Saturday, August 22, 2009

Taco Bar

Though I love to mesmerize my lovers with tantalizing dishes I also trap the people I know into lifelong friendships lured in by food. About 6 years ago I move to Jersey City into this amazing penthouse duplex with an awesome rooftop deck where I host annual summertime BBQ’s. I do 3 major- 50 plus and a few smaller ones less than 15.

The last one I would say was the biggest yet. There had to be at least 90 guests all of which I absolutely adore. It was so amazing because there where people I haven’t seen in years that happen to hear about the event through another old friend and decided to surprise me. There were people who I was once close to but because of life and growing fell out of touch with. There were old and new acquaintances, there were some strangers and of course the regulars. For me the energy and sexiness alone confirmed why I love to cook and bring people together.

This particular Soirée was a Mexican theme. Weeks before the event I sent my guest sneak preview of the menu just incase they thought they would make other plans- I know I know crafty huh? Well anyway the idea of the Taco bar was to make all the fillings complete with a variation of soft and hard taco shells as well as tostadas and have everyone make them as they feel. A month later I’m still getting calls about how great it was.


Curry Shrimp
Grilled Lamb
Mexican Tilapia Ceviche
Orange Mango Chicken
Beef Carnitas
Grilled Red Pepper Corn
Dusted with Pecorino Cheese

Yellow Rice
With Black and Red Beans

Tomato Salad with Chile and Lime

Strawberry Salad
With Lemonade dressing

I would have to say the crowd favorite was the Mexican Tilapia Ceviche. It was the first time I had made this particular dish with Tilapia; I usually use Snapper, or Salmon. But that seemed not to matter.

Now the end of the summer is near and the calls have started to roll in all wondering when the next one will take place and what’s on the menu. All I know is whatever it is it has to knock the mid summer Taco Rooftop Rendezvous out the box… I just keep making it more difficult for myself, but oh well I LOVE IT!!!!!

Mexican Tilapia Ceviche

1 pound fresh, skinless Tilapia, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup finely diced red bell peppers
1/2 cup finely diced yellow bell peppers
1/2 thinly sliced small red onion
3 minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
Salt for taste
Bundle of cilantro
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

In a large bowl, toss the diced fish with the lime juice, lemon juice, jalapeño, red and yellow bell peppers, red onion, garlic, brown sugar, crushed red pepper and season with salt. Refrigerate the Tilapia ceviche for about 5 hours or until citrus has cooked fish. Stir in the cilantro and extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Mexican Layout

Monday, August 17, 2009

Spinach Seafood Lasagna

So I’m in a wooing state right now. I’ve been dating this guy that I’m totally enamored by and what makes it even better he loves to be spoiled and I love to spoil. Match made in heaven. Well anyway Saturday was date night and since we always have these really great nights on the town I thought I would slow it down this weekend. A candle light dinner, and movie sounds good.

Well totally blocked as to what I was going to make I called my uncle Omar who is the next best thing to cooking outside of me of course. (Love you Unc-O-Diggity.) His suggestion was seafood lasagna. I was like yeah that’s going to be a hit. But of course because I have to always do things my way I decided to make it a spinach seafood lasagna.. You know there has to be some originality.

Now I’m off to the market to get all the fixings and my thoughts started to wonder. What if this night was a play on 5 of his senses? -Sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing. I would be the visual draw, the food would take care of the taste factor, I could play some slow romantic tunes to satisfy his audible, light aromatic candles for smell but what would I do for touch. Of course anyone would say the obvious. But I didn’t want to go there that’s too typical. So I thought to myself who wouldn’t like a home done pedicure? By George I think I’ve got it.. Pedi it is…..

Back at home now prepping dinner I’m totally excited about tonight when a text comes through. “Just wanted to say I miss you and I look forward to seeing you tonight” That makes my efforts all the more worth it.

Spinach Seafood Lasagna now in the oven I can prep the rest of the evening. So I run around the house lighting my many candles, the ones on the steps, and in the bookshelf, the ones on the wall and in the bathroom -A completely sexy fire hazard I say to myself but yet I continue. I jump in the shower, spray a little fragrant perfume in the right places (you know the spots grandma use to tell you to dab your smell goods.) Now off to the closet. What could I wear that wasn’t to over the top like I’m trying yet sexy enough for me to appeal to his visual sense? Then I see the perfect short peachish pink H and M dress that really complements my fading tan- note to self, must lay out some time this week because your color is fading fast.

Dressed and smelling good I gather the foot tub and all my tools. As I put them out the bell rings. I take a look in the mirror give myself and wink and say Showtime.

As soon as he enterers he grabs me and kisses me passionately. Take a look around and sits at the table and ask
-so chef what’s on the menu tonight?
-Spinach Seafood Lasagna with rosemary garlic bread.
-Why do you always have to take it there? What ever happened to meat and potatoes? He laughs.
-What do you mean babe?
-I’m just joking I love always anticipating your next creation but I must admit I’m not a fan of lasagna

Smile back on my face because I know he’s going to love this one I serve him and my self and we sit down for dinner. Cocktails crisp, conversation flowing dinner A HIT!!! We sit there talking enjoying each others company. Pedi time… Him not knowing I tell him to go upstairs get comfortable and come back in a minute. By the time he returned to the living room the warm water was out complete with rose peddles and his jaw dropped.
-“you continue to amaze me”
I smile, sit him down and begin to give the best damn pedicure I have ever given. (FYI: this was a first for me so it was also the only one I had given….)

All done and half asleep I rub his shoulders and usher him off to bed. We lay there for the rest of the night me caressing his head and him playing in my hair talking and just enjoying each other. I couldn’t have planed the evening any better.

The next morning I woke up to him in the kitchen making breakfast!! He’s a keeper!!!

Spinach Seafood Lasagna

Pound of jumbo shrimp chopped
Four healthy slices of filleted and cubed flounder
Can of real lump crab meat
Bag of fresh uncooked spinach
¾ cup of white wine
1 ½ bottles of Alfredo sauce
12 -14 pre boiled lasagna noodles set aside (depends on the size of your pan)
Whole chopped onion
5 chopped cloves of garlic
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Ricotta cheese
1 egg
Table spoon of parsley
2 ½ cups of mozzarella
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
Salt and pepper for taste

Seafood mix
In a separate boil combine crab meat, flounder and shrimp. Sprinkle salt and pepper sparingly.

In a skillet heat onions and garlic until tender, add white wine and reduce. After wine has reduces slightly add Alfredo sauce and blend with wine. Let heat and add Gruyère and Swiss. On a low heat allow cheese to melt into the sauce stirring occasionally. Add seafood mixture and nutmeg. Let simmer on low. In another bowl beat one egg add parsley and ricotta stir until completely mixed together. In a lasagna pan lightly cover the bottom with your ricotta mixture. Then layer noodles, followed by sauce, cover sauce with uncooked spinach then cover with mozzarella. Repeat layers