Saturday, July 2, 2016

French Style Avocado Foccacia Toasts

I love avocados in the summertime. I mean what's not to like about them. They are the basis for Guacamole which has got to be one of the best things ever. They are smooth and rich and buttery tasting, and have the most wonder ability to compliment a variety of starchy foods.

In Food and Wine Magazine, one of the contributors talked about avocado toasts with sea salt and red pepper flakes. He explained that the simplicity of the grilled bread with the rich and picante flavor of the mashed ripe avocado was the highlight of his dinner party. Well he was right on. I tried this delectable recipe and I have to say it was good.

Now toasted bread is perhaps one the greatest things in the world as far as I am concerned! Toasted bread is crispy, crunchy, warm and can be savory or sweet, It can be topped with anything from butter and jam or vegetables to melted cheese. It is in short the most wonderful vehicle for savoring a variety of foods.

So next time you are having people over make a little effort and try this instead of the old chips and dip. It will elevate your dinning experience a notch or two and make your guests so happy. So enjoy, Ya'll!

French Style Avocado Foccacia Toasts
serves 4

4 small to medium ripe but not over ripe avocados
Maldon Sea Salt ( or other course flaky sea salt)
1 to 2  teaspoons red pepper flakes depending on your heat level ( plus more for garnish)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
VERY good quality finishing olive oil about 1 1/2 tablespoons
Sliced radish as garnish
Fresh lemon pepper grinder for garnish

Method for the Avocado:

Mash the avocados in a bowl till creamy with just a little chunk left then add sea salt flakes to taste and red pepper flakes to taste.
Add a small bit of the olive oil and the lemon juice and stir together till creamy and combined
hold on the side.

Method for Rosemary Toasts:

Foccacia Bread loaf
Good butter at room temp
olive oil
rosemary flavored oil
Maldon Sea Salt

Cut bread into rectangular pieces which are about 4 inches by 2 inches
Slather one side with butter
Place enough olive oil in a skillet till the bottom is lightly coated
Turn on heat to med high
When very hot place the bread butter side down in the pan and allow to cook till toasted and browned
Turn over and let grill till the other side is toasty
Drizzle the rosemary oil over the bread (not too much or it will taste soapy) and sprinkle with the sea salt

To Assemble:

Place toasts on a plate and top with the avocado spread. Drizzle with really good olive oil, red pepper flakes and top with pieces of sliced radish.
Sprinkle with Maldon salt flakes and ground lemon pepper

Enjoy ya'll

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Famous Papas Greek Country Salad (Sort of) better known as Greek Crack Salad!

Ok...Ok,  I know I promised I would post this after posting the dressing. So just in time for the fourth of July festivities I give you the best salad that you will ever put out at a cookout and have your guests ooh and ah over.

The secret to this is really the dressing. It's the all American Vinaigrette that's pretty unstoppable. ( see post:
However, the salad itself really is the most incredible recipe you can have in your back pocket to impress guests. And now I'm going to give it to you.

I have been making this salad for years, I make this salad for a crowd. It's a large recipe. Feeds 8 to 10.  It's really ideal for a party. But make it at the risk of always having people ask for it. I've made it for 2 Christmas parties at my Mother's home for a large group of people.  I'm telling you it's actually been requested  every year including again this year for the next party. That's how good it is.

Ok the hype sounds like a lot. And maybe it is. What is crack salad? Well it's essentially a Greek panzanella salad. Lot's of things chopped up into similar sized cubes and tossed with bread croutons. But it's got few unique ingredients and the famous crack dressing that take it from good to amazing.

Forrest's Famous Greek Country Salad (aka. Crack Salad) 

(recipe can be doubled or tripled for a crowd)


1 1/2 cups Greek feta cheese cubed into small dice (1/2 cup reserved on the side for garnish)
2 cups grape tomatoes halved or roma tomatoes seeded and diced small
1 1/2 cups small persian cucumbers diced small
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas sliced in small pieces
1 cup finely diced red onion
1 cup Greek kalamata olives finely diced up in small pieces
1 1/2 cups eggplant diced and fried up in oil then cooled down
1 cup corn kernels (can be frozen or canned if fresh is not available)
3 1/2 cups slightly crushed croutons ( good quality like Trader Joe's or homemade)
1/4 cup chives chopped finely
2 cups of crack dressing (you might not need it all)


Add everything into a big bowl and toss together to combine the toss with enough dressing to coat well and thickly but not over dressed. Garnish with extra feta on top.

Be the hero. Enjoy the compliments.

Pesto & California Black Olive Orzo Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad is an unsung hero of the picnic cookout season. There are a lot of bad pasta salad recipes out there overly dressed and full of all types of crazy ingredients. Sometimes those are fun, but I prefer a simpler recipe as a side dish to accompany delicious grilled meats and fish.

This is a very simple salad. Creamy classic gorgeous green pesto is stirred into hot pasta with California black olives, cheese, a spoonful of Mayonaise that adds just a hint of creamy and lots of chives for color and flavor.

It's served at room temperature and it's a nice mild background to your BBQ meats and other creations. Enjoy this holiday weekend and all Summer long.

Pesto & California Black Olive Orzo Pasta Salad

8 oz. of dried Orzo pasta
1 to 1 1/2 cup pesto ( homemade or store bought fresh not the jarred type)
2 6 oz cans sliced California black olives
1 heaping tablespoon Mayonaise
1 cup shedded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup freshly chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste

Easy Homemade Pesto

2 cup fresh leaves of basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts or pecans)
1 3/4 cups olive oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Puree the herbs and garlic and pine nuts in the food processor and slowly blend in the oil with food processor running
Add the nutmeg and the cheese and salt
Blend till combined and bright green

To make the Pasta Salad

Boil the pasta and drain
Add the pesto to the pot and stir to combine while still warm ( This will change the color of the pesto but will also flavor the pasta)
Stir in the mayo
Add the Olives
Add the cheese and add most of the chives leaving a few as garnish
Season with salt and pepper
Garnish with remaining chives

Sitr well to combine and let sit to meld the flavors for a few hours in the fridge
Serve at room temperature
Enjoy Ya'll