just a quick nibble with drinks - HOBNOB Magazine

Posts Tagged ‘just a quick nibble with drinks’

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

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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

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

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe

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

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe

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

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe


Smoked Trout Rillettes

1/4 lb butter
2 TB chopped onion

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

2 TB chopped chive
1 TB mascarpone

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

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

hobnobmag Smoked Trout Rillettes recipe

10 Stellar Foodie Gifts to Bring to Your Next Party

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

It’s summer party season, and if you are headed away for the weekend, or just next door, treat your host to something more imaginative than a standard bottle of wine. HOBNOB gives you the foodie gifts to impress and delight even the most snobby host.

Make sure to include the background story with your gift—they are SO inspirational, admirable and plaise-worthy.  We found stellar examples in the foodie realm that really stand out from the crowd to include in this roundup.

[1] Bumbleberry Farms Honey Creams

Tell your host to put down the Nutella because a new sweet spreadable obsession has arrived. Bumbleberry Farms’ honey creams are as deliciously decadent as they sound. Spread, stir, and drizzle into a honey frenzy with flavors like Lovers’ Leap Sea Salt Caramel, Squirrel Crazy Maple, Molten Lava Spiced Chocolate, and Sticky Buns Cinnamon.

It’s almost impossible to decide—so we recommend the Honey Cream Gift Set which includes all 4. Each is made from small batch honey carefully collected from hand-spun honeycomb. Though their bees may travel up to 55,000 miles, visiting more than two million flowers, Bumbleberry keeps things local with the addition of high-quality, all-natural ingredients in their honey creams, hand-selecting and sourcing the dairy and maple sugar from operations just down the road. Bumbleberry Farms, based in the foothills of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountains, is led by owner and “Queen Beekeeper” Karen Mosholder, who has gone from making 18 jars of her golden delicious spread at a time on her honey-house stove to now cooking up to 100 gallons a batch. $40. bumbleberryfarms.com

honobmag foodie gifts to bring to your host

[2] Savannah Bee Company

Tupelo is a supreme honey, collected for two weeks every spring, while tupelo trees in the Southeastern swamps bloom globe-shaped clusters that glisten with nectar. Savannah Bee Tupelo Honey is very unique and only produced in the threatened tupelo ecosystem of the Altamaha and Apalachicola River Basins of Georgia and Florida. Gold Reserve Tupelo Honey comes in a limited edition, and gorgeous package—and the contents are just as special. $112 for an 80 oz bottle. savannahbee.com

[3] Tonewood Maple Syrup Cubes

Tonewood’s products are made with pure, premium maple syrup that is single-sourced, unblended, and free of additives. The Maple Cube, housed in a sleek black gift box, can be shaved over oatmeal, fruit, ice cream, and more—anything that could use a touch of golden sweetness. What a revolutionary concept.

Get your Maple Cube in two varieties: try Golden Delicate, which features a lighter, buttery maple flavor, or the more intense Dark Robust. Like wine, Tonewood’s artisan sugarmakers pay deep attention to their maple syrup’s terroir. Their trees grow in Mad River Valley, VT where the combination of rich soil, southern facing slopes, and high elevation allows them to produce a syrup with incredible flavor, clarity, and color. Raising the bar for maple products, Tonewood is also dedicated to preserving small-scale maple production and involved in funding climate research, local farming efforts, and sustainable, forest stewardship. $17. tonewoodmaple.com

honobmag foodie gifts to bring to your host

[4] Hella Bitters

After years of obsessing over the perfect bitters, the team at Hella Bitters decided to hand craft its products in New York in small batches, using classic age-old techniques and only the best ingredients. With upwards of 130 botanical ingredients (yes, that’s 130) used in highly secretive formulas, their bitters are vibrant and complex.

For the DIY-ers, the Craft Your Own Bitters Kit includes essentials tools such as glass infusion jars, apothecary style dropper bottles, and a custom steel fine mesh strainer and funnel, plus their proprietary mix of herbs, spices, bittering agents, and dried fruit peel. Bring this to your budding mixologist hosts. $65. hellabitters.com

[5] La Tourangelle Artisan Coconut Oil

You might ask, why coconut oil? How does thus qualify as an artisanal pleasure? With its numerous health benefits, coconut oil is all-the-rage in certain crowds, but La Tourangelle takes their product to the next level with their 100% Fair Trade practices, extruding organic, extra virgin oil made from fresh coconuts—never dried.

La Tourangelle uses organic coconuts picked right off the tree to produce the freshest oil possible. The oil is processed by their revolutionary centrifuge technology, producing an oil with a unique light texture, while retaining all of its natural antioxidants and nutrients. With its super high quality, you can even use your coconut oil outside of the kitchen as a soothing moisturizer for dry hands and lips, deep hair conditioning treatments, and face masks. Perhaps a spa weekend is in order. $14. latourangelle.com

honobmag foodie gifts to bring to your host

[6] Caravel Gourmet’s Infused Sea Salt

Salt is indispensable. These samplers with different flavor profiles are a thoughtful gift for that person who loves to dabble. The themed samplers offer six different salt varieties in each set. Choose from Spicy, French, Infused, Natural, and Smoked. From rosemary to Hawaiian bamboo jade, every dish can taste like something new, with just a flick of the wrist. $22. seasaltsuperstore.com

[7] Back to the Roots Herb Kits

Maybe your host has imagined dreamily snipping fresh herbs from a garden, but the closest thing to Eden is a rusty fire escape. Well, we’ve got their green-thumb fancies covered. Not much beats the satisfaction of nurturing a plant from seed, and Back to the Roots makes it incredibly easy with their line of ready-to-grow cans for small-space windowsill gardening. Just pop open the can, plant the seeds, water, wait patiently for nature to do its thing, and harvest. The Garden-in-a-Can Gift Set includes four organic herbs (basil, cilantro, oregano, and sage). Also nice to bring to those with kids, so they can have a fun summer project. backtotheroots.com

honobmag foodie gifts to bring to your host

[8] Bittermilk Old Fashioned Mixer Gift Set

Channeling your inner master mixologist and crafting speakeasy-level cocktails has never been simpler. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Bittermilk produces small batch, hand bottled, all-natural, non-alcoholic mixers inspired by classic cocktails.

The Old Fashioned Set, perfect for lovers of strong, serious cocktails, includes the Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned, the New Orleans Style Old Fashioned Rouge, and the Oaxacan Old Fashioned. Enormous amounts of attention is paid to the techniques used to prepare the unique ingredients in each mixer, creating complex, incredible layers of flavor.

Aged in Willett bourbon barrels, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned mixer is made with burnt sugar, a touch of orange peel, and classic old fashioned bitters spices like gentian root and cinchona bark.

Inspired by the traditional and beloved Sazerac cocktail, the New Orleans Style Old Fashioned Rouge has strong Absinthe-like notes from spices like wormwood, gentian root, and cochineal, a Peruvian red beetle that imparts the original red coloring of Peychaud’s bitters.

The Oaxacan Old Fashioned, packed with complex chile, chocolate, and dried fruit notes, is made from a base of dried Mexican chiles and raisins and a syrup aged in drums with cocoa husks. All you have to do is add your favorite booze and enjoy. $45. shop.bittermilk.com

[9] Red Rocker Candy Chocolate Bark

Simple but deliciously satisfying, Red Rocker Candy’s rich chocolate treats bring back the nostalgic flavors and sentiments of times-gone-by. Handmade using only the highest quality ingredients, owner Sue Charney is committed to old-fashioned values.

Keep it classic with her amazing chocolate bark, available in four flavors: Crispy (using crispy rice cereal), Marshmallow Coconut (a fun take with fluffy marshmallows and toasted coconut), Nonpareils (a grown-up version of the mini snow-capped chocolates of yesteryear), and Roasted Almond—all available in both milk and dark chocolate varieties. $12. redrockercandy.com

honobmag foodie gifts to bring to your host

[10] Brooklyn Slate Co.

From a family-owned quarry in upstate New York, Brooklyn Slate Co. offers a natural platform for displaying cheese, hors d’oeuvres, and more. Use the accompanying soapstone pencil to inscribe a personal message to your host—and also to label what’s being offered. Also nice to send as a thank-you gift after the weekend—with pickles, cheese, or the makings for gourmet s’mores. $28 for the cheese board. $65-$80 for food/slate packages. brooklynslate.com

These ingredients are part of our weekend BBQ party plan. Whether you are showing up at a party, or preparing to host a fun BBQ, see my other details that will get the party flowin’.

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

Exotic Sausage Bites with Two Dijon Dips: Explore New Tastes

Posted on: May 4th, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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

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



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

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

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


1 CUP Paulaner Hefe-Weizen Natural Wheat beer

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

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


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

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.


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

hobnobmag exotic sausage ID tags

Small Bites: Baby Blue Potatoes with Caviar

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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



1 bag blue baby potatoes

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


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


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

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

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

Colorful Mini Stuffed Peppers with Spiced-Up Couscous

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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



1/2 CUP water
1/2 CUP dried couscous

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


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

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

1-2 TB EV olive oil (to moisten)

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


2 bags mini bell peppers
couscous mixture

Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream

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

Fresh Pea Pods Stuffed with Shrimp Dip

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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

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

Makes about 40 bites


24 shrimp (51-60 count)

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


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

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


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

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

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

Posted on: March 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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

hobnobmag stuffed olives asellina

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

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

hobnobmag stuffed olives asellina

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

hobnobmag stuffed olives recipe



makes 20 olives


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

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

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


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

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


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

parmesan, for sprinkling
herbs, for garnish

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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

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

featured recipe



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

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

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

1/2 French baguette

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

Arrange the brie and strawberries on a serving platter.

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

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

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

Feed Each Other: Sexy Steamed Artichokes with Two Dipping Sauces

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

Steamed artichokes provide a unique eating ritual. No other vegetable comes close to the interaction you get here. That’s why I thought this recipe would be a fantastic part of our Aphrodisiac theme. Ancient Greeks and Romans considered artichokes a delicacy and an aphrodisiac. I envision this dish shared by 2 people romantically connected. Choose which sauce works for your lover—or serve both—sultry & buttery or creamy & spicy. The idea: dip and feed each other individual leaves.



2 large artichokes

Peel off the leaves near the stem. Cut off the thorns at the top of each leaf with scissors (2 rows). Chop an inch off the top. Wash artichoke thoroughly, get in between the leaves to remove any hidden dirt. Trim the stem.

HOBNOBMAG artichokes trimmed


prepared artichokes
bay leaf
juice from 1 lemon

Set up a pot for steaming, toss in bay leaf. Position artichokes, squeeze lemon juice over them. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover. Steam for 45 min, flipping the artichoke at 20 min. The artichoke is done when leaves pull off easily. While artichokes steam, make the sauce.


Herbed Butter Dipping Sauce

Serve this sauce to the person who likes rich things.



5 TB butter
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
pinch of cayenne

Add ingredients to a small bowl. Melt butter in the microwave (start with 11 seconds). When butter is mostly melted, stir to finish. Serve immediately.


Spicy Mayo Dipping Sauce

Serve this sauce to the person who likes things spicy.



1/2 CUP mayonnaise
1 TB dijon mustard
2 tsp sriracha
juice from 1/2 lime
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sugar

Mix everything together in a bowl.

Just a Little Bite: Exquisite Handmade Chocolates in Fun Shapes

Posted on: February 1st, 2015 by Ellen Swandiak

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

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

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

Party Nut Mix with a Kick of Bourbon: How to Serve a Posh Nosh

Posted on: November 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

This party nut mix could become a snacking staple. It’s an excellent item to keep around, it will last for at least a month in an airtight container. Choose whatever nut mix you gravitate towards. The glaze adds a little sweetness, and the spices give it even more of an edge.

I included this recipe in my party theme Alcohol Infusion, which features a bunch of recipes with some booze as one of the ingredients. The party theme calls for a tasting of rare spirits, and these nuts would make a great item to have on the table for grabbing and munching.



1 1/2 LB almonds, pistachios, cashews

1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1 TB peanut oil

Place the nuts in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the nuts to cover. Blanch for one minute and drain well in a large strainer.

Place the hot nuts in a large mixing bowl and combine with the sugar, bourbon and oil. Mix well and let rest for 10 min. Pour the nuts in a single layer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 40 min, turning every 10 min, until the nuts are uniformly brown and crispy. Remove from oven.

spice up the nuts

1/2 tsp each: salt, ground ginger, chili powder
1/4 tsp each: ground black pepper, ground coriander
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin

roasted nuts
2 TB San-J Organic Tamari
1 lime, juiced
1 TB bourbon

While the nuts are still warm, get a bowl and mix the spices together.

Toss nuts into bowl with rest of ingredients. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool. When completely cool, store in an airtight container.

I like the idea of sending guests home with a little treat. So make an extra batch of these nuts, hit your local thrift shop for some interesting dollar finds, and wrap the nuts to go. Let guests choose their favorite thrift-shop vessel.

Bacon Cornbread & Cognac Butter Dip: Decadent Party Snack

Posted on: November 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

I pictured this recipe as part of a serving accompanying an at-home poker game, for some reason. It’s good for picking at randomly. You can choose to use this recipe to serve guests as a small bite with dip, as we’ve done here. Or, traditionally, set out in triangular shaped wedges with butter to start off a dinner party. Whatever you choose, the flavors in this are perfectly matched.

If you love the idea of kicking in the shots of cognac and rum in this recipe, I’ve got a bunch of other recipes that so the same in my party theme Alcohol Infusion.



4 strips bacon

In a microwave, between paper towels, cook bacon strips about 4 min or so, until very crisp. Crumble bacon into bits when cool.


1 CUP yellow cornmeal
1 CUP flour
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
bacon bits

In a large bowl, add all ingredients and combine.


1 1/4 CUPS buttermilk
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 TB rum
1 TB Grand Marnier

1/4 CUP olive oil
2 TB cane sugar
1 large egg

In a small bowl, pour buttermilk, stir in baking soda and spirits. In a medium bowl, whisk oil, sugar and egg. Add the buttermilk mix, and whisk to incorporate.

Add wet ingredients to dry, do not over mix.


2 1/2 TB butter
cornbread batter

Melt butter in 11-inch oven-proof skillet. Pour batter into the hot skillet and place in oven. Bake until top is golden brown, about 25 min. Let cool.


4 TB butter
1/2 CUP cognac
1/4 CUP Grand Marnier

Over a low flame in small pot, melt butter, add spirits. Simmer for 15 min.


When cornbread has cooled, cut into small cubes. Spear with picks and serve with a small ramekin of the Cognac Butter Dipping Sauce.

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

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

A Recipe for Yuca Bread from The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces

Posted on: September 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

The book recounts Chef Jose Garces’ exploration of five different country’s cuisines: Ecuador, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru, and contains the genius of a chef’s imagination in all the recipes. Enjoy this recipe from The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces.

Perhaps you’ve eaten at one of Chef Jose Garces’ restaurants in Philadelphia or elsewhere, and experienced his mastery of Latin flavors. If so, you are now nodding in agreement. I could not think of a better book to find authentic, tried-and-true Latin recipes.

Truth be told, I am the designer of this cookbook—so am well acquainted with the recipes! Serve these little rolls at your party to great applause.

featured recipe

Yuca Bread with Queso Fresco

The ratio of flour to cheese seems crazy, but it works. Serve the bread hot (for a spongy texture) or warm (for a denser interior with the dough settling more and forming air pockets).



1 CUP yuca flour
1 LB queso fresco, finely grated (4 cups)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
2 TB whole milk
1 TB unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp granulated sugar

serve with Guava-Chile Butter (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, cheese, egg, baking powder, milk, butter, salt, and sugar in a bowl and knead them together until thoroughly mixed and fairly smooth. Form the dough into about 20 round balls. Bake the rolls on the baking sheet for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. To reheat, cover the bread loosely with aluminum foil and heat for 6 to 8 minutes in a 200°F oven.

Guava-Chile Butter

At Chifa, my Peruvian-Asian restaurant, the pan de yuca with this delicious sweet-spicy-salty spread is a the hit among our customers. It would also be tasty on crusty bread, toast, or savory scones. Makes 4 cups

1 (21-oz) can guava paste
1/4 CUP Chinese black vinegar
1/4 CUP sriracha sauce
2 TB salted butter, at room temperature

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the guava paste until it is smooth and has lightened in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula several times. Slowly drizzle in the vinegar while mixing on low speed and scrape the bowl down again. Add the sriracha and continue mixing on low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the butter. Mix just to combine thoroughly.

Store the butter in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

—Excerpted from “The Latin Road Home” by Jose Garces, photos by Jason Varney.

Grilled Vegetable Napoleon—the Ultimate Pairing with Charcuterie

Posted on: August 1st, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

A fancy sidekick to charcuterie, this refreshing grilled vegetable napoleon blends veggies and goat cheese to spectacular results.  It’s part of a plan for hosting guests over a weekend: this is part of the welcome snack. You can make this up to 2 days ahead. If you are following our weekend hosting plan, you will be making extra. Use the best grilled vegetables for the stack, and save the rest for sandwiches for Saturday’s lunch.

To help create perfect Vegetable Napoleon stacks, we used a very cool tool. The ARCHITEC Stackable Appetizer Maker is a unique gadget that lets you turn ordinary ingredients into beautifully layered creations in just minutes. Simply place a layer of each ingredient, and press down with included flat bar, then cut into individual servings. If you don’t have this gadget, you could probably do the same thing in a narrow baking pan. Or just arrange the ingredients nicely with your charcuterie offering.

We devised a super-easy method for roasting peppers, which adds eye-popping color to the Vegetable Napoleons, see the details below.


HOBNOBMAG Herbs Marinade


1/4 CUP olive oil
fresh herbs, minced
s + p

Mix ingredients together.


3 red bell peppers
3 yellow bell peppers

6 zucchinis, cut into 3/8-inch slices on the diagonal

Cut peppers into their natural segments, then trim curvy parts top and bottom (save for use in salad). Remove seeds. Flatten each piece on a baking sheet lined with foil. (the foil comes into play, wait!)

Place under broiler on top shelf in oven, skin side up, until black, about 10 min. Remove from oven. Enclose peppers inside the foil to sweat the skins off. After 10 min or so, remove skins. I like to do this under running water.

For the zucchini, brush tops with marinade. Gang up slices on foil-lined baking trays. Put under the broiler for 6 min, flip, broil another 5 min. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the trays.


2 TB olive oil
2 pkgs baby spinach
1 TB raw agave
3 TB red wine vinegar

Heat a large pan over medium heat, add oil. Wilt spinach, add agave and vinegar, cook for about 1 min. (Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches.) Transfer spinach to strainer, press down to remove excess liquid.


roasted yellow peppers
goat cheese, softened
roasted zucchini
cooked spinach
tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch horizontal slices

Layer ingredients in this order, pushing down between each layer:

1. yellow peppers
2. goat cheese
3. zucchini
4. spinach
5. tomatoes
6. goat cheese
7. zucchini
8. spinach
9. goat cheese
10. red peppers.
Cover and refrigerate. Cut into stacks when ready to serve.

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

Unusual Hummus: Avocado & Peas & Black Tahini

Posted on: July 2nd, 2014 by Ellen Swandiak

This party dip is a green-powered, most unusual hummus. The color is dazzling, especially paired with the crispbreads. Why add avocado? The bonus is that avocados contribute the “good fat” along with 20 vitamins and minerals. Add to that green peas’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and raw tahini’s calcium, zinc, fiber, and B vitamins and you may just be floating on cloud nine.

I wanted to create a party menu focused on super foods for those who want to party, but not feel the guilt. This recipe turned out to be a beauty. Using raw tahini, made with black sesame seeds, adds to the color density; if you use regular tahini, the green will be brighter. Make this just before the gathering, so it will keep its color. Serve with Crispbread with Mixed Seeds for a super-duper healthy and tasty combo.



frozen peas, thawed
2 ripe avocados, cut into chunks
1/4 CUP grape seed oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice from 1 lemon
3 TB tahini
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
s + p
broccoli sprouts, for garnish

Process all ingredients in food processor. Transfer to shallow serving bowl, sprinkle with broccoli sprouts. Serve with pita chips or Crispbread with Mixed Seeds.