Flavors from Afar & FM 1410


If you’ve been keeping up with my artizone  posts, the site will launch next month!  Which means, you have only about two more weeks until you’ll be able to have the best artisan products in the city delivered to your front door.  This week I am featuring Flavors from Afar and FM 1410 — two well known names in Dallas.

At Flavors from Afar, the adventuresome duo Nancy and Gary  carries the best  artisan products imported from Italy.  You are able to taste a little part of Italy through the culinary gems that Flavors from Afar has to offer — like the fragrant olive oils of Tuscany or the bold and fruity balsamic vinegars from Modena. Flavors From Afar offers products that makes entertaining elegant and simple — as the Italians would say: Buon Appetito!!

The top chefs of Dallas know Tom well for his fresh herbs and produce.  With a beautiful garden tucked away in the middle of downtown, the treasures from Tom’s garden will redefine anyone’s definition of “fresh”. At FM 1410 it truly is a farm to table experience — full of flavor, life and most importantly, love. 

With the combination of these artisan powers I created these wonderful mini pizzettes — Bacon & Caramelized Onion with Arugula, Basil and Almond Pesto with Red Pepper and Thyme Lobster Mushroom drizzled with Balsamic.  These pizzettes would make a great appetizer or a wonderful afternoon snack.  Not to mention they are also quite healthy (except for the bacon..O_o) and dairy-free!

Ingredients for Mini Pizzettes: (serves 8-10)

  • 12 ounces pizza dough (You can find my pizza dough recipe here or buy storebought dough)

Preheat the oven to 475 F.  Roll out the pizza dough into a 1/4-inch-thick round.  Using a 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inch diameter cookie cutter, cut out 30 dough circles.  Arrange the circles on 2 large heavy baking sheets (make sure you put semolina on the bottom of the pan to keep the dough from sticking).

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups Basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup high quality Olive Oil (I used Ariston from Flavors from Afar)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Process the garlic, basil and almonds in a food processor.  Pulse until all ingredients are thoroughly chopped, scrapping down the sides as neccessary.  While running the processor, slowly pour in the 1/2 cup olive oil until it reaches the right consistency, you can add more olive oil as needed.  Set aside.

 

Thyme Lobster Mushroom

  • 8 oz Lobster Mushroom, thinly sliced (you can find these at FM 1410)
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 oz Madeira or a sweet cooking wine
  • 2 oz fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 oz high quality Balsamic vinegar (you can find these at Flavors from Afar)
  • salt pepper to taste

Heat a large saucepan on medium high heat and melt the butter til it’s bubbling.  Add in the garlic, shallot and sliced mushrooms and sautee until softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in the wine and thyme and cook until liquid is soaked up, taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Carmelized Onion & Bacon

  • 6 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh arugula
  • salt pepper to taste

Heat a large pan on medium high heat add the bacon and cook for 1 minute.  Add the sliced onions and reduce heat to medium.  Caramelize the onions with the bacon, about 8 minutes.   Add the honey and apple cider vinegar and cook until liquid is reduced, add salt pepper to taste.  Set aside

To assemble pizzas

Using the three toppings you’ve made, place them on the pizza dough rounds (about 1 tsp for each).  Bake until the pizzettes are golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Drizzle the pizzettes with olive oil.  For the Bacon Onion and Arugula, simply add some fresh arugula on top and serve.  For the Thyme Lobster Mushroom, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top and serve.  For the Basil Almond Pesto, add the sliced red pepper and fresh basil leaves for garnish and serve. 

Apple Pie Bars


My favorite season in the entire universe has been treating us well here in Texas.  Though the weather is still a tad warmer than I would like it, Fall is here and I’m ready to party.  The leaves are changing (sloooowly), the nights are becoming cooler and I’ve pulled out every pair of boots and sweaters and jackets I own, because here in Texas you only get to wear them 2 months out of the year.  Time is of the essence people!  

Fall also brings around some of my favorite fruits — Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits! (Oh my!) But my favorite would have to be the endless varietals of apples — Honey Crisp (my favorite), Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji — I try to make everything apple during the Fall.  So let’s start this season off right with these DELICIOUS Apple Pie Bars, the tartness from the Granny Smith Apples gives this dessert a wonderful flavor.  Not to mention the nutty streusel topping and the buttery shortbread crust that will put a smile on anyone’s face!

(From Food and Wine Magazine)

Ingredients for Apple Pie Bars: (makes 4 dozen bars)

Crust

  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 12 granny smith apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup water, as necessary

Topping

  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a 15 by 17″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms.  Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and 1/2 inch up the sides in an even layer.  Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden and set.  Let cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, make the filing: In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar.  Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet.  Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaoprated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to eac pan to prevent scorching.  Let cool.

Make the topping: Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden a fragrant, 8 minutes.  Let cool; coarsely chop.  In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in the walnut sand press the mixture into clumps .

Spread the apple filing over the crust.  Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer.  Bake in the cente rof the oven for 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking.  let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.

** The bars can be store in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month. 

You can also make a smaller batch (2 dozen) by dividing the amount of the ingredients in half. 

———————

Since we’re on the subject of Apples, I wanted to share with you guys a shoot I did for my friends Heather and Trevor.  Photography is always fun when your subjects are as photogenic as Heather and Trevor and their love for each other is inevitable through these photos. 

Heather first fell in love with Trevor when they were tiny tots back in elementary school. Several years later in High School, they were reunited at a party — Heather spotted Trevor across the room and rushed up to him — “HEY! I had a HUGE crush on you in elementary school!”  And the rest is history.  Long story short, he fell in love with her beautiful blue eyes and heart of gold she fell in love with his brawn and robust personality. 

Could these two be any more adorable?  I love the fact that Heather is the beautiful southern belle and Trevor is the rugged Texan cowboy — I love the contrast of not only of their apperances but of their personalities. 

They’ve been happily married and will be celebrating their 3 year anniversary soon — kudos to you Heather and Trevor!  To one of the most beautiful couples I know — thank you for letting me photograph you guys :)

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Honey


 

My first panna cotta experience was actually with my first job working as an Assistant Pastry Chef at Bailey’s Prime.  I was too embarassed to admit to the Chef that I had no CLUE as to what the heck panna cotta was except that it sounded fancy as hell.

Luckily, it was one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made and actually turned out to be one of my favorites.  I loved the creamy yet firm texture, the lovely dressings on top and the way it looked so smooth and elegant — plus, who wouldn’t be impressed with a dessert called PANNA COTTA!  I say it exactly like that too when I serve it, with gumption, excitement and my best Italian accent.   

I found this recipe from an old issue of Food & Wine Magazine, I loved the simplicity of flavors with the yogurt and honey — did I also mention this was a healthy dessert?  *GASP* You’re welcome :)

Ingredients for Yogurt Panna Cottas with Honey:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • black grapes, for serving

In a small bowl, mix the gelatin with the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.  In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer with the sugar and cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved.



In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the yogurt.  Whisk in the warm milk until smooth.  Pour the panna cotta mixture into six 4-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.



To serve, drizzle the panna cottas with the honey and garnish with the grapes.  Make Ahead: The yogurt panna cottas can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day before serving. 

Scardello Artisan Cheese and JJ&B Artisan Spreads


So it’s time to join me on a food adventure where we will tour the top artisans in Dallas that will be featured through Artizone — this week I will be featuring Scardello Artisan Cheese and JJ&B Artisan Spreads.

Scardello Artisan Cheese, rated by D magazine for Best Cheesemonger has a selection that would impress even the pickiest foodie. Rich searches for the best European and local cheeses in so many different varieties that the combinations seem endless.  At JJ&B, Kathy makes magical combinations through her artisan spreads — Apple Pie Jam perfect over ice cream or Sweet Onion Jam to garnish a steak.  It adds the perfect touch of elegance and wonder into any meal or dessert.

I decided to combine their artisan powers and produced two simple recipes.  Using a creamy brie from Jasper Hill Farms in Vermont, the Moses Sleeper has a mild, gentle and savory flavor that taste of milk, hay and butter.  I melted the brie and paired it with JJ&B’s Toasted Pecan Pepper Jam and crackers– a simple, elegant, heavenly appetizer that would serve well for any occasion.  I also made beggar’s purses made of phyllo which I stuffed with goat cheese and JJ&B’s Sweet Onion Jam.  A sweet and savory combination that would please any crowd!

Ingredients for Warm Brie and Toasted Pecan Pepper Jam Appetizer: (serves 10-12)

  • 1 lb Scardello’s Moses Sleeper Brie
  • 1 jar  JJ&B Toasted Pecan Pepper Jam
  • crackers for dipping

Preheat oven to 350F.  On an oven-proof plate, place the Brie in the oven for 5 minutes or until fully melted.  Place jar of Toasted Pecan Pepper Jam on top and serve with assortment of crackers.  Best served immediately.

Ingredients for Beggar’s Purses with Goat Cheese and Sweet Onion Jam: (serves 10)

  • 1 package of Phyllo dough
  • 16 oz Scardellos’ On Pure Ground Goat Cheese
  • 1 jar JJ&B Sweet Onion Jam
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 package of chives, blanched

Cut the phyllo dough into 3″ squares and brush with melted butter.  In each square place 1 tablespoon goat cheese with 1 teaspoon sweet onion jam.  Gather phyllo around filling and tie 1 or 2 blanched chives in a knot to close the purse.  Trim the ends of chives if necessary.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until phyllo is a golden brown in color.  Serve immediately.

Appetite for Good — Cosmo Jello Shots


 

Editor’s Note: Following the wonderful POM event last week and the New York City Wine and Food Festival, which POM was a proud sponsor in joining the fight to end childhood hunger by supporting Share our Strength and the Food Bank for NYC], we decided to use POM to make awesome recipes!

Check out my post at Appetite for Good where I feature POM jelloshots in celebration of the POM charity dinner last week in New York.  I admit for this post I time traveled to my college days — the endless nights studying in the library, the glorious freshman 15 and the oh so popular…jello shots.