Classic Shrimp Cocktail




For The Shrimp:
2 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 lemon, halved
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
24 extra large tail-on raw shrimp,
(more if you are using smaller shrimp).

For The Cocktail Sauce:
1/2 cup chili sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 tbsp horseradish
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/2 clove garlic, finely minced.
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped.


To prepare the cocktail sauce, mix all the cocktail sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Have a large bowl of ice water ready and set near the sink.
To a 8-quart pot of water, add the Old Bay, lemon, granulated garlic, minced garlic, chili powder, and salt.

Bring to a boil.

Add the shrimp to the pot and when the water returns to a boil, the shrimp should be done! The shrimp should be bright pink.

Immediately drain and place the shrimp into the ice bath to cool for 2 minutes. Peel the shrimp (leaving the tail-on.) Drain and serve with the cocktail sauce.


Stuffed Crabs le Grande


One of my favorite, easy ways to serve an  appetizer to amaze your guests.

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons minced bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Pinch cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
6 pats of cold butter
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
6 cleaned crab shells


In a large skillet heat the butter and, when it begins to foam, add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, Essence, thyme, cayenne and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the crabmeat, parsley, green onions, egg, salt, cayenne, and black pepper, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, and the heavy cream. Stir well to combine. Transfer the crabmeat mixture to the cleaned crab shells and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon of the remaining bread crumbs. Top each crab shell with a pat of butter and bake until golden brown and thoroughly heated, about 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.



Chef Lynn Johnson’s version of this classic New Orleans oyster dish includes bacon, ham, D’evereux Pepper Sauce Rouge and sherry for fuller flavor. This recipe is named for Natchez’s own D’evereux Foods.


1 slice bacon, finely chopped
13 cup sliced white mushrooms
2 oz. ham, finely chopped
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
12 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
14 tsp. dried oregano
14 tsp. dried thyme
12 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 medium raw shrimp (about 7), finely chopped
1 12 tbsp. dry sherry
23 cup heavy cream
13 cup milk
13 cup flour
1 tbsp. Devereux Pepper Sauce Rouge  (More if you like heat)
Coarse rock salt, for pan
12 bluepoint oysters, on the half shell
Lemon wedges, for serving


Cook bacon in a 10″ skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a bowl; set aside. Add mushrooms and ham to skillet and cook until browned, 2 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with bacon.
Add 2 tbsp. butter to skillet; add scallions, celery, onions, garlic, and peppers; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add oregano, thyme, cayenne, bay, salt, and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add shrimp and sherry; cook, stirring, until just pink, 1-2 minutes.
Add cream and milk, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced by two-thirds, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly; stir in reserved bacon, mushrooms, pepper sauce and ham. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree until smooth; set aside. Wipe out skillet and melt remaining butter over medium-high heat; add flour and cook until golden, whisking constantly, 2 minutes.
Whisk in reserved puree; remove; let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a ½” fluted tip and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.
Heat broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with rock salt about ¼” deep. Nestle oysters onto bed of rock salt. Pipe filling over oysters; broil until tops are browned, about 4 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Tuscan al fresco – Appetizer


Tomato Bruschetta & Toasted Crostini


8 chopped ripe roma (plum) tomatoes
5 leaves chopped fresh basil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 pinch of dried oregano
1 dash of crushed red pepper
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 loaf of Italian-style (or French) bread, cut into diagonal slices


1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil, garlic, oregano, red pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil. Use more olive oil, if necessary, to coat the entire mixture. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes for flavors to blend.
2. In the meantime, preheat the broiler. On a baking sheet, arrange the slices of bread in a single layer and brown both sides slightly in the oven. Remove the slices from the oven.
3. Spread the tomato mixture on the still warm toasted bread slices and serve.

Buon appetito!

Muffaleta Dip with Toasted Crostini




  • 1 cup Italian olive salad, drained
  • 1 cup diced salami (about 4 oz.)$
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped pepperoncini salad peppers
  • 1 (2 1/4-oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 4 ounces provolone cheese, diced
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped$
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Serve with: French bread crostini


Stir together first 9 ingredients. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours before serving. Stir in parsley just before serving. Serve with French bread toasted crostini. Store leftovers in refrigerator up to 5 days.


Caprese Salad


Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish).

Caprese is truly a magical and perfect combination of flavors, textures, and freshness: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and some kind of drizzle of either olive oil or balsamic…or both.

This is one of the easiest and yet elegant and colorful salads to prepare and serve. Your  guests will love you for it.


3 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/4-inch thick slices
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper


Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Inspire The Chef – The Appetizer !




20 large button mushrooms
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp garlic, minced.
1 tbsp oregano
1 lb 8 ounces chopped,
frozen spinach, thawed.

1 1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
3 cups green onions, minced.
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

12 ounces cooked tiny shrimp
1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 to 2 tsp Tabasco sauce
Salt, to taste
4 tbsp butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth, remove stems and chop finely. Place mushroom caps in a greased baking dish stem-side up. Set them aside.

In a skillet, heat extra-virgin olive oil, add chopped mushroom stems, minced garlic and oregano. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring often. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.

Squeeze moisture out of spinach and add to cooked mushrooms with cottage cheese, green onions, grated parmesan cheese, shrimp, bread crumbs, Dijon mustard and Tabasco sauce. Mix well, taste for seasoning, add salt if needed.

Stuff mushroom caps generously with filling, (there may be some extra); dot with butter. Bake for 15-30 minutes until mushroom caps are tender. If desired broil briefly to brown stuffed mushrooms. Serve warm or cold.