caviar and smoked salmon appetizers

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Rolls with Caviar |

Growing up, my parents threw a swanky New Year’s Eve party every year, not only to welcome the new year, but also to celebrate their anniversary (they were married on January 1st).  I loved watching all the adults in their fancy clothes eating lavish hors d’oeuvres and having fun!  To this day I think of New Year’s Eve as a night for elegance and sophistication, even if we’re just planning a quiet night at home to watching the Times Square ball drop on television. 

To me, nothing says elegance and sophistication like caviar, especially on New Year’s Eve.  Don’t you agree?  For some simple, yet elegant hors d’oeuvres to ring in the new year, try these Caviar and Smoked Salmon Appetizers, which pair perfectly with champagne!

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Rolls with Caviar
Yields Approximately 12 rounds

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise (preferably sliced with a mandolin) or cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 ounces smoked salmon, or more as needed, cut into 12 pieces
Crème fraiche, or more as needed
1 ounce any variety of caviar or fish roe (I used salmon roe and paddlefish caviar)

To get the rest of the recipe for my go-to New Year’s Eve appetizers, Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Rolls with Caviar and Baby Potatoes with Smoked Salmon and Caviar, please click the link to follow me to A Lucky Life blog.

Happy New Year!

Baby Potatoes with Smoked Salmon and Caviar |

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black velvet apricot and rhubarb tart

Black Velvet Apricot and Rhubarb Tart

One of the things I do to find food inspiration is to go to Whole Foods Market’s produce section. It’s big, brightly lit, and full of the most perfect and beautiful fruits and vegetables. The prices can be a bit steep, but I love perusing its aisles looking for interesting ingredients. There is always one aisle that has something different, at least to me. Over the last year, I’ve found red currants, gooseberries, passionfruit, and other items not commonly found in Southern California grocery stores. And, did I mention that I have a crush on one of the produce guys there? Continue reading

sumo citrus slices with crème fraîche, pistachios, and mint

Sumo Citrus

Sumo Citrus.  Have you heard of it? I hadn’t until I walked into Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago and was greeted with a beautiful display of these uniquely-shaped and brightly-colored fruit with a thick, dimpled peel and distinctive “top knot”. These large mandarin oranges are seedless, easy to peel, and very sweet. They’re juicy, but not so much that the juice drips down your arm when you peel them like some oranges can do.

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persimmon cardamom honey ice cream

Persimmon  Cardamom Honey Ice CreamSince I’ve discovered persimmons, I have been scouring Pinterest and other food sites for recipes featuring them. I’ve learned that the persimmon is an under-appreciated fruit, which is understandable, given my own history with them. I found a few interesting recipes, mostly for cookies and breads, which I am sure will make their way into future posts since I plan to purchase more persimmons to purée and freeze for use during the next couple of months.

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persimmon galette

Persimmon Galette

Persimmons have always looked rather unappealing to me – bruised, overly ripe, and way too soft, as if they would burst and ooze at the slightest touch. Sometimes, their skins had black streaks which made them appear almost rotten. I could never understand why my Mom liked them so much. As a teenager, I vividly remember countless times when she would lovingly offer me some of its dark orange, almost gelatinous flesh cradled in her hands, and how I would rebuff her each time. Being the bratty teen that I was, I would crinkle my nose, make that “face” that signifies utter disgust and total disinterest, and walk away with my hands folded across my chest, without ever tasting it. She seemed almost disappointed that she couldn’t share her enjoyment of this “weird” fruit with me, yet, somehow, she also had a look of relief that I now assume meant, “Yippee, I get to eat all of this luscious fruit by myself.” She would always cut the persimmon in half and expertly take spoonfuls of fruit, leaving the peel almost completely intact, her hands sticky and dripping with orange-colored juice.

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“red, white, and blue” berry shortcake

Red, White, and Blue-Berry Shortcake

The warm and sunny days of July means that a variety of fruits are plentiful and at their peak of flavor. One of my favorite summer fruits is the strawberry – and I can’t think of a better way to showcase it than in a shortcake!

This classic American dessert is a great addition to your holiday picnic menu. To get the recipe for the shortcake, with a little added twist, click the link to follow me over to A Lucky Life blog. Continue reading

fig, almond frangipane, and orange tart

Right off the bat, I will say that this is one of the best things I have ever baked in my entire life. While I cannot take credit for developing this tart recipe on my own, I can acknowledge those who did – Paule Caillat, renowned French cook and cooking instructor for the tart shell and Anita Chu from Dessert First Girl for the frangipane. I did add my own tweaks to the recipe as well, as you will see. You might be wondering how I came about putting this recipe together. Well, read on and I will tell you the story of how this lovely tart came to be.

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cooking channel

Skirt Steak with Tomatillo Salsa and Creme Fraiche

Our new favorite television channel is The Cooking Channel, an edgier and more contemporary spinoff of the Food Network.  The Cooking Channel brings the focus back to food and cooking, instead of the Food Network’s increasing push to give us reality-based shows with the endless array of challenges and competitions, complete with contrived kitchen drama.  The Cooking Channel lineup still includes some familiar faces like Giada, Emeril, and Bobby, doing what they do best – teach us how to cook and tell us where to find good food!  If you want to learn what to do with a secret ingredient like skirt steak (pictured above), give Michael Symon’s show, How to Cook Like an Iron Chef a try.  If you want to know what Montreal restaurant chef Chuck Hughes cooks on his day off, watch Chuck’s Day Off.  Both these chefs will entertain you while teaching you a thing or two about cooking.

We also like to watch Unique Eats, a show that gives us a peak at the new and exciting culinary trends in restaurants today.  It is a bit New York-centric, but the show does manage to venture out to show that there are unusual and innovative restaurants in many other cities in America.  No trip to NYC is complete without visiting a restaurant that we’ve seen on this show.  So far, we’ve been to Buttermilk Channel for their version chicken and waffles,  Fette Sau for barbecue amid the hipsters in Brooklyn, and stood in line for 45 minutes at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park for some good burgers and custard.

Last night, we had a small dinner party and we served Skirt Steak with Tomatillo Salsa and Creme Fraiche.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it so I thought I’d share the recipes with you all from Michael Symon’s  How to Cook Like an Iron Chef.