Винегрет/Vinegret (Russian Beet Salad)

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This recipe is a simple, traditional Russian beet salad. In different families there are different variations, but the basic/core ingredients are the same.

Винегрет/Vinegret (Russian Beet Salad)

Винегрет/Vinegret (Russian Beet Salad)


  • 3 Large Russet Potatoes
  • 2 Large Beets - the ratio of beets to potatoes is roughly 1:1
  • 3-4 Carrots
  • About Half an Onion
  • several small sized pickles
  • olive oil


Wash and clean but do not peel potatoes, beets, and carrots. Cut off ends of carrots and any spots on the potatoes and beets.

Place ingredients in a large pot and cover with water. Boil for approximately one hour or until ingredients cooked through.

Peel beats, potatoes and carrots (while hot) and finely chop all ingredients into a small dice. Place ingredients into a large bowl. Chop onions and pickles into a very fine dice and add them to the other ingredients.

Add about 3 table spoons of olive oil, or to taste and sprinkle with salt. Carefully stir all ingredients together and serve.

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Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

By Posted in Appetizers, Easy Dinner, Recipes, Side Dishes | 3 Comments »

Memorial Day weekend marks the official kick off to summer, and what a weekend it was! Along with the BBQs and Patriotism, Monday also brought along a heat wave that sent temperatures into the 90s across the East Coast. Thankfully we were at the beach and had the benefit of a nice ocean breeze. Even so, after the long, snowy winter that was followed by the rainy, cold spring, it felt good to see the sun–even if it gave me tan lines in all the wrong places.

With the hot weather, I find myself craving lighter meals that don’t require too much oven time. Summer and seafood always go hand in hand for me, so here’s a wonderful baked crab cake recipe. I’ve made this both as an appetizer and as an entree by just placing the crab cakes over a salad.  Looking forward to a safe and happy summer 2011!

Recipe: adapted from GroupRecipes

Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes


  • 1 large egg
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • Few drops of lemon juice (no more than about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crushed Ritz Crackers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat -- drained of all excess liquid
  • Non-stick cooking spray


In a medium bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Mix so that all the ingredients are well-incorporated. Add the cracker crumbs and parsley and mix well. Gently fold in crabmeat until just combined (try not to break up lumps of crabmeat).

Using wet hands, shape mixture into 6 patties–8 patties if you like them smaller (do not pack too firmly; cakes should be as loose as possible and still hold their shape).

Place the crab cakes on a large platter or cookie sheet as they're shaped. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.

Set oven on Broil ( around 450 ) and place crab cakes a non stick sprayed cookie sheet. Put crab cakes in oven on medium height rack. After 4 minutes of initial cooking time open oven and test one crab cake by flipping it with a spatula; if it doesn't fall apart, turn the rest, if it does, give them 2 more minutes to cook before flipping. Cook 3 minutes on other side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon and tartar sauce.

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Spring Shells with Peas and Hazelnut Pesto

By Posted in Easy Dinner, Recipes | 4 Comments »

Rumor has it that as soon as Monday, I may be able to put my parka jacket in the closet for some much needed rest. I celebrated this potential event by bringing some Spring into my kitchen. I thought maybe if I cook and dress like it’s above 40 degrees, then maybe it will start warming up?  I am not advocating for anyone to sport  flip-flops just yet, but maybe it’s time for that pedicure. Here’s to Spring!

Spring Shells with Peas and Hazelnut Pesto recipe: my own

Shella with peas and pesto


  • Box of frozen peas
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 lb shells or other tubular pasta
  • 1/2 cup of pasta water (right from the pot!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons skim ricotta


Hazelnut Pesto (From one of my favorite recipes: Chicken Milanese with Escarole Salad and Pickled Red Onions )

  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves


Bring a pot of water to a boil for the peas and pasta. Make the pesto: Use a food processor and combine the pecorino, hazelnuts and parsley. Pulse lightly until the ingredients are combined and place aside in a separate bowl. You will need the food processor again so don’t clean it yet!

Place frozen peas in a strainer and run under cold water for 2 minutes.  Add the peas in the strainer to the pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. In the food processor, puree 1/2 cup of the peas, leave the rest in tact.


Cook the shells in the same pot of boiling water that you just used for the peas. Usually they take about 14 minutes, but check your pasta box. Meanwhile, when your pasta has 9 minutes left, add the olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat and add your peas (not the pureed ones) to saute. Let cook for 3 minutes, then add the pureed peas, the pesto, and lemon zest. Cook for another 3 minutes and then add a 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Strain your pasta and add to the pot to blend everything together over the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Plate and add a tablespoon of ricotta to the top. Enjoy!

Shells with Peas


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Mushroom Parmesan Wonton Cups

By Posted in Appetizers, Recipes | 3 Comments »

My Grandmother turned 95 last week! To celebrate this monumental occasion, we threw her a big family party. My Aunt Helen did an incredible job hosting while Grandma relaxed with a dirty martini (guess it runs in the family).

I decided to bring an appetizer, and although I heart my tried and true Spinach and Artichoke dip, I felt like it was time for a change. I was seeking something crispy and earthy, and I knew I wanted to put my mini muffin tray to work.

A few months ago, Tamar and Josh had Steve and I over for brunch and made mini egg bakes using a muffin tin. They were adorable, creative, and left me wanting to do something similar. This was my opportunity.

Mushroom Parmesan Wonton Cups recipe: adapted from Pardon my Crumbs
Mushroom parmesan wonton cups


  • 36 wonton wrappers - available  in the produce aisle of most grocery stores, these also require refrigeration.
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan


Make the wonton cups: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a miniature muffin pan with cooking spray. Insert wonton wrappers into the muffin pan so as to form small cups. Bake 5-10 minutes in the preheated oven. They should appear a golden brown color, but do not let burn. Allow the baked wrappers to cool a bit and then remove from the pan.

wonton wrappers

Make the mushroom mixture: In a skillet melt the butter over moderately high heat and in it sauté the onion, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté the mixture, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until the liquid from the mushrooms is evaporated.

Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and stir the mixture until it is combined well. Add the half and half, return the skillet to the heat, and cook the mixture over moderately high heat, stirring, until it is very thick. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the salt, the cayenne, the black pepper, and the chives, the parsley, and the lemon juice, and let the mixture cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Transfer the cups to a baking sheet, divide the mushroom mixture among them, and sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top. Bake the cups in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Enjoy!

mushroom parmesan wonton cups

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New Year’s Eve Ensemble with Kreve & Tricky

By Posted in Detours, Recipes | 5 Comments »

In celebration of our kick off of 2011, Tricky (Trish & Rick) invited Kreve (Krissy & Steve) over for a VIP double date complete with champagne, caviar, and a 5 course gourmet dinner.

The setting: Tricky’s apartment adorned with holiday decorations galore, a twinkling Christmas tree, and a candlestick ready and polka dot complete place setting.

The menu:
1st course: Grilled Lobster and Avocado Cocktail
2nd course: Arugula and Radiccio Salad with Vanilla Roasted Pears and Candied Walnuts (posted earlier by Miss Dining Detour herself)
Pear salad

3rd course: Homemade Papparadelle with a Mushroom Ragu
Papparadelle with Mushroom Ragu

4th course: Baked Chilean Sea Bass with a Breadcrumb Crust
Chilean Sea Bass

5th course: Chocolate Torte Almond Cake
Chocolate Torte Almond Cake
The goal: Small, gourmet-ready portions plated to perfection to delight and impress our besties and former food connoisseur loving couple.

Kiddies…I’m not going to lie…this was a lot of work!  What I’ve learned in my culinary exploration is that a dinner party for four requires almost as much time and effort as a dinner party for fourteen.  There are still as many recipes and ingredients…all that changes is portions.  Rick and I were up at 7am sharp and had made the cake batter and pasta dough and done all of the sous chef prep work by 11am.  But there was an entire day spent in the kitchen…chopping and mixing and baking and broiling and juicing…you get it.  Luckly I had Krissy to come in as a pinch hitter in the final hour to help handle the plating and serving, all while making it look completely effortless to the extremely lucky men in our life.

In the end, dinner was a huge success and the night was a blast, complete with drinks and dancing a plenty.    Nothing is better than great food and great company and there was no shortage of either!

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Chocolate-Almond Torte

By Posted in Delicious Desserts, Recipes | No Comments »

recipe: adapted from  Food Network

Chocolate Almond Torte


  • 1 1/4 cups blanched, sliced almonds
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, plus more for greasing
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg yolks
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
  • Whipped cream, for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until lightly golden, 6 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly, then pulse in a food processor until finely ground, but not pasty.

Melt 12 tablespoons butter and the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Stir until the chocolate is smooth, then remove from the heat and cool slightly. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter and coat with the breadcrumbs, tapping out the excess.

Set aside 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Combine the 6 egg yolks and the remaining sugar in a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the orange zest, rum and salt, then beat in the melted chocolate until smooth. Mix in the ground almonds until just combined.

In a clean bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with a mixer until foamy. Gradually beat in the reserved 2 tablespoons granulated sugar on high speed until almost stiff. Stir one-third of the whites into the chocolate batter, then gently fold in the rest. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until the top is firm and cracked (a toothpick inserted into the cake will be fudgy), 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the ring. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with confectioners’ sugar and whipped cream, if desired.

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Baked Seabass with Homemade Garlic Butter and Herb Bread Crumb Topping

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recipe: adapted from Dave Lieberman

Sea Bass


  • 5-ounce sourdough bread or other leftover bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 (6-ounce) sea bass fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Few sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse the bread in a food processor to get slightly coarse bread crumbs. Coat a casserole dish just large enough to hold the fillets with 1 tablespoon butter. Place the fillets in the dish and season with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice, and thyme leaves.
Melt the remaining 1/2 stick of butter in a large skillet with the smashed garlic. As soon as the butter starts to bubble, turn off the heat and let the garlic infuse the warm butter.

Remove the garlic chunks from the butter. Add the bread crumbs and lightly toss until all the butter has been absorbed. Turn the heat off, stir in the parsley and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Spread a layer of bread crumb mixture over the top of each fillet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown and fish is cooked through.

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Grilled Lobster and Avocado Cocktail

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recipe: adapted from Bobby Flay

Lobster and Shrimp


  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted and finely diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 (8-ounce) lobster tails, parboiled and flesh coarsely chopped
  • I did a combination of lobster and shrimp for a little added versatility

Shrimp and Lobster cocktail


In a medium bowl whisk together the lime juice, honey, horseradish, Worcestershire, hot sauce and tarragon and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently stir in the avocado, onion, cilantro and lobster. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve in martini glasses.

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Arugula and Radiccio Salad with Vanilla Roasted Pears and Candied Walnuts

By Posted in Recipes, Salads | 2 Comments »

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! Steve and I are the soon to be lucky guests of Trish (aka Trish’s Dish) and Rick’s for dinner this evening. I saw the menu, and they are really going all out. After my two recent holiday parties, I am ready to hang up my hostess apron and pass the spatula to Trish. We can only hope she will blog about it after.

I plan to bring some bubbly, my favorite new salad, and creamed spinach. Wishing everyone a very happy New Year!

Arugula and Radiccio Salad with candied walnuts and roasted vanilla pears


  • 1 bag of Arugula
  • 2 heads of Radiccio chopped
  • Candied Walnuts recipe below
  • Roasted Vanilla Pears recipe below
  • Pomengranite seeds
  • Sherry Vanilla Vinegrette recipe below

Candied Walnuts (can be made a day or two ahead of time)

candied walnuts


  • 1 1/2 cups  walnuts
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt


First, toast the walnuts in the oven at 350 F for about 5 minutes. Then pour the sugar into a saucepan. Stir the melting sugar with a wooden spoon. Try to break any lumps that would form.

candied wanuts sugar

Keep melting the sugar until it’s liquid and it has reached this beautiful amber color.


Then add the nuts into the caramel. Stir it all together quickly to cover all the nuts with the sugar mixture. As soon as the walnuts are coated, spread them out on a baking sheet. You can line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a fork to separate the walnuts from each other. Try to work quickly since there’s only about 30 seconds until the caramel hardens. Sprinkle the nuts with salt and let cool completely.

I made these the day before and placed them in a ziplock with wax paper.

Vanilla Roasted Pears recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Vanilla Roasted Pears


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 pounds slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored. I used Anjou pears, but Bosc or Bartlett work nicely too.
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the sugar.

Arrange the pears in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar. Nestle the vanilla pod among the fruit (I first slit my halves lengthwise into quarters). Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.
Vanilla Roasted Pears

Roast the pears 30 minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Turn the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer (if the pears are small, test for doneness after 35 or 40 minutes of cooking; a paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance).

For the salad, I placed the pears in tupperware and let sit until ready to serve them, reserving the liquid, vanilla beans and lemon in the pan for the salad dressing.

Don’t forget to sample one hot, as these vanilla roasted pears make a stellar dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sherry Pear Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper
  • pan liquid from pears

Whisk all ingredients together.
Sherry Vinaigrette


In a large bowl, mix together arugula and radiccio, then incorporate sherry vinaigrette and mix well. At this stage I like to plate the greens, then add a handful of the candied walnuts, sliced pears and pomegranite seeds.

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Cookies of Christmas Past

By Posted in Delicious Desserts, Recipes | No Comments »

Christmas is always such a whirlwind–all the baking, shopping, and wrapping. I love all the hustle, but this year I decided to take a step back and impose a no-bake policy on myself. We are hosting Christmas Eve dinner, and then whisking ourselves away skiing in the catskills, and something had to give – I decided it would be the cookies.

So, I applaud all of you out there that are up to your ears in powdered sugar, I on the other hand will be knee-deep in snow. Please enjoy some of last year’s favorite holiday desserts. Merry Christmas!

Chocolate crinkle cookies

chocolate crinkle cookies

Chocolate covered pretzels

Chocolate covered pretzels

Oatmeal chocolate chips cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies

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