Mushroom and Poblano Botanas


This past weekend I took a cooking class at Culinaerie all about Mexican botanas and cocktails. One of my favorites was a mushroom and poblano tostada, seared mushrooms and slightly spicy fire-roasted poblano peppers piled on a crisy oven-baked tortilla round- delicious, but a bit messy for a cocktail party.


Inspired by the flavors of the tostada, I wrapped the same mushrooms and peppers in a few sheets of phyllo, brushed them with a little egg wash, Tajin and salt and baked them until they were golden brown. Tostadas, in pretty little packages, are bound to be a hit at your next party.


Mushroom and Poblano Cigars (Adapted from Culinaerie)

4 Sheets of Phyllo
2 Tablespoons olive oil
12 oz. of shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (stems removed)
2 poblano peppers
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 cup cream
1 egg, lightly beaten

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place poblano peppers directly on stove and turn on burner. Char the skin on all sides of the peppers. Remove the peppers, place in a heatproof bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for five minutes. After five mintues, under running water, peel off the skin of the pepper. Remove seeds and roughly chop the poblanos. Set aside.

2. Heat large skillet over medium heat and add shiitake mushrooms. Let mushrooms weep some of their water, 3-4 minutes. Remove mushrooms and add oil.

3. Add garlic to the oil and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms back to the pan and cook until lightly browned, about three to five minutes. Add poblanos and salt and cook for another two minutes.

4. Add cream, stir into mixture and turn off the heat.

5. Cut layers of phyllo into 1 1/2 by 4 inch strips (there should be four layers stacked on top of each other). Lay the strips in front of you with the short edge facing you. Lightly brush the top edge and long side edges with the beaten egg. Place about half a tablespoon of the mushroom poblano mixture toward the lower part of the phyllo strip (closest to you). Gently fold the sides in and then begin to roll the phyllo until you form a tight roll. Brush the top with egg and sprinkle with Tajin and salt.

6. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve with tomatillo salsa.

Mini Shrimp Tacos and Margaritas


Mini Shrimp Tacos and Margaritas (Adapted from Bite by Bite)

5 flour tortillas
Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely diced tomatoes
1/4 cup finely diced jalapenos
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon of adobo sauce

1. Heat oil to 325 degrees F. Cut 1.5 inch rounds from tortillas. Wrap a tortilla round around a small metal cannoli tube and then slide it into a larger cannoli tube to keep it in place. Fry gently until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

2. In a skillet, heat olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for thirty seconds. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and cook until opaque. Remove from skillet and chop very finely.

3. Mix sour cream and adobo sauce.

4. When the tortilla shells are cool enough to handle, fill with srhimp, tomatoes, jalapenos and a drizzle of sour cream. Serve in hollowed out limes (as seen in photo).

5. To make margaritas, carefully empty the mini bottles of Patron and drill a hole from the top down into the bottle corks. Fill the bottles with your favorite margarita recipe, using a funnel. Top with corks and slide straw into hole in cork.

Kentucky Hot Brown Bites


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
Flat-leaf parsley

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.


Pork Dumpling Scotch Eggs


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
Vegetable oil
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.

Broccoli Rabe Siu Mai


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

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the broccoli rabe for 2 minutes, then drop into an ice bath.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add broccoli rabe and pine nuts and cook until broccoli rabe is tender, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Transfer the contents of the pan into a food processor. Add red pepper flakes. Pulse until roughly chopped.
  5. Fill dumpling wrappers with a rounded teaspoon of broccoli mixture and crimp the sides.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


Avocado and Grapefruit Napoleons


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 avocado
1 grapefruit
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.

Lobster Crisps

ac071c07-2046-414f-8277-db407bb81b20I’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.


Lobster Crisps
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

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Remove crusts from bread.
  3. Using a rolling pin or a pasta roller, roll your bread slices out as thin as possible.
  4. Cut out small rounds from bread using a small glass or biscuit cutter.
  5. Melt butter and brush bread rounds on both sides.
  6. Bake bread rounds on parchment-lined cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Toss lobster with crème fraîche and half a teaspoon of chives. Season with salt.
  8. Remove bread rounds from oven and let cool.
  9. Top bread rounds with lobster mixture. Garnish with chives.