Archive for February, 2012

OK Picture this: you’re sitting at a quaint little sidewalk bistro in one of the quaint little coastal towns in Southern California.  You sip on your class of wine as you watch the people parade up and down the street. The lighting just perfect with the sun filtering through the massive Ficus trees lining the street, warming the otherwise cool ocean breeze.  Finally your order arrives . . . giant shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, sitting on Roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, topped with creamy pesto sauce.  Life just got a lot better!

My husband, Pat and I first tasted this delightful dish under the circumstances I just described for you.  Since that first tasting, this has been one of my favorite appetizers on the planet.  Every time I taste this delicacy, I am instantly transported back to that scene in the little beach town.  Come and enjoy that little beach town with me . . . through their food!

PROSCUITTO SHRIMP CAPRESE APPETIZERS

 

PREP: 15 minutes

ROASTING TIME: 10 MINUTES

OVEN TEMP:  375 DEGREES

SERVES – 5 (2 SHRIMP EACH)

Ingredients:

10 JUMBO RAW SHRIMP PEELED (TAILS INTACT) AND DEVINED

8 OUNCES PROSCUITTO

8 OUNCES FRESH MOZZERELLA

3 ROMA TOMATOES

1 TABLESPOON OLIVE OIL

SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE

1 RECIPE OF PESTO

Directions:

  1. Place shrimp in shallow dish and add salt, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil. Toss shrimp to coat evenly.
  2. Cut prosciutto length-wise for a total of 10 strips, then wrap each shrimp with the prosciutto strips.
  3. Place prepared shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet
  4. Bake for 10 minutes until shrimp turns pink
  5. Remove from oven – let rest for 5 minutes
  6. Serve over slices of fresh mozzarella and sliced Roma tomatoes
  7. Add a generous dollop of pesto sauce
  8. Arrange the shrimp appetizers on a platter, and don’t forget to put out a small empty bowl near the shrimp platter to collect the tails.

This recipe is easy to make for larger groups.

I don’t have to hope . . . I know you will enjoy this recipe!

Thank you for reading!

Kris

For more ideas for menus and great get-a-ways visit my web site at: www.TheLarkInn.com

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TOMATO BASIL DIP

Here is another REALLY simple but great tasting recipe.  I found my Tomato Basil Dip recipe while I was pouring through my recipes getting ready for our “Appetizers to Die For” cooking class at The Lark Inn last weekend.  Not only is it easy to prepare and tastes good . . . it is also different.  It’s not the same old dip that everyone is used to having in some variation or another . . . it’s unique.  Bring your Tomato Basil Dip to a gathering and you’ll be the talk of the party!

Enough of my blabbing.  Let’s get down to business:

TOMATO BASIL DIP


 

PREP: 10 MINUTES

CHILLING TIME: 30 MINUTES

SERVES – 10 OR MORE
Ingredients:

1 CUP MAYONNAISE

½ CUP SOUR CREAM

½ CUP FRESH BASIL

1 TABLESPOON TOMATO PASTE

1 TABLESPOON LEMON ZEST

ASSORTED FRESH VEGETABLES

Directions:

 Stir together first 5 ingredients. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Serve with fresh vegetables.

ENJOY!

Thank you for reading!

KRIS

If you would like more information about my cooking classes or would like to customize your own cooking class party, visit our website!

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ROASTED OLIVES

The weekend is over and we had a super fun one with our guests.  We hosted two private Cooking Parties at The Lark Inn on Friday and Saturday night.  Friday, we named “Appetizers to Die For”.  The entire class was just easy to make appetizers.  Saturday was an Italian Celebration . . . a complete meal from appetizers to decadent dessert.  In my next several postings, I will share several of these recipes with you.

I always like to have an appetizer ready for my guests when they arrive and my roasted olives are a great one for many reasons: first, they are easy and don’t take very long, second, with the herbs and spices in them when you roast them you can’t help but make everything smell wonderful.  Also, their presentation is really great with all the different colors . . . . it plates very nicely and the most important . . . people LOVE them!

So let’s go!

ROASTED OLIVES

 

PREP: 10 MINUTES

ROASTING TIME:  15-20 MINUTES

RESTING TIME: 10 MINUTES

OVEN TEMP: 425 DEGREES

SERVES: 15 PEOPLE

INGREDIENTS :

1   pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes

1        cup Ripe Pitted Olives

1   cup Greek Kalamata Pitted Olives

1   cup Garlic Stuffed Spanish Olives

1   tablespoon herbs de Provence blend or a mix of dried rosemary and thyme

8  whole garlic cloves, peeled

¼  cup olive oil

¼  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1.  Heat oven to 425 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a 15 X 10 inch jelly roll pan.
  4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have shriveled and browned lightly.
  5. Cool on the Pan
  6. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
  7. Serve at room temperature with a toasted baguette slices or crackers

Lark Inn Tip:

If you can find them, fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme or basil look great as a garnish.  If you have trouble finding the specified olives, feel free to use any combination that appeals to you.

Roasting olives is a fun and simple technique that gives them a slightly chewy outside and a dense flesh transforming them into a truly unique bite.  The addition of tomatoes, whole garlic and herbs de Provence adds color, texture and added flavor to a mixture of glossy black ripe olives, brightly flavored Kalamatas and briny green olives stuffed with garlic.  We like to serve this starter with toasted baguette slices, crackers, pita bread or just by themselves with skewers to make it easy to pick them up and pop them into your mouth.  Note:  herbs de Provence is a dried herbal blend of rosemary, basil, sag, thyme, summer savory and lavender.  It can be found at larger grocery stores or online.  If you have trouble finding it, just make your own mix of a few of the designated dried herbs that you have on your panty shelf.  It will be delicious!

I hope you and your guests will enjoy these roasted olives as much as we have!

Thank you for reading!

Kris Larkin

To learn more about my scheduled cooking classes or to create a custom cooking class of your own visit our website.

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SAVORY SEASONINGS – FRED’S RUB

 

Fred’s Rub is a mix of seasonings concocted by my husband, Pat’s father Fred.  Fred was quite the griller even back in the 50’s.  I guess that is where Pat gets it from . . . it’s the grilling genes . . . not to be confused with pant that you wear when you are grilling . . . grilling jeans!

Anyway, we use Fred’s Rub on a wide variety of foods.  As I mentioned, it is a great seasoning for meats on the grill; steaks, burgers, pork chops, chicken . . . virtually everything except fish, sausage or brautworst.  For your meats on the grill I suggest that you use Fred’s Rub with a pretty heavy hand . . . don’t just sprinkle it on, get a pretty good covering of it on the meat.

We also us Fred’s Rub on potatoes, roasted veggies.  Whether you roast your veggies in the oven or on the grill, it’s great!  However, you will want to use Fred’s Rub sparingly on the veggies so they don’t become too salty.

*Fred’s Rub

 Fred’s Rub was created by Pat’s dad; Fred Larkin who, perfected the art of steak grilling on his “Hastybake” charcoal grill.  At one such time, over a half a century ago Fred was paid a visit by the Grilling Gods!  They took him into their landing craft and while rocketing through the galaxies, performed horrible experiments on Fred.  Being the powerful and courageous man that he was, he fought them all off and commandeered their ship, flying it back to planet earth.  Though he was free in body, he was still theirs in his mind . . . all he could think of was seasoned salt, garlic salt and pepper . . . seasoned salt, garlic salt and pepper . . . seasoned salt, garlic salt and pepper .  Then it came to him; he was supposed to put the concoction on his steaks and then grill them . . . FRED’S RUB WAS BORN!!!  Fred’s Rub is  only available through the Lark Inn and is about a zillion dollars a bottle.  But, if you want to make it, here is the top secret recipe:

1-1/2 Parts Seasoned Salt

1 Part Garlic Powder

¼ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper for each ½ cup of rub

Please remember; if you divulge this top secret recipe . . . the Grilling god’s may pay YOU a visit!!!

 

This is a story my husband Pat included in our recipe book: “Wedding Week at The Lark Inn”  I hope you enjoyed it.  Actually. the Fred’s Rub really is awesome and we use it in a lot of our food preparation.

Tomorrow, we will be talking about our “Smashed Potatoes”.  This are a very unique way to prepare potatoes, it lends itself to being savory, your guests (or family) will love them and, they are a great way to control your calory intake.  See you tomorrow!

Thanks for reading!  If you are interested in more information about our cooking classes or the Lark Inn Guesthouses, please visit our website.

Kris

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APPLE SMOKED PORK CHOPS – MONDAY NIGHT – WEDDING WEEK AT THE LARK INN

This is a recipe from our recipe book: Wedding week at The Lark Inn.  For those of you not familiar with this recipe book, it is something we put together after our daughter’s wedding.  The wedding was a destination event so, as all the guests arrived during the week prior to the wedding, we were cooking for an increasing number of guests.  We reached the peak at the Dinner the night before the wedding and the brunch the morning of . . . about 100 guests.  This recipe is for apple smoked pork chops my husband Pat made for our Monday night group of about 15 friends and relatives.  In the next few days, I will be sharing more recipes from that day.  Save them and put them together for an outstanding dinner party!

 

Shopping List:

2 Packages of 10 Center Cut Pork Chops (make sure they are about 1/2″ thick.

Fred’s Rub

Servings: 15

Season the pork chops heavily on one side with “Fred’s Rub”*

Cover and put the seasoned chops in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preparation:

Start smoker with apple wood in the smoke chamber and crank the heat up to high.  On our Treagor electric smoker, that is about 425 to 450°.

Once smoker has reached at least 425° put the chops on the grate, seasoned side down.

Cook for about five minutes and turn.

Continue to cook until temperature in the middle of the chop is 145° and remove and cover in foil.

Let stand for at least 10 Minutes before serving.

 

Alternate cooking method:

Because of the small size of my smoker and the large number of guests for dinner I also fired up my gas grill on high.

I put half of the pork chops on the smoker, seasoned side down and the other half on the grill, seasoned side down.

I cooked them for about five minutes, turned them and cooked them for another 5 minutes or so.

Then, I switched; moved the chops from the smoker on to the grill and those from the grill on to the smoker.

 

Tip:  You might want to use a tray to put one of the groups of chops on to make room for the other set of chops . . . otherwise you could become trapped in a terminal do-loop of making room on the grill for the smoked chops . . . but there isn’t room  . . . I better move them . . . but there isn’t room . . . so I better move them . . . we don’t want to have to send someone over to rescue you.  If you think this may be a problem . . . you should probably not cook pork chops alone!  This could be especially dangerous if alcohol is involved.

 

Once you have finally navigated the switching process, cook them for another 5 or so minutes on each side until the internal temp reaches 145°.

Remove, cover with foil and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe.  As I said before, save these “Wedding at The Lark Inn” recipes and put them together for a great meal for whatever occasion.

 

Thank you for reading!

Kris

Visit my web site for videos, menus and a schedule for upcoming cooking classes at The Lark Inn.

 

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APPLE CHEESE BALL

OK . . . OK . . . I KNOW . . . CHEESE BALL . . . REALLY?!?!?  YES REALLY!  This Cheese ball (apple) is great tasting and  . . . it’s fun to make!  I love to have it ready at the beginning of my cooking classes or at a social gathering.  I just serve it with some wheat or multi-grain crackers . . . . really, almost anything will go well with it.  It works great to have something there that my guests can “nosh” on while they are waiting . . . for whatever they’re waiting for.

We made this in our Lark inn Cooking Class last October and it was a big hit.  Enjoy!

PREP: 15 MINUTES

CHILLING TIME:  2 HOURS

SERVES – 10 TO 12 APPETIZER SERVINGS

Ingredients:

8 OUNCES WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE, SHREDDED

1 (8-OUNCE) PACKAGE CREAM CHEESE, SOFTENED

1 TEASPOON GARLIC POWDER

1/8 TEASPOON GROUND RED PEPPER

SMOKED PAPRIKA

1 ½ INCH CINNAMON STICK

1 BAY LEAF

Directions:

  1. 1.     Process first 4 ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.  Chill 30 minutes.
  2. 2.     Shape cheese mixture into a ball, and make an indentation in the top to resemble an apple.  Chill ball 30 minutes.
  3. 3.     Coat ball heavily with paprika; cover and chill 1 hour
  4. 4.     Insert cinnamon stick and bay leaf into indentation to resemble apple stem and leaf.  Serve with assorted crackers or Cheddar-Pecan Shortbread leaves.

If this was interesting to you, visit my web site and check out a cooking class that works for you.

Thanks for reading!

Kris

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SPINACH CHICKEN SALAD

 This is a fabulous chicken salad . . . and pretty too.  We made this in my December cooking class and the spinach makes it light enough to go well any time of year.  On the other hand, the chicken is heavy enough that it can hold it’s own in the Winter or Fall.  it’s appearance is festive regardless of the time of year or event.  ENJOY!

PREP: 30 MINUTES

COOKING TIME: 5-10 MINUTES

RESTING TIME: 30 MINUTES

SERVES – 6

Ingredients:

4 BONE-IN SKIN-ON CHICKEN BREASTS, POACHED WITH HERBS AND AROMATICS

1-2 SPRIGS OF FRESH THYME

1 TEASPOON PEPPERCORNS

¼ CUP CELERY TOPS AND END PIECES

3-4 TABLESPOONS CRANBERRY HORSERADISH SAUCE (OR 3 TABLESPOONS WHOLE CRANBERRY SAUCE* AND 1 TABLESPOON HORSERADISH SAUCE)

½ CUP SLIVERED ALMONDS (TOASTED)

½ CUP CHOPPED CELERY

SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER TO TASTe

¾ CUP MAYONNAISE

Directions:

  1. 1.     After poaching chicken, discard the skin and bones and cut into bite-size pieces**
  2. 2.     Combine cooked chicken with the cranberries, cranberry horseradish sauce, almonds, celery, salt and pepper.  Add the mayonnaise and mix well.
  3. 3.     Chill until serving time.

 

* recipe to follow for Whole Cranberry Sauce

** To poach chicken: place chicken breast (with bone and skin) in cold water to cover with fresh thyme, peppercorns and celery.  AS SOON AS IT STARTS TO BUBBLE/BOIL TURN OFF THE HEAT!!! Cover and it will continue to cook for ½ hour.

If you would like to learn more about the Lark Inn Cooking Classes or crafting a custom cooking class for you or your organization, please visit my website.

Thanks for reading!

Kris Larkin

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