Archive for November, 2012

Holiday Hosting and a Bowl of Roasted Nuts

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012


Nothing is tastier at a cocktail party than great finger foods and cold cocktails.  A big bowl of roasted nuts are the perfect do-ahead, easy appetizer for entertaining.  When hosting a party, give yourself a break and choose menu items that can be prepared ahead of time.  You will thank yourself when you aren’t running around in the kitchen, but instead, enjoying your guests.   These roasted nuts have a gourmet flavor but are very simple to prepare.  They have a salty, lemony, addictive taste that your guests will leave your guests begging for the recipe.  This appetizer would pair nicely with sliced apples and a wedge of blue cheese.  Another great accompaniment would be a jar or prepared roasted red peppers, crackers, and an herbed log of goat cheese.  Caramelized onions with toasty bread always seem to be a crowd pleaser, and also can be served at room temperature.


A successful party is in the details.  A simple bowl of roasted nuts served in a beautiful Acacia bowl is what I call, elegant, easy entertaining.  Another suggestion would be to serve the nuts in a (name of platter with 3 parts) next to marinated olives, and cheese cubes.   With beautiful serving ware in your pantry the combinations are endless.  After years of catering and event planning with a lot of fancy equipment and dishes galore, I now enjoy having just a handful of my Acacia wood neutral bowls and platters to make my own parties a success.


For this recipe I used, my small Mason Cash mixing bowl and served the nuts in the trendy Pacific Merchants Acaciaware® condiment bowl, with lemon and rosemary for garnish.


Roasted nuts pair nicely with Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and my favorite -Champagne.


Roasted Nuts with Lemon, Rosemary, and Sea Salt



4 Cups of roasted unsalted nuts

2 Tablespoons of butter

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

2 Tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary

Zest of 2 lemons

1-2 teaspoons of sea salt


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a small sauté pan melt the butter and warm the olive oil.

Add in the lemon zest and rosemary, and stir to combine.

Place the nuts in a small Mason Cash mixing bowl, and pour the butter mixture over the top.

Stir to combine the nuts with the butter and olive oil mixture, and sprinkle.

Lay the nuts out evenly onto a lined baking sheet sprinkle with the sea salt.

Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring half way through the cooking process.

The nuts will become aromatic and golden brown when done.

Thanksgiving Wild Rice Salad

Friday, November 16th, 2012

 Thanksgiving is the Super bowl of holidays for cooks everywhere. There is so much planning, shopping, recipe testing, and decorating all for that one meal. Before we even begin to cook the “big meal” we have the pre game show – appetizers and cocktails to keep everyone happy while you cook a giant bird that ends up tasting well… like turkey. Don’t let my football talk fool you into to thinking I know anything about the game. I’m just barely aware that football is on television during Thanksgiving and that it has something to do with the teams that play at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, right?                                                                                                                                                                                  It’s too early in the month to start talking about my lack of enthusiasm for cooking turkeys on Thanksgiving, so for now let’s just talk cranberries. Thanksgiving can be a bit overwhelming even for seasoned chefs, maybe that’s why Americans have resorted to opening a can when it comes to the cranberries. It’s almost become a tradition to have a bowl of jiggly wiggly cranberry sauce on the table with the ring indentation still intact. I have to admit, I love the stuff. Give me a roll with a slab of butter and a nice glob of cranberries and I’ll call it Thanksgiving.

This is a great fall salad that is made with cranberries and tossed in cranberry vinaigrette. It sounds odd with the rice and raw vegetables, believe me I know, but it’s incredibly flavorful and full of texture with a unique sweet and savory flavor balance. Because it’s made without lettuce and served cold or at room temperature, it is a perfect “do-ahead” salad for your holiday table. Try serving salad in a Mason Cash pudding basin or a beautiful acacia wood salad bowl – remember presentation is everything, your guests will be so impressed – it will be a sure touchdown.

Serve this with a butternut squash soup for a complete lunch or dinner.


How will you serve your cranberries this Thanksgiving season?

Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad with Candied Walnuts
Serves 8-10
1 ½ cups uncooked wild rice
6 -7 cups water
1 Tablespoon salt
6 cups cooked chicken breast or turkey- cut into medium dice
3 cups carrots – thinly sliced on the bias
2 cups celery – thinly sliced on the bias
¾ cup green onions – sliced thinly on the bias
¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup dried soft cranberries
1 cup candied walnuts
• In a large sauce pot bring the rice to a rolling boil with the salt- cook for about 45 minutes or until rice splits.
• Remove from the heat and pour into a strainer- allow to cool.

• In a large Mason Cash mixing bowl, combine cooled rice, chicken, carrots, celery, onions, tarragon, and cranberries.

Toss with cranberry vinaigrette a little at a time to coat evenly – to taste.

• Top with candied walnuts
Cranberry Vinaigrette
½ cup canned cranberry
1 Tablespoon shallot- chopped
1 small clove of garlic – minced
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar or tarragon vinegar
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup walnut oil
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
• Combine all ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake well – chill

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