Halloween skeletons sway from the trees, as October winds pick up and bring leaves with its whisper. Skeleton arms creepingly emerge from front yards alongside grave stones, as flickering lights complete the eerie scene. Halloween touches upon the darkside, as we embrace it and make peace with it. When I was little, my mom would make chicken soup and sometimes add marrow bones to enrich the flavor. And when the soup was done and I saw some empty marrow bones in my mom’s bowl, my mom had to show me that the marrow had fallen out and were swimming in the bottom of the soup pot. (It didn’t dissolve into the soup, like I had thought, lol and I was relieved!) After much reassurance, lol, I ate my soup and it was so good! It took me a long time to appreciate marrow bones, as my husband reintroduced me to them. In the cooler, rainy summer days, he made a broth with the bones and spread the soft buttery marrow on toast and I was a little hooked! Later tossing them on the grill, and now with the cooler weather upon us, tossing them in the oven. This is an appetizer that is indulgent and all you need to be satisfied is a little bit on toast. It’s delicious with the salty olive tapanade. If you want more of a pungent flavor add a thin slice of blue cheese on top. And if you want pure indulgence, make a little well in your marrow and pour in a little cream…My favorite is the marrow spread on toast and topped with an arugula leaf, just delicious! And so, as we make peace with the darkside of the season, embracing the ghosts, ghouls and the supernatural, I’ve made peace with what I thought was from the darkside that was lurking in the chicken soup of my childhood…those marrow bones.
- 1 & 1/2 pounds beef marrow bones
- 1 ciabatta roll, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup black Cerignola olives
- 1/4 cup oil cured olives
- 1/4 cup tightly packed baby arugula leaves plus more for garnish
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 smashed garlic clove
- sprinkle of garlic powder
- ground black pepper
- sea salt, if needed
- 1 teaspoon pear infused balsamic vinegar
- olive oil cooking spray
- slice of blue cheese *optional
- heavy cream *optional
Rub the garlic on both sides of the bread slices and lightly spritz with cooking spray, place on a cookie sheet. Place in a 425 degree pre-heated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Take your cookie sheet out, flip the slices over, spritzing the other side. Bake for 3-5 minutes, until as brown as you like. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Wash your bones well and place them in a heavy bottomed pan or glass pie dish and place in the oven for 35 minutes, roasting them uncovered. While your bones roast, make your olive and arugula tapanade. Remove the pits from the olives. Roughly chop the oil cured olives and finely mince the Cerignola olives. If you can’t find the Cerignola olives, use any mild flavored black olive. In a bowl, combine half of the minced Cerignola olives with the oil cured and blend with a hand immersion blender or regular blender to make a paste. Combine that with the remaining Cerignola olives. Finely mince the arugula and add to the olives along with the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic powder and ground black pepper. Season with sea salt, if needed. Once your bone marrow is done, (they should be brown and bubbly) make your platter. Arrange the marrow bones, olive tapanade, toast, cream, blue cheese and arugula leaves so everyone can help themselves. Serve nice and hot. Serves 4.
This platter is so much fun to eat and different from the ordinary day in and day out dinner fare. I love going out for sushi. I love the whole experience from the green tea and miso soup at the start of the meal, to the beautiful sushi platter being brought to the table. Sometimes I feel bad eating it, as it looks like pure artwork on a plate. But I get over it fast (lol) and the delicateness and deliciousness of the meal takes over and I’m a happy girl! So I thought, why not try to make it at home and have something really fun for dinner? This is great because everyone can make their own hand rolls, as they like. Share this platter among four people. Serve with edamame for an appetizer and green tea ice cream for dessert! Enjoy!
- 1 pound salmon
- 1 oz. olive oil plus a little for cooking the rice
- 1 tablespoon Ponzo sauce
- five spice powder
- 1 package sushi nori sheets, about 7″x8″, cut diagonally, creating triangles
- 1 cup short grain brown or sushi rice
- 2 cups water
- sea salt
- 2 teaspoons Gomasio (black & tan sesame seeds & sea salt)
- 3 oz. enoki mushrooms, quickly blanched and rinsed with cold water
- 2 1/2 inch piece of seedless cucumber
- handful of radish sprouts
- 1 small avocado
- 1 small ball of wasabi
- soy sauce
- Sriracha sauce
To start, cook the rice by bringing 2 cups of water to a boil. Toss in your rice, add a little sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in the Gomasio and adjust the seasonings as needed. Pack into a pretty bowl, smoothing the top of it with the back of a spoon. While the rice is cooking, make the sauces. There are 3 different ones here, a wasabi soy, Sriracha mayo and a wasabi mayo. The only problem being, there are no measurements for the sauces because it depends on the wasabi and how hot you like your sauces and if you like them at all. I love spicy sauces and it makes every roll a little different. Ideally you want to fill a shot glass or more or find a small bowl you will use for the sauces and then go from there, really experimenting with the heat. For the wasabi soy, I combined 1/2 of the wasabi ball and added soy sauce. For the Sriracha mayo, start with about 2 to 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise and add in the Sriracha sauce until it’s as hot as you like. For the wasabi mayo, I did the same, starting with mayonnaise and then adding in a little bit of the wasabi until it was just right and I topped it with some Gomasio. If you aren’t a fan of spicy sauces, just have soy sauce on the side. Next, julienne the cucumber and scoop out the avocado and cut as thin as you can. Prepare the salmon by heating up the grill to 500 degrees. I used aluminum foil, for easy clean up but you can cook the salmon directly on the cast iron flat pan. Combine the ounce of olive oil and the Ponzo sauce. If using foil, use two sheets and make a kind of bowl out of it, cupping the edges so the juices don’t pour out, while cooking. Season both sides of the salmon with five spice powder. Pour half of the oil mixture on the bottom of the foil. Place the fish on top, skin side down and then pour the remaining oil mixture on top. Place your fish in its’ foil on the cast iron flat top and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. The great thing about this platter is, it’s great room temperature, so no real pressure of getting everything on the table at the same time. Arrange everything on a platter, including the remaining wasabi and enjoy! Serve with soy and Ponzo sauces on the side. To make your hand roll, have the nori triangle with the point facing you and in the center place your rice, salmon, veggies and sauces, and slowly roll, keeping the point, so the goodies don’t fall out, but if they do, it’s okay, that’s what the chopsticks are for! Have fun!
I’m not much of a dessert person but I do love Nutella! And if you are having company over, this is such a quick platter to put together to satisfy that sweet tooth! Enjoy!
- 1 8oz. container mascarpone cheese
- 1 tablespoon of Kahlua or more
- 4 graham crackers broken up
- a few thin slices multi-grain bread, grilled (try to get one with nuts & seeds)
- 3/4 cup Nutlella or more
- 2 tablespoons hazelnuts
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 ripe banana, sliced
- 1 pat unsalted butter
- sprinkling of cinnamon
- a few pieces of dark chocolate
Combine the mascarpone cheese and the Kahlua and spread on the platter. Spread your Nutella down and grate some dark chocolate over a corner of the mascarpone cheese. Break up the chocolate into little bite size pieces. It’s nice to have that little touch of bitterness. In a separate bowl, combine the hazelnuts with honey. Add to the platter. This is a great platter because you can really do what you like with it. If you aren’t a honey fan, you can leave the hazelnuts plain, on the side or omit them altogether. For the banana mixture, melt the butter and add the banana sauteing until they brown and the bananas begin to break down. They don’t take long, about 5 minutes, stirring often, stir in the cinnamon and add to the platter. (The bananas are in the corner above the multi-grain bread, sorry not too much exposure but if you are a banana lover, add this to the platter!) Surround with the graham crackers and the multi-grain bread. I like adding the multi-grain bread because it gives the sweetness of all of the spreads a little bit of a break, almost like the crust on a sweet fruit pie. On second thought, if you are a fan of peanut butter, it would be great with the Nutella and mascarpone cheese and maybe a little sea salt on the side! The combinations are endless, have fun! This platter serves about 4.
I loved this platter! And it combines a little bit of summer in every corner of it, a juicy sweet plum, a grilled steak, fresh basil made into pesto, relaxed creamy cheese and a perfectly ripe avocado. Enjoy with a nice glass of wine, while the sunset is going down.
- 12 oz. skirt steak, cut into 2 pieces
- 1 ripe avocado room temperature and halved
- 1 ripe black plum, halved and pitted
- 2 slivers of St. Andre cheese, room temperature
- 2 oz. basil, (about 1 cup tightly packed)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup raw walnuts
- 1/4 cup walnut oil
- fresh ground pepper
- Maldon sea salt flakes
- a little drizzle of olive oil for steaks
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic pear infused vinegar
- juice of quarter of a lime
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Make your basil (almost pesto) chimichurri sauce. Combine the basil, olive oil, walnuts, walnut oil, salt and pepper with a hand blender. This makes 1 cup of pesto. Adjust your seasonings to taste. Reserve half a cup for another use. This is great for a quick dinner when tossed with pasta, just add some good Parmesan cheese. And if your pasta needs to be moistened a little more, add some pasta water. With the remaining pesto add the vinegar, lime juice and the parsley, combine well. Heat up your grill to about 500 degrees. Throw your steaks and plum halves on the grill. Cook your steaks how you like. I cooked mine for about 5 minutes each side and you really have to watch the plums, they grill quickly and get very soft. Maybe about 3 minutes for the first side. You will see the skin start to curl up at the ends and that’s when I flipped it onto it’s skin for a minute or so. They are really delicate especially if you got a good juicy one. Pull the plums off and let them rest. Remove the steaks from the grill and let them rest for about 5 minutes. Begin arranging your platter. Slice the steak diagonally and fan out, arrange the sliced avocado, cheese and plum on your platter. Scoop some of the pesto chimichurri sauce onto the platter. Sprinkle some salt onto the steak and the avocado. This recipe makes 2 servings, so double and triple as needed. Enjoy!
There is something about summertime that pulls me to chips and dip. And you can make the humble potato chip a little fancier when paired with super creamy sour cream, smoked Nova salmon, salty capers and specialty mustard. If your budget allows, add some caviar to this platter and you have got yourself a little fancy feast. This can be great to munch on while you sip on some Prosecco or beer on a Saturday night with some friends or as a little starter to a main course where you are serving fish for company. I made this once before but made the mistake to have the chips premade with dollops of sour cream and as it sat around, it got really mushy and no one really likes a mushy chip. So this is great where everyone can make their own little chip with all the fixins.
I use shot glasses for condiments all the time and this is one of the platters that could really use them. Great to hold the mustard, horseradish and capers. For this platter gather together:
- 1 bag of hearty kettle cooked chips, about a 6 oz. bag
- 3 oz. package of smoked Nova salmon
- 1 pint sour cream
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- capers, I used two kinds, one in brine and one packed in salt
- horseradish in a jar
- baby dill pickles, cut lengthwise
- any specialty mustard, I used champagne dill (found in the mustard aisle)
- fresh dill
I love that this is so easy to make and so good! Combine the sour cream and the heavy cream and put in a bowl. Sprinkle the salted capers around the sour cream. Put the mustard, capers, drained from the brine and the horseradish in your shot glasses or any small bowls. Rip up the salmon into bite size pieces and put on a plate, spread some freshly chopped dill on the side. Arrange your platter with the bowl of sour cream, the salmon, condiments, and the pickles and chips. Spread out some cocktail knives and forks and enjoy!
Shared messy appetizers are great, piling different flavor combinations on every inch of bread is the best part! But my favorite is ricotta cheese, buttered corn and basil, just delicious! I’ve been obsessed with corn lately! Grilling the corn in their husks till burnt to later reveal steamy creamy yellow kernels of sweetness has been my thing! Eating the corn row by row as a kid, finding odd satisfaction in a clean bare cob.( I still do it now lol) It comes out perfectly clean. I wish I brought that same precision to house cleaning. lol So at first glance the corn looks a little out of place, but when combined with smooth cool ricotta cheese it becomes truly craveable!
- 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- a half a cup of fresh “cherry size” mozzarella (ciliegine), halved
- 6 good small tomatoes, quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus more for drizzling.
- 4-6 slices good sliced bread
- a few slices prosciutto, each slice cut in half and rolled up
- 1 ear of corn
- a pat of unsalted butter
- a few basil leaves
- a little lemon zest
- fresh ground pepper
In a non-stick pan heat the olive oil and garlic on low heat until beginning to brown. Add into the pan your tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, increase the heat to medium and saute for another 10 minutes, stirring often until the liquid evaporates and you end up with a thick tomato sauce, set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add your ear of corn and simmer for 10 minutes, once cooled, with care, take a sharp knife and slowly run it down the length of the corn removing the kernels. In another non-stick pan heat the butter until sizzling and add the corn, a little sea salt and a minced basil leaf. Saute until lightly browned and set aside. Take your bread slices and drizzle them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and throw them on the grill, flipping after a few minutes. Combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest and ground pepper. Begin assembling your platter! Spread your ricotta cheese in the center and surround with the tomato sauce, corn, halved mozzarella, grilled bread slices, prosciutto, a few chopped basil leaves and finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh ground pepper on the cheeses. Enjoy!
Let’s say we went to a party together, and I was missing, the first place to look is where the cheese platter is sitting. I love cheese! The buttery cubes of goodness, combined with something sweet. There was a time, I hated cheese. Like the time in kindergarten when I was forced to eat my grilled cheese sandwich, before I went back to class. Tears streamed down my face. I laugh at the memory now, but that day made me a little unhappy. Many years later, the love affair with cheese started. And then whenever there was a holiday or special day, a cheese platter was made, this one was one of my favorites!
On the plate, going clockwise starting at the green apple slices, we have brie, cooked bacon pieces, smoked Gouda, peanut brittle, blue cheese, Jarlsberg, a little bit of walnuts followed by the center of raw pistachios nuts and fig marmalade. All served with a big loaf of your favorite crusty bread and quick and easy homemade butter (April 16ths’ post) There are so many possibilities of flavor combinations here…All creamy, sometimes salty and sweet…
- apple slice + brie + bacon
- bread + brie + pistachios + fig marmalade
- Jarlsberg + bacon
- bread + butter + fig marmalade
- bacon + blue cheese + walnuts
- apple slice + blue cheese + peanut brittle
- bread + butter + smoked Gouda
- apple slice + brie + pistachios
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!