Beautiful Life and Style

1 Comment

Easy Entertaining: Quince Paste

I recently read about quince paste (or membrillo as it is called in Spain where it is originally from) and was very curious to try some for myself. Turns out- while very time consuming, it is quite easy to make! The hardest part is tracking down quince- they are only available for a short window of time. So this past weekend when I had a few hours, and I was able to find some knobbly green quince at whole foods, I decided to give it a shot.

Most of the recipes I share on this blog are called “easy entertaining” because they are so quick and easy to make. But sometimes, it is also just as easy to have a pantry full of ingredients that you can plate and serve up at the drop of a hat. (frozen cookie dough in the freezer, an emergency container of hummus, an arsenal of crackers, etc) At the holidays, it is especially important to have a few of these back up snacks because you never know who is going to drop by or when you will be stopping by someone else’s (can’t show up empty handed!!) Quince paste is another great pantry item that you can make in bulk and is good in the fridge forever. Serve it up with a little manchego cheese, a few crackers, glass of wine and you have yourself quite the Spanish themed evening!


Quince Paste (Membrillo)

What you need:

  • Quince
  • Sugar
  • Lemon- peel and juice separated
  • Whole Vanilla Bean

Start by peeling, coring and cutting the quince into 3 inch (ish) cubes. Put in your biggest pot on the stove and cover the fruit completely with water. Split the vanilla bean and add it with the lemon peel to the water. Bring to a boil and keep heat up until the quince is cooked completely through. You should be able to start cutting it easily with a fork. Drain all of the water and remove the vanilla and lemon.

Next, return quince to the pot over low heat and add the lemon juice. Begin pureeing with an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen gadget!!). It will become the most incredibly smooth texture. Now, judging by a rough guess, add an amount of sugar about equal in weight to the amount of puree you have. This is a LOT of sugar. Yes, you really do need that much- quince are not sweet at all. It is helpful to think about how many pounds quince you bought at the grocery store- I added about 2/3 of that in sugar.

Now is the fun part. For the next hour and a half you must continually stir your quince over low heat so it does not burn, and watch it magically transformed from a very loose yellowish liquid to a dark rosy thick paste. Its hard to say when it is “done”. For me, this was when I could barely stir anymore and the consistency was similar to the thickest brownie batter you can imagine- it started to pull away from the sides of the pan and I could almost ball it up- but it was still pourable and spreadable.

Line an airtight container with buttered parchment paper and pour in the quince paste to about a 1-2″ thickness. Use a spatula smooth the surface and let rest until cool. That is it! Cover and put in the fridge- it will keep forever but I cannot promise how long it will last šŸ˜‰



Easy Entertaining: Catalan Tomato Bread

One of the amazing things we did on our trip to Spain was take a cooking class. We made a full authentic menu including Romesco Sauce, Paella, and Catalan Crema- but by far the easiest thing we learned to make was Tomato Bread. This bread was served in EVERY restaurant around Barcelona- from the most casual tapas bar to the famed Tickets. Our chef told us that this tomato bread is served with dinner, but is often a causal meal all on its own (paired with a bottle of wine of course). Its pretty difficult to mess up, the only variable here would be over toasting your bread (which as you can see, I did- keep an eye on the toast!)


Catalan Tomato Bread

What you need:

  • 4 thick slices of good quality rustic bread
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Medium sized Tomato
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Toast your bread to your liking. While it is toasting, slice the tomatoes in quarters and the garlic cloves in half. When the toast is ready, immediately take the garlic clove and rub it into the slice of bread. Don’t go crazy, you are just infusing some flavor. Next rub the tomato pulp all over one side of the bread- discard the tomato skin. Finally, drizzle the bread with a little olive oil and salt.


Its not the most beautiful to photograph- but trust me. It tastes AMAZING.

Leave a comment

Easy Entertaining: Yogurt Cucumber Dip

OMG Friday. This has been a looooooooooooooooooong week for me- but I’m excited for the weekend and especially the Oscars! Will you be watching?? I’ve been thinking about inviting a few friends over to watch so I tested out a few quick snacks to make. This yogurt cucumber dip is AMAZING if I do say so myself!Ā  A little bit tangy a little bit sweet, crunchy and creamy all at the same time. Start to finish it took about 10 minutes to whip up- it is so easy!


Yogurt Cucumber Dip

What you need:

  • 14oz Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2T chopped parsley
  • 2T chopped mint
  • Medium cucumber
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • salt and pepper

Put the yogurt in a bowl. Add lemon, parsley and mint. Peel the cucumber and scrape out the seeds using a spoon- chop to small cubes and add it to the dip. Stir everything all around and add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Serve with pita chips.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend. What movies do you think will be the big winners? My money is on Silver Linings Playbook šŸ˜‰


Easy Entertaining: Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

TGIF! This was a long week for me so I’m especially happy to celebrate the weekend! I think the word pinwheels definitely conjures up an image of a summer party- but trust me that these ones made from smoked salmon are great all year long! I think they qualify perfect for easy entertaining, because not only are they delicious, but they look SO fancy and impressive for very little effort. Trust me that they would make a perfect snack for a holiday cocktail party or just a fancy breakfast at home!

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

What you need:

  • 1 package smoked salmon
  • 4 oz cream cheese (trust me and don’t get anything but philadelphia- whipped makes things easier if you can find it)
  • Chopped green onions
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and Pepper

Carefully open the package of smoked salmon and gently lift out the thin slices. Arrange the slices on a piece of plastic wrap (its easy to do this if you wrap a plate in plastic wrap first). A lot of them are folded up in the package so make sure to have a SINGLE layer. The idea is to cover as much surface area as possible- with a slight overlap on the edges of the smoked salmon pieces. Its kind of like making a quilt of salmon.

In a small bowl combine the cream cheese, chopped onions and lemon and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Stir vigorously until creamy and all combined.

Now, scoop the cream cheese onto the salmon and gently spread it all around until every bit of salmon is covered. Don’t make the layer too thick- I did this and next time I will be much more careful. If you have extra cream cheese that’s OK- use it for something else, but trust me to not overdo it.

Starting at one end of the salmon begin rolling the entire thing up like a sleeping bag. Don’t do it too tightly or all of the cream cheese will squeeze out. It’s kind of like making sushi. Wrap the salmon/ cream cheese log in the plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for minimum an hour and optimally, overnight.

When you take the log out of the fridge, cut pinwheels about the width of your pinky finger with a VERY sharp knife- its easy to keep things together if you put toothpicks all the way through the log and then cut between each one. Serve and enjoy!

1 Comment

Easy Entertaining: Mini Mushroom Tarts

Everyone loves the ease of frozen hors d’oeuvres but a lot of times they can fall really flat on flavor. So this week I decided to try an experiment in creating my own mini treats from scratch… well…. not total scratch because I had some frozen puff pastry nearing expiration in my freezer and that is what inspired this recipe. (who makes puff pastry themselves anyway???) But the rest of the recipe IS- and let me tell you that you can TOTALLY tell the difference between delicious caramelized mushrooms and onions with gooey goat cheese and those Trader Joes imposters.

Active time for this was probably 20 minutes, so I’m convinced that the extra “work” was manageable enough that I’m never going back to the frozen version again.

Mini Mushroom Tarts

What you need:

  • Frozen puff pastry
  • 4tbs butter
  • one yellow onion
  • 1 pack baby portobello mushrooms
  • One egg
  • Herbed goat cheese (or plain with your own blend of chopped up herbs)

Defrost the sheet of puff pastry (this takes about an hour or so pull it out of the freezer and THEN run to the store for ingredients)

Thinly slice onion and mushrooms and place in a small pan on medium heat with the butter. Cook until the onions are amber colored and caramelized- about 15 minutes. Meanwhile roll out your puff pastry and cut into circles about the size of the O of an OK hand gesture. Arrange on a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take the mushrooms and onions off the heat and let cool for a minute or so. Transfer to a bowl. Beat the egg and then stir it into the mixture.

Place about a tablespoon of the mushroom/onion/egg mixture on each puff pastry circle and then add a bit of the herbed goat cheese.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes at 375.