Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen - PRE-ORDER TODAY

Well gents (and gals) . . .

That day has finally come!  My new book, A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen, Adventures in Cooking, Eating, and Living in the New South is now available for pre-order on Amazon! 

As you know, I've been quite busy putting this lifetime's work together over the past few years - I know, my posts have been slacking - sorry about that.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been busting my tail!

It's been an honor to partner with Southern Living to tell my tales - those of family, friends, tradition, history, and adventure.  My hope is that you will use this book as a template to open your home, set your kitchen table, and share great food with your own friends, family, and yes, strangers.

I believe we can all become better versions of ourselves by spending more time in the kitchen.  It's a place that fosters hospitality, generosity, humility, chivalry, intellectual curiosity, and autonomy.  Cooking a meal from scratch is just as manly as fine tuning a carburetor on a motorcycle.

So come along on the journey with me - from Louisiana to Tennessee to Texas to Florida to the Carolina's.  Together we shall cook, eat, drink, and live gloriously!

Head on over to Amazon and place your order now before the release rush on 4/28.  Follow me on Instagram @MattMooreMusic for behind the scenes on the release, and head on over to for more info on what I'm up to.

It's been an incredible journey since the release of my first book - I'm thankful to all of you for your support and encouragement.  Cheers to making this next one a bigger success - to good food and good gentleman!

Very best regards,

Matt R. Moore

CLICK HERE to check out the book trailer below, produced by Wet Paint.


Today, in addition to being chivalrous, honest, and generous, a Southern gentleman is socially connected, well-traveled, and has an appetite for life. In this part-cookbook and part-guidebook, Matt Moore embraces a fresh perspective on what it means to cook, eat, and live as a true Southern Gentleman in the 21st century. Moore takes readers on an entertaining walk through the life of a Southern gentleman using recipes for 150 distinctly simple Southern dishes for every meal of the day, plus tales from family and some well-known friends. Gorgeous full-color photography graces this culinary update on authentic Southern cuisine. Featured recipes include everything from Seafood Gumbo and Gameday Venison Chili to desserts like Grilled Georgia Peach Crisp and favorite cocktails like The Brown Derby and NOLA Sazerac.


The son of a cattleman and the grandson of a butcher, Matt Moore is, for all intents and purposes, the quintessential Southern gentleman. With the philosophy of "Work hard, play harder," this Nashville, Tennessee-based musician, husband, traveler, and entrepreneur cooks the way he lives--simply, honestly and with great gusto. This self-taught chef, who invites friends Luke Bryan, NFL standout Jon Stinchcomb, Dave Haywood of Lady Antebellum and more to join him at the stove, is the go to resource for reliable recipes created for the man's-man. His food-writing has garnered critical acclaim by publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and the New York Times--who named Moore's first book, Have Her Over For Dinner: A Gentleman's Guide to Classic, Simple Meals, as one of the year's best cookbooks. With national television appearances on the likes of The Today Show, Fox & Friends, BetterTV, and WGN under his belt, Moore, with his camera-ready looks and Southern charm, is quickly and unquestionable becoming a favorite mainstay in the world of food personalities. 

Grilled Flank Steak + Coca Cola Marinade

Sitty's Fried Chicken
Pimento Mac & Cheese
Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Friday, July 19, 2013

Classic Shrimp Roll

The folks over at The Daily Meal are featuring my recipe today.

Classic Shrimp Roll (Prep 10 mins, Cook 5 mins, Serves 4) - an accessible 'play' on the classic lobster roll, shrimp rolls are a delicious summer time treat perfect for long weekends at the lake or beach.  This no-fuss recipe allows the flavors of the  tender and sweet shrimp to shine through - without breaking the pocketbook. 

1 lb Cooked Large Gulf Shrimp, peeled and deveined and sliced in half lengthwise (see instructions below)1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped2 Stalks Celery, finely chopped 2 Tablespoons Capers, drained1/2 Lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 Dash Tabasco
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
4 Fresh Sweet Rolls, cut in half and toasted
Combine all ingredients, except for the rolls, into a mixing bowl and carefully mix until thoroughly combined.  Add a generous serving of the shrimp mixture to the bottom side of each toasted roll, top with remaining slice.  Serve.
*To cook the shrimp, bring 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to a slow boil over high heat.  When water reaches a boil, add shrimp, remove from heat, cover, and allow shrimp to poach in the liquid for 5 minutes - or until bright pink and firm.  Strain shrimp and place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  After 1 minute, remove shrimp from ice bath and carefully peel and devein shrimp.  Finish by slicing the shrimp in half lengthwise for use in the mixture above.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Quick Southern Comfort Food

Check out this month's featured piece from The Art of Manliness - featuring my favorite Quick Southern Comfort Recipes!  Go to their site NOW for full text and recipes!

Sliced Farm Fresh Tomatoes

Roasted Broccolini

Quick Cook Grits
Grilled Pork Chop + Slap Sauce
Grilled Pork Chop + Slap Sauce
Traditional Southern Pound Cake -

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tuscan Grilled Chicken + Vegetable Soup

The Holidays are about over - but I've still got a lot of leftovers.  Not to mention the fact that I'm trying to get back to eating as healthy as possible.  So it goes - I don't want to waste all of that food - nor do I want to get myself right back into a food coma.

With the colder snow storms making their way into Nashville - this was the perfect recipe to keep me warm, ditch some leftovers, and eat healthy - not to mention stay on budget.

By grilling the chicken, you really enhance the flavor of this soup.  At the same time, it helps to quicken the overall cooking process altogether.

I suggest making this over the weekend - serves 4 with filling and comforting ease.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken + Vegetable Soup

1.5 lbs Chicken Breasts
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Dried Italian Seasoning

Grill chicken breasts until cooked through.  Rest for 5 minutes, dice, and add to soup when finished.

. . . Meanwhile

1 Onion, finely diced
4 Carrots, thinly sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
32 oz Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Orzo Pasta
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Green Peas
10 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped

Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Saute onions and carrots in EVOO in a dutch oven over medium high heat for 5 minutes, or until just tender.  Add garlic and continue to saute for another 3 - 5 minutes.  Next, add tomatoes and stock - adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Add orzo and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until orzo is tender.  Add green peas and cook for 2 minutes - taste and adjust seasoning w/ S+P.  Turn off heat, add fresh basil (add grilled chicken here too).  Stir until incorporated.  Serve w/ grated parmigiano.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alaskan King Crab Legs

A few weeks back, I detailed how my friends at the Alaskan Seafood Marketing Institute were kind enough to share some of Alaska's finest bounty of seafood with me.  My first dish was a Pan Seared Alaskan Sea Scallop, which quickly won over fans both in my kitchen and online.

Last week, I really got to work on their seafood when I hosted about 8 of my closest friends for an incredible dinner (menu below).  Unfortunately, my camera wasn't working properly, so I was unable to take pictures of all of the incredible food.  Next time!

Alaskan Seafood Dinner Menu
Plank Smoked Alaskan Salmon
Alaskan Halibut in Parchment + Pesto + Pancetta
Alaskan Cod + Tomato, Caper, Olive, Spinach Relish
Seared Alaskan Sea Scallops
Potato Salad Lyonnaise
Basmati Rice + Vermicili + Saffron
Grilled Peaches + Greek Yogurt

Anyways, I saved the best for last.  Two pounds of succulent, meaty, sweet Alaskan King Crab Legs were on the menu last night.  My better half is obsessed with these!  Over cold beers and good conversation, we chowed down on these for a delicious, light supper.

The best part?  They couldn't be any simpler to prepare.  Absolutely delicious.



Alaskan King Crab Legs - Crab legs are delicious and easy dish to prepare - even on a busy weeknight.  Basically any crab legs you will purchase at the store will be flash cooked and frozen by the processor.  All you need to do is allow them to thaw in the fridge the night before, and basically re-heat them when you are ready to serve.  Simple.  Beautiful.  Delicious!

2 lbs Alaskan King Crab Legs
4 Cloves Garlic, smashed
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 White Wine
1/2 Lemon
Kosher Salt
1/2 Stick Butter

Thaw crab legs in the refrigerator overnight.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Arrange crab legs onto a baking sheet.  Next, add the remaining ingredients (except butter) into the bottom of the baking sheet and cover tightly with foil.  Add to oven and steam for 9 - 10 minutes, or just when the crab legs begin to emit odor.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a small sauce pan and serve alongside crab legs.  Enjoy.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pan Seared Alaskan Sea Scallops

Another great weekend here in Nashville.  My Friday started off right when a shipment of fresh seafood from the fine folks at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute came across my doorstep.  Salmon, Halibut, Cod, Sea Scallops, and King Crab legs were all part of the wonderful assortment of fine seafood from the folks up North.

Of course, I couldn't wait to start cooking!

With Mom and Dad in town to celebrate a birthday, I simply prepared these sea scallops to perfection, along with some of my favorite local ingredients.  The result? 

Let's put it this way - you'll be seeing a lot more great Alaskan seafood posts over the coming weeks!

Off to San Fran - more to come.


Pan Seared Alaskan Sea Scallops

1/4 lb Benton's Bacon, finely diced
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Georgia Olive Farms EVOO
1 lb Alaskan Sea Scallops
1/2 Meyer Lemon

Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add bacon.  Cook bacon until crisp and the fat has rendered, remove with a slotted spoon and allow the bacon to cool on a paper towel.  Meanwhile, melt butter into the bacon grease, along with a tablespoon of EVOO.  Add scallops and cook for 60 seconds on one side - do not touch.  Flip scallops, squeeze over lemon juice, and cook for another 60 - 90 seconds, or until scallops are just firm to the touch.  Remove from heat, plate, and pour pan drippings over the top of the scallops.  Serve.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

More Wisconsin Cheese? Yes Please!

Excited that the crew from NYC is coming down tomorrow to shoot the pilot for a new show we are pitching to networks.  Going to be a busy few days - but I couldn't be happier to have a bunch of Yankees down in Nashville filming the likes of my own cooking show.  Add to that CMA fest and Bonnarroo weekend, and I'm one happy camper.

The good folks from the Wisconsin Cheese Board happily provided me with an assortment of cheese to utilize in one of our segments, and I wanted to re-highlight all of the cool things they have going on over at their site.  Looking for the perfect wine/beer/drink and cheese pairing?   These folks have got you covered!  Seriously go check it out today!

On that note - the next few days are going to be a blur.  Can't wait to share the results of our shoot with everyone on a television in your living room in the near future!



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wisconsin Cheese Cupid Cinema
Check out my guest post on  

IMPORTANT - enter our giveaway for $25.00 worth of FREE WISCONSIN CHEESE by visiting their site,, and watching their "flavorful stories" videos.  Comments on and our Facebook page regarding these great videos will all be entered for consideration.  

Share your most flavorful stories and enter your comments for a chance to win!!!

I’ve always been a sucker for dining en plein air - and now that the beautiful spring weather is officially upon us, I thought it prudent to gather up a group of friends for an afternoon twilight hour filled with conversation, wine, and of course - great cheese.

Assembling such a front porch gathering is my favorite form of entertaining.  Instead of slaving away for hours in a kitchen, I like to carefully put together a board of varying ingredients - each delicious in their own right.  Be advised, however that this is not simply an opportunity to clean out the pantry.  Rather, I like to put quite a bit of thought into everything that hits my plate . . .

Check out the rest of my post, including my pairing notes by visiting

Visit the site by clicking here, view the videos, and enter your comments  below or on our FB page to win $25 worth of Wisconsin Cheese!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Season's Eatings

I was happy to partner up with a new fantastic magazine, The Local Palate, to create Mother's Day and Father's Day menus for their Season's Eatings feature.  If you haven't seen this magazine - immediately go to their website.  Like, RIGHT NOW!

Better yet, they offer an issue free of charge - get it!

Full text and recipes below.

Seasons Eating’s
by Matt Moore

Mothers Day + Fathers Day.  Quite frankly, most moms and dads just want a “day off day”. 
With the holidays rapidly approaching, I thought I’d lend a helping hand to all those parents and kids seeking new and creative ways to show appreciation to moms and dads everywhere.  Instead of wasting money on a gift that may or may not suit one’s fancy, provide them with an experience that they’ll never forget.   I’m not talking about an afternoon at a crowded restaurant with a hundred other patrons.  Instead, get the kids involved, and surprise mom or dad with a laid-back family meal at home!

For all you dads - don’t fret gentleman. I’ve laid out a Mother’s Day brunch menu that will rival anything she’ll order at her favorite restaurant, yet it is simple enough for even the caveman cook to pull off.  The kids can even pitch in by doing some of the prep work, or surprising mom with a morning cocktail or cup of coffee in bed.  Don’t forget to let mom sleep in!

And ladies, let’s not forget about the men.  I’m serving up a creative take on meat and potatoes alongside a tasty slaw and fresh fruit dessert.  Of course, tossing in a cold beer or my classic brown derby cocktail will certainly up the ante and make dad feel not only relaxed and appreciated, but also like the true man of the house.
So, that’s that!  Follow my game plan on the big day to ensure a family oriented celebration that recognizes the true heroes of the household - mom and dad.

Mother’s Day Brunch Menu

Blood Orange Mimosa

1 Part Chilled Champagne or Italian Prosecco
1 Part Chilled Blood Orange Juice
Orange Peel Twist (garnish)

Combine chilled champagne and orange juice into a champagne flute, stir.  Garnish with twisted orange peel.

Spring Mix Salad - a light and simple salad to serve alongside the filling hash and frittata.

6 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Honey
4 Cups Spring Mix Salad Blend
¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
¼ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

In a serving bowl, combine oil, vinegar, and honey; whisk until combined.  Add greens, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.  Serve.

Cast-Iron Roasted Potato, Pepper, Onion Hash + Pancetta - an elegant play on traditional hash browns, these potatoes will add some heft, and bold flavors to this delectable meal.

½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Large Russet Baking Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ½ inch cubes
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
½ Red Bell Pepper, diced
½ Green Bell Pepper, diced
½ Yellow Onion, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
¼ lb Pancetta, cut into ¼ inch cubes

Preheat oven to 425 Degrees F.  Add oil and potatoes to a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat; season liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Pan fry the potatoes, stirring on occasion for 6 - 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.  Next, add the remaining ingredients and continue to sauté until vegetables are just tender and pancetta begins to render fat and brown.  Finally, add skillet to oven and roast for 25 - 30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and fork tender.  Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary, and serve.

Fresh Mozzarella + Sundried Tomato + Pesto Frittata - think of a frittata as a baked omelet.  Simple in form, and quite versatile, this Italian egg dish makes for easy entertaining.  I have further simplified this recipe by using a pre-prepared pesto.  Of course, should you choose to be more adventurous, you can always make your own pesto at home.  I find it best to use an oven proof, non-stick 10 or 12 inch skillet when preparing frittata’ - a well seasoned cast-iron skillet also works very well.

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 Large Eggs
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
¼ lb Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Sundried Tomatoes, julienned
4 Teaspoons Pesto

Set the oven to broil, placing the rack in the middle of the oven.  Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin oil to a skillet over medium high heat.  Beat the eggs thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.  Pour eggs into skillet and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Cook 3 - 4 minutes, or until egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set on top.  Next, evenly top with mozzarella cheese, sundried tomatoes, and pesto.  Finally, place the skillet into the oven for 2 - 3 minutes, until the frittata is lightly browned and fluffy.  Remove from oven and allow to slightly cool.  Cut into even pie-shaped portions and serve.

Father’s Day Menu

The Brown Derby - A fashionable take on a true classic, this drink was once the De Rigueur cocktail for the glamorous Hollywood crowd of the 1930’s.  The bourbon, combined with sweet honey and grapefruit will compliment any savory meal.

1 Part Kentucky Bourbon
1 Part Grapefruit Juice
1 Teaspoon Clover Honey

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake well for 30 seconds.  Pour into a cocktail glass over ice.  Serve.

Red Cabbage + Chive + Blue Cheese Slaw- a colorful and delicious slaw, this version skips out on the unhealthy mayo without losing any flavor.  It’s best to prepare this at least an hour in advance, keeping covered in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld, before serving.

5 Cups Red Cabbage, thinly sliced
¾ Cup Chives, sliced every inch on the bias
½ Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

Add the first three ingredients into a large serving bowl.  Next, whisk together the remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the cabbage and toss until evenly distributed.  Cover, and keep in the fridge for at least one hour prior to serving.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cajun Roasted Steak Fries - a no-fuss, non-fried version of an American favorite.  The Cajun seasoning adds a kick of spice and flavor to set these fries over the top!
2 Large Russet Baking Potatoes
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cajun Blackening Seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Meanwhile, wash and scrub potatoes.  Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and then quarter each half to create 16 wedge fries per potato.  Rinse cut potatoes under cold running water and pat dry.  Arrange potatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and Cajun seasoning.  Toss until well combined and arrange into a single layer, careful not to overcrowd.  Add pan to oven and roast for 45 - 50 minutes uncovered, shaking the pan and flipping the fries on occasion to brown on all sides.  Serve warm with ketchup or basil-balsamic mayo.

Bistro Skirt Steak Sandwiches + Caramelized Onion + Basil-Balsamic Mayo - even with such a complicated name, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  However, don’t let the ease of this recipe fool you, as it boasts tons of flavors.  Follow my step-by-step instructions for this delicious and hearty favorite.

Bistro Skirt Steak Sandwiches
4 French Hamburger Buns
2 lbs Skirt Steak
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Caramelized Onions (see below)
Basil-Balsamic Mayo (see below)

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat.  Slice buns and cook cut side down over direct heat until slightly charred and toasted.  Meanwhile, coat the skirt steak in oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Add the steaks to the grill over direct heat and cook for 2 - 3 minutes on each side for medium rare/medium (depending on the thickness).  Remove steaks from grill, allowing them to rest for 4 - 5 minutes before slicing.  Next, thinly slice the steaks on the bias and across the grain ever ¼ inch or so.  Pile the sliced steak high on the bottom side of the bun, while generously coating the top side of the bun with the mayo and onions.  Top off the sandwich and serve immediately. 

Caramelized Onions
2 Large Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Add ingredients into a skillet over medium low heat.  Cook onions for 25 - 35 minutes, stirring often until browned and tender.  

Basil-Balsamic Mayo
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Clove garlic, finely minced
¼ Cup Fresh Basil, julienned
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Wisk together ingredients into a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.  Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Blueberry + Peach Granola Crisp - a simplified version of a classic cobbler, chock full of fresh peaches and blueberries. 

Fruit Mixture
3 Ripe Peaches, pitted, peeled, and sliced
1 Cup Fresh Blueberries, washed
½ Lemon, juiced
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1 Cup Granola
2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
4 Tablespoons Cold Butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Toss the fruit mixture together into a greased cooking pan until evenly combined.  Next, add the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl, cutting the butter into the dry ingredients until you get a course crumble.  Spread the topping over the top of the fruit mixture and bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until browned and crispy.  Cool slightly before serving.  Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Family Affair

I've spent quite a bit of time touting the merits of momma's cooking on my blog.  After all, I owe most of my culinary knowledge, interest, and experience to her.  Better yet, her influence has had a much greater reach than just me.  She's also rubbed off on my beautiful sister as well.

I spent the night at my sister's house last Friday after a long drive into Atlanta.  Pretty much exhausted, I was greeted with plenty of wine, beer, and conversation upon my arrival.  To put it bluntly, Friday night stays at her house often end up in a 'black hole' evening of drinking, dancing, and eating.  Once the music is on - forget about it.  Good times.

But sis had one more trick up her sleeve.  A delicious take on grilled pizza that perfectly suited our penchant for late-night eats.  She's always been great at finding new delectable recipes - whether from the pages of Southern Living or from a friend - and making them her own.  She's crafty like that.

This one was absolutely delicious - and I really loved the use of garlic butter in place of a traditional tomato sauce.  Good work sis - and the end result turned out just as beautiful as you!

Grilled Pizza

1 Store-bought Pizza Dough, thawed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Cloves Garlic, minced

10 oz Fresh Mozzerella, sliced thin
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced thin
Fresh Basil, sliced thin

Pinch of Sea Salt

Preheat one side of a grill over direct heat.  Meanwhile, roll out the pizza dough as thin as possible (less than 1/8 inch) and coat in olive oil.  Melt butter and garlic together in a microwave for 45 - 60 seconds.  When grill is ready, carefully stretch the dough over the grate and grill for 60 - 90 seconds - the dough will puff up and bubble.  Flip dough and move to indirect heat.  Brush dough with garlic butter and top with remaining ingredients.  Cover grill, and continue to cook pizza over indirect heat until cheese is melted; 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, slice, and serve.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Dinner

Want to know how to throw the perfect holiday party?  Check out the full series on The Art of Manliness.  

In my opinion, there’s no better way to celebrate the holidays than by hosting a holiday dinner party for a group of your best friends.  Armed with great food, cold drinks, festive tunes, and the sometimes creative costume, spending time with the people you love is what makes the holiday season special.

Yet, for those of you who’ve ever hosted such a bash, you know that a good time doesn’t come for free.  In fact, quite a bit of hard work, planning, and expense can go into hosting such affairs.

This is where I come in.

Throwing an outstanding holiday party can be a piece of cake - so long as you have a game plan.

First things first, I would highly advise you to avoid hosting a party that consists solely of hors d’oeuvres.   From a guest perspective, you tend to come away from such a party never feeling truly satisfied.  Don’t agree with me?  Allow me to jog your memory - You stand around all night, eating cream cheese filled concoctions, cocktail napkin in hand, while you dodge the occasional awkward conversation, wondering if that spinach and artichoke dip that came out 30 minutes ago is ever going to be reheated.  Sound familiar? 

Moreover, hosting such a party can be very expensive and time consuming.  Each appetizer typically contains 10 - 12 unique ingredients - many of which will only sit in your spice rack unused.  And let’s not forget about prepping and serving.  Taking on such a challenge is like trying to serve eight or ten individual meals to your guests.  In other words, it’s just not worth the hassle, or the expense.

Instead, I advocate hosting an actual dinner party.  Your guests will be impressed when you serve an entire meal - all the while saving you time and money by choosing a themed dinner that includes consistent ingredients and a viable prep schedule.

With regards to prep and shopping - do not procrastinate.  Make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need and go shopping the day before, checking off every item on your list.  When you get back home, put away and prep your ingredients, double crossing off your ingredient list to make sure you have everything on hand.  This will allow you to feel confident and not rushed when the big day arrives.  Also, in the rare event that you find that you missed an important ingredient; you still have time to make another run to the store.

Doing all of your prep work the day before also ensures that you spend your party enjoying the company of your guests.  I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, with many of holiday parties spent solo in my kitchen with a cast iron pan and a whiskey on the rocks.  Trust me, it doesn’t look good to cook and drink alone - nor is it proper etiquette to host a party and not spend time with your guests.

This meal makes use of some other key cooking tips when it comes to entertaining for large groups. 

  • Choose a few items that require little or no cooking.  These types of dishes can typically be served at room temperature, and do not make use of precious kitchen space and tools.  In this case, the antipasti platter works perfectly.  Other options would include a crudite platter, hummus and vegetables, or even a large salad.
  • Items that can be cooked or put together ‘on the fly’ minimize your time in the kitchen.  The Sautéed Shrimp, Sautéed Spinach, and Yogurt and Berry Parfait all satisfy this component.  You can excuse yourself from your guests for mere minutes while these dishes are prepared.
  • For the main course - go with a big hunk of meat.  No, seriously.  In this case, I’ve chosen a Standing Rib Roast, as it’s a classic dish of the season.  For other events - beef and pork tenderloins, whole roasted chickens, pot roasts, or even a leg of lamb make elegant dishes to serve large groups.  You can literally ‘set it and forget it’.
Of course, I’d be amiss to leave out one important element of any holiday party - a well stocked bar.  Cold beer on ice, wine selections, an assortment of liquors, mixers, and perhaps even a signature punch or cocktail are  all special touches to make sure your guests take a load off and enjoy the evening.  As the host it’s part of your job to make sure your guests enjoy themselves responsibly - have a few cabs waiting on standby for those that might imbibe past their normal bedtime.

Most importantly - have fun.  Hosting holiday parties will create great memories for years to come.  And, if you follow my game plan, I can guarantee your parties will become the talk of the town!

Season’s greetings!


APPETIZER COURSE - the Antipasti Platter can be prepped hours in advance and set out prior to your guest’s arrival.  As most of your guests have arrived, take a few minutes to put together the Sautéed shrimp- the unique ‘out of the pan’ presentation will have your guests feeling like they are getting an á la table chef dining experience

Antipasti Platter - the beauty of this versatile platter is that you can let your imagination run free.  Pick out an assortment of your favorite cheeses, cured meats, vegetables, pickled goods, breads, and crackers to serve to your guests.  To ensure that you can feed the entire group, plan to have about ¼ lb of total goods per guest.  Check out one of my favorite pairings below.  (Prep 20 mins, Cook N/A, Serves 8 - 10)

2 lbs Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese, sliced
1 lb Sopressata or Hard Salami, thinly sliced
1 Loaf French Bread, cubed and toasted
1 lb Marinated Olives

Arrange ingredients on a serving platter.  Serve.  (If prepping in advance, cover platter with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until 30 minutes prior to service).

Sautéed Shrimp - a play on the traditional shrimp cocktail, the unique presentation of this dish makes it as much of a dining experience as it is an incredible appetizer.  (Prep 15 mins, Cook 10 mins, Serves 8 - 10)

½ Stick Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
3 lbs Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
¾ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Cup White Wine
Parsley, chopped for garnish
6 inch Bamboo Skewers - to serve

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter into the olive oil.  Working very quickly, next add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest and sauté in the oil/butter mixture for 30 seconds - careful not to burn.  Add shrimp, season with salt, and cook for 2 - 3 minutes.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any of the bits from the bottom of the pan.  Continue cooking for another 4 - 6 minutes, or until the shrimp are firm and bright pink.  Remove from heat, garnish with parsley, and serve right out of the skillet, using the skewers to pick up individual portions.

MAIN COURSE - Standing Rib Roast has long been a holiday favorite - and for good reason.  Your guests will love the juicy, flavorful meat - sopping up the juices in garlicky masked potatoes and bright, colorful spinach.  This classic meal will make your holiday party memorable and special.

Standing Rib Roast - a classic, delicious dish that’s perfect for entertaining.  .  (Prep 15 mins, Cook 1.5 hours, Serves 8 - 10).

1 4 -5 lb Rib Roast
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
10 Cloves Garlic

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Meanwhile, place roast - rib side down - into a heavy bottomed skillet and coat in olive oil.  Season entire roast very liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and arrange garlic cloves in the bottom of the pan.  Place roast into oven and cook for 1 - ½ hours (about 15 minutes per pound), or until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees for medium rare.  Remove from heat and rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes - utilizing the roasted garlic from the roast adds that extra essence to these divine mashed potatoes.  Go to work on these while the roast is out of the oven and resting - as this will ‘hold’ for up to 30 minutes or so without the need to reheat.  Should you need more time, fold in a little more cream and reheat the potatoes over low heat just before serving.  (Prep 15 mins, Cook 25 mins, Serves 8 - 10).

5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
Roasted Garlic Cloves (from Rib Roast), skin removed
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chives, finely chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add potatoes and cook until just fork tender, 10 - 12 minutes.  Remove and strain potatoes, allowing all of the water to evaporate.  Reduce heat to low, and place the empty pot back on the stove and melt the butter into the cream.  Add potatoes, roasted garlic, and season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Using a masher or ricer, mash potatoes until desired consistency is reached, adding more cream for a looser consistency.  Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Sautéed Spinach - a light, quick, and easy side to help round out this fantastic meal.  (Prep 5 mins, Cook 5 mins, Serves 8 - 10).

¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
4 lbs Fresh Baby Spinach
Kosher Salt
½ Lemon

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil.  Add red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds - 1 minute, careful not to brown.  Add spinach and sauté until reduced and tender, 4 - 5 minutes.  Season with kosher salt (to taste), and finish with fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Serve.

DESSERT COURSE - why fuss with baking a cake all day?   Instead, this light and refreshing dessert is served in individual portions - making you look like you spent extra time and attention on each guest - but truth be told, this delicious dessert couldn’t be easier!

Yogurt and Berry Parfait -
satisfy your guests in no time with this simple and beautiful dessert.  Most grocers sell pints of prepared berries which will save time and money when it comes to prepping ingredients.  Wait to add the granola until just before serving.  (Prep 5 mins, Cook N/A, Serves 8 - 10).

5 Cups Low-fat Vanilla Yogurt
2 Pints Mixed Berries (Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries)
2 Cups Granola

In individual serving glasses, add a generous layer of vanilla yogurt.  Top with berries and granola.  Serve.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Anti-Pasta + Country Music

I'll admit - the title to this post seems a bit strange, if not flat-out confusing.  After all, shouldn't I be enjoying cheese, wine, cured meats, stuffed grape leaves, and red wine to the likes of Sinatra, Pavarotti, or some other Italian crooner?

Instead, I'm diving into friend Luke Bryan's new album, Tailgates and Tanlines.  For those of you unfamiliar with Luke and his music, just turn on the television, open a magazine, or check out his album on iTunes (currently at #2).

It's no secret that food and music have a great affinity for one another.  Casual jazz at an outside bistro transforms a weeknight meal into a vacation.  But just like an unconventional wine pairing (Cabernet + Dark Chocolate, Chardonnay + Deep Fried Speckled Trout, Expensive Cotes du Rhone + Cheap as shit Tombstone Pizza), sometimes I like to change up the soundtrack to my meals.  The more unusual the better.

The result?  I am pleased - and it's not just the wine talking.

A huge prop to Luke and his entire band, crew, and team on this great (3rd) album.  I'm 2 spins through (still eating and drinking) and I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is his best thus far.  Couldn't happen to a harder working group in Nashville.  It also helps that they are all great people.  Proud of Michael Carter (guitarist) for landing a great cut as well, Faded Away.  Sure I'm biased, but I hear a single.

Country music ain't all about corn bread and chicken.  We dress up every once in a while . . . even though we still wear our cowboy boots to a black tie affair.



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Plain Ole Deviled Eggs

In my previous post, I pretty much attacked 'foodies' everywhere for creating a culture of culinary excess.  Yet, I backed up my argument with 5 minimalist meals that feature only 1 pot, 1 pan, and just 5 ingredients.  Proof positive that you don't have to be a Michelin star chef with a stocked kitchen to pull off excellent meals.

What I didn't do, however is provide you with an outstanding recipe for an essential part of my satire - a plain ole deviled egg.

I shall give credit where credit is due.  These were made by Momma.  In fact, I get quite a bit of my inspiration and culinary knowledge from her.  She's an all-star in the kitchen, and as such I'm always proud to be her sous-chef.  The best part?  Expect a book from her within the year.  Yes, I said it.  The myth, the legend, the culinary god that is Yvonne Moore will be producing and publishing a cookbook.  Watch out Ina Garten - you've got competition!

Of course, you gotta love Momma for keeping it simple.  After-all, these delicacies feature only . . . wait for it . . . 5 ingredients!


Plain Ole Deviled Eggs
12 Large Eggs
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Paprika, garnish

Place eggs into a large pot and cover with at least one inch of water.  Bring water to a slow boil for one minute, cover, and turn off heat.  Allow eggs to sit and cook for 10 - 12 minutes.  Remove eggs and allow to cool.  When eggs have reached room temperature, carefully peel the outer layer and cut in half lengthwise.  Remove yolks and place into a bowl.  Add mayonnaise to bowl and mash using a fork until creamy, adding more mayonnaise if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon yolk mixture back into the eggs and garnish with paprika.  Serve.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Assembly Required

Sometimes I just don't feel like cooking . . . After a long, busy day the idea of getting back to work in the kitchen just feels like too much of a hassle.  I suppose I could always go out for a bite or pick something up, but my wallet and waistline know better.  

Tonight is one of those nights.  I made a quick platter (dinner) based on some ingredients I already had in the fridge.  Perhaps not the healthiest or balanced meal in the world, but that's why I'm enjoying a glass or two of red wine on the side.  

Marinated Olives, Aged Wisconsin Cheddar, Toasted French Bread Cubes, and Sopressata.  

Yes, this is a great appetizer for a date night.

No cooking - just assembly . . .  and delicious to boot!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Perfect Bite Nachos

Thanks to all of those who voted.  We got great feedback on the poll, and the decision came down to the wire.  I got to tell you, it's been a really rough night for me.  Watching re-runs of No Reservations, eating nachos, and drinking beer . . . life is tough.

Ah, you know me better.  It's not often I indulge, so thanks for humoring me.

So, here it is.  My recipe for perfect bite nachos.  Perfect bite you ask?  Done and done.  We've all been there.  That plate of nachos that arrives to the table whereby 40% contain all the goodness and the other 60% are made up of just chips - come on - you know where I'm coming from.  Nobody wants to be "that guy" who always gets the best chip, so instead you binge and purge.  A chip with all of the good stuff (binge), followed by a few mediocre bites of chips and minimal ingredients (purge).

I've solved your problems.  Each nacho is prepared with a little love and care, i.e. each bite is the same.  Sure there's a little work involved, but trust me, the payoff is totally worth it.

One tip - work as fast as possible.  You want your chips to be crisp, especially when loaded down with so many ingredients.  Of course, you can add to what's listed here - seasoned ground beef, grilled chicken, shrimp, etc.  It's up to you.

Gotta say it - Go Pack!

Perfect Bite Nachos

2 Bags Tortilla Chips
32 oz Can Refried Beans
8 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
8 oz Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
1 Jar Sliced Jalapenos
Cherry Tomatoes, sliced thin
Green Onions, sliced thin
Sour Cream

Preheat oven to broil setting.  Spread a thin layer of refried beans on each chip and place onto a baking sheet lined with foil.  Sprinkle generously with cheese, and top each chip with a sliced jalapeno.  Place on the middle rack of the oven and broil until edges are slightly browned and cheese is bubbly, about 1 - 2 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with sliced tomatoes and green onions.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chef Challenge: The Double Date

Editors Note:  This is a guest post by Colin.

This whole cooking thing got real, really fast.  Three meals, cooked at my leisure with no performance anxiety (it happens to lots of chefs , I hear), and now I am cooking for not just an audience, but a double date audience?  On top of that, I gave up home field advantage: I asked to cook the meal at the loft of my good friends to avoid the numerous, numerous shortcomings of my own apartment and cookware.  My mind started to churn up excuses to avoid the obligation, rationalizing to myself that if I wasn't having her over to my actual place for dinner, then the meal didn't count, and I was mercifully spared from this meal's impending failure.  I started hoping to get stood up.  I even started trying to get hung up at work, but alas, nothing could save me from myself, so I grudgingly picked up the poor girl who agreed to be my date, and started the long drumroll to the firing squad.  The only difference was that a good final meal might be the pardon I needed to save me from my fate.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Talk of the Town

In case you missed it, there's still time to impress all of your friends on game day with my recipe for meatball sliders.  Check out the video and recipe here.

Enjoy your weekend!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sweet Basil, Tomato, and Feta Bruschetta