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Baked Fontina Dip

baked fontina dip by The Culinary ChaseI was on the train into the city and caught a glimpse into my future.  I spotted an elderly couple who were deep in conversation.  They looked so cute together; her silver hair was a bit disheveled and his white mane slicked back.  Both were in great shape.  He pulled out two books from his bag and gave one to his wife.  She smiled.  As I watched from a distance, it occurred to me that this could be us in a few years.  I wondered if we will be as energetic, outgoing, and loving as we are now?  With a relatively healthy lifestyle, a natural yearning to be active and inquisitive, I have to say yes.  I encourage John to do things that are out of his comfort zone and he does the same for me.  I glanced up and the lady is already out of her seat waiting for the train to pull into Grand Central.  I catch her looking back at her husband…she smiles and he laughs (a private joke no doubt).  Yep, this is exactly where I want to be when I reach their age.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from Barefoot Contessa

1 lb. fontina cheese, rind removed and cut into chunks (can also use gruyère, provolone or gouda)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

fontina cheese melt by The Culinary ChasePreheat broiler and position the oven rack 5″ from the heat. Distribute fontina evenly in a 12-inch stainless steel pan. Drizzle on the olive oil. Combine the garlic and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese. Season with salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted, bubbling and starts to brown.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Serve this straight out of the oven and let everyone scoop up the melted cheese with chunks of bread.  If you liked this dish, try spicy baked Greek feta.  Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad

quinoa salad by The Culinary ChaseAncient grains…two words that conjure up something you might find in an archeological dig!  They’ve been around for a millennium and include quinoa, amaranth, spelt, and kamut.  Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a grain that comes from the Andes mountains of South America and its origins dates back to that of the Inca’s.  There are more than 2,000 varieties of quinoa which range in color from ivory to pink, brown to red or almost black.  Quinoa has a pleasant, slightly crunchy, nutty taste. It can be used in salads, stuffing, risotto, breakfast cereal, or desserts.

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 cooked corn on the cob, kernels sliced off with a knife
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved (assorted colors, if possible)
large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
large handful fresh mint, chopped

rainbow quinoaBring quinoa and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool to room temperature. In a shaker, combine lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.  Shake until well combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add quinoa to a large bowl and add cucumber, tomatoes, corn and herbs. Gently combine. Add dressing and toss to combine.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you’re having a party, chop tomatoes into bite-size pieces and spoon the quinoa mixture into endive spears – finger food at its best. Enjoy!

Lemon Rosemary Sorbet

Lemon Rosemary SorbetWant to make an easy, delicious-tasting dessert or pallet cleanser? Sorbet is simple to make and because it contains no dairy, it’s perfect for anyone who is lactose intolerant or vegan. This frozen treat knows no boundaries so use your favorite fruit or chocolate and satisfy your cravings for a frozen treat. Lemon and rosemary are a perfect pairing for this sorbet. Looking for other sorbet ideas? Why not try mango sorbet, Meyer lemon sorbet or basil and lime sorbet..all are super easy to make.

Makes 3 1/2 cups
inspired by Food & Wine

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 rosemary sprigs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Lemon Rosemary CollageIn a saucepan, bring the water, sugar and rosemary to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Discard the rosemary and let the syrup cool to room temperature. Add lemon juice and refrigerate until chilled. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour syrup into a shallow container and freeze. I used this method as the quantity wasn’t sufficient for my ice cream maker to work properly.  The subtle hint of rosemary is a lovely match to the lemon.  Enjoy!

Coleslaw with Granny Smith Apple and Chili

easy to make coleslawWarmer weather brings out all our favorite recipes for barbecues, family picnics and when it gets too darn hot to cook in the kitchen!  Everyone has their favorite coleslaw recipe that perhaps their mom or grandmother used but this one, for me, takes the blue ribbon at a state fair hands down!  Coleslaw gets its origins from the Dutch – koosla (from kool cabbage and sla salad).  Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A.  For more information on the health benefits of cabbage, click here.

Serves 6
inspired by Charred & Scruffed

green cabbage, thinly sliced (about 6 handfuls)
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar

dressing –
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted in a small skillet and finely ground
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, halved, cored, and cut into julienne (skin left on)
1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced (remove seeds and membrane)
1/2 cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

cabbage apple chiliCombine cabbage and bell pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Toss with the sugar and allow to macerate for 15 minutes. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients until smooth. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps as this will break up later on. Add the apples, chili pepper, dill, and parsley to the cabbage and peppers and mix well. Toss with the dressing to coat and serve.

pretty veggies before dressingThe Culinary Chase’s Note: For increased flavor, place slaw in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Pistachio Purée and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza

pistachio pizzaTandoori Naan bread is one of my favorite go-to flatbreads.  Not only is it perfect for mopping up the sauce from an Indian dish it’s just the right size for personal pizzas.  This pistachio purée has a buttery, rich flavor and might seem odd to spread on a as a pizza base, but let me tell you, it was delicious!  Pistachios have been around for centuries and pistachio trees were said to have been in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (700BC).  Pistachios are nutritionally beneficial and should be included in your diet.  They’re good for heart health, eye health, immune system, and skin health.  For more details, click here.  The best part of this dish – dinner in 20 minutes!

Serves 4 to 6 people
pistachio purée adapted from Saveur

Tandoori naan bread
fresh mozzarella
basil leaves, torn
button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
olive oil, for drizzling

Pistachio Purée –
1½ cups shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
½ cup olive oil, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
salt, to taste

naan pizzaPurée pistachios, Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, salt, and ¼ cup water in a food processor until smooth.  Spread the purée on the naan bread, followed by mushroom slices, basil leaves and topped with fresh mozzarella.  Drizzle olive oil over cheese and broil in the oven until cheese has melted.

basilThe Culinary Chase’s Note: Pulse the pistachios first in the food processor before adding the rest of the ingredients.  You may need to add more juice or water depending on the consistency you desire.  Enjoy!

Avocado and Cheddar Quesadilla

avo quesadillaLooking for an easy dish to whip up for dinner?  Quesadillas are a cinch to prepare and take minutes to cook.  Brie and mango quesadilla was one of the first ones I ever made and it stands as a family favorite to this day.  Quesadillas are perfect as a snack or party food.  Dress them up with your favorite condiments such as sour cream, salsa, or guacamole.  Healthwise, avocados are a good source of fiber, vitamin c, folate, anti-inflammatory benefits (arthritis) and more. This simple avocado and cheddar quesadilla will have your family asking for seconds!

You will need –

ancient grain tortillas (or favorite tortilla)

cheddar cheese, grated (or favorite cheese)

cilantro, coarsely chopped

ripe avocado, mashed

quesadillaCut avocado in half, remove pit and skin.  In a small bowl mash avocado.  Place one tortilla on a board and add some of the mashed avocado making sure to spread it to the edges of the tortilla.  Next, add cilantro and top with cheddar.  Place another tortilla on top and lightly apply pressure (to help the ingredients adhere to the tortillas).  In a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, add quesadilla.  Cook like you would a grilled cheese sandwich…a few minutes per side and remember to be careful when flipping.  The tortilla is done when the cheese has melted.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Add chopped tomato for a bit of color and texture.  You can make just about any combination that suits your fancy or whatever is in your refrigerator.  Another quesadilla idea? Try this chicken and sweet pepper quesadilla.  Enjoy!

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Pizza – hello wordpress!


I’ve been ‘meaning’ to switch from blogger to wordpress for ages and finally I decided to take the leap!  I’m not technically inclined – I think that logical side of me is buried deep within.  I don’t, though, hesitate to take on new projects except when it comes to computers and software.  There’s something far too technical about them that keeps me at bay.  I am what you would call WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) and I don’t want to have to think about all the ‘logical steps’ that goes into processing a command on the computer…perhaps that’s why it executes my mistakes perfectly and the end result isn’t at all what I intended it to be!  The thing is, I do enjoy using a computer but it drives me nuts when logic takes over and clouds my artistic thinking.  It usually takes me a few times to get it wrong in order to get it right or it’s the groans from my daughter when I ask her how it’s done – for the third time!  Once I master it, the magical aha! moment erupts and I feel as though I’ve mastered the hardest task in the world.  This recipe, grilled eggplant and tomato pizza, is my first posting as a WordPress blogger.  Yay!

But I digress.  Choosing someone to help migrate your site to another can seem like a daunting task but check around, ask questions and fondly enough, you’ll find someone.  That’s what happened to me.  I was searching sites using the keywords ‘blogger to wordpress migration’ and found Jeni.  Her site, The Blog Maven, is geared perfectly for what I wanted and more.  She was so patient with me and answered my wild/quirky questions.  The transition, thus far, has been seamless.  Now I have to fiddle with the design elements of my site, get out of my blogger comfort zone and get more familiar with all that wordpress has to offer.  The new layout for posting is going to take some bit to get used to but in no time I’ll look back and laugh at what I thought was difficult to do.  🙂

Serves 4

inspired by Grace Parisi

1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick

4 large plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick

olive oil, for brushing

1/3 cup chopped green olives

1 to 2 teaspoons chili flakes

1/4 cup finely shredded basil

6 oz. Fontina cheese (or your favorite cheese), thinly sliced

eggplant slicesBrush eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil and season lightly with salt. Grill eggplant in batches over moderately high heat, turning once, until softened and lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Place tomato slices on foil and grill until soft but still intact.

eggplant & tomatoIn a bowl, combine the olives, chiles and shredded basil. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In the center, arrange half of the eggplant in a 9-inch square, overlapping the slices slightly. Top with half of the grilled tomatoes, olive mixture and Fontina. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the cheese.

eggplant pizzaBake in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes (if you can wait that long!).

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  I made this again it’s that good!  This dish is also very tasty the next day…if you have any leftovers.  Enjoy!


Camembert and Cranberry Tartletts

These simple and elegant-looking tartletts are the perfect finger food.  They are delicate and small enough to eat without too much fuss or mess.

You’ll Need:
mini fillo shells (already cooked)
cranberry sauce
Camembert, rind removed

Preheat oven to 350° (180c).  

Cut Camembert into small pieces – small enough to fit easily in the shells.

Add a piece of cheese in each fillo shell and top with about 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce.  Bake 5 minutes, or until cheese begins to melt.  Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  An easy appetizer to make and delicious to eat.  Enjoy!