Subscribe to Kitchy Cooking

Posts tagged ‘Melissa’s Produce’

labeled-brie

Here’s the thing about the holidays, it seems from Thanksgiving to New Year’s every single weekend is booked. Between office parties and shopping and friendly get togethers, I never feel like I have enough time to do anything, including cook. I love to cook, though, especially for parties. So, I always find a way. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending hours in the kitchen cooking, but there are some days when I just don’t have the time or the luxury to do that. It’s on those days that I look for easy recipes that don’t require a lot of effort, but are ideal for a potluck or guests. This Baked Brie from Rachel Hollis is just such a recipe.

I was lucky enough to meet Hollis at an event at Melissa’s Produce a few weeks ago promoting her new cookbook, Upscale Downhome. It’s her first cookbook and it’s filled with easy recipes for both the family and parties, as well as entertaining tips. Hollis started out as a party planner, which is where she came up with a lot of these ideas. It’s a great guide that I know will become a permanent part of my collection. I know this because I’ve already made several recipes from the book and they’ve all been big hits.

close-up

This Baked Brie is the perfect example. It’s got to be one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. Plus, since it’s served warm, it’s great for winter parties. I know blueberries seem like a spring and summer fruit, but thanks to several South American countries, you can now get blueberries year round at the supermarket and bring a little spring to your holiday party. Why is this brie so easy? It only takes 4 ingredients and about 30 minutes from prep to presentation. Seriously, 30 minutes.

So, if you’re at a loss of what to make for your next holiday party or want a great appetizer to serve family before Christmas dinner, you can’t go wrong with this Baked Blueberry Brie. And if you’re looking for a great gift for your favorite foodie, I can’t say enough about Upscale Downhome. Both are definite winners.

overhead-shot

Baked Blueberry Brie

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 round of brie cheese
  • 1 frozen puff pasty sheet, thawed
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place a handful of blueberries on top of the brie round.
  3. Carefully wrap the puff pastry around the brie and berries, turning it over to seal the edges together. Transfer the brie to the prepared baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puff pastry is a nice golden brown.
  4. Let cool for about 5 minutes, transfer to a serving platter and serve with the remaining blueberries and sliced toast or crackers.

labeled-nuggets

I LOVE cookies! They’re small, sweet, bite-sized circles or squares of deliciousness. So when Melissa’s invited me to a meet, greet and taste all about cookies, I was soooooooooooooooo in!

dorie

In case you aren’t familiar with the name, Dorie Greenspan is a “culinary guru” according to the New York Times. She’s been around the food world for awhile now, working with most of the greats including Pierre Hermé and Julia Child. Through all those years cooking and baking, Greenspan has written several cookbooks and made or created numerous cookie recipes. But until Dorie’s Cookies, she has never written a book about them. This 500-plus page book is filled with every cookie recipe imaginable. Looking for your basic chocolate chip? She’s got it. Want something fruity? It’s in here. Do you prefer nuts or peanut butter? Greenspan’s got you covered. She even has several recipes devoted to different types of brownies. I’m telling you, this book is going to be my cookie bible for years and years to come. The fact that Christmas and Hanukkah are three weeks away, makes this book the perfect go to for all those cookies we want to make.

Now while I’m usually all about sweet cookies, I know not everyone out there likes rich, gooey, sweets. Some people like savory bites instead. Well, don’t worry, there’s a whole chapter on savory options in here called Cocktail Cookies. It’s in this chapter that I discovered these awesome Bee’s Sneeze Nuggets. They’re lemony, salty, spicy bites that are great with a cocktail or some cheese. If however, you want to add a little sweetness, Greenspan suggests dipping them in some honey. I’ve tasted them plain and dipped and they’re great either way.

close-up

Wondering how Greenspan came up with the idea for these little nuggets? From a cocktail menu. She was at Booker and Dax, a cocktail bar in New York City, when her friend ordered the Bee’s Sneeze which was a gin cocktail made with lemon juice, honey, ginger and black pepper. Greenspan took one sip and knew immediately she wanted to turn it into a cookie. She kept all the ingredients from the cocktail and added a little flour and olive oil. What she got were flaky nuggets that are perfect for any cocktail party and a nice change of pace from all the sweet Christmas cookies you’ll be seeing this holiday season.

over-head-shot

Bee’s Sneeze Nuggets

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons gin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and pepper together in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk the lemon juice, oil, gin, and honey together in another bowl.
  4. Toss the sugar and salt in a large bowl with the lemon zest. Then rub the sugar, salt and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar and salt are moist and aromatic. Mix in the grated ginger. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Make a well in the center and pour in the lemon juice mixture.
  5. Using a fork, mix the dry ingredients into the wet. After a couple minutes you’ll have a soft dough. Fold and knead the dough gently just to pull it all together.
  6. Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, pat the dough into a square shape that’s 1 inch thick.  Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 1-inch squares.
  7. Place the nuggets on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through the baking time, until the nuggets are golden brown. Let the nuggets cool completely and serve with honey, cheese or a cocktail.

labeled-popsicles

I’ve always been a fan of mangoes. They’re sweet and a little tart and perfect for smoothies or desserts. Plus, my sons absolutely love them. They ask for them every chance they get. They don’t care if they’re fresh or dried, though they prefer them fresh, and I don’t blame them.

close-up

Fresh mangoes are amazing. They’re soft and sweet and melt in your mouth. So, you can understand how excited both my sons and I were when we received a batch of Keitt Mangoes from my friends over at Melissa’s Produce. The Keitts are unlike any mango I’ve ever had before. First off they’re huge! They easily weigh at least a couple pounds, and they’re so soft. When they’re ripe, they really do melt in your mouth. The reason these green beauties are so immense is because unlike other mangoes, the Keitts are left on the tree longer. That way you can eat them as soon as they’re plucked from the branches. The fact that the yellow flesh is less fibrous than other varieties make them ideal for blending into smoothies or cocktails or even popsicles. So, that’s what I did.

A few months ago I discovered a classic Indian drink called a mango lassi which is very popular during those humid Indian summer months. It’s super easy to make and quite refreshing. But while it’s delicious as a drink, I thought it would be even better frozen and served up as a popsicle.

close-up-popsicle

These popsicles are creamy, sweet delights that are ideal for those warm remaining days of summer. While any fresh mango can work, the Keitt’s are the perfect choice thanks to their silky, smooth flesh. They blend up beautifully, and I’ll definitely be using, eating and blending them up again as long as I can get them.

overhead-2

Mango Lassi Popsicles (adapted from the Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian/Pakistani Cooking)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6 oz.) container of lemon yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh mango, chopped
  • 6 oz. non-fat milk
  • 1 cup ice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend for several seconds until totally combined.
  2. Pour the contents of the blender into a popsicle mold. Add sticks and freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, remove the popsicles from the mold and enjoy.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s Produce provided me with the Keitt Mangoes for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.

labeled cake

I’ve talked about Melissa’s Produce and the wonderful produce they send me. It’s all sorts of fresh vegetables and fruits and it’s always delicious. But Melissa’s doesn’t just deal in fruits and veggies. They also have herbs, beans, kits and even nuts. I’ve been using their produce for years but it wasn’t until recently that I used a couple of their kits.

I started with their tamale kit and loved it. It made making tamales a cinch. All I had to do was add water, stir, spread the batter on the corn husks, steam and I had dinner. They were so good, I decided to try Melissa’s other non-produce products. I started with their crepes.

I’ve always loved crepes. Every so often my mom would make them for a special treat. They’re essentially very thin pancakes. But while they’re yummy, they’re not the easiest thing to make. You have to get the batter just right and then they have to spread it out on the pan so they’re thin enough to roll up over whatever filling you put inside, but not so thing that they split and tear as you roll them. It’s definitely a fine art. I’ve tried to make them several times and while my crepes will do, they’re not perfect. That’s why I was thrilled to find out that Melissa’s not only makes crepes, they sell them in packages of 10.

close up

Their crepes are delicious! They’re sweet enough for breakfast but not too sweet; and that means you could turn them into a savory dinner as well. But since I had 10 crepes, I chose to turn them into a crepe cake.

A crepe cake is a cake where the cake is made from crepes and the layers are made up of whipped cream or fudge or a thick, tart fruit curd. There are plenty of options when making a crepe cake, and since I had the crepes all made and ready to go, all I had to do was figure out what I was going to layer them with. I chose a raspberry whipped cream.

I know a raspberry whipped cream sounds complicated, but it couldn’t be easier. You whip the cream, then add some sugar and fresh raspberries. See? Simple. But what you end up with is a sweet, tart, pale pink, creamy, dreamy filling that pairs perfectly with the thin crepes.  And if you use fresh raspberries (of which there are plenty, right now) you have a super easy cake that’s not only beautiful, it’s a great summer dessert.

over head shot

Raspberry Crepe Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of Melissa’s crepes
  • 2 quarts of whipped cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 pints of raspberries

Directions:

  1. Beat the cream until stiff.
  2. Gradually add the sugar and the raspberries while you continue to beat the whipped cream. The cream should turn a pale pink as the berries are mixed in.
  3. Place one crepe on a plate. Spread 2 spoonfuls of raspberry cream on the crepe. Top with another crepe and repeat until you’ve used all the crepes.
  4. Decorate the top of the cake with several raspberries and serve.

labeled salad

As many of you know I get a lot of my recipes from cookbooks and cooking magazines. The cookbooks come from many different places, but one of the most common is Melissa’s. I work with them quite often and attend several of their events. Each event usually has a theme and the most recent was all about food from Azerbaijan.

cookbook

Azerbaijan is a Middle Eastern country just north of Iran and east of Turkey. I love middle eastern food, so was very excited about this event. I thought I was going to enjoy Mediterranean salads, falafel, pita bread and a variety of hummus. While there were some similarities to these favorites, most of the food was unlike anything I’d tried before. There were vegetable kabobs… but they were in salad form. There was Rice Pilaf but it had fava beans and dill in it. There were meatballs… but instead of swimming in a Swedish sauce, they were bathed in a sweet and sour tomato sauce. All of it was delicious and thanks to Feride Buyuran’s new cookbook, Pomegranates & Saffron I’m able to recreate them any time I want to.

While I plan on making several of the dishes in this book, the first one I made was the delicious Chopped Vegetable Salad. It’s similar to a Greek Salad in that it has tomatoes and cucumbers, but what’s missing is the feta cheese. I spoke to Buyuran about the missing cheese and she told me that the people of Azerbaijan rarely put cheese on salads. She said they usually enjoy cheese with fresh herbs like basil or tarragon in a piece of pita bread as an appetizer. It sounded yummy and I can’t wait to try it.

close up

Yes, I missed the feta in this wonderful salad but the freshness of the tomatoes and cucumbers combined with the garlic and cilantro really brought out the vegetables’ flavors. It was a perfect salad for summer and one I plan on making again and again as long as tomatoes are at the farmer’s market.

over head shot

Chopped Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 4 medium heirloom tomatoes diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Toss all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and serve immediately.