Monday, June 29, 2015

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pineapple Passion Fruit Sauce & Coconut Pineapple Sorbet

By: The Food Hunter

I recently had a chance to sample an amazing dessert from Lara Coleman, the pastry chef at Pointe Tapitio Cliffs. When asked what inspired her to create the Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Pineapple Passion Fruit Sauce and Coconut Pineapple Sorbet she responded:

"Warm spring evening breezes inspired me to use bright tropical flavors: passion fruit, mango, sweet pineapple with coconut in a balance of tastes. As very versatile ingredients, I enjoy the invigorating aspects of them. I've added lime zest and vanilla bean to fresh pineapple to give a light floral flavor and zip that pair so well with the tang of the sweet Greek yogurt panna cotta. The creamy sweet coconut and pineapple sorbet brings it all together. Finished with a crunchy unexpected flavor packed mango passion fruit tuile and pineapple passion fruit foam."

Yogurt Panna Cotta w/ Pineapple Passion Fruit Sauce & Coconut Pineapple Sorbet
1 1/2 c. non fat Greek yogurt
1/2 c. cream
1/3 c. sugar
pinch of salt
2 1/4 sheets of gelatin

Soften gelatin in cold water. Pour yogurt in bowl. Heat cream in pot with sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add gelatin stir until completely melted. Pour onto yogurt and whisk well. Pour into a 5 dishes and chill 4 hours. Unmold by sliding knife around inside of mold to release panna cotta and place on plate. (Panna cotta may also be served from dish it was poured into as well.)

Pineapple, lime and vanilla
Dice 1/2 pineapple into small cubes. Zest 1 lime and scrape 1/4 of vanilla bean onto pineapple. Toss together.

Pineapple Passion Fruit Sauce
2 1/3 c. pineapple puree
1/4 c. passion fruit puree
1 c. simple syrup
2 T. zanthan gum

In a blender on low medium speed, slowly add zanthan gum to puree/syrup mixture. Turn blender to medium high, making sure it is well incorporated.

Pineapple and coconut sorbet
16 oz. pineapple puree
14 oz. coconut milk (unsweetened)
24 oz. simple syrup
pinch of salt

Whisk together in bowl, freeze according to ice cream machine's manufacturer's directions.

Mango Passion fruit tuile
12 oz. sugar
4 oz. butter melted
4 oz. mangoe puree
2 oz. passion fruit puree
3 oz. all porpuse flour

Combine all ingredients in Kitchen Aide mixer with paddle attachment. Scoop teaspoon amounts on parchment paper lined sheet pan. Bake at 300 degrees in a suntil oven for 10 - 12 minutes rotating pan.

Plate Panna and add a few tablespoons pineapple, lime and vanilla mixture, drizzles of the pineapple passion fruit sauce. Add a scoop of the pineapple coconut sorbet and mango passion tuile. Garnish with edible flowers. Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Summer Menu At District American Kitchen & Wine Bar

By: The Food Hunter

A few weeks ago Chef Marchetti of District American Kitchen & Wine Bar, in downtown Phoenix, debuted a new seasonal menu. The summer menu features food and cocktails prepared with local ingredients including herbs from the restaurant’s garden and sustainably farmed produce from local growers.

This past weekend I had a chance to try some of the new items and I'm excited to share them with you now.We started with a few cocktails: the Dandelion Old Fashioned and the Mushroom Manhattan. Of the two the Dandelion Old Fashioned was my favorite. It features Angel's Envy Bourbon infused with green apple, honey and dandelion leaves. Very light and refreshing, perfect for summer and the meal to follow.

While deciding on dinner we snacked on lightly salted house-made potato chips accompanied by two completely different and delicious dips: a spicy sirachi cheese and a fresh chive. My dining partner and I had a hard time choosing which we liked better, as they were both equally interesting in their own way.

We also shared the grilled peaches and goat cheese appetizer which included pieces of tasso ham and shaved cucumber. I could have easily made a meal out of just this, it was that good!

Throughout the summer months all entrees at District American Kitchen are only $22, which is a steal if you ask me. We tasted the fried chicken, served with roasted garlic smashed potatoes and a side of gravy made with local Shcreiner's chorizio. The chicken, which was mostly white meat, was moist and tasty, with hints of honey & lemon.

We also ordered the chef's daily special: halibut served with roasted potatoes & tomatoes on top of a sweet pea puree and a blue corn crepe filled with goat cheese and mushrooms. I enjoyed the fish but I was smitten on the cheese filled crepe.

All desserts are made in-house by Pastry Chef Winnona. She does an amazing rendition of the childhood favorite, cookies and milk. A small malted milkshake is served alongside chocolate chip bars and chocolate sandwich cookies, similar to Oreos.

Though delicious my favorite was the coconut cream panna cotta with a layer of toasted coconut, served over an olive oil cake and topped with house-made mango sorbet. I couldn't get enough of this light and refreshing treat!

I can attest that the new summer menu at District American Kitchen & Wine Bar includes lots of delicious food. But don't take my word for it....try it for yourself.

District American Kitchen & Wine Bar
340 N. 3rd Street,
Phoenix, AZ 85004

This meal was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chef For The Day at Talavera Restaurant

By: The Food Hunter

A few weeks back I embarked on a cooking adventure of a lifetime with Chef Mel Mecinas of Talavera Restaurant, in Scottsdale. Anyone who has ever wanted to know what it's like to work in a "real" kitchen, with culinary professionals, would love the Chef For A Day program at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North.

Chef Mel gave me a behind the scenes look at what really happens in a restaurant kitchen. We walked the grounds of the magnificent Four Seasons resort as Chef described his day from start to finish.

It turns out that cooking isn't the hard part. Identifying the best quality meats, fish and produce, creating and finalizing menus and making sure everything flows smoothly each and every day is way harder!

Working alongside Chef Mecinas and his kitchen staff was an epicurean experience I will never forget. I was welcomed into his kitchen with my very own embroidered chef's coat and put me right to work.

Together, Chef Mecinas and I shelled fava beans,

chopped mushrooms,

and rolled out 50lbs of gnocchi

which Chef Mel had seasoned in the largest bowl I'd ever seen.

I even got to attend the nightly kitchen staff meeting where they talked shop before the guests arrived.

The kitchen adventure also included time with Pastry Chef Lance Whipple. We talked dessert and bread as we did a walk-through of the bakery.

And got our hands dirty pitting what must have been 1000 cherries!

The best part of the experience was that after 4 hours of hard work in the kitchen I got to hang up my apron, put on my fancy clothes and join my husband for a multi-course dinner that I helped prepare.

We feasted on the Ahi Tuna Tartare adorned with avocado, radish & ponzu.

The seared Foie Gras over pound cake with cherries.

The Beef Carpaccio served with crab, caper berry and a 7 minute fried egg.

Seared Diver Scallops with mushrooms, fiddleheads over sweat pea risotto

Filet with mushrooms & a sweet pea sauce.

Dessert started with a cheese plate that consisted of 3 different cheeses, nuts and fruit.

Followed by the Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta served with rich chocolate cake and caramel rice crispies.

And lastly the cheese cake with fresh fruit.

Knowing it was going to be a late evening, we had made plans in advance to stay the night at the hotel. After dinner we retired to our 2nd fl. suite. Our room was lovely with, pastel colors and high-quality custom furnishings sourced from Mexican artists.

We had a private balcony that overlooked the pool and the magnificent views of the desert.

The next morning as we enjoyed breakfast on our private balcony before heading home and back to reality, I couldn't help but think how truly wonderful our time at the Four Seasons was.

From the once in a life time kitchen experience, to the stellar accommodations and delicious food it was truly something I will never forget, the only downside being it was over way to fast.

This was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quail & Roasted Tomato Salad

By: The Food Hunter

When things start heating up outside I start looking for easier, lighter options to make for dinner. Often, I'll turn to main-dish salads that don't require a lot of advanced preparation.

In this recipe grilled quail is mixed with roasted tomatoes, green olives and an herb vinaigrette to create a delicious summer inspired salad. It's a quick and tasty dish that can be on the table in relatively no time.

Quail & Roasted Tomato Salad
serves two
2 Quail, butterflied
Olive Oil, for cooking quail
4 Roma Tomatoes, halved & roasted (see below)
2 Tsp. Fresh Mint, finely chopped
2 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
4-5 Green Olives, pitted & chopped
Mixed Greens

For the Roasted Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 350. Place the tomatoes, cut-side up, on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-30 minutes or until semi-dried.

For the Quail Salad
Flatten out the quails and season inside and out with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the quails with oil. Cook the quails on each side until browned and cooked through.

Combine the tomatoes, olives, herbs, vinegar and olive oil in a large bowl. Cut the quails into quarters and add to the vinegar mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, toss well to coat. Serve over mixed greens.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Clams & Spaghetti in Red Sauce

By: The Food Hunter

Spaghetti and Clams is a classic Italian dish that can be made either "red" or "white." The only difference being that the white sauce gets most of it's flavor from the clams while the red uses tomatoes which produces a much bolder flavor. Both versions are easy to make it just depends on your preference. I have no idea why, but growing up I would only eat spaghetti & clams in red sauce. It's only recently that I've started eating and really enjoying the white version.

One of my favorite pots to cook spaghetti in is my Anolon Nouvelle 6.5 quart stainless stock pot. This stockpot's size is ideal for tasks that require a medium-sized pot to get the job done. With its European-inspired, tulip-shaped design, the pot is the perfect height for boiling spaghetti.

I love this pot & I know you will too!

***The nice folks over at Anolon are offering one lucky reader a chance to win a stock pot of their very own! See below to enter!***

Clams & Spaghetti in Red Sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
1 (28 to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, coarsely chopped, reserving juice
1 pound spaghetti
3 dozen little neck clams
Heat oil in a 12- to 14-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic and red-pepper flakes, stirring, until pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, add clams (in shells) to sauce and cook, covered, shaking skillet occasionally, until clams open wide, 6 to 10 minutes. Add spaghetti to sauce and toss to coat.

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