Light, Tangy, Savory, Crumbly…. trust me, you WANT to make this so you can look like a hero at your next dinner party. This recipe isn’t easy-peasy, however you can utilize all the components together or even enjoy them separately!
Thank you to all that came to our first pop-up Source! It was a successful evening filled with great food and incredible people… pictures coming soon… for more details stay tuned!
It’s one of those evenings where I want something deliciously warm, seasonal, and light…and it’s been a long day so I’m about ready to relax and want something that can also be whipped up fast. Hence, I turn to Dover sole and Serrano ham for help! Simply- seasoned Dover sole is wrapped in Serrano then seared on the stove briefly and finished in the oven. Fresh seasonal veggies: fava, asparagus, and shiitake complement the savory fish and everything is served over a creamy cauliflower-thyme puree. Time to eat…
For a light little snack I decided to borrow a friend from the sea. As an oyster lover (raw or cooked), I wanted to try something new this time. Believe it or not…I had never fried an oyster. Being from New England, these beauties are plucked from the sea and served raw more times than not. However, why go with the path you’ve always taken… ? Enter the seasonal elements: Frisee, Lemon, and Leeks! Who would have known these items plus my oysters were a culinary match made in heaven? So what is it that you’re looking at….quite simply a fried oyster. The oysters are coated with a dash of salt and pepper, then dusted with a sifting of a cornmeal and flour mixture. In the meantime, I like to heat up a medium skillet with 2 inches of peanut oil. I grab another skillet and add a drizzle of olive oil then cut, clean, and reserve the white stalk of few leeks. Once this skillet is heated (medium heat), I add the rounds of the leek stalks to the pan (so they get a tad crispy). In the home stretch, I dress and drizzle some lemon juice and olive oil on my frisee, again seasoning with salt and pepper. Just before I am about to fry my oysters, I make a lemon aioli and add just a touch of Sriracha to it. My peanut oil once nice and hot is ready for my oysters. They get gently placed in the oil. After a minute I turn them once and let them sit just one other minute. Two minute max! These little gems get pulled out and rest on a paper towel and once they have rested for a moment, this delicious dish is then assembled as you see above!
Since Fall has arrived in style, I celebrated it’s arrival with a warm and earthy dinner of seasonal local foods! That glistening bird you see there is none-other than a cornish game hen. Basted in a skillet with a generous amount of butter and thyme, the little bird is then placed in the oven to continue it’s cooking as well as crisp-up. Nestled away beneath the hen is a quinoa, spinach, shiitake mushroom, shallot, olive oil, and goat cheese stuffing. The yummy meal was then complete with some simple grilled radicchio.
My new favorite salad! Arugula tossed with lemon and olive oil, served with roasted golden beets, shallots, zebra tomatoes, goat cheese, pickled green beans and of course a poached egg. With salads I do not typically provide measurements as they are dishes that everyone should be comfortable making (for the most part) without a recipe. So look at this post not as a recipe, but as inspiration!!!
A Salad Hearty Enough for Dinner! …Featuring:
– Zebra Tomatoes (thinly sliced)
– Roasted Golden Beets (peeled and quartered)
– Shallots (thinly sliced)
-Pickled Green Beans
Guest Starring: Lemon, Olive Oil, Goat Cheese, and Poached Egg
1. Pickle Green Beans (see below), and in the meantime preheat oven to 350.
2. Next, put beets into a pan, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper put into preheated oven. Bake covered for about 20 minutes, then remove cover and bake another 25 minutes until beets are tender and can be pierced with a fork.
4. In a bowl add the arugula, beets, tomatoes, & shallots. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper, then add a squeeze of lemon. Toss well and gently with your hands. Taste arugula and adjust as needed.
5. Plate dressed salad and top with crumbled goat cheese, poached egg, and pickled green beans.
Pickled Green Beans
– 1 1/2 cups of distilled white vinegar
– 1 1/2 tbsp honey
– big pinch of salt
– 3 whole allspice
– 1/4 tsp coriander
– 1/4 tsp black pepper corns
– 1/4 tsp mustard seed
– 1 cup green beans
• Place green beans in glass container and stick everything in the jar with them with the exception of the vinegar, honey, and salt. Bring the vinegar, honey, and salt to a boil on the stove top, then pour over everything in the container. Leave uncovered until cool. Once cool serve or place in the refrigerator until they needed.
From There to Here (Part Deux)
…After all my houseguests departed, I had a bit of “empty nest syndrome”. Luckily, I had enough work to keep me busy. Aside from the charity events Alejandra and I had been doing, we also had numerous high profile events throughout the month. With that said, our chance to plan a private and intimate French-Fusion menu was by far the the best use of !!! If you know me, you’ll know my adoration is deeply rooted in this tasty cuisine. French food: I like to eat it, I like to cook it. Simple as that. Check it out (these pictures were kindly donated to us from the evening (courtesy of our clients):
~amuse of fennel, mint, and pea soup with lime caviar~
~market beet salad, goat cheese crouton & fig, orange & chive vinaigrette ~
~amuse of salmon mouse, lemon crème fraiche, dill, & caviar~
~scallops & littlenecks in white wine broth, red pepper oil, & garlic crouton~
~black cod, chanterelles over potato gratin with braised leeks & lemon oil~
~spiced filet mignon, cabernet sauce, brussel leaves with celery root & turnip puree~
~nectarine tart with thyme & brown sugar pastry, duo of caramels, & spiced vanilla ice cream (a tad melty after posing for a picture opp)~
After a crazy September it was off to Napa at the beginning of this month (October 2011).
We were graciously welcomed to Judd’s Hill Winery to learn the process of crush. “Crush” is the time of year when wineries begin to pick the grapes off the vines and start the process of turning those grapes into wine. Truth be told, if people knew what it took to make wine, (from vine to bottle) they’d never waste a drop. Seriously, producing a great wine is an art…and I’m thankful we got to see the master artists at work. Prior to this I thought I knew about the wine-making process…I was so wrong!
While the time spent at Judd’s made me more appreciative and knowledgeable about the process of wine-making, I think I was more in awe of Judd himself. His zest for what he does is feverishly contagious. He and his family live wine. Somehow I swear this love of his makes his wine that much better. Nowadays I can’t help but think, “I know how you feel…” every time I see someone else doing what it is they love. It simply reinforces all the decisions I’ve made this past year and let’s me know I’m on the right track.
Sometimes pictures are better than words, therefor in honor of the visit, I put together a picture montage…
(View from Auberge du Soleil, breathtaking)
~the lovely Judd himself, truly a person that loves making wine (on top of it he makes a mean brisket)~
~view looking out from the winery~
~did you know grapes are self-pollinating grape? how fascinating is that…~
~a visit to Quintessa vineyard and winery~
~lots of delicious wine~
~no words needed~
~the best part of every morning while in Napa, the winery mascot: Nutmeg~
Let’s be honest, Napa was work, but it wasn’t void of play. We had an opportunity to network while enjoying the most insanely-good- farm-to-table meals. Although perfection sums up the description of everyone of our meals, we were also able to enjoy private tours, the Napa wine train, and a picnic at V Sattui.
Best news of all…we get to head back to Napa in December. Happy Holidays to me!
Since this was a rather long interview with one of Sun Sentinel’s best, I thought I would include it as a blog post. This was the first and only time I shared such personal info. Hope you like it!
Check out the article: HERE
“I live in a beach house in Venice with two roommates,” Kontos says. “Talk about a change from Coral Springs.”
Dozens of South Floridians have appeared on reality shows. But few have had their life trajectory altered quite like Kontos.
“I honestly went to change my life,” says Kontos. “I was unhappy with my job. I was unhappy with aspects of my life. When I went on the show, I was happy again.”
Happy, but not because of the fame she knew would be short-lived, rather because she was cooking. Every day.
“I really did go there to cook, $250,000 is a lot of money and I wanted it. I was hoping hard work and integrity would pay off. I wasn’t going to go on a reality show and change who I was,” she says. “I knew there was life after the show and I wanted to be able to hold my head up high.”
While she did tell another contestant she was going to “kick your ass,” she mostly stayed above the reality TV fray, cooking her way through challenge after challenge. She created an amazing Pistachio-encrusted salmon with roasted fennel and asparagus from a so-called mystery box challenge. She got teary when Lidia Bastianich appeared on an episode because the Italian-American chef was a reminder of her Italian-American grandmother back home in Massachusetts.
Sylvie Gervais, her next-door neighbor in Coral Springs, accompanied her to Orlando in November for the “MasterChef” auditions, and taste-tested Kontos’ entry: a classic onion tart.
“She made me eat her tart 10 times [before the auditions],” Gervais says. “Every day she was coming to my house and I was sick of it. I didn’t want to say so, so I told her I was on a diet. The closer she was to the casting, her tart got worse. She was putting too much salt in it. Another time, she was using cheap balsamic vinegar.”
Gervais, a wine educator and owner of Unfiltered Wine Consulting, told her not to cheap out on ingredients.
She also helped prepare her for the challenges she would face on the show. One night, after leaving Market 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Gervais told her she wanted a chocolate souffle.
“Make me chocolate souffle in one hour!” she told Kontos. “By 1 o’clock in the morning, we were eating souffle. It was perfect.”
Gervais couldn’t be happier with the turn Kontos’ life has taken.
“All of the messages I send her on Facebook and Twitter are about following your dreams,” Gervais says. “I remember when she was unhappy working in sales and she was always coming home and cooking.”
After the competition, Kontos accepted an offer from the “MasterChef” judges — Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliotand Joe Bastianich — to cook in their restaurants. She worked as a stage, a classical French kitchen position where you do a bit of everything to help the chef, at Elliot’s eponymous Chicago eatery and Del Posto, the New York City restaurant owned by Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali.
“I learned how to make Mario Batali’s pasta, which is something I’ll be forever grateful for and never share,” Kontos says.
“After the ‘MasterChef’ experience, people don’t question if you went to school,” says Schrader. “Gordon Ramsay said you were amazing despite not having training. It has opened a huge number of doors for us.”
Kontos and Schrader say they are pretty much booked through October. They’ve got a daytime gig catering lunch for a 30-member office Monday to Friday. Last weekend, they fed 200 hungry motorcyclists raising money for veterans. They’ve cooked in private homes for birthdays and anniversaries. Schrader sees a cookbook in her future.
Kontos, who was an international flight attendant before her sales career, would like to host a travel food show. This year, she’ll be happy to make half of what she made in sales.
While Kontos officially moved to California in July, she’ll never forget a lesson she learned in South Florida. She was and remains a mentor to a 13-year-old girl in foster care at the SOS Children’s Village in Coconut Creek. A conversation between them was a big part of what inspired Kontos to audition.
“She asked me one day what I wanted to be when I was her age,” says Kontos. “I told her I wanted to be a chef. ‘Then why don’t you be a chef, Miss Tracy?'”
I'm a chef committed to bringing people together through food. Lover of sustainable farming, travel, entertaining...the list goes on! Thanks so much for joining me here. xo Read More About Me...