Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters
Candied Pepitas, Creme Fraiche, Pink Peppercorns

Is it a drink? Is it a soup? Is it an amuse bouche? Yes. Yes. Yes. Complex in flavor and compact in presentation – these kabocha shooters are excellent for Fall entertaining. Kabocha, a winter squash also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a delectable taste with beautiful flesh the color of turning Autumn leaves.

The soup’s sweet profile includes nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar while the savory side contains caramelized onion, garlic, ginger, and dry sherry. The roasted squash is blended with the various ingredients and a touch of cream. All this flavor is packed into a little shot glass where a rich cultured cream floats atop and a sticky-candied-crunchy pumpkin seed garnish is perched on the side.

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters Recipe

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Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

Crimini Mushroom Soup

Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

I’m a bit embarrassed to showcase three hot soups in a row because the weather this winter in Southern California has been absolutely beautiful.

Yes, we would love more rain for our thirsty environment, but we keep seeing sunny 70°F + days… week after week. So, my Chicago family and friends and everyone Back East with shovels in hand, I am dedicating these three soups to you. Stay warm kids!

The crimini mushroom, also known as baby bella, is actually a young portobella. They are earthy and more flavorful than common white button mushrooms, therefore an excellent choice for mushroom soup. When paired with velvety rich and tangy crème fraîche, the result is a heavenly bowl of warming potage, no matter the outside temperature.

Soup #3

Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

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Ringing in a Dazzling and Delicious New Year!

New Year's Eve Appetizer

Ringing in a Dazzling and Delicious New Year!
Beggar’s Purses
and
British Cheese Toasts

Happy New Year Friends! May it be filled with dazzling and delicious dishes. And no shortage of exceptional adult beverages either. We are ringing in 2018 with a couple fabulous appetizers…pairing them with outstanding Champagne and Single Malt Scotch.

Champagne, smoked salmon, and caviar are an undisputed flavor trifecta. Here, premium smoked salmon is stuffed with a dollop of creme fraiche, then tied into an adorable bundle and topped with caviar.  Toasted brioche is the perfect vehicle for serving these little beggar’s purses, although a knife and fork are required. Forever elegant NV Billecart-Salmon Rosé is totally enchanting, with flavors of sweet spice and wild strawberries, it continues to be the Champagne that should be married to smoked salmon. And not just because of the name.

Our second appetizer is designed to pair with Scotch Whisky. Rich salty cave-aged English cheddar heightens the sweet notes in the Scotch. Peppery arugula and pickled watermelon radish offer the perfect counterpoints. Talisker Single Malt is from Carbost, Scotland on the Isle of Skye, it’s full-flavored and wonderfully peaty, with compelling flavors and brisk scents of the seashore in every luscious sip.

New Year's Eve Appetizer

Beggar’s Purse and British Cheese Toast Recipes

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An Elegant Little Starter: Scallop & Melted Leek Pasta

scallop, melted leek pasta, elegant first course, valentine's day appetizer

Pan-Seared Sea Scallop over Melted Leek Pasta
Lemon Creme Fraiche, Caviar, Celery & Garlic-Chive Flower Garnish

An opalescent sea scallop sits atop a dreamy melted leek angel hair pasta. Glossy black caviar and lemony cream fraiche adorn the scallop. Pretty white garlic chive blossoms and pale green celery leaves finish the dish.

These dry pack, wild caught, Atlantic sea scallops retail for well over $20/lb. U10 sea scallops are the largest available and have a sweet, rich buttery taste. They contain no preservatives or additives and will not ooze liquid during the cooking process, unlike wet scallops that have been soaked in a phosphate solution. Dry scallops caramelize naturally during cooking to a gorgeous golden brown crust. Though definitely not inexpensive, this luxurious dish can be made for just over $3 per plate by using black lumpfish caviar rather than the more extravagant sturgeon varieties. Black lumpfish caviar is clean and crunchy with a pronounced salty sea flavor.

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For Your Next Party: Sturgeon Two Ways

smoked sturgeon, purple potato, caviar
the purple course:
smoked sturgeon and transmontanus caviar

purple potato with olive oil and fleur de sel
creme fraiche, single chive, garlic flower

catering, caviar party
Sturgeon Two Ways was one of seven courses we served at the fundraising dinner for our school this weekend. Transmontanus caviar and smoked sturgeon were paired simply with purple potato, a petite dollop of creme fraiche plus the plain adornment of a single chive and a pretty garlic flower. The society garlic blossoms have a distinct garlicky flavor which pair well with savory dishes. We deemed this the “purple course.”

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Persimmon Tarte Tatin, Crème Fraîche

persimmon tarte tatin

Fuyu Persimmon Tarte Tatin

Persimmon is a most understood fruit. Those who “hate” persimmon probably do so as a result of a confusion between fuyu and hachiya varieties.

If you attempted to eat an unripe hachiya, that is certainly the cause of your disgust. An unripe hiachya is super-tannic and can taste like chalk or bark. Or worse. Its astringency makes it totally unpalatable. A fully ripe hachiya, however, has the consistency of jelly and is sweet and rich. And a ripe fuyu has a firm texture and tastes like a honey-flavored apple. Now, who “hates” that?

Persimmon has the pizzazzy color and flavor of autumn and makes a great fruit for a tarte tatin. Be sure to use fuyu persimmons and save the RIPE hachiya for something else.

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