Potatas Bravas

Back, oh, a decade or so ago, Brenton fell in love with the lifestyle and cuisine of Southern Spain. Upon her return to the grand USofA, we experimented with numerous recipes, based on her taste bud memories. One of our favorites, and a routine “go to” even in this decade is the Potato Frittata. It’s all about gaming your brain with a delicious amount of starch…and while we have you dancing around in that head of yours, here’s another starchy option, appetizer style, served all fancy! Here are the particulars!

Olive oil
2 diced plum tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t paprika
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed

Cook tomatoes in olive oil until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add garlic, thyme, paprika, and pepper flakes.
Cook 3 to 4 more minutes.
In separate skillet, cook potatoes in olive oil until tender and golden, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle with salt.
Serve in spoons over tomato sauce.
Drizzle with “aioli” sauce.

Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
In medium bowl, whisk together all three ingredients until well combined.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Makes 20 spoons.

Baha Peninsula Artichoke Appetizer

I Know I Know I Know…Cabo Stories are becoming a bit nonplussed; however, to know me is to know that I love our Diamante villa in Cabo. You may find it odd that I am a very pale, natural blond, 66 year old Grand. That is to say that I don’t sit in the sun; but I am all about being out there in the pool with the fam and friends, 50+ sunscreen, most of the time in long sleeve SPF shirts, soaking up the fun. In the interim, I’m all about dreaming up new manners in which to cook our favorite bites when we gather around the dinner table! The Baha Peninsula is known for many, many things, one of which is growing artichokes. The baby ones are the best, most tender, and just yummy. So, we enjoyed them, a lot!

Above, from left: the don is mixing the cheeses. ~ the Cabo Grocery Girls couldn’t find wonton wrappers while stocking our kitchen, so…improvise. I used the Diamante Market pizza dough instead; and with no rolling pin, enter the empty Ciroc bottle to roll the dough (yes my arms did get some sun that day!). ~ Improvising again, with no cookie cutter, hello glass to cut the rounds of dough to fit into the muffin tin. Check out the results below!

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 t garlic powder
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup water packed baby artichokes, drained and chopped
24 wonton wrappers
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Mini muffin tin

In mixing bowl, combine Parmesan, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.
Mix well.
Stir in Monterey Jack and artichokes.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 2 mini muffin tin pans with nonstick spray.
Press one wonton wrapper into each small muffin cup.
Bake 5 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
Fill each cup with artichoke mixture.
Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes…but keep your eye on it!
Garnish with chives and serve warm.

Shrimp and Strawberry Ceviche

Hold Everything! The first time that I ever made ceviche was in the Culinary Center, Ritz Carlton, Cancun, with Chef Rory Dunaway in 2007. THIS was our view out of the kitchen window. Truly a delight! Enjoy this Ohh la la version as we are in the waning days of August. While technically not a true ceviche, it’s darn good y’all. Roger that!

1 lb cleaned shrimp
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 sweet onion, chopped
Corn from 2 cobs
1 lb strawberries, hulled and diced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook shrimp in boiling water 2 minutes.
Drain and put in ice bath for 5 minutes.
Drain well.
Cut shrimp in half.
In medium bowl, combine shrimp, lemon juice, lime juice, jalapeño, and onion.
Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour (but no longer than 6 hours).
When ready to serve, toss in strawberries and cilantro.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Creamy Salsa Cheddar Dip

Looking for a healthy, simple, quick, and pleasing appetizer or afternoon snack? Wonderful for even a Monday, or any week night for that matter. I’ve got you covered. So please pay attention ’cause raw veggies are waaaaay underrated.

Small bites + Big Flavors = Don’t Mind if I Do!

Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer from my private collection; additional pieces available at City Art Gallery of Greenville, NC.

16 oz reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups pico de gallo
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t black pepper

Pulse all together in food processor.
Serve in cocktail glass with veggies on top.
This is also great with sweet ginger cookies or chips.

Avocado Sprout Toast Appetizer

Who’s in the kitchen this weekend? Even the youngest, well almost, can create this yummy appetizer or breakfast. Yes this is a truly simple creation. But, hey…we’re not trying to impress anyone. It’s about making our family or guests feel comfortable; and trust me, this makes everyone feel just that! Remember that food is our common ground. So go out and have yourselves a wonderful weekend! Stay safe, well, and away from that nasty Delta Variant good people!

2 slices whole grain bread, toasted*
1/2 ripe avocado, gently mashed
Dash kosher salt
Dash pepper
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
2 t sunflower seeds
Wedge fresh lemon

Spread avocado on top of bread.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with sprouts.
Sprinkle on seeds.
Squeeze lemon juice evenly on top.

Makes 8 Appetizers.
Excellent as breakfast as a whole slice of toast.
*My personal favorites are Ezekiel and Genesis, made by Food for Life.
Earthy tasting, in a great way.

Tomato, Leek, Brie Crostata

Happy Tomato Season from here in comfortable, warm unbearably hot and humid ENC. You know, that kind of weather that begs for you to stay inside, turn the air really cool, and create delicious treats like this one that I’m sharing with you here. So drop everything and dash to the local farmers’ market this very minute. Grab those vibrantly colored fresh tomatoes and get kicking! Slice it small for an appetizer, or larger for brunch. This one is a winner.

1 sheet puff pastry
12 oz mixed tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
6 oz Brie, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
Whole thyme leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out dough to 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 rectangle.
Refrigerate on baking sheet 20 minutes.
Place tomato slices on paper towels.
Sprinkle with salt.
Top with paper towels to absorb excess liquid.
Score edges of pastry, creating 1/2 inch border.
Spread mustard inside border.
Top with cheese, onions, tomatoes (overlapping slightly to allow for shrinkage), and thyme.
Drizzle with oil.
Bake 15 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 375 degrees.
Continue baking until golden brown, about 25 to 30 more minutes.
Sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve warm.


Home Made Dark and Stormy

It may have been dark and stormy drizzly here in Kennebunkport yesterday, but our spirits were anything but damp. Notnerb, Zus, and I made gnocchi with White Barn Inn Chef, played Farkle (rolling straights), and dined at the lively Old Vines Wine Bar with the Don. Thanks babe for treating us to all of this fun!

But I ran off subject a bit…the Dark and Stormy Cocktail…The story began in Bermuda in 1806, when John Gosling managed to come ashore after three months at sea fighting the Bermuda Triangle. He settled on the island and later began producing rum. He paired his dark rum with ginger beer and the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was born! Visiting ships carried the recipe home with them, spreading it world wide, and right into my kitchen as well. So, here’s how you create this cocktail at home! Simple and Delicious!

5 oz Ginger Beer (I prefer Reeds)
2 oz Dark Rum
2 Lime wedges
Fresh mint

Fill cocktail glass with ice (I prefer crushed).
Squeeze one lime wedge in glass.
Pour in ginger beer.
Top up with rum, so that it floats on top.
Garnish with lime wedge and mint.

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

This house on “the Forest Hill” was packed with energy and festive events last week. I had the five year olds for Grand and GrandDad Camp, a childhood friend here from Shaker Heights, and the Queen Peggy’s 95th celebration of life! And in the midst of it all, the children managed to create a wonderful bread concoction! It’s play time, so follow the trail below…

16 oz round sourdough bread
Stick of butter
2  t minced garlic
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning (or equal parts of dried basil, parsley, and oregano)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbs chopped parsley, divided

Preheat the oven to 375°.
Place the bread on non stick sheet pan.
Cut a grid on the bread by creating vertical cuts, stopping before you hit the bottom crust. Repeat the cuts in a horizontal manner.
Place butter, garlic, seasoning, and half of parsley in small sauce pan.
Heat until butter is melted.
Drizzle butter into crevices of bread.
Gently stuff cheese deep into crevices of bread, and sprinkle of top.
Wrap bread in foil to cover.
Bake 10 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 12 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.

Bread by Lucy, Parker, and Peg. Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer.

Rosemary Cashews, revisited

©PEGhardee

Monday is here; so let’s think about this! I try to begin each week and each day with a bucket full of patience and energy. But by 4 pm my bucket is running a bit low! To back up a moment, actually 7 years…TheDon and I found ourselves at the Ritz, Amelia Island; and each night the bartenders rotated the one in charge of taking care of the nuts…I know, I know…you’re thinking the human nuts, but this time it was literally nuts. These were a fav and we snagged the recipe. Like they say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”! Bucket empty? Grab a glass of cold iced tea and a palmful of nuts to refill. Try It; You May Just Like It! Have a Happy, Nutty Week!

1 lb unsalted roasted cashews
2 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t light brown sugar
1 Tbs salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º.
Spread cashews on baking pan.
Toast 5 minutes, until warm.
In large bowl, combine all other ingredients.
Stir in cashews and toss to coat.
Return nuts to pan and heat 5 minutes.
Transfer to wax paper to cool until the rosemary mixture dries on the cashews.

Apricot Caprese Toasts

Spreading a little joy to jump start this short week! The combination of flavors in this treat are like every section of the orchestra is playing in harmony and on key. This recipe just may become famous! So drop everything and head to the market straight away; then come home and savor the deliciousness!

4 oz fresh mozzarella
3/4 cup apricot jam
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 t olive oil, divided
2 t white wine vinegar
Italian baguette, sliced
1 small ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
1/2 lemon
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Torn fresh basil*

With fingers, pull mozzarella into shreds.
Combine mozzarella, apricot jam, and tomatoes in small bowl.
Drizzle with 2 t olive oil and vinegar.
Toss to coat.
Spread bread slices with remaining 2 t olive oil, salt and pepper.
Toast bread slices.
Smash and spread avocado on toasted bread.
Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Spoon apricot and tomato mixture over avocado.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with torn basil.*

May also enjoy for brunch.
Note: This is also delicious on a bed of butter bibb lettuce.
*I was out of fresh basil when I made this, so I substituted fresh mint and it was wonderful!