Tartelette Flambé

Tartelette Flambé

This is a simplified version of the Alsatian pizza called Tarte Flambé that Chef Andre Soltner famously served at Lutece in New York City. These savory tartelettes are utterly delicious and impressive, but super-easy using frozen puff-pastry, available near the frozen pie crusts at better grocery stores. If you can’t find the Italian bacon known as pancetta, use thick smoked bacon with most of the fat removed or Canadian bacon. Pair a few of these with a salad and a glass of any bubbly from brut to Moscato and you’ve got yourself a meal.

Makes 12 tartelettes

  • 2 sheets prepared puff pastry, thawed
  • 1/4 cup fromage blanc (or small curd cottage cheese)
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche (or Mexican crema)
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, bacon or Canadian bacon, diced finely
  • 1 small onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste

Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut 12 circles out of the thawed puff pastry. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray or cover with a baking mat and lay the 12 circles of dough on the sheet. Be sure to allow the puff pastry to sit at room temperature for at least 40 minutes before baking.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, cream together the fromage blanc, crème fraîche, cream cheese and flour until very smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Add the pancetta or bacon to a cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat. When the bacon starts to heat up, add the onion and cook until the onion starts to become translucent. Turn off the flame.

Spread a generous teaspoon of the cheese mixture over each circle of dough, covering them completely. Top each with an equal amount of the bacon and onion mixture. Season the tartelettes with pepper and salt. Bake for 12 minutes, until each tartelette is golden on the edges and puffy. Serve immediately.

Variation: These are also quite good with the zesty bite of Gruyere cheese instead of the fresh cheese mixture. Substitute 1/2 cup of shredded Gruyere for the fromage blanc, crème fraîche, cream cheese and flour mixture. Sprinkle an equal amount of Gruyere over each tartelette, and then continue as directed.

By Maria C. Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion Published August 2009 by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House

Crab Toasts

Crab Toasts

These retro snacks were a favorite of mine growing up; I thought they were the most delicious and sophisticated thing ever! I’ve updated my mother’s recipe with the addition of wasabi powder, which gives these toasted crab canapés a modern, spicy kick.

Makes 24 toasts

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter
  • 1 can blue crab meat, drained and checked for shells
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dehydrated onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 package cocktail rye bread

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter, crab, lemon juice, garlic powder, onions, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and wasabi powder. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let mixture rest in the refrigerator from 2 hours or overnight; this allows the favors to meld and gives the onions a chance to plump up.

Before serving, preheat the broiler to a low heat. Remove the crab mixture from the refrigerator to let it warm up slightly. Spread approximately two tablespoons of the crab mixture on each piece of cocktail rye bread. Place the canapés on a cookie sheet and broil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until bubbly and golden on top. Let cool slightly before serving.

By Maria C. Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion Published August 2009 by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House

Posh Popcorn

Posh Popcorn

Hot buttered popcorn becomes sublime when paired with a fizzy glass of sparkling wine. You’ll find the savory popcorn perfect with any dry sparkling wine; the Five-Spice Popcorn variation is a better fit for a sweeter dry or demi sec style wine such as Chandon Riche or your favorite Moscato d’Asti.

Makes 6 cups

  • 1 bag good quality microwave popcorn
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Prepare the popcorn according to the manufacturer’s instructions, being careful not to burn it. Open the bag, avoiding the hot steam, and pour it in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle popcorn with melted butter, cheese and garlic salt. Serve at once.


Spicy Popcorn

Omitting the Parmesan cheese and black pepper, sprinkle popcorn instead with 2 teaspoons of togarashi spice mix along with butter and garlic salt. Togarashi is a Japanese seven-spice blend available at Asian markets or in the Asian product aisle of most grocery stores.

Truffled Popcorn

Omitting the garlic salt; add 1/2 teaspoon black truffle oil to the butter before drizzling it over the popcorn. Easy does it; a little truffle oil goes a long way!

5-Spice Popcorn

Omitting the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and pepper, drizzle popcorn with the melted butter along with 1 teaspoon of Chinese Five-Spice Powder and 1 tablespoon light brown sugar or more to taste.

By Maria C. Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion Published August 2009 by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House

Mini Lamb Burgers with Feta and Mint

Mini Lamb Burgers with Feta and Mint

These burgers are quite flavorful and rich, though the addition of mint and feta give them a fresh flavor. They’re wonderful with any dry sparkling wine with a good amount of red grapes, such a blanc de noirs, rose, sparkling shiraz or Lambrusco.


1 pound ground lamb

1/3 cup crumbled feta

12 fresh mint leaves, snipped in ribbons

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt, like Tony Cachere’s or Lawry’s

4 prepared soft rolls, like pan de sal, split cross wise

Small jar roasted red peppers

In a glass mixing bowl, combine lamb, feta, mint, olive oil, oregano, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Using your hands, mix well to incorporate the spices and cheese into the lamb. Form into 4-ounce patties; Using a 1/2 cup measure as a guide, divide the meat into four 4-ounce patties. Pat until flattened into a nice round patty about 1/3 inch thick.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the water dropped on its surface crackles, add the patties. Cook for 4 minutes on each side until done. (They’re also good cooked over a moderate barbecue.)

Remove burgers from pan and drain on paper towels.

Serve on rolls, garnished with a few pieces of roasted red pepper.

By Maria C. Hunt author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion (Clarkson Potter, $16.99) All rights reserved.

Gougeres with Herbs

Gougeres with Herbs

This recipe for gougeres – those warm puffy savory pastries perfect with chamapagne or any wine  – comes originally from the LA Times. I love it because it actually works! Follow the steps and you’ll be rewarded with loads of perfect puffs just like the ones in the picture.


  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 pound Gruyere cheese
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cold milk plus
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1/2 cup butter plus more for greasing pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg mixed with 1/2 teaspoon salt


Trim rind from Gruyere and cut cheese into cubes.
Place chives, thyme and cheese in processor bowl. Process until cheese is coarsely chopped; set aside on foil. Do not wash bowl.

Bring water, 1/3 cup milk, butter, salt, nutmeg and pepper to boil in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove pan from heat. Use wooden spoon to vigorously stir in flour until mixture is well combined and leaves side of pan, about 1 minute. Return to heat and cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.

Transfer dough to processor bowl. Turn on processor and add 4 eggs through feed tube, stopping once to scrape down sides, until mixture is thick and smooth, about 20 seconds. Add remaining milk; process 5 seconds. Add reserved cheese mixture; process 5 seconds more.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 2 baking sheets and sprinkle lightly with water (steam will release puffs from pan after they are baked).
Put dough into pastry bag fitted with 3/4-inch-wide tube; pipe into 1 1/4-inch rounds on pans with 1-inch spacing. Alternately, use tablespoon to place rounds onto pan, pushing dough off with your finger. Use your finger to dab egg wash onto puffs, smoothing any rough edges.

 Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Use spatula to transfer to wire racks to rest 10 minutes. Serve warm. (Can be baked several hours ahead and kept at room temperature; reheat in 300 degree oven 8 minutes and serve warm. Or, arrange puffs in single layer on baking sheets and freeze.

Frozen puffs can then be packed in airtight bags and frozen up to 1 month.
Reheat unthawed puffs, uncovered, in single layer on baking sheet in 300 degree oven 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.)This recipe yields 40 (1 1/2-inch) puffs or 20 cocktail servings.

Grissini with Smoked Salmon and Prosciutto

Grissini with Smoked Salmon & Prosciutto

The Italian breadsticks called grissini are the star of these elegant nibbles that look like gifts tied up with an edible bow. They take a bit of effort, but your guests will be delighted when they see your handiwork. Be sure to use good quality salmon and prosciutto that aren’t super salty. Makes 16 grissini

  • 4 ounces seasoned goat cheese or Boursin, chilled
  • 8 pieces prosciutto di San Daniele, cut in strips 2 1/2 inches long by 1 inch deep
  • 16 grissini Italian breadsticks
  • 16 chives
  • 8 pieces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut in strips 2 1/2 inches long by 1 inch deep

Place a ball of cheese the size of a large pea onto one end of a strip of prosciutto. Flatten it slightly with one end of a breadstick. Starting from the end of the prosciutto with the cheese, tightly roll the prosciutto around the middle of the breadstick. Secure the roll by tying it closed with a chive; trim the end of the chives for neatness. Repeat the process with the rest of the prosciutto.

To roll the salmon, bring it to room temperature first. Then repeat the process, replacing the prosciutto with the salmon. Serve immediately.

By Maria C. Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion Published August 2009 by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House

Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon


  • 2 large baking potatoes, peeled
  • 3 shallots, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • Coarse/kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Clarified butter or olive oil for sautéing
  • several pieces smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • creme fraiche or sour cream
  • snipped chives


  1. Combine potatoes, shallots, and egg in a food processor and grate.
  2. Spoon grated-potato mixture into a bowl and add salt and pepper.
  3. Heat clarified butter or olive oil in a large sauté pan, preferably with a nonstick surface.
  4. Spoon 2 or more tablespoons of potato mixture into pan for each pancake. The thickness and diameter of the pancakes will depend on how they are to be used.
  5. Cook pancakes until golden brown, turning frequently.

When you have the desired amount of pancakes, lay them out on a serving plate. Top each one with a thin slice of smoked salmon, a dab of creme fraiche or sour cream and a pinch of snipped chives. 

Eat right away while they’re still warm.

Make about 2 dozen pancakes

Adapted from Chef David Burke

Chocolate Corks

Chocolate Corks

I think Nancy Silverton of Campanile and Mozza fame is the pastry chef genius behind these moist and chocolaty gems that start with a yeast batter. Top them with a simple ganache and stick a raspberry on top if you want to go all-out.  The unfrosted corks would be divine with a sweet-tart red bubbly like Banfi’s Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui.

1 cup plus 1 tsp sugar

One ¼-ounce package dry yeast

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water

1-½ cups unbleached pastry flour or all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing the pan

5 eggs

1 to 1-1/3 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate

Sprinkle ½ teaspoon sugar over yeast in a small mixing bowl. Pour lukewarm water over sugar and yeast and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in ¾ cup flour and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Sift together cocoa powder and remaining 1 cup sugar and remaining ¾ cup flour.  Make a large well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter, eggs and yeast mixture. Whisk together liquids and gradually mix in dry ingredients, whisking until completely incorporated. Stir in chocolate.

Spoon batter into standard or mini muffin tins lightly coated with melted butter, filling to the top. Bake at 375 on middle rack until corks are firm to touch, about 18 to 20 minutes for standard muffins; 7 to 8 minutes for mini muffins. Sift a fine layer of cocoa powder over the surface of the corks while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 large or 24 small corks

Champagne Brie Spread

Champagne Brie Spread

This decadent appetizer created by Fleming’s Steakhouse isn’t served at the restaurant any more, but they were kind enough to share the recipe. This spread pairs well with any brut sparkling wine with crisp acidity, such as cava, Prosecco, or brut champagne.

Makes 1-1/2 cups spread

  • 8 ounces brie, cut out of the rind
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 ounces brut champagne
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon butter, cut in pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped Marcona almonds
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
  • 6 or 7 Morello (brandy-soaked cherries), cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon sun-dried tomatoes
  • Assorted crackers

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the brie and the cream cheese. Mix on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese, champagne, white pepper and butter. Continue to blend for 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another 3 minutes.

Divide the spread into 5-ounce ramekins. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until just set. Remove from the refrigerator just before serving, and let the spread warm up slightly. Garnish one of the ramekins with almonds, one with chives, one with cherries and the fourth with sun-dried tomato. Serve with assorted crackers.

By Maria C. Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion Published August 2009 by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House