Nibbles & Noshes

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Photography by Mark O. Ramirez


at Whole Foods Market, Poplar Avenue

Cheese Board

SALUD! at Whole Foods Market, Poplar Avenue

1 box frozen puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator overnight
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup prepared pesto - basil, cilantro, tomato, roasted red pepper -your choice!
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper or silpat mats.

Roll out each sheet of puff pastry to a rectangle, ¼ inch thick. Brush the egg wash mixture over the surface of each pastry sheet before spreading a thin layer of the pesto, topping with parmesan cheese. Press gently to adhere the cheese to the pesto.

Divide each sheet into 11-12 strips of dough; gently twist and place onto the prepared sheet, pressing down on the ends.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed, turning them over halfway through the baking.

4 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
1-3 teaspoon Berbere spice blend, to taste
48 pitted dates, scored in half
Minced fresh parsley, for garnish
In a bowl, mix together cheese and spice blend to taste. Gently open up one of the cut dates and spoon a small amount of the cheese mixture in the center, pressing the sides together to close. Continue with the remaining dates and cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

3 cups mixed olives (about ¾ lb)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary or thyme, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, or to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
In a container with a tight fitting lid, combine all of the ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste. Chill, shaking occasionally, at least for 1 day or up to 1 week.


  • Choose a Variety of Cheeses
  • Try to have a soft, semi-soft and hard textured cheeses
  • You can do a variety of milks (cow, sheep, goat) or stick with one milk style and achieve variety with different wash rinds and textures
  • Choose fun and interesting flavors- wine/beer infused, herbs, ash, fruit can all make for eye appealing cheeses as well as offer something special for your guests.
  • Fresh and dried fruit work well. Try to stay away from anything too acidic like pineapple. Grapes, figs, pears, apples, cherries and apricots are all great options.
  • Fruit pastes are also a wonderful accompaniment 
  • Choose slaty and crispy components
  • Round out the cheese board with cured meats, olives, pickled items, salted nuts and crackers
  • Run our of room on your board? Have small bowls of crusty baguette or glasses of breadsticks available for people to eat in between cheeses. 


  • Try to keep clusters of items together for better visual impact- plus it makes it easier to replenish!
  • Keep the cheeses in larger chunks, but go ahead and cut a few small pieces of each cheese. This will encourage your guests to nibble and not feel intimidated to be "the first one" to cut.

Interim Restaurant & Bar


Button mushrooms
Seafood stuffing (1 onion finely diced
3 cloves minced garlic
2/3 cup chopped parsley
2 pounds cooked salmon
1 pound cooked scallops
1 pound cooked shrimp
1 quart breadcrumbs
1 lemon
4 eggs
1/4 cup Parmesan)
Mix together everything except for the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Once mixed, stuff the mushrooms with the seafood mixture. Separately mix the Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the stuffed mushrooms. Bake at 350 degrees until crust turns brown.


Bamboo knot skewers
Leaf lettuce
Carrots, peeled
Roma tomatoes
Feta cheese
Balsamic reduction
Assemble skewers with leaves from the lettuce, peeled strips of carrot, large diced roma tomatoes, and cubes of feta. Top with balsamic reduction.


Hard boiled eggs
1 celery stalk, small diced
2 pounds jumbo lump crab
1 cup creole mustard
1 cup garlic aioli
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon tabasco
1 bunch cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil eggs 8-10 minutes. Cool in ice bath. Remove yolks when cooled. Mix together all ingredients in a bowl except the cilantro. Mix well. Once properly mixed, stuff your eggs with the amount of stuffing that you desire. Garnish with whole cilantro leaves.


Sliced sourdough bread
1 cup pitted castelvetrano olives
1 cup kalamata olives
Herb mayo (1 cup mayo with thyme, parsley, basil, cilantro)
Feta cheese
1 cup rehydrated golden raisins
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grill or toast your bread. In a bowl, mix your olives, raisins, EVOO, salt, and pepper. Spread mayo mixture on the bread and then top with your olive/raisin blend. Sprinkle feta over the top. Slice and serve.

South of Beale

Pork Belly Steamed Buns


Dry Rub:
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup salt
1/8 cup black pepper

Sticky Sauce:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons hoisin
2 tablespoons ginger
Red chili flakes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 limes, juiced

Combine all ingredients; heat until the brown sugar is dissolved. Strain the liquid and reduce until desired thickness

Use dry rub on entire skin-off-pork-belly. Place on top of carrots, celery, and onion, and cook at 250 degrees for 6-7 hours depending on the size of the belly. Once cooked, pull apart the pork belly with your hands and set aside. Bao Buns can be bought in the freezer section of your favorite local Asian market. Wrap each bun with aluminum foil and warm in the oven. Once the buns are warm, saute pork belly in a pan with the desired amount of sticky sauce. Add chopped peanuts and mix in the pan. Fill the buns with the meat, and garnish with fresh cilantro and pickled veggies.

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BLEU Restaurant & Lounge

Braised Short Ribs

8 ounces short rib
2 ounces truffle parsnip puree
White wine
4 ounces swiss chard
2 ounces crispy onions

10 pounds parsnip
5 garlic cloves
3 shallots
1 quart heavy cream
¼ quart water
1 pound butter
Truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Put parsnips, garlic, shallots, heavy cream, water, butter in pot and cook until celery root is soft. Strain the vegetables from liquid, and put in blender and blend smooth; if too thick add some liquid from the strained vegetables. Add truffle oil, parmesan, salt and pepper to finish.

1 case beef short ribs
3 whole carrots, sliced in large coin-size
2 celery stalks, large chop
3 whole onion, large chop
15 whole garlic
2 pounds veal demi
1 gallon beef base
2 cups red wine
½ pound rosemary
½ pound thyme
Season short ribs with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, and oil. Place all ingredients in a large pan; cover with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 3-4 hours or until tender.

Bleu Restaurant & Lounge

Itta Bena

Blt Bites

Itta Bena

1 loaf brioche bread
2 pounds bacon
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup chives, sliced thin
Remove crust from bread, cut into small triangles. Slightly toast and set aside. Cut raw bacon into pieces. Cook until completely crispy. Remove all grease. Once cooled place bacon in food processor adding mayo and whole grain mustard.
Pulse 3-4 times until everything is incorporated and can form into ball.
Place bacon mix on toasted brioche top with half a cherry tomato and thinly sliced chives.

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Lamb lollipops


Lamb Lollipops

Heat oven to 500 degrees, remove fat cap from lamb rack, season with salt and pepper and fresh chopped herbs. Place lamb on a baking sheet, bones up, and place on center rack in oven. Roast for 8 minutes and remove from oven. Let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.


Dessert Spoons

Ingredients for spoons:

7 ounces white chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus 1 cup
Apple, cut in very small cubes
Cinnamon Sticks
Strawberries, sliced
Pumpkin seeds
Pomegranate seeds
Marshmallow cream
Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
Graham cracker spoons
Semisweet chocolate melting wafers
Mini marshmallows
Caramel syrup


In a large glass bowl, place the chopped white chocolate and set aside. Add the egg yolks and sugar to a small bowl and whisk until pale in color. In a saucepan, over low heat, bring 1/4 cup of the cream to a simmer, and slowly add the cream into the yolk and sugar mixture to temper. Pour the creamy mixture back into pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it coats the back of it. Pour hot mix into a fine mesh sieve placed directly over bowl with the chopped chocolate. Stir until completely smooth. In another bowl, whip remaining 1 cup of the cream to almost stiff peaks. Fold half the whipped cream into the white chocolate mix to lighten and then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into a piping bag and refrigerate until set, approximately 1 hour. Once chilled, pipe onto the spoon and garnish with your choice of toppings.



Before piping the mousse on the spoon place a small amount of caramel in the spoon and down the middle of the handle, then pipe the mousse on top. Cube very small pieces of apple and carefully place on top of the mousse. Place a small cinnamon stick in the mousse and sprinkle with cinnamon on top.



Put the semi- sweet chocolates into a heatproof medium bowl. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat; set the bowl of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir until smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted.)
Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the graham cracker spoon by the handle, dip into the dark chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set graham cracker spoon on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the graham cracker spoons. Place in fridge until chocolate has hardened. Once the chocolate has hardened put a dollop of marshmallow cream onto the spoon and carefully burn the top of the cream. Garnish with mini marshmallows, chocolate chips and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.


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