A variation of Welsh rarebit, the hot brown was invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky in 1926. It’s turkey and bacon smothered in a mornay sauce and baked/broiled until bubbly. Tomatoes and some herbs add freshness. But how to miniaturize it? For this, I turned to Tennessee-native Reese Witherspoon for inspiration. Her book, Whiskey in a Teacup, is full of charming stories, helpful etiquette lessons and delightful southern recipes like this one. These are best served straight from the oven with an ice cold mint julep on the side.
Kentucky Hot Brown Bites (adapted from Whiskey in a Teacup)
5 ounces shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 turkey breast, roasted or pan-seared, chopped
4 cooked bacon slices, finely chopped
1/2 cup of fresh diced tomatoes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or a silpat. Spoon parmesan by the tablespoon onto the baking sheets 1/2 an inch apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes until lightly browned on the edges.
2. Transfer the rounds into a miniature muffin pan, pressing down gently to create shells. Repeat with the second baking sheet.
3. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. In another saucepan, melt butter. Whisk flour into the butter and cook for a minute or two. Slowly whisk in the warm milk and bring to a boil. Cook for a few minutes, until thickened. Lower the heat and add the shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.
4. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Place a few pieces of turkey and a teaspoon of the cheese sauce into the shells. Bake for five minutes. Remove the shells and top with bacon, tomatoes and parsley.
Scotch eggs are a popular bar snack around DC. In case you aren’t familiar, a scotch egg is a hard- or soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and then dredged in breadcrumbs and fried. I set out to create a riff on this concept that would be smaller and use some of my favorite Asian flavors.
Thus, the pork dumpling wrapped scotch egg was born. I soft-boiled quail eggs, marinated them overnight in mirin and soy sauce, wrapped them in ground pork I spiked with fresh ginger, garlic, soy and sesame oil, and then dredged them in panko before quickly frying them. Then I sliced them and dabbed them with a bit of miso-infused Dijon mustard.
Pork Dumpling Scotch Eggs
12 quail eggs
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup soy sauce plus 1 Tablespoon
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup sake
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon white miso
1. Lower quail eggs into pot of boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from boiling water and place in an ice bath.
2. Mix together 1/2 cup soy sauce, mirin, sake and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved. Peel eggs and place them in soy mixture for 8 hours or overnight.
3. Mix ginger, garlic, scallions, sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce with ground pork.
4. Remove eggs from soy mixture. Flatten out a heaping tablespoon of pork mixture in your hand and carefully wrap eggs.
5. Place flour, beaten egg and panko in three separate bowls. Add ground ginger to bowl with panko. Roll eggs in flour, then egg, then panko.
6. Bring pot of oil to 325 degrees over medium high heat.
7. Fry eggs until golden brown and pork is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.
8. Mix miso and mustard together.
9. Swipe mustard on bottom of the plate or serving dish, slice eggs open while hot, and garnish with chives.
Good things come in small packages. These broccoli rabe siu mai are nutty, earthy and slightly bitter. They sing when swabbed with chile crisp. This version is vegetarian, but you could add pork or chicken if a meatier version appeals.
Crimping dumplings can be intimidating, but there are great YouTube tutorials to guide you.
Broccoli Rabe Siu Mai (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Dumpling wrappers, cut into rounds
Chile crisp, optional
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the broccoli rabe for 2 minutes, then drop into an ice bath.
- Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add broccoli rabe and pine nuts and cook until broccoli rabe is tender, about 5 more minutes.
- Transfer the contents of the pan into a food processor. Add red pepper flakes. Pulse until roughly chopped.
- Fill dumpling wrappers with a rounded teaspoon of broccoli mixture and crimp the sides.
- Fill wok or a pan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, bringing water to a simmer. Assemble steamer, line with parchment, and place siu may in steamer. Steam until wrappers are soft and filling is heated through, about 10 minutes.
- To serve, spoon chile crisp into bottom of porcelain spoons or tiny bowls. Place siu mai on top of chile crisp. Serve with chop sticks.
One of my favorite salads is thinly sliced grapefruit with slices of ripe avocado drizzled with tangy Dijon mustard vinaigrette. It’s terrific year-round, but especially in the winter when citrus is in season.
To create an hors d’oeuvre that could capture the essence of this salad in a single bite, I carefully shingled thinly sliced grapefruit and avocado. Instead of just drizzling the bites with vinaigrette, I reverse spherified the dressing to create mustard caviar. When you eat this, the tiny caviar pop in your mouth and you get a tangy burst of flavor that perfectly accents the creamy avocado and zippy grapefruit. If molecular gastronomy is too fussy, just mix the dressing and drizzle away.
Avocado and Grapefruit Napoleons
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh basil, for garnish
1. Slice avocado on a mandoline and supreme a grapefruit.
2. Cut small squares of both avocado and grapefruit and layer them on top of one another.
3. Mix together mustard and champagne vinegar and then slowly drizzle in olive oil.
4. If reverse spherifying, mix a gelatin bath and add calcium lactate to your dressing. Create caviar. A more in-depth look into this process can be found here.
5. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with micro basil leaves.
I’ve seen many iterations of a lobster roll reimagined as an hors d’oeuvre, but most fall short for me because they are either too big or the ratio of bread to lobster is off. An hors d’oeuvre should be small enough to be eaten in one bite, and many of the “mini” lobster rolls I’ve come across are just regular lobster rolls that have been cut down to a smaller size. These can be hard to eat while standing and chatting at a party. Even the versions that have been appropriately shrunken down are often mostly bread with a small dab of minced up lobster.
When I sought out to create my own version, I had a few goals in mind:
- It had to be able to be consumed in one bite
- The bun, bread or base had to capture the essence of a buttery griddled split top roll
- The ratio of lobster to bread had to be mostly lobster to a little bit of bread
What I came up with are these delicate buttery crisps topped with roughly chopped lobster meat that has been kissed with crème fraîche for a delicate tang, and garnished with fresh chives. The result is an elegant and delicious bite that would be welcome at any party, year round.
4-8 slices Very thin white bread
2 Tablespoons salted butter
1 cup cooked lobster, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon crème fraîche
1 teaspoon chives, divided
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Remove crusts from bread.
- Using a rolling pin or a pasta roller, roll your bread slices out as thin as possible.
- Cut out small rounds from bread using a small glass or biscuit cutter.
- Melt butter and brush bread rounds on both sides.
- Bake bread rounds on parchment-lined cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes.
- Toss lobster with crème fraîche and half a teaspoon of chives. Season with salt.
- Remove bread rounds from oven and let cool.
- Top bread rounds with lobster mixture. Garnish with chives.