Monday, May 13, 2013

St. Barth Canapes

As I mentioned elsewhere, what we eat while on vacation at St. Barth has very much to do with what we find at the deli counter, and other specialties that happen to be available. Below are some of the canapes. Some arose out of charcuterie arrangements, others as appetizers to take the edge off while I cooked. None were pre-planned, just came out of what was available and what was leftover. 

Canape of Roasted Garlic, Blue cheese, Pear, Cote de Boeuf and Petite Salade

  • Sliced rustic bread, lightly toasted, cut into ~ 2" x 3" pieces
  • Roasted garlic: remove several large cloves of garlic, and saute in olive oil on each side until brown (takes around 15 minutes total)
  • Some sort of rich blue cheese, not sure what we had, but it was nice and creamy. Make sure it's room temperature, or you won't be able to spread it. 
  • Thinly sliced pear
  • Sliced cold Cote de Boeuf (from last night's dinner, otherwise, skip the beef)
  •  Arugula lightly tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette
Toast the bread on both sides. For each canape: Spread the roasted garlic on the toast. Liberally spread on the bleu cheese--at least an 1/8" thick. Fan out the pear slices. Add the sliced beef to the top, then garnish with arugula salad (just a touch). Note, this would work well without any one ingredient. It would suffer if you were missing two. 

Canape of Goat Cheese, Yellow Tomatoes & Spicy Chorizo
  • Sliced bread (baguette, rustic, whatever)
  • Sliced spicy, dried chorizo
  • High water content goat cheese (like Petit Billy)
  • Yellow tomato, sliced
On the bread, place the sliced chorizo, then the goat cheese, then the sliced yellow tomato. Experiment with the ordering, it makes a big difference. Might be nice with julienned basil. 

Canape of Fois Gras Mousse and Fig Jam

Bread, foie gras mousse and fig jam. Wonderful, easy (if you happen to have a grocery store that carries foie gras mousse... ) 

St. Barth Desserts

These were some of the sweet things we devised to cap off the evenings on vacation. Super simple, and very Nutella heavy :) 

Passion Fruit Glace with Nutella Sauce
  • Passion fruit glace (or sorbet)
  • Nutella
Spoon Nutella over the top. I think this would have been better by tempering the Nutella with some whole milk and then cooling, but I was feeling lazy (I was on vacation, right?). At any rate, it was quite nice. 

Mango with Coconut Yogurt (Serves 2)
  • 1 mango, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • Two 4 ounce containers coconut yogurt
Place mango and spoon yogurt over the top. Simple, wonderful, and pretty much guilt free (not that I'm prone to guilt). 

Fromage d'Affinois and Nutella (my personal favorite)
  • Fromage d'Affinois
  • Nutella
Fromage d'Affinois and shaved milk chocolate used to be one of my favorite cheese pairings. This has definitely usurped its place. The fact that the Nutella is almost the same viscosity and texture mean that these two can mix perfectly. It's a wonderful way to offset the austerity of the mango and coconut dessert, or to absorb an awful lot of alcohol at the end of the night, if you find yourself in that position (not that I ever would). 

Raspberry-Orange Duck Breast with Orange, Basil and Golden Raisin Couscous

When we go to St. Barth's is about the only time I cook duck breast--it happens to be there in the store just begging to be paired with something sweet. This is what I came up with this year. I saved the excess sauce and made duck breast sandwiches the next day, adding a lot of mustard to the sauce and adding mache and slices of leyden (a yummy cheese with cumin). 

Serves 4


For duck and sauce
  • 3 large (1/2 pound-ish) duck breasts
  • 3 T butter
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • Orange juice
  • 1 package fresh raspberries
  • Raspberry jam
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For couscous
  • 1 cup couscous cooked according to package directions. (this includes some butter).
  • Add in 1/2 cup golden raisins to couscous before adding water
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 3-4 T julienned basil leaves
  • Salt to taste


Pat each breast dry, then liberally salt and pepper. In a 10" - 12" frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Try to choose a pan that is just big enough to fit the duck in. Otherwise, you will burn the butter, and the sauce won't work as well. Add duck and begin browning, fat side down. Brown each side on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, remove ducks to a plate, and cover with tin foil to allow them to continue cooking. 

Turn heat back on. Deglaze pan by adding a liberal splash of orange juice (around 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup). Add in 2 T raspberry jam, and 1/2 of the orange's zest. And reduce till it coats a spoon nicely. Adjust seasonings to taste, salt, pepper, orange, raspberry. Add fresh raspberries and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat. 

Cook according to package directions, but add in raisins and orange zest before adding water. Fluff, then mix in basil. Salt according to taste, then add some of the duck sauce to enhance the flavor. 


Slice up the duck, it should be medium rare now. Place the couscous on the plate, and fan out sliced duck over the top. Spoon over sauce, but keep a good amount in reserve, so that it doesn't all go to the couscous. Keep sauce on the table with spoons for people to help themselves to more.

Arugula Salad with Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese, Salsa Verde, Poached Egg and Shaved Asparagus

This was one of the many lovely lunches we made while in St. Barth for vacation. The restaurants are prohibitively expensive, but the grocery store (non-plural) is stocked full of great cheeses, cured meats, (wine) and other wonderful French ingredients that inspire one to cook (along with the coercion of the restaurant pricing). 

Serves 2 


  • One 8-10 ounce package washed and dried arugula (or other spicy green)
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped into ~3/4" squares
  • 2-3 ounces high water content goat cheese, e.g. "Petit Billy" or something else where it is still packaged in water. Obviously, you can do one with lower water content if not available
  • 1/4 cup Salsa Verde. See the link, but basically this is just capers minced with parsley, olive oil, salt, a little mustard and any other fresh herbs you have. In St. Barth's we only had basil, so I mixed that in, and the anise-y sub-tone of the basil was a fine substitute for tarragon that I would usually use. I didn't use any garlic or shallots on vacation, and it was fine--maybe better. 
  • Lemon vinaigrette
    • juice of one lemon
    • 1/2 tsp mustard
    • 1 T sugar (or more as needed) or honey if you have it
    • 1/2 tsp salt (more as needed)
    • EVOO  in appx 3-times the volume of the lemon juice
      • Mix top 4 ingredients and then slowly whisk in EVOO until emulsified
  •  2 eggs, poached
    • place in heavily salted (and vinegar-ed, if you have it) water. Cook for two minutes, the remove with a slotted spoon. try to shake off as much water as possible without breaking the yolk
  • (optional) 1/2 bunch asparagus, blanched for 2 minutes, tips removed (and saved) and stalks shaved with a potato peeler


Toss arugula and optional asaparagus (both tips and ribbons) with lemon vinaigrette. Add in half of Salsa Verde and toss "roughly," i.e. so it's not evenly distributed. Arranges salmon, crumbled goat cheese and poached egg on top. Serve with Rose wine :) 

Farro (or Barley) a la Greque

This is basically a Greek salad with some complex carbohydrates added. Very hearty and wonderful for summer. 


  • 1 cup barley (3 cups water). Or farro (I couldn't find it), or wheatberry. 
  • 5 ounces Kalamata olives (in water), diced
  • 1/2 english cucumber, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta (Mt. Vikos, preferably) packed in wter
  • Pesto Sauce to taste (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring barley and water to a boil, then simmer covered for 1 hour. Test and see if chewy. Don't wait till soft. Place barley in a colander and rinse in cold water to stop cooking, and remove the excess glutens. Toss to get rid of the excess water. Mix in all other ingredients, and adjust flavorings (salt, pepper, pesto) to taste. 

Pinot Noir Braised Lamb with Olives and Artichoke Hearts

Serves 8

One of my resolutions this year has been to learn how to braise, an embarrassing omission in my culinary abilities. Once I figured out what it was (ridiculously easy), I decided that I wanted to come up with my own braised lamb dish. This is what I came up with, and we LOVED it. Could be nice with some feta sprinkled on top, too. 


  • 6 pounds lamb shoulder chops
  • Canola oil (why canola? because it has almost no taste and a very high smoke point so it won't burn)
  • 1 bottle decent pinot noir
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Two 29 ounce cans diced tomato, San Marzano brand preferably
  • ~2 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 pint castelvetrano (very green) olives, pitted and roughly chopped. You can get these at Whole Foods in the deli section. They are not pitted, so you'll have to do it yourself. It's not fun, but takes only about 15-20 minutes, which you'll have while this is simmering.
  • 2 pints (appx 5 whole) artichoke hearts, roughly chopped, no stems. You should get the artichoke hearts from the deli rather than canned. The deli ones are far better, and really taste, as opposed to just providing another texture. 
  • 2 small, or one large bulb fennel, sliced into a 2 mm slice.
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Brown rice, cooked according to package directions

Dry each lamb chop with a paper towel, then liberally salt and pepper each. In a 6-8 quart pot, brown all of the lamb in canola oil. You'll need to do several batches. Remove lamb and place to the side and reserve as browned. Once all lamb is browned and removed from the pan, saute the onion and garlic, adding more canola oil if necessary. Add back lamb, then add all of the pinot noir, and all of the tomatoes, including juices. Add 2 cups of chicken stock to start. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for an hour (or so). Continue to simmer until the sauce is fairly viscose, but not stew like. Add water if it starts to get too thick. After an hour of simmering, add in the olives, fennel and artichoke hearts. Cook for another 10 - 20 minutes. The goal here it to get a nice "saucy" viscosity, but not cook out the flavor of the wine. Much more than an hour-and-a-half and you will kill the wine flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve over short grain brown rice. 

Pizza with Goat Cheese, Soppressata, Arugula, Egg and Red Pepper Base

Serves 2 - 3

Special equipment: 16" pizza pan. Pizza pans with holes are best for non-commercial pizza ovens, which only get to 550 degrees max (as opposed to the 800 degrees of commercial pizza and brick ovens).


  • 1 pound frozen pizza dough
  • 6 ounces roasted red pepper in water (you can get these canned or in the deli section). You will use around 1/2 to 1/3 of a standard 12 ounce can
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese, a combination of mozzerella, then asiago, pecorino romano, etc. I used pecorino romano for this, b/c it was left over from making pasta carbonara
  • 2 - 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1-2 ounces sliced soppressata or other spicy dry cured sausage
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 large handfuls of arugula
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • EVOO for brushing
Pre-heat oven to 550 or as high as it will go. Pizza will go on the bottom rack. 

Take the pizza dough out the night before or the morning you plan to make the pizza to give it time to rise. Place it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap such that plastic wrap is touching all of the exposed dough. This will prevent some of the dough from drying out, and as such will make it much easier to stretch into shape. 

Puree the red peppers in a blender or food processor until smooth(ish). This will be the base for your pizza. You should have 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup. 

Gently pull the dough out of the bowl, keeping it in tact to the extent you can. Form into a ball, and place on a floured surface, then cover with flour. Start to form into the disk of the pizza by grabbing a "corner" of dough and letting the rest fall away, then continue doing this moving around and creating a disk. Once you've got a basic disc shape, expand it by placing both fists under the dough and gradually working them around and out. Try VERY hard to not make holes. I've never successfully "patched" a hole, and holes make the crust around them soggy. 

Once the dough is set, place it on the pan, and stretch it over the sides. Brush the edge with EVOO. Evenly spoon the red pepper sauce onto the dough. It will actually be very sparse, otherwise it will be a soup. With pizza, the axiom seems to be: "use less sauce than you think you need, less cheese than you think you need, and more toppings." 

Evenly spread the shredded cheeses, break up the goat cheese and sprinkle around, distribute the soppressata. Keep back the arugula, eggs, and red pepper. 

Place the pizza in the oven and cook for 4 minutes. Crack the eggs onto the pizza and cook for 3-4 more minutes. 2 minutes after you crack the eggs, sprinkle the arugula over the pizza. The combined cooking time will be right at 8 minutes for a ~500 degree oven. 

Serve with crushed red pepper.