New recipes

Green Beans with Salumi Vinaigrette


At Two Boroughs Larder in Charleston, SC, chef Josh Keeler brings out the best in vegetables with…meat. He drizzles a vinaigrette made with cured soppressata over a rotating cast of seasonal produce, like okra and green beans. “It adds a bit of acidity, fat, and richness without overpowering the dish,” he says. And it makes a strong case for using meat in a supporting role to veggies, not the other way around.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. salumi (such as sweet soppressata, chorizo, saucisson sec, or salami), casing removed, chopped
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed

Recipe Preparation

  • Blend garlic, salumi, vinegar, paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice, and coriander in a blender, scraping down sides as needed, until very smooth. With motor running, slowly add 4 Tbsp. oil and 2 Tbsp. water and blend until combined; season vinaigrette with salt.

  • Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans and cook, tossing often, until tender and browned in spots, 10–12 minutes. Add 1–2 Tbsp. vinaigrette (reserve remaining vinaigrette for another use) and toss to coat.

  • DO AHEAD: Vinaigrette can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Recipe by Two Boroughs Larder in Charleston, SC,

Nutritional Content

Calories (kcal) 250 Fat (g) 28 Saturated Fat (g) 4.5 Cholesterol (mg) 10 Carbohydrates (g) 8 Dietary Fiber (g) 5 Total Sugars (g) 3 Protein (g) 4 Sodium (mg) 260Reviews Section

Green Beans with Salumi Vinaigrette - Recipes

I've heard of this, but I absolutely always forget to eat them on New Years. Fortunately my life hasn't been full of bad luck yet :) This looks like a great way to eat them, love the meat cups.

Sherri,
When we lived in the South it was easy to remember, because there were giant displays of black eyed peas in the produce section. Now it's just ingrained in me--like I crave Alanna's Chicken Cider Stew in the fall once the sweet potatoes and apple cider appear.
Thanks!

We always have hoppin' john on new year's day and I love this twist on it. Delicious!!

Amy,
Hoppin' John is a classic, and with good reason since it tastes so good to me. Of course, I'm happy to tweak the classics ) Thanks!

Black eyed peas are definitely not part of my northern New Year's Day tradition, but I do often make soup with them now to start the new year on a good note.

Lydia,
Oooh! Soup! That's a brilliant idea. I'm betting I can find a recipe on Soup Chick?
Thanks!

I've lived my whole life in the midwest, and (at least in my family) our New Year's good luck food has always been pork and sauerkraut. This looks great, though. I love the salami cups!

Melissa,
Pork and sauerkraut sounds good to me--from a food history point of view it keeps well and is available this time of year--so why not make it worth celebrating? Thanks!

That is so creative! I love how you used the capicola to make little cups.

Alyssa,
Thanks! I was pretty proud of this one myself! I really like appetizers, and could possibly live on apps. I'd like to try!

This looks so awesome! Yeah, I have no idea how the black-eyed pea brings good luck on New Year's thing got started, even though I grew up with it. And since I hated black-eyed peas as a kid, I generally resented it, lol! This is so creative! I've definitely seen the error of my ways, I love black-eyed peas now, so I'm for sure eating them on New Year's! :)

Julie,
I don't think I tried black eyed peas until I was an adult, but I'd bet the kid in my took some getting used to them. My kids will eat them with a sufficiently high meat to peas ration, and plenty of rice.
Thanks!

I don't eat enough black eye peas. On the rare occasion I do, I'm always pleased too. My favorite was a black eyed pea stew I got at a South African restaurant. It came with the most delicious rice and wonderful plantains right in the stew. The flavors were incredible, and I was so happy with it, which is how this dish makes me feel. I love the colors in the blue bowl shot. I know you're skeptical, but that blue bowl is doing wonders for the food. Again.

Meghan,
It's a funny thing, debating if I want to try and duplicate an amazing dish I've had at a restaurant. Most of the time, especially if it involves lots of spices that are not common to me--I skip it and go out to eat. I just found Ma Po Tofu sauce at the Cincinnati Asian Market, though, so that one I'm going to try here because I cannot get the amazing spicy dish from DC's Great Wall restaurant on Logan Circle--in Ohio somehow it involves peas and carrots . . . .
I used the blue bowl for fruit soup the other day. Thought of you. Thanks!


No Summer is Complete without a Peach & Almond Slab Pie! Plus More of our Favorite Summertime Recipes!

We’ve rounded up some of the best recipes for when the weather is warm and our garden is lush! Here’s a few favorites from Asian Cucumber Salad to Strawberry Watermelon Agua Fresca that you can make at home today!

STRAWBERRY WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA

Ingredients
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
2 mint sprigs, plus more for garnish
1’’ piece of ginger, peeled & sliced thinly or grated
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
2 cups strawberries, hulled & cut in half
pinch kosher salt
ice
chilled sparkling water
crystallized ginger for garnish
vodka

Preparation

Heat sugar & water in saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Remove from heat, add mint, ginger & salt. Place in refrigerator to chill. Remove & discard ginger & mint.

Puree syrup & fruit in blender, pour over ice & top with sparkling water.

Garnish with a sprig of mint or a skewer of crystallized ginger.

Adults
A splash of vodka is a great addition for a refreshing adult cocktail.

GREEN BEANS WITH SALUMI VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients
1 garlic clove
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp ground coriander
6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
pinch kosher salt
1 lb green beans, trimmed
6 oz salumi, sliced thinly

Preparation

Blend garlic, vinegar, paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice & coriander in a blender on high.

Scrape down sides as needed, until very smooth. With the motor running, slowly add 4 Tbsp olive oil & 2 Tbsp water & blend until combined. Season to taste with kosher salt.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beans & cook, tossing often, until tender & browned in spots, 10-12 minutes.

Top warm beans with vinaigrette base & sliced salumi.

ASIAN CUCUMBER SALAD

Ingredients
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
½ tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 lb english cucumber
1 Tbsp scallions, sliced on the bias
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp pickled white ginger
1 – 4 tsp jalapeño, seeded & minced
1 Tbsp black & white toasted sesame seeds

Preparation

Mix rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar & salt in a bowl with a whisk until well incorporated.

Slice cucumber as thinly as desired, with a knife, mandolin or vegetable peeler.

No more than ½ hour before serving, mix all salad ingredients well. Adjust heat by using more diced jalapeños. Season to taste. Right before serving, garnish with sesame seeds.

SOUTHWESTERN PORK STUFFED SWEET POTATO

Ingredients
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 lbs pork shoulder, diced into 2″ cubes
3 tsp ground cumin, toasted
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried mexican oregano
to taste kosher salt & pepper
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic, granulated
dash of cinnamon
¼ cup gluten free soy sauce
½ cup pineapple juice
1 cup pork or chicken stock
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
5 medium sweet potatoes, skin on, scrubbed

Preparation

Place the sliced onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix all dry ingredients together, rub pork with seasoning, adding any left over bits to the slow cooker. Layer pork & pineapple on top of onions, add liquid, turn on low & let slow cook all day or at least 8 hours.

One hour before serving, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork & place in 350° F oven to roast.

Remove pork from pot. It should shred easily using two forks. Discard any large chunks of fat.

Cut a slit in the top of the potatoes, creating an opening. Place warm pork mixture inside & top with garnishes
as desired.

PEACH & ALMOND SLAB PIE

Ingredients
3 palisade peaches
¼ cup granulated sugar
pinch kosher salt
1 orange, zested & juiced
¼ cup almonds, sliced & toasted
splash almond extract
splash vanilla extract
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pkg refrigerated pie crust
handful all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp water or milk
1 cup heavy cream

Preparation

Mix sugar, kosher salt & cornstarch together. Add to peaches, orange zest & juice, almonds & almond extract. Test to see if peaches are sweet enough, if not, add more sugar.

On floured surface, roll out pie crust to a rough 12’’x10’’ rectangle. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Decoratively arrange peach slices over dough, leaving 2’’ border. Arrange butter slices on top of peaches. Fold edges of crust up over peaches, pinch as necessary.

Whisk egg & milk, then brush over visible crust. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or so until crust is cooked & peaches are tender. Cool slightly before serving.

While pie is baking, whip cream with a pinch of sugar & kosher salt. Serve whipped cream with slice of slab pie.


Recipe: Tuna Niçoise Salad

While flipping through TV channels on a lazy Sunday afternoon I came across an old episode of the classic TV series, “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home” The series was tapped in Julia’s kitchen in Cambridge and while Julia was clearly passed her prime the interplay between the two food stars is sincere and straightforward (Jacques wants to do things the classic way and Julia calls for butter instead of oil or onion instead of scallion, for example).

A recent episode focused on salads and, specifically, Julia Childs and Jacque Pepin made a terrific Tuna Nicoise Salad featuring fresh grilled tuna or tuna packed in olive oil, boiled potatoes, string beans, boiled eggs, tomatoes, Boston lettuce, capers, and anchovy. The salad looked so good I decided to have a go at making the dish for a late lunch this weekend. And while I didn’t have fresh Tuna laying around the house I always keep 3-4 cans of tuna packed in olive oil in our pantry (here’s my list of Italian products to keep in your pantry at all times) so one ingredient was present! Our fridge also included some green beans, fresh farm eggs, olives, a red onion, and, yes, some chick pea soup! The chick pea soup was used to make a rustic hummus with lots of lemon juice, some tahini paste, and plenty of salt and pepper (I used a morter and pestle as opposed to the Cuisinart, which I didn’t want to clean). Here’s my classic hummus recipe. The green beans were quickly steamed and then moved to a bowl of ice water to preserve the color and stop the cooking process. Thereafter, I tossed the beans with a simple lemon juice/Dijon vinaigrette (see my recipe here). The hard boiled eggs were made via the Bittman way, including placing the eggs in a pot with water and letting them come to a boil (and thereafter turning off the gas and letting the eggs sit for 9 minutes). Finally, I included some green olives flavored with fennel.

We enjoyed the salad with a fresh baguette and a bottle of $9.99 Torre Dei Gesuiti from Puglia (basically Italian Zinfandel) purchased at Total Wine (a chain wine shop with some decent inventory). There’s no proper way to assemble the salad, just make sure all items are seasoned well (kosher salt, black pepper, and dried oregano) .

Related Posts from Scordo.com

Classic Italian Salad Dressing or Vinaigrette Recipe We're usually a bit more refined here at&hellip

(photo: an Italian tuna sandwich with tomato salad prepared with Pace da Poggio Etrusco extra&hellip

When I asked readers on our Facebook fan page to name a few Italian food fallacies&hellip


Niçoise Salad

A classic Niçoise salad is chock-full of tasty ingredients. With tuna, crisp-tender veggies, hardboiled eggs, and delicious Niçoise olives, this salad makes for a fresh and filling entrພ.

  • Dressing
  • ¾ cup DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup DeLallo Golden Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon DeLallo Squeeze Basil Pesto Topping
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 anchovy, minced
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Salad
  • 1 medium head Boston Bibb lettuce
  • ¼ pound baby red potatoes, sliced
  • ½ pound green beans
  • 8 radishes
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 (6-ounce) jars tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 4 hardboiled eggs
  • 1 cup pitted Niçoise olives
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  1. Make the vinaigrette: Combine garlic, anchovy, pesto, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Using a whisk, slowly pour in olive oil while stirring constantly. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. Heat oven to 375ଏ.
  3. Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover them with 2 or 3 inches of cold water. Salt the water and bring to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, continue cooking the potatoes for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain.
  4. Add green beans to the pot of boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain the beans and let them cool.
  5. Place potatoes on a lined baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and bake for 15 minutes or until they start to brown. Remove from oven and allow them to cool.
  6. Transfer the potatoes and green beans to a small bowl and dress with some of the vinaigrette. Toss in chopped basil.
  7. On a large platter or individual plates, arrange lettuces, potatoes and green beans, radishes, tomatoes, tuna, and hardboiled egg.
  8. Scatter olives over the top and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Serve garnished with salt, pepper, and basil leaves.


Fall in Love with These Savory Fall Favorites from Epicurean Group

As the weather cools and the leaves start to crisp, we begin to crave warm, comfort food…the type that’s perfect for those chilly autumn days when all you want to do is curl up on the couch in a warm sweater and watch Netflix all day.

To help ease the transition from summer to fall, we’re sharing five seasonal favorite recipes that are perfect for this time of year!

GARLIC POTATO FENNEL SOUP
<serves 4>

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter, unsalted, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled & diced
½ bulb fennel, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled & diced
3 cups chicken stock
2 green tart apples, peeled & diced
½ cup heavy cream
to taste kosher salt & black pepper

Preparation:
Sauté garlic, onion & fennel in 2 Tbsp butter for 5 minutes. Add potato & stock. Bring to a boil.

Add apples, boil for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat, puree in blender or food processor until smooth.

Return to pot, add cream & heat throughout.

Season to taste with kosher salt & black pepper.

Garnish with fennel fronds & a thin drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients:
1 pomegranate, seeded
1 cup sugar, granulated
½ cup pomegranate juice
½ cup water
1 <750 ml>bottle prosecco

Preparation:
Combine pomegranate, sugar & water in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft & the liquid has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

Using a fine-meshed strainer over a large bowl, pour pomegranate syrup through strainer, pressing seeds with the back of a spoon until most of the liquid is in the bowl. Discard seeds, saving a few to be used as garnish.

To Make Cocktail:
Divide pomegranate syrup evenly between 6 champagne glasses. Top each one with bubbles. Stir gently if desired. Garnish with a few pomegranate seeds.

BIG ITALIAN SALAD
<serves 4 as salad course, 2 as a main course>

Salad Ingredients:
1 head romaine heart, washed, dried & cut into ¾” pieces
½ head radicchio, julienned
1 Tbsp fresh italian parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
5 pepperoncini, chopped
1 cup english cucumber, seeded & chopped
1 carrot, julienned
½ red onion, thinly shaved
½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup olives , pitted & chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked & rinsed
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed & roughly chopped
1 cup fresh mozzarella, diced
½ cup parmesan, shaved
½ cup genoa salami, sliced thinly

Dressing Ingredients:
1 Tbsp italian parsley, chopped ¾ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped ¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried oregano, chopped 2 tsp honey or agave nectar
2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
¼ cup good quality red wine vinegar
¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:
For the dressing, place all ingredients except olive oil in the food processor. Blend well, then slowly drizzle in olive oil with motor running to create an emulsified vinaigrette. Season to taste.

Place all salad ingredients in large bowl. Toss lightly to combine.

Immediately before serving, add half of the dressing & toss well, using your hands. Add small amounts of dressing as necessary tasting & seasoning with kosher salt & pepper until salad is well dressed & flavorful.

THAI CHICKEN & BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
<serves 4>

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp canola, coconut or extra virgin olive oil
½ lb ground chicken or turkey
2 Tbsp thai red curry paste
4 scallions, sliced on bias white & green parts separated
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on microplane
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
2 cups chicken stock
1 <15 oz>can coconut milk
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 lime, juiced & zested
2 tsp sambal or sriracha sauce
As desired: fresh basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, sliced jalapeño, lime wedges & sriracha for garnish

Preparation:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add curry paste, stirring until the paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add chicken & stir occasionally, until nearly cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, scallion whites & ginger. Stir until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add squash & chicken stock. Cover & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmering until squash is tender, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice & zest, sambal & fish sauce. Taste for seasoning & adjust as needed.

Serve a bountiful plate of garnish in the center of the table so guests can add toppings to the hot soup as desired.

TOFFEE PUMPKIN PIE BARS
<makes 32 bars>

Ingredients:
2 cups crushed gingersnaps
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 <15 oz>can unsweetened pumpkin
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on microplane
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups half & half
½ cup crumbled toffee pieces
½ cup pepitas, toasted & chopped

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, spray with pan spray.

Combine crushed gingersnaps, sugar & flour. Add melted butter & stir well to combine. Firmly press crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan set aside.

Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, kosher salt & cloves.

One at a time, add eggs & beat lightly until well combined. Gradually add half & half, stirring until just combined. Pour filling into crust lined pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

While warm, sprinkle top with toffee & pepitas, let cool on wire rack. Cut into bars when cool. Cover & store chilled.


10 Things I Ate About You: Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Fresh air can feed the appetite — and there’s plenty of it in Jackson Hole, Wyo. This outdoorsy destination is a top spot for those seeking nature in spades, as it’s nestled alongside the Teton Range. Jutting straight out of the earth, with none of the usual foothills in front, the mountain range is one of the country’s most stunning. In addition to the breathtaking views, visitors flock to these majestic slopes for world-class skiing. But winter isn’t the only busy season. Along with the copious outdoor activities offered year-round in the natural environs that surround it, Jackson Hole also draws tourists with its myriad of dining options. The town’s Old West vibe belies its sophisticated culinary scene, which features a diverse array of cuisines informed by both local and international influences. Here’s where to satiate your appetite in any season.

Ensconced in the base of downtown’s Hotel Jackson, Figs offers Mediterranean-inspired Wyoming cuisine, which translates to coastal flavors paired with local ingredients. Take the bison rib eye, for example. It’s served with purple barley, green beans, pistachio and Urfa chile. The shareable mezze plate is by far the restaurant’s most-popular dish. Fresh, fluffy pita is made to order and served hot off the grill with traditional dips. The hummus is made from organic garbanzo beans and punched up with plenty of pepper and spice notes that cut through its creaminess. The baba ghanoush also incorporates strong flavors: A smoky, meatlike eggplant base is highlighted with cumin and sumac. Fresh tabbouleh follows the owner’s family recipe, incorporating a blend of organic herbs, vegetables, imported bulgur and extra virgin olive oil.


Radicchio salad with mustard vinaigrette

Last month, my friend Phil Rosenthal, creator and producer of the television show “Everybody Loves Raymond,” came to my little town in Italy to film an episode of his new travel-food show, “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having.” Among the daily activities and local food customs they wanted to feature was a dinner party at my home with my friend, the famous Tuscan butcher, Dario Cecchini, manning the grill.

My friend and coauthor Carolynn Carreño happened to be in town, and when we looked at the day’s schedule that they’d planned for me, we noticed that they’d allotted exactly two hours to prepare dinner for 30 people. Carolynn and I are in the midst of writing my next book about how I entertain at home in both Los Angeles and Italy — casual food that can be prepared in stages and can sit without suffering on a room-temperature buffet — so this would be a perfect test case.

If there is one tip I can give anyone trying to make entertaining easy, it’s exactly what I did after looking at that schedule, and what I do any time I entertain: Enlist help. I don’t mean the hired kind — that’s not my style — I mean a few carefully chosen friends who not only know how to do what needs to be done (including setting the table or lighting the fire) but who also find that coming several hours early to a party to do these things is fun.

The second tip, the one that divides seasoned entertainers from people with less experience, is knowing what to serve when. Pros know to keep it simple, and at no time or place is it easier to do that than summer in Southern California, when the outdoor grill is the place to be and the produce is so good you don’t need to do anything to it.

For the Dario dinner, the first thing we did was contact Ella Freyinger, a Los Angeles chef and friend of a friend, who was vacationing in my town with her husband, to ask if she wanted to help. She did. Next, Carolynn and I sat down and brainstormed the menu: a selection of salumi and crackers to start out, and pinzimonio (the pretty Italian word for raw vegetables) with bagna cauda and vegetable salads to be determined by our trip to the farm stand down the hill.

We picked out what the owner proudly told us was “nostro” (ours) and built a selection of salads and side dishes around those. I know that sounds like a cliché, but since we had very little time to prepare, we had to start with great ingredients and keep the prep as simple as possible.

Dario would grill bistecca fiorentina and pork sausages, and we would take care of the rest.

One of our guests, Italian food aficionado Faith Willinger, taught us to make a twist on the plain tomato-basil salad: You crush the tomatoes in your hands and push the meat through a strainer to remove the bitter seeds.

Then there were cucumbers with sweet onions, olive oil, lemon juice and fresh fennel pollen we’d picked earlier that morning grilled round zucchini fett’unta (grilled bread drenched in olive oil) shell beans tossed with celery leaf pesto roasted torpedo onions agrodolce (with vinegar and a tad of sugar) and a radicchio salad with mustard vinaigrette and shaved Parmigiano.

And for dessert: sheep’s milk ricotta drizzled with chestnut honey, served on a platter with ripe summer peaches.

The party, if I do say so, was one of the best I’ve ever prepared. I even got to sit down and eat with my guests. And therein is the great “white lie” of entertaining, because what you and I know is that the party wasn’t all mine: There was a team behind that so-called simple summer meal. And I have only gratitude admitting it.


Tavolàta

Tavolàta Belltown : (206) 838-8008

Tavolàta Capitol Hill : (206) 420-8355

Tavolàta Stone Way : (206) 456-2666

Easter Menu
$120 for two people

FIRST COURSE

Asparagus arugula, fava bean, walnut, pecorino
Artichoke tonnato, pangrattato, lemon
Hamachi Crudo green strawberry, pistachio, coriander

MAIN COURSE

Lamb Rack radish, dates, chili, green garlic

DESSERT

Semolina Cake lemon curd, rhubarb


Innovation starts with appetizers

An appetizer is supposed to whet the appetite for the rest of the meal, but these days, these first courses are serving as much more than “starters.” Restaurant customers are making whole meals out of downsized dishes, and many menus are dedicated entirely to tapas, small plates and shareable apps. To find out what’s trending in appetizers, we chatted with chef Kathy Casey, author of Sips & Apps: Classic and Contemporary Recipes for Cocktails and Appetizers (Chronicle Books 2009) and founder of Dish D’Lish airport kiosks and Kathy Casey Food Studios-Liquid Kitchen.

Q. Why are more patrons ordering appetizers in place of entrees?
A. Appetizers give customers a chance to try different things without committing to an entrée price. If you don’t like it, you’ve only spent $8 to $12—not $30. The Millennials are driving the trend—they love to share and socialize over appetizers. And instead of going out to dinner, they are just “going out.” These are occasions to explore foods and beverages.

Q. What appetizer trends are you seeing on menus?
A. Vegetable-based appetizers are appearing more often. They might be paired with cheese, as a recent dish I tried of burrata with quinoa salad, olive vinaigrette and fresh tomatoes. Or they can be very vegetable-focused, such as roasted Brussels sprouts, charred carrots or blistered green beans.

Q. How are restaurants menuing proteins?
A. Deviled eggs are getting a lot of play. Eggs are a canvas for creativity yet extremely cost-effective—and restaurants are charging a lot for the deviled ones. Seafood crudo served with fruit and salumi platters with signature chutneys and house-made pickles are also popular.

Q. What makes for a successful appetizer?
A. Go with something really craveable. It should be a little spicy, creamy or crunchy, or a blend of savory and sweet. Operationally, try to cross-utilize with other parts of the menu. Is there an appetizer component that can be incorporated into a burger topping, a salad or a side? But be clever with the verbiage and presentation so it doesn’t look like the same ingredients are everywhere.

Q. Can you share some drink pairing tips?
A. I think of spirits as different meats when choosing complementary cocktails. Vodka is chicken tequila and gin are seafood or pork and whisky and the darker spirits, beef. Then I pair accordingly. Another technique is to match flavor components. A citrusy cocktail goes well with oysters on the half shell garnished with pink grapefruit and chives, for example.

Feeding the bar crowd

Happy Hour is busier than ever at Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom, two concepts under the CraftWorks Restaurants banner, thanks to the inventive array of appetizers and house-brewed beers on tap. A special happy hour and late-night menu offers 10 food items for $5 to $7. Sean McLendon, corporate chef R&D, draws on eclectic influences, including Korean, Indian, Moroccan and Latin.

“Sweet-savory combos are a favorite right now,” he says. This is showcased in Gordon Biersch’s Crispy Sweet Potato Fries dusted with rosemary sugar and served with two dips: brown sugar cream cheese and BBQ dipping sauce. Shareable house-made flatbreads tempt groups, including one served with bruschetta, hummus and olive tapenade. Shrimp and Chicken Potstickers, Flash Fried Artichoke Hearts and Mini Street Tacos offer something for everyone.

The street tacos at Gordon Biersch are “unique and globally inspired,” McLendon reports. Whole-wheat flour tortillas are topped with a choice of four proteins—grilled wahoo, flat iron steak, pulled pork or thinly sliced grilled tofu—and finished with cilantro tahini, daikon radish slaw, crumbled cotija cheese and chili threads. They rolled out as a seasonal special along with a winter bock beer.

Rock Bottom has parallel seasonal launches. Next up: panko crusted shrimp with habanero ketchup and beer honey mustard paired with winter ale. A brewmaster is available at each location of both concepts to assist with pairings.

Taking the cure

Platters of the Italian cured meats known as salumi are showing up everywhere, but Cesare Casella, chef-partner at Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto in New York City, was one of the first to bring the tradition to the U.S. Patrons can order a tasting of seven to eight to share for $17 to $18. “A glass of wine and salumi is the perfect appetizer or snack,” notes Casella.

He sources both imported and domestic product. Among the two dozen choices are prosciutto di Parma, parmacotto, soppressata, mortadella, porchetta, coppa and finocchiona. “When putting together a selezione [tasting], it’s best to combine different textures and flavors,” Casella explains. “Some salumi is hard, some soft some is salty, some sweet. The choice of bread is also important—make sure it’s bland so it doesn’t interfere with the flavor of the salumi. And serve the meats closer to room temperature than cold.”

Freshness is what sets apart a selezione, he adds. “Keep the product rotating. It’s better to have three good salumi than 15 mediocre products. And slice the meats fresh for every guest.”