Archive for ‘Appetizers & Hors d’Oeuvres’
July 29, 2015
OMG, loaded with pork tenderloin, Monterey jack, caramelized onions & sweet peppers, mushrooms, and jalapeno are perfect for dinner or any party.
- 1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of any silver skin
- Dry rub (Bailey’s or your favorite)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flour tortillas (whatever size you prefer)
- 1 pound mushrooms
- 1 large sweet onion (cut in quarters and julienne)
- 1 large sweet pepper (cut in strips)
- 3 jalapeno peppers (sliced very thin include the seeds)
- 1 pound hand shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Sour cream (add ¼ teaspoon salt to every half cup)
- 1 Haas avocado
- 1 mango (diced)
- Fresh limes
- Fresh cilantro
Rub the pork tenderloin with extra virgin olive oil and dry rub. You can find Bailey’s dry rub recipe below. Place on sheet pan and bake in a pre-heated at 450 degree oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. You want it medium with a bit of pink remaining.
Saving all the juices let the pork rest in the pan for 15 minutes. On a cutting board, slice the tenderloin in ¼” thick slices, then dice into medium size ¼” chunks. Squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice over the pork, and a sprinkle of salt – toss with the pan juices.
Saute onions in a saute pan with one tablespoon butter and one teaspoon sugar until caramelized (lightly brown and very soft). Remove from the pan.
In same pan on medium high heat, melt butter, add mushrooms and cook until soft and all the liquid is gone. Remove from the pan and saute the red peppers until soft to the bite.
STEP THREE (toppings)
Dice the avocado and toss in a bit of lime juice to keep them from browning. Dice the mango and cilantro. Thinly slice the jalapeno. Salt the sour cream. Cut limes in wedges.
ASSEMBLING & COOKING
On top of one flour tortilla layer with Monterey jack cheese, then even layers of diced pork, onions, peppers, more cheese, and jalapeno peppers (plenty of everything), and top with another flour tortilla and press. Note: these can be made a day or two ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge.
In a saute pan over medium heat, add a teaspoon or so of butter. Place the tortilla in the pan and cook until nicely browned, then flip and repeat.
Remove from pan, slice and top with ingredients – a sprig of cilantro, and serve with a wedge of fresh lime. Can be saved in an oven heated to 175 degrees for up to an hour. Best served right out of the pan.
BITE-SIE HORS D’OEUVRES
You can pre-cut the tortillas into small rounds, layer the same way, and make individual bite-size quesadillas. They can even be cooked off a day ahead – and warm in a 450 degree oven on a sheet pan for a minute or so…until hot…top each one with whatever topping you prefer – serve hot or warm.
July 16, 2015
My friend Peggy Giunta requested our Bailey’s mac and cheese recipe for her birthday present. Her husband Frank is my dentist, so I figure unless I wanted my tongue drilled, I best give it up.
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Ours is simple and really cheesy. We make it most often with American cheese (which is my favorite) but sometimes we get crazy gourmet adding all kinds of cheeses. Below are some neat and tasty variations to kick it up a notch, and I have even included our famous fried jalapeno bacon mac and cheese balls.
It’s funny, we are often asked to provide a kids table with mac and cheese and buttermilk fried chicken bites – but no matter what we served the adults, they always, (that’s ALWAYS) wander over to the kids table for that mac and cheese.
Happy birthday Peggy Giunta!!!
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (or any type pasta you prefer – shells or penne are always good)
- 4 quarts water
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 stick salted butter
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ pounds Boars Head American cheese (buy block piece from the grocery deli and grate on box grater)
- Extra grated American cheese for the top
Boil 4 quarts water in large sauce pan. Add salt once it comes to a boil. Add macaroni stir to separate and boil for approximately 10 minutes…until al dente. Drain – do not rinse. NOTE: Pasta should always be boiled in heavily salted water. You want your pasta water to taste like the sea.
BECHAMEL: In a heavy bottom sauce pot, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour and whisk until a roux develops and the flour taste has cooked out (do not brown). Whisk in milk and heavy cream until it is thickened. Add grated American cheese.
Taste to determine if you want to add salt and pepper. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. More often than not, I do not need to add salt. If you salted the water well enough, you shouldn’t need to add more salt for the American cheese is plenty salty.
Add the pasta to the béchamel – it will look very creamy. Place in lightly buttered casserole pan and top with extra grated American cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until the top is crusty and golden brown.
VARIOUS CHEESE BLENDS are always tasty. And of course you can add any type of cheese you desire – gruyere, cheddar, fontina, parmesan, mozzarella, always using 1 ½ pounds to the above recipe of whatever blend of cheeses you prefer.
You can also substitute ½ cup sour cream (or crème fraiche or marscapone) instead of the heavy cream.
LOBSTER MAC & CHEESE is all the rage. I wouldn’t use American cheese if you are putting lobster in it – go with a blend of gruyere, extra sharp white cheddar, and fontina – with a dollop of crème fraiche.
TRUFFLE OIL is very strong, so if you want to add, drizzle sparingly on top – but never on the American cheese version. Better yet, break the bank and add some shaved black truffles to the top of your mac and cheese…black truffles are only $2000 a pound. If you are doing this however, I must be invited.
BACON goes great with any cheese version you so desire from American to gourmet. Also cook the bacon until crispy and mix before baking.
FRIED JALAPENO & BACON MAC & CHEESE BALLS
Our Jalapeno Bacon Mac and cheese balls are perfect hors d’oeuvre for any party…for big kids or little. Add thinly sliced jalapenos (with the seeds) and crumbled crispy bacon – as much as you desire. I like a good bit. Chill the mac and cheese.
Scoop out with a small 1 ounce ice cream scoop or spoon and roll into a ball. Roll in all-purpose flour and shake off the excess flour. Put in egg wash of 4 eggs and 3 tablespoons whole milk, then roll in panko bread crumbs.
These balls can be frozen for up to 2 months. Fry at 350 degrees until golden brown. I like to serve them with a dipping sauce made with cheese wiz combined with jalapenos – warmed in the microwave until bubbly hot.
June 04, 2015
If you’ve ever been to a Chinese, Thai, or just about any Asian restaurant, I bet you have tasted Crab Rangoon. It’s one of my favorite appetizers, especially with our orange drizzle. We’ve made thousands of them at Bailey’s and we served over 400 of them just last night at a law firm reception.
These gems are so easy to make, and perfect for any party… you’ll wonder why you haven’t made them before. You can make them in any shape you desire.
INGREDIENTS FOR CRAB RANGOONS
- 12 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese
- 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat (really good grab meat is essential)
- 4 scallions
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (or whichever brand of hot sauce you like)
- 1 package of wonton wrappers
Put all the ingredients (except for the wonton wrappers) in a Cuisinart or food processor (you can do this by hand if you don’t have a food processor). Pulse until ingredients are well blended.
Have a bowl of water with a pastry brush (you may also use your fingers) ready. Lay out about 10 wonton wrappers on a flat surface – and put about one teaspoon of the crab Rangoon mixture in the middle…brush lightly with water on all sides. Form the Rangoon the way you would like them – I like mind like the initial picture we have given – all four corners pulled together like a little present. Make sure all the sides seal or they will explode in the fryer.
Place on a baking sheet with the bottom sprinkled with a bit of flour or corn starch. Put the filled baking sheet in the freezer until the Rangoon’s are frozen…store in zip lock bag. They will keep for approximately 3 months.
They are best if fried directly from the freezer. Fry in 350 degree vegetable oil until golden brown. Serve with our orange drizzle.
INGREDIENTS FOR ORANGE DRIZZLE
- 1 large jar Smucker’s Orange Marmalade
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons honey (whatever kind you desire – I like Orange Blossom)
STEP ONE (The Orange Drizzle)
Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pan on medium high heat. Stir until completely melted. Strain through a fine mesh strainer stirring and scraping until all the moisture is out of the orange pulp. Discard orange pulp. Drizzle each fried Rangoon with the Orange drizzle or serve with a ramekin for dipping.
April 16, 2015
Lobster rolls may be one of my all-time favorite foods – and I am very particular (and exact) in how a good lobster roll should be prepared and taste. I am a purest when it comes to lobster, preferring it grilled, broiled, boiled, or steamed, served with melted butter and fresh lemon. That’s it. Can I eat a lobster Newburg or lobster pot pie – of course – but nothing tastes as good as a fresh lobster tail cooked perfectly with drawn butter and lemon.
This is the way I feel about my lobster rolls as well. The quintessential lobster roll is served at Mable’s in Kennebunkport, Maine (www.MabelsLobster.com). This restaurant has been at the same seaside location since 1953 – and serves up great seafood…especially their lobster roll.
Fresh steamed or boiled Maine or cold water lobster (and yes, you can use Florida crawfish – good, but not as good), small amounts of mayo, fresh lemon juice, parsley, Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper…and the one thing in addition to the lobster, that makes a lobster roll authentic is the bun. It must, that’s MUST be served in a butter (lots of butter) grilled crust-less New England lobster roll…not a hot dog bun, not a hoagie, not even a brioche roll – only one roll will do for me.
- 2 pound whole live Maine lobster (steamed or boiled, chopped into medium small bites)
- ¼ cup Hellmann’s (or Dukes) Mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 2 Crust-less New England Lobster Rolls
- Soft salted butter for outside of the rolls
- Boston Bibb lettuce (optional)
- Sliced Heirloom Tomato (optional)
- Bacon (optional – but not on mine thank you)
- Sliced Haas Avocado (optional – but not on mine thank you)
Steaming versus boiling??? Steaming a lobster provides great pure taste of the lobster for all the lobster juices remain in the lobster as opposed to being extracted into the boiling water. However, steaming is much more time consuming and convoluted…while the lobster will need to steam only about 5 minutes longer than the boiling method – you will need a larger pot, a rack, and some seaweed. So I recommend boiling your lobster.
Fill a large 4 quart pot with water, add ¼ cup kosher salt (you want the water to taste like the ocean from which it came), and a squeeze of one whole lemon…throwing in the entire lemon rind after the juice has been squeezed into the pot.
When the pot comes to a rapid boil – put the entire lobster in the pot (take off the rubber bands around the claws)…boil for 12 to 15 minutes – stirring once or twice to get even coverage in boiling.
Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Crack shell, remove lobster meat, slice or cut into small chunks, add the ingredients and chill for at least 30 minutes. Butter the crust-less rolls and grill until golden brown. Stuff, yes stuff, the prepared lobster into the buttered grilled rolls – there is nothing worse than a lobster roll with little lobster…so stuff those rolls, and when you think there is enough, add more.
You will see a load of option items you can fill your lobster roll with – lettuce, tomato, bacon, avocado – admittedly, all are good, even great – but nothing beats the pure heavenly taste of lightly seasoned lobster stuffed inside a buttery grilled crust-less roll.
April 09, 2015
We needed an extra appetizer one day for a catering event recently. We had chicken, beef, fresh vegetables, lamb, and seafood already on the menu, so we decided that pork would be a good addition.
What kind of pork, I asked my trusted GM and chef Barry Engh – he looked on the shelves and spotted some of his dry rub we use for ribs and chicken. We decided on a sliced dry-rubbed pork tenderloin topped with a pickled Asian radish and carrot slaw. It turned out delicious…so much so, I said this should be put on a dinner menu for an entrée selection.
Start with a simple dry rub.
BARRY’S DRY RUB RECIPE
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Set the oven to 450 degrees. Prepare the pork tenderloin by making sure all the silver skin is removed from the pork. Liberally rub Barry’s Dry Rub all around the tenderloin and press in so it is covered well. Let it sit outside of the refrigerator for an hour. For a more intense flavor, it can sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Place rubbed tenderloins on a baking sheet that has a ½” lip all around to collect the pan juices. Note however, you do not want a high lip around the baking sheet – for that will tend to steam the pork.
Surround the pork with a stick of fine salted butter placed on the baking sheet around the tenderloins. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 10 to 20 minutes depending on how thick your pork is.
My mom would always kill (overcook) pork to keep her beloved family from getting the deadly trichinosis. You don’t hear much about trichinosis these days, so you see restaurant pork tenderloin coming to your table medium – with a bit of pink inside. Frankly, this is the best way to cook it – so try not to overcook your tenderloin – you can always cook an undercooked meat more, but you can never change an overcooked meat.
Let rest for 15 minutes. You want the juices to stay in the meat – and if you slice it too soon, it will make your pork tough and flavorless.
Slice and dredge each piece in the pan juices. This is an essential process for you want each slice to have the wonderful flavor of the rubbed pork and butter juices.
#1: Roasted Tomatoes
Slice in half various colored (red, yellow, green) cherry and/or grape tomatoes. Many groceries have red and yellow, but if you can’t find them at Publix – try Fresh Market or Whole Foods.
Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Bake for exactly 6 minutes at 450 degrees…let rest – can be served at room temperature.
#2: Haricot Vert with Brown Butter
Haricot Vert is a thin cut green bean – often times called French green beans. Cut off hard ends of the green beans. In a pot of rapidly boiling water place the haricot vert in and boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
Drain and place in ice cold water (with ice cubes actually in the water) – this will stop the cooking process and keep the bright green color. Drain.
In a sauté pan over medium heat melt 4 tablespoons of salted butter until it becomes a nutty brown color. Add green beans to pan and toss, add salt and pepper to taste.
#3: Twice Baked Potatoes
Recipe on our recipe blog – type in Twice Baked Potatoes in the search box
#4: Pickled Asian Radish and Carrot Slaw
This is a simple and delicious side dish for pork. Since they do not carry Asian or Korean radish at many stores, it is readily available at Asian markets.
Julienned Asian radish to equal 3 cups. Julienned carrots to equal one cup (the carrots can already be purchased julienned at most groceries). Place in bowl, add 1 ½ cups natural rice wine vinegar, and 1 cup of white sugar. Stir. Let sit out for one hour, then refrigerate. Drain and serve chilled.
January 08, 2015
Prime Rib, with au jus, creamed horseradish and popovers, will definitely cement this feast in the “Hall-Of-Fame” of outrageously incredible meals you will ever serve to your family and friends.
We recently prepared an 18 ½ pound prime rib to rave reviews. “Succulent”, “Unbelievable”, “Incredible”, “The Best Meat I have Ever Put In My Mouth,” are a few of the comments we heard.
When we served this at Bailey’s Restaurant – it was always a real hit. Prime rib is a relatively expensive cut of beef. My suggestion is if you are going to serve this, go ahead and treat yourself to the best. And the “best” is a bone-in prime rib. The meat from a bone-in prime rib is so much more flavorful than a slice without the bone. While bone-in is more expensive, it is well worth the added flavor.
You need to select a piece with at least 4 bones at a weight of 6 to 10 pounds, otherwise you are just preparing a large steak. The 18 ½ pounder shown in the picture had 8 bones, and we Frenched the bones – which means they were trimmed back a bit to highlight the bone itself for a nicer presentation. Know too that this recipe can be used for a boneless prime rib as well.
There are many ways to prepare prime rib – you can flavor it with Dijon mustard, rosemary, thyme, any number of ways. But I am a purist, and like salt, pepper and garlic…allowing you to taste the full bodied flavor of the beef.
- 18 lb Prime Rib (will comfortably feed 12 to 18 people)
- 10 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
- ½ cup Kosher salt
- ¼ fresh cracked pepper
- 3 cups high quality beef stock
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced
Meat thermometer is a must.
The night or day before, rub the prime rib all over with the garlic. Liberally salt and pepper the entire prime rib including sides. Let stand (fat cap side up) in the refrigerator overnight or 12 to 24 hours.
Selected a pan that will comfortably hold the size prime rib you have. You don’t want the pan to overwhelm your beef for the juices will evaporate. Let stand outside the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to bring the meat to room temperature. This is important, for you should never cook cold meat.
Put beef stock in the bottom of the pan with thinly sliced onion. Place the seasoned prime rib on top – fat side up. Put the meat thermometer in the center of the beef without touching the bone.
Bake in a preheated 500 degree oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and bake until temperature reaches 115 to 120 for medium rare (about 10 to 12 minutes per pound). Once taken from the oven take out of pan, cover the meat with aluminum foil – it will continue to cook to 125 to 130 degrees.
RESTING IS CRITICAL
Never ever cut beef, or any meat for that matter, until it has had a chance to rest. If you cut too soon, all the juices will drain from the meat and leave you with a dry flavorless piece of meat.
Please, please folks, do not overcook your beef. If not done enough, you can always place individual slices back in a hot oven for a minute or two – but if overcooked from the beginning there is nothing that can be done but chop it in fine pieces and cover it in barbeque sauce…and that would be very expensive barbeque.
The natural juices will be incredible…and must be served boiling hot, and put over each slice of the prime rib at dinner.
Once the prime rib is out of the oven and resting, strain the juices and let cool separately. If you are in a hurry, you can always let cool in the refrigerator. Scoop off the fat and save for the popovers. Plus you do not want fat in your Au Jus. Nothing needs to be added to these wonderful juices. If however, you feel you need a bit more au jus, add more beef stock…but not too much – for you want to keep the natural flavor of the au jus as much as possible.
Preheat Over 425
Popovers are really easy to make, and they are delicious as well. Popovers are different from Yorkshire pudding even though the ingredients are similar. Typically Yorkshire pudding is made from beef fat of the drippings and popovers are made with butter. Well, I use the beef fat for popovers as well for it gives them a much more deep rich flavor.
You must use a popover pan which are sold at specialty shops like The Rolling Pin in Brandon, or Williams Sonoma. Get the pan that has 12 holders for they make the perfect size popover.
- 1 ½ tablespoons fat from cooked prime rib – plus extra for popover cups
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- 3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups milk at room temperature
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. The batter will be thin. Liberally grease popover cups with the fat drippings from the prime rib, and place in the preheated oven for 2 minutes. Fill the heated cups half full and place in oven for 20 to 30 minutes – until they rise to a golden brown. Serve immediately – the cooler they get – they less good they taste – so they are best made right before serving.
In many a household (mine included) it is a sacrilege to serve prime rib without creamed horseradish. I like mine with a good bit of horseradish, so you can add more or less if you like. There are many different kinds of horseradish but I LOVE the Fresh Ground Horseradish (course-cut) from Silver Springs Foods that you can buy at Publix (picture shown).
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt (or more to taste)
- ¼ cup horseradish
Put the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat to the consistency of whipped cream. Serve chilled.
October 30, 2014
Our Black Bean Hummus with Parmesan Pita Chips is a perfect starter when guests are stopping by for drinks or even as an appetizer before dinner. And it is so easy to make too! It may not be as easy as a slab of cream cheese covered in pepper jelly served with Wheat Thins – but it is easy.
My friends Babs (as we know her) and Judge Don Evans, sent me a Facebook message asking for the recipe. I just love when people ask for our recipes, for I then know they like it enough to make it themselves.
We served our black bean hummus from the first day we opened Bailey’s in Old Hyde Park many-moons-ago, and it was always a hit…so I thought we would share it with you – and thanks to Babs for reminding me of this special treat.
You can use the same recipe substituting canned washed and drained chick peas for the traditional hummus – which I like that just as much, but the Black Bean hummus is always a different and nice touch.
Remember too that recipes are just guides. If you want this hummus a little more tart, add a bit more lemon, more spicy, add more Tabasco and cayenne…the same goes for any of the other ingredients, add more or less of anything to accomplish your desired taste. But if you want the true Bailey’s experience, stick with the recipe.
BLACK BEAN HUMMUS
- 1 Quart Black Beans (washed and drained – I use Garcia’s Black Beans)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 3 Tablespoons “Fresh” lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon Tahini (ground sesame seeds that looks like peanut butter, found at any grocery store)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Put all the ingredients in a Cuisinart…pulse until the desired consistency is achieved…chunky or smooth. Put in bowl and top with about a teaspoon of chopped roasted red pepper or Pimento and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with pita chips.
Fresh made pita chips go perfect with our black bean hummus. Of course you can go to Publix and buy a bag of Stacy’s (which are good), but why not make your own. A fresh made pita combined with the freshness of the hummus, well, it is just so darn good…go ahead and make your own.
Here are three different approaches to making a tasty pita chip.
FRIED PITA CHIPS
- 1 package round pita bread (I use Toufayan brand which can be found at most grocery stores – but use whichever kind you prefer)
- Vegetable or Canola Oil – enough to cover a sauce pan or skillet with an inch of oil – bring the oil to 350 degrees on medium high heat
- One block of parmesan cheese (I like a high quality Pamiigiano-Reggiano), or even a block of Romano.
Cut each pita round in half and each half in threes, or even in fours, depending on the size you want to serve with your hummus. Fry until golden brown on each side; and place on paper towels – dust with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
BAKED PITA CHIPS
Cut to desired size, as above. Brush both sides of the pita with extra virgin olive oil and bake on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven until golden brown. Dust with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
BUTTERED SKILLET PITA CHIPS
Ok, this is where the train goes off the tracks a bit. I just love these lightly crisp buttered pita chips. Liberally butter both sides of the pita (before you slice the round) with salted butter. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat until hot and sear both sides until tender and crisp. Slice and serve with the hummus. This is way too good for words.
September 18, 2014
These 2 incredible hors d’oeuvres are easy to prepare and will be a hit with your family and friends every time you serve them.
PARMESAN SHRIMP CANAPE
The Parmesan Shrimp Canape is the first appetizer I ever made. It was when I was living at the Bayshore Royal in 1978 (corner of Howard and Bayshore – when they were apartments) and I decided to throw a Christmas party starting at midnight on the 23rd/24th of December. Yes, I said midnight. Actually, it was a blast – and it lasted until 5am on Christmas Eve. Oh, to be young again.
My friend Clare Robbins said it was her first “grown-up” party…and I remember that these Parmesan Shrimp Canapes were the hit with all my friends.
Toasted Canape Rounds: With a small size biscuit cutter, cut out rounds from a loaf of Pepperidge Farm white bread. If your cutter is the right size, you will get 4 rounds out of each slice of bread. Broil one side of the bread – make sure you watch the bread being toasted, for they burn quickly. Trust me, I have burnt my fair share of these little gems. Brush the un-baked side with melted garlic butter…of course using fresh garlic and real butter. The rounds can be done a day ahead.
Shrimp Topping: Put one pound of chilled cooked shrimp (peeled and deveined) in a Cuisinart (or you can finely chop them with a knife), and mince. Put in bowl and add, 2 finely chopped scallions, 3 tablespoon Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon Lee and Parrens Worcestershire Sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper…stir to completely blend. Can be done a day ahead.
Assembling & Finishing: Top each finished toasted garlic butter rounds with a mound of shrimp spread on the non-broiled side. Place on a cookie sheet. Liberally top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Broil in the oven until hot and bubbly. Watch so you won’t burn. Best served warm.
BASIL TOMATO CROSTINI
The Junior League of Tampa has some of the best cookbooks around. Actually, I am a fan, and a collector, of Junior League cookbooks from all around the country. On a side note, the Junior League of Tampa is a marvelous organization doing a huge amount of caring work all throughout our community.
My Basil Tomato Crostini got its origins from the Junior League of Tampa’s “Capture the Coast” cookbook. They call theirs “Mini Tomato Rounds” and you can find the recipe on page 46. Recipes to me are a guide if you will, for I am always changing up things to create a different, if not better, outcome. That’s the fun of cooking.
Crostini: Remember, the overall end flavor of any dish is directly related to the quality of ingredients. The three most important things for any recipe are: Ingredients, Ingredients, and Ingredients. So use good French baguettes for a crostini. I use my friend Kevin’s bread from Pane Rustica to make our crostini’s. He takes such great care in all his offerings – I trust him. You can use either the sourdough or regular French Baguettes. Cut thin slices off the baguette – I usually cut them on the bias (a slant cut) as opposed to straight down. Drizzle (or brush) with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, and bake on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated 400 degree oven until they are crisp.
Basil Spread: I stay pretty true to the original Junior League recipe. In a food processor, 1/4 cup Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, 3 ounces, Philadelphia Cream Cheese (soften), 15 whole basil leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper. Blend until completely mixed.
Assembling & Finishing: I move off the Junior League reservation here, for we put a leaf of fresh basil on the crispy crostini – we do this because this will keep the crostini from getting soggy when the spread is placed directly on the crostini. Top the basil lined crostini with a generous amount of the basil cream cheese spread and top with half of a cherry or grape tomato. For an even prettier display, you can use half yellow and half red grape or cherry tomatoes.
We really kick it up a notch by adding a small piece of our candied Applewood thick sliced bacon. You can see how much from the picture. That is what’s great about this appetizer, you can prepare half with bacon and half without for the vegetarians at your party.
To make the bacon – layer thick sliced bacon on a rack lined baking sheet (one with a lip around all sides)…spread an even layer of brown sugar on each slice and lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until crispy.