Tag Archives: makeover

Ciao Fiore! Virtual Italian Cucina

Ciao Fiore Restaurant
Un Ristorante Alfresco Virtuale

***Press Release

Scheduled opening May 28, 2012 of Ciao Fiore! An enchanting outdoor ristorante on the Mediterranean Coast featuring alfresco dining in an ambrosial flower garden. Chefs Norma from Platanos, Mangoes & Me!, Debi from Table Talk, and Lori Lynn from Taste With The Eyes will meet in the virtual Italian cucina to create a captivating five-star three-course meal enhanced with edible flowers and herbs dal giardino. Reservations are not required.

Ciao Fiore Ristorante
Ciao Fiore!

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


Grilled Baby Potato & Broccolini Picnic Salad

Though June 21st is the official first day of summer ,  don’t you feel like Memorial Day weekend is the quintessential kick-off for summertime festivities?
Kids are either out of school, or counting down the days to “No more pencils, no more books…..” The weather is getting warm (or if you live here, HOT!), and we are ready to hit the road, whether its to the beach, the mountains, or your best friend’s backyard.
What better way to celebrate these extended days?
Let’s eat our food outside!

This month’s 5 star Makeover theme is picnic food; just in time for Memorial Day weekend, and all of the lazy days of summer that lay ahead.

When it comes to picnic food, I can’t help but think of the American staple,  potato salad.  So many directions you can go–I had to put a spin on this classic perennial favorite.
Having just finished a week of cooking classes,  I had a  jar of roasted garlic oil  reserved from the carnitas I made. I  told everyone in class, that saving the olive oil in which the garlic roasted was a very good idea. It would make  wonderful as a base for a salad dressing, drizzled on bread or as I have used it here, brushed on vegetables before grilling.

I don’t know about you, but when the weather is nice, I like to do as much cooking out on the grill as possible, and that goes for veggies too. So my potato salad will get its start with the warm garlic infused flavors you see here. The vegetables really don’t need a whole lot of anything else, and would be wonderful sitting alongside some grilled chicken or steak all on their own.

But to make this a “salad” I needed to add a few additional ingredients. Tomatoes and cilantro were added along with a roasted jalapeno vinaigrette to add a little bit of zip.



You’ll want to serve this salad at room temperature to enjoy all of the flavors at their finest, which makes it ideal for the portable picnic. You can make it ahead of time, and  if you want to have some fun with this, pick up some Chinese take out boxes at our local craft store, or pack in individual mason jars.

Go ahead and vary the ingredients too, depending on what you find at the market: corn, zucchini, asparagus, all would make excellent candidates for this spin on traditional potato salad.

So what about you? Are you heading anywhere this weekend?   I have been traveling a lot these last few weeks, and think that spending a quiet weekend here at home on the back porch sounds just about right. I plan to catch up on my favorite blogs, and can’t wait to see what all of the other participants have come up with this month!

Thanks to our hosts, Natasha of 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! who  will be posting a round up of all of the recipes on their sites tomorrow. Be sure to check them out!

Grilled Baby Potato & Broccolini Picnic Salad

Garlic Oil (see recipe below)

Salt and pepper

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes

1 pound broccolini

1 large red onion, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings

2 medium tomatoes, diced (red & yellow if available)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place potatoes on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic oil over potatoes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to coat potatoes evenly with garlic oil mixture. Bake potatoes 30 minutes. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauce pan filled with water to boil. Add broccolini, and cook 2 minutes. Transfer broccolini to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Brush potaotes, broccolini, and red onions with garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place potatoes, onions, and broccolini directly on grill grate.

Cook time:

Broccolini: 2 minutes per side

Potatoes: 5 minutes per side

Onions: 5 minutes per side

Remove vegetables from grill as they finish cooking, and transfer to a large bowl. Cool to room temperature.

Add tomatoes and cilantro to bowl. Add desired amount of dressing (recipe follows) and toss well to combine.

6-8 servings



2 or 3 roasted jalapeno chilies, peeled and seeded

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt


For dressing:

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.


Garlic Oil

3/4 cup olive oil

3 heads  garlic, excess paper removed, top trimmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic in small baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic. Cover with alluminum foil; bake 1 hour. Remove garlic from oil and cool completely. Reserve garlic oil.



Savory Egg Custard with Mixed Herb Salad and Caramelized Bacon Vinaigrette Recipe

Bacon and eggs

Quick–what’s the first image that popped into your head when you read those words?

Was it a breakfast plate?

Maybe a breakfast plate brimming with some sunnyside up eggs,  crisp bacon, and perhaps a side of toast?

Is that what you pictured?

Chances are, if you are like most people, that is exactly what you imagined. The classic combination of bacon and eggs for breakfast has been, and continues to be a timeless favorite .

Here’s something though…I bet I can think of a few things that didn’t come to your mind when you read bacon and eggs…

How about  a bacon and egg martini?

(Or)  Duck eggs with Niman Ranch chipotle bacon?

Not what you thought about, right? Well, these are just a few of the items I discovered when looking into current menu trends. Chefs around the country are coming up with all kinds of fun things to add to their 5 star menus.

Kind of getting away from that traditional breakfast plate, aren’t we?

Well, that is exactly what this post is all about; putting a twist on a classic combination of flavors, as part of this month’s 5 Star Makeover Event, featuring you guessed it: Bacon and eggs.

To get started with this challenge, I tried to pull out the first non-breakfast plate thoughts that came to my mind. Those first thoughts that popped in my head kept circling  back to how much I enjoy crispy bacon or pancetta in a salad. I knew then, a salad course it would be. But what about the eggs? How could incorporate a creative spin on eggs…in a salad?

After a few different test drives in the kitchen, I’ve come up with a salad that I am really happy with. There is a little bit of everything in this one:  savory,  sweet,  velvety, smooth, crunchy; in each bite you will experience it all. This salad would make a nice addition to a dinner party menu, or all on its own for a light lunch.

I’m looking forward to seeing what all of the other participants have come up with for this challenge. Be sure to visit 5 Star Foodie or Lazaro Cooks on Friday, February 25th for a round up of recipes!

Savory Egg Custard with Mixed Herb Salad and Caramelized Bacon Vinaigrette

Combine chopped bacon with garlic, brown sugar, season and bake until crisp and golden

Be sure to make a little extra…it tends to disappear before you are ready to serve

Egg yolks, milk, and cream are gently baked in a water bath to create the custard

Savory Egg Custard with Mixed Herb Salad and Caramelized Bacon Vinaigrette

For bacon:

6 slices of uncooked bacon, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper


2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 recipe Caramelized Bacon

Egg Custard:

9 egg yolks

9 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Olive oil for lining ramekins


7 cups baby mixed greens

1 cup chopped mixed herbs: parsley, dill, basil, tarragon

Make Caramelized Bacon:

Place all ingredients together in a medium bowl and toss well to combine. Arrange on baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the bacon is golden brown and caramelized. Remove bacon from baking sheet and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Divide in two. Reserve half for vinaigrette, and half for garnish.

Make Vinaigrette:

Combine red wine vinegar and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; whisk to combine. Gradually whisk in olive oil, followed by half of caramelized bacon.

Make custard:

Wipe the inside of each ramekin with a bit of olive oil. Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide mixture between ramekins. Put ramekins in a deep baking pan and pour boiling water in, to about 1 inch of top of ramekins. Bake until mixture is not quite set; it should jiggle a bit in middle, about 3 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath and cool completly. Refrigerate until chilled (may be made up to 1 day ahead).


Run a knife along the inside edge of ramekins to release custard. Invert onto plate. Place salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss well to combine. Place salad beside custard on plate and garnish with caramelized bacon bits.

8 servings