I’ve been really busy over the last few weeks with mid week and weekend Chef assignments.  Some of it birthday celebrations and others just a reason for good friends to get together.  The most popular items right now are hors d ‘oeuvres.  Those fast disappearing items that get walked around on platters or at stand alone stations.  The two items listed below are typically what I’ve been preparing and the recipes below have a few ingredients and are easy to follow. Rave reviews – oh I’d like to think it’s all about me, but really these items are too good to get anything but rave reviews.

Cantaloupe Gazpacho
What a great alternative to conventional gazpacho. The colour – a beautiful warm orange cream, the flavor of a sweet fruit with olive oil – well, imagine those café lunches in Italy or Spain. It will take you back – and if you haven’t been, it’s something to look forward to. I serve this in shot glasses. This recipe makes enough for about 15 shot glasses

1 medium Cantaloupe, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 medium Red Onion, roughly chopped
1/2 English Cucumber – deseeded, roughly chopped (I left the skin on for colour) 
1/4 cup Cilantro with stems
Remaining 1/2 Cucumber finely diced for garnish
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 – 1 cup Water

Puree the cantaloupe in a blender with the onion, cucumber and Cilantro
Add some Olive Oil, season with salt and pepper – blend – too thick?  Add water to desired consistency – taste, season and taste – that’s it, really!
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to let the flavors meld

Garnish with the diced cucumber or sliced cucumber and cantaloupe as shown below –
I use little beer stein shot glasses and in addition to the finely diced cucumber, I also drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and some Maldon sea salt (or any flaked variety).  A feast for the eyes and the belly!  Enjoy!

Cantaloupe Gazpacho 2

Grilled Flank Steak on Lettuce with Horseradish Cream
Thinly sliced and served on fresh shredded lettuce with a dollop of horseradish cream topping it off. This can be served on a tasting spoon, or on thin slices of sourdough baguette and a hot mustard.

Marinade – Dry Rub – spicy
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. each of smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin powder
1 tsp. each of cayenne, dried thyme, dried rosemary (crushed by hand), salt, pepper
Combine all ingredients – and store any excess for the next use in a small jar or Ziploc baggie

1 piece – Flank Steak
1/4 small head any type of crisp Lettuce, finely shredded/cut to fit on a serving spoon or baguette

Rub both sides of the steak with the mix, cover and let marinate for at least 2 hours
Set the bbq to high – about 500F or you can use a grill pan on your stove top or a baking sheet with the meat on a rack so it doesn’t stew in any of the juices, under the broiler if you don’t have a bbq – Temperature is key
Sear the steak on both sides – about 4 minutes a side will yield a nice medium rare
Allow the steak to rest covered with foil for about 5 minutes before slicing
Slice against the grain (the steak on the cutting board in front of you should be wider than it is long)
Thinly slice what you need and save the rest for later.

Horseradish Cream
1/4 cup Sour Cream
2 tbsp. strong Horseradish (I’ve sometimes substituted wasabi powder or if lucky enough to find it – fresh wasabi root, taste before adding more)
salt – to taste

Arrange the shredded lettuce on a spoon or baguette slice, tear or fold a piece of flank steak on top of the lettuce and garnish with the Horseradish cream.   Variation pictured below – with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction. 

As always, enjoy!

Beef Lettuce Balsamic Vinegar Reduction