Category Archives: entertaining

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad with Corn, Blue Cheese & Lemony Creme Fraiche Dressing

roasted fingerling potato salad with creme fraiche

When it comes to entertaining in the summer, I like to keep it casual and relaxed. A fun and refreshing cocktail to get the evening started, and then a meal complete with something off the grill, and some really nice make ahead side salads and gratins that feature the farmer’s market’s best ingredients. For dessert, I like to go with something fresh and fruity with things like cherries, peaches, and berries.

I just finished teaching a week of cooking classes the last before summer break, that featured this menu:

Pickled Shrimp & Tomato Skewers

Grilled Tri Tip Steaks with Smoky Steak Sauce

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad with Corn, Blue Cheese, and Lemony Creme Fraiche Dressing

Tomato Gratin with Asiago Bread Crumbs

Individual Bourbon Spiked Cherry Pies

The entire menu was make-ahead friendly,  perfect for serving buffet style, and delicious eaten at room temperature. Exactly what I wanted for my casual no-stess evening.

Having everything ready before  your guests arrive will definitely make you smile. You are sure to have fun, and will feel ready to enjoy that cool refreshing cocktail or two with your guests, instead of running around trying to pull everything together at the last minute.

I posted a picture of the little cherry pies on Instagram before class started…

bourbon spiked cherry pies

but it’s the potato salad that I am featuring today. A spin on traditional potato salad,  I have roasted  the potatoes to bring out their warm, sweet flavor.  Fresh corn & blue cheese also get tossed into the bowl and I used creme fraiche as a base for the dressing, which added a really nice tang.

—–And as long as you have creme fraiche and blue cheese in the mix, why not  really take it over the top and  add in a bit of crispy bacon crumbles too if you like. That combination would go really well alongside some ribs—-and a perfect addition to your Father’s Day grill menu.

Happy summer!

roasted fingerling potato salad with creme fraiche

 

Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad with Corn, Blue Cheese & Lemony Creme Fraiche Dressing
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup creme fraiche
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • Kernels from 3 ears of corn
  • 3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss potatoes together with the olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; transfer to a large baking sheet and roast 45 minutes. Cool potatoes to room temperature.
  2. Whisk together the creme fraiche, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic in a large bowl. Add potatoes, corn, and blue cheese and toss well to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Mix together the Italian parsley, tarragon, and chives in a small bowl. Sprinkle herb mixture over salad and serve.

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Bourbon Shrimp

The groundhog was wrong about his prediction for an early spring around here.  Snow, the last week in March… really?

With another day of yucky weather keeping me inside, I decided to do a little spring cleaning, beginning with my spice cabinet. I discovered an open jar of bourbon smoked sugar that I brought back with me from my visit to GE in Louisville last spring.

As I sorted through jars of salts and spices,  my thoughts kept returning to the smoked sugar, and how it would probably be a good idea to use it up pretty soon; it was opened after all, and would expire soon.

By the time the old spices were tossed and the cabinet was back in presentable order, I had a plan in place for the bourbon smoked sugar. I would make some Bourbon Shrimp. What better way to take away the winter like chill on a cold springtime night than with a little bourbon and a little more bourbon,  right?

bourbon shrimp

Bourbon Shrimp

2 tablespoons bourbon smoked sugar (or dark brown sugar)

1 tablespoon Smoked Spanish Paprika

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 pound (u-15 count) shrimp, tails left on, shelled, deveined

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Combine bourbon smoked sugar and spices in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to combine thoroughly.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook 1-2 minutes on first side, flip shrimp, and cook an additional minute on second side. Reduce heat to medium low and add bourbon; cook 1 minute, scraping bottom of pan as you stir to break up browned bits on bottom of pan. Add butter and stir to combine. Transfer shrimp to a platter and garnish with chopped parsley.

4 appetizer servings

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Stuffed Mussels with Serrano Ham, Spinach, & Garlic Aioli

 

 

It usually takes me a week or so after Thanksgiving passes (an intermission), before I am ready to start hearing Christmas music on the radio, and get into the spirit of the season. I need the time to transition from pumpkins to holly.

I can’t just jump right in. What I can do though, is start thinking about what I want to cook during the holiday season. Menu planning is something that comes naturally for me, and it’s the getting together with family and friends over food and wine part of the season that really gets me excited about celebrating, so today I will share a recipe that I recently served as part of one of my cooking class menus. The ingredients have some Spanish influence, making them a nice addition to a tapas menu, but they also have that special holiday feel to them so sharing some of these with friends would be a very good idea.

The mussels are steamed in a wine broth,  then pulled from their shells, chopped and added to the rest of the filling ingredients: sauteed serrano ham, spinach, and béchamel sauce. Some prep work on the front end, yes. But you are able to assemble the stuffed mussels and refrigerate up to one day ahead before they are topped with garlic aioli and popped under the broiler until golden brown and bubbly.

Even the people in cooking class who thought they didn’t like mussels fell in love with these.

So as you think about inviting friends over to share a glass of wine during the weeks ahead,  I hope you will consider making these go along with your holiday cheer.

Stuffed Mussels with Serrano Ham, Spinach, & Garlic Aioli
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • Aioli:
  • 10 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Mussels:
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 6 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 36 mussels (3 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced ham (serrano, prosciutto, or black forest)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. For Aioli: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place garlic cloves in a very small baking dish. Cover garlic with oil (add enough to completely cover garlic), cover dish with foil, and bake until garlic is soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove garlic cloves with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish to cool. Place cooled garlic, mayonnaise, and vinegar in the base of a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Reserve.
  2. For mussels: Bring the white wine, half of the onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and mussels to a boil in a large covered saucepan over high heat. Once mussels have been cooking 3 minutes, check to see if they have begun to open. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon as they open and transfer to a platter. Cool the mussels. Reduce the cooking liquid down to 2 tablespoons. Strain and reserve the liquid. Remove the mussels from their shells and save ⅔ of their shells. Separate each of the reserved shells into 2 halves. Chop the mussels coarsely and place in a large bowl.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Cook the remaining onion until soft, 7 minutes. Add the spinach and ham to pan with onions, stirring until spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove mixture from pan and add to bowl with chopped mussels.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and cook; stirring 2 minutes. Add the milk and reserved cooking liquid and cook until smooth and very thick. Add to the mussels and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stuff the shells with the mussel mixture. Spread the aioli on top of the mussels and place on a baking sheet. Broil until golden, 10-20 seconds. Serve immediately.
  6. servings

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