The Queen’s Tipple

The Queen's Tipple / Forkful of Awesome

The Queen's Tipple / Forkful of Awesome

This lovely concoction is inspired from a cocktail I had in Queens, New York this year.  It was so yummy, I made everyone in my party have a sip. And then they all ordered one.  Of course, I had to make a variation to enjoy in the leisure of my own house.  It has now become a family favorite.  At every holiday and get-together, we make sure we are stocked with all the essentials.  We usually run out.

The gin has the smooth taste of juniper, cucumber, and rose petals.  The St. Germain is a sweet elderflower liquor, with the scent of citrus and tropical fruit.  The lemon adds a spark of freshness.  It is sublime.  It tastes pure.  Not too sweet, not too dry.  Just right.

Forewarning- these go down easily.  Very easily.  One brings on happiness.  Two makes you want to dance.  Three makes you ramble excessively to strangers.  Four- let’s not discuss, shall we.  So, it goes without saying that this is the perfect party drink!  Everyone will have a smashing time, evidenced below.

The Queen's Tipple / Forkful of Awesome

If you’re serving these for a party, it’s super simple to make in a pitcher.  Just keep the ratios the same.

The Queen’s Tipple

serves 1

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Hendrick’s Gin
  • 1 oz St Germain (elderflower liquor)
  • juice of 1/6 lemon
  • splash of club soda

Directions

  1. Fill a lo ball glass with ice
  2. Add Hendrick’s Gin, St Germain, lemon juice, and club soda
  3. Stir with a bar spoon.
  4. Serve and bring on the fun

xox

The Queen's Tipple / Forkful of Awesome

The Queen's TIpple

Creamy Mixed Greens with Pecans

Creamy Mixed Greens with Pecan / forkful of awesome

Creamy Mixed Greens with Pecan / forkful of awesome

By now, I’m sure most everyone has finalized their Thanksgiving menus, but I couldn’t let the holiday pass without sharing this little gem.  Of course, this dish doesn’t have to be limited to the Thanksgiving feast- it’s fantastic anytime during the cold months.  But, if you DO add it to your Thanksgiving repertoire, it will not go unnoticed.  “Green bean casserole?  Pffft, yeah right.  More like creamy mixed greens with pecans!”  I know it’s not traditional, but it works so damn well with turkey and stuffing and cranberries.  It’s begging to be tradition from here on out.

This weekend, I went to visit my youngest sister, my brother-in-law, and my nephew.  They just bought their first home, and I had to go snoop around their new digs.  Also, it’s such a bummer, but they won’t be making it to Thanksgiving this year thanks to the Navy (I give you the middle finger salute Navy).  So, I made them these creamy mixed greens that they can have at their Thanksgiving for three.    They each sampled a bowl of greens and gave me the thumbs up (and not the middle finger salute, thank goodness).  Isn’t my sister loverly?

ashley

Remember my love affair with pecans?  It’s still going strong.  We’re very happy together, and so that’s why they’re included in this recipe.  Wanna diss pecans and use another nut?  Whatever makes you happy on this lovely holiday.  I won’t judge.  Yes I will.  I just won’t tell you I’m judging you.

Be bold, be daring, and try these greens with your Giving Thanks meal.  You’ll be thankful you did.  And so will your friends and family.  Another reason to be thankful?  You can make this a day ahead.  “Oh, thank goodness.” Thanks thanks double thanks.

Thanks.

Creamy Mixed Greens with Pecans

Serves 8-10

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients

  • 1  big ol’ bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly torn
  • 1 bunch collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens, whatever kind of greens you like, stems removed and leaves roughly torn
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems chopped and set aside, and leaves roughly torn
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the largest pot you own over medium-high heat.  Add the kale, wine, and salt.  If you’re using a thick-leafed green such a collard greens, add it to the pot with the kale.  If it’s something more delicate such as mustard greens, wait to add it to the pot with the swiss chard.  Stir the greens around until wilted, and then cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the leaves are tender.
  2. Add the swiss chard and other delicate greens if you’re using them.  Turn in the pot until wilted, about 3-5 minutes.  Put the cooked greens in a bowl.
  3. Return the pot to medium-high heat, and melt 4 tbsp butter.  Add the swiss chard stems, onion, and garlic.  Saute for 3-5 minutes until the onion is softened.  Add to the bowl with the greens.
  4. Now for the creaminess!  Heat the same pot over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tbsp butter.  When melted, add the 2 tbsp flour and whisk for a minute.  Slowly add the half and half while whisking and continue to whisk until the sauce has thickened.  Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  Add to the greens and mix everything together.  Mix in the pecans, and reserve a few to garnish on top.  Ta-da!  Enjoy!  xox

Creamy Mixed Greens with Pecan / forkful of awesomecreamy mixed greens with pecans / forkful of awesome

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie / forkfulofawesome

I admit it.  Pumpkin pie would never be my first choice in desserts.  It’s just okay to me. Similar to gas station coffee- yeah, it’ll do, but it’s not great.  So, if I’m gonna stuff myself to the max on Thanksgiving (and you know I am), the dessert better be freaking amazing just so I feel justified about feeling like a hippo.  “Well, I feel like I just ingested a bowling ball, but I had to!  Did you taste that dessert?  Amazeballs.”

Therefore, I give you Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.  Yes, you still get the pumpkin flavor with the bonus of chocolate.  You’re giving a nod to tradition, but just turning it up to level awesome.  Pumpkin is the first flavor you notice on your tongue, followed by the lingering silkiness of the chocolate ganache.  Mmmm….

And a quick side note.  The ganache is harder than the creamy pumpkin custard in the middle.  For easier eating, flip the slice of pie upside-down.  I know it sounds crazy, but it works!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ground chocolate graham crackers or cookies
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp instant espresso (optional, but it really intensifies the chocolate flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can (15 oz) pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp  ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 oz milk chocolate, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, grind your chocolate graham crackers with the brown sugar and instant espresso.  Pour the melted butter over the mixture, and process until it looks like wet dirt.
  3. Pour the crust into a 9 or 10 inch pie dish.  Using your fist, press the crumbs into the pie dish and up the sides until you have an even crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Turn oven down to 325 degrees.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, evaporated milk, brown sugar, eggs, corn starch, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
  5. Pour the custard into your pie crust, and bake for an hour.  The middle of the pie should still wiggle some when you pull it out of the oven.  Cool to room temperature.
  6. Melt dark chocolate with the heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water.  When it is smooth and shiny, pour over the pumpkin pie and refrigerate until set.
  7. Melt your milk chocolate and drizzle onto the pie.  Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.  Yay for make-ahead pies!
  8. Serve the pie chilled or else the pumpkin custard will become too soft and squish out the sides when you’re trying to cut the pie.  Cut your pie with a sharp knife that has been rinsed under hot water so it glides easily through the chocolate ganache.
  9. Bask in the spotlight as your friends and family swoon over your homemade pie.

xox

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie / forkfulofawesome

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie / forkfulofawesome

Roasted Delicata Squashes and Apples

delicata squash 2

delicata squash 2

Last year, I hosted my first Thanksgiving at our house.  It was a blast.  My grandparents were in England, and my parents stayed in Omaha.  So it was a young crowd.  My two sisters and their husbands, my nephew, and my mother-in-law, who still acts like a 20 year old (in a good way).  There was much drinking and merriment involved.  By the time the meal was over and the dishes were cleaned, I was passed out on the couch.  This is probably what I looked like-

 

Dog_Passed_Out

I believe everyone else continued into the night around a bonfire.

Of course, the merriment was fun, duh!  But what really made it memorable for me was cooking with my foodie family.  Together, we raised the bar for Thanksgiving meals.  And although I have a fondness for the traditional Thanksgiving feast, we did a little twist on tradition. There wasn’t a green bean casserole in sight.  Don’t even ask about sweet potato casserole- she wasn’t invited.

This recipe is one of those twists, and it was one of the most popular dishes of the day.  Not only is this insanely delicious, it’s perty to look at.  The delicata squash look like flowers on your plate.  So, if you’re looking for an alternative to the sweet potato casserole, look no further.  Bonus: it’s a make ahead too. Directions follow at the end of the recipe.

If you haven’t eaten delicata squash before, it’s dreamy.  You don’t have to peel it (bonus for us lazy peeps) because the skin is yummy.  It has such a gentle, delicate flavor, and I think it’s just about the perfect fall veggie.

Roasted Delicata Squash and Apples

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 2 delicata squashes, around 1 1/2 pounds
  • 10 baby apples
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 6 oz. pancetta, diced (can also use bacon if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • fresh thyme or rosemary

Directions:

  1. Slice the delicata squash, crosswise, into 1/2 inch wide circles.  Remove the seeds using a sharp paring knife.
  2. Slice each apple in half, removing the core with a melon baller.  (If you can’t find little baby apples, just use larger, but quarter them instead.  And you’ll probably only need 6-7 apples in that case.)
  3. Put the squash, apples, pancetta, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and pepper onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 50 minutes.
  4.  Turn the squash and apples. Bake for another 15 minutes.
See how small these apples are?  So petite.
See how small these apples are? In a three-year olds hands.

 

To make this dish one-day ahead, follow directions 1-3.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  The next day, once the turkey is done and is resting, pop the baking sheet back in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

xox

delicata squash 3

Scottish Oatmeal Scones

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scottish Oatmeal Scones

I can’t remember a Christmas morning without my mom’s scones.  I don’t even think Christmas would exist without these scones!  Everything would just fade away, and that would be the end of that.  Goodbye sweet world- nice knowing you.  These are the first scones I ever ate, and to be quite honest, I believe they’re the only scones worth eating.  Those other scones you buy in a coffee shop aren’t even in the same category as my mom’s scones.  In fact, I hate that these are even called scones.  I don’t want my sweet, delicious, moist scones associating with “that” crowd.

You really just have to make these to believe how bomb-ass they really are.  To be honest, if I saw this simple ingredient list, I would think, “Ehh, nothing special.  Moving on.”  And I would be horribly wrong.  No exotic spices.  No fancy fruits or flours.  No extra trips to specialty markets.  I think the simplicity is what makes these so good, yet they don’t taste simple.  Sweet mysteries of life.  Oh, for crying out loud, just make them so I can say, “I told you so.”  And then we can do our “jumping for scones” dance together.

These are the perfect weekend treat and not to be reserved for just Christmas morning.  The recipe can easily be doubled if you’re feeding a crowd.  Make this fritatta with the scones, and you have a perfect brunch menu. Oh, and mimosas.  Always mimosas.

Scottish Oatmeal Scones

Servings: 6

Adapted from my mom’s recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, diced
  • 1 cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned
  • 1/4 cup currants, raisins, or dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp coarse sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Mix on slow speed until combined.
  3. Add the cold butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Add the oats and currants and mix to combine.
  5. Slowly add the milk and mix just until the dough comes together.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form into a 8-9 inch circle.
  7. Cut into 6 pie wedges and separate onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter, and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes until just golden around the edges.
  10. Devour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mocha Pecan Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

chocolate pecan cake sideview

I have a new crush on pecans.  Almonds, you’re like, so yesterday.  Pecans, you have stolen my heart and I will be eating you with everything, on everything, and in everything within the foreseeable future.  How have I rejected this nut for so many years?  Minus the once a year pecan pie, pecans were off my radar.  Not anymore.  Let’s have food affair together, okay pecans?pecans

 

So, you can just imagine my excitement when I came across a recipe for a flour-less chocolate pecan cake the other day.  Awww yeah!  It was destiny, and I had to make it mine, all mine.

This is a special occasion cake.  It’s not a bake-sale cake or a one-bowl cake.  It requires some luxury time in your kitchen.  Just you, some pecans, chocolate, butter, and some sultry music.  You’re going to be melting, whipping, folding, and licking (the spatula people!).  And it’s worth it.  May I suggest listening to Zou Bisou Bisou while making your cake?  Eating this cake in bed is also highly recommended. Bon appetit!

Mocha Pecan Cake with Coffee Whipped Cream

Inspired from the Chocolate and Pecan Cake from Donna Hay Magazine

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

          The Cake

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 10 tbsp butter, chopped
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature and separated
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar, dark or light
  • 2 tbsp hot tap water
  • 1 heaping tsp instant espresso
  • 1 2/3 cups toasted, ground pecans*
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Coffee Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 tbsp confectioners sugar, based on how sweet you want your whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant espresso

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, traced from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  When everything is melted and silky smooth, set aside and let cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant espresso in the 2 tbsp water.
  4. In a large bowl (I mean large- I had to move everything to a larger bowl while making this cake), combine the egg yolks, vanilla seeds or vanilla extract, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the espresso, the melted chocolate, the pecans, and the salt.
  5. In a stand mixer, or using handheld beaters, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add 1/2 cup brown sugar, and continue to beat until the egg whites are glossy and stiff (hehe).
  6. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in two batches.  Use a plastic spatula to do this.  Be gentle and loving so you don’t deflate your egg whites.
  7. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for one hour.  This is where the licking (spatula) comes into play.  The top of the cake will be crispy and crackled, and the inside will be almost truffle-like. Oh yes.  Cool the cake completely while still in the pan.
  8. To make the coffee whipped cream, beat the cream, vanilla, and instant espresso.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar.  Beat until you have soft peaks.  Taste for sweetness.  Remember, the cake is going to be sweet, so you don’t necessarily want the whipped cream too sugary.

* To toast the pecans, heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 7 minutes.  Let the pecans cool completely before grinding.

Serve the cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a strong espresso.  Dim the lights, send the kids to bed, close your eyes, and enjoy.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA chocolate pecan cake wedge

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

xox

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Zingy Rice

pork tenderloin 2

Pig pig pig!  I love pig.  Fat pigs. Delicious pigs.  Mmmm.  Pig.  I must confess though, tenderloin is not my favorite part of a lovely pig.  Think about all your options- bacon, pork belly, baby back ribs, country style ribs, ham, pork chops.  And then there’s the tenderloin.  It’s temperamental. It’s begging for some added flavor because of it’s lack of yummy fat.  Overcook it and you may as well feed it to the family dog.  Pork tenderloin, you are a moody, skinny, bitch.  I usually don’t have time for it, unless it’s on sale for 50% off at the butcher shop.  Then, you’re all mine!

So, what to do with this pork tenderloin.  Flavor that sucka up!  I’m thinking Chinese five spice, oranges, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and caramelized onions.  RIght- all intense pow flavors.  And then that tenderloin is singing in your mouth instead of curses flowing out of your mouth from another tasteless, dry tenderloin.

Another fabulous thing about this recipe?  It’s a make-ahead meal and perfect for entertaining.  Just begin marinating the meat in the morning and make your caramelized onions ahead too.  Then, when it comes to party time, reheat your onions, cook your rice, and throw your tenderloin in the oven.  Serve with a nice, green side like sugar snap peas or broccoli. Impressed guests.

pork tenderloin 2

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onions and Zingy Rice

Serves 4, plus some nice leftovers for lunch the next day

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork tenderloins, usually sold as one package
  • 3 oranges
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/4 cilantro, finely chopped
  • zest of 1 orange

Directions:

  • In a gallon size zip-lock bag, add the juice of oranges, the soy sauce, the rice vinegar, and 2 tsp of the Chinese five spice.  Slosh together.  Add the tenderloins to the marinade and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, and up to 8. *
  • After the meat had marinated, preheat your oven to 500 degrees.  Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes and then flip over and bake for another 10 minutes.  The internal temp should be around 140 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Pour your leftover marinade into a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Continue to simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Brush onto the nicely rested tenderloins.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 3 tbsp butter.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook for 15 minutes.  If the onions begin to brown too much, turn the heat down.
  • Add 1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice, the juice of 1/2 an orange, and the honey.  Continue to cook on low heat for 10 minutes, until everything is a lovely caramel color.

caramelized onions

  • To make the rice, bring 1 3/4 cups of water, 1 tbsp butter, and a pinch of salt to a boil.  Add the rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Then add the orange zest and cilantro. RIce is done.
  • To serve, put some rice on your plate.  Top with some pretty slices of tenderloin, and spoon some caramelized onions over.  Say a little thank you for delicious piggies, and enjoy.

(*Oops, did you forget to marinade the pork early?  Yeah, I do that all the time.  No worries.  Just rub your meat down (hehehe) with a tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook as instructed above.  Put your marinade ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.  Then, brush the marinade onto the tenderloins once cooked.  Problem solved.)

pork tenderloin 5

xox

Nutella Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin bread 2

Last night was Halloween.  The night of eating shoddy, cheap candy.  And of course I had more than my fair share.  I’ll be the one stealing the peanut butter cups and coconut almond candy bars from my kids.  “Hey, you want someone to take you trick-or-treating?  You gotta pay me- in candy!”

Anywho, as I was drifting off to sleep because of my sugar-coma crash, these were my random thoughts.  “Oh god, I ate too much candy.  A bunch of furlough candy this year.  What’s up with those Sweet Tarts and Mike and Ike’s.  Gross.  Why can’t people pass out really amazing candy?  Like jars of Nutella- that’s what I’d like to see.  Seriously, I feel like a pumpkin right now.  Wait, Nutella… pumpkin.  Nutella and pumpkin… mmmm.  Oh snap, what if I made a Nutella Pumpkin Bread?  HELL YEAH!”

And so, I give you the birth of Nutella Pumpkin Bread. And I was only in “labor” for 15 minutes.

Nutella Pumpkin Bread

Makes one 9×5 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger.
  • In another bowl, whisk the pumpkin, sugar, butter, and eggs.

pumpkin bread ingredients

  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until the flour is just combined.
  • Pour 1/2 of the batter into your loaf pan.
  • Plop the Nutella 1 tbsp at a time onto the pumpkin bread batter.  You’ll have 8 plops of Nutella.  Gently spread the Nutella as evenly as possible.
Plop plop
Plop plop
  • Top with the other half of the pumpkin bread batter.
  • Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on top, and bake for 1 hour.
  • Cool completely before slicing.  Of course, I couldn’t wait that long, but it’s still recommended.

sliced pumpkin bread 1

pumpkin bread 2

 

Oh, I forgot the serving size is one slice of pumpkin bread.

Of course, you can choose the size of your slice.
Of course, you can choose the size of your slice.

Spicy Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Fig Skewers

sweet potato sausage fig 1

sweet potato sausage fig 1

When my bestie called me last week and asked if I could cater a real estate brokers’ open house, I literally jumped up and down in my kitchen for 5 minutes straight.  I was all like, “Hold up, you’re telling me I get to do what I love AND make money doing it?  Hells yeah!”  And then after I chilled out, I realized, “Oh crap, now I actually have to work.”

So, I made 4 lovely appetizers for the evening, and man, it was fun.  I had the luxury of hanging out with adults only for 3 hours, feed them, and drink the home seller’s delicious wine.  Can’t beat it. These spicy sausage, sweet potato, and fig skewers were definitely the highlight of the evening, and thus, I will share with you lucky folks.  I was inspired by a recipe from Yotom Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalemwhich is a sweet potato and fig salad with a balsamic reduction.  I decided to make it into an appetizer, and it works… really well.  And it’s simple too.

Spicy Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Fig Skewers (with a balsamic jalapeno reduction)

Makes 48 skewers

Ingredients:

  • 6 spicy sausages, each sliced into 8 pieces.  Use something that won’t fall apart when sliced.  I used Aidell’s Habenero Pepper Jack Sausage.
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 inch cubes
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 12 fresh figs, quartered
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds
  • 48 small skewers

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss together your cubes of sweet pertater, olive oil, and a good pinch of salt. (Side note- to get even cubes of potato, I usually slice off the 4 rounded sides of the potato, as well as the tips. Then I’m left with a pretty decent rectangle of tuber.)
  • Bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.  While the sweet potato is in the oven, put your sausage on another baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  • Once the 15 minutes is up, turn your sweet potatoes and put back in the oven, ALONG with the sausage for another 15 minutes.
  • While everything is cooking, you can make the balsamic reduction to drizzle over the skewers.  Yum.  In a small saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and jalapeno.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 3-4 minutes until it’s the consistency of honey.  Remove from the heat.
  • Once your sweet potato and sausage have cooled enough to handle, put a piece of sweet potato, a piece of sausage, and a piece of fig onto a skewer.  Plate and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
  • Eat.  Then notice the sound of angels singing your praises.
"Lalalala"- that's the angels singing.
“Lalalala”- that’s the angels singing.

Thanks again Erin Lewis (my bestie) and Missy Walden, for offering me this fantastic catering opportunity!

xox.