Thursday, April 24, 2014

A fun cooking class at Bazaar!

Last week I presented a cooking class at Bazaar Olive Oil on two evenings, featuring their great selection of olive oils, including some tasty infused ones, and balsamic vinegars.

The theme of the class was appetizers and first courses (and one sweet) from around the Mediterranean.  We had ones from Turkey, Sicily, Morocco, Spain and France.  For dessert, we had tiramisu from Italy. 

Several folks who saw the photo above, which came from the Bazaar Facebook page, asked for the asparagus recipe.  Later, I'll post a couple of the others but for now, here it is!


1 ½ pounds fresh asparagus  
1/4 cup chipotle olive oil                                       
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cilantro Sauce:

1 cup crème fraiche                                                    
½ cup cilantro, minced                                                  
2 tablespoons Persian lime olive oil
1/2 cup purchased salsa verde
Grated zest and juice of one lime
A handful of grape tomatoes, quartered

 Preheat the oven to 400o.  If the asparagus is thin, just cut off the tough lower part.  If it’s fat asparagus, trim off the very bottom and then peel about 1/3 of the way from the bottom with a vegetable peeler.  Brush the chipotle oil on the asparagus, put in one layer on a baking sheet and bake until just barely tender crisp, depending on the thickness. Let cool to room temperature.

For the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse several times to just combine.

Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter.  Drizzle the dressing across the center of the spears and garnish with the tomatoes. Serves 8 as a first course.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cocktails--Before and After Dinner!

Back in the fall, I published two cocktail recipes that came from our wine dinner group, one to start the dinner with, and one to finish. I’ve gotten several emails from folks who had tried them, liked them and asked for more.  So here are two, one pre- and one post-prandial.

                The first was also served as the starter for our wine dinner group. Months and months ago, I picked up a bottle of saffron gin from France at a liquor store in another city.  It sat in our liquor cabinet because I didn’t know what to do with it. When my turn came around for a starter cocktail for our wine dinner group, I took a sample of the gin to my favorite bartender, Chris Ferri at Southward.  He came up with an excellent idea: a honeydew melon gin fizz. 

                The saffron gin isn’t widely available, but this drink would be equally delicious with regular gin.  I know there are those who think they don’t like gin, but nobody in our group complained. Give this a try before you automatically switch to vodka, as another non-gin loving friend (who hadn’t tasted it yet) suggested.

                The dessert drink came from a visit to Louisville with my sister.  That’s home for us, and we try to get back once in a while.  We have a friend, Chef Dallas McGarity, of the excellent Marketplace at Theater Square, who lets us know where we need to dine (other than his restaurant) while we’re there.

This time he directed us to The Place Downstairs. It hasn’t been open long but already has quite a reputation.  We had an excellent dinner.  When we were finished we still wanted to chat a bit but didn’t want to tie up a table on a busy evening. We adjourned to the lounge for a decaf French press coffee.  The restaurant manager, Ricky Moir, treated us to a Bourbon Ball Coffee.  The bourbon ball is a popular candy-type confection in Kentucky, and lots will be served at Derby parties over the next few weeks.  The coffee had all the right flavors: bourbon, of course, whipped cream flavored vodka and dark crème de cacao, and a fluff of whipped cream on top.

This was served in a large “café au lait” sized cup and the recipe is geared toward that.  That’s a lot of alcohol, so I served it to my guests in cappuccino cups, so that the recipe below made two servings.  That would be your call.

 Honeydew Ferri-Fizz

4 ounces honeydew melon juice (see note)
8 ounces saffron or regular gin
1 bottle sparkling wine (cava or prosecco)
8 honeydew melon balls

                Shake the honeydew melon juice and gin in a shaker with ice until very cold. Strain into 8 champagne flutes.  Divide the sparkling wine among the glasses.  Place the melon balls on a skewer and garnish each drink.  Makes 8.

 Note: If the honeydew melon isn’t very ripe when you buy it, let it set at room temperature for four or five days to ripen.  Cut in half, discard the seeds and use a melon-baller or spoon to make the garnish. Place the remaining melon flesh in a blender and puree.  Strain through a fine sieve. Keep the juice and discard (or eat) the remaining pulp. You’ll have more juice than you need for eight drinks, but it keeps well in the fridge.

 Ricky’s Bourbon Ball Coffee

 1 ounce Four Roses (or other Kentucky) bourbon
1 ounce whipped cream flavored vodka
1 ½ ounce dark crème de cacao
8 ounces coffee, preferably French roast
Whipped cream

              In a coffee cup, mix the bourbon, vodka and crème de cacao.  Add the coffee, stir, and top with whipped cream. Makes one large serving or two cappuccino sized servings.