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If I Ever Plan Another Excursion….

Another pause from the Spanish Tales to mention a brief visit to an interesting Louisiana city. Natchitoches is in Central Lousiana, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Territory. Initially, it was on the Red River, but a logjam diverted the river and another waterway was formed. It is located  on the Cane River. A dam was built down-river and now the city is on Cane River Lake. Natchitoches was the setting for the movie “Steel Magnolias,” and several of the sites in the movie and other interesting points of interests are available for tours. The church used for the movie is down river near the Melrose Plantation. It was built by Augustin Metoyer for the plantation family, is named St Augustin Catholic Church and has a portrait of St. Augustin at the altar and another of Mr. Metoyer in the church foyer. Still an active church a fund raiser is held each fall to help sustain its activities.

In Natchitoches itself, the French influence permeates the entire town. A charming downtown with New Orleans-style building is across the main street from the river. A park lines the river bank and on the Saturday Night that I visited, two different jazz groups from Northwestern University played a free concert. Later we ate crawfish etoufee at a local restaurant, the Landing. At lunch that day we had mini-meatpies, chicken and sausage gumbo and delicious chicken salad at Merci Beaucoup on Church Street. Since no hotels had rooms (we never figured out exactly what was going on in town except a large wedding), we felt fortunate to find a B&B.

My friend and I drove south along the river to the Melrose Plantation. Our guide, a descendant of the first owner, a slave whose freedom was bought by the Frenchman who fathered 10 of her children, gave us a first-class tour. The owner’s crowning accomplishment, aside from running a plantation, was buying freedom
for all of her children and grandchildren. Her descendants and others are Creoles of color in Central Louisiana. The guide and her daughter recommended a convenience store on the main highway that had meat pies, tamales, crackling and other foods. We tried the delicious meat pies, and I munched on the crispy cracklings for several days.

If you haven’t had a Natchitoches meat pie, either make your own or go to Natchitoches. Even though I’m including a recipe, I highly recommend going to Natchitoches.

Natchitoches Meat Pies
Recipe by Emerille LaGosse, with a few changes

Ingredients

For the filling:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound lean ground meat
1/2 ground pork
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 chopped bell pepper       FYI–These three veggies are called the “trinity” in La cooking.
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
l tablespoon flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
A “dash” of the following: paprika, dried oregano and dried thyme.

For the pastry:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons lard
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water)
Solid vegetable shortening for deep-frying
Or prepared pie crust. (This is a good choice if you make miniature pies. This recipe makes such a rich pie that the minis are a great choice.)

DIRECTION:
In a large skillet heat oil and cook beef and pork, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, Essence, cayenne and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to3 minutes.

Dissolve the flour in the water and add to the meat mixture. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the green onions. Mix well and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour salt, and baking powder. Cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small beat the egg with the milk. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, working it to make a thick dough. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion of dough into a thin round of about 5 inches in diameter. Place about 1/4 cup of meat filling in the center of each round and brush edges lightly with egg wash. Fold edges together and crimp closed with a fork. (If using a prepared dough, just cut as many as possible from the rolled crust. Use the scrap to reform a ball and roll into a round. For miniature pies, cut 3″ circles.)

Heat shortening in a deep pot or electric deep-fryer to 350 degrees F. Fry the pies. To bake, set oven at 350 degrees F. and bake until the crust is golden brown.

Hmm. I have a free evening. These would taste SO-O-O-O-O GOOD.

Happy cooking and eating.

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The Wonderful Tatin

My favorite pan, the TATIN, awaits my attention. I have used it for the Apple Tart Tatin with apples and pears. It’s time for me to branch out into something savory. The Le Creuset Cookbook that accompanies the Tatin includes  recipe for a veggie tart. With all the attention on the Mediterranean diet, this will be my next adventure in the kitchen. The recipe follows:

Mediterranean Vegetable Tarte Tatin
 
Serves 8-10
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Wait: 5 minutes
(Recipe is for a 12 inch pan)
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red or orange peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise into 3/4 inch wide strips
1 lb courgettes, cut into 1/2 inch slices,  aka zucchini squash
1- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1- 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
10-1/2 onions cherry tomatoes
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chopped majorum
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper

10-1/2 puff pastry
1/2 c feta or mozzarella

1. Heat oil in the Tatin  dish and then add the red onion, garlic and pepper. Fry gently on low heat. Add the courgettes and fry longer.
2. Add the red wine and sugar. Cook until the juices turn syrupy.
3. Remove from heat. Add the tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Leave to cool.
4. Spread the dough in a circle of similar diameter to the the top of the dish. Place it over vegetables and tuck in the edges. Punch two or three holes in the pastry.
5. Bake in the center of the oven (400F.) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
6.. Leave to cool in the dish for 5-10 minutes; then, separate the edges with a knife. Turn over on a large serving dish.
7. Dice the cheese and scatter over the top just before serving.

And as all good entree recipes suggest–add a green salad–and as I suggest a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio.

Happy, healthy eanting.
Jo An

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BLT Canapes with Basil Mayonnaise

PRINT RECIPE

Makes 33

2 cups fresh basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2/3 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
11 slices hearty white bread
Vegetable oil spray
11 slices bacon
6 oz cherry tomatoes

Process basil leaves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt to taste.

Adjust 1 oven rack to middle position and second rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
Using 2″ round cutter, cut rounds out of bread (3 per slice), avoiding crust.
Spray both sides of bread rounds with oil spray and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden brown on both sides, about 3 – 5 minutes, flipping rounds halfway through broiling. Let rounds cool completely. (Can be made and held at room temperature for up to 6 hours.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange bacon in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crispy and brown, 10 – 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and let cool completely. Break each bacon slice evenly into 3 short pieces.

Cut tomatoes into 1/3″ thick slices. season with salt and pepper. Spread basil mayonnaise evenly over 1 side of each toast, then top with 1 piece bacon and 1 slice tomato. Sprinkle with chopped basil. Serve.

 

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Our Favorite Holiday Appetizers

One can never have enough favorite appetizer recipes. Here are a few of ours – enjoy!

Bruschetta with Roasted Tomato, Pesto and Mascarpone

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Makes 24

2 pints cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 baguette, cut on the diagonal into 3/8” thick slices

8 oz marscarpone or whipped cream cheese

½ cup basil pesto

 

Preheat oven to 425. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until they collapse and are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

 

Preheat the broiler. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place 6 inches under the broiler and brown on both sides (3 to 4 minutes total).

Spread a liberal amount of mascarpone on each slice of toasted bread, top the mascarpone with a thin layer of pesto, spoon a dollop of the roasted tomatoes in the middle of each slice, making sure not to completely cover up the pesto.

 

Apple, Pear & Walnut Brie Bites

Makes 10 -12

PRINT RECIPE

1 8 oz  wheel of brie, some rind removed, cut into 1 ½” pieces

1 package puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator

½ cup Apple Cranberry Chutney

1 egg plus 2 tablespoons water, slightly beaten

 

Preheat oven to 375. Cut the puff pastry into 4-5” squares. Place one piece of brie in the center of each piece of pastry and top with 1 tablespoon of chutney. Gently gather the edges of the pastry up around the brie and twist at the top. Brush with egg wash and place on parchment on a baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with crackers and apples slices.

Warm Rosemary Olives

Makes 2 Cups

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12 oz kalamata olives

Zest of 1 lemon, grated or cut into fine slivers

Zest of 1 orange, grated or cut into fine slivers

Several sprigs of fresh rosemary

½ cup extra virgin olive

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seed

 

Place olives, lemon and orange zest, rosemary sprigs, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and fennel seed in a saucepan and heat until the herbs sizzle. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature for about 5 hours. Before serving, remove the browned herbs and replenish with fresh, serve garnished with Rosemary Sprigs.

 

  • Make ahead – this will keep for 2 weeks in refrigerator. Allow the olives to come to room temperature before serving.
  • For a bit of Spanish pizzazz, serve these olives with Almonds and a medium bodied dry sherry.

Karyn’s Broiled Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Olives

Serves 6 – 8

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1 # med shrimp, peeled and deveined

12 large green olives, pitted & sliced

8 oz sweet cherry tomatoes, halved

2 T garlic, minced

1 T fresh or dried thyme

1 t salt

1 t black pepper

1 T lemon juice

4T olive oil

Preheat broiled to high. Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and toss to coat. Place ingredients in a baking dish (safe for the broiler) and broil for 5 minutes. Remove dish from oven, stir ingredients to expose uncooked portions of shrimp and return to oven for 2-3 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

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Cooking with Spice: Ful Medames

Have you ever thought “I want to learn more about cooking with spices”? We hear this a lot from our customers, and honestly we feel the same way. There are over 350 spices and herbs in the world, so we are always experimenting with new ones. What are some spices you have on hand in your pantry?

We’ve discovered that while some spices are pretty common and easy to find, the reason “new” spices become popular is because of food trends. A few of the trendy spices right now are Aleppo Chili, Ceylon Cinnamon, Sumac and all kinds of Curries (curries are a blend of different spices).

Here are some tips for storing your spices:

  • Whole spices–like nutmeg–maintain their freshness longer than ground ones.
  • Keep spices and herbs away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight.
  • Spices and herbs will keep for a long time if you store them properly.
  • They don’t spoil, but spices and herbs do lose their strength.
  • Members of the red pepper family, including paprika and chili powder, keep their color and stay fresher when stored in the refrigerator.

Here is a new recipe to try with a few of our favorite spices. Ful Medames is a traditional Egyptian appetizer often served with cut fresh tomato, cucumber and onion, along with some olives and boiled eggs.

Ful Medames 

by Shuli Madmone, owner Whole Spice

Print Recipe Ful Medames

1 16-oz. can cooked small fava beans, with liquid

1/4 cup tahini paste

1/4 tsp. sea salt, or more if the canned favas are unsalted

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. toasted cumin powder

1 tsp. California chili powder

½ tsp. crushed Aleppo chili

4 medium-sized garlic cloves, smashed

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Place fava beans with liquid in a pot and bring to boil. Crush with a potato press till partially mashed. Add tahini paste and mix well to reach a hummus-like consistency. Thin with water if it is too chunky.

Mix the next seven ingredients together to make a salsa.

Spread beans on a plate and add the salsa in the center. Garnish with parsley and enjoy with good friends and family.

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Beef & Arugula Roll Ups

The party season is fast approaching, and it has us thinking about our favorite appetizers. Over the past several years, we’ve tested dozens of appetizer recipes. We know, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

When you’re entertaining, consider these helpful tips as you plan your appetizer menu:

  • Choose recipes that some or all of the preparation can be done ahead of time.
  • Choose appetizers that can be served at room temperature.
  • A cheese platter is always a good idea. Think of it as an edible centerpiece. We like to include three different types of cheeses, assorted nuts, fresh grapes, crackers, and a garnish of fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme.
  • Allow 8 – 12 appetizers per person for cocktail parties.

This recipe for Roast Beef Roll Ups  was one of our most requested catering menu items. It requires absolutley no cooking and can even be made the day before. It is lovely served on a rustic wooden serving board and paired with a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon.

Happy cooking,
The Gourmet Gallery Chefs — Karyn, Jo Ann, Rachel

Beef and Arugula Roll Ups

Makes 24 Roll-ups

PRINT RECIPE

1 lb Seasoned Roast Beef, thinly sliced
4 oz soft cream cheese, Chevre, or shaved Parmesan
2 tablespoons French Dijon Mustard
3 cups fresh arugula
1 red bell pepper sliced in thin strips
Salt & Pepper

PREPARATION INSTRUCTIONS

  1. On a clean work surface, spread each slice of roast beef with a thin layer of  cheese and mustard.
  2. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Lay two to three pieces of arugula and a slice of red bell pepper at one end of each slice of roast beef.
  4. Gently roll up the beef, beginning at the end with the arugula. Secure with a toothpick.
  5. Keep refrigerated until serving. Can be made 1 day ahead.
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Summer Recipes from the Farmers Market

We shared some of our favorite Summer Recipes in a recent cooking demonstration at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market. We love being able to use many fresh fruits and veggies available at the market. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to visit and sample!

Summer Salad With Poached Egg

4 servings

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1 head butter lettuce ( Home Grown Farm)

1 ripe Summer tomato, sliced ( Various Vendors)

two medium Avocado, skin and pit removed & sliced

3 stalks Green onion, chopped (JBG Organic)

¼ lb crisp Bacon, chopped (Richardson Farms)

Roasted red sweet pepper

Beet micro greens (Kin Worthy Harvest)

 

Vinaigrette

1 Tablespoon fresh or 1 tsp dried Tarragon

¼ cup Sandy Oaks Extra virgin olive oil *

2 Tablespoon Champagne vinegar

2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 – 4 Tablespoon Honey, optional (Richardson Farms, Round Rock Honey, C & J Farms)

1 teaspoon lemon zest or 2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 Tablespoon minced shallot (Lightsey Farms, JBG Organic, World Hunger Relief )

 

4 Farm fresh eggs ( Home Grown Farm, World Hunger Relief, Richardson Farms )

White vinegar

Salt and pepper

* Available in our SHOP

For the eggs, start heating a deep skillet or shallow pot with 1 inch deep water. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp white vinegar. Heat the water until it barely bubbles, around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

For salads I recommend using your best farmers market greens and tomatoes, but anything colorful you can find will work.

Chop your greens and vegetables while your water is heating and prepare your salad dressing.

Vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients together and whisk until incorporated.

 

In a large bowl, toss your vegetables with your dressing. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Use tongs to plate your salad and get ready to prep your eggs.

Rinse your eggs and crack them one at a time into a small bowl or large serving spoon. Gently lower each egg into the warm water and release it into the pan (use a larger pan for batches greater than 2). Allow the egg to cook until the yolk has filmed over and the white is set, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove egg with a slotted spoon, drain off water and carefully place the egg on top of your salad. Garnish with pepper and serve immediately. Poached eggs go particularly nicely with sour toast (Artisan Oven).

Grilled Bruschetta with Havarti, Honey and Figs

Makes 32

PRINT RECIPE

1 crusty baguette, sliced into ½” thick slices = 32 (Artisan Oven)

10 oz havarti cheese, cut into thin slices = 32 (Brazos Valley Cheeses)

8 ripe fresh figs, stemmed, quartered lengthwise (Lightsey Farms)

Honey (Richardson Farms, Round Rock Honey, C & J Farms)

Basil Microgreens (Kin Worthy Harvest)

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil. Grill bread until grill marks appear on the first side, about 3 minutes. Turn bread slices over and place grilled side down on a piece of foil. Place 1 cheese slice atop each bread slice and close the grill until cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Transfer bread to a work surface and top each piece with a fig slice. Drizzle lightly with honey and sprinkle lightly with freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to a platter and serve. Garnish with Micro Greens

Option: top with the cheese and fig and then place under a broiler to “toast” the fig. Then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with fresh pepper. Garnish with Microgreens

 

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Pork Tenderloin Crostini Appetizer

Pork Tenderloin Crostini

Pork Tenderloin Crostini Appetizer

30-36 appetizers

½ t salt

1 tablespoon Pepper Creek All Purpose Seasoning (available at Gourmet Gallery)

1 lb pork tenderloin

Baguette-style French bread cut into ¼ – ½” slices, lightly toasted

¼ c Dijon mustard

¾ c Delicae Gourmet raspberry chipotle sauce (available at Gourmet Gallery)

⅓ c crumbled blue cheese

Fresh marjoram leaves

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425. Mix salt and seasoning and coat the mixture over pork. Place pork in a shallow roasting pan. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and let stand for 15 minutes.

 

Spread each bread slice with about ¼ t mustard. Top each with a thin slice of pork, 1 t raspberry sauce, ½ t cheese, and marjoram leaves.

Wine paring: Geyser Peak Pluto’s Fury Pinot Noir

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Summer Ceviche

Summer Ceviche served in glasses rimmed with salt and lime
Summer Ceviche

Summer Ceviche
Makes 8 – 10 servings

1 1/2 pounds seafood, diced small, such as shrimp, scallops, yellowtail or tilapia
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 English cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 ear fresh sweet corn, kernels only
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup Sriracha
1 cup Clamato with Clam Juice or Tabasco Bloody Mary Mix
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
2 firm avocados, sliced, for garnish

In a large bowl with a tight fitting lid, combine the seafood with the lime and orange juices. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally until the flesh becomes firm and opaque, about 3 hours.

Add the tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, corn, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, oil, and Sriracha. Season with salt, pepper and stir. Add the tomato juice and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes, allowing the flavors to marry. Season with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve in chilled bowls or glasses garnished with avocado, lime and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.

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Aioli Deviled Eggs

Aioli Deviled Eggs

 

6 eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup Stonewall Kitchen Aioli

Salt and pepper

Crumbled bacon, cilantro leaf, parsley leaf, paprika, or dill sprig for garnish

Mayonnaise (if needed)

 

Place eggs in a pot large enough for the eggs to be in a single layer. Cover eggs with cold water, enough to cover eggs by 1-inch. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook eggs. 14 minutes for large eggs, 12 minutes for small and medium eggs, and 15 minutes for extra-large and jumbo eggs. Add 1-2 minutes more if eggs are cold directly from refrigerator and not room temperature. Plunge eggs into cold water to prevent further cooking.

Once eggs are cooled peel off shells. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Remove egg yolks to a small bowl. Add Aioli, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth and uniform. If dry add more aioli or mayonnaise. Spoon or pipe egg yolk filling into each white. Garnish and serve.

Tip:  Older eggs are best to use when making hard boiled eggs, they will peel easier. 

Roasted Garlic Aioli
Roasted Garlic Aioli
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Early Summer Recipe


Fried Green Tomato

Late Spring and early Summer is the prime time to find green tomatoes at the Farmers Market. What exactly are green tomatoes? There are two types of green tomatoes, those that are green when fully ripe (generally heirloom varieties), and unripe tomatoes. Here are two recipes for a favorite dish using this seasonal fruit.

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 pinch cayenne

1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk

kosher salt

fresh ground black pepper

4 large unripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices, ends removed

1⁄2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

hot pepper sauce, for serving

lemon wedge, for serving

 

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, and cayenne together.

Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk and then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides well.

Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil.

When the oil is hot, pan-fry the tomatoes (in batches if necessary) until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Carefully remove the tomatoes and drain on paper towels.

Serve with hot pepper sauce and lemon.

 

Crunchy “Baked” Fried Green Tomatoes

4 large firm green tomatoes

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Pam Cooking Spray or olive oil for drizzling

Slice tomatoes 1/8 inch thick. On a large plate mix flour, salt, and pepper. Place yogurt and buttermilk on a second plate, and Panko Bread Crumbs on a third plate. Coat tomatoes with the flour mixture, then the yogurt – buttermilk mixture (you may want to put the yogurt in a small bowl so that dipping them is easier), then the Panko Bread Crumbs.

Place coated tomatoes on a cookie sheet and spray with Pam Cooking Spray liberally on both sides or drizzle them on both sides with olive oil. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 7 minutes on one side then flip them over and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with extra salt and serve warm.

 

Buttermilk dipping sauce: 

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped chives

hot sauce

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped chives and stir to combine. Add a few dashes of hot sauce to taste. Chill until ready to serve.


 

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The Art of the Charcuterie Platter

Now that I’ve typed it what does it mean? It is the branch of cooking devoted top prepared meat products, such as salamis, sausages, terrines, pates and confit.

According to Lori Krieger, the creator of  “Tastes Elevated,” the idea of a perfect charcuterie platter features cured meats paired with artisan condiments, cheeses, breads and a variety of other condiments.

For more ideas watch this space, and come on February  7, to meet Lori and learn first hand.