Easy Appetizer Recipe for the Ages

Easy Appetizer Recipe for the Ages



The New Year calls for a look at one’s past and fresh applications of it in the future. Martha Stewart inspired my culinary career with her very first book of recipes and stories of her catering company. My best pals and I were starting a catering company at the time, and unabashedly borrowed from her tried and true dishes.

This week, with a house full of hungry family, easy make ahead nibbles are a must. I channeled my inner Martha and recreated one of those recipes. Simply cook tortellini pasta. Drain and place into a bowl with your favorite vinaigrette. Skewer the tortellini on small picks alternating with a baby tomato. Offer Parmesan dipping sauce on the side, and there you have it. You can make everything the day ahead and serve it at room temperature. See how easy?

As I write this, I just viewed an ad for Martha’s Marley Spoon home meal delivery program. Just when the likes of Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are working their way into our weekly meal planning, here comes the queen! I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings!!

Tortellini Skewers

Makes 3. 5 dozen

Parmesan Dipping Sauce

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup

Juice from 1 large lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon chopped, fresh dill

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground white pepper


1 ½ pounds fresh tortellini

1 pint grape tomatoes

½ cup vinaigrette

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.  (Bring to room temperature before using.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook the tortellini until just tender.  Drain the pasta into a bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss in the vinaigrette. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.  (Bring to room temperature before using.)

Skewer one tortellini on a small pick, alternating with a half of a tomato and another tortellini. Serve with dipping sauce.

Ina vs Martha: The Brownie Wars!

Ina vs Martha: The Brownie Wars!

Since her first book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was published in 1999, my go-to recipe for chocolatey, fudgy, cravingly essential brownies has been Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies. But, the world turns, time passes deliciously, and I replaced it with a new favorite. Ms. Martha has done the unimaginable…. re-invented the best brownie recipe, Dark Chocolate-Spelt Brownies from her new book A New Way to Bake.

Martha’s book takes classic recipes and updates them with new ingredients from the modern pantry that she touts as better-for-you. She uses different varieties of flours, whole fats with some fat substitutes and natural cane sugar for a start.

I’ve made her brownie recipe several times varying the flour and the type of chocolate and it’s a winner each time. There’s method to this brownie madness! Martha’s recipe uses one bowl, and offers the technique of whisking the eggs into the batter for at least one full minute, in order to create the shiny, crackly top that is so very enticing! Her book calls for spelt flour which is an ancient strain of wheat, with a nutty flavor and a lighter texture than whole wheat. I’ve made the recipe using graham flour, crema pastry flour and whole wheat flour, and my favorite is the pastry flour.

Here’s my version of Martha’s brownie recipe. Let me know what you think. I know I’m a fan!!

These were gone within a single hour! Every. Last. Crumb. These were gone within a single hour! Every. Last. Crumb.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Deeply chocolate, lovely with vanilla ice cream, cravingly delicious, you must make this your go-to brownie recipe. It’s a winner.

Yield: 16

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, 1 stick

6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, about 1 ¼ cups

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cups brown sugar

3 large eggs

¼ unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup crema pastry flour (substitute will unbleached all-purpose flour)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Coat the parchment with spray.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugars. Whisk in the eggs until combined. Whisk the batter for 1 minute. (This will create a shiny, crunchy top for the brownies.) Whisk in the cocoa and flour.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake, until a tester inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan. Remove from the pan by pulling on the parchment paper overhang. Transfer to your work surface and cut into 16 (1-inch) squares.