Bacon Wrapped Figs

I was meandering through my local farmers market when I stopped to see these beautiful figs on display. After taking a gander for a second I thought that I should buy them and attempt bacon wrapped figs for a movie night we were hosting. It did not disappoint! The boys at movie night were oohing and aahing and gobbling them up like there’s no tomorrow.  There is almost nothing I love more than making food for guys. Women are so polite and always make a nice comment no matter what. But men are normally clueless about doling out food compliments unless something hits their tastebuds with such force that they can’t help sputtering out a, “This is amazing!” So if you are like me and cook mostly to gain compliments then definitely try this recipe. ;)

Bacon Wrapped Fig Recipe:

10 small figs cut in half

20 strips bacon

agave nectar for drizzling

Directions:

Take a fig and wrap a strip of bacon around until all surfaces are covered. Set aside and repeat. In a skillet heated to medium high temperature cook bacon wrapped figs on all sides until done.  Arrange on a platter and drizzle lightly with agave nectar. Prick each with a toothpick and serve. Enjoy!

Grilled Peach and Haricot Vert Salad (Food Shoot)

Another fun photo shoot was just posted on the fabulous SB Chic! I had an amazing time capturing this delicious salad made by the talented Duo Catering and styled by the perfection of Kelly Oshiro. What is more delicious than a grilled peach? I’ll tell you…a grilled peach with brown sugar and paired with haricot vert salad! My husband was drooling when he saw these pictures and was immediately asking me when I was going to make this for him.

Sprinkled with brown sugar, tarragon, and then grilled, the peaches get even sweeter.

Paired with blanched haricot vert (green beans) this salad is a light and refreshing treat. Here’s how you can make it yourself:

Ingredients:

-2 Pounds Haricots Vert (may substitute blue lake beans, wax beans, etc.)

-3 each Peaches (Halved and Pitted)

-4 oz Red Rose Radish Sprouts (available at your local farmers market or specialty grocer)

-4 oz Chevre (Feta is a good substitute)

-¼ Preserved Lemon Rind (Salt Cured Lemon) – Rinsed and Minced

-3 Tbl. Plus 2 Tsp. Olive Oil

-½ tsp chopped tarragon

1 Tsp Maldon Sea Salt

Juice of ½ Lemon

2 Tbl Brown Sugar or Honey

Procedure:

  1. Clean Green Beans
  2. Blanch in a large pot of salted boiling water  until tender – roughly 1 minute (it should taste like the sea and maintain it’s boil when the beans are submerged)
  3. Remove beans from blanching water and submerge immediately in ice water, drain and set aside while you gather remaining ingredients.
  4. Combine 2tsp olive oil with brown sugar and brush peaches, allow to marinate while you heat a pan or grill (a cast iron grill pan works well for this purpose)
  5. Grill peaches until sugar has caramelized and the peach has softened somewhat
  6. Sprinkle with tarragon
  7. Toss Green Beans and Sprouts with remaining olive oil, Preserved Lemon and lemon juice.
  8. Divide between 6 plates, top with grilled peach, crumbled chevre and sea salt
  9. Enjoy! Serves 6.

 

Catering: Duo Events
Photographer: Me! (Anna Costa)

Watermelon, Lime & Basil (Photo Shoot)

This post is a yet another lovely shoot styled by Kelly Oshiro of sbchic.com and created by the amazing chef’s over at Duo Catering. I was the humble photographer merely capturing the brilliance of these great artists. The original post can be found HERE.

Today we’re continuing our food series with Duo Events and this time they’re putting a spin on a classic summertime treat, watermelon. For this recipe you will need:

-1 Small Watermelon

-6-8 Black Finger Limes (Caviar Limes) – available at specialty groceries and area farmers markets

-1 Bunch Thai Basil (can substitute lemon basil, opal basil or Italian basil)

-2 Tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil

-1 Tablespoons, Flaked Sea Salt (we use Maldon Sea Salt)

To begin, Start by removing the watermelon rind and reserve for another use (makes great pickles!):

  1. Cut the watermelon into 3/4 inch thick slices.
  2. Cut slices into bite sized portions (a small pastry cutter works great for this)
  3. Roll each finger lime under the palm of your hand on a cutting board to loosen the “beads”.
  4. Slice the limes in half and squeeze into a bowl.
  5. Drizzle limes with olive oil and spoon 1 tsp onto each watermelon segment.
  6. Top with a basil leaf and 2-3 flakes of sea salt

Enjoy as an hors d’oeuvre on a hot afternoon or serve as a first course for a summer dinner.

Ceasar Salad with Homemade Croutons & Dressing


I’m kind of a salad fanatic. I LOVE salad. My husband is more of an obligatory salad eater. He always says things to me like, “Good job making a salad honey” like I was trying to be proactive about our health. Really, I just think salads are refreshing and yummy. Especially when making homemade salad dressing and croutons, I think it takes it over the top. This salad I was bringing to a potluck dinner and was running late so I didn’t have time to take the final shot of the put together product. So I grabbed my camera and took it to the house and was like, “Wait, I have to take a picture before we eat!” I think the hostess thought I was nuts because the next time we had a group dinner and I brought something she said, “What, your not going to take a picture first?” Sorry people, I know I’m weird. I’m sure it seemed very self important for me to stop everything to take this picture. I hope it was worth it and from now on let it be known that if your having dinner with me – I will be taking pictures. Done.

Ceasar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

2-3 heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped

Dressing:

juice of one lemon

¾ teaspoon dijon mustard

¾ teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1 garlic clove

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup mayonnaise

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup fresh grated parmesan

2 anchovy filets

For Homemade Croutons:

1 loaf ciabatta bread cubed

olive oil

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

To make the croutons, place the cubed bread into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Using clean hands toss the bread until its evenly covered with the oil (but not soaked). Season with salt & pepper and toss one more time. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Turn bread with spatula once during baking to get all sides evenly browned. Set aside.

For dressing, put garlic clove into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until combined.

Place washed lettuce into a large salad bowl. Add croutons and dressing. Toss and serve!

Blood Orange and Avocado Salad

I have a blood orange tree that yields TONS of oranges. Its delicious for a nice tasty breakfast or to use for making orange marmalade. I came up with this recipe after finding Ina Garten’s Grapefruit and Avocado recipe and thought to just substitute with blood oranges. Thanks Ina! Enjoy.

Recipe:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tbs spicy mustard

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground pepper

8 blood oranges peeled and cut into circles

4 avocados cut in wedges

Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Arrange oranges and avocado on a platter. Drizzle dressing on top. Serve.

Caprese Salad with Burrata, Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil/Cilantro Pesto

 

My client Tasha gave me this recipe after we had a complete bonding moment over our love of cooking at her pre-wedding photo session. Its was hilarious. I think her fiancé/now husband Dillon was amused by our loud ongoings on the corner of Anacapa & Canon Perdido St. in downtown Santa Barbara. There we were standing on the sidewalk avidly exchanging recipes like the information was as valuable as learning about sunken treasure. After trying her recipe for this caprese salad it WAS as valuable as sunken treasure! Its so delicious and refreshing and the secret is the half basil half cilantro in the pesto. It makes the flavor of the pesto so more refined and less punchy. I could eat this salad every day and have made it now several time. I’m planning on making this for Fourth of July and I think you should too!

Recipe:

3-4 heirloom tomatoes with varying colors sliced

whole basil leaves

2 large balls of burrata cheese sliced (I get the tub at Trader Joes and it has two in there)

olive oil & balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

Pesto (recipe to follow)

Pesto Recipe:

1 cup packed basil leaves

1 cup packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts (pignoles)

1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese

2/3 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

In a food processor pulse garlic cloves until finely minced. Add basil, cilantro, olive oil and pine nuts. Pulse until smooth. Salt & pepper to taste.

Spread pesto on the bottom of a serving dish. Layer  tomato, basil leaves and burrata until all the ingredients are gone. Season with a little salt & pepper and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Celery Root Soup

Celery Root Soup

A celery root or celeriac is a very alien looking vegetable and its hard at first glance to really appreciate how tasty it is. So…if you haven’t already I recommend just coming out of your comfort zone and making this soup as your first experience. This delicious soup is a crowd pleaser and you’ll feel pride in adding a new ingredient into your repertoire of food.

Recipe:

1 Celery Root

¾ Cup Cream

1 ¼ Cup Sour Cream

2 Tbs Butter

2 Cups Vegetable Stock

1 Tsp Salt

Dash Pepper

Peel and dice celery root. Saute the root in a saute pan with butter. Coast the root thoroughly with butter and let simmer for 10 minutes with cover on.

Add cream, stock and sour cream. Stir until nicely combined. Simmer for 12-15 minutes unitl root is very tender.

Puree mixture in batches in food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Season to with salt & pepper. Taste and correct seasoning to taste. Serve.

*Note: Celery root can be very fibrous so a food mill would actually eliminate this even more than the food processor if you have one. Still great with the food processor or even a blender.

Crispy Brussel Sprouts with a Garlic Aioli

Crispy Brussel Sprouts with a Garlic Aioli 

Brussel sprouts have a really delicious flavor and are almost like a more flavorful mini cabbage. This recipe can be served as an appetizer (think updated artichoke) OR as a vegetable side. You can omit the aioli if serving as a vegetable side or you can offer it separate and your guests can spoon it over the top. I made this with pork chops the other night and my husband freaked out it was so good. He’s so sweet. :)

Also, you might be wondering why I’m using canola oil instead of olive oil. The reason is  because brussel sprouts have such a unique and bold flavor and I didn’t want it to compete with the olive oil. Canola oil also seems to crisp things up a little better too. I hope you enjoy!

For Brussel Sprouts:

20 Brussel Sprouts cut into wedges

Canola Oil

Salt & Pepper

For Aioli:

6 tbs mayonnaise

1/4 tsp garlic minced fine

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tbs flat leaf parsley chopped fine

For Brussel Sprouts:

Place brussel sprouts on a baking sheet and drizzle with canola oil. Crack some fresh salt & pepper to taste. Mix around brussel sprouts on pan to ensure they all get nicely coated in the oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown on at least one side.

For Aioli:

Mix together mayonnaise, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Serve in a ramekin.

Place ramekin of aioli on a plate and surround with brussel sprouts. If serving as an appetizer, put some toothpicks on the side for your guests. Enjoy!