Country Ham with Jalapeño Raspberry Sauce, Mini Sweet Potato Biscuits & Pickled Grape Tomatoes

Country Ham with Jalapeño Raspberry Sauce, Mini Sweet Potato Biscuits & Pickled Grape Tomatoes

An ideal Kentucky appetizer for Derby Day, or any spring party, this tasty combination will disappear quickly  from your dinner table or buffet. Sweet potato and buttermilk biscuits are filled with country ham, fontina cheese, and spicy sweet raspberry and jalapeño sauce.

The biscuits are best on the day they are baked but you can make the dough ahead of time, cut and freeze, then thaw right before baking.


Pickled Grape Tomatoes

1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
½  teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½  teaspoon coriander seeds
6-7 whole allspice berries
2 large bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic sliced thin

One week prior to serving: Wash, dry, and remove any stems from the tomatoes. Using a toothpick, poke a small hole through each tomato, end to end. In a one quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, stirring until all sugar and salt is dissolved. Fill a clean glass container with the tomatoes. Add the peppercorns, coriander, allspice, bay leaves, and garlic to the container. Pour the hot brine over to cover completely, discard any leftover brine. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for 1 week prior to serving. Can be stored refrigerated for up to 1 month.


Mini Sweet Potato Biscuits

12-ounces sweet potato
¾ cup buttermilk, chilled
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½  teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, and cut into small cubes

The day prior, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake until tender, or a fork passes easily through the potatoes, about 45 minutes. Let the potatoes cool slightly, then peel and puree in a food processor. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, measure out one cup for the biscuits.


Preheat oven to 450˚ F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the chilled sweet potato and the buttermilk. Place back in the refrigerator to keep cold. In a large wide bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.


Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas. Add the sweet potato/buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined and a soft dough forms; try to avoid over mixing. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Flour your hands and pat the dough carefully into a round shape then flatten the dough to 1-inch thickness. Cut as many biscuits as possible with a floured 1½” metal biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the remaining dough together and cut out the remaining biscuits. Bake 13-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 30 mini biscuits.


Fresh Jalapeño and Raspberry Sauce

1 whole jalapeño pepper
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
¼ cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons molasses
⅛ teaspoon salt

Cut 6 slits down the length of the jalapeño almost to the bottom; cutting through just the skin and membrane but not completely cutting open the pepper. Be careful when preparing the pepper, the idea is to just cook out the flavor so you don’t want to cut it completely open. In a small saucepan, add the jam, sugar, vinegar, molasses, salt and jalapeño. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat; remove and discard the jalapeño. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer; set aside.


To assemble:
15 slices of country ham, sliced paper-thin, at room temperature
30 Sweet potato biscuits
15 slices Italian Fontina cheese, sliced very thin
30 novelty sandwich picks

Preheat the oven broiler. Cut the biscuits in half and spread on the halves ¼ teaspoon per side with fresh jalapeno & raspberry sauce. Top with ½ piece of country ham, folded or torn to fit, and ½ piece of cheese. Place under the broiler to just melt the cheese. Remove from the oven and top with the other biscuit half and a sandwich pick fitted with a pickled cherry tomato. Makes 30 mini biscuit sandwiches.

Chef Kathy Featured on The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley

The article features a spotlight on Chef Kathy, her work, and these three recipes: Basil Gelato, Iced Lemon Cookies, and Blueberry Key Lime SauceSautéed Shrimp with Smoked Carmelized Pineapple, Toasted Coconut & Almonds, and Yuzu Luxe Sour Meringue Cookies.

 “Everyone is looking for a better way to make food.”

Fresh Chef Experience brings all food and equipment to a home, office or event space including a small oven and Bunsen burner if necessary. Classes require a minimum of six people and, for larger groups, operate on a ratio of no more than eight people per chef instructor so every participant has plenty of hands-on experience. Chefs guide customers through the techniques of each recipe, starting from scratch with raw ingredients. Kathy has a strong foundation in healthy eating and teaches cooking for local food banks and food literacy programs.

“When I teach people how to cook, I teach them to cook from raw,” she says emphatically.

To read the full article click here.

Birds’ Nest Lemon Cheesecake

Birds’ Nest Lemon Cheesecake

Greet spring in a cheerful manner at any holiday celebration with these cute birds’ nest lemon cheesecake trifles. Using a no-bake recipe, the lemon cheesecake is a yummy whipped mixture of lemon curd and mascarpone.  The “nest” is made with thinly slice phyllo dough, topped with cinnamon/sugar and the base is shortbread crumbles. If you need to cut some time, you can always use high-quality store-purchased shortbread cookies.


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.


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.


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
Candy bird eggs


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, and refrigerate for at least two hours and up until 24.

When ready to serve, 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.

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Rhubarb is back and we couldn’t be happier. This upside down cake has cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger tossed together with rhubarb before baking under a tasty lemon cake. Serve warm and topped with fresh whipped cream for a sweet spring dessert.

1 pound fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½  teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup butter, plus more for the pan, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan, divided
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼  teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Whipped cream for serving


Line a 9-inch springform pan base with parchment. Butter and flour the pan sides and the parchment. Combine the rhubarb, ½ cup granulated sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cornstarch in a bowl. Toss to coat; set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the remaining ½ cup butter, lemon zest, and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until incorporated then add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 batches, mixing at low speed after each addition until just combined.

Arrange coated rhubarb pieces in a single layer on the buttered parchment in pan, sprinkle over any excess sugar from bowl. Pour the batter into pan then smooth with a spatula. Gently drop the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350°F until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Rest for fifteen minutes then remove the ring from the springform pan. Immediately place a cooling rack on the top of the cake and flip over. Place the cooling rack over foil to collect any dripping sugar syrup. Cool completely and serve warm with whipped cream.


Peanut Butter Cup Brownies with Peanut Buttercream Icing

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies with Peanut Buttercream Icing

These cute little individual brownies are baked with a peanut butter cup in the center, then topped with peanut butter icing. Their portability makes them perfect for both indoor and outdoor spring events.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

1½  sticks butter, plus extra to butter pans
7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 extra large eggs
¾  cups dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons light corn syrup
½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¼  teaspoon kosher salt
¾  cup spooned and leveled bleached all-purpose flour
15 peanut butter cups
Peanut Buttercream Icing (recipe below)


Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter 15 of the cups in two 12-cup square brownie pans.

Place 1 ½ cups of butter around the edges of a microwave-safe glass bowl. Add the chocolate chips to the center. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave on highest power for 1 minute, stirring at least once, and then in 30 second increments, stirring one time in the middle of each one, until the chocolate is almost melted. Remove and stir until completely melted. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until the whites and yolk are just blended. Stir into the eggs the brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt; mix until combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture, stirring until completely incorporated. Stir in the flour to completely incorporate.

Add a tablespoon of batter to each buttered cup in the brownie pan. Place a peanut butter cup over the batter. Cover with remaining batter until the cups of the pan are 3/4 full.

Place the pans in the oven and bake until brownies just begin to pull away from the edge of the pan, about 18 – 20 minutes. It’s better to undercook rather than risk drying out the brownies.

Let cool completely in the pans on a rack. Place the cooled pans in the refrigerator for one hour to set the chocolate cups. Carefully remove the brownies from the pan using a thin spatula. Wrap the brownies well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.


Peanut Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk, more if needed


In a bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, and salt using a stand or hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk, combine and then add the second tablespoon. Mix to a smooth, but still stiff consistency, adding any additional milk if needed. Use a piping bag or a spoon, top the cooled brownies an hour before serving.