Chimichurri Variation

One of the most delicious things that I have found on my visits to Argentina is the chimichurri that is often served with their steaks. As I was playing around with some herbs from my garden and what happened to be in my fridge, I came up with this variation on the Argentinean classic. It is quick, easy, and tasty! Try it out and play with your own variations on it! Log in and post your results below as well.

1 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
½ sweet onion (vidalia)
¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
3-4 mini bell peppers
1/3 cup kalamata olives
3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
3 tbsp chopped basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
juice from half a lemon
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sea salt

Peel and press the garlic. Chop the onion very finely and cut the leaves of the herbs into razor thin short strips. Mix this together with the chili pepper and vinegar. Add two thirds of the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Chop the peppers and olives very finely and add to the mix along with the oregano. Stir well and taste it. Does it need more of something? Go ahead and add it according to your taste. Add remaining olive oil until you reach a desired consistency. Enjoy with a steak or fresh bread!

Mushroom Cambozola Pasta

You never go wrong with pasta and you never go wrong with cheese. Combining both must then be a surefire win! This recipe was created when I discovered some cheese and mushrooms in the fridge that would have gone bad in a few days so I had to use them somehow. The result was delicious and filling enough to induce a food coma. Try it for yourself and report back with your results!

This was made with mushroom ravioli, but fettuccine would also work

Ingredients: (4 servings)
1 lb. Pasta – ravioli, penne or fettuccine all work great!
1 cup Cambozola cheese (or blue cheese)
1 tbsp Gorgonzola
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 oz. Brandy
1/2 cup frozen Green Peas
1 pint Mushrooms (portobello, shitake, or chanterelle varieties work great!)
Handful of Walnuts
1 small Shallot
3 Garlic Cloves (pressed)
1/3 cup red wine
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt

Slice the mushrooms. Chop the shallot finely and press the garlic cloves. Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet or saute pan. Heat it to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Stir after a few minutes and let them continue to cook. When they start to get a darker color after about 4-5 minutes, add the shallot and lower to medium heat. After another minute, add the garlic and let it cook for about a minute before adding the red wine. Let it continue cooking until most of the wine is gone. Take it off the heat and toss in the walnuts. Set aside.
Start boiling water with the salt for the pasta in a large pot. Cook the pasta according to instructions.
Mix the cheeses with brandy and cream in a saucepan. Heat while stirring until it all melts and then add the green peas. Let it simmer while stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the sauce and let it simmer a bit more.
Layer the sauce with the pasta on the plate and then add the mushroom-walnut mix on top before drizzling a little bit more sauce on it. Cutting some fresh parsley over it will add some color and freshness of flavor.

Baked Pear with Almond Cream & Brandy Caramel Sauce

This became an instant favorite when I made it the first time. It can be done very simply if you use pre-made ingredients, but require a little more work if you want to do everything from scratch. Nothing about it is difficult, though!

3-5 Pears (depending on size)
2 tbsp Brown sugar
2 tbsp Butter (unsalted)
2 tbsp Almond paste*
¼ tsp Cardamom seeds (crushed)
1/8 tsp Anise seeds (crushed)
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
¼ cup Sliced almonds
1 ½ oz. Brandy
Caramel Sauce*

Mix the sugar, butter, almond paste, and a little more than 1 oz. brandy in a bowl. Add the anise and cinnamon after crushing them with pestle and mortar or other method.
Cut the pears in half length-wise and scoop out the center with a melon-baller or spoon. Cut a thin slice off the bottom to create a flat surface. Place the pears in a deep dish with the centers facing up.
Distribute the mixture to the center holes of the pears and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Last, add the sliced almonds on top of it all. Put a half tbsp of butter at the bottom of the dish.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with almond infused whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

*These items can easily be made at home (recipes below) or purchased pre-made.

Almond Paste Recipe:
4 oz. almonds
2 bitter almonds or 2 drops of bitter almond extract
3 oz. powdered sugar
1/2 egg white (optional)

Blanch the almonds by putting them in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Let them dry on a paper towel and then remove the skins.
Grind the almonds finely and mix with the other ingredients until you have a smooth paste and then roll it up in some wax paper. Store in the refrigerator.

Caramel Sauce Recipe:
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter (unsalted, room temperature)
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Splash of Brandy

Place the sugar in a thick-bottomed sauce pan

and heat over medium heat while stirring. When it starts becoming clear and amber-like in color, add the butter and stir until melted. Then add the cream and allow it to boil for 2 minutes. Add a splash of brandy and stir again. Let sit and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Burrata with Cucumber Mint Salad

Tonight’s appetizer was born out of the philosophy of creating with what’s at hand. I only had one small heirloom tomato left and was making dinner for three people so after diving into the fridge I came up with this recipe, which ended up being a big hit.

Chop up some hot house cucumber with fresh mint leaves and add some finely chopped leek and shallot. Toss with a little salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Then chop up some kalamata olives and heirloom tomato and add to the mix. Place a bed of the mix on a plate and place some room temperature burrata cheese on top. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve. Let me know how it turned out for you after you try it!

Mango Salsa

This is one of easiest and most delicious snack items one can make. You just chop it all up and mix it. That’s pretty much all there’s too it. The biggest challenge is making sure to chop it finely enough and to peel the mango. I have some great tools and tips for that, though.

2-3 Mangoes–peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup fresh cilantro—chopped with mostly leaves and no coarse stems
1 finely chopped small jalapeno
¼ tsp chili flakes
juice from ½ squeezed lime

Chop all the ingredients and stir together in a bowl and add the lime juice last. Let it sit for about an hour in the fridge for the flavors to blend, but you can also serve it directly.

Variations & Tips:
Use serrano pepper if you want more heat to the salsa. The sweetness of the mangoes will temper some of the heat. If you want a milder salsa, omit the seeds and pith from the pepper. You can also choose a milder pepper, such as poblano.
Yellow mangoes tend to be sweeter and juicier than the red/green larger variant. For the salsa, I prefer the smaller mangoes.

How to Peel a Mango:
This Mango cutter tool makes it quick and easy to cut and peel the mango. The first cut will separate the pit. After that, you can easily scrape the peel off against the sides of the plastic part. Cut the remaining fruit off the pit, chop it all up, and you are done!

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Cherry Clafoutis

July is a great time for cherries. As I was popping some cherries this afternoon, I started thinking: what yummy thing could I make with cherries? A classic French cherry clafoutis seemed like a great idea so that’s what I decided to make! It’s a simple and easy dessert to make, but it tastes divinely good. My dinner guests (and myself) went for immediate second servings without hesitation!
Please try the recipe below and let me know what you think. I would love to see some pictures of your creation as well!

1 pound of red cherries (450 g) (Less if pitted in advance)
1 cup whole milk (or 2% with a splash of cream) (2 ½ dl)
3 eggs
½ cup granulated sugar (1 dl+)
2 tbsp butter (unsalted is better)
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
½ cup all-purpose flour (1 dl+)
a pinch of salt

1. Pit the cherries and soak them in an ounce of cognac or brandy with a tablespoon of granulated sugar mixed in. Let it sit for about an hour while stirring occasionally.
2. Heat the oven to 325-350 degrees. (My oven tends to run hot, so I set it at 325, but 350 should work well for most ovens. That’s 175 degrees Celsius.) Cover a baking dish (about 1 ½- 2 inches (4-5 cm) tall at least) with softened butter. Then place the fruit at the bottom of the dish, pretty much covering it completely. Melt the rest of the butter.
3. Mix the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, and melted butter in a blender or bowl. Mix using a mixer and then add the flour. Mix it some more and then pour it all over the baking dish covering the fruit.
4. Put it in the oven for 45-55 minutes until it is set and a test stick in the center comes out only slightly wet. Be careful to not let it cook too long. You want to look for a consistency that is similar to a flan.
5. Serve with whipped cream or as is with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

– Instead of cherries, add 2 tbsp cocoa powder to the batter and use banana and chocolate chunks as filling.
– Reduce the amount of cherries by about 40% and add 50g of chopped dark chocolate (unsweetened if possible) and half a cup of coarsely chopped blanched almonds. Serve with whipped cream with a dash of Kahlua in it.
– Soak blueberries in red wine and some sugar and use instead of cherries.
– Zest one orange and add the zest to the batter.
– Add a few drops of Grand Marnier or Kahlua to the whipping cream.
– Serve with ice cream instead of whipped cream.
– Make individual portions in 6-8 oz ramekins (Bake for 15-20 minutes in this case)