Fruit and Goat Cheese Appetizers

Check out this party pleasing recipe for the holidays. Take any kind of bread you like, the nuttier, fruitier, whole wheatier, crustier the better. Spread any kind of tasty chutney, jam, preserves or jelly you like. My favorite is fig, mixed berry or mango chutney. Top with tangy goat cheese and bake until golden brown. I like to bring these prepared and then baked at the party to make sure they are perfect.

Fruit and Goat Cheese Appetizers

  • 6-12 Sliced Bread, Ciabatta, Baguette, Italian, Pita, Naan, Whole Grain
  • ¼ - ½ C Fruit Spread, Jam, Preserves or Jelly, Any kind you like!
  • 4-8 oz. Goat Cheese
  • Pre heat the oven to 400° F. Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet, spread the jam evenly on each slice of bread, top with goat cheese and fresh pepper. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.

    Sautéed Apple Crisp

    Sautéed Apple Crisp

    In the fall months I love a huge slice of apple pie, but baking a pie is without a doubt the last thing on my list of things to do. I created the recipe below that will give you all of the warmness of a fresh baked pie without any of the work. The first thing you have to do is get some tasty apples and pears, any kind will do. Place the chopped fruit, butter and some dried cranberries into a pan over medium heat and cook them until they are soft.

    While that is cooking you can whip up some homemade whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup. When the apples are almost done, add some of the pumpkin pie spice, which is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Cook for one minute to release the flavors in the spice.

    Place the apples in a bowl and top with ¼ cup of granola, which takes the place of a baked crust or crumble topping. Finally, top the dish with a heaping spoonful of the maple whipped cream.

    This is an easy, quick and tasty recipe for the whole family. You can substitute fresh or frozen, peaches, plums or pineapple and top with any number of granola flavors and creamy toppings.

    Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

    Sautéed Apple Crisp
    Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp. Butter
  • 3 Apples, Cored and Chopped
  • 2 Pears, Cored and Chopped
  • ¼ C Dried Cranberries
  • 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 C Granola
  • 1 C Heavy Cream
  • 2 tbs. Maple Syrup
  • Place a pan over medium heat. Add the butter, apples, pears and dried cranberries to the pan and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. While that is cooking place the cream and maple syrup into a bowl and whisked until thick. Add the spices to the apple mixture and cook for one minute. Serve the apples in a bowl and top with the granola and fresh whipped cream.

    What does "Organic" and "All natural" really mean?

    What does "Organic", "All Natural" and "conventional" terms really mean?

    When you walk into the grocery store there are a lot of words that are thrown around to describe how your food is produced. Words like "all natural" and "organic" are used as sales tools to get you to buy, buy, buy. As a chef I get asked all of time about these products and if the price and quality are really worth the purchase. In this post I am going to tell you what these words actually mean so you can make an educated decision for yourself while at the grocery store.

    First things first, the USDA refers to the word "organic" as food that is grown or produced with no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, irradiation, solvents or additives. The soil that the food is grown in actually needs to be free from those chemicals as well for a 7 year period. Organic meat is produced by feeding the animals organic food throughout its life.

    Pesticides and herbicides are treated on crops to help eliminate insects that tend to harm the food, but the pesticides can be harmful to humans. The concern is that our food chain of plants, animals, humans and mother earth will absorb harmful chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. As these chemicals build up in our bodies they can potentially create havoc on our health and immune system. These chemicals can also build up in the soil and leach into the water system. How great does that sound?

    The term "All Natural" means that the food does not have any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, antibiotics or growth hormones. These products can include many packaged and frozen products as well as meat, seafood, dairy and eggs.

    "Conventional" foods can contain artificial ingredients, pesticides, herbicides and pretty much any other weird and nasty stuff a company wants to throw in (like pink slime and hydrogenated fats). Most of the food in the grocery store that is not specifically marked "organic" or "all natural" is considered to be a conventional product.

    The fact is that foods marked "organic" and "all natural" generally are going to cost more at the register. The big reason for the increased cost to you is because it takes more labor, resources, facilities and quality ingredients to produce these products.

    Should I buy these foods? Factors like budget, proximity to quality grocers and lifestyle can make it easier or harder to try these new foods. Luckily larger grocers, big box stores like Walmart and Target as well as local natural food markets and farmers markets are making it easier to find and purchase these types of foods.

    Is the cost worth it? Now that you know the difference, it's all up to you my friends.

    Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

    Fall Pear and Grape Salad

    Fall Pear and Grape Salad

    The fall harvest is coming in as fast as the cool autumn air. This time of year is an excellent time to switch out your light summer salads with fantastic fall combination certain to keep you trim and satisfied.

    This salad starts out with a pile of hearty fall greens like baby kale, chard and spinach. I like the hearty texture of the greens as well as the incredible health benefits of the raw greens. Next up are the chopped pears and grapes. You can use any types or colors that you like. Feel free to add any other fall fruit like, apples, pomegranate seeds or plums.

    I dress the salad very lightly with a drizzle of a homemade apple cider vinaigrette. Whisking together a little olive oil, a drop of apple cider vinegar and then bringing the flavors together with some mustard, honey, salt and pepper will give you a perfect and inexpensive dressing for your greens and fruit.

    Remember that once you dress the salad it should be served immediately or the greens will wilt. If you want to make this salad a meal, feel free to top with grilled salmon or chicken.

    Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

    Fall Pear and Grape Salad

  • 1 Apple, Chopped and Cored
  • ½ C Grapes, Sliced
  • 4 oz Dark Greens, Spinach, Chard, Kale
  • 2 tbs Sunflower Seeds or Walnuts
  • Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of dressing and serve ASAP.

    Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Mustard
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • Salt, Pepper and Herbs
  • Place the tomato, avocado and cucumber in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard and honey until smooth. Season the dressing with salt, pepper and dried herbs.

    Baltimore’s Best Mac and Cheese Recipe 2012

    Baltimore's Best Mac and Cheese Recipe 2012 - Chef Egg's Fonduelicious Mac and Cheese

    This weekend I had the pleasure to be a contestant in 2012 Great Baltimore Mac Off at this year's Hampdenfest in Hampden Baltimore. My goal was to offer a dish (the sample in the middle of the pic) that was classic with a unique twist that would be unmatched by other contestants. I also wanted a dish that could stand a two hour serving time without congealing into a hard rubbery, grainy mess.

    I chose to make a classic mac and cheese recipe starting out with rendering bacon and sautéing onions in the fat. Next I added flour to create a roux, which thickens the sauce and helps the cheese to melt with out separating. After cooking the roux for 5 minutes I slowly whisked in the cold milk to create a classis béchamel sauce. Next I added a pinch of nutmeg and brandy to flavor the sauce in the fondue style.

    As for the cheese; most mac and cheese recipes are great, but turn out grainy and not creamy. This surely boils down to your choice of cheeses when creating the recipe. After my research and development I found that mixture of 4 cheese, Tullimook medium white cheddar, Sea Side sharp white cheddar, Pecorino Romano and Emi gruyere reserve provided me with a well balanced, flavorful, rich and creamy sauce.

    I slowly whisked in the cheese until smooth and then poured the sauce over par- cooked cavatelli pasta, which is like a larger twisty macaroni. I cooked the dish in the oven until golden brow fro about 30 minutes. The loose sauce had enough moisture to finish cooking the pasta and create a creamy sauce even after 2 hours of sevice. While that cooked I made a simple salad of chopped green apple, red grapes and fresh tarragon. This crunchy and colorful salad was the unique garnish for the top of my dish.

    After over 2 hours of tasting and judging the winners were announced. Much to my surprise I won the coveted "Peoples Choice Award" and was given an awesome gift basket with gifts from the shops on 36th st. aka "The Avenue". To top it off I got a super sweet trophy topped with a chef and covered in flames. Other winners included critics choice (amateur) Libby Franis Bauder and critics choice (professional) Trinity Fisher of Alchemy.

    This was my first public cooking competition I entered and could not be happier with the experience and results. Thank you to all of the organizers, volunteers and people that came out to participate and we will see you next year!

    Chef Egg's Fonduelicious Mac and Cheese

    • 6 Bacon strips, sliced
    • 1/3 C Flour
    • 4 tbsp. Butter
    • 1 Onion, Diced
    • 1/2 gal. Whole Milk
    • ½ C Brandy
    • 1lb. Macaroni, half cooked
    • 18 oz. White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
    • 8 oz. Gruyere Cheese, shredded
    • 4 oz. Pecorino Romano Cheese, Shredded
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 1 C Crushed Sun Chips
    • Place the bacon in a pot over medium heat and cook until crisp then remove. Add the butter to the bacon fat, and cook the onion until soft. Stir in the flour and cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Slowly whisk in the milk then simmer on low heat for 15 minutes whisking constantly until thick. Stir in the brandy then whisk in the ¾ of the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Mix the cooked pasta and cheese sauce, place in a buttered baking dish, top with the rest of the cheese and bacon and cook at 350 F for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Garnish with sun chips and the apple and grape mixture.

    • 1 Apple, diced
    • 2 C Grapes, sliced
    • 1 Lemon, juiced
    • 2 tbsp. Fresh Tarragon, chopped (optional)
    • Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and serve as a garnish.

    Chef Egg's Top 5 BBQ Tips

    Chef Egg's Top 5 BBQ Tips

    I love BBQ, next to Tacos it is my all time favorite food. BBQ is an American staple with influences from all over the world. From Brazillian churrasco, slowly roasted Thai suckling pig and Middle Eastern kabob to the many regional styles in the states, BBQ is one of the greatest and most delicious culinary feats ever!

    Roasting, smoking and slow cooking cuts of meat over long periods of time comes from our ancestors need to utilize tough inexpensive cuts to feed large families. This cooking process leaves you with the most tender and mouth watering meats dishes.

    Follow these simple tips below to make sure your grilling experience is easy, fun and successful.

    1. Clean your grill well before cooking to reduce carbon build up, sticking foods and to get great grill marks. Start with a wire brush or a ball of tin foil. Next, heat the grill; clean the hot grates with a wet rag and tongs. When the grill is clean and hot, rub the grates with oil to season.

    2. Do not marinade meats in marinades and sauces with sugar. This will cause the sugars to burn on the meat before it cooks through. Cook meats thoroughly before slathering with BBQ sauce. Once the sauce is on then you can char it over high heat before serving.

    3. Start thick cuts of meat over medium/ high heat to create a seared crust that seals in flavor and juices. Once the crust has formed, place the cut of meat over medium low heat to cook through.

    4. You can use the grill to cook fruits and vegetables. Keep these foods in large pieces when you place them on the grill so they don't fall through. Skinny veggies like asparagus and carrots can be placed across the grates to prevent them from falling though to the fire below.

    5. KISS – Keep It Simple Stoopid! There are a million sauces, seasonings and marinades on the market and they will all give you vastly different results. Remember to keep it simple! A little olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and lemon will take you a long way with most grilled foods. This classic combination tastes great on grilled fish, seafood, meats, veggies, fruit and even baked good.

    *Remember to be safe when grilling. Keep the grill set away from the house, awnings or anything that can catch fire. Most importantly, keep all kids, pets and drunk people away from hot grills when you are cooking a coolling the grill.

    Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

    Grocery Shopping for College Students

    Grocery Shopping for College Students

    Starting a new school year away from home cooking can lead to tons of fast food, convenience foods and a bad case of the dining hall bubble guts. In this post I am going to teach you how to stock your kitchen with fresh foods, new flavors and endless possibilities, all within a small budget.

    The first step in grasping your culinary freedom is to go to the grocery store with your friends and roommates. Combining funds on basic kitchen staples will save you time and money while increasing options and flavor combinations. Start with a list of essential items, a budget, a solid plan and most importantly, NEVER SHOP with THE MUNCHIES!!!

    I am going to walk you through the grocery store with one mission at hand: To buy food that is fresh, on the cheap, that provides good energy and can be switched up for different combinations all week long.

    US Soldier Made Summer Fruit Shortcake

    Chef Egg at Walter Reed Army Hospital: Summer Fruit Shortcake

    The highlight of my job as the "world coolest cooking teacher" is when I go to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda and cook with the wounded soldiers. I have been working with the injured service men and women once a month of for the past 4 years.

    These brave soldiers have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan on security operation and are at Walter Reed recuperating from a variety of ailments. The injuries that I see in the occupational therapy ward are TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries), PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) and limb amputations. The soldiers are working on physical and mental skills in an effort to get back on track with ever day life. During our cooking groups they are learning skills including dexterity, flexibility, life skills and sequencing events. Needless to say my teaching skills and patients are in full effect while working in this environment.

    Sonic Strawberry Limeade

    My all time favorite summer beverage is Sonic's sparkling strawberry limeade. I am not a fast food fan and let get this straight, Sonic's food is horrible but, of the one hundred original drinks they serve, the limeade line is the absolute best.

    I usually stop at Sonic during the summer months for this tasty beverage. After one visit on an especially hot day it struck me that I could make this nectar of the gods at home and for very little money.

    The recipe below makes a 1 pint serving and cost less than a dollar. The best part about this drink is that it is basically a fresh strawberry daiquiri and can be made for kids and adults. Just add a shot of vodka, rum or flavored fruit liquors to really get the party started.

    You will find the strawberries in sugar syrup ($2.99) and limeade ($1.99) in the frozen isle of your grocery store. You can use any kind of sparkling water for this recipe; I find that canned seltzer or club soda work the best because they both have big effervescent bubbles that last. I just got a soda stream so I got fizzy bubbly for days!

    Sonic's Sparkling Strawberry Limeade

  • 1/4 C Frozen Strawberries in Sugar, defrosted
  • 1/4 C Minutemade Limeade Concentrate, defrosted
  • 1/4 Lime, juiced
  • 1C Ice
  • 1C Seltzer, ice cold
  • Place the ice, strawberries and limeade in a pint glass. Squeeze the lime in the glass then throw it in. Stir in the ice cold seltzer and enjoy. You can add more or less limeade to suit your taste.

    Summer Stoned Fruit Salad

    Last weekend I had the pleasure of performing a cooking demo at the Fresh Farms Famers Market in Silver Spring Maryland. Like most farmers markets throughout the world, this one was filled with fantastic local products (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania) sold by the farmers and artisans themselves. This week's market had local farmers, bakers, meat producers, florists, cheese mongers, and a guy selling some killer kettle corn.

    When I first arrive at the market I like to walk through to see what's hot. This week stone fruits were overflowing from all of the farmer's stalls. Stone fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots, pluot (plum and apricot hybrid) are soft-fleshed fruits with a seed on the inside that is covered with an hard outer shell. They main harvest comes during mid summer and from the sites at the market, this is going to be a good year.

    Stone fruits can be grilled, cooked into jellies and jams, made into wines and brandy, frozen and canned, and also blended in smoothies, ice cream and sorbets. During the blazing hot summer I like to make a cool fruit salad and serve it over ice cream. Check out the recipe below for my summer stoned fruit salad and Get Crackin' today!

    Chef Egg's Summer Stoned Fruit Salad

  • 6 Peaches, chopped
  • 8 Apricots, chopped
  • 6 Plums, chopped
  • 1 pt. Blueberries
  • 3 tbsp. Sunflower Seeds or Sliced Almonds
  • 1 tbsp. Blueberry Jam, you can sub any jam or jelly you like
  • 1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Orange Juice or Grand Marnier
  • Wisk the dressing ingredients together and toss with the stone fruits, blueberries and sunflower seeds.

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