An authentic Antipasto

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Without fail, every family gathering we have at the house, I end up having an antipasto platter out on the counter for all of us to pick at, and munch on. It’s one of my brothers favorites, and he always looks forward to them! To be honest, it kind of wins over everyones heart, at least a little bit! Honestly, at any party who can resist a pick tray? It was one of my favorite things ever since I was little, and discovered that I wanted to become a Chef. The presentation, and the food options are actually endless, which makes it super fun to put something like this together, and it’s quite simple if you’re unsure of where to start!

To me, this is an “authentic antipasto” platter because in today’s world when we hear “antipasto” we tend to think of a salad containing some sort of lettuce, peppers, onions, olives, and a whole mix of meats, and cheeses. That could be considered  an “antipasto” salad, but many many years ago when my parents were kids, when people made an antipasto it was just a pick tray. The word “antipasto” itself originated as an existing appetizer! My dads family was Italian and Polish, so food was very big in our family, and still is to this day. He told me stories about how his parents and grandparents would go out into the garden, and pick fresh vegetables, lay out assorted cheese, with anything they already had on hand, and a chunk of Italian bread to create their starting dish for their Sunday dinner. It was simply their appetizer; an antipasto, if you will!

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I found this extremely fitting plate, at this cute vintage shop near me that I adore very very much! It was perfect for the occasion, and it would actually be a crime to use any other serving platter, wouldn’t you say?

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It depends what I am in the mood to use to lay down on the platter before sitting on little vinegary bites that have a lot of oil, and juice glistened on them, but here, I am using red leaf lettuce. You could choose to use endive leaves, kale, or any other kind of whole headed lettuce, but the ombre on the lettuce is gorgeous for this particular dish. You want to definitely lay the “wet” ingredients onto something instead of just sitting them on the plate itself for two reasons.

  1. It keeps from having them slide around, making your platter not look as put together
  2. It keeps the oil and vinegar from getting onto the other items that were going to be arranging, and you don’t want that!

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A side angle.

I have pepper shooters, which are stuffed with prosciutto (Italian ham, which is normally very thinly sliced) and provolone cheese (A bit-y Italian cheese). I also piled on some marinated mushrooms. If you love mushrooms you can never go wrong with these!

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On the other side of the platter, we have assorted olives. The big green ones are stuffed with blue cheese; they have a bite to them, but they add something that something else can. The deep plum colored olives are Kalamata, and they are my absolute favorite olive ever. They have most flavor, and are very oily.

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Every antipasto needs.. no not needs… desires a goodsalty, fatty salami.

Sopressata is the best to use! I love it so much. If you’ve never tried it though, brace yourself.. it does have a stronger flavor than your typical American sandwich salami.

For perfect presentation, cut on an angle!

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I usually always choose two meats for my trays, at the least, so here I have mortadella. It is an Italian bologna, and its special because it’s extra fatty, and delicious with chunks of pistachio bites inside each slice.

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I line all of the slices up, and take my knife straight down the middle to cut them in half.

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Take each slice thats cut and roll it like a cigar.

 

 

 

 

 

Just like the meats, I like choosing two different cheeses, but I choose them in the fact that they will be accompaning the certain type of meats that I chose.

The first cheese is a peppadew cheddar, and the second is a roasted garlic cheddar.

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As I filled the tray, I accompany the food by sections, and put certain things across from each other. I ended the platter by filling it with roasted garlic and rosemary pita chips. I really felt like it would be a great accompaniment to the cheeses. I decorated the tray with wedges of vine ripened tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and chunks of roasted red peppers, to accent the flavor of our peppadew cheese triangles!

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This is everything up close so you can see how beautiful all the colors look on our antipasto platter, and to get a prefect view of how to arrange the food on the plate.

 

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Voila! In no time, and with having fun in the kitchen, you’ll get to experience an authentic antipasto! I just love the variety, and it show cases a rustic Italian flare, which would really kick off a good Italian dinner party!

Enjoy your Italian munchies! Ciao diamonds xoxo

Smoked salmon & herbed cheese wrap up

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We are indeed nearing the end of summer, which means I need to indulge in all my favorite summertime bites, of course. Smoked salmon, and cream cheese is probably my absolute favorite combination in this entire world, and I have very many favorites, being a foodie and all, so thats saying A LOT! I usually associate my lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese on a bagel with fall because to me, thats exactly what it tastes like, BUT as soon as you put it in a bright green tortilla, and roll it up around beautiful colored vegetables, it becomes summer; to me at least.

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You could choose any vegetables that you desire to put into this wrap, but I think all of these specific kinds together compliment each other super well. Also, when choosing the smoked salmon in the super market, instead of selecting the fish that is packaged in broken off pieces that still appear raw to the eye, I picked the whole filet that was smoked instead. I felt that the filet in particular works better for the wrap, and the others work better on a bagel or croissant.

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Due to the fact that I did not work with the smoked salmon that I do when I make a bagel sandwich using regular fresh cream cheese, I decided to switch that up as well. In this case, we’re going to be using an herbed spreadable cheese. The texture itself is much like cream cheese, except it packs a punch of flavor! Which is exactly what we want, considering the tortilla itself isn’t going to give us as much flavor as a bagel normally would.

 

This is what you want to see! Gorgeous summertime colors. Bright and fresh!

You will need : 

  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Fresh chives
  • Smoked filet of salmon
  • Vine ripened tomato – sliced
  • Alfalfa sprouts. If you do not enjoy sprouts of any kind, youre welcome to use spinach, or I think “frisée” or “red leaf” would be an awesome touch as well!
  • Your choice of flavor tortilla. I am using spinach!
  • Creamy herbed spreadable cheese
  • Nice slices of red onion – if you’re not a raw onion kind of fan, you could leave this one out. You’ll get a mild onion flavor from the fresh chives, and also from our cheese.

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A closer view of everything you’ll need, so nothing is forgotten!

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Lay your tortilla flat on a plate, and go ahead and spread our herbed cream cheese all around the middle, without going over the edges. The cheese is going to act as glue, as we pile on everything else!

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With your hands, for a more rustic element, rip your fresh chives, and let them fall onto the cheese.

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Up close and personal, to see the tears of the chives!

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Add the slices of red onion after the chives so that it sticks and holds in place, using the cheese for support.

 

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Add slices of tomato. The amount would be up to you. I used two!

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Lay on four slices of a bright green cucumber.

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Rip the smoked salmon into flakey chunks, pile it for the last thing on top of your goodies in the wrap.

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A little closer look at the salmon so that you are able to see how big I broke the fish into pieces.

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Pile on alfalfa sprouts, and let them fall where they may!

 

 

Time to roll it up! All I did was fold in one end on the bottom, and then rolled it up sideways!

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The only step left for you to do, is garnish and take the biggest bite! I used some left over sprouts to add greenery, and a few slices more of cucumber for some layering.

Enjoy your last dishes of summer, and ill be back next week with a few more spiced up flavors!

Original Oiled Oranges

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     Unfortunately, my grandfather ( My fathers, father) passed away years before I was even born. Happily enough, my dad has told me very much about him. The stories that intrigued me most were the ones about him and food. He giggles at the thought that he could have been rich from taking ice cream, and putting pretzels with chunks of cake mixed in together; considering back then no ice cream brands at that time were doing such a thing. My Pop Pop used to experiment with so many different food combinations, some even being very simplistic. My dad would tell me over and over again.. “Briana, my dad would slice oranges, drizzle them with olive oil, finish it with a dash of salt & pepper, and it was to die for! The oil, mixed with the flavor of the oranges, being brought out by the seasonings, just made it so mouth watering.” You might think to yourself that you don’t want olive oil anywhere near your oranges, but think again! It actually makes the orange rich tasting, accompanied with a silky texture left on your tongue. Also, if you truly take a step back and think about it.. what makes up 70% of salad dressings? EXACTLY.. OIL! Olive oil.. you’d be surprised, is in probably every salad dressing, and many condiments that you use everyday. Regardless if you make it yourself, or buy from the grocery store. 

     Being that I didn’t just want to introduce to you his dish he created, and left it at that, I wanted to make it my own. I like being original, while still being influenced, even if it is by my own family members. What I did was kick it up a notch, using some crunch, and fresh herbs. It makes another layer of tastes, and textures on your palette. 

 

 

Showing you up close and personal what you will need on hand, besides the oranges, of course. 

  • Fresh mint leaves 
  • Good olive oil – whatever brand you love best. I also suggest that you purchase an olive oil specified for dressing, marinades, and dipping, rather than sautéing and grilling. It will make a difference! 
  • Sunflower seeds – I used honey roasted, but if you do not prefer those, theres salted & unsalted. For this dish keep in mind, the salty taste is what you want/need! 
  • Salt & pepper TT ( “tt” is “to taste” ) 

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Peel your oranges using your hand or knife.. however you choose is just fine. Then spread the orange open in half, taking out any white parts that are left in the center. 

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Break the oranges into wedge segments, as you would if you were just going to eat them, but instead, lay them onto a platter of your choice. 

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Sprinkle the segments with the salt and pepper, along with the sunflower seeds! 

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Then, drizzle with your olive oil! 

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Finally, break off pieces of your mint leaves, and rip a few by hand onto the oranges, and let them scatter, for a more rustic look! 

     This dish is as simple as you can get, while still impressing your guests if you desire to showcase this at your next house party! It is a great appetizer, without filling people up before the main course, and not having to make them feel guilty!

Heres to you, Pop Pop! xoxo 

Poolside Peach Cherry Cobbler Cooler

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Believe it or not, theres pretty much only one month of summer left. I know I know… depressing! Therefore, I have to get in all my fruit flavors before my favorite season comes into play. Although, I love Autumn SO much, and thats the season that truly has my heart, theres endless things I love about summer; the cocktails being one of them. No one has to follow my rule, but once fall hits, I have absolutely no interest in fruity, summertime beverages. I’m a very seasonly girl, so whichever season were in, thats the one I celebrate, and I strictly stick to it!  In honor of soaking in the end of this season as much as we possibly can, I’m combining my two favorite fruits that I eat on a daily basis during this time of year, (peaches and cherries) and creating the most thirst quenching cocktail. Not too strong, crisp, fruity, and simply delicious. I wanted it to be easy and quick, but something that you normally don’t see on every drink menu when you go out to a bar, or a restaurant lounge. While I was brainstorming the alcohol to put into the glass, to swim around with the pieces of floating fruit, I wanted to compliment the flavors of both the peach, and cherries. The best combination I feel for it, is using vanilla vodka (of your choice) and peach schnapps. It makes for almost a dessert like tang in your mouth, while still leaving a summertime feeling in your heart.

This drink is best served cold, and while needing to keep cool with it.. it’s best served, poolside; If you have a pool, or can get near one! If not, take it to your back porch, and sip on it while reading the latest issue of vogue. Heck, I’d even drink it at night relaxing on the couch, next to my Bichon frise! It’s all up to you, and the way you choose to salute your end of summer!

 

First! We must start with the fact that the rule of the drink is COLD, so we have to fill our entire class with ice. I used a cooler glass considering we are creating a cooler to indulge in, but if you don’t have anything like this on hand, you could certainly use a seamless wine glass, or a bigger glass in general would work fine! Just keep in mind, you want a glass with room in it to fill with fruit and lots of effervescence at the top!

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Speaking of the fruit.. take your peach, cut a half off of it, without taking your knife to the pit, and then cut your half in half as well!

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Then cut those two halves in half again!

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Lastly, chop your four wedges into chunks!

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As for the cherries, since they are fresh, and not the candied ones with no pits in the center, you must remove both, the pits, and steam. As you can see, there is no perfect way you have to accomplish that, except for just putting a slit into the cherry itself, and opening it up, to get all of that non edible stuff out of there.

I opened up about four cherries! 

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Add the cherries to glass filled with the ice!

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Along with the chunks of peaches!

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Add one part vanilla vodka, and one part peach schnapps. If you are asking yourself the question I think you are, and you did not see my first drink post.. “one part” means one shot. You could choose to eyeball the pour, or you can pour your “one part” of alcohol into a shot glass to make it exact. 

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Fill the rest of the glass with lemon lime soda for carbonation, and thirst smacking effervescence!

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I am huge on garnishes.. as you can already tell, I love decor, and taking everything to it’s fullest potential to please the eye, so we’re going to trim our glass with a peach wedge, along with a whole steamed fresh cherry. Just as we used inside our drink!

For the peach, as you can see above.. add a small slit using a smaller pairing knife, not going all the way through the peach wedge, so that it will sit perfectly on the rim of the cooler.

 

At last, for the cherries, do the same are you did for the peach wedge; adding a small slit into the middle of the piece of fruit, without taking your knife all the way through it.

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Ultimately, you will be in glorious site of a bright red colored cocktail that you’ll want to sip on all day long on your lounge chair. I also added a cute, fun straw for easier sipping! I actually had so much fun creating this drink, as I felt like it was different than anything I ever drank before; because of the fun fresh cherries! I hope that all of you try this yummy poolside peach cherry cobbler out before summer comes to an end! You won’t regret it. You might actually debate indulging in multiple lol

I’ll be back again at the end of the week with another simple, but yet exquisite post. Keep an eye out, diamonds!

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgonzola walnut Sandwiches wrapped in prosciutto

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One of the most complex flavor combinations you can experience is a creamy, tangy aged cheese, accompanied with an earthy buttery flavor. I love the combination in salads,  spreads, or even just to pop in your mouth on top of one another; fortunately because I’m so obsessed with the taste of the two together, I decided to take it to another level. So I figured, why not take a walnut, a piece of cheese, another walnut, sandwich them together, and wrap them up like a little pig in a blanket, with a piece of prosciutto. OH! And thats not it! Drizzle the warm sizzling ball of goodness with sweet, sweet honey. Your mouth will feel like it just went on the tallest, highest rollercoaster in the park, and you’ll have the same thrill after swallowing, as you do when you arrive back at the station, and your harness comes up over your head. Yes, it’s that good! lol

 

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     Everything you need to make this creamy, crunchy, and salty, but sweet hor d’oeuvre.

  • Good Gorgonzola cheese
  • Fresh walnuts
  • Marbled prosciutto slices
  • Honey

That is literally it! Four simple ingredients, in just four easy steps. Even if you think these sound complex, they are not, but they do taste it!

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Hold a walnut half in your finger tips, and place a small crumble of the cheese, to act as little sandwiches!

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How the little sandwiches will look!

You could certainly munch on these anywhere, anytime, but were going to kick them up a notch!

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Wrap your sandwiches in the prosciutto and place them in a small skillet, coated slightly with butter.

Cook on medium low heat for two minutes a side.

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The finished product will turn out crispy, with a shiny red sheen too them; almost like bacon!

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Drizzle the prosciutto wrapped sandwiches with honey, as soon as you take each one out of the pan, and plate them up. The warmth of the meat will soak in the honey, leaving them coated with a sticky smooth glaze, glistened on the outside of them.

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I always love platting. I feel it is the most important part of the dish.. being that even though people may not do it purposely, they eat with their eyes first. It is a fact of the food world! When platting food that doesn’t have more than one, or two colors to it, I enjoy using something green, herby, and fresh along side of the dish; making it look alive. These may seem fancy, but as you can tell they were super easy, so you can make them for a dinner party as an appetizer, or even just for yourself to indulge in, after a hard days work. Also, they might seem very rich and satisfying, but just because these little bites are extremely indulging, that doesn’t mean you actually have to indulge in your diet.. just your life!

Until next week diamonds, enjoy! & I’ll be back with a summer drink (:

Goat cheese & chive scrambled egg AVOCADO TOAST.

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     Imagine waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning.. the sun shinning through the windows wakes you up, and birds are singing a song. You walk downstairs, sip your first cup of coffee, and realize you’re starving, but you just want to take in the a.m. without spending so much time in the kitchen, this decadent opened faced bagel sandwich is the one for you. It is fresh, herby, creamy and the perfect summer morning bite. 

 I LOVE LOVE LOVE avocado toast, as do you many of you, I’m sure! It is by far one of the biggest items on brunch menus at any great restaurant, anywhere in the US. The toppings are endless. With some being difficult and longer to prepare, I wanted to start out my avocado toast series with a very simple post, that will only use little prep time.  There are so many countless creations that come to my mind when I think about this meal, and even though this seems like it is super simplistic, it’s just as delectable!

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      Everything you need! Just six simple ingredients:

  1. A BAGEL. You can absolutely choose any flavor bagel your heart desires, but I truly wanted to just enjoy the creaminess and the texture of the ingredients rather than focusing on the bagel. 
  2. EGGS – it would be up to you, your desired number of eggs to cook, depending how many bagels you’re going to be making. In my opinion, two eggs to a bagel is perfect. 
  3. GOAT CHEESE. Now, for any of you that are thinking that you’ll never give this cheese a chance, think otherwise !! Your cheese life will be changed and you will thank me. 
  4. Avocado – it’s obvious we need it for avocado toast, silly!
  5. Lemon- to squeeze into the avocado for flavor, after mashing it all up. 
  6.  Scallions (also known as green onion) – for some light fresh summery onion flavor, without being too harsh and overpowering, 

 

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.    First thing! prep your produce! 

  • take your goat cheese out of it’s packaging 
  • slice your lemon in half for squeezing 
  • open up your avocado for mashing 
  • finely chop up your scallion. OR if you have kitchen scissors, just cut them that way. No mess, no clean up!  

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When cleaning out your avocado, make sure it’s as clean as you can get it without getting any really dark brown, or overripe parts that you definitely don’t want anything to do with! Scrap out as much of the green as possible. That is where the richness, and creaminess really takes place.

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Crack your eggs into a bowl and whisk them up. Some people think using a whisk is best when whisking eggs, because thats what you use when you whisk something.. (a whisk) BUT in this case only.. I really strongly feel using a fork when whisking eggs is best. It tends to put forth more air into the fat from the yolk, making them creamier and much more airy. 

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In a stainless steel pan (or whatever type of pan you have on hand) heat up about a tablespoon of butter and let it melt.

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     While your butter is getting melty and hot preparing for our eggs, were going to make our avocado mixture.

Add the avocado into a bowl, and mix in the juice of a half, or a whole lemon depending on the taste you love, or how much you love lemon in your cooking. Throw in the scallions we chopped up earlier. along with just a dash of tabasco. It gives it a certain type of flavor that you cant get from anything else, and the avocado LOVES it! 

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Let your eggs coagulate in the pan, so we can scramble them! 

  • coagulation of eggs – when the proteins inside the egg get hot, and turns the liquids into a solid.

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On LOW HEAT..Crumble in your goat cheese !

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Let your eggs finish scrambling, and go on and toast your bagels. Then plate them up to get ready to pile them high with some cheesy, eggy goodness. 

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Smother your bagels with the yummy bright green avocado mixture!

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When the eggs are finished, get ready to assemble your open faced sandwiches (: 

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PILE the goat cheese scrambled eggs ontop of your “avocado toast”. Then, Crumble more goat cheese along with your left over chopped up scallions and some parsley leaves for an even brighter green color. Finally, sprinkle everything with smoked paprika. It leaves it looking dusted with a smoked heat flavor and it tastes like something so special was added. You’ll see when you try! xo 

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it’s time to sit back, finish your coffee or espresso.. whichever kind of caffeine addict you are, and enjoy your delightful, yet filling opened face goat cheese scrambled egg avocado toast. 

Enjoy diamonds, & I’ll see you next time. xoxo