill until they begin to char and soften, 5 to 7 minutes, tossing them as necessary.

make the smoky aioli

1 large egg yolk
1 TB smoked sweet paprika
2 TB orange juice
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled
Kosher salt
2 CUPS canola oil

Place the egg yolk, paprika, orange juice, vinegar, garlic, and a healthy pinch of salt into a blender. Purée, making sure that the garlic is well incorporated. With the blender running on low speed, gradually add the oil in a steady stream. Do this very slowly at first to make sure that it is being incorporated. As the sauce begins to come together, you can gradually increase the flow of oil, but have patience; if you add it too quickly, the mayonnaise will break. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a few drops of cold water to thin it. Once all the oil is added, adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Place the grilled snap peas next to a crock of the aioli and serve immediately. Any leftover aioli can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to a week.

—Reprinted with permission from Where There’s Smoke © 2013 by Barton Seaver, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Katie Stoops.

HOBNOBMAG Cookbook Review Where Theres Smoke2

More HOBNOB grilling recipes for your next get together:

Lemony Oregano Fish Skewers: a Super Summer Grill Favorite

Summer Grill Special: Skirt Steak Teriyaki Roll-Ups

Plank Grilling by Dina Guillen Shows You How to Infuse Food with Flavor Using Wood Planks

Gourmet Hot Dogs with Healthy Colorful Toppings

Posted on: June 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

It’s the fresh, colorful toppings and healthier buns that transform an American standard into gourmet hot dogs. I’ve even found organic versions of Amerca’s favorite condiments—a zesty yellow mustard and ketchup from a New Jersey farm—that you can offer to your guests at your next BBQ. Because you really care.

In thinking about the upgrade of the hot dog, fresh ingredients came to mind. The pickled red cabbage adds a nice crunch to its vinegar-y nature, in a bright pink hue that really shines. Suggestion: I like serving these gourmet dogs with a varitety of the toppings, then cutting them in half, so guests can have a few and experiment with different flavor combinations.

I included this recipe in our menu for a  fab red and white 4th of July party. See more recipes for a fun barbecue at this link.



Quick Pickled Cabbage (recipe)
tomatoes, cut into rings
peppadew peppers, cut into strips
2 small onions, sliced thinly
Annie’s Naturals organic yellow mustard
First Field Jersey ketchup

Place in bowls. Set up on a nice big tray, if you have one.


12 D’artagnan duck hot dogs
12 D’artagnan uncured beef hot dogs
hot dog buns

Make light cuts on the diagonal around each dog. Either grill, or cook in a pan, turning as each side browns. Toast the buns, insert dog , and cut in half.

Peppadews Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Posted on: June 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

A true quick hors d’oeuvre that makes a graphic red and white statement on the table. Perfect for just popping in your mouth for a blast of tangy goodness. This recipe makes party throwing easy.

Imagine being the person who discovers a new fruit. That’s what happened in 1996 when a South African businessman/farmer came across an unusual-looking bush with a small bright red fruit in his garden. They looked like a cross between a cherry tomato and a mini pepper. He researched and they turned out to be unique, so he trademarked them. These peppers are now lovingly grown on a farm in New Jersey as well as South Africa, so you can buy local.

Peppadews come in three flavors: mild, hot, and goldew, a yellow pepper. Their peppery yet sweet flavor makes them truly unlike anything else. If you like tangy tastes, with a touch of sweetness and heat, these peppers are ones you will buy again and again. They are thin-skinned, so would also be great cut into ribbons and added to a salad, or to add a bit of zip to a sandwich. Think Italian charcuterie, with cherry tomatoes, and some provolone cheese.

All we did to make this quick hors d’oeuvre was pipe softened goat cheese into the centers. So little work for such a pop of freshness—and your guests will adore them.

If you are following our menu plan for a fab fourth of July, then serve these guys alongside a navy blue napkin, or set on top of a blue tablecloth for the red, white, and blue effect. We have more red and white foods included in the menu plan to make your table sing the Star Spangled Banner!



log of goat cheese, softened
jar of peppadews, rinsed in colander

Using a pastry bag or plastic bag with corner cut off, pipe the goat cheese into the peppadews.

how to stuff peppadews with goat cheese

HOBNOB Magazine