Category Archives: Recipes

Wilton’s Cake Pops

These colorful cake pops are a whimsical addition to any holiday dessert table and are also the perfect grab and go treat for little hands.

There are so many different cake pop recipes online and it was difficult to decide which one we wanted to try. So we went to the experts. Wilton has a variety of products available online and in craft stores, for both baking and decorating. You can find Wilton products inside Michael’s, Jo-Ann stores, Amazon, and more.

Read the Important Notes section below before beginning the recipe.

Wilton's Cake Pops


  • 1 box cake mix of your choice (vanilla, chocolate, etc.)
  • 1 box instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttercream frosting
  • 1 bag of Candy Melts Candy in the color of your choice | Bright White Candy Melts® Candy, 12 oz
  • Wilton Garden Candy Colors


  • 9 x 13 cake pan
  • cooling grid
  • Cookie sheet covered in parchment
  • treat or popsicle sticks
  • craft foam
  • Vegetable shortening for thinning candy melts (if necessary)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray sheet cake pan with nonstick vegetable pan spray.
  2. Let’s make the cake: In large bowl, combine cake mix pudding mix, eggs, water and oil. Beat at medkum speed for 2 minutes and pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool ten minutes.
  4. Remove cake from pan to cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. When cake is cooled, divide in half and freeze on half for future use. (It should keep for a couple of weeks in the freezer)
  6. Make the Cake Balls: Size Chart Below Using your hands, crumble the cake into small chunks. Add icing and mix well with fingers until incorporated, form the mixture into balls and place on prepared pan. Chill until set for about 2 hours.
  7. Create & Coat Cake Pops. While the cake balls are setting, melt Bright White candy according to package instructions. Ceramic Candy Melting Bowls make this a breeze. Dip the tip of the lollipop stick into melted candy, then into cake ball. Let it set for about 10 minutes and repeat with all cake pops.
  8. Dip cake pops, one at a time, into melted bright white candy. Tap lightly to remove excess. If you are going to add sprinkles do so now, so they will “stick” and set in craft block. Repeat with all cake pops. Chill until set for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Small cake pops: 1 tablespoon-sized cake balls (each about 1 1/4 inch diameter) makes about 48 cake pops.
  • Medium cake pops: 2 tablespoons-sized cake balls (each about 1 1/2 inch diameter) makes about 24 cake pops.
  • Large cake pops: 3 tablespoons-sized cake balls (each about 1 3/4 inch diameter) makes about 16 cake pops.

Important Notes:

Use a tall and deep bowl or cup or a Ceramic Candy Melting Bowls, to dip your cake pops in Candy Melts. This way the pops can be completely submerged.

When coloring your candy melts, use coloring specifically made for candy melts, like Wilton’s Garden Candy Color and follow the directions. (available at Michael’s, Jo-Ann stores, Amazon or If you use regular food coloring, your candy coating will seize up, and you’ll have to toss it out.

If your candy coating is too thick, add a small amount of vegetable shortening to the coating and stir well. Do not use oil.

Standing cake pop “up” in a foam rack is recommended, although not completely necessary. As you can plainly see here, we placed ours cake pop “down”, giving the candy melt a chance to pool. They are still wickedly delicious though.

Note: This is NOT a paid post, we went to Wilton because it’s a name Basil & Salt trusts.

tomato and cream cheese tulips

These delightful spring bites are sure to be an instant family favorite.

The Hotel Saugatuck in Saugatuck, Michigan, has a special recipe they offer each year to coincide with a nearby tulip festival and they are a perfect appetizer for every spring gathering.

The “flowers” only take a few minutes to whip up and there is plenty of room for improvisation for the filling.

The Hotel Saugatuck's Tomato Cream Cheese Tulips

Tomato TulipsIngredients

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 package (8oz) cream cheese
  • 2 bunches green onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 10 chives
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch kosher salt


1. Cut off the roots and ends of the green onion

2. Let cream cheese sit out for 1/2 hour to get to room temperature. Then chop chives and garlic together using an electric mixer. Next whip the cream cheese, chives, garlic, and salt until blended evenly. Add lemon juice and blend into mixture.

3. Using a skewer, poke a hole in the stem side of each tomato. Keeping the stem side down, make a cross (2 slices) 1/2 way down the tomato using a small spoon (or the tip of an old fruit peeler) scoop out the seeds from the inside of tomato.

4. Take a pastry bag and tip, fill the cut side of the tomato with cream cheese, and insert the green onion into the hole at the stem end of the tomato.

About The Hotel Saugatuck

The Hotel Saugatuck is an 18-room luxury bed and breakfast with stunning views of Lake Kalamazoo, offering modern amenities, mere blocks from the vintage reminiscent small-town of Saugatuck, Michigan, and minutes from Douglas. Built in 1865, The Hotel Saugatuck, formerly the Twin Gables Inn, is the only original mill in the area still standing from the busy lumbering era. It is now comprised of a dozen rooms in the historic hotel and three duplex cottages, each with two guest rooms. All rooms feature king sized beds, private bathrooms, Jason Hydrotherapy Tubs with Micro-silk Technology, in-room breakfast, in-room dessert, fireplaces, and individual climate control. Privacy and individual attention define The Hotel Saugatuck experience.

Red Oak Grilled Tri-Tip and Santa Barbara Spot Prawns with Rosé Ancho Chili Sauce

Chef Lee Abbott’s famous Santa Barbara Surf n Turf
by Lee Abbott | Photography Lee Abbott

Created exclusively for Basil & Salt Magazine, the burst of coastal ranch and sea flavors matched with Altaneve Rosé Prosecco bubbles, creates the perfect pairing.

Watch Chef Abbot make it below!

Chef Lee Abbott's Santa Barbara Surf n Turf

You’ll Need

  • 1 – 2lb Tri-Tip
  • 1 lb of Santa Barbara spot prawns, cleaned and peeled, tails on.

Of course you can substitute other prawns, but preferably you can find these as they are a firm, lobster-like meat with a sweet and delicious flavor – these are no ordinary shrimp! (Available Spring & Fall)

Dry Rub
I always make extra, and put the leftovers it in a spice bottle and keep it for when I want some quickly as it is a really versatile rub – great on burgers too!

  • 2 Tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar

Prawns Marinade

  • 1 Tbsp of the dry rub
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Whisk marinade ingredients together and place inside a Ziplock bag or plastic container, add prawns and shake gently to make sure the prawns are well covered – and chill until it’s time to grill.

Tri-Tip Prep
Carve/remove the layer of fat the butcher leaves across the back.  You “can” cook with it as some people like it, but I trim it up a bit – not too perfectly as I like some fat there. 

Generously rub entire tri-tip a least an hour before cooking, and leave to rest at room temperature.  You can also do this the night before, cover, chill and remove from the refrigerator an hour or two before cooking.  While the tri-tip is “seasoning” and coming up to room temperature, you can prepare the Red Wine Ancho Chili Sauce.

Rosé Ancho Chile Sauce

  • 2 large dried Ancho Chilies
  • 2 cups medium bodied rosé wine
  • 2 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Soak the 2 large dried Ancho Chilies in hot water until they turn soft and the water is a nice rust color.  Pull from the water and remove the stems – you “can” remove the seeds as well but I like the heat. 

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend into a smooth puree.

In a saucepan, combine puree and rosé wine, simmer to reduce the liquid volume by about half.  Be sure to pick a medium bodied rosé – one that isn’t too acidic and dry or the flavor won’t come through.  Then, add the mix to the blender along with the vinegar, honey, add the salt and pepper.  While the blender is whirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil into the mixture and blend until emulsified. Sample and season to taste.

Greens for Plating

  • 3 oz. fresh arugula greens
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Whisk all olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper together and set aside for plating – lightly tossing the Arugula at the very last moment to keep the greens from wilting.  This is NOT a heavy dressing – just enough to moisten the Arugula and to deliciously mix with the Rosé Ancho Chili sauce during plating.

I use a charcoal grill, and add Red Oak to the coals – it really is the most traditional flavor here in Santa Barbara.  This also works just fine on a gas grill (but if you can add some wood chips for some smoke you will be happier!)

Grill over medium high heat for about 8 minutes.  Then flip for another 8 – flip back for 4 – flip again for 4 – “ish”  Gonna take about ±25 min total cooking time depending on the thickness of the steak and the heat of your coals. 

For Medium Rare, pull when your thermometer reads 130 – even “just under” as tri-tip is much better undercooked vs. over.  Also because of the varying thickness of the “tri” shape, each Steak will naturally have both nedium rare and medium portions.  Let rest for 10 minutes – then carve ACROSS the grain.

While the tri-tip is resting – grill your prawns.  These cook very fast and the marinade should give you a nice flame flare-up. These take only about 1-2 min per side until beautifully pink with a nice char.

Start with a nice light bed of the dressed arugula, layer a few slices of tri-tip, then top with 2-3 prawns. Drizzle the whole stack with your Rosé Ancho Chili Sauce. 

Pair with a lovely wine and good company!

Cook…Wine Lover…Adventurist
Lee Abbott embodies the flavor of the California coastal lifestyle ­ big, bold, sexy. Just a few of his experiences include, pro water skier,  sharing Tuac rice moonshine with the Iban tribe of headhunters in Borneo,  growing up riding horses and motocross, Lee Abbott lives his motto every day… TASTE LIFE.

Lee set out on his career path at the early age of 7 cleaning ­up for his neighbor the butcher, and when The Country Meat Market moved into BBQ and Catering, Lee evolved with the business.

By 20 he was cooking 3 meals a day for 20 hungry pro water skiers at a Training Center in Florida. Returning to his California roots, he studied History and Art History at UCLA. While breaking into Hollywood, he did more than his share of waiting tables, tending bar and became a celebrity personal trainer. The first private dinner party he personally catered, included Herb Ritts and Madonna as guests.

“Name a great day in your life.” says Lee, “And I bet it ended with a fabulous meal shared with special people.”

In 2016, Lee showcased his amazing chops on Food Network’s All­Star Academy. 25,000
people applied, 9 Contestants made the show, and it came down to one final plate. It was a once in a lifetime boot­camp with his all­star mentor Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, who gave Lee high praise saying “Lee is an emotional cook just like me.” Lee became the series big hearted audience favorite ­ but was narrowly edged out in the very final dish.

Lee calls his food style ­ California Soul. He is a 7th Generation Californian who was born and raised on a ranch by the sea in Santa Barbara, and his bright flavors are inspired from Harbor to Vineyard. Lee Abbott is here to TASTE LIFE…with California Soul.

buttery apple cake

A simple and delicious cake filled with apples and a hint of rum.

When choosing apples for this gem, pick apples that will hold up during baking and not lose their form. The following apples are good for baking:
Granny Smith, Jonegold, Braeburn, Honey Crisp and Pink Lady.

The cake has a fairly delicate flavor and although I add cinnamon and cloves to the apples for my personal recipe, (I coat the apple pieces only and then gently fold them into the batter) I strongly suggest making the recipe as is, and give it a tweak and twist to suit your own flavor in the second round.

Note: We used a spring form pan for this recipe, prepared (greased) pan with butter and lined bottom with parchment.

buttery apple cake

Serves 6 to 8


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar, plus 1 Tblsp for sprinkling on cake
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tblsp dark rum
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes.


  1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar (minus your set aside Tablespoon) until light and fluffy, beat in vanilla extract and rum.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Fold in chopped apples.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle top with “set aside” granulated sugar.
  6. Bake 40 minutes, until gold and crisp on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake on rack, when cool, run blunt edge of knife around the edges of cake and remove sides of spring form pan.
  8. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar before serving.

Thank you for reading our little blog!

Salmon Deviled Eggs and Crab Cakes in a Tangy Sauce

From the archives:

Crab Cakes with Mixed Greens and Tangy SauceWith Easter a tad further down the calendar than usual, we have a bit of extra time to prep, plan and create our menus. My traditional Easter menu has always included simple appetizers, ham and a decadent cake for dessert, however this year a change is in the wind. While I haven’t settled on a precise menu to date, I have been collecting ideas.

Art de Fete has an Elegant Easter Dinner on display on its site. The table decor is beautiful and festive, the menu is both exquisite and fresh. What caught my eye first were delightful little Crab Cakes with Mixed Greens & Tangy Sauce.

Ingredients List: Crab Cakes: Jumbo lump crab meat, red onion, bread crumbs, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, egg, lemon, dill, red pepper flakes, freshly ground white pepper and vegetable oil. Sauce: Sour cream, chives, lime, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Salad: Mixed greens, white wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Follow the link at the bottom of the post for full recipe and method.

RossiniA light Champagne or sparkling wine cocktail is on the menu for Sunday celebrations and gatherings. The cocktail of choice this year is the Rossini. It’s elegance, simplicity and fruitful combination of flavors is always a delight to guests. If there is another fruit you have in mind, simply nix the strawberry puree and substitute with flavor of your choice.


  • 1 ounce pureed strawberries
  • 3 ounces chilled prosecco
  • 1 fresh strawberry, sliced for garnish

Pour fruit puree into chilled glass and top with prosecco.

Deviled Eggs have made a comeback in a huge way, and we are loving the creativity, ideas and combination of flavors that recipe developers have been posting. Our showcase for today’s post is from Art de Fete, Deviled Eggs with Herbs, Salmon & Osetra Caviar. Caviar is not in everyone’s taste or budget, and can be substituted with salmon roe or simply left out all together.

Deviled Eggs with Herbs, Salmon and Osetra Caviar

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Herbs & Osetra Caviar II


  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 tsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp tarragon, chipped
  • 1 tsp dill chopped
  • 1/4 cup smoked salmon, chopped
  • sea salt, freshly ground white pepper


  • chives, freshly chopped
  • 12 dill sprigs
  • 1 ounce Osetra Caviar
  1. Boil eggs, peel.
  2. Cut eggs in half lengthwise and carefully remove yolks. Set whiles aside. In food processor combine yolks, mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salmon and herbs. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Blend to combine until smooth.
  3. Fill pastry bag with yolk mixture and pipe into egg whites halves, filling to 1/2 inch over surface.
  4. Garnish with chives, dill sprigs and *caviar

Please print me, I am here for you to keep!

*Caviar is not in everyone’s taste or budget, and can be substituted with salmon roe or simply left out all together.


A very special thank you to Svitlana of Art de Fete for today’s content. You can find her entire Easter Dinner Menu (including the crab cakes ) here.

Today’s cocktail is part of a series of 25 Celebratory Bubbly Cocktails at



Sip a legendary spirit on National Absinthe Day

LucidAbsinthe – literally the stuff of legends. Many spirits have a day that PR people have named after them – but few have the right to own a day in the way that absinthe owns March 5 – the anniversary of the day that the 95-year ban on the spirit was repealed in the United States.  Whether you revere it or want to stay clear of it, absinthe has a place in cocktails, so why not raise a glass this Saturday.

According to Ted Breaux, creator of Lucid Absinthe – the first authentic absinthe to be legally sold in the US following the repeal in 2007 – there are many lingering misperceptions from the 95-year ban. So in honor of its day, let’s spread some truth… 

What exactly is absinthe?

Lucid IAbsinthe exploded in popularity in 19th century, heralded by admirers from Ernest Hemingway to Pablo Picasso.  A collection of natural herbs and botanicals, macerated and distilled, it has no added sugar which classifies absinthe  as a spirit rather than a liqueur – and therein lies the primary difference between authentic absinthes and the myriad of liquids which merely claim the name. 

Will it make me crazy?

By background, Breaux is a chemist.  He was attracted by absinthe’s mystique and was the first to conduct a complete chemical analysis of samples drawn from full, sealed antique bottles of absinthe. He found nothing that  proved the rumors true. He shared his findings with the US TTB, which led to the repeal of the ban in 2007.  

Can you buy real absinthes in the US?

Lucid IIIThe short answer is yes. Lucid, as well as the full portfolio of absinthes that Breaux makes for Hood River Distillers, are made according to traditional French methods from natural herbs and botanicals in 19th century copper pot stills, in a distillery designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, Eiffel tower).  Nothing is automated. All are widely available in the US and all are real.

The confusion comes from the fact that there is no legal definition of absinthe.  As a result, you can put pretty much anything in a bottle add artificial dyes and colors and call it absinthe.

How can you tell if it’s real?

Read the label! Authentic absinthes never contain sugar and don’t contain artificial dyes or colors. Less expensive products typically contain sugar and are actually absinthe liqueurs.

How do I drink it?

Absinthe is too strong for most to sip neat. It needs to be mellowed with water or used in a cocktail, in fact the original ‘Savoy Cocktail Book’ (1930) lists more than 100 cocktails that call for absinthe. Moreover, as bartenders and mixologists look to natural ingredients and those that add complex flavors, authentic absinthe, which is distilled directly from whole botanicals, is a versatile option.

Below are some of our favorite recipes:

The Sazeric

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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  • Sazerac¼ ounce Lucid Absinthe
  • 2 ounces rye – we like Pendleton 1910 Canadian Rye Whiskey
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Lemon peel for garnish


Add all liquid ingredients into a shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into a rocks glass with ice.  Rim the glass with the lemon peel, twist over the surface and garnish.

Bloody Fairy

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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  • 1 ounce Lucid Absinthe
  • 4 ounces spicy Bloody Mary mix
  • 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, ground pepper, garlic salt, celery salt


In a pint glass add ice, Lucid Absinthe, Bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire sauce, and other spices. Shake and serve. Garnish with an olive, pepperoncini and lime wedge.

Hemingway's Sunrise

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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  • ½ ounce Lucid Absinthe Supérieure
  • ¼ ounce Gin
  • ¼ ounce St. Germain
  • 1 ounce Pineapple juice
  • ¾ ounce Grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce Strawberry syrup
  • Rosé


Add all ingredients in shaker. Shake and strain into a martini or coupe glass. Top with rosé.

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colorful cocktails inspired by mother nature

Small flowers are poking out of the ground, trees are beginning to bud and signs of spring are everywhere we look. Mother Nature’s palette is filled with vivid colors this time of year, inspiring us to find colorful additions for our cocktails.

From Arizona’s Sonoran desert, to the mountains of New York, historic city charms of Montreal and the seacoast splendor of Massachusetts and Florida, top-notch hotel bars share favorite spring-inspired cocktails to cheer the changing of the winter guard.

We have eleven cocktails to share with you throughout the week and our first three hail from all over the Northern Hemisphere. Happy sipping and bottoms up!

cantaloupe martini

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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Cantaloupe Martini from jade bar at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountainfrom jade bar at Scottsdale’s fan favorite Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Ariz.)


  • 5 ounces Titos Vodka
  • 2 ounces watermelon liqueur
  • splash orange juice, fresh
  • splash lime juice, fresh


Combine all ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a cantaloupe ball. 


east cocktail

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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East Cocktail at Renaissance MontrealFrom the Renaissance Montreal, Canada’s hottest new hotel as of Jan. 2016


  • 5 ounces Hennessy V.S.
  • 5 ounces sake
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce lemongrass syrup
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 5 ounce egg white


Combine all ingredients and shake vigorously. Filter the drink with a cocktail strainer into an old fashioned glass, already filled with ice.

painted house margarita

  • Difficulty: Simple and Quick
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Painted House Margarita at Henry’s Bar at the Harbor View HotelFrom Henry’s Bar at the 125-year-old Harbor View Hotel (Martha’s Vineyard)


  • 2 ounces  Silver Tequila
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • 2 ounces pomegranate juice


1 ounce homemade sour mix (mix two cups of simple syrup to one cup of lemon juice, one cup of lime juice, and 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice for an ample batch)

Combine tequila, triple sec, sour mix and pomegranate juice over ice in a pint glass and shake back and forth into a metal shaker. Rim the pint glass with salt, pour contents from shaker into the glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Thank you for visiting basil & salt!

Sweet, Savory and Sexy Appetizers for Valentine’s Day

Opposites attract and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with this Sweet-and-Savory Combo made from delicate and delicious Kataifi dough. Use as gorgeous bookends to a romantic meal, or skip the steak or salmon main courses and just snack on these creative and tasty dishes.

“This Valentine’s Day spread is a great way to start and end a romantic dinner for two,” said Steve Kontos, vice president and owner of Kontos Foods. “Kontos Kataifi Dough is a Greek specialty and wrapping it around brie makes for a decadent appetizer. The Berry and Apricot-Glazed Kataifi Nests, filled with custard and fresh fruit, are delicate and tasty morsels. Together these dishes provide beautiful accents to a special meal.”

These might look like a professional pastry chef created them, but using Kataifi Dough from Kontos Foods, maker of artisan flatbreads and other ethnic foods, both dishes easily come together in minutes, for even novice chefs. Fresh fruits, quality cheese, custards and jam will ensure the best results.

You’ll be looking for excuses to make these two dishes, separately or together, to impress your sweetheart. Bon appétit!

Note: The little “nests” have captured our imaginations here at Basil & Salt Magazine and we can also see these little beauties gracing the Easter dessert table with chocolate eggs for the kiddos. The ideas are limitless! Get creative, we would love to see what you come up with!

Berry Apricot-Glazed Kataifi Nests

  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Berry and Apricot-Glazed Kataifi Nests

Serves 2


  • Kontos Kataifi Dough, thawed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Diced kiwi, blueberries, raspberries or sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup apricot jam
  • Prepared custardInstructions 
  1. Thaw Kontos Kataifi Dough prior to baking.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Cut Kontos Kataifi into 6-Inch by 1/2-Inch strands.
  4. Place ½ oz. portions into greased (olive oil) small muffin cups. Place on top shelf of oven and bake 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. Fill baked cups with custard (preferably homemade, but store-bought is OK) then top with diced kiwi and berries.
  6. Warm apricot jam with 1 oz. of water in a small saucepan to create a glaze; brush over the nests for a shining finish.


Kataifi-Wrapped Baked Brie

  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Serves 4


  • 1 wheel of brie, about 8 oz.
  • 3 tbsp. apricot jam
  • Kontos Kataifi Dough, thawed
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Sliced apricots
  • Grapes, apricots and figs for garnish


  1. Thaw Kontos Kataifi Dough prior to baking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the brie on a small baking dish, lined with parchment paper. Top with apricot slices arranged in a spiral pattern and glaze with 3 tbsp. apricot jam.
  3. Gently loosen or break the strands of the Kataifi apart. Wrap the Kataifi around the sides of the cheese. Brush liberally with the melted butter.
  4. Bake until the Kataifi is crisp and golden brown—about 15-20 minutes depending on how thick the wheel of brie is. Garnish with grapes. Serve warm on a platter with toasted baguette slices, figs, grapes and apricots.

Kontos sells its products to retailers and foodservice establishments across North America and around the world. Follow Kontos Foods on Twitter, on Facebook  and on Pinterest.

About Kontos Foods
Founded in 1987, Kontos Foods, Inc. is a Paterson, New Jersey-based provider of traditional Mediterranean foods for restaurants, hotels, food service, retail specialty stores and supermarkets worldwide. The family-owned company specializes in hand-stretched flatbreads, including the Kontos Pocket-Less Pita®, Fillo dough, pastries, olives, gyro meats, and Greek yogurts, as well as nearly 50 varieties of multi-ethnic flatbreads. Kontos, which has over 225 employees and was founded by Evripides (Evris) Kontos with his son Steve, together bring over 100 years’ experience in the premium food industry. The company’s bread and Fillo products are made in the USA. 

Celebrate Love with Chef Daniel Billheimer’s Chambord Crème Brulee

Creme Brulee IICreate a tantalizing dessert for a romantic weekend “in”.

Manhattan’s Monarch Rooftop & Indoor Lounge Executive Chef Daniel Billheimer’s Chambord Crème Brulee is on the menu for Valentine’s Day weekend. Chef Daniel will introduce a masterpiece  at Monarch and although we can’t all be in Manhattan for the weekend, we can make this decadent delight at home.

Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, which means a full weekend love-fest. Why not celebrate “in” this year?  Champagne, wine, tantalizing cuisine and decadent desserts are ambrosial aphrodisiacs, so share a bite, a toast and Chef Daniel’s Chambord Crème Brulee.

When Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
(Love’s Labour’s Lost, 4.3)

Chambord Crème Brulee

  • Difficulty: Involved
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Yield: Nine 3.75oz. ramekins

Creme Brulee IICrème Brulee Ingredients

  • 7 egg yolks
  • 24 ounces heavy cream
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 3/4 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 tablespoons Chambord cordial


  • Raw sugar
  • Mint sprig
  • Blackberry or black raspberry


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If convection, turn to low fan.
  2. In a small pot combine cream, vanilla and salt and heat gently on medium high. Keep an eye on cream mixture so it doesn’t boil over. Separate egg yolks into a medium mixing bowl and whip in sugar until creamy. Once cream mixture is gently simmering, remove from heat and temper it into the yolk/sugar by whisking the two together slowly, so as not to scramble the yolks.  After the cream mixture is totally combined with the yolk mixture, whisk in the Chambord.
  3. In a half hotel pan, place nine 4oz. ramekins and fill them with the crème brulee mixture leaving 1/2 inch. Add boiling water until it reaches half way up the ramekins. Gently place the pan in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. The cooking process might take a little more time depending on the oven, but remove the pan when the custard is set up and just barely jiggles when the pan is shook. Remove the ramekins from the water bath on to a sheet pan and place in refrigerator to cool, about 2 hours.
  4. When ready to serve, apply a layer of raw sugar to just cover the custard. Gently caramelize the sugar with a hand torch rotating the crème brulee slowly to caramelize evenly.  **As an alternative to a hand torch, set your oven to broil and place the rack just underneath the element/flame.  Make sure the creme brulees have set (preferably overnight) and the ramekins are cold before placing them under the broiler for 10-15 minutes or until the sugar begins to caramelize.
  5. Garnish with mint sprig and one berry for accent and serve.

Monarch is located at 71 West 35th Street, perched 18 floors above midtown Manhattan. Offering spectacular sights of midtown Manhattan and a picturesque view of the iconic Empire State Building, this is a gorgeous venue for sweethearts to share love, cuisine and decadent desserts

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