Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange

Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange
Olive Oil Bundt Cake
Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange

Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange

Inspired by last week’s Evolving Manhattan Cocktail with Luxardo Ice Sphere, here Maraschino Liqueur shows up as a glaze for a not-too-sweet bundt cake featuring fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

Luxardo Maraschino, a liqueur distilled from the leaves, pits, stems and skins of sour marasca cherries has an almond-like, subtly bitter complex cherry flavor.

Nicely browned on the outside, with a soft moist interior, the simple yet impressive cake is enhanced with candied orange and those luxurious luxardo cherries and their heavenly juice. And a complementary basil garnish is much more interesting than the ubiquitous mint sprig.

Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze Recipe

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One Ingredient Transforms Classic Greek Salad

Try Adding Sweet Peaches to a Savory Greek Salad

Classic Greek Salad with Peaches

In an ephemeral memory, I remember her disappointment when being served a Greek salad long ago at some swanky Chicago restaurant. It had all the requisite ingredients, but was composed with lettuce. Lettuce, she told us, was not supposed to be in a Greek salad.

With absolutely no Greek ancestry whatsoever, my wonderful mother was an ardent fan of Greek food. When she would return to Chicago to visit family and friends, dinner out with my Aunt Alice for Athenian chicken was on the top of her list.

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Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

Beautiful summer tomatoes and fresh basil are calling out for spaghetti. Spaghetti al pomodoro. But how can we make a refreshingly simple recipe of spaghetti with tomato sauce just a bit more interesting?  How, just give it a twist! Turn the pasta into a “caterpillar.”

And for more interest, exchange the recipe’s predictable pinch of red chili flakes with Korean chili threads, shilgochu 실고추, finely-sliced dried chilis that are reddish brown in color with smoky red pepper and fruity flavors, and a medium degree of heat. They are cooked in butter for about a minute to soften then tossed with the spaghetti, adding a vibrant accent to the dish.

Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

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Pretty Watermelon Gazpacho with Blackberries

Pretty Watermelon Gazpacho with Blackberries, Tomatoes, Edible Flowers

Pretty Watermelon Gazpacho with Blackberries

watermelon cubes, grape tomatoes, micro cilantro, nasturtium whorls
edible flower petals, celery leaves, fruity olive oil

I purchased the obligatory feta cheese, tangy Bulgarian Feta to be exact, to garnish my watermelon gazpacho. But when it came time to plate my chilled soup, I thought watermelon + feta is way too predictable and the homogenous pale red soup needed some extra visual pizzazz. Additionally, I wanted to serve a soup that would appeal to my #glutenfreevegan friends… enter blackberries, grape tomatoes, and edible flowers.

The soup recipe is quite intriguing – a balance between sweet and savory -a summery marriage of juicy watermelon and red ripe tomatoes. Spicy green chile, cool cucumber and pungent red onion round out the flavors while my beloved vinagre de jerez is the spark that gives gazpacho its unique character. Good fruity olive oil adds a rich mouthfeel.

Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe


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I Promise To Make Your Mouth Water

Carnitas, Polenta, Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Avocado, Fresh Corn, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, Mexican Crema, Pickled Radish and Red Jalapeno, Cilantro, Cotija Cheese

Carnitas, Polenta, Pumpkin Seed Kale Cilantro Pesto
with

Avocado, Corn, Pumpkin Seeds, Mexican Crema
Pickled Radish and Red Jalapeno, Cilantro, Cotija Cheese

What started out as an idea to make a deconstructed pork tamale, morphed into one extremely mouth-watering dish. Creamy polenta with fresh corn is topped with a pumpkin seed kale cilantro pesto. Braised pork shoulder is fried in a bit of oil to give it crispy edges, then piled on top. A dizzying array of garnishes make the dish come alive – avocado, somewhat spicy pumpkin superseedz, pickled radish and red jalapeño, cotija cheese, mexican crema, cilantro.

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I am so pleased to be working with SuperSeedz and their marketing team to develop recipes utilizing their amazing pumpkin seeds. SuperSeedz is an innovative snack company that has reimagined the pumpkin seed – adding flavors like cocoa, cinnamon & sugar, cayenne, curry, and more.

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Chocolate Banana Bites with Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds

Chocolate Banana Bites with Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds

Super Spicy Chocolate Banana Bites with Gourmet Pumpkin SuperSeedz

Add some spice to your next cocktail party. Sure, you will be serving a cheese platter and some type of charcuterie. But also give your guests something unexpected. A fruity-sweet-spicy option on the buffet.

Super spicy chocolate covered banana bites with pumpkin seeds will blow them way. This little snack-on-a-stick is absolutely not for kids. The chocolate and pumpkin seeds are indeed super spicy.

SuperSeedz is an innovative snack company that has reimagined the pumpkin seed – adding flavors like cocoa, cinnamon & sugar, cayenne, curry, and more.

Dry roasted in small batches without the shell, they have redefined the traditional plain pumpkin seed into a variety of creative flavors that provide a healthy, nutritious standalone snack.

Standalone, absolutely, they rock. But cooks like me will also be inspired to give them a try in all sorts of recipes.

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By the way, my banana bites are not frozen. As adults, let’s enjoy our cocktails and keep our teeth happy without having to bite into something frozen solid as a rock.

Chocolate Banana Bites with Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds

It really is super spicy…sweet & savory. And quite healthful too. One perfect bite on a stick. Irresistible.

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Pretty Petite Potato Salad, Vinagre de Jerez Dressing

Pretty Petite Potato Salad, Vinagre de Jerez Dressing with Grilled Okra, Celery, Peperoncini, Radish, Cucumber, Red Onion, Herbs and Edible Flowers

Pretty Petite Potato Salad, Vinagre de Jerez Dressing
Petite Red Skin Potatoes, Grilled Okra, Celery
Peperoncini, Radish, Cucumber, Red Onion

Herbs and Edible Flowers

Complex and assertive, Vinagre de Jerez turns up the music on ordinary potato salad. Chef José Andrés says, “…you add just a touch of (sherry) vinegar and you have this wonderful flavor that sparkles.” Vinagre de Jerez is one of just three vinegars in the EU from a designated appellation. Spain’s classification system, Denominación de Origen, regulates the quality and geographical origin of the product.

Okra is excellent grilled. (Use a grill pan so it doesn’t fall through the grates). The mucilaginous properties that make people say they “hate” okra are mitigated by quickly cooking over a hot fire. Combine grilled okra and petite red-skinned potatoes with lively peperoncini, peppery radish, crunchy celery and cool cucumber. Toss with a vivacious dressing and an array of complementary flowers and herbs for a show-stopping summer salad.

Vinagre de Jerez Dressing

Recipe for Vinagre de Jerez Dressing. Excellent with Potato Salad. #saladdressing

  • 1/4 c. good quality mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. yogurt
  • 1 T. vinagre de jerez
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 2 T. fruity olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Thin with warm water so the dressing will make a smooth elegant coating for the vegetables (as opposed to a thick, gloppy mayo).

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Shrimp and Grits with Lobster Butter

Shrimp and Grits with Lemony Lobster Butter and Grilled Corn, Okra, Tomato, Shishito

Shrimp and Grits with Lemony Lobster Butter
Grilled Corn, Okra, Tomato, Shishito Peppers
Gremolata, Feta Cheese, and Chive Flower Garnish

Shrimp & Grits gets a make-over. White corn grits are topped with fresh summer vegetables from the farmers market. For a smokier-than-usual version, the vegetables and shrimp are grilled instead of sautéed. A heavenly lemon-lobster butter (try it on popcorn!) adds sophistication. Tangy sheep’s milk feta takes the place of the ubiquitous cheddar cheese, while gremolata makes the shrimp sing out with bright citrusy-garlicky notes. And it’s interesting how a single purple chive blossom in the center gives the whole dish a visual pop.

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Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil #glutenfree

Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil #glutenfree

Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil
Made with Gluten-Free Green Lentil Lasagna Noodles
Crookneck Squash, Zucchini
Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan

Marinara Sauce, Italian Sausage, Basil

My friends at Explore Cuisine make an extraordinary noodle for lasagna recipes. It is produced in Italy of green lentil flour (50%), green pea flour, and brown rice flour. These no-boil noodles soak up sauce to two-and-a-half times their size to a perfect al dente texture. They are full of plant-based pea protein, a lovely olive-green color, organic and gluten-free. They are also higher in fiber and lower in carbs than traditional lasagna noodles.

I bake these unique noodles with roasted summer squash for a delightful seasonal dish, then top the lasagna with fried basil for snazzy garnish with an herbal crunch.

Summer Squash Lasagna with Fried Basil Recipe

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An Ode To The Fish Taco

An Ode To The Fish Taco - Panko Crusted Halibut, Cabbage, Fennel, Carrot Slaw, Fresh herbs, Baja White Sauce, Tortilla Strips

An Ode To The Fish Taco

Panko Crusted Fresh Halibut
Cabbage-Fennel-Carrot-Radish-Pepitas Slaw
Key Lime Serrano Cumin Vinaigrette

Pickled Red Onion, Fresh Herbs, Baja White Sauce
Mexican Lime, Tortilla Strips

Dear Fish Taco – you are irresistible. Your flavors conjure up spicy memories of our saucy adventures in Ensenada. Fresh-caught fried fish, crisp shredded cabbage, salsa, white sauce and a squeeze of lime on a corn tortilla. A fish taco and a margarita are una pareja celestial. Baja California is the birthplace of the fish taco and home to Hussong’s Cantina, where they claim to have invented the margarita in 1941.

Fast forward a several decades since your “invention” where I reimagine your essence. This is perfectly crusted local halibut topped with a cabbage slaw studded with organic rainbow carrots, peppery radish matchsticks, fennel slivers, and pumpkin seeds.  A zippy Mexican lime vinaigrette with sliced serranos, cumin, and fresh thyme dresses the slaw. Corn tortillas are sliced thin and fried for the topping. And it wouldn’t be a Baja taco without your salsa blanca – so here, tangy Mexican crema combined with mayonnaise and minced garlic provides a creamy balance to the crispy golden-brown fillets.

Fish Taco – you have aged gracefully. You are fabuloso! But we will still always crave your youthful side. See you in Baja!

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