Spiced Nuts and Cheese Plate

Walnuts and Cheese2

I had a lot of fun last time we did a full menu; Pear and Blue Cheese Purses, Sweet Fennel Scallops, and Chipotle Ginger Chocolate Cake, so I thought we would do that again. Over the next few weeks, I will post a three course meal and tips on how to prepare the entire thing smoothly. The first item is a delicious Spiced Nuts and Cheese Plate. This makes a great first course since you can prepare it ahead of time and it’s best at room temperature. It is also possible (and very common) to just add some fruit and make this a nice dessert.

As you make a plate of your own, feel free to add other cheeses and little snacks to the plate. If you want to add more cheese, I find it works well to work on a theme. You might try three different goats’ milk cheeses, or a hard, soft and semi-soft cheese. Different flavors and textures make a really nice cheese plate. For the added snacks, fruit such as grapes and berries are excellent, or for a salty taste add some charcuterie (salami, prosciutto, or the likes). All of that said, if you are just making the plate for two, these sweet salty walnuts and the sharp manchego cheese is more than enough.


1 small loaf of bread, sliced

1c walnuts

1 tsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp chili flakes or powder

1 wedge of manchego cheese

1 Tbsp honey


1)      Toast the bread, if desired.

2)      Toss the walnuts in the sugar, salt and chili.

3)      In a sauté pan or in a 350 degree oven, toast the walnuts until the sugar caramelizes. Don’t let them burn.

4)      Remove the nuts from the pan and let them cool (they will burn if left in the pan).

5)      Just before serving, drizzle the nuts with honey.

6)      Plate the nuts, cheese and toast.

7)      Serve and enjoy!

Boozy Berry Pie

Boozy berry pie

It is the time of year where fresh berries begin to appear in the markets, and the sun returns to the sky. Summer is around the corner, and with it food gets so much better. I am so excited for the coming season that I am posting my favorite summer pie early. So, I present to you my citrus-infused rum berry pie, or, as I’ve taken to calling it, Boozy Berry Pie. This recipe is quick and easy, and it is so refreshing.

This pie, isn’t your traditional goopy fresh-berry pie; the sauce is thinner and when you cut into the pie, it runs over the crust and onto your plate. It makes a bit of a mess, but it coats the crust and is oh so fine.  If, however, you prefer a thicker sauce, just increase the cornstarch to 3 tablespoons and dissolve it in 3 tablespoons of rum instead of the 2 tablespoons described below.

Crust Ingredients:

1 ½ c AP Flour

1 stick Butter

1 Tbsp Sugar

¼ tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Rum

2 Tbsp Cold water

Berry Filling Ingredients:

2 lbs Strawberries, cut into halves

6 oz Blueberries

1 ½ c + 2 Tbsp Citrus-infused rum

½ c Sugar

2 Tbsp Cornstarch

¼ tsp Vanilla extract

Whipped cream

Pie Crust Directions:

1)      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2)      Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

3)      Cut in the butter with a pie cutter until well incorporated.

4)      Add in the rum and enough water to hold it all together.

5)      Refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling out into a thin disk.

6)      Place into a pie tin and crimp the edges.

7)      Cook for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Berry Filling Directions:

1)      In a medium pot, bring 1 ½ c rum and the sugar to a boil.

2)      Reduce by half and be very careful not to set it on fire (if you do, just put a lid on it).

3)      In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and the 2 Tbsp of rum, making sure there are no lumps.

4)      Add the cornstarch mixture and the vanilla, and cook for 1 minute until nice and thick.

5)      In a large bowl, pour the hot mixture over the berries, and toss well.

6)      Add the berry mixture to the cooled pie shell, and place in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

7)      Top with whipped cream.

8)      Serve and enjoy!

Beer-Brined Carne Asada

Beer braised asada2

Yum, beer! If there are two things that go together, it is grilling and beer. So why not grill with the beer as well? This is a really yummy recipe for Beer-Brined Carne Asada. It takes almost no time to prepare; just mix everything together the night before and then slap it on the grill the next day.

If you don’t have a grill or a nice grill pan, you can cook this under the broiler. It works almost as well, but you don’t get the nice little char marks that look and taste so good. I personally recently got a cast iron grill pan, so I am using that.

This should serve 4 people; you can stretch it a little farther with more garnishes.


Juice of 1 orange

1 bottle amber lager beer (such as Negra Modelo)

½ onion, cut into strips

1 large clove garlic

1 handful cilantro, rough cut

1 lb flank steak

For garnish:






1)      Mix all the ingredients together.

2)      Let marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for the best flavor.

3)      Preheat the grill or broiler.

4)      Cook for about 5 minutes per side, getting good grill marks and cooking until medium. Keep a close eye on it; the cooking time will vary depending on the heat of the grill.

5)      Remove the steak from the grill and let stand for 5 minutes.

6)      While the steak rests, serve up all the delicious garnishes.

7)      Slice the steak into thin strips.

8)      Serve and enjoy!

Steak-Wrapped Asparagus


I have gotten some great suggestions for the site recently, and I would love to get more. Let me know what you would like to see, and we’ll see what we can do for you. You can use the suggestion box on the right, email us directly, or contact us on Facebook. Lately, I was asked to add more beef  and protein dishes to the site, so I wanted to do a couple twists on old classics. Today we will make Steak-Wrapped Asparagus.

I really like marinating the steak before wrapping, but you can use the marinade just as a sauce. Marinating intensifies the flavor and also tenderizes the meat. Also, if you prefer, you can bake these in a 500 degree oven for about 7 minutes, but the steak doesn’t get those nice grill marks.

This dish serves 4-6 people as an appetizer.


2 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

½ tsp chili flakes

½ lb flank steak, cut into thin strips

1 lb asparagus


1)      In a medium bowl, mix the ingredients from the garlic through the chili flakes.

2)      Add the steak and marinate, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

3)      Heat the grill.

4)      Wrap each piece of asparagus with a single piece of steak.

5)      Grill the pieces until the steak is well-marked and the asparagus begins to wilt, turning once.

6)      Serve and enjoy!


Du Bokki2

It is time for another Korean recipe, Dukbokki, which my photographer helped me with…or really did almost all the work as I watched and enjoyed the final product. This dish is a spicy stew with these really yummy rice sticks, called duk, and delicious fish cakes. If all of this sounds weird, it is a little, but it is oh-so-delicious. Be brave and make a dish of dukbokki, and you won’t regret it. You can find all the ingredients at any Korean market and, usually, at any Asian market.duk duk2

There are a few odd ingredients you may not be familiar with, so I am going to give you a brief description of each to help you find the right ones.

Duk: These are delicious rice cakes that you can usually find at any Asian market. They may go by different names, but duk or rice cakes are the two most likely. It also comes in a lot of shapes, usually little cylinders or sometimes barbell shaped, as pictured.

Duk Fish2

Fish Cakes: I wish I had a fancy name for these. I am sure they have one and the internet is right here, but let’s go with fish cakes. They are at any Asian market and come in packages of about 10 sheets, each about 6”x4” or a little larger.

Red Pepper Paste: This stuff is delicious! This one is sometimes hard to find outside of Korean markets, as you really should use the Korean variety.  Do not use the Thai variety, as it is too strong and tastes odd in such a large Duk Chili2quantity. The Korean name for this is gochujang.

This recipe makes enough for 6 as an entrée or 10 as an appetizer.


4c water

5 Tbps red pepper paste (or more)

4 Tbsp soy sauce (add 1/2tsp salt if using low sodium)

3 Tbsp Sugar

1 package duk (about 1 1/3 lbs)

1 package fish cakes (about 1 lb), chopped into bite-sized pieces

½ tsp sesame oil

2 cloves garlic

1c shredded carrots

½ head cabbage, shredded

1Tbsp corn starch


1)      Place the ingredients from water through fish cakes in a large pot and bring to a boil

2)      Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes

3)      In a separate pan, sauté the garlic and carrots in sesame oil

4)      Add the carrot mixture and the cabbage to the pot

5)      In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with about 2 tbsp cold water

6)      Add the cornstarch to the mixture and bring to a boil

7)      Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the cabbage is soft.

8)      Serve and Enjoy!