While I've been focusing mainly on restaurant reviews and sharing food porn from all those delicious adventures I embark on, I am also pretty adventurous in the kitchen. At the request of many of my fans, I've decided to add a section to my blog where I feature some recipes I've cooked up in the kitchen, or have been shared by some culinary experts and chefs. I hope you enjoy them and feel free to comment, exchange ideas or submit your own for publication on the site. Bon Apetit!

    Chef Jose Mendin's Seared Sea Scallops Using Grapes From                                                  California


3 each Jumbo Scallops
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups red wine
1 each shallots
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pint heavy cream
6 each Thompson white grapes
10 each vintage red grapes
2 each red pearl onion
5-6 celery leaves
1 tablespoon verjus blanc (can be substituted for white wine vinegar)
Olive oil

For the beurre rouge:
In a small saucepan add the red wine, sliced red grapes, sugar and chopped shallot. Reduce wine by ½ and add 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Reduce again by half. Take pan out of the fire and slowly whisk in butter to finish your butter sauce.

For the cauliflower puree:
Boil the cauliflower in water with a tablespoon of butter & salt. Save 2 florets for the salad. When the cauliflower is cooked through, using a blender add the cauliflower the heated heavy cream with 1tablespoon of butter and puree to a smooth consistency.

For the salad:
Slice grapes, cauliflower, red pearl onions. In a mixing bowl add all together and the celery leaves, dress with the verjus blanc and olive oil, add some salt and pepper.

For the scallops:
Using a small sauté pan heat up and a pinch of oil when it starts to smoke add your scallops when nice and seared turn then around and add butter to the pan. Roast well on both sides.

To assemble in a round plate place the cauliflower puree on the bottom of the plate, place the 3 scallops on top and dress with the beurre rouge. Finish with the grape salad on top.


Chef Peter's Apple Sausage Stuffing

As promised, here's Red, The Steakhouse from Miami Beach's very own Chef Peter Vauthy's recipe for his ever famous Apple Sausage Stuffing just in time for the holidays.
1 bag bread crumbs, 15 oz
4 Granny Smith apples,  peeled, cored and diced
1 jar apple sauce
1 small onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Brown off the sausage, drain off the excess fat and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the 2T of butter and sauté the onions, garlic and apples. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, apple sauce, parsley, eggs and mix thoroughly. Place in an oven-safe dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown..
Serves 4-6 people


Baked Brie with Herbed Grapes from California

Have someone to impress? Well here it is! Chef Lorena Garcia's recipe for Baked Brie with Herbed Grapes from California. It is easy to make, quick and will surely leave everyone wanting more. 

1 mini brie wheel (8 oz. wt)
1 cup California seedless grapes
1 teaspoon thyme, fresh minced
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, fresh minced
1 sheet (10 square) puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice Brie wheel in half horizontally. Press grapes onto cut side of lower half of cheese. Sprinkle grapes with herbs. Press top of Brie onto grapes, sandwiching them in between the two halves of Brie. Set aside.

On lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry into a 16x10 rectangle. Cut a 6 round and an 8 round from puff pastry. Brush smaller round of puff pastry with egg. Set brie/grape sandwich onto puff pastry. Brush larger round of puff pastry with egg and place egg side down over Brie. Press out any excess air and crimp edges to seal. You can decorate top with puff pastry scraps if desired. Brush outside of Brie with beaten egg. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Tent loosely with foil and return to oven for 10-15 more minutes. Brie should be golden brown and puffy looking. Remove from oven and let cool for one hour before cutting into Brie


Black Raspberry and Apricot Glazed Ham

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I'd post some easy, tasty holiday recipes for both food and drinks. At my house, we celebrate Noche Buena or Christmas Eve Dinner, which entails a nice juicy lechon (pork), black beans and rice, yuca, and platanitos. But, since my family is Cuban-American, we always add a bit of traditional American favorites to the mix, because well, it wouldn't be the same without them. So, you'll always find a nice, glazed ham on our table, that normally ends up continuing to delight us the following day on Christmas morning. I found this recipe to add a sweet black raspberry and apricot glaze to a fully cooked smoked ham and since the glaze is what does the trick for me, I thought I'd share it. Stay tuned for the awesome shooters you can pair with your ham coming up next.


One 8-10 lb fully cooked smoked ham
1 cup Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE
1/2 cup apricot preserves
6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp mustard seeds

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place ham flat side down in a tin foil lined shallow roasting pan. Score the top and sides of ham with a sharp knife. Add a 1/2 of water to the pan and loosely cover with tin foil. Place in oven and set timer for 30 minutes. While the ham is in the oven, whisk together 1/2 cup of Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE with the rest of the ingredients until combined. Add mixture to a medium saucepan on a low flame, stirring continuously until thickened (about 3 minutes). Add the remaining 1/2 cup Sparkling ICE and simmer for 2 minutes more then pour into a heatproof bowl.  Once the ham has been in the oven for 30 minutes, remove tin foil and brush a generous coat of glaze on the ham.  Apply the tin foil back on loosely, and place in oven for 30 minutes more. Take ham out of oven and discard tin foil. Apply another generous coat of glaze and place back in the oven.  Set a kitchen timer for 1 1/2 hours and cook uncovered, glazing it 3 more times (every 30 minutes). Remove ham from oven and apply one more coat of glaze, slice and serve immediately.


Blackened Salmon From Brasileiro Steakhouse

Recently I wrote a post on a relatively new restaurant in the Brickell area called Brasileiro Steakhouse. The dishes were amazing, infusing the wide array of flavors of different Latin American cultures and taking the concept of "melting pot" to new heights. One of the dishes that really knocked us off our feet was their Blackened Salmon with Shrimp Chorizo. I got so many comments on it, and people wanting to try it that I decided to get the recipe for you. I don't know if we'll be able to recreate it half as good as Chef Guily Booth, but we will certainly try. Let me know how it goes!


8 oz fresh salmon fillet
2 oz spanish chorizo
 2 oz clean and deveined tiger shrimp
4 oz potatoes cut in small pieces
1oz shallots cut in julienne
1 oz red and green peppers cut in julienne
1tbsp mixed garlic
 3 tbsp powdered sugar
3 oz heavy cream
2 oz fresh lime juice
1 tbsp butter
2 oz vegetable oil
1 oz olive oil

Ingredients for Blackened Seasoning of Salmon:

1 oz paprika
1 oz chili powder
2 oz cayenne pepper
2 oz yellow pepper powder
1/2 oz white pepper
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp red pepper flake
1 oz sea salt
1 tbsp sugar

Season the salmon using the ingredients above. Heat the vegetable oil at high heat in the skillet. Once the oil in the skillet is very hot, place the seasoned salmon inside. Leave it for 2 minutes and then turn it over and place it in the oven at 350 degrees for 4 minutes. (This will cook the salmon to medium. Increase the time if you prefer it medium well). While the salmon is in the oven, place the potatoes in a pan and boil for approximately eight minutes. Sprinkle some of the olive oil in another skillet and fry the potatoes at medium heat for about five or six minutes (until golden).  Add the shallots, peppers, garlic and the spanish chorizo. Sautee for about two minutes and then add the shrimp. Stir constantly for another two minutes. In a separate skillet, place the lemon juice in high heat to reduce it. Once it is reduced, add the heavy cream. Keep reducing and add the powdered sugar. Continue to reduce for a third and final time and add the butter. Once the salmon is cooked to your liking, take it out of the oven, add it to the plate over the sauce, potatoes, spanish sausage and shrimp, and enjoy. 


Thanksgiving Turkey Quesadillas & Cranberry Apple Relish

Dreading the turkey overload that comes with Thanksgiving leftovers? Here is a great recipe compliments of celebrity Chef Todd English that will make the day after a lot more fun. If you want to read more about great Thanksgiving recipes, and see pictures of the chef in action, check out my post on Macy's Culinary Council cooking demo, featuring Chef Todd English here.

8 (6 inch) Flour Tortillas
1/2 cup Cranberry Apple Relish (see recipe below)
1 lb  Pulled leftover turkey breast and leg meat
1/2 lb  Brie or other creamy cheese, sliced
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 Small avocado, chopped
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Take 4 tortillas and spread about a tablespoon of the Cranberry Apple Relish on each one. Divide the turkey and evenly spread it out on each tortilla, place cheese over the turkey and top that with the remaining flour tortilla.

In a small mixing bowl combine sour cream and chopped avocado and place in a ramekin or small bowl.  Heat extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and sauté quesadillas one at a time until golden brown and crispy on both sides Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with the avocado sour cream.

Todd English's Cranberry Relish
1 tbsp. Chilean Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup red onion, finely minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger root, peeled, chopped
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp.. maple syrup
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tbsp. orange zest

Place a large skillet over medium heat and when it is hot, add the EVOO. Add the onion and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the cranberries, apples, raisins, brown sugar, maple syrup, brandy, and balsamic vinegar. Cook until syrupy, about 10 minutes, and reduce heat by half. Add the cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and apple cider, orange zest, and simmer until thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and set aside to cool.


Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Like Frida Kahlo's Family
Isidora's Croquettes

Hispanic Heritage Month is here and what better way to celebrate it than like one of Mexico’s most iconic artists – Frida Kahlo! We all love croquetas, the spherical bites of comfort usually filled with meat, chicken, fish or cheese. I received this recipe for croquetas from Berenice Gonzales, of Formulatin, and it was developed by Isidora, Frida's great aunt. (I have posted it verbatim as it was shared with me.)

Image of Isidora's original recipe


 1 chicken breast
3 tbsp. of flour
 2 Eggs
 1 ½ liters of milk

1. Put a little oil with 3 tablespoons of flour in a pot.
2. Before browned, put the previously finely chopped chicken breast and add milk little by little until reduced.
3. Once lumps start to appear, take it out and place it in platter to let it cool.
4. When the mix is cold, add the breadcrumbs with the eggs. Finally, fry it.


Baked Tilapia With Sweet Potato Crust and Lime Cilantro Sauce

This is one of the all-time favorite dinners at my house and it's very easy to make. I usually serve it with parmesan risotto and vegetables.


Two 6 ounce tilapia fillets (seasoned) I usually use salt, garlic powder and pepper)


3 sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt


3 graham crackers
1 cup roasted pecans
2 tablespoons melted butter


1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
2 limes
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Bake the tilapia at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. While the fish is in the oven, grind the sweet potatoes, juices, butter, and salt together and set aside. Grind the graham crackers, pecans and butter together. Once the tilapia is done, cover the baked the fish with the sweet potato mixture, then sprinkle the pecan mixture over the sweet potato mixture. Broil the fillets until golden brown, approximately 4 minutes. Pool the Lime Cilantro sauce on a plate, place the tilapia on top and serve.


Pork Tenderloin with Maple Glaze

Because I am such a huge fan of sweet and savory, I decided to go online and look for a recipe that incorporated pork with some sort of sweet glaze or sauce. I found one and I tweeked it to my own liking. It was a hit at the house and I usually make it when I need to do some convincing or need a negotiation tool. I serve it with garlic white rice, and either a salad or a vegetable.


1 pork tenderloin
1 tsp dried sage
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves (minced)
5 tbsp pure maple syrup
5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Rub the entire pork tenderloin with the dried sage, garlic, salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat. Once it's hot, add the pork tenderloin and cook until brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 5-6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the pork then cover and cook until thickest part registers 150 degrees, turning occasionally, about 7-10 minutes longer. Transfer the pork to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep it warm.

Whisk 5 tbsp of maple syrup, 3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard in a small bowl to blend. Set aside. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of vinegar to the same skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium, then add the maple syrup mixture and cook until sauce thickens a bit, about 2-3 minutes. Return pork and any accumulated juices to the skillet and coat the meat with the glaze. Transfer pork to cutting board and let the meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing it into 1/2 inch-thick slices. Season glaze to taste with salt and pepper if desired. Spoon remaining glaze over sliced pork and serve. 

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