Thursday, December 8, 2016

White Bean, Olive & Caper Crostini

By: The Food Hunter

Once again, the holiday season is upon us, and with it comes get-togethers with family and friends. With so much going on this time of year, hosting a holiday party can be somewhat overwhelming. To keep things simple I will often serve appetizers and wine instead of a big meal.

Any good host/hostess knows when it comes to pairing appetizers with wine a well thought out menu is important. In order to keep guests happy I prepare bites that work well with both a red and white wine varieties. As a hearty appetizer, White Bean, Olive & Caper Crostini, is a great choice. A delicious combination of cannellini beans, capers, olives & tomato are served on grilled bread drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic.

For the wine pairing, Cavit winery makes a Select Red Blend and a Pinot Grigio which both complimented this appetizer well. The citrus forward Pinot Grigio, which is light and refreshing, balances the saltiness of the olives & capers. My preference though is the Select Red Blend, it's diverse array of grapes makes it extremely food friendly. This red wine paired perfectly with the robust tomato flavor in the appetizer.

Cavit winery, which is located in Northern Italy, was founded in 1957, and has earned a reputation as a cutting-edge leader in wine-making. Cavit, is a large co-operative composed of a number of small wineries consistently producing affordably priced premium wines that have won hundreds of awards. You can taste the quality in every sip of Cavit wine.

If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer, that will appease both red & white wine drinkers, look no further.

White Bean, Olive & Caper Crostini
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
crushed red pepper
8 ounces chopped tomatoes, canned
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted & chopped
1 tablespoon salt packed capers, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced

Heat a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, until just beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant. Pour in the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the cannellini beans and cook 5 minutes.

Stir in the olives, bail & capers. Simmer for 3 minutes so flavors can blend. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve on grilled bread smeared with garlic. (see below)

Toasted Garlic Bread
1 baguette, cut into thick rounds
1 garlic clove, peeled
olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake bread slices for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Rub bread liberally with garlic clove and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

For another delicious wine pairing…check out this video:

 I received product & compensation for this post. As always, all opinions are 100% my own

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Gift Guide For The Italian Food & Beverage Lover On Your List

By: The Food Hunter

Traveling through the Italian country side this summer, inspired me to put together this Italian Food & Drink Holiday Gift Guide. Filled with a variety of my favorite foodstuff from around Italy, I am hoping this guide will make your gift giving decisions easier

1. Punt e Mes---An Italian Vermouth that is both pleasantly bitter and slightly sweet. Being somewhat more herbal than most sweet vermouth's, Punt e Mes adds a distinctive flavor to cocktails. My favorite way to drink it is over ice with an orange peel.

2. Poggio Cappiano Olive Oil---Three distinct olive oils are produced on this family run farm in Cappiano, Italy. The main product is an extra virgin olive oil that easily makes any dish taste better. I prefer the oil drizzled over fresh bread that has been lightly rubbed with garlic.

3. Carpano Antica Formula--- Anyone who’s serious about cocktails knows how important a good vermouth is to a drink. And Carpano Antica really does make a difference. Try it in your next Manhattan.

4. Eattiamo Monthly Food Box--- Prepare to be transported to Italy with these gourmet local Italian food boxes. Each month, you receive a box with seven full size products from a different Italian region and the recipes to create an authentic three course Italian meal.

5. Ciu Ciu wines---What better way to celebrate the holidays than with an Italian meal featuring spectacular organic wine from the Le Marche region of Italy. You can't go wrong with either the Gotico Rosso Piceno Superiore (a ready to drink blend of Montepulciano & Sangiovese) or the Oppidum March IGT Rosso (a smooth full bodied Montepulciano). A bottle of each will be on my holiday table this year.

6. Life Italian Style Tours---Do you have a friend or relative heading to Italy in the near future? How about purchasing a fun, hands on food and wine experience for them. They will love the time they spend exploring the Umbrian countryside with Chef Jennifer.

7. Amaro Lucano---Commonly sipped after dinner in households across Italy,  Amaro Luciano has made it's way into the hearts of Americans as an ingredient in several craft cocktails.

8. mokARGENTO Squisita by GHA---When it comes to making good Italian coffee at home, you need a quality made pot. The mokARGENTO Squisita" is the only moka pot that doesn't pollute the coffee with carcinogenic buildups. Made with special patented treatment G.H.A., there is a total absence of metal released into the liquid.

9. Aperol---With 1/2 the alcohol content of Campari, Aperol is lighter in both color & taste. It can be sipped straight or as part of the fun and refreshing Aperol Spritz. 

10. Cynar 70---As one of the most intensified Amaro's, Cynar 70 offers an initial bold bitter taste rounded out with a subtle sweetness; reminiscent of the artichoke itself.

11. Campari---The ever popular, bitter Italian aperitif is best known for it's role in the Negroni & Americano cocktails. Though well loved throughout Italy, Campari can be an acquired taste to the American palate. That being said it is most definitely worth a try.

12. Amaro Cocktail Book---This book is a must have for home cocktail devotees as well as those more experienced in the craft. With over 100 recipes this publication will quickly become your guide to all things Amaro.

13. Health Cookware---These high quality pots, which were initially used by European chefs, are currently making their way into the domestic kitchen. Constructed with food grade Aluminum, there is no worry of metal being released into the body. The skillets are light weight and easy to handle, perfect for the home cook. 

I received product and/or compensation for posts featuring these products. As always, all opinions are 100% my own

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Look At Two Hammer Stahl Knives

By: The Food Hunter

If there's one thing my years of cooking have taught me, it's that the most important tools in your kitchen are your knives. Whether you are a professional or home cook good quality knives make a world of difference when it comes to having an effortless cooking experience.

I recently received the Hammer Stahl 6-inch chef knife and 5.5-inch Santoku knife to try out and it wasn't long after removing them from the box that I found myself completely in love with these two beauties. They are sleek and have a comfortable grip that is just the right size for smaller hands. Although I usually prefer a heavier weighted knife, I do love how easy these are to handle.

What I love most about the knives is that they are razor sharp and forged from top-quality high-carbon stainless steel. Slicing vegetables is a breeze with these knives no matter what your experience level. And if you travel with your knives, like I do, the shorter blades on these two make them the ideal size to take on trips.

Looking for a holiday gift for the home chef on your list? Now through the end of December you can get the Hammer Stahl’s new 6-inch chef knife for $39.95 and the 5.5-inch Santoku knife for $29.95.

I have an ongoing relationship with Hammer Stahl and will receive product and/or compensation for posts featuring their items. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Zahav Hummus

By: The Food Hunter

Now that the craziness of the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us let's take some time to focus on cooking Middle Eastern food! At least that's what my Progressive Eats friends and I are doing. What is Progressive Eats? Well it's a virtual version of a progressive dinner. A different topic is chosen each month and members share theme specific recipes on their sites for you to enjoy. Our event is being hosted this month by Susan, who blogs at The Wimpy Vegetarian. We have a full menu of ideas to tempt you into the kitchen and release your inner-Ottolenghi. If you’re looking for something new to try, check out these wonderfully creative dishes!

I've decided to bring the Hummus,  not just any old hummus! This recipe is closely modeled after Chef Michael Solomonov famous Zahav restaurant version. What makes it so special? Some say it's soaking the chickpeas in baking soda, others swear it's using unpeeled heads of garlic. But I think it might be the Soom Foods brand tahini. This has got to be the best hummus I've ever tried!

Zahav Hummus
(courtesy of Chef Michael Solomonov)

1 cup dried chickpeas
2 teaspoons baking soda, divided
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/3 cup (or more) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
2/3 cup excellent quality tahini (I used Soom foods)
1-2 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin

Olive oil, for serving
paprika, for serving

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the baking soda and cover with plenty of water. (The chickpeas will double in volume, so use more water than you think you need.) Soak the chickpeas overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain the chickpeas and rinse under cold water.

Place the chickpeas in a large pot with the remaining 1 teaspoon baking soda and add cold water to cover by at least 4 inches. Bring the chickpeas to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for about 1 hour, until the chickpeas are completely tender. Then simmer them a little more. (don't worry if they are mushy.) Drain.

Meanwhile, process garlic with the skins on, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until coarsely puréed. 

Strain garlic mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on solids to release as much liquid as possible. Return liquid to food processor; discard solids. Add tahini and pulse to combine. With motor running, add 1/4 cup ice water by the tablespoonful and process until mixture is very smooth, pale, and thick. Add chickpeas and cumin and puree for several minutes, until the hummus is smooth and creamy. Then purée it some more! Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, lemon juice, and cumin if you like. 

To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl, dust with paprika, top generously with oil.

Progressive Eats Middle Eastern/Moroccan Menu


  • Pomegranate Green Tea Mojito from The Redhead Baker

  • Appetizer

  • Hummus Tehina from Food Hunters Guide to Cuisine

  • Main Dishes

  • Lamb Chelo Kebab from Spice Roots
  • Prawns, Feta, and Tomatoes over Couscous from The Wimpy Vegetarian

  • Bread

  • Homemade Pita Bread from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

  • Side Dish

  • Jeweled Persian-Style Rice (Gluten-Free) from The Heritage Cook

  • Desserts

  • Pomegranate Posset from Mother Would Know
  • Moroccan Shortbread Cookies with Cracked Tops (Ghoriba Bahla) from Pastry Chef Online

  • To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

    Monday, November 28, 2016

    Greek Yogurt Molasses Cookies

    By: The Food Hunter

    It recently occurred to me that although I love molasses cookies the only time they cross my mind is from late October through December. There's something about the light brown crinkle topped cookies that puts me in the mood for the holidays.

    Always looking to lighten up a recipe, but never willing to comprise on taste I decided to experiment with replacing some of the butter in molasses cookies with Greek yogurt. The result was a softer, chewier and tastier cookie, than normal and one I found irresistible.

    The next time you are hankering for a molasses cookie I suggest you give these a try.

    Greek Yogurt Molasses Cookies
    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    1/4 cup Stonyfield Greek Yogurt
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup molasses
    2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
    1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    2 large eggs
    3 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour

    In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 mins. Add the molasses and continue mixing. Add the baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the flour.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Scoop dough into balls and roll them in granulated sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack before eating.

    I have an ongoing relationship with Stonyfield as a member of the Clean Plate Club. I receive product, coupons and compensation for posts featuring their products. As always, all opinions are 100% my own