Some "cooktales" are a little more special than others. Last weekend, I cooked for a very special occasion: my brother'a wedding. It was my first catering job of sorts, and the food got rave reviews which made me more than happy. This recipe happened to be the hit of the wedding food spread. It's one of the quickest, easiest recipes I've ever created, and people will think you spent hours making it taste so great!
20-30 dates - pit removed and sliced in half Smoked salt
8-10 oz goat cheese - room temperature
1/4 cup milk
40-60 whole pecans - roasted
Balsamic glaze - for drizzling
Heat a grill pan to high heat and brush the pan with olive oil. Lightly salt each date half with the smoked salt (they look like little bugs... Don't be alarmed. Haha!)
When grill pan is hot, grill the dates. Start cut side down and grill for one minute on each side or until dates have dark char marks. Set dates aside and let cool.
Mix the milk and goat cheese together until smooth. Fill each date with about 1 tsp of the goat cheese mixture.
Lightly sprinkle more smoked salt over the goat cheese. Top each date half with one roasted pecan and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
CHEERS TO HAPPY EATING!!!
How many of you go out to dinner and can't ever make up your mind what to order off the menu? I tend to sit down and drive myself crazy with a decision on what to order every time I go out to dinner. I consider myself a "little of this and a bite of that" type of gal. I want to try a few bites of EVERYTHING. I mean, what if I order the wrong thing? As I've told my husband before, "my taste buds get bored... I want it all." It's not uncommon for me to go to a restaurant (sometimes even alone) and order several apps and a dinner entree, particularly when I'm traveling. After all, what if I never get to eat at that restaurant again, and I miss something unforgettable? There's no denying different foods, flavors, and variety is important to me when it comes to my meals. That's why I respect the ever-living heck out of the Spanish. A little thing called tapas exists because of these fine folks, and we are finally picking up on it in the US. That's why I love the concept of a "small plates" or a "bites" menu when I walk into a restaurant. I don't need 100 bites of the same thing... I need 100 bites of several things. I'd like to tell every restaurant out there: GIVE ME ALL YOU HAVE BUT NOT A LOT OF IT! Besides, a "tasting" menu is just so fun.
There's something festive about sitting with a group of friends trying little bites with wine sips in between and debating on which bite or plate was the best. Because bacon wrapped dates have become so popular, I decided it'd be fun to have a "flight" of them - Maple Espresso, Cinnamon Sugar, Lemon Rosemary, Chipotle, and Balsamic Honey. This is so much fun for small get togethers or parties, and you could even have everyone vote at the end. Y'all do this at your next party and let me know which date wins!
Grocery List (serves 4 people 5 dates):
For all the dates:
5 small bowls
5 pieces of foil - cut approximately 12 inches and folded around the edges to make a wall around each edge
10 slices of bacon - cut in half
10 dates - pitted and cut in half
For the Maple Espresso dates:
1 tbsp espresso
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
For the Cinnamon Sugar dates:
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
For the Lemon Rosemary dates:
2 lemons - zested
1 tsp rosemary
For the Chipotle dates:
1 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tbsp adobo sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 pinch cayenne
For the Balsamic Honey dates:
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Make the mix for each date flavor. In the first bowl, mix together the espresso, brown sugar, and maple. In the second bowl, mix together the cinnamon and sugar. In the third bowl, mix together the lemon and rosemary. In the forth bowl mix together the chipotle, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. In the fifth bowl mix together the balsamic, honey, and vanilla.
Wrap the dates. You should have 20 date halves and 20 bacon halves. Wrap each date, and if necessary, you can secure with a toothpick. Step 3: Working with one mix at a time, dip 5 bacon wrapped dates into each mix. Completely cover each date, using as much of the mix as possible. Wash hands in between dipping dates into each flavor so they don't mix with the others. Place each flavored date on a piece of foil keeping like flavors together.
Place foil sheets on two baking sheets - two on one baking sheet, three on the other. It's important that the foil pieces have a wall around each edge so flavors don't mix (it also makes for easy cleanup). Bake until bacon is crisp, about 15 minutes. I like the plate these individually so everyone has a "flight." Or you can just use five small plates or one large plate with the dates piled. Labels would be fun or you could play a guessing game and have guests guess the flavors in each!
CHEERS TO HAPPY EATING!!!!
Parties, parties, parties… they’re one of my favorite pastimes, and we have a lot of them at LeTard Loft. We had so many people over for get togethers and parties one year, I decided our little bungalow needed a nickname, so LeTard Loft stuck. Our condo is after all on one of the busiest streets in the city and above one of the most fun bars, so it only makes sense for our home to have a name. Along with that name comes wine parties, cocktail parties, dinner parties, and a whole lot of me in the kitchen, which is what makes me the most happy. I always plan the menu out well before, time how long it’s going to take to cook everything, and walk into the kitchen with my sleeves rolled up and a huge grin on my face. No really, sometimes when I’m deep into cooking, I will catch myself smiling so big for no reason at all but the simple fact that I’m standing in the kitchen chopping an onion or stirring a pot. It’s my heart and soul.
The other day, I was cooking for a special dinner party. My family is in town from Texas, and when they come in town, it’s always an exciting, fun time for us. We are all very close, so it’s always good to see them and host them. The theme that night was Pizza Night. I had my menu down of four pizzas and one dessert pizza as well as a large salad and an appetizer. Well, things don’t always go as planned in the kitchen. Any good chef knows, sometimes something can go wrong. Thursday night, the appetizer went wrong. I have an eggplant bruschetta recipe that’s a delicious, easy go-to for cocktail parties (I’ll share it with you guys soon). Anyhow, it did not work out. I was not keeping an eye on the eggplants and they overcooked and got all mushy. It would have made for a really disgusting first course, so I had to improvise. Sometimes an improvise is a hit. In this case, it worked! So I’m sharing it with you guys today!
1 loaf of French bread 16 oz fresh mozzarella 6 oz basil pesto – I homemake it sometimes, but jarred is easy and good too 2 tbsp olive oil and more for drizzling ½ tsp Salt ¼ tsp Pepper 1 bunch of mint leaves – chopped Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut bread into ½ inch slices and place on a baking sheet
Cut the mozzarella into small cubes and throw into a bowl. Mix in the pesto, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spoon about 2 tablespoons over each bread slice. Drizzle each cheese toast with a little olive oil. Put the toasts in the oven to cook for 5-7 minutes or until mozzarella is all melty and beautiful.
Put your toasts on a lovely plate, sprinkle with the chopped mint, and if your heart desires it, drizzle with balsamic.
CHEERS TO HAPPY EATING!!!