Lemon Cheesecake Birds’ Nests

Lemon Cheesecake Birds’ Nests

These cute individual trifles are perfect for your upcoming holiday dessert. We used cinnamon and sugar phyllo dough strips for the “nest” and Williams-Sonoma seasonal candy eggs over a lemon cheesecake filling with a shortbread cookie base. Need to cut some time? Simply use high-quality store-purchased shortbread cookies instead of baking your own.

Phyllo Dough Nest
6 sheets of phyllo dough
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet tray. Cut 6 sheets of phyllo dough in half to make 12 shorter sheets. Roll together tightly and very thinly slice into long thin pieces then transfer to a baking sheet carefully separating the layers.
Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle with butter, then with cinnamon sugar. Bake until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely. Best used on the day they are made, but you can store in an air-tight container overnight. Re-crisp if needed in the oven for on 300˚F for 10 minutes, cool to room temp before using.

Shortbread Crumbs
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan
½ cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 glass serving cups

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter an 8×8” pan. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes. Fold in flour and vanilla and blend until a soft dough forms. Press into the 8” x 8” pan and bake until light brown, about 40 minutes; remove and cool completely. Crumble then divide equally among the cups and press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the cups. Or store in an air tight container over night and add the cups when ready to use.

Lemon Cream Cheese Layers
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2½ cups cold heavy cream
1 cup homemade or store-bought lemon curd

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat mascarpone, powdered sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the cream. When combined, increase the speed to medium and beat until medium peaks form.
Transfer half of mascarpone mixture to another bowl. Add the lemon curd to the remaining half and beat in until combined.
Dividing the mixtures evenly, layer the lemon curd mixture over the shortbread crumbs in each cup followed by the plain mascarpone /cream mixture. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least two hours and up until 24.

When ready to serve
Candy bird eggs

Form a nest in the top of each cup using the shorter pieces of cinnamon phyllo in the center and longer on the outside. Add the candy eggs into the center of the nest and serve immediately.

Shrimp Sliders with Aioli Sauce

Shrimp Sliders with Aioli Sauce

Perfect for March Madness Game Watching, these Shrimp Sliders are filled with fresh shrimp, lemon, panko bread crumbs, and Old Bay spice on slider brioche buns with Aioli sauce. We served them up with a side of oven-roasted duck fat potatoes.

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound peeled and deveined raw large shrimp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, divided
1 large egg
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
½ teaspoon lemon zest,
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup Aioli Sauce (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
12 Slider buns, split and toasted
12 small lettuce leaves
12 small Roma tomato slices

Place 3 tablespoons butter in a small sauce pan and melt. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Add the melted butter, half of shrimp, and egg in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and mixture starts to clump together. Add to a large mixing bowl and gently stir into the shrimp mixture the panko, scallions, salt, Old Bay, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and remaining shrimp. Shape mixture into 12 slider patties. Transfer patties to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 45-60 minutes.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low. Add shrimp patties, and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Spread the aioli evenly on cut sides of the toasted buns. Top bottom bun halves evenly with shrimp patties, lettuce, tomato slices, then top with the bun halves.

Quick Aioli Sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix the garlic and salt in a small bowl until a paste forms. Whisk in mayonnaise, oil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Keep covered and chilled.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is Irish comfort food at its best. Check out this recipe to make a batch for St.Patrick’s Day or any day you crave some comfort. This delicious recipe is filled with ground lamb, veggies, and herbs, all topped with buttery potatoes.
Ground lamb is the preferred meat, but you can substitute with ground beef. If you choose touse beef, be sure also to substitute beef stock for the chicken stock.

Shepherds Pie
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
½ cup finely diced onion
¼ cup shredded carrot
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound ground lamb or lean ground beef
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock, or if using ground beef substitute with beef stock
1 tablespoon fresh mint, sliced thin
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
½ cup fresh spring peas or frozen, thawed
Mashed Potato Topping (see recipe following)
Butter to grease the baking dish
¼ cup melted Irish butter

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a 12” sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, occasionally stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, cooking until combined, about 1 minute. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook, stirring often, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 30 seconds; stir constantly. Slowly add the stock, stirring to deglaze the pan. Return the vegetables to the sauté pan, add the mint, thyme, and peas Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender about 20 minutes. Uncover the skillet and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes more. Taste and add any salt or pepper as needed.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8” x 8” square baking dish then add the meat mixture. Completely cover with the mashed potato topping (below). Pour the Irish Butter over the top the potatoes and lightly sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes just start to brown. Makes six servings.

Mashed Potato Topping
2 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 pounds)
½ cup cream
¼ cup Irish butter
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into 2-inch cubes and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook the potatoes until a small knife can easily pass through the largest potatoes, about 25-30 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, in a small saucepan heat the cream and butter over low heat. When the potatoes are done, strain off all the water and return to the pan. Mash them while still hot and then add half the cream mixture. Continue to mash then add the remaining cream and mash until smooth but with a few small potato pieces here and there. Season the mashed potatoes with salt and pepper to taste.

Banana Bread With Caramelized Banana Topping

Banana Bread With Caramelized Banana Topping

With its moist texture and super-soft crumb, our Banana Bread is dripping with a deliciously
dark caramel sauce and topped with whole bananas sliced in half. Definitely a bread worth
going bananas over that you’ll make again and again.

For the caramel

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark moscovado sugar
4 small bananas, peeled, sliced lengthwise

For the banana bread
¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark moscovado sugar
⅓ sour cream
2 large eggs
4 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped toasted* walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat the sides of a 9” springform pan with butter and line
the bottom with a parchment paper round. Lightly butter the parchment.

Make the caramel:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the moscovado sugar and cook
until the sugar has melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and pour into
the parchment lined springform pan. Press the bananas, flat side down with the
rounded side up into the caramel. Set aside while you make the bread.

Make the banana bread:
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Using a mixer on medium-high speed, beat the softened butter, muscovado sugar, and
sour cream, in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a
time, beating to blend after each addition and scraping down sides and bottom of the
bowl as needed. Add mashed bananas and mix just until combined.

Reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour mixture, then mix until just combined. Stir
the walnuts into the batter. Gently, and carefully, spoon the batter over the bananas
and caramel, smoothing the top. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and then in the
oven.Bake for 65 minutes until a cake tester comes out with a moist crumb or two.
Let cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes to set the caramel, then remove the ring and
carefully invert the bread onto another cooling rack. Carefully remove the parchment

Let cool to room temperature. Makes 12 wedge servings.

*Place the nuts on a sheet tray in a preheated 325˚F oven and bake for 10 minutes or
until toasted slightly brown.