Appetizer

Hawaiian BLPTS – King’s Hawaiian rolls

After reading this you might wonder how I could possibly pair the recipe I am going to share versus what I had for dinner last night. The first picture is the recipe I think you should make. All pictures are from my phone.

Last night was a gastronomical experience; I think that is the only way to describe it. We met some friends at Stages in Dover, NH; which is about an hour and forty minutes from my home in the center Dover on the third floor of an old mill building. I will try to do my best to share with you my experience in Chef Evan Hennessey’s kitchen in hopes that maybe you will check it out. www.stages-dining.com


Opening the door I smelled wood smoke, we walked through a cute little empty sitting area (probably empty due to covid) to the kitchen. It was just us, our friends and another couple sitting at a bar top with the chef, his intern and one other staff member on the other side of the bar. The only menu provided was for beer and wine; the food is a set menu and price that changes approximately every 3 weeks.

first course – Brussel sprouts

second – Cabbage, trout roe, dried winter flavors, black garlic dashi

third – Yellowfin tuna marinated in cranberry vinegar, basil, red beets, broth of smoked pork jowl and dried mushroom

Looking around some of my thoughts were, this is going to be an experience. For one the small intimate setting we were actually in the kitchen, a small wood burning box on a counter with what looked like a cooling rack being held up just far enough from the flame with large rocks. Cooking utensils, serving dishes and wine glasses galore; A child’s art work on the wall; and mostly anticipation for what we would be eating shortly. Even though I love food I was also worried there was going to be one of my no thank you things on the menu; I know how can I call myself a foodie. Thankfully there were no truffles on tonight’s menu.

fourth – Lobster, garbanzo beans, celeriac, hazelnuts, coffee


fifth – Ribeye, pears, mint, miso, dry apple


sixth – Warm brie, apple cider, ginger, dry shiitake madeleine

seventh – Smoked frozen yogurt, coffee, caviar, warm honey

We were served eight very thought out complex courses. They might not have been complex for the chef but there were so many components that must have taken days, weeks or longer to create the menu, the sauces, broths and foam. Chef Evan is mindful of the ingredients and accompaniments to the point that baffles me, when I asked where he gets his inspiration from he jokingly said Pinterest; funny and can cook what a great combo.

eighth – Emma’s Cookies – each meal ends with one of his daughters cookie recipes she came up with when she was 9 along side a teacup of warm lavender milk.

I will share the pictures and try to share what was in each of the dishes; I will apologize upfront for not doing them justice only because there were so many components and I didn’t write them down and there was wine – UPDATE I cheated and the thankfully the ingredient list was on his website menu minus the Brussel sprout description.

The recipe I want to share is something my daughter made the other night; which was our first dinner of 2021 out on the patio.

Hawaiian BLPTS

dclarkabal
another twist on a classic BLT - thanks to Chrissy Teigen
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, lunch

Ingredients
  

  • 2 fresh pineapple slices cored
  • 8 King's Hawaiian slider rolls split
  • Unsalted butter melted
  • Mayo
  • 4 Lettuce leaves
  • 1 Tomato
  • 8 slices Bacon
  • 1 sweet onion optional

Instructions
 

  • Position your oven rack 4-6 inches from the heating element and pre-heat the broiler. You can broil or grill the pineapple, whichever way will work. You want to brown the pineapple on both sides; let them sit and cool slightly.
  • Spread the rolls out on a baking sheet and slather them with the melted butter. Place them under the broiler till golden brown, roughly 2 minutes. You know your oven so you do you.
  • Spread the mayo, as much as you want. Build your sandwich with lettuce, tomato, bacon, onions, if you are using them and a pineapple wedge on the rolls bottom. Top with the other half of the roll and enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving leftover sliders

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving whatever you chose or were able to do! We had a very nice dinner with a few family members. It takes a lot of time to prepare for a large meal between thinking of what to serve, buying the ingredients, prepping, cooking and cleaning up after for a meal that takes less than 30 minutes to eat. For me I wouldn’t change a thing! We have gone out to dinner only once or twice that I can remember over the years and it is just not the same. Plus I LOVE having leftovers as is or turning them into something else to snack on.

a couple of years I made Thanksgiving egg rolls which were a huge hit. Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll. This year I made Thanksgiving leftover sliders which were super easy to make and very tasty a definite keeper. I will make sure to have rolls on hand to make these again next year.


There are also two other recipes we had at the table that I plan on writing about and sharing with you over the next couple of weeks that will also be on our table throughout the year. My daughter made a brussel sprout pomegrante salad that was excellent and I made a butternut squash soup that was fantastic so stay tuned for those. I think the salad would be perfect on your table for this years Christmas dinner.

Thanksgiving leftover sliders

dclarkabal
great way to use up some of your leftovers
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Course lunch, Snack

Ingredients
  

  • 1 package hawaiin rolls 12 pack or even more
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce
  • 1+ cup stuffing
  • 3-4 slices havarti cheese or swiss, provolone whatever you have on hand
  • 1+ cup shredded turkey
  • 1/2 stick butter melted
  • 2 tablespoon dijon mustard

Instructions
 

  • slice the buns in half length wise. cover one half with cheese slices, add your shredded turkey and then your stuffing
  • on the other half spread your cranberry sauce and then flip that side onto the turkey side.
  • melt the butter and add the dijon mustard.
  • place on a baking sheet. Brush on some of the melted butter dijon mixture and bake for 7-8 minutes.
  • You could bake the turkey cheese side of the buns for 2-3 minutes before adding the cranberry side, it would give the cheese time to melt and let the turkey and stuffing heat up more. Some of the buns got a little browner than I liked because I wanted the cheese to melt.
Keyword cranberry sauce, dressing, turkey

Bacon wrapped Dates

Hope you are well and still healthy!
IMG_5230
How often do you take a look at what is in the back of your cupboards? Me not very often. Take in point I had bought duck sauce at the store quite some time ago. At least I thought I bought it, I recall it on my list and that was that.  I had some left over fried rice that could use a little sauce to spruce it up again. I “looked” which means basically I took a look around and ended up making my own with some apples sauce.
IMG_5221IMG_5223IMG_5222
I had purchased it and it was not a small jar so I have no idea how I missed it. too late for what I wanted but there it is.
IMG_5224IMG_5226
The other day I went through the cupboard between the stove and fridge and moved things to the front, threw out a couple of things and found a package of dates that apparently don’t go bad because they have been in the house for a long time. I personally do not have a love or hate for dates, my daughter was the one who buys them and she is the one that made these for a snack for us this past Wednesday. They were really good so here you go! Try them or make up your own very easy and just enough sweet and salty.
IMG_5227IMG_5228

bacon wrapped dates

sweet and salty appetizer
Course Appetizer

Ingredients
  

  • 20-24 dried dates
  • 4 ounces goat or bleu cheese
  • 12-16 ounces bacon
  • add an almond for a little crunch

Instructions
 

  • pre-heat oven to 375'F. Arrange rack in the middle of the oven.
    Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and place a cooling rack on top of the tinfoil
    Cut a slit the dates with a pairing knife. Use your thumbs to open the date slightly. Remove the pits if your dates still has them
    Stuff with your date using a spoon with your cheese; use the back of the spoon to press the cheese into the date. Press the date closed.
    Wrap the dates with bacon. cut the strips of bacon in half crosswise. Wrap each date with a half strip of bacon.
    Arrange the dates on the baking sheet. Evenly spaced.
    Bake for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven when the bacon is crispy.
Keyword bacon stuffed dates

 

IMG_5229

Pesto & One pot pasta

Happy Father’s Day – I hope you are all safe and able to spend a little time with your some of your family today! It is a sunny day here in NH but it is a very warm and humid day. I am currently sitting on the couch writing this blog listening to Psych. That is one of my favorite TV shows to play in the background. I cannot tell you how many times I have been through the entire series. Enough to know pretty much all of the snarky little comments. Image

I don’t know how well your gardens are going, mine are a lot of hit and misses. I went to to local gardening shop yesterday, the same one i have been going to for many many years and was shocked at the lack on inventory they had on hand. I know I probably shouldn’t have been. I know a lot of people took up gardening this year but it was still a little alarming. They have always had a plethora of hanging plants and I could always find what I needed and sometimes things I didn’t know I needed.

Here are a couple of things I use up my basil in. Though basil is one of my favorite summer herb and can be used in so many dishes.  These two are worth checking out!

Basil Pesto 

6 Ounces of washed and dried basil leaves, stems removed
4 Ounces of pine nuts
6-8 Cloves of Garlic
2 Ounces of grated parmesan cheese
Olive oil – Salt and Pepper

Image

Combine first 3 ingredients in a food processor or blender, pulse to combine. Add olive oil until you get the consistency you like, finish by adding the parmesan cheese a little salt and pepper pulsing until combined.  Enjoy with and/or on just about anything!

Image

 

One–Pan Pasta 

 1 lb. Linguine
1 lb. Cherry or Grape tomatoes halved
1 Onion diced
4-6 cloves of Garlic
½ tsp. crushed Red Pepper Flakes
6 Cups Chicken Broth
1 bunch of Basil
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and the chicken broth in a large straight sided skillet

Bring to a boil over high heat, boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and broth has nearly evaporated.  About 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with basil.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Image

General Tso’s Cauliflower

I hope you are all doing well – I seem to be saying that with almost every blog, every email, every text and when I happen to see someone; though that is pretty rare as I work from home and don’t really need to leave the house very often. Pretty sure 2020 is going to be a year of reflection, a year of hope, a year of change and a deep look into our own  priorities and hopefully we are open to make some adjustments where needed.
IMG_5206

I am pretty sure it was a couple of weeks ago; time seems to be flying and standing still at the same time. When NH opened up restaurants to outdoor seating;  we met up with a few (6 maximum) friends at a Taproom for dinner and drinks. We ordered some apps for the table and one of them caught my attention and I knew; actually a couple of us mentioned we could totally make this. I was already planning on it in my head I would be making this at some point.
IMG_5197
That point happened last night and I am a little obsessed with them.  General Tso’s Cauliflower is a perfect combination of sweet and spicy plus a little healthy and unhealthy.  I will be making this again and I will also be making the sauce for chicken in the near future.

General Tso's Cauliflower

sweet and spicy snack
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer, Snack
Servings 6 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil plus more for frying
  • 3 scallions thinly diced save some for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 strip orange zest thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon go chu jang Korean sweet & spicy hot pepper paste
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger or 1/4 tsp ground
  • 2 teaspoon plus 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large head of cauliflower cut into large florets

Instructions
 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in the scallions, garlic and orange zest and cook, stirring, until the garlic has turned golden, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, sriracha, go chu jang and 3 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves completely and the sauce become fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir 2 teaspoons cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk the mixture into the boiling sauce until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  • Fill a large Dutch oven halfway with peanut oil and heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl and toss with the egg mixture. Sprinkle in the remaining 3/4 cup cornstarch a little bit at a time until the cauliflower is well coated
  • Fry the cauliflower in 3 batches; gently place the cauliflower in the hot oil and cook, keeping the pieces separated and adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the oil temperature at 350 degrees F, until light brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. Remove the cauliflower with a spider or slotted spoon and set on the prepared wire rack to drain briefly. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl while it is still hot and toss with the sauce to evenly coat. Transfer to a serving plate and top with scallions.
Keyword cauliflower, fried cauliflower, general tso's cauliflower

IMG_5199IMG_5200IMG_5201

Stay healthy and strong!

Game day fare

So today is the big day! The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs should be a pretty good game I think most of us New Englander’s are rooting for the 49ers since there quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo used to be a Patriot though I am torn because last year I thought and said out loud that Patrick Mahomes from the Chiefs is someone to watch and here we are – just saying!

Are you already preparing for the game later today? I haven’t started yet but I do have a plan and will be starting some Crockpot Chicken Chili once I finish writing this blog. The only thing my husband asked for was some wings. I am going to be doing some name dropping here. Franks Hot Sauce is our families favorite hot sauce. Which is saying something, we are not really hot sauce kinda people. We all like a little heat but there is a fine line and we all tend to stay away from ordering anything spicy out just in case their fine line is much higher than ours.

Last Friday at the office we had a tailgating party of sorts in preparing for the Super Bowl – yes even though the Patriots are not in it this year; not to say that everyone at work is a Pats fan but the majority is but we all like food so there’s that! I brought Espinaca dip which is always a hit. We will be having the rest of it a little later today.

I haven’t shared this dip recipe before so here it is. 32 ounce brick of Velveta, 1 brick of cream cheese, 2 cans of Rotel, 1 block of frozen spinach, thawed and drained. Add everything to a pot for the stove top or a slow cooker and heat until everything is melted and mixed together.

Here are a few other items I think would be awesome to share with your football fans, or the people who like to socialize with the people who like football fans. Or the ones that just show up to watch the halftime and commercials. Spam Bacon Bites would be a perfect fit for a party as well as Chicken-Parm Sliders to name a few. If there were more than just a few us I would make the seven layer dip Huevos Rancheros and 7 Layer Mexican Dip but since there isn’t I will just make some Guacamole & Sweet and Salty Wings for the big game

I do hope JLO and Shakira rock the house this year!

Charcuterie board

I hope your 2020 has started out as well as you had hoped! If you are one of those that makes resolutions I hope you are staying on track; if you are not there’s always next year wink wink! I am just hoping for this damn cough/cold to go away! It is getting better but I am SO done with it!

79308896_10215817075404524_7214955233716207616_o

My daughter assembled this beauty!

I’m writing this Saturday morning because the family is gathering for a wedding later today. My beautiful niece is marrying her best friend tonight surrounded by family and friends. I can’t wait to see everyone and share a tear or two. I’m an old softy when it comes to weddings. Who am I kidding I am just an old softy period!

680389_4108538156483_1401923410_o

my husbands idea of a light dinner!

A few weeks ago we had our annual Christmas party; which is always so much fun and this year did not disappoint. I recreated our song booklets, while the old ones were great, they were pretty impossible to navigate and I won’t miss the binder clips. The new booklets are numbered and bound all neat and orderly plus I added some of the non Christmas songs we usually sing. I think we had the most singers this year, I would like to think it was because of the new books.

12248065_10205354519287160_4299938529188857644_o

less glamorous but still very tasty!

 

My dining room table is almost 12 feet long; my husband made it for the room which is why it is not a standard size. Anyway for the Christmas party I try to make sure it is covered with all kinds of different pick up and go or grab a plate and chill type items. I have this pretty cool board I found in the garage and I usually just add my fall decorations onto it and place it in the middle of the table. I decided to put it to another use for the party this year. I hope you like it!

Charcuterie board

What is a Charcuterie board? The wikipedia definition is. Charcuterie is a branch of cooking involving prepared meats, such as ham, sausage, bacon, confit, or other pork products. The word originated in France, and it translates to “pork-butcher shop.” … The correct French pronunciation of charcuterie is “shar-coo-tree.”

A typical board has the following on it. The amount depends on the size of the board and the number of people. 

  • Cured meats.
  • Cheese.
  • Olives.
  • Nuts.
  • Dried Fruit.
  • Crackers or baguette bread.
  • Jelly or jam.

 How to assemble a cheese board:

  • Add your cheeses spaced around your board.
  • Add your salami or other meat in a few different places.
  • Place bowls of olives or honey or jam down the middle.
  • Add crackers and vegetables in large open spaces.
  • Place bunches of grapes, nuts, and chocolate in all the cracks.

Spam Bacon Bites


Just curious if you take a look and judge what’s in other people’s grocery carts? I can’t help myself and when I buy what I would consider “questionable” items I wonder who is judging me? 

believe it or not I did not have any garlic in the house, I did have garlic scapes in the garden so I chopped up a few of those and added them to the mustard and syrup

 

I remember the first time I used a shopping cart at the liquor store I was mortified. It was for a New Years Eve party I was throwing – I just needed to clear that up. A few years ago I was behind someone who was clearly having some sort of function one where they needed like 6 or more 30 packs of Bud Light? I have NO idea when that much of the same beer is necessary but who am I to judge?
Last weekend I was asked to bring an appetizer and I came across one in a magazine that I ripped out and wanted to give it a try. It looked easy and sounded like it would be quite tasty even though it’s main ingredient was one of those items I would classify as “questionable” in my book. This would be the second time in my adult like that I was standing in line at the grocery store with a can of spam in my cart.
I recall when I was younger my Father would chop it up very small and make a western omelette with Spam and I am not positive but I believe my Mother chopped it up for ham salad finger sandwiches? At least I know I have had finger sandwiches that were definitely made with Spam.
I am going to say even if Spam is one of your no no’s these little bites are quite delicious and very easy to make. When I brought them to the party they were gone within the first 15-20 minutes and I will be making them again!

Spam Bacon Bites

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
a tasty little bite
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 16 strips of bacon cut in half
  • 1 can reduced sodium spam 12 ounces
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove minced

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400'F
  • cube spam into 32 pieces.
  • in a saute pan cook bacon till partially cooked, make sure not to cook them to far they should not be crispy. remove to some paper towels to drain.
  • wrap a piece of bacon around a cube of spam and secure with a toothpick.
  • place each piece on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  • combine the mustard, syrup and garlic and drizzle over each bite.
  • return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Till the bacon is crisp.

Notes

You can use cubed ham if you are afraid to add spam to your shopping cart
Adapted from Taste of Home test kitchen

Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

I hope you had a wonderful day/weekend however you spent your time! We had 9 for Thanksgiving dinner and today (Saturday) will be 11 for homemade pasta (another personal cooking class for my sister-in-law) and Bolognese.
IMG_3665.JPG
For as far back as I can remember my family took all the leftovers from Thanksgiving and made them into a casserole of sorts. Basically take a 9×13 container and fill it or several of them with a little bit of everything and then top it with gravy. I still love doing this but this year when the family was cleaning up after eating I asked them to put everything in their own containers. I wanted to try making a thanksgiving leftover egg roll after seeing something similar floating around on FB.

IMG_3658And I had recently had an appetizer couples cooking class and I had them making a typical egg roll; pork, cabbage, carrot and scallions; except I had them air fry them, for the only reason being that there were 6 of them and we had made a lot app’s and it was the last one we made. I was a little worried about all of us being around hot oil. Did I mention that they bring wine with them. Just didn’t think it would be a good idea.
IMG_3659They were good air fried but we all were in agreement that we should have fried them in oil especially since the definition of a egg roll is “a Chinese-style snack consisting of diced meat or shrimp and shredded vegetables wrapped in a dough made with egg and deep-fried.” So egg rolls have been on my mind.
IMG_3661The ones I made were super easy and a big hit with everyone. I made 20 egg rolls and there were 7 of us that made them basically disappear. There were 2 left and my daughter brought them to one of her co-workers who also thought they were awesome. I wasn’t too sure about dipping sauces but they are a must. They just add another level of flavor. I always have thai sweet chili sauce in the fridge, I wanted to use the leftover cranberry sauce I made but my husband threw it away grrrrr. Thankfully I had a can of whole berry sauce that I added some orange juice and sriracha too that made a really nice tart sauce with a little heat. And of course there is always leftover gravy that I didn’t get a picture of but everyone gobbled up all 3 sauces.
IMG_3663Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

Egg roll wrappers
Leftover turkey chopped up
Leftover stuffing chopped up
Cranberry sauce
1 egg – beaten

Oil for frying
Yes it was that simple

Cranberry dipping sauce
whole berry cranberry sauce
splash of orange juice
sriracha to taste
place everything in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil for about a 2-3 minutes

A few comments from the crowd
“what a fun way to eat leftovers”, “you are just amazing”, “these are SO good”

IMG_3662On the back of the package of egg roll wrappers will tell you how to fill, wrap, seal  and fry.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

I am sitting here this morning drinking my tea and trying to figure out what to say. Which is kinda funny for me, as most of my friends and family will gladly tell you; I always have something to say.  Just sharing –  It took me longer to write this than it did to make a platter of these the other night. 
IMG_3590Today is our first frost, last night my Red Sox lost the first game of the series. I used up the last of my balsamic that I brought home from Italy. And I think I might have worn my flip flops for the last time this year. The day has nowhere to go but up – I hope.
IMG_3583I do have a quick and simple appetizer that I probably paid at least 12 euros for 3 little bites in Greece. But I will be adding these to my list of go too App. I have some friends that have been asking me to come up with an appetizer class. They say they always make the same things every time they are asked to bring something. Which I totally understand. You make something that everyone likes why wouldn’t you make it over and over again. I get a sense that I have to bring something different every time I am invited to someone’s home. I am sure I bring most of it on to myself, I write a food blog I can’t disappoint my people LOL.
IMG_3584This recipe is so simple I am almost embarrassed to write a blog about it. But if you want a new app to bring to a party or just make a light snack for yourself; I won’t judge you.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Mascarpone, room temperature
Balsamic vinegar
Greens for decoration

There are packages by the deli with pre-sliced prosciutto, slice each one lengthwise down the middle.
IMG_3585I found it easier to work with the Mascarpone when it got warmer. I put mine in a pastry bag. You can use a ziploc bag or skip the bag and use a couple of spoons to dollop some on the end of each piece of Prosciutto.

Roll each piece and stand them on end, drizzle with the balsamic. Adding some greenery finishes off the simple plate nicely. When I make these again I might roll the meat and then fill with the mascarpone using my pastry bag. I think they would look much nicer. 
IMG_3586
Mascarpone, Cream Cheese
Mascarpone simply put is less tangy than Cream cheese

Bacon, Pancetta, Prosciutto – I love all three
Now a quick little lesson in the differences between Bacon, pancetta, prosciutto
Three pork products that look alike, taste somewhat similar, and even get regularly substituted for each other.

All three are cured meat products Bacon (usually found sliced) and Pancetta (can be sliced thin or cubed) are from the pork belly and need to be cooked before eating. Bacon is put through a smoking process where Pancetta is unsmoked. Prosciutto (sliced and cubed) is from the hind leg and does not have to be cooked to be eaten.
I hope this simple explanation clears things up a little for you.
IMG_3589