Chef Yolanda Banks

Epicurean, Culinary Instructor & Cookbook Author

Acquire a taste for Fresh Fabulous

Bringing seasonal, healthy, global cuisine to your kitchen.

Fresh is Fabulous

I make delicious food that happens to be healthy... moderation over deprivation!

Starters & Nibbles

Asian Ahi Tartare on Endive Leaf
If you can’t find sushi grade tuna at the grocery store, buy it at the local sushi restaurant and ask them to dice it for you. It saves time and you can be sure it is super fresh! The soy dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance. You can combine the tuna, green onions, and cilantro up to 3 hours in advance. Keep in a non-reactive bowl, covered, and refrigerated until ready to use. Add avocado right before combining with soy dressing.Ingredients1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon yuzu juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 pound Ahi tuna, small dice
2 large avocados, small dice
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 Endive heads, core removed, leaves separated
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, for garnish

Method
1.  In a small bowl, combine ginger, garlic, wasabi paste, soy sauce, yuzu, and sesame oil; mix well.  Set aside.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine tuna, avocado, green onions, and cilantro; using a spatula or clean hands, gently stir in the soy dressing.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
3.  Arrange endive leaves on a platter.  Place 1 tablespoon of tuna mixture onto core end of endive.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Serve at once.

Notes

Yuzu is a citrus fruit originating in East Asia.  It is believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Baba Ghanoush
Baba Ghannouj or Baba Ghanoush is a Middle Eastern dish made of eggplant and other seasonings. It is eaten as a dip and served with pita bread. I like to serve it with any variety of crudite as well.Ingredients

2 large Japenese eggplants
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin, toasted
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 medium lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
water, as needed
1 tablespoon pistachios, finely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce eggplants all over with a fork, this allows steam to escape and prevents the eggplants from exploding. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until skin is brown and blistered. Remove and allow to cool.
2. Split the eggplants open and scoop out the flesh, discard the skin. Place pulp into a sieve and squeeze to remove excess liquid.
3. Transfer eggplant to a food processor, add garlic through pepper. Pulse several times to make a thick puree, as water as needed to reach desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store, covered in a plastic container in the refrigerator. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes prior to serving.
4. Garnish with pistachios and pomegranates seeds.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Caprese Polenta Cakes with Pesto
Ingredients2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup quick cooking polenta
1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
1/3 cup fresh mozzerella, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
18 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded
1/4 cup store-bought pesto
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonnadeMethod1. Bring broth and salt to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and gradually whisk in polenta, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring until thickened, 5 minutes. Add heavy cream, if using. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Pour polenta into a greased 9 x 9 dish, spread polenta evenly. Cover and let sit at room temperature until firm, about 15 minutes.
2. Turn the oven to broil and place rack 4 inches from the top of the oven. To assemble: Spray a parchment-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut polenta into bite-size squares or circles using a cookie cutter; arrange on cookie sheet.
3. Place a tomato half cut side down onto each cake, pressing to adhere; sprinkle with cheese. (Cakes can be made one day in advance to this point. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. Remove from fridge and let sit until cakes are room temperature, about 1 hour.)
4. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese melts. Place pesto in a squeeze bottle and drizzle cakes; sprinkle with basil. Place cakes onto a glass pedestal lined with a square of unbleached parchment. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Source
Yolanda Banks

Chipotle Cheese Fondue
Ingredients2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/3 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 cups Emmenthal cheese, shredded
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
3 canned chipotles, finely chopped
1/2 cup fried shallots
1/4 cup cooked bacon

Method

1. Rub a medium saucepan with both cloves of garlic. Add wine and lemon juice; bring      to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
2. In a medium bowl, combine both cheeses, cornstarch, nutmeg, and chipotles; mix     well.
3. Add cheese mixture 1/2 a cup at a time, to wine mixture; stirring to combine. Repeat     until all cheese is gone.
4. Once all the cheese has melted, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
5. Add shallots and bacon; stir well. Serve warm.

Servings 6Source
Yolanda Banks

Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients1 pound chorizo sausage, ground
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped with a damp towel, stems carefully removed and finely    chopped
2 tablespoons white tequila
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, lightly toasted
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, once the pan is hot, add chorizo.
3. Cook chorizo, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat; cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add onions, garlic, and mushrooms stems to the pan; cook until the vegetables have softened, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Add tequila and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in the     bread crumbs.
6. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Once the filling has cooled, stir in the eggs and cilantro.
7. Divide the filling evenly among the mushroom caps, mounding it into the caps. Place them into a casserole dish and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Creole BBQ Shrimp
I love to serve this with crusty bread, rosemary biscuits, or over creamy stone-ground grits.Ingredients2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact (U12-15)
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning, divided
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 whole bay leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 large lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, coldMethod

1. Toss shrimp and 1 tablespoon seasoning in a large bowl; set aside.
2. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add oil. Add shallots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and remaining seasoning.
3. Saute until shallots become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add shrimp, cook for 1 minute, stirring. Transfer shrimp to a plate; set aside.
4. Add wine, reduce by half; about 2 minutes. Add worcestershire and chicken stock; simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
5. Once sauce has thickened slightly, add butter, stirring constantly until butter has melted. 6. Return shrimp to pan; cook for about 2 minutes or until shrimp is hot and just cooked through. Stir in parsley; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Servings 6Source
Yolanda Banks

Crostini with Brie and Apple Butter
If you can find camembert, use it instead of brie. It is creamier, richer, and more flavorful than brie.Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
16 slices baguette
1/3 cup apple butter, (recipe follows)
16 slices brie or camembert, rind removed
1/4 cup fresh sage, chiffonade
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 cups apple cider
2 sticks cinnamon
3 whole star anise
1 tablespoon vanilla

Method

Spiced Apple Butter1. Put all ingredients except vanilla in a large crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours or overnight.
2. Uncover and cook until thick and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. When the apple butter is done, turn off the crock pot and add the vanilla.
3. While the butter cools slightly, place jars and lids in the dishwasher on rinse cycle to sterilize. Let dry completely in the dishwasher.
4. Fill warm jars with warm apple butter. Keeps for up to 6 months in the pantry, 1 year in the freezer.

Crostini

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil. Place bread on a baking sheet and bake for 2-3 minutes per side, or until lightly toasted. (To reserve for later use, cool toast completely and place into a Ziplock.)
2. Turn the oven on broil, and assemble the crostini. Place 1 teaspoon of apple butter on crostini, top with a slice of brie. Repeat with remaining crostini; transfer to a baking sheet.
3. Broil for 2 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Sprinkle sage over each crostini; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Cucumbers with Vietnamese Crab Salad
Any variation on this salad will work. If you don’t like mint, add basil and omit cilantro. If you don’t have fish sauce, use soy or omit it all together.Ingredients

2 large English cucumbers, sliced into 1″ rounds
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 whole red chiles, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh mint, finely chopped
16 ounces fresh crab meat, picked clean
gray salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

1. Rinse cucumber and slice. Using a melon baller, make a small well in the center of the cucumber, making sure not to go through to the bottom. Place slices in a single layer on a paper towel-lined baking sheet; sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
2. While cucumbers sit, make crab salad. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except crab, salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. When ready to serve; use a teaspoon to fill the cucumbers with the salad. Continue to fill cucumbers until salad is gone. Garnish with cilantro and mint and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on top.
3. To serve: Place cucumbers onto a clean glass block or marble tile. (This will allow the cucumbers to stay cool for an extended period of time.) Serve within a couple of hours.

Notes

The crab salad can be made the morning of the party. It will release some excess liquid if it sits; just place in a strainer 30 minutes before serving. It’s best that the salad isn’t ice cold, so you can taste the flavors better.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Falafel w/ Tahini Sauce
Falafel is a deep fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans. The Egyptians are said to have made the dish as a replacement for meat during lent. It is considered the national dish of Israel, but is eaten all over the Middle East.Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup tahini paste, (sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup hot water
1 large lemon, juiced
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

1. In a food processor combine chickpeas through olive oil; pulse until crumbly and mixture resembles wet bread crumbs. (DO NOT OVERMIX!) The falafel mixture can be made 1 day in advance to this point; refrigerate, covered.
2. If making falafel patties right away, use 2 Tablespoons or a small ice cream scoop to form balls, then flatten with your palm. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray. Patties can be made 1 day in advance to this point, refrigerate, covered. Once patties have been formed, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray top of patties with cooking spray. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy on the outside. Serve immediately with Tahini Sauce for dipping. If you would like, feel free to fry them. (The traditional falafel preparation calls for deep frying the patties or balls. I prefer baking them at a high heat. It gives them a wonderful texture without the fat and mess of frying.)
4. For the Tahini Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.Notes

Tahini paste is ground sesame seeds. It can be found in the international isle of most grocery stores. It is commonly found in Hummus.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Five Spice Pecans
All nuts work for this preparation; including, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, etc. Make sure they are whole, unsalted nuts. You can also experiment with different spice combinations; such as, curry, cardamom, cinnamon, ancho chile powder.Ingredients

2 cups whole pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese five spice powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional

Method

1. Place a large skillet over medium-low heat; add pecans. Toast lightly, shaking pan every 30 seconds, for about 2 minutes. Add butter, if using, five spice and brown sugar to pan; stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
2. Continue to cook until brown sugar melts and spices coat the nuts, about 2 minutes. Add water and stir constantly to de-glaze pan. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool. Season with salt immediately and shake to coat evenly. Cool completely. (Nuts will be soft until they cool.) To serve nuts, place in small paper cones or other interesting vessel. These nuts will keep indefinitely in the freezer or keep in a Ziplock in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Notes

I like to give these nuts as gifts. You can give them to guests after a dinner party, give them as a hostess gift or give them away for no occasion at all. Label a pretty jar, or cellophane bag with the contents, some raffia or ribbon and you’re done.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Green Olive & Goat Cheese Crostini
It seems unexpected, but green olives and oranges are a match made in heaven!Ingredients1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup pitted green olives, such as Picholine, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
16 1/2-inch thick slices french bread
1 6-ounce log soft goat cheese, sliced into 16 roundsMethod

1. In a small bowl, combine olives through parsley; mix well. Taste and add salt if necessary. (The olives are already salty so you may not need the extra salt.)
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread onto a baking sheet; toast for about 3 minutes per side or until lightly golden on each side. Turn the oven to broil.
3. To serve, place goat cheese slices onto bread. Place under the broiler for about 1 minute or until just melting. Spoon about 1/2 tablespoon of olive mixture over each crostini. Serve warm.

Notes

The olive mixture tastes better if made in advance. It can be made up to 5 days in advance. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Servings 8Source
Yolanda Banks

Homemade Bratwurst Bites
Serve with soft pretzel rolls, warm sauerkraut and mustard.Ingredients

1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground caraway
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup lager beer, divided
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
Horseradish Mustard Sauce
2 tablespoons prepared white horseradish
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
kosher salt, to taste
sauerkraut, warmed

Method

1. In a medium bowl combine all the spices and beer; stir well to combine. Add the pork and veal; mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Form mixture using a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop; roll into uniform balls. Transfer meatballs to a baking sheet lined with parchment. (The meatballs can be formed up to 1 day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before baking.)
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast meatballs for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown and juices run clear. Transfer to a platter.
4. Horseradish Mustard Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; mix well. Taste and add salt if necessary.
5. To assemble: Place warm kraut onto a roll, top with meatball and mustard. The meatballs can also be served without the roll. I like to put a little bit of kraut onto a Chinese soup spoon, top it with a meatball, then put a little mustard sauce on top.

Notes

The meatballs can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. The sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Hot Crab Dip
If you’d like a more full-fat version of this dip, feel free to substitute Mayo for the yogurt and regular cream cheese for the reduced-fat. Serve with pita chips, crostini or tortilla chips.Ingredients

1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon hot sauce, preferably Cholula
1 lime, juiced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces fresh crab meat, picked clean, preferably lump crab
1 16-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, roughly chopped, thawed, drained
1/4 cup panko bread crumbsMethod1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating, combine cream cheese through Jack cheese in a medium bowl; mix well.
2. Gently fold in crabmeat and artichokes, stirring gently with clean hands to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Distribute panko evenly on top of dip.
3. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Notes

This dip can be prepared, covered, and refrigerated up to one day in advance. Remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Italian Nectarine Wraps with Balsamic Syrup
Ingredients1 cup balsamic vinegar
4 peaches, halved, pitted
8 slices serrano ham
16 fresh basil leaves
1/2 pound fresh burrata, sliced

Method

1. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat, coat with nonstick spray.
2. Boil vinegar in a small saucepan over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 12 minutes.     (Be careful not to over-reduce; the syrup can scorch.)
3. Grill peach halves cut side down for 3-5 minutes; cut each in half again.
4. Slice ham in half lengthwise, making 16 strips.
5. Assemble basil and cheese on a peaches, then wrap with ham; repeat with remaining     ingredients. (May be assembled up to 3 hours before serving.)
6. Before serving, drizzle wraps with balsamic syrup.NotesBalsamic syrup can be made well in advance. Place in a non-reactive container and cover. The syrup keeps in the refrigerator for months.

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Yolanda Banks

Italian Sausage Balls with Chimichurri
Ingredients1 1/2 pounds fresh mild Italian turkey sausage
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground oregano
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
Chimichurri, recipe from Cooking for your Man

Method

1.  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead well until the mixture holds together.  Use a heaping teaspoon to scoop mixture into bite-size meatballs, if using Chinese soup spoons.  Roll between hands to form a ball; repeat until mixture is gone.  Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours before cooking.
2.  When ready to cook, remove from fridge and let sit for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roast in oven for 4 minutes; turn and cook 4 minutes longer or until just cooked through.  Remove from oven, cover with foil to keep warm.
3.  To serve:  Place Chinese soup spoons onto a tray lined with ginger or palm leaves. Place meatballs into spoons, spoon chimichurri on top of each meatball; serve warm.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Khao-Pod Tod or Sweet Corn Fritters
Khao-Pod Tod is a variation of Tod Man Plaa or fish cakes. Along with fish cakes they are a popular street food served throughout Thailand.Ingredients

2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
canola oil, for frying
sweet chile sauce

Method

1. Combine all ingredients except oil in a medium bowl; mix well.
2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or deep fryer until the temperature reads 375 degrees. (If you don’t have a thermometer, sprinkle a touch of flour into the pot, if it shimmers immediately the oil is ready).
3. Drop corn mixture into the hot oil using 2 tablespoons. (Do not overcrowd the pot or the oil temperature will decrease significantly). Cook in batches for about 3-4 minutes; transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet when done.
4. Serve immediately with sweet chile sauce for dipping.NotesThai corn fritters are typically made with ground pork. I really enjoy this vegetarian version.
Servings: 6

Source
Yolanda Banks

Larb Gai Lettuce Wraps
Larb is a meat salad that originated in Laos and was later adapted by the Northeast region of Thailand. Gai is Thai for chicken. You can substitute ground pork or turkey for the chicken.Ingredients

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken thighs
3/4 cup shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons lemongrass, minced
1 tablespoon Thai bird chilies, minced, substitute serrano chilies if you can’t find Thai bird
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil, finely chopped, substitute Genovese basil if you can’t find Thai
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 medium heads Boston Bibb lettuce leaves, separated, substitute Iceberg

Method

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high; once hot add oil. Add ground chicken; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and break up meat with the back of a spoon.
2. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and chilies; cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar in a small bowl; add to meat mixture and cook for another minute. Stir in herbs.
3. Taste and add more fish sauce if necessary. You want to taste the meat mixture to taste hot, salty, sour, and sweet.
4. To serve, place lettuce leaves onto a platter and top with about 1/4 cup of the meat mixture.

Notes

Fish sauce can be found at any grocery store and is commonly used as a seasoning in Thai cuisine as opposed to salt.
Servings: 6

Source
Yolanda Banks

Molcajete Guacamole
I featured this recipe in my cookbook, Cooking For Your Man. It’s my version of the classic made at Rosa Mexicano in New York.Ingredients

1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped, divided
1 teaspoon jalepeño pepper, with seeds, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Hass avocados, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons roasted poblano pepper, pureed, optional
1 tablespoon lime juice

Method

1. Using the back of a wooden spoon or in a molcajete, mash together onion, 1 tablespoon cilantro, jalapeno, and salt until the mixture becomes a wet paste.
2. Stir in chopped avocados, poblano puree (if using), lime juice, and reserved tablespoon of cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately. Feel free to add tomatoes to your guacamole. I prefer mine the traditional way, without.

Notes

A molcajete is a Mexican mortar and pestle. I swear guacamole made with a molcajete tastes better! To roast poblano, char skin over gas flame on all sides until skin is black. Place poblano into a plastic bag to allow peel to steam. Remove charred skin; place poblano in a blender and process until smooth.
Servings: 4

Source
Yolanda Banks

Oven Roasted “Corn Nuts”
Corn nuts can be made several hours in advance. Store at room temperature until serving. Feel free to add your favorite combination of spices. These make a great snack alternative.Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup canned hominy, rinsed and dried
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin
kosher salt, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place all ingredients except cilantro onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Toss well to coat.
2. Bake hominy for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Roast until golden brown and crunchy.

Servings 4Source
Yolanda Banks

Picadillo Empanadas
Picadillo is a classic Cuban dish made with chopped meat, usually beef, onions, garlic, raisins, almonds, olives, tomatoes, and spices. It is usually served with rice. Picadillo comes from the Spanish word, “picar”, which means “to cut into small pieces”.Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds fresh ground chorizo
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground Spanish paprika, preferably,
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dry Sherry
1/3 cup golden raisins, chopped
1/4 cup green olives, chopped
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 packages puff pastry, thawed
1 extra large egg
2 teaspoons water

Method

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add chorizo mashing it with the back of a spoon. Cook until lightly browned. Add cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and garlic; toast spices and garlic for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add sherry and tomato paste; cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until paste is well combined with chorizo.
2. Add raisins and green olives. (Mixture will be tight, if serving over rice, thin it out with a can of stewed tomatoes.) Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary; cool completely before proceeding.
3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine egg and water in a small bowl. Unroll puff pastry, dust with flour and roll lightly to flatten. Cut circles, using a 3-inch cookie cutter or small glass. Using a small spoon or melon baller, spoon meat mixture onto one half of each circle. Lightly brush one side of pastry with egg wash, fold over, sealing edges firmly. Repeat until all the meat is gone.
4. Arrange empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving an inch between each. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle a few toasted sesame or poppy seeds on top. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Keep warm until serving.

Notes

The picadillo should be made at least one day in advance. You want the mixture cool when filling the pastry. You can make the empanadas a couple days in advance and bake. When ready to serve, re-heat in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until warm. A good quality prepared tomato sauce is great for dipping the empanadas. Heat, add fresh cilantro and serve alongside empanadas.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Roasted Shrimp with Salsa Verde
The sauce can be made up to 1 day in advance. Store, covered, refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.Ingredients

2 pounds shrimp , peeled and deveined, tails left intact (U12-15)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salsa Verde
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
4 whole anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the shrimp onto a sheet pan lined with foil. Spread in one layer.
2. Roast shrimp for 8 minutes or until pink and tails begin to curl.
3. For the Salsa Verde: Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until combined but not completely pureed. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Notes

Serve with cocktail sauce, salsa verde, or pesto. If you’d like to serve them like a classic shrimp cocktail, cool completely and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Otherwise, serve them right away.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Rock Shrimp Ceviche
Ceviche:  tender morsels of the freshest fish marinated in fresh citrus juices.Ingredients

2 whole green onions, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, seeded, finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup jicama, small dice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups rock shrimp, rinsed and dried
(null) kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

1.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except oil, and shrimp.  Season vegetable mixture with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
2.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add oil.  Once hot, but not smoking, add shrimp; season with salt and pepper.  Cook shrimp, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes or until just begins to turn pink.  (You could omit this step and let the citrus juices cook the shrimp.)
3.  Add shrimp to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before serving.

Notes

Cooking the shrimp lightly before adding it to the veggies means less time marinating.

Servings  6Source
Yolanda Banks

Spicy Black Bean Cakes
Ingredients2 15 -ounce canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons jalepeño pepper, minced
1 teaspoon cumin, toasted
1 teaspoon cinnamon, toasted
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons masa harina, (corn flour)
1 large egg, beaten
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh ripe papaya, chopped
1 cup tomatillo, rinsed, dried, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
crema

Method

1. Place beans into a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash beans until almost smooth. Add all ingredients except egg and oil; stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add egg; stir until incorporated.
2. To form cakes: Use a tablespoon to measure bean mixture. Form into a ball, then flatten into a 1/2 inch thick cake. Place black bean cake on a parchment line sheet pan. Repeat with remaining mixture until gone. Cover with plastic and refrigerate cakes for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry bean cakes until golden and crisp; about 3 minutes per side. Drain on a paper-towel lined sheet pan. Transfer to the oven to keep warm.
4. For the Papaya-Tomatillo Salsa: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; season to taste. (The salsa can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate, bring to room temperature before serving.)
5. To serve cakes: Arrange in a single layer on a platter. Top each cake with a small dollop of crema. Top crema with a teaspoon of salsa; serve at once.

Servings 6Source
Yolanda Banks

Thai Grilled Drumettes
Ingredients2 lemongrass stalks, root ends trimmed, tough outer leaves discarded
3 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shallots, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 serrano chile, finely chopped
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 pounds chicken drumettes, rinsed and dried
kosher salt, to taste

Method

1. Place lemongrass through grapeseed oil into a mini food processor; pulsing to form a paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary; set aside.
2. Place drumettes into a large Ziplock bag; add paste to bag. Using the bag, rub paste into chicken, massaging to coat every piece. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.
3. Season chicken thoroughly with salt. Heat a grill to medium-high. Place drumettes onto well-oiled grill. Cook drumettes for 8-10 minutes per side. Serve warm.

Source
Yolanda Banks

Watermelon Feta Skewers
Any seasonal fruit or cheese of your liking works well here. If using mozzarella, substitute basil and make a balsamic vinaigrette instead. You can also lightly grill the fruit to enhance the flavor.Ingredients

24 1-inch chunks watermelon
24 1/2-inch chunks feta cheese
24 mint leaves
24 kalamata olives, pitted
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon Greek oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch crushed red pepper lakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Using 6-inch bamboo skewers, thread the watermelon, feta, mint, and olive onto each skewer. Set aside. Skewers can be assembled up to 2 hours in advance; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Make the vinaigrette. Whisk lemon juice, oregano, salt and crushed red pepper to dissolve the salt; add the oil and whisk until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
3. Drizzle vinaigrette over skewers right before serving.

Source
Yolanda Banks

 

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