Thanksgiving Meat & Cheese Board + Cranberry Mostarda

I know we covered Thanksgiving Appetizers here, but I’d like to elaborate a bit more on the Meat & Cheese Board element.

Cheese Board A Meat & Cheese Board is a simple way to serve a variety of crowd-pleasing flavors with minimal effort.  For a smaller dinner party (6-10 guests), start with 2 cheeses, 1 meat  and 3 types of crackers or bread.  For a larger party (20 – 25 guests) up the amounts to 5 cheeses, 2 meats and 4 types of crackers or bread.  Each meat, cheese, cracker and bread should vary in flavor to give your guests plenty of tasting options.  To up the ante, serve something homemade that will complement the Meat & Cheese Board.  This could be homemade pickles, chutney, dip, spread, aioli, or compound butter (to name just a few).  Here’s what I have going on in the picture above:

Cheese: Kerrygold Dubliner, Kerrygold Sharp Cheddar with Irish Whiskey
Meat: Proscuitto
Crackers and Bread:  Trader Joe’s Rosemary Raisin Crisps (best crackers EVER), Trader Joe’s Rosemary Crackers, Sliced Baguette
Homemade:  Cranberry Mostarda

When preparing an appetizer spread for a smaller party, I like to serve high impact cheeses.  The Kerrygold Dubliner and Sharp Cheddar both have big, bold flavor that can easily be enjoyed as is or on a cracker topped with mostarda.  For a large party, I like to layer in some lower impact (but still delicious) cheeses, including brie and goat cheese.  Another nice touch is to serve 1 cheese that’s a personal favorite.  When my guests come over for a dinner party, they can always expect to see Manchego on the table.  I just love it!

For meat, Proscuitto, salami, mortadella, sopressata or hard chorizo are all good options.  Don’t go overboard with the meats though.  With too many options, guests might fill up before dinner!  For crackers and bread, I always hit up my local Trader Joe’s.  They have a wide variety of basic and unique crackers, plus they are continuously releasing new seasonal flavors.  Trader Joe’s also sells several types of baguette perfect for slicing and serving.  The two crackers I selected above are flavored with rosemary, a flavor I associate with the Holidays.

Finally, let’s talk about this Cranberry Mostarda.  Sweet and sour, a mostarda is an Italian condiment made with fruit and a mustard-flavored syrup.  Here, fresh cranberries are cooked in a bold mixture of white wine, white wine vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, mustard seeds, cinnamon, ginger and clove until tender and collapsed.  The sauce is finished with kosher salt and a bright hit of fresh orange zest.  This seasonal sauce pairs well with most cheeses, and could event be used as cranberry sauce for dinner!  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Watermelon Ginger Spritzer

I’m keeping things short and sweet today.

Watermelon Ginger Spritzer And when I say short, I’m referring to the serious lack of time it takes to blend up this delicious, non-alcoholic beverage.  The sweetness comes in two forms.  First, chunks of watermelon ripe with fragrant, sweet juices are blended and strained, forming the most vibrant-colored liquid.  The pure essence of watermelon really.  Second, sweet and spicy Ginger Syrup is added to the mix for depth of flavor.  The drink is finished with freshly squeezed lime juice for balance, and sparkling water to lighten the texture.  This Watermelon Ginger Spritzer is crisp, seasonal, and incredibly refreshing.  A perfect summer beverage.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Quick Fennel and Cabbage Kimchi

Quick Fennel and Cabbage Kimchi

Growing up in a family that was half Italian and half Eastern European (Polish, Czech and Hungarian), never would I have thought that kimchi, Korean fermented cabbage, would become such a widely-used ingredient in my kitchen.  But it is.  There’s something about kimchi’s salty, sour and spicy notes that can transform the flavors of a dish into something so unique.  For example, when you add it to pizza, the sour notes of the cabbage cut through the richness of the mozzarella cheese while the salt and spice amp up the tomato sauce.  I also love mixing chopped kimchi into my morning scramble, adding it to deviled eggs, or stirring it into a hot bowl of broth.

The key to really enjoying kimchi is to find a particular brand that suits your taste.  There are many varieties of kimchi available for purchase, and not all of them taste good.  Some can be too mushy.  Others overly funky or fishy.  Don’t give up on your kimchi hunt after your first bite of bad kimchi!  Keep searching.  Here in San Diego, my boyfriend discovered a suuuuuper tasty kimchi sold at our local farmer’s markets called Happy Pantry Kimchi.  It’s got a nice spicy fermented flavor without the fishiness that can be found in traditional varieties.  I also enjoy the kimchi available at Trader Joe’s.

The other option is to make a kimchi recipe at home.  This will allow you to control each flavor, adding more or less of something to taste.  Which brings us to this Quick Fennel and Cabbage Kimchi.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Stone Fruit Galette with Ginger and Vanilla

Stone Fruit Galette Slice This galette (a rustic, free-form tart) begins with a market bounty of ripe stone fruit: fragrant doughnut peaches, golden nectarines, tender apricots and blushing rainers.   A rhapsody of crimson and gold, the sliced fruits are tossed with ginger, vanilla and several spoonfuls of glistening white sugar.  Encased in a blanket of butter-speckled pastry, stone fruit and juices are then baked until melting and bubbly.  Served beside a scoop of cool vanilla ice cream, this warm Stone Fruit Galette with Ginger and Vanilla is little slice of heaven.

Over this past holiday weekend, Jorge and I hosted a Tart Party for a few fellow San Diego Food Bloggers.  I’ve always been a big fan of tarts, so I thought it would be fun to dedicate an entire party to them :)  Jorge made a super tasty Strawberry Rhubarb Tart, and I threw together a Zucchini Tart and French Onion Tart.  Marie and Dan, from Meandering Eats, brought an amaaaazing Triple Cheese Tart with Chocolate and Orange.  And Vintage Sugarcube’s Jenny baked a beatiful Corn and Basil Tart.  This tart was just bursting with corn flavor.  Stacy with Center Stage Wellness was also there sans tart.  Instead, she brought her new adorable baby, Iver :).  Check out my Instagram feed for photos from the party.

I didn’t actually serve this Stone Fruit Tart at the gathering;  however, I was still in a tart-making mood after the party, so I baked two new tarts for Kitchen Konfidence.  Yes, that means there’s another coming soon :)  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Rhubarb Cupcakes

RhubarbCupcakes1 Looking at this plate of rosy-hued Rhubarb Cupcakes is 100% torture right now.  Ok I know I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’m on day 5 of a 5 day Paleo challenge, and I have not had a drop of sugar or dairy all week long (more details coming soon).  As I was searching through my picture archives a few days ago, I unearthed this recipe, and realized that I never shared it on KK.  Rude!  So here it is.  Studded with flecks of stewed rhubarb, these ginger-scented cakes are topped with vibrant rhubarb-lemon buttercream frosting.  When I say this frosting is vibrant, I mean that it really does have a snap.  The rhubarb stewing liquid is reduced to a thick syrup then mixed with lemon into a creamy buttercream base.  So.  Yum.

I’m taking a break from eating Paleo on Saturday and Sunday, and I already have several stalks of bright rhubarb sitting in my fridge destined for these cupcakes.  I deserve a little treat after completing such a rigorous challenge, right?  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Pear and Arugula Smoothie

Pear and Arugula Smoothie

I’ve reached that point in the new year where my body is just craving something healthy.  Cake, ice cream, burgers and Chinese food have recently been added to the list of things I don’t want to eat at the moment.  This list is, of course, only temporary.  But as for right now, I am officially on a health kick.  Morning meals include homemade granola, scrambled eggs sans butter, and variety of delicious smoothies.  My Spiced Oatmeal Smoothie is a standard, but recently, I’ve been ob. sessed. with this Pear and Arugula Smoothie.  Peppery arugula is blended with orange juice, pine nuts, yogurt, ginger and fresh pear.  The finished smoothie is light, bright and packed with flavor.  It’s seriously the easiest way to down a cup of greens in the morning.  Continue reading for the recipe (with animated GIF!).

Read More »

Poached Quince

Poached Quince Last year, during the height of my soda-making obsession, I first discovered the beauty of the quince.  I was experimenting with a new flavor profile (quince and star anise), and after a few hours of simmering, I was left with a delicious soda syrup and melt-in-your-mouth Poached Quince.  After just one bite, I knew I had stumbled upon a new seasonal favorite.  In its raw form, quince is quite inedible.  Sour and astringent, raw quince looks like an apple or a pear, but seriously… don’t take a bite.  When cooked, quince transforms into a wonderfully fragrant delicacy nothing short of pure heaven.  The fragrance is like apple and pear mixed with heady floral notes.  In this recipe, I’ve added vanilla, cardamom and ginger to the poaching liquid.  Each of those flavors compliments the quince; however, you can omit any or all of them if you’re not a fan.  Quince are ripe when firm, yellow and fragrant.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

El Comediante

El Comediante

El Comediante (Spanish for the comedian) is your cocktail for this weekend.  And the next few weekends.  Made with Red Bell Pepper Rum, Ginger Syrup, lime, ginger ale, red wine and mint, this colorful cocktail is packed with flavor and aroma.  The red wine floating on top pairs beautifully with the red bell pepper rum.  And with each sip, you’ll get a nosefull of spicy fresh mint.  Get a few of these in you, and you’ll be giggling all evening long.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a video from my recent segment on San Diego Channel 6!!

Read More »

Vanilla Ice Cream with Ginger Syrup and Curry Powder

Vanilla Ice Cream with Ginger Syrup and Curry Powder

I was in New York City earlier this year and I had the most amazing ice cream flavor combination at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop — soft vanilla ice cream floating in a shallow pool of spicy ginger syrup and aromatic curry powder.  Each bite was unreal.  I couldn’t put my spoon down!  The sweet vanilla cream was a perfect counter to the bold ginger syrup and curry, creating a harmonious bite nothing short of pure heaven.  I recreated this sundae at home and to be honest… I couldn’t believe how easy it was.  You can buy ginger syrup or make it at home.  The rest is just an assembly job.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Ginger Syrup

Ginger Syrup

Ginger Syrup is another one of my secret flavor weapons I love to keep around the kitchen.  Drizzle this syrup over your morning waffles as a sweet-spicy substitution to maple syrup.  Stream into a cool pitcher of freshly brewed iced tea to add sweetness and complexity.  Pour into a glass with ice then top with sparkling soda for an impromptu ginger soda.  Ginger Syrup can also be used in a number of cocktails and desserts.  Simply made, Ginger Syrup can be prepared by simmering sliced ginger with sugar and water.  I’ve added galangal and toasted black peppercorns to the mix to add some depth of flavor.  With citrus, pepper and floral notes, galangal is a fibrous root similar to ginger that’s popular in Southeast Asia.  Try to find galangal at a local Asian market or specialty produce store.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »