Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Proscuitto & Melon Ravioli

By: The Food Hunter

Whoever thinks ravioli can only be made from pasta needs to speak to Chef Mel Mecinas, from Talavera restaurant at The Four Seasons Scottsdale, who has created amazing ravioli from unique ingredients like ahi tuna & crab.

Completely inspired by Chef Mel I created the Prosciutto & Melon ravioli. I used thin slices of Italian prosciutto to encase a mixture of diced cantaloupe, ricotta cheese and thyme. An fun twist on the classic prosciutto & melon appetizer these ravioli will make a unique starter for your next dinner party.

Prosciutto & Melon Ravioli
1/2 lb thinly sliced prosciutto
1 15oz container of ricotta cheese
1/2 cantaloupe, diced small
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
salt & pepper

Mix ricotta, cantaloupe  and thyme in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut your prosciutto into 3 inch squares. Place a heaping teaspoon of the ricotta/cantaloupe filling on a square and top with another square. Serve cold.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kale & Pork Ragu

By: The Food Hunter

I used the rainy weather we had this past weekend in Arizona, as an excuse to stay in and cook up a storm. I made a loaf of seeded semolina bread, a roasted peppered salad, fresh rotini pasta and a warming pork & kale ragu.

The ragu was definitely the star of the meal. It was hearty, but not too heavy, and the added kale made it feel almost healthy. The bitter cabbage taste of kale is complimented by the sweet fork tender pork and currants. Slightly adapted from a recipe I saw on Bon Appetite the ragu is a rustic one pot dish that would make a delicious family dinner.

Kale & Pork Ragu
 (adapted from bon appetite)

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig oregano
1 bay leaf
1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound pasta
1/3 cup dried currants soaked in 1/2 hot water (optional)
1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, torn into 2” pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more

Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook meat, turning occasionally, until browned, 10-15 minutes; transfer to a large plate.

Drain all but 2 Tbsp. fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Tie rosemary, oregano, and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen twine; add to pot along with pork, tomatoes, wine, peppercorns, nutmeg, and cloves. Add water just to cover meat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, adding more water as needed, until meat is very tender, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Discard herb bundle. Using 2 forks, shred meat in pot; cook, uncovered, over medium heat until sauce is thickened, 8-10 minutes.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add currants, if using, and kale to ragu; cook until kale is soft, about 4 minutes. Add pasta; cook, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper., Serve pasta drizzled with oil and topped with more Parmesan.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Raspberry Almond Cake

By: The Food Hunter

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I used fresh raspberries and almond flour to create this lovely springtime dessert that is both delicious and healthy, well as far as desserts go. This time of year I can't resist adding fresh berries to as many recipes as I can specially when it comes to desserts.  The raspberries, baked in the cake add moisture while the ones on top add a slight tartness. Serve it as a casual family dessert or as an elegant option at your next dinner party, either way everyone is sure to love it.

Raspberry Almond Cake
(printable recipe)
2 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 clam-shells raspberries
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoon almond extract
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter a 9-inch springform cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the almond flour with the baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Add the eggs, sugar and almond extract to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium-high speed until thick and glossy, about 15 minutes.

Fold in the almond flour and 1 clam-shell of raspberries in alternating batches, ending with the almond flour. The batter will be thin. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap lightly on a hard surface.

Bake the cake for about 50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on a rack.

Top the cake with the remaining two clam-shells of raspberries and dust with powdered sugar.

Monday, May 18, 2015


By: The Food Hunter

Phoenix has a long list of exceptional restaurants, though none are serving up anything quite like what you will find at Binkley's. Chef Kevin Binkley, known around town for being a food pioneer, uses fresh local produce to create imaginative dishes at his namesake restaurant.

Be prepared for unique tastes and presentations; and don't be alarmed when food flash frozen with liquid nitrogen burst in your mouth, releasing irresistible flavor.

While you can order anything off the daily menu as an individual item I highly suggest going with the either the 4, 5 or 6 course tasting menu. Items served as part of the tasting menu are considerable smaller in size so that you can enjoy more variety. No matter which menu option you choose be prepared for additional items to arrive at your table unannounced. Chef Binkley is known for his amuse bouche and will often send out several during the course of the evening. You may get things like the world's smallest sloppy Joe complete with a slice of cornichon, garufrette potato chip & caperberry.

Or perhaps a platter of chorizo & shrimp fritters with tonka bean BBQ sauce & remoulade. You never know what is going to show up, making the entire dining experience very exciting.

One of my favorite amuses, on the evening we dined, was the coconut curry pear soup with a drizzle of raisin oil. It was delicate and delicious and the idea of raisin oil fascinated me.

The ham & carbonated pineapple was also yummy and rich with flavor. One bite is all you need of this classic flavor combination prepared with a twist.

Our dinner started with two selections from the cold appetizer section. The asparagus served with marinated wild mushrooms, caramelized onions and creme fraiche....

And the most unique presentation of Fruit de Mer I've ever seen. Tiny pieces of prawn, crab, uni, & oyster plated with seaweed, red onion, radish, mango & pineapple. Both appetizers were well balanced and an absolutely refreshing way to kick-off our meal.

The cold appetizers were followed by two hot ones: the beef tongue Reuben & the sweetbreads. Like a classic Reuben the thinly sliced beef tongue was topped with choucroute, (a French sauerkraut) and Thousand Island dressing. The sweetbreads were accompanied by tiny bites of kabocha squash, an avocado puree, some elderberries and a curry-port vinaigrette drizzle.

Before moving on to our main course we were given a small plate of coconut semi freddo with lime cells, macadamia nuts & lime oil to prepare our palate for what came next.

Our main course included two additional seafood items; the Tamarind Glazed Octopus with leeks and black beans....

And the black cod, which was served with fresno chili, miso braised daikon, glacier lettuce and a spicy yogurt. Both entrees were a treat to the taste buds. 

Just when we thought dinner was over Chef Binkley brought us an item from the cheese course menu. The "dip" was a whimsical mix of popcorn, house made crackers and taro root for dipping into a bowl of warm truffle mousse.

The entire evening was full of surprises including the small pot of vanilla cinnamon water, bubbling from the added liquid nitrogen, that was delivered to our table. The mild scent was meant to compliment the candied apple creme brulee we also received.

Dessert followed shortly after. The deconstructed lemon meringue pie with fresh berries and chocolate cake crumbles was light and inspiring...

But the show-stopper was the warm butterscotch & pecan dessert served with browned butter ice cream slowly melting on top. The dessert features a nontraditional take on the en papillote cooking method, but instead of parchment Chef Binkley uses Fata Paper, which is a cellulose paper that can cook to about 500 degrees and is also see-through for presentation purposes.

Needless to say dinner at Binkley's is way more than just another meal it is truly a food "experience" that everyone should have at least once in their life.

6920 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331
(480) 437-1072

Friday, May 15, 2015

Veranda Bar at L'Auberge Sedona

By: The Food Hunter

Arizona has he most striking terrain, composed of mountain ranges, immense dessert valleys and several large lakes and canyons all within a few hours of each other. For me one of the prettiest areas of the state is Sedona, with its red rocks jutting out in every direction. Not only is it beautiful but it also has amazing resorts/spas and dining options.

Spending a weekend in Sedona is a nice relaxing way to escape city life and something I try to do from time to time. With five-star restaurants like L'Auberge & SaltRock finding good food is never a problem but there are times you may not want a full meal hence the Veranda Bar.

Located of the lobby of the beautiful L'Auberge Resort the Veranda bar is an expansion of the creek-side dining area of L'Auberge where one can have a more casual yet delicious food experience.

The Veranda has a full bar with a large selection of wines and offers gourmet bar bites that includes:
Crepes stuffed with Dungeness Crab meat, roasted tomatoes and butter braised shitakes.

An Artisanal Cheese & Charcuterie Plate comes with a daily selection of 3 cheeses, house-made mustard & jam, along with fresh & dried fruits, nuts and various meats.

Another delicious choice off the menu would be the butternut squash filled ravioli adorned with micro greens and Parmesan cheese.

The mussels are also stellar at the Veranda Bar and a must order item in my opinion.

Veranda Bar
301 Little Ln, Sedona, AZ 86336
(800) 905-5745