Olive Oil Poached Tuna Rolls

I’ve always been intrigued by authentic poke, however, sushi-grade tuna in St. Louis, Missouri can be a roll of the dice unless you’re a sushi restaurant.  So for this light yet filling dish, I elected to first poach the tuna in olive oil until it was just pink in the center, then I finished the ‘cooking’ ceviche-style using rice wine vinegar and lemon juice along with aromatic and bold flavors like shallots, jalapeno, pickled ginger, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.  The delicate rice paper was the perfect vehicle to pull all of those wonderful flavors together.

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Chorizo Jalapeño Popper Mummies

Halloween for me always means spooky decorations and playful food.  I decided this year’s theme was going to be mummies so I took traditional jalapeño poppers, added spicy chorizo sausage meatballs and replaced the bacon wrapping with pizza dough.  The combination of the heat from the jalapeño and sausage with the cool creamy cheeses and savory pizza dough made these the perfect spicy Halloween party appetizer!

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Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry Puffs

I love the deep spicy flavors in Indian food, and for many years I was fortunate to have colleagues from India who would generously invite me to their annual Diwali celebration which is the Hindu festival of lights.  One of my favorite Indian delicacies they served was samosas which is a pocket of fried dough filled with a savory mixture of spiced potatoes, onions, peas, or lentils.

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Squid Ink Pasta with Seafood

This recipe is inspired by a dish served at one of my favorite local St. Louis restaurants and is the only item on the menu I order when I go there.  The combination of the wonderfully briny and beautifully black squid ink pasta, delicate scallops, tender lobster meat, and sweet, succulent prawns immediately draw you in, then you’re surprised with the perfect finish of an added layer of acidity using lemon-infused olive oil, lemon juice, fresh parsley, and just a bit of heat from the chili flakes.  Sweet, salty, acidic, and spicy!

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Ratatouille

No, I did not have a ‘little chef’ helping me prepare this recipe. However, I did think about the movie as I was slicing and arranging the vegetables, hoping to achieve that colorful visual that makes ratatouille such a beautiful dish.

You may notice I haven’t included eggplant on my list of ingredients which is a common ingredient in ratatouille.  Baby eggplants work great in this dish, unfortunately, I rarely find baby eggplants where I live, only the larger eggplants which don’t scale well with the size of the squash and Roma tomatoes.  If you’re fortunate enough to have an abundance of baby eggplants in a store near you, by all means, slice a couple of them up and add them to the mix!

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Scarlet Quinoa with Charred Summer Corn Salad

This mouth-watering salad is a virtual farmer’s market in a bowl and is perfect for your next picnic or cookout. The fresh crunchy veggies, bittersweet charred sweet corn, and chewy quinoa tossed in a bright, acidic dressing are the perfect summer flavors to accompany your favorite protein. You can make the salad in advance and store in the refrigerator, however, bring it to room temperature to serve.

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Shrimp and Lobster Pot Pie

I was never a huge fan of the vegetables I found in my pot pie when I was a kid, mainly the peas and carrots. However, I absolutely loved, loved, loved the flaky crust, the tender chunks of chicken and the rich, flavorful gravy.

This recipe is a more adult version of my childhood favorite, instead, I used sweet, tender lobster, delicate shrimp and briny crawfish as the proteins, and replaced the chicken broth with clam juice. The clam juice adds another layer of that great briny seafood flavor without it tasting too fishy. And much to my mother’s delight, I now have no qualms eating peas and carrots, in fact, they’re an absolute must for that nostalgic look and flavor.

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Green Curry Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a very mild vegetable and is most often seen on veggie trays because it has a great crunch and holds up well with thick dips. Roasting cauliflower brings out a sweet, nutty flavor that’s quite unexpected the first time you try it.  The preparation in this recipe by keeping the cauliflower head whole creates wonderful little pockets for the spicy green curry sauce to seep into while it bakes.  And look at the beautiful caramelization on the outer crust!

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