Start of Summer Winesday

Smoked Salmon and Fresh Dill Appetizer

Serves 4

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 7oz smoked salmon
  • 4oz plain cream cheese
  • 20 crackers (cocktail rye toast, wheat crackers, or
    whole grain crackers work the best)
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • Fresh lemon juice

How to Do It

1.  Assemble crackers by spreading cream cheese on each and topping with slices of smoked salmon and chopped dill. Sprinkle fresh lemon juice over crackers, and enjoy. 🙂

Original recipe courtesy of Miss Emily.

Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells

Serves 4

Stuff You’ll Need

  • Salt
  • 20 large pasta shells
  • 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 7 to 8 leaves basil, torn
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 10-ounce box chopped frozen spinach, defrosted or 3/4 pound fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen baby or regular artichoke hearts, defrosted and chopped
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

How to Do It

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil the pasta. When the water reaches a bubble, salt it well, drop the shells in and cook them to al dente according to package directions. Drain the cooked shells, and shock them under cold water to stop them from cooking.
  2. While the shells are cooking, mash up the tomatoes in the bottom of a casserole dish. Stir in the butter, basil, some salt and pepper into the dish, and set aside.
  3. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with extra virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until aromatic and light golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the spinach, and nutmeg to the pan, and cook to heat through.
  4. Transfer the spinach to a large bowl and stir in the artichokes, ricotta, Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon zest, thyme, egg yolk, parsley, some salt and pepper. Fill the reserved pasta shells with the mixture, arranging them on top of the sauce in the casserole dish as you complete them.
  5. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and turn the oven up to 425˚F. Continue cooking until the filling is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes more.

Recipe from

I found this Martha Stewart recipe while scanning through the pages of her book on tarts and pies. Maybe it’s the warm summer air, the lack of air conditioning in my apartment, or just the desire to try something new, but I’ve been very into the idea of tarts lately. I knew I wanted to make something a little more special because Jess and Emily would both be there, but I wasn’t sure of what either of them disliked. I came across the photo of this while I was in Williams & Sonoma (a luxurious heaven for those of us culinary enthusiasts who wish to dream of having such cool tools) while on vacation with Amber, and I nearly ripped out the page to save it. I took the more conspicuous route and typed it on my iPhone notepad. Once I was home, I easily found it on It’s a fairly easy recipe that can be modified in several different ways. I added strawberry preserves to the filling because I knew it would break up the rich chocolate and give it a lighter taste. I considered adding fresh strawberries, but it was easier to work with preserves. Also, rather than use ground espresso beans, I used Mocha Nut Fudge flavored coffee from Green Mountain. A K-Cup is approximately two tablespoons (and a bit less expensive than espresso beans though not as bold), and the strength and flavor of the coffee you use in the recipe could have a strong effect on the outcome of the dessert. Martha’s recipe calls for a 14 x 4” rectangular flan pan to give the tart a beautiful presentation, but I used a round 10” tart pan because I didn’t have the called-for cookware. Presentation was still lovely, and the taste, of course, was still delicious. I love using mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese because it has a softer texture and a more mild taste. It acts as a great replacement for cream cheese to make a lighter dessert also, but because it doesn’t quite have the density of cream cheese, it won’t hold up as firmly when it’s used for frosting. In this recipe, the mascarpone stands alone, and it cuts the richness of the bittersweet chocolate.

 Chocolate Espresso Tart

Serves 8

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality ground espresso beans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment paper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup strawberry preserves
  • Tart pan or rectangular pan

How to Do It

  1. Begin by making the chocolate ganache. Put chopped chocolate into a medium-sized stainless steel or other heatproof bowl. Bring 1 ¼ cups heavy cream and the espresso to a boil, and remove from heat. Use a fine sieve if the espresso beans were not finely ground to pour hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for two minutes, and then whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature and firm texture, 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Next, make the tart shell. Sift flour, salt, and cocoa powder into a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar by using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the 3 Tbsp of heavy cream, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Do not over mix. Shape dough into a thick rectangle (or ball if you are using a tart pan); wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the dough is cold, about 30 minutes. Dough will be soft and moist.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out cold dough between 2 pieces of lightly floured parchment paper to a 16-by-6” rectangle, ¼” thick if using a rectangular pan. Roll into an even circle about ¼” thick if using a tart pan. Press dough into gently into pan, and trim the top edges by rolling the rolling pan once along the top edges of the pan. Remove extra dough, and prick all over the bottom of the shell with a fork. Place pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake until firm, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely before unmolding.
  4. When the tart shell is completely cooled, spread mascarpone cheese along the bottom of the shell with an offset spatula. Spread strawberry preserves on top of the cheese.
  5. Put the cooled chocolate ganache into the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the whip attachment to beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a pastry bag with a star tip.
  6. Pipe ganache rosettes on top of the strawberry preserves to completely cover the tart.

Adapted from

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