I’m not so sure this one even needs a recipe. It’s simple to throw together, refreshing in the heat and the pretty presentation always wows guests! Just cube up fresh seedless watermelon, top with a piece of feta and a mini basil leaf, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and voila! Now the only trick is keeping everyone’s fingers out of them until company arrives!
Well, I’m back… Fat, rested and with six pairs of new shoes and a couple of new kitchen toys. What did I eat that I couldn’t get enough of, you ask? These delicious morsels of goodness are at the top of the list. When cooked properly, they have a light crunch on the outside and hot ooey, gooey ham meets cheese meets béchamel mixture in the middle. Seriously, love at first bite! Here’s the recipe I used to make them once getting home…
Jamon y Queso Croquettes
3 tbsp butter
1 spanish onion, diced
1/2 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 ounces gorgonzola dulce
8 ounces serrano ham, cut into 1/2” strips
salt & pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 eggs, beaten, at room temperature
2 cups panko (or dried bread crumbs)
canola or olive oil for frying
This is one of my go to appetizers. It’s easy to whip up (everything goes in the food processor) and keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, herbs and zest until all finely minced. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Keep in refrigerator and bring to room temperature for serving.
Today’s Chef Feature comes from Agora’s Executive Chef, Ghassan Jarrouj. Head over to this new hot spot for one of my favorites cuisines – Turkish food! The inside of the restaurant is so cozy and welcoming, you’ll want to stay all night. And with the tapas-style service, you just might!
What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
A good knife.
What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
Samuel and Sons Seafood.
What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
Guests making alterations to a dish that requires long preparation and the guest asks for an ingredient to be taken out. When it’s a key ingredient and changes the profile of the dish that makes for an unhappy Chef.
What do you drink/eat after work?
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Burgundies, Pinot Noir from Oregon with Goat Cheese, Manchego or triple epoix.
What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
Fresh seasonal and rustic cuisine just like Momma used to make.
Keep reading for Chef Ghassan’s recipe for Crispy Phyllo Roll with Goat Cheese, Savory Herbs and Crushed Peppers.
These little suckers are irresistible! I bet you can’t eat just one! Enjoy them right out of the oven when still piping hot with a glass of beefy red wine. If you don’t like or have blue cheese, substitute swiss or parmesan – most cheeses work great!
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached flour, sifted
5 large eggs
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
While the standby bottle of wine works as a hostess gift, I’ve been trying to be more creative lately. Last week I made these Parmesan Rosemary Crackers to take with us to Vermont and while they aren’t the type of crackers I’d put cheese on, they’re delicious with a glass of wine!
Parmesan Rosemary Crackers
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 tbsp very cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
5 tbsp sour cream
5. – The Boston Globe America’s Favorite Comfort Food “You can be sitting in a high chair or in a high-style Italian chair, and if someone sets a bowl of mac and cheese in front of you, you’re bound to be delighted. This humble bowl of mostly white ingredients is currently the most sought-after comfort food on American tables. It suits everyone: teens, vegetarians, lumberjacks, sophisticates.”
4. – The Chicago Tribune Perfect Pancakes: Strategies to make the hottest hot cakes ever “Valentine’s Day has gotten hit by hard times, and we’re not just talking about the recession. Many of us have become cynical about this holiday of love, particularly when it comes to food.”
3. – The LA Times A Rare Four-Star Restaurant Reivew: The Bazaar by Jose Andres “Do a Google search for “Nutella,” the Italian hazelnut-chocolate spread that comes in a squat jar like peanut butter and is often found right next to it in grocery aisles, and you’ll get about 5 million results. Which is about twice what you get when you Google “chocolate chip cookies” — and several times as many as the phrase “Valentine’s Day chocolates.” You might want to remember that this weekend.”
2. – The NY Times Your Morning Pizza “Once I started looking around, in fact, I didn’t feel limited at all. It could be that my breakfast preferences stem from my mother, who served oatmeal and cream of wheat with nothing more than butter and salt — no brown sugar, no maple syrup. I thought this was the only way to go until I got out into the world a little and found out how unusual her approach was.”
1. – The Washington Post The Pleasure is in the Pain “Vincenzo Di Marzo, a research director at the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry of the Italian National Research Council near Naples, Italy, said there are three main reasons we voluntarily eat capsaicin. The first is that it makes other tastes come alive. “Heat, and the sensation of heat, activates capsaicin-sensitive sensory neurons that enhance our perception of flavors,” he said.”
photo from The Washington Post