January 31, 2013

Chorizo Croquets w/ Cilantro Aoli

This is my first recipe to develop for my Spanish Tapas inspired dinner event this coming February.  I haven't finished the Cilantro Cream/ Aoli recipe yet.  Should be posted shortly.  I did make a Saffron Cream Sauce last night that I will be serving with some Seared Flank Steak.  I served it with a bow tie pasta and chicken.  Everyone loved it.  It has hints of vanilla and lemon.  Recipe... maybe tomorrow.  In the meantime, start thinking about these croquets.  The recipe can be adapted to bake instead of fry.  Just roll them in some olive oil and bake on a sheet at 425 until a nice golden color.  Can also be sauteed lightly in some olive oil.

  • 1 TBSP.  butter
  • 3 TBSP. plain flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups grated manchego cheese
  • 4 ounces roughly minced chorizo sausage
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 cups or or more if needed, finely ground bread crumbs 
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Flour


  1. Melt  butter over medium heat.
  2.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup milk.
  4.  Return to heat, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and stir in  grated manchego and chorizo mince.
  6.  Refrigerate 1 hour. Shape mixture into balls. 
  7. Set up 3 plates for dredging: Coat in flour, then egg wash, and breadcrumbs. 
  8. Chill 1 hour.
  9. Heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a bread cube dropped into the oil turns golden in 10-15 seconds. 
  10. Add 6 balls to the oil and cook until golden. Repeat & Serve.
Serve with Cilantro Aoli sauce. 

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the egg in a food processor, cover, and process until smooth.
  2. Drizzle in  olive oil, until mixture begins to emulsify and look like mayonnaise.
  3. Add in  Dijon, garlic,cumin and cilantro.  Pulse until smooth.
  4. Add the lime juice,salt and pepper.  Pulse.
  5. Pour into a dish and chil until ready to use. 

Directions for store bought mayonnaise:
2 cups mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic
1/2 tsp.Dijon
1 Tbsp. cumin
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a food processor and puree until smooth.  

Grilled Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 large shallots, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine, divided
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream at room temperature
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt to taste
  • Cooked bonless chicken, grilled or sauteed
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook and stir the shallots until they become translucent and tender; stir in garlic and cook until tender and aromatic.
  2. Season with white pepper to taste. 
  3. Add wine and bring to a boil. 
  4.  Set flame to medium and simmer to reduce, about 3/4 cup.
  5. When sauce is no longer boiling, slowly stir in cream, lemon juice and salt. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. 
  6. 6.  Add chicken.  Use with Pasta or rice
I use this in pasta dishes,with sliced steak, and our all time favorite: On top of Island Pork Tenderloin with cous-cous (goes well with heavily spiced meats dishes) . 
Infuse any flavor you like by adding your favorite spice or herb:  tarragon, saffron, thyme....

January 30, 2013

Spanish Inspired Tapas Menu

We have an amazing TAPAS style restaurant here in Southwest Michigan: 
"San Chez is a place that guests  return to time and time again.  It has a uniquely fun atmosphere with the utmost respect for the ingredients they use, AND the community in which we live, work, and dine.

I am catering a couples dinner with a group of young ladies who will help to prepare and serve this meal to about 40-60 guests.  They will have cooking instruction along the way.  My hope is to INSPIRE these girls and give them DESIRE & sense of satisfaction  in preparing  healthy,  homemade meals for their future families.   
So with San Chez as my inspiration, I have created a  TAPAS style menu for an event this coming February.  I have searched the web and perused the boards of  Pinterest  to come up with a dining experience set to satisfy all kinds of party goers.  
The menu is a work in progress. When I cater an event, I often am stuck to my menu, then get worried OR bored with it and change things  at the last minute!   
Right now, I am at my "stuck to the menu" stage bordering on "should I add anything? Should I REPLACE something..." stage. 
Here is my current menu.  There are links to the recipes that are finalized in the development stage. By the end of the week, they should all be complete. I hope.  

De Casa
Tapas Carne 
Skirt Steak w/ Saffron Cream Sauce
Arroz Con Pollo 
Bizochos Borracho 

**I am in the process of developing the menu this week. Bookmark and stop back by-  I will add links as they are completed.   



So what is  “charcuterie”? Pronounced shahr-koo-tuh-ree it is a French word that comes from chair “flesh” and cuit “cooked.” It refers to cooked, cured or smoked meats such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, rillettes, galantines, pâtés and dry-cured sausage
I see a charcuterie platter the same style  as a antipasti platter in Italian dining.  

  Making a Charcuterie plate

Just like a cheese board, a charcuterie platter is an ideal way to serve a party and please all palates. 
from http://blog.dartagnan.com/tag/charcuterie/
  • It should have a range of items representing the various styles of preparation from cooked to dry-cured. 
  • The meats should be complemented by something acidic, like marinated olives, or pickled onions.  
  •  mustard makes a nice accompaniment, as do spreads and jams.   
  • Allow two ounces per person, and serve with a rustic bread or good crackers.
  •  A hearty red wine (but not too heavy) will make a good accompaniment, as would a Riesling or Pinot Grigio.  
Specific Suggestions:

Hard sausage like Salami-  Cervelat and soprasatta
Soft cured meats like serrano and prosciutto

When in doubt, ask your local cheese purveyor what they recommend. I generally try to include both hard and soft cheeses on my boards, with pungent, creamy, and tangy options.
smooth: munster or havarti
strong: gorgonzola or blue
firm: sharp cheddar or an aged Manchego.
3-4 options should do. Choose a few cheeses from a single region

 fig, or apricot jam
seafood spread
Alouette cheese spread

Put simply, you can’t have enough. Buy bread the day of and serve warm in a separate bowl or basket next to your board.
Sourdogh, french baquette; water crackers

Other accompaniments:
marinated olives
bacon-wrapped stuffed dates
horseradish mustard
spiced nuts
dried cherries

January 28, 2013

Parmesan Rosemary Twigs

Photo and recipe from Easy Living


  • 12-15 rosemary stems
  • 5-6 ounces  finely grated parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • *Optional:  Use a Silpat  for easy lifting and evenly browned Parmesan  
  •   Serve along fresh basil,sliced cheese and marinated olives, peppers or salami tucked into tart-let cups. Drizzle them with a good balsamic vinaigrette.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Combine the cheese, thyme and cayenne pepper. Using a dessertspoon, drop even mounds of parmesan cheese on a Silpat (making sure they don't touch each other). Use your fingers to pat the cheese into a thin circle about 3-4cm (1¼-1½in) in diameter. Lay a rosemary stem on the circle. Make sure none of the circles are touching.
  3. http://www.mydemarleathome.com/shop/productdetail.aspx?prod=SP420295
  4. Bake for about 4 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Remove and cool slightly on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve on the day they are made.
  5. Served with marinated olives, fresh basil, your FAVORITE cheese, salami and balsamic vinaigrette  in a tartlet cup. 
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