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Papaya’s Independance

28 Jun

This Independence day you may want to add a little color and a different flavor to your grilled foods. This week’s recipe will not disappoint. Papaya can be added to just about anything to spruce it up. Its vibrant citrus color will tantalize your eyes while its sweet flavor will tantalize your taste buds. Papaya can be baked, grilled, raw, or even sautéed. It can be paired with anything from fruit to curries, ice cream, meat, fish, yogurt, or even caramel. Papaya is extremely versatile.

Here is a recipe that will work with just about anything that you put on the grill this Fourth of July.

Mango Melon Papaya Salsa

2 cups finely diced papaya
1 or 2 tbsp. finely diced cilantro (fresh)
1 or 2 minced shallots
1/4 cup diced red onion
½ or 1 lime, squeezed
Combine all ingredients, stir and let stand at room temperature for half an hour to an hour.

Here are some ways that you can pair your Papaya Salsa…

Swordfish Margarita with Papaya Salsa

Steamed Prawns with Papaya Honey Salsa

Red Quinoa topped with Cumin Seed and Garlic Sauteed Bok Choy, Tequila-Lime Roasted Tempeh, and Papaya Salsa

Turkey Tenderloin with Papaya Mango Salsa

Mmm take a bite out of that!

If you want to look more into grilling, take a look at “Guys Grilling it Up!”.


Cool Creamy Panna Cotta

21 Jun

Coconut Panna Cotta with Tropical Fruit Compote

So it’s over 100 degrees in NYC today and all we can do is think of the different ways that we can combat the heat. In the past we’ve cooled down with Ambrosia in “Hawaiian Stay-cation”, Cocktails and Mocktails in “Quench That Thirst” and “A Tale of Two Tails…”, Peanut Punch in “Soothe those Tremors with a PUNCH!”, Sorbets in “Keeping Your Cool…”, Parfaits in “Parfaits…Simple, Yummy, Elegance”, and Milkshakes in “Confessions of a Milkshake-Oholic”.

Today’s cooling agent is Panna Cotta. Panna Cotta in Italian translates as “cooked cream”. In its most basic form, panna cotta is made by heating cream and milk with sugar, adding vanilla and gelatin, and chilling in molds until set. It is often served with fruits or caramel sauce.

This recipe will not leave you in the hot kitchen for too long. So no worries, you can be hanging out on the porch with your Panna Cotta in no time.

Panna Cotta

Milk 10 oz
Heavy Cream 10oz
Sugar 4oz
Gelatin 1 ½ – 2 ¼ Tsp
Vanilla Extract 1 Tsp


1. Heat the milk, cream, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Soften the gelatin in cold water. Add the softened gelatin to the hot milk mixture until dissolved.
3. Stir in the vanilla.
4. Pour into 3-4oz molds. Chill until set.
5. Unmold to serve.

Note: The lower quantity of gelatin makes a soft, delicate dessert. Use this quantity if the room temperature is cool. The larger quantity makes a firmer dessert that can withstand more handling when unmolded.

Here are some yummy Panna Cotta variations …

Panna Cotta with Vermont Blue Cheese and Roasted Stone Fruit

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Port Balsamic Cherries

Blueberry Panna Cotta

Lemon Panna Cotta with Mint Jelly

Pomegranate Panna Cotta

Mmm take a bite out of that!

For any of the above recipes, please feel free to send me a request at

Summer’s Heirloom Catch!

14 Jun

Parmesan Potato-Crusted Halibut with Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini

Have you ever come across a recipe that sounded so great that you just had to share it with your family and friends? Well Studded family today I have found that recipe. While looking through one of my many cookbooks, I came across a recipe that made my mouth water at the very site of the words… “Parmesan Potato-Crusted Halibut with Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini”. Doesn’t that sound just amazing?

First of all I think that heirloom tomatoes are absolutely beautiful and extremely flavorful. This week we are not focusing on heirloom tomatoes, but I just had to share a beautiful photo.

Heirloom Tomatoes

I have to admit that this time around I do not have all of the ingredients for this recipe readily available, so I am required to pay a visit to the market… One of my favorite places to be ;-).

Give this wonderful summer recipe a try and let me know how it turns out. I would love to hear your feedback!

Parmesan Potato-Crusted Halibut with Heirloom Tomato and Zucchini

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp instant mashed potatoes
1 Tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 (6 ounce) portions halibut fillet
8 Large heirloom tomatoes, chopped, or 2 pints organic cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ Cup chopped green onion
2 Cups diced zucchini
1 Bunch fresh basil, chopped
2 Tsp sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a shallow bowl, combine Parmesan, potatoes, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat a nonstick ovenproof saute pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Coat 1 side of halibut with the potato mixture, pressing to adhere. Place fillets potato side down in the heated saute pan. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. When the potato is golden brown (about 5 minutes), carefully turn the fillets over and place the pan in the oven. Cook until almost done, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato-zucchini mixture to the pan, being careful not to cover the halibut. Continue cooking for 2 minutes, or until the halibut is just cooked.

Mmm take a bite out of that!

Back to my roots… Trinidad Pelau

7 Jun

Every so often I have to revisit my roots. I find it especially easy when I am not sure what to cook for dinner, and I do not want to put too much thought into the process. I know that I have expressed to you in the past that my family is from Trinidad, I was not actually born there, but I am just as Trini as the natives. 🙂

Tonight for dinner I am going to make one of the easiest and tastiest go to dishes for in a Trinidadian household…Pelau. The easy thing about making Pelau is that it is a one pot meal. The process is not hard at all, and has almost no frustration factor. The best way to describe Pelau is a stew of rice, meat, and peas. I cannot be too specific because there are so many variations. The rice should be parboiled rice because it will hold best. But the meat can range from chicken to beef, or even pork. The “peas” can be pigeon peas (gandules), lentils, or in some cases red kidney beans. This meal pretty much can accommodate whatever you have in your pantry or refrigerator at the time.

Here is a video recipe from “Mr. Caribbean Pot” that can give you some guidelines, but remember that Pelau is not a strict dish, you have room to play with the ingredients, just a little.

A great compliment to Pelau is Creamy Coleslaw.

Mmm take a bite out of that!

On the Menu: Beef Samosas with Mint Chutney

31 May

I’m feeling for something Indian tonight, and I haven’t had samosas in a while, so guess what folks, that is what’s for dinner.  Samosas are fairly easy to make, but it does require just a little bit of work. So I suggest that we just get to it today.  Who is joining me?

Beef Samosas with Mint Chutney

Beef Samosas with Mint Chutney Dip

2 Tbl Oil

1 Onion, finely chopped

2 Tsp Fresh Ginger, finely chopped

13 oz Beef, minced

1 Tbl Curry Powder

1 Tomato, peeled and chopped

1 Potato, cubed

1Tbl Fresh Mint, finely chopped

6 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry

1 Egg yolk, lightly beaten

1 Tbl Cream

Mint Chutney Dip

¾ oz Fresh Mint Leaves

4 Sprigs Scallion

1 Red Chilli, seeded

¼ Tsp Salt

1 Tbl Lemon Juice

2 Tsp Caster Sugar

¼ Tsp Garam Masala

Heat oil in a pan, add onion and ginger and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Add the curry powder and let it burn for about 30 seconds, then add the beef and stir on high heat until the beef is browned.  Add 1 Tsp of salt and the tomato and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Add the potato and 3 Tbl of water and cook, continue stirring for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat, then cool.  Stir in the mint.

Preheat the oven to 415 degrees.  Cut the pastry into 5 ¼ in. circles using a cutter or small plate as a guide.  Then cut in half.  Form cones by folding each in half, then folding the sides together.  Spoon 2 Tsp of the meat into each cone.  Pinch the top edges together to seal.  Place on a lightly greased baking tray.  Beat the egg yolk with the cream and brush over the pastry.  Bake for 10 to 15 mins, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve with mint chutney.

To make the dip, roughly chop the mint leaves, scallion and chilli and place them in a food processor or blender with 3 Tbls of water and the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and serve with the hot samosas.

Yields Approximately 20 Samosas

Mmm take a bite out of that!

Flavor Lock

24 May

Osso Buco

Hey Studded Family, this week we are back to the classroom.  We are going to learn how to lock flavor into our meats.  I know that most of you have heard of the term “Braising”.  But do you really know what it means to braise meat?

Braising- a combination cooking method in which foods are first browned in hot fat, then covered and slowly cooked in a small amount of liquid over low heat; braising uses a combination of simmering and steaming to transfer heat from the liquid (conduction) and the air (convection) to the foods.

Not only does braising lock flavor in, but it makes for some good ol’ fall of the bone action. Producing some of the best textures and flavors that will make your heart and taste buds smile.

Foods made for “braizen”…

Braised Chicken with Fennel and Apples

Red Cabbage Braised with Apples, Maple and Ginger

Guinness Braised Short Rib


Mmm take a bite out of that!


Cake Awe

17 May

I love to look at pictures of food and as you can tell I love good quality.  Lately I have been looking at beautiful pictures of cakes. This week we are going to take a break from the kitchen and just sit in awe of some of the works that I have found.


Mmm take a bit out of that!

All Buttered Up!

10 May

Compound butters also known to the French as Beurres Composés can be the perfect complement to a delicious meal.  They can be used to for grilled meats, poultry, fish, or even for finishing sauces.

A compound butter is made by incorporating various seasonings into softened whole butter. They are then rolled in plastic wrap or parchment paper, and then chilled until firm. They can even be piped into rosettes and chilled until firm.  It is important when making a compound butter that the flavor ingredients are evenly distributed. Salt and pepper should be added to ensure that the flavors are heightened and your butter is not bland. Most compound butters can be kept for two to three days or frozen for longer storage.

When it comes to Compound Butters, you can really let your imagination run wild. Here are some starter examples that you may want to try…

Cilantro-Lime Herb Butter

Cilantro-Lime Herb Butter 


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (slightly softened)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, packed
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together butter, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a small bowl. Serve as is or save for later.

If you save the butter for later, wrap it up in plastic wrap in the shape of a log and refrigerate until stiff. To use, just unwrap and slice from the butter log.

Serve with corn-on-the-cob or over your favorite things.

Steakhouse Steak Butter


1/4 pound butter
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon liquid smoke seasoning
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Cream all ingredients together well with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer. Cover and refrigerate.

Serve on grilled steak (or burgers, pork chops, even chicken breasts!)

Apple Cinnamon Butter

Apple Cinnamon Butter


2 ounces dried apple chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted and softened butter

Add dried apple, cinnamon, brown sugar to butter. Mix all ingredients in food processor until well- combined. Serve with fresh scones, muffins or other breakfast breads.

Winter Pear Butter


8 large ripe pears
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brandy
1/3 cup water

Peel, quarter and core the pears; chop in 1/2-inch pieces. Put all the ingredients in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until the pears are soft.

Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender and then return the puree to the pot. Cook uncovered over very low heat, stirring often, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the pear butter is very thick. be careful not to let it scorch. Remove from the heat.

Stir the hot pear butter for a minute or two to release more heat and then spoon into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top of each jar. Wipe the rim of each jar. Cover and allow to come to room temperature. (It will be a gray-green color) Label the jars and refrigerate for up to three weeks.

Roasted Hazelnut Butter


4 ounces fresh hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted and softened butter

Roast hazelnuts in 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove skin from nuts and coarsely chop them. Mix nuts and lemon zest with softened butter until well-combined.

Gorgonzola-Bacon Butter


1/2 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon finely crumbled crisp-cooked bacon or purchased bacon bits
2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese


In a small bowl, beat softened butter, bacon, and Gorgonzola with an electric mixer on low speed or stir until well combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 24 hours to allow flavors to blend. Bring the butter to room temperature before serving.

Blue Cheese Butter

Blue Cheese Butter 


1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Cream softened butter and add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Fold in crumbled blue cheese and mix just until combined. Serve with meat or baked potatoes.

Cajun Butter

Cajun Butter


2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)
1/4 cup chicken broth

Stir together butter and spices. Cook 1 minute (med heat). Stir in cornstarch & chicken broth. Cook until bubbly. Serve warm over cooked corn on the cob or other vegetables.

Strawberry Butter

Strawberry Butter


1/4 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
1 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Mix ingredients together in blender until smooth. Delicious on hot homemade rolls.

Mmm take a bite out of that!

Flavor Profiles: Rice Wine Vinegar

3 May

Spicy Sweet Pickled Cucumber

So every so often I will pick an ingredient at random and do a flavor profile on it. In the flavor profile I will give you an ingredient, seasonal availability, suggested cooking style or technique, weight, volume, and compatible flavors. I may not have the all of the flavor compatibilities, but I will try my best to give you a good place to start, and hopefully a good variety.  I would love to hear some of your own suggestions, let’s get a dialogue started.

Today’s Flavor Profile Ingredient is…

Rice Wine Vinegar

Rice Wine Vinegar

Taste:  Sour, Sweet

Weight:  Light

Volume:  quiet, with lower acidity

Asian Cuisine




Fruit, esp. salads



Japanese Cuisine




Oils:  peanut, sesame

Pepper:  black, pink

Rice: (e.g. sushi)




Sesame seeds

Soups, esp. creamy, potato

Soy sauce

Star anise


Rice Wine Vinegar in action…

Thai Cucumber Salad

Thai Cucumber Salad

4 Tbs Sugar

2 Tbs Rice Wine Vinegar

½ Tsp Salt

4 Tbs Water

2 Cups Cucumbers, peeled, gutted, and sliced (1 English or 3 Persian)

¼ Red Onion, sliced thin

¼ Cup Fresh Mint, roughly chopped

¼ Cup fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped

A Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes


Combine sugar, vinegar, salt, water, red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan over high heat.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Let it come to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer for a minute.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Place the cucumber, onion, mint, and cilantro in a medium bowl.  Pour the dressing over the contents of the bowl and toss to coat.  Serves 4 as a side salad.

Mmm take a bite out of that!

Girl Scout Cookies Reinvented

26 Apr

Girl Scout Tagalong Crescents

How many different ways can a Girl Scout cookie be re-reciped (yeah I made that word up)? So lately Girl Scout of America cookies are just popping up everywhere I go. I was on my 2nd favorite website the other day (because you know is my first ;-))and I came across an interesting and yummy sounding take on a Girl Scout cookie, which lead me to a search for more recipes that use Girl Scout cookies.

You said you’d like to see what they are? I thought you’d never ask :-).

Girl Scout Shortbread Oven Fried Chicken

Girl Scout Samoa Bundt Cake

Girl Scout Lemonades Cupcakes

Girl Scout Tagalong Peanut Butter Parfaits

Here is a video from YoYoMax12 that shows us how to make Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie Mini Cheesecakes.

Mmm take a bite out of that!