Category Archives: entertaining

Welcome to Ciao Fiore!

Che piacere vederti! How nice it is to see you!
Benvenuto Amici!
Welcome Friends!

Welcome to the Grand Opening of Ciao Fiore! An enchanting outdoor ristorante on the Mediterranean Coast featuring alfresco dining in an ambrosial garden. Chefs Norma from Platanos, Mangoes & Me!, Debi from Table Talk, and Lori Lynn from Taste With The Eyes are collaborating and cooking together in a virtual Italian cucina to create a captivating five-star four-course meal enhanced with edible flowers and herbs dal giardino.

Il Menu

ANTIPASTI TAVOLA
Ricotta Fresca, Arugula Flowers
Roasted Vegetables
Italian Sausages and Prosciutto
Assorted Breads and Focaccia
Giardiniera – Pickled Vegetables and Olives
Mixed Greens with Nasturtium Flowers

RISOTTO
Meyer Lemon & Pink Rose Petal Risotto

PRIMO
Pan-Seared Branzino with Cucumber Salmoriglio
Over a Wild Arugula Salad with Cannellini Beans & Feta
Garnished with Borage Blossoms

DOLCE
Lavender & Mascarpone Panna Cotta with Strawberry Caviar
Chocolate Arancini and Pistachio Creme Anglaise
Garnished with Micro Flowers

(please click on the menu heading for complete recipes of all the menu items)

Relax and Enjoy the View

To begin your experience here at Ciao Fiore! we’d like you to offer you a glass of Prosecco infused with our wild hibiscus flowers. Then, at your leisure, help yourselves to the fabulous offerings on the antipasti tavola. Don’t miss our ricotta fresca, try this fresh cheese on the homemade bread with roasted peppers, sprinkled with peppery arugula flowers. Please have at seat on the terrace at the seaside table and enjoy the view of the sparkling blue Mediterranean while you relax and savor the first course.

Antipasti Tavola
Seaside Table
Arugula Flowers
Ricotta Fresca
Nasturtium
Prosecco Infused with Wild Hibiscus
Blue Hibiscus

We hope you enjoyed the first course with-a-view at Ciao Fiore! Now if you’ll please follow me to your table in the garden area where we’ll be serving the primo and dolce courses. Watch your step. As we stroll through our gardens you’ll notice all the various flowers and herbs that grace our menu. Chefs Norma, Debi, and Lori Lynn are passionate about using the beautiful color, texture, and flavor of edible flowers to enhance every dish.

To the Garden...
Garden Table
Meyer Lemon & Pink Rose Petal Risotto

For the risotto our Chef says that the aromas of citrus plus floral make for a heady perfume. She adds just a hint of rose water plus a chiffonade of “passionate kisses” rose petals to transform this creamy citrus risotto into a blissful dish.

Our Meyer Lemon Tree
Pan-Seared Branzino, Cucumber Salmoriglio, Borage

Fresh from the sea pan-seared fillets are served with salmoriglio, a Sicilian fish sauce made with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and herbs. For our Grand Opening, this particular version of the classic sauce is enhanced with Meyer lemon confit, red chiles, cucumber, and Castelvetrano olives.

Fishing Boat off the Coast

Our Chefs feel fortunate to have fresh-caught fish delivered to our restaurant daily. It’s simply not possible to get branzino any fresher than here at Ciao Fiore!

Borage Blossoms to Mirror the Color of the Sea
Borage & Lavender
Maso Canali Pinot Grigio

Our Sommelier at Ciao Fiore! recommends enjoying the primo course with a crisp dry white wine. She suggests a Maso Canali 2009 Pinot Grigio from Trentino’s finest hillside vineyards. It’s well-balanced with light citrus aromas, fresh acidity, and a long clean finish.

Ciao Fiore! Edible Gardens
Dessert Plate

Our Pastry Chef adds frozen chocolate ganache to the center of a risotto ball before rolling it in bread crumbs and frying. Once out of the oil, these arancini are rolled in a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar. The warm chocolate center spills out like lava with the first bite. They are pretty amazing.

Lavender
Lavender & Mascarpone Panna Cotta with Strawberry Caviar

By employing molecular cooking techniques our Pastry Chef transforms her strawberry sauce into strawberry caviar, tiny micro pearls that burst in the mouth. She flavors the creamy mascarpone panna cotta with the bountiful lavender in our the garden.

Micro Flowers
Chocolate Arancini and Pistachio Creme Anglaise

The Pistachio Creme Anglaise gives the plate a nutty warmth which brings the dessert elements together. It is really nice with a spoonful of the panna cotta, and equally enjoyable as a dip for the chocolate arancini.

Would you care for a cappuccino to sip alongside your dessert course? The garden setting at Ciao Fiore! is tranquil, here we hope you will savor all that the Mediterranean Coast has to offer. Feel free to linger just a little while longer…

Arrivederci! Thank You for Visiting Ciao Fiore!

Ciao Fiore! is a Virtual Restaurant
participating in
The 5 Star Makeover Cooking Group “Restaurant Wars” Competition

Links to all the competing restaurants will be posted Friday (here).

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Bison Meatballs with Pickled Red Onions, Avocado Relish & Spicy Aji Amarillo Sauce

hosted by 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks!

Okay, here we are; the first 5 Star Makeover event of the year! As you can see from the images above, this month’s challenge is meatballs.

I have to say,  I am a lover of all meatballs, from all over the world. Whether they are served  Italian style atop spaghetti with red sauce, lamb meatballs with Mediterranean spices, Morrocan, Swedish, or Thai (like the ones I made here).

Among my favorites are the pescetarian versions made from fish and shellfish.  Even vegetarian meatballs are okay with me too; especially if we count arancini in the meatball category.

There  so many directions to go with this challenge. It really left the gates wide open for creativity.

I decided to go with an appetizer presentation, and thought it would be nice to make bison star of the ball.

 Bison is much lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than beef. Grass-fed, bison is  rich in vitamins, minerals, and flavor! January resolutions are well underway, and if you are looking for new ways to celebrate healthier eating, swapping out some bison in place of  beef in your favorite recipes is one small change that may help you along the way.

So here we go: Bison Meatballs with Pickled Red Onions, Avocado Relish, and Spicy Aji Amarillo Sauce.

I used Panko bread crumbs in the meatball mix to keep them light in texture, then baked them off in the oven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to go with bold , colorful flavors,  like pickled red onions, and avocado relish in lieu of  heavier ingredients, keeping the healthier look at meatballs in mind.  To finish the dish, I made a spicy sauce with Aji Amarillo paste (look for in latino markets or online) which added some nice heat to my Greek yogurt sauce.

We really enjoyed these spicy little bites, and I hope you will too!

Don’t forget to check with 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro Cooks! on Friday for the roundup of recipes from our cooking group.  I have seen a sneak peak at what they have been working on, and I know we are in for a treat!

Bison Meatballs with Pickled Red Onions, Avocado Relish, and S

 

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 milk

1 pound ground bison

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon minced serrano chile (seeded)

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Pickled Red Onions (recipe follows)

Avocado Relish(recipe follows)

Aji Amarillo Sauce (recipe follows)

 

Garnish:

Minced habanero pepper

Finely chopped cilantro

 

For meatballs:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place Panko bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Add milk, toss to combine, and allow mixture to soften for a few minutes. Add bison and remaining ingredients. Mix together using your hands, to combine ingredients.

 

Shape bison mixture into 11/2-inch balls and place onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until fully cooked.

 

Assembly:

 

Place a pinch of pickled red onions in the bottom of tasting spoon (or plate). Place meatball atop pickled onions, followed by about 1 teaspoon of relish. Drizzle meatball with Aji Amarillo Sauce, and garnish with minced habanero pepper and cilantro

Makes 12 meatballs

 

Pickled Red Onions

3/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons  sugar
Pinch of salt
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian red pepper flakes
1 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings

In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling.Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds.Remove from heat and let cool completely.Transfer the onions and the liquid into a jar then refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Avocado Relsih

1/2 English cucumber, quartered, seeds removed

1 small avocado, pitted, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped grape tomatoes

1 teaspoon olive oil

Juice from half of a lime

2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon honey

Generous pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl, tossing well to blend flavors.

 

Aji Amarillo Sauce

6 ounces Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon grated ginger root

1 1/2 teaspoons aji amarillo paste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

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Supper Club Press & Friends at the Table Cookbook Giveaway

It’s beginning to look a lot like…..

~The perfect time to start a supper club, or rekindle the one you are already in!

I’m excited to share a few pieces of press that are out right now. Shameless self promotion (I know)…but I am excited.

The article I wrote about the supper club trend is featured in the December issue of  Costco Connection magazine. If you are not a subscriber, click here to read the online version.

 

Virginia Living Magazine captures a look at my own supper club, complete with photos from an evening at my house with recipes from my book, perfect for holiday entertaining. Here’s a look at one of the pics:

 

Photo by Kip Dawkins

In the spirit of celebration, I would like to share a recipe from my book (one of my favorite salads actually) that I hope you will enjoy in celebration sometime over the holidays with your friends at the table. — And since we are in the season of giving, I  am  giving away copy of my cookbook, personalized and shipped to one lucky winner!

Here’s what you need to do to enter (you have 4 ways to increase your chances):

1. Leave a comment telling me you would like to win a copy of Friends at the Table. *If you are leaving a comment as “anonomous”, please be sure to include your email address in your comment so that I may contact you if you are the winner.

2.  Follow me on  Twitter and then tweet about the contest by copying and pasting the following: Entered to win a copy of Friends at the Table: The Ultimate Supper Club  #Cookbook #giveaway on Table Talk http://tinyurl.com/d4znz4w

3. “Like” the www.debishawcross page on Facebook and leave a comment here to let me know. If you already like me on Facebook, just leave a comment here telling me so.

4. Stumble this post on Stumble Upon and let me know you did here with a comment.


  1. Giveaway entry period begins Friday, December 2nd,  and ends Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held Monday, December 12, 2011 at 9:00am (All times are Eastern Time zone) and announced the same day.
  2. Comments will be numbered by order received and random.org will generate a random number for the winner. Please note: If you want to enter more than once, the separate comments for each entry are required (a necessary step for keeping track of entry numbers).
  3. **Limited to residents of the  United States
  4. I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  5. Winner must respond and claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement. If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.


Best of luck!

And now for the recipe I promised:

Photo by Ron Manville

Lobster Salad with Roasted Peppers, Miso Dressing and Goat Cheese

Salad:

6 cups mixed field greens

Meat from 2 steamed (1 1/2 pound) lobsters, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch strips

2 yellow bell peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch strips

5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

For the salad: Place the greens, lobster and peppers in a salad bowl and add enough dressing to coat. Toss well. Top with sprinkles of goat cheese.

Dressing:

4 tablespoons miso paste

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons grated ginger root

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Juice from 2 oranges

1 teaspoon tahini paste

For the dressing: Whisk together the miso paste, vinegar, ginger, garlic, pepper, orange juice, and tahini in a small bowl. Set aside.

8 servings

 

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