Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Carolina Emperor Cocktail

By: The Food Hunter

Meet Steven Devereaux Greene the executive chef of The Umstead Hotel and Spa, a Cary, North Carolina hotel lauded for its progressive American regional cuisine. Greene is responsible for all food and beverage operations, including Herons restaurant, The Bar & Lounge and catering. Greene’s passion for using ingredients and products from the rich Piedmont region to create beautifully refined plates and cocktails is evident daily in The Umstead’s award-winning dining program. 

His background includes work in some of the country’s most celebrated kitchens. After serving as chef de cuisine at the handsomely awarded Dining Room at Woodlands Resort and Inn, in Summerville, S.C., Greene was inspired to open his namesake restaurant, Devereaux’s, which quickly became a mainstay in Greenville, S.C. Devereaux’s would ultimately join the prestigious ranks of the Table 301 Restaurant Group to make way for Greene’s first post with The Umstead. Named a “Rising Star” by Restaurant Hospitality in 2008, Greene has twice cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York, representing Herons in 2011 and Devereaux’s in 2007.

Greene was inspired to create the Carolina Emperor Cocktail when he heard the story of the Carolina Emperor emerald, which was found in North Carolina and remains to be the largest emerald ever discovered in North America, weighing 64 carats (310 carats uncut). The cocktail’s ingredients come together to perfectly mimic the green color of the brilliant gem.

Carolina Emperor Cocktail
2 oz Hendricks gin
.5 oz St. Germain
2 oz Cucumber-Yuzu
1 Ice emerald
1 oz Fever Tree Tonic
Liquid nitrogen
Cucumber twist

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir well. Strain into a chilled glass.
Garnish with a cucumber twist

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Dinner In A Movie: Christmas In Connecticut

By: The Food Hunter

There's something about watching classic movies that is warm and comforting, especially around the holidays. Our family Christmas day tradition is to settle in together and watch a favorite classic movie. This year the movie of choice is Christmas in Connecticut; a romantic comedy about a famous food writer that has lied about knowing how to cook, when in reality she can't boil an egg. When put to the test and asked to host Christmas dinner, she must cover up her deception or risk losing her job. She almost pulls this off until she unexpectedly falls in love with one of her guests.

There are a lot of food scenes in this film, but Christmas dinner is the highlight. The main character, Elizabeth Lane, puts together a delicious menu. I thought about recreating the entire meal but realized a lot of it I have made before in one form or another. Though there was one menu item I thought stood out, the Celery Souffle. For this month's Dinner In A Movie I decided to give this classic celery dish a try.

Similar in taste and texture to stuffing, the celery souffle is an elegant, easy to make side dish that goes well with roasted chicken, or like Elizabeth's menu suggests with goose.

Celery Souffle
(Yankee Magazine)

4 slices slice bread
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 teaspoons minced onion
4 eggs, separated
salt & pepper to taste

Cut the bread into small cubes and soften in the milk.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the celery and onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the bread and milk and beat until smooth. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg yolks and add to the celery mixture, stirring until combined. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff and fold into the celery mixture.

Pour into a well-buttered 1-quart casserole, set in a pan of hot water, and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pecan Rye Old Fashioned

By: The Food Hunter

On a recent visit to The District American Kitchen and Wine Bar in Phoenix I had the pleasure of trying a bunch of their new signature winter cocktails. Though they were all quite good the one that really stood out for me was the Pecan Rye Old Fashioned.

The cocktail is a seasonal twist on the classic Old Fashion, using a pecan infused rye and a cranberry orange simple syrup for the intense flavor. You might not think this would work but the pecan pairs well with the oak flavor found in most rye whiskey.

Pecan Rye Old Fashioned
1.5 oz. Pecan Infused Templeton Rye
1oz Orange Cranberry Simple Syrup
Garnish: dried cranberries and orange slice
Glass: Rocks

Pour all ingredients over sexy ice and serve garnished with dried cranberries and orange.

Cranberry Orange Simple Syrup
1 cup dried cranberries
zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 knuckle of ginger
25 dashes orange bitters
1 tsp clove
2 cups sugar
2 cups water. 

Bring to a boil over medium heat.Once sugar has dissolved strain and bottle.

Pecan Infused Templeton Rye 
Infuse 3 cups pecans into 1 bottle Whiskey, let sit for 1 week

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Italian Sausage & Broccoli Rabe Stuffing for #SundaySupper

By: The Food Hunter

There is so much going on this time of year that it never surprises me when I realize I forgot an important part of a meal. Usually it's a side dish to compliment my main course that I am scrambling to find at the last minute. Some might think it easier to go buy something; but with this easy stuffing recipe on hand there is never a need to resort to a prepared side.

Italian Sausage & Broccoli Rabe stuffing comes together quickly and has a big bold taste that pairs beautifully with a variety of meat dishes. Try it the next time you are looking for a last minute side; you won't be disappointed.

Italian Sausage & Broccoli Rabe Stuffing

1 loaf of crusty Italian bread chopped into 1-inch cubes (8 cups)
1-2 bunches broccoli rabe
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 cup onion, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 package cremini mushrooms, chopped
10 fresh sage leaves, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
1/2-1 cup grated pecorino cheese
1-2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Spread the bread onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is crispy.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the broccoli rabe and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the water and submerge into an ice water bath for 2 minutes. Drain, and chop into small pieces.

Melt the butter on medium high heat in a large fry pan. Add the sausage, onions, celery, mushrooms, sage, and thyme, breaking up the meat into small pieces as you cook. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and the sausage is cooked through. Add the cooked chopped broccoli rabe to the mixture and stir to mix.

Remove from heat. Add the bread and pecorino, stir to combine. Add chicken broth and stir until all the bread is coated and wet. Season to taste with salt and pepper and adjust pecorino.

Spoon into a 13 x 9 inch rectangular pan. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Main Dishes
Side Dishes
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blueberry Almond Butter Pancakes

By: The Food Hunter

It was early Sunday morning and I was thinking about what to cook for breakfast I remembered the amazing looking Almond Butter Blueberry Pancakes I had seen on The Lemon Bowl Blog. Liz had shared an amazing recipe featuring some of her favorite Made to Matter products from Target.

I remember how my stomach started growling when I came across these hot cakes on social media and decided there was no better time than the present to give them a try. Fortunately I had most of the ingredients on hand, including a brand new bottle of Mohawk Valley Trading Company Pure Maple Syrup.

This dark, robust syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap which is preferred for maple syrup production due to its higher sugar content. It is one of the best maple syrups I've tasted and I am always looking for excuses, like these pancakes, to use it. I tweaked Liz's recipe slightly to work with what I had on hand and below is my version. I highly suggest giving them a try!

Blueberry Almond Butter Pancakes
(adapted from The Lemon Bowl)

1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups low fat milk
½ cup Greek yogurt, (I used Stonyfield)
3 tablespoons fresh ground almond butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 clam-shell blueberries
Mohawk Valley Pure Maple Syrup

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Mixture will be slightly lumpy.

Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir until ingredients are just incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Fold blueberries into mixture.

Pour batter on a pre-heated griddle, about 1/3 cup at a time. Pancakes are ready to flip when bubbles start to form. Flip and continue cooking on the second side until golden brown.
I have an ongoing relationship with Mohawk Valley Trading Company & have received products from them. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chocolate Mascarpone Layer Cake with Sugared Cranberries

By: The Food Hunter

Sometimes you take your favorite chocolate cake, update it with a cool frosting and some sugared cranberries and you get a cake that is even better than you could have imagined. That's what happened this past weekend. Looking for a party cake recipe, but not finding any I was interested in online, I decided to take a tried and true chocolate bundt cake and turn it into an amazing chocolate layer cake.

A simple switch of a pan, a different filling and an added garnish was all that was need to take this already delicious cake to the next level. I urge you to make this will quickly become a favorite of yours too.

Chocolate Mascarpone Layer Cake with Sugared Cranberries

For the Chocolate Cake
1 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin).
Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired.
For the Mascarpone
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, seeds

Put the mascarpone, powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds into a mixer and mix until smooth. Add the double cream and mix again until well combined.

For the Sugared Cranberries
2 cups sugar
2 cup water
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar

Wash cranberries and remove any bad berries.

Combine sugar and water in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Stir until sugar dissolves and add cranberries. Cook about 2 minutes just until cranberries begin to split. Remove from heat and drain.
Spread sugar on a cookie sheet and gently add the cranberries and shake pan until cranberries are coated. Let them stand in a single layer at room temperature until dry, about 1 hour.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Homemade Italian Panettone

By: The Food Hunter

Growing up in an Italian household in South Philadelphia there was always panettone on the kitchen table at Christmas time. The traditional Italian dome topped sweet bread came studded with candied citron, soaked raisins and even chocolate, depending on who made it. Part cake and part bread the panetonne is slightly sweet and buttery tasting and everything you could want on your table during the holiday season. 

Since moving to Phoenix we have resorted to the standard box version of panettone; which although good it is not how I remember it. Every year I have intentions of making my own, but somehow this seems to never pan out. This year I was determined; so I scoured the internet and put together a recipe from a few of the versions I found.

Though making panettone is time consuming, it's not hard. And you'll realize the effort is well worth it when you take your first bite.

Italian Panettone

1/3 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

To make the sponge, in a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the flour and stir with a spoon or your fingers to make a loose, almost liquid, dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup regular raisins
1/4 brandy
5 tablespoons butter, well softened
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
¼ cup warm (110º to 115ºF) water
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 1/2 to 5 cups Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
Grated zest of 1 medium orange
Grated zest of 1 medium lemon
1 paper panettone mold

In a small bowl, combine the raisins and brandy, and let marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, eggs, yolks, sugar, warm water and vanilla together until combined. Drain the marinated raisins in a small strainer set over a bowl and press on the raisins with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Set the raisins aside and add the liquid to the egg mixture. Add the sponge and mix well with your hands. Add the flour a little at a time, mixing with your hands until a ball of dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed.

Butter a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 6 hours in a warm place.

Butter and flour a panettone mold at least 6½ inches tall and 7 to 8 inches wide.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Flatten the dough out with your hands and sprinkle on the zest. In a small bowl, mix the raisins with 1 tablespoon flour until coated, and sprinkle the mixture over the dough. Fold the dough in half, press the edges together, and knead to distribute the fruits. Continue to knead for 5 to 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth, adding additional flour if necessary. Place the dough in the mold, cover with a clean cloth, and let rise for 35 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut an X in the top of the bread. Bake for 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 375ºF, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350ºF, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes longer, rotating half way. If the top begins to brown too much, cover the bread loosely with a piece of foil.

Cool the bread on a rack for about 30 minutes before serving.

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Festive Holiday Cocktail: Rudolph's MIlk

By: The Food Hunter

The holiday season is filled with parties and cocktails are an important element. For a delicious semi-sweet after dinner cocktail Zachary Blair, the lead mixologist at KANU Lounge at Whiteface Lodge, created a fun cocktail he calls Rudolph's Milk.

This libation is inspired by the three things Zach loves most about the holiday season: the story of Rudolph, thin mints and candy canes. The cherry float bottom represents Rudolph’s red nose, the chocolate syrup reminds him of tasty thin mints and the peppermint syrup incorporates the minty flavor of his favorite holiday candy.

Rudolph’s Milk Cocktail
2 oz vanilla vodka

5 oz white crème de cocoa
1 oz Godiva white chocolate
.75 oz house made peppermint syrup
5 oz cherry liquor (bottom float) 

Shake first 4 ingredients together and strain in glass rimmed with crushed peppermint candy.Pour in bottom float. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

D'Artagnan Review & $500 Giveaway!

By: The Food Hunter

Those close to me know how much I love wild boar. I seek out restaurants that serve it everywhere I visit and I've even cooked it at home a few times. So you'll understand how excited I was when I found out I could order any product I wanted from D'Artagnan; and that they sell a variety of cuts of wild boar.

For those that aren't familiar, D’Artagnan is an online specialty foods company that sells fine quality meats and pantry items to chefs and home cooks. In business for 30 years they are the leading purveyor of foie gras, game meat, organic poultry, pâtés, sausages and smoked delicacies in the nation.

D'Artagnan is committed to free-range, natural production and sustainable, humane farming practices. They partner only with small farms and ranches that have strict standards, never use antibiotics or hormones, and sign affidavits to that effect. They support these methods so that they can offer customers the best-tasting, conscientiously-raised meat possible.With this in mind it's easy to understand why their products hold a place of pride in professional and home kitchens alike.

I received both wild boar stew meat and a wild boar roast both of which I plan to cook over the holidays. Of course I'll be sharing the recipes here so be sure to stop back to find out what I make with these delectable cuts of meat.

Before you about a chance to win a $500 shopping spree at D'Artagnan. How fun does that sound? Choose anything you want from their entire collection of products including meat and game, mushrooms and truffles and a variety of pantry items.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Gift Suggestion for the Gourmet In Your Life

By: The Food Hunter

Need a holiday gift for the gourmet on your list? Hammar Stahl cookware is a wonderful option. Manufactured in the US the 7- ply cookware is made with surgical stainless steel and titanium to distribute heat quickly and more evenly. This cooking system helps retain more vitamins and minerals in every recipe by cooking the food in its own juices.

The cookware is available in a variety of sizes of fry pans, sauce pans, and roasters all with heavy gauge lids. I recently had a chance to work with the new 4 quart deep saute pan and can honestly say I love it!! The pan heats quickly and evenly which allows you to cook food with little to no added oil; a positive from a health standpoint. It was nice to have this high quality and durable pan on hand while cooking my Thanksgiving feast.

This exceptional quality pot has quickly become my go-to for just about everything. Regularly priced at $229 it is being offered to Food Hunter's Guide readers at a special price of $99 until 12/31/2015 visit for details. As I mentioned above this pot would be ideal under your favorite culinarian's tree.

I have been compensated and/or received the product for free but all opinions are my own.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Snowmen White Cake Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

By: The Food Hunter

As grown-ups we know that snowmen can't come to life but this cupcake is so adorable you can't help but think he's real. Maybe, just maybe, there's something to that magical black hat after-all!

When put to the challenge, by Kerrygold & King Arthur Flour, to create an innovative holiday cupcake I came up with this three-tiered snowman. Composed of two white cake cupcakes and one marshmallow, all of which are frosted in homemade buttercream, the snowman is completely edible including the hat which is made from black licorice.

Threaded together with a wooden skewer to make them stand the cupcake snowmen are a lot of fun to make and to eat.(of course the skewer is not edible)

Snowmen White Cake Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

For the cupcakes
1 1/8 cups cake flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
½  stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used Kerrygold)
1/2 tsp vanilla
½  tsp almond extract
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Prepare both a cupcake and a mini cupcake pan with liners

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are light in color. Add the extracts, and beat some more. 

Add one third of the flour mixture and beat on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk/egg mixture. Continue with flour mixture followed by milk mixture until all is added and ingredients are all incorporated. Beat for an additional 2 minutes. 

Divide the batter between the two cupcake pans to make equal amount large and small cupcakes. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove to a rack for cooling.

For the buttercream  
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) (I used Kerrygold)
3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar. Mix on the lowest speed until the sugar is absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and cream and beat for 3 minutes.

If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional cream 1 tablespoon at a time.

For assembling the snowman
black licorice, cut into 1 inch pieces
red licorice, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
skewers & toothpicks
orange food coloring
meat mallet

Flatten one piece of black licorice with a mallet. Attach 2nd piece of licorice to the flattened piece with a small toothpick. Cut small circles from the black licorice for eyes, mouth and buttons and place aside.

Top one large cupcake, one small cupcake and one marshmallow with frosting. Attach the small cupcake to the large cupcake using the skewer or toothpicks. Attach the marshmallow on top for the head. Insert eyes, mouth and buttons into the frosting. Place hat on top of marshmallow using either frosting or another toothpick.
Make scarf with a red licorice. Cut to desired size and wrap around snowman's neck. Pinch with frosting to hold together.

Add a few drops of orange food coloring to a small amount of frosting to make the nose. Use a small piping tip to pipe the nose directly onto the snowman and freeze immediately so that nose hardens and sticks out.

Remove from freezer after 5-10 mins and serve.

I have an ongoing relationship with Kerrygold.. I receive product, coupons or compensation for posts featuring their products. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top 4 Reasons To Stay At The Four Seasons Resort Las Vegas

By: The Food Hunter

I go to Vegas quite a bit yet I don't go to gamble; I've never put so much as a quarter into a machine. I frequent Vegas as much as I do, for all the amazing restaurants. The dining scene in Vegas is quite happening these days which makes Vegas fun for this non gambler. Needless to say when I'm there I would prefer a quite hotel away from the strip, but since the strip is where a lot of the dining action takes place, it's easier to stay there.

After nearly 13 years I finally figured out how to "have my cake and eat it too" when it comes to food on the Las Vegas strip. The Four Seasons Resort Las Vegas is the answer.

Top 4 Reasons To Stay At The Four Seasons Resort Las Vegas

1. The Four Seasons Las Vegas is located on the iconic Las Vegas strip, but does not have a casino. The luxurious resort is close enough to all the Vegas strip action including all the restaurants and other casinos and at the same time removed enough to provide you an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. Have no fear those that want a casino can easily venture to the attached Mandalay Bay. Walking through a closed door guests are able to experience all the gaming you would expect at a hotel on the strip.

2. There's an amazing spa with an adjoining fitness facility that over-looks the Fountain Terrace. It includes generous men's and women's locker rooms, relaxation lounges and steam rooms.

3. Craft cocktails & snacks at Press lobby bar. Press is a casual comfortable spot to enjoy a drink and delicious light fare. Enjoy things like antipasto plates,

flat bread pizzas and fun pretzel bites.

4. Fine dining at Veranda Italian Restaurant. Delicious food created by Chef Antonio Minichiello including hand made pastas,

fresh appetizers like this tomato and burrata caprese,

an artichoke pasta cooked in a jar with seafood and tomatoes,

and decadent desserts.

If you are heading to Vegas and want to experience the strip yet want to enjoy some quiet time and delicious food I would recommend staying at the Las Vegas Four Seasons.

This experience was provided complimentary but all opinions are my own.