Ricotta Pudding with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

serves 6

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk ingredients together until smooth.
3. Spread six pyrex bowls out on baking sheets and spray with cooking spray to coat evenly.
4. Divide the batter between the six bowls.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and gently remove with small spatula onto plates, right side up.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

  • 1 cup sliced fresh rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup of cleaned, sliced strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueurpinch of kosher salt

1. Place the rhubarb and sugar in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
2. Place the cooked rhubarb in a medium bowl and add the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and Grand Marnier. Stir to combine and add more sugar if necessary. 
3. Let the compote stand at room temperature until juices form, at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Almond Torte with Almond Macaroons

(Makes 4)

  • 1/4 cup crushed Almond Macaroons (recipe below)
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 large scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 8 Almond Macaroons (recipe below)
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint
  • 20 whole almonds, halved for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 4 (1 1/2 cup) soufflé cups and place a small round of buttered parchment in the bottom of each.
  2. Combine the almond macaroons, almonds, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until it is ground to a fine meal.
  3. Place the chocolate and butter in a small “microwave safe” glass bowl and melt in the microwave, stirring it every 20 seconds, until it is completely melted.
  4. Add the sugar, almond extract and eggs to the food processor and mix until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and mix until smooth.
  5. Divide the cake mixture between the prepared soufflé cups and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool the ramekins on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, flip each cake out into your hand and remove the parchment paper. The tortes can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and kept refrigerated until needed.
  7. Warm the cake slightly before serving. Place the tortes off center on the plates and add a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with the almond macaroons, mint and halved almonds.

Almond Macaroons

(Makes 15 cookies)

  • 1 pound almond paste (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, whites only
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the almond paste in a food processor with the sugar. Process until well blended. While the food processor is on, add the egg whites gradually and blend until well combined.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Make balls with a #40 ice cream scoop and place about 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with the granulated sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on the sheet. Use a spatula to remove the cookies from the sheet.

Grilled Salmon Nicoise

(Serves 4)

  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound small potatoes (Yukon gold, purple Peruvian, small reds, etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 pound haricot verts (thin French green beans) — or use fiddlehead ferns
  • 4 six-ounce salmon fillets, boneless and skinless
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup olives (niçoise or kalamata), pitted and halved
  • Whole Grain Mustard Dressing (recipe below)
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the paper with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.
  2. Core and cut the plum tomatoes in half lengthwise and place them cut side up on the baking sheet. Drizzle the tomatoes with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle the tomatoes with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 2 hours.
  3. Place the small potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water and 1 Tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove immediately from the hot water and cool slightly. Cut the potatoes in half or quarters, depending on their size (you want bite-sized pieces) and place in an ovenproof pan or baking sheet. Drizzle the potatoes with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and the rosemary. Roast in the 375-degree oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil with 1 Tablespoon salt. At a boil add the haricot verts and blanch for 1 minute. Remove immediately to an ice bath to cool.
  5. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Lightly coat the salmon fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon for 3 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the fillets) or until it is barely cooked through. Don’t overcook the salmon or it will dry out.
  6. Heat the haricot verts in a small sauté pan with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, place a mound of potatoes in the center of each plate. Top the potatoes with the haricot verts and the grilled salmon fillet. Place 3 roasted tomato halves and 2 egg halves around the salmon and sprinkle with some of the halved olives. Ladle the warm dressing over the salmon and garnish with a sprig of fresh tarragon.

Whole Grain Mustard Dressing

  • 2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon capers, lightly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon each herb (chives, tarragon, Italian parsley), coarsely chopped
  1. Place all of the ingredients (except the fresh herbs) in a small saucepan and heat up to a simmer, just before serving.
  2. Stir in the fresh herbs and serve.

Seafood Panzanella Salad

(Serves 6)

  • 2 pounds seafood of your choice (lobster, crab, shrimp, mussels, tuna, etc.)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 2 cups cubed bread (use rustic country-style bread without the crust and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 basil sprigs for garnish
  1. Clean and cook the seafood using any method you desire. You can grill, poach, steam or sauté the seafood; just be careful to not overcook it. The other option is to buy seafood that is already cooked for you like crabmeat and shrimp to simplify this recipe.
  2. 2Once you have your 2 pounds of seafood, free of shell and bones, cut any large pieces (like a whole lobster tail) into more manageable pieces. Drizzle the seafood with the lemon juice, the parsley, 2 Tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Toss gently to coat and refrigerate until service.
  3. Make the balsamic vinaigrette by whisking together the remaining olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Core the tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch wedges. Cut the wedges in half to create uniform chunks of tomatoes and mix together with the sliced onion and cubed bread. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the tomato mixture along with the vinaigrette. Toss well to coat.
  5. To serve, make a small ring of the tomato mixture on each plate and fill the center with the seafood. Garnish with the basil sprig and serve.

Baked Brie with Hazelnuts & Frangelico

(Serves 6)

  • 1 medium wheel Brie cheese (500 gm)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cumin Spice Mix (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, whole
  • 1 loaf French bread
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the Brie in an ovenproof baking dish.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, cumin spice mix and Frangelico. Melt over medium heat and pour over the Brie. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and cover. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
  4. Serve immediately with sliced French bread.

Cumin Spice Mix

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons whole anise seeds
  1. Mix the sugar and spices together.

Flourless Nut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies

(Makes 40 cookies)

  • 2 cups chunky peanut butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (dark or white chocolate)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together the peanut butter, sugar and baking powder. Stir in the eggs and mix well.
  3. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chunks and mix to combine; the mixture will be quite coarse.
  4. Make balls with a #40 ice cream scoop and place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat or on a lightly greased baking sheet. Press down a little and sprinkle the top with coarse baking sugar.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Apple Tarts

(serves 6)

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (homemade or your favorite brand)
  • Vegetable pan coating
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6 Tablespoons almond paste
  • 1 1/2 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice Mix (recipe below)
  • Powdered sugar in shaker
  • Optional: 1 cup Creme Anglaise (recipe in cookbooks)
  • 6 scoops vanilla ice cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lay out the puff pastry dough and cut into six 3-inch circles (a scalloped 3-inch cutter works well).
  3. Lightly coat a baking sheet with vegetable spray and lay the pastry circles on top. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and place 1 Tablespoon of almond paste in the center of each pastry round.
  4. Cut the whole apple in half and core all three halves with a melon baller. Slice each apple half from top to bottom into very thin slices, keeping them together.
  5. Separate each sliced apple half into two equal halves and spread out one equal half per pastry circle, leaving a border around the outside. If you start by laying down the cut side of the apple half first and fanning the rest on top, the apple will conform to the round shape of the pastry. One apple will make four tarts.
  6. Mix together 2 Tablespoons sugar with 1/2 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice Mix and sprinkle an even coating on top of each tart.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Make a spiced creme Anglaise by combining the sauce with 1 teaspoon of the apple pie spice mix.
  9. Serve on a plate dusted with powdered sugar, surrounded by a pool of spiced creme Anglaise and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Pie Spice Mix

  • 3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  1. Mix all of the spices together and keep in a tightly covered jar in a dark place.

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