Tag Archives: heart of palm


The other evening we were invited to a dinner party. It was a little bit of a pot luck, and we were asked to bring a light appetizer. I decided to use some puff pastry from the freezer to make empanadas, but that seemed a little bland, so I also made some mayonnaise as a dipping sauce.

Mayonnaise is so easy to make, and it tastes so much better than the bottled kind, that it seems crazy not to make your own. Especially when you have a fool-proof recipe (so far at least) from one of the world’s greatest chefs. Michel Roux of the Michelin-starred, much-honored Waterside Inn in England, has written a beautiful little book simply called “eggs” (John Wiley and Sons, 2005) filled with amazingly creative, not-so-classic and classic egg recipes including, of course, mayonnaise.

I doctored up the basic recipe using some tricks from Sarah and Evan. The additions of freshly grated horseradish and finely chopped chives or green scallion tops make a great dip that perks up the empanadas.

I filled the empanadas with hearts of palm, parsley, and grated Parmesan, but you can let your imagination run wild: tiny button mushrooms, little shrimp (is that redundant?), water chestnuts, olives (seed removed, of course), cubes of cheese, dolma filling, etc., etc., would all be good. I don’t know, but maybe a little oyster would work.

This recipe makes 20-24 appetizers depending upon how big you make the empanadas


Horseradish Mayonnaise


  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup peanut oil, room temperature
  • juice of ½ lemon, more if needed
  • ¼ cup freshly grated horseradish
  • ¼ cup chopped chives or green tops of scallions


  1. Put the egg yolks, mustard, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl with handles and/or on a towel or other non-slip surface. Combine with a balloon whisk until smooth.
  2. Whisking continuously, add a few drops of oil. When the oil is completely incorporated, add more oil, repeating the process  until the mayonnaise thickens. You may then add the oil in a more continuous stream, but pause occasionally to make sure the oil is fully incorporated before adding more.
  3. When all of the oil has been incorporated, whisk for another minute or so until the mayonnaise is smooth. Then add the lemon juice. The mayonnaise will become visibly less yellow. Adjust with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to suit your taste.
  4. Stir in the horseradish and chives or scallions. Add more of either to suit your taste.
  5. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to use. This should hold for several hours.

Puff Pastry Empanadas


  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly and finely grated
  • 1 sheet commercial frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions
  • 1 14½ ounce can hearts of palm, drained and cut into ½ inch coins
  • 1 egg, beaten well with 2 tablespoons water


  1. In a small bowl, combine the parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, open the thawed sheet of puff pastry. With a lightly floured rolling pin, flatten the pastry to about 1/16 inch thick
  3. Using a 3 inch circular cookie cutter (a 2½ inch biscuit cutter will do) cut circles in the flattened pastry dough. Working quickly, place a palm coin and about ¼ teaspoon of the parsley/Parmesan mixture in the center of each circle.  Paint the edges of the circles with the egg mixture, using a small pastry brush.
  4. One by one and using your hands, stretch the dough gently to cover the palm disk. Pinch the edges of the half-moon empanada closed with your finger and then seal with the tines of a dinner fork
  5. Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  6. Paint the tops of the empanadas with the egg mixture, trying not to let it drip onto the parchment.
  7. Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 400°F for 15 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned.
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
  9. Serve with the dipping mayonnaise either at room temperature or gently rewarmed.


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes


A few weeks ago I had what I thought was a wonderful opportunity. I was invited to show some of my photographs in a nearby artists’ cooperative gallery. I put together about  half a dozen of my favorite images, framed, and matted them. Along with oils, watercolors, pottery, and jewelry from other artists, the photos were arranged for a show.

As is the local tradition, the new show was inaugurated with a Friday evening opening complete with sparking water, wine, and appetizers. Each artist was asked to bring some kind of food, so that set off a perpetual struggle in my mind – what to serve? I found a recipe for chorizo tapas that sounded delicious, but I worried that gallery visitors might get grease on one of the oil paintings. Then I thought of empanadas filled with hearts of palm. I had first tasted them forty years ago at a party held by one of our Brazilian friends.

The bonus that moved me toward this option  was that I had a can of hearts of palm in the pantry. At the same time, making the dough for empanadas seemed like more effort than I wanted so I decided to use frozen puff pastry. The end result turned out to be these heart of palm puffs.

Heart of palm, also called palm heart or palmito, can be harvested from the growing tips of nearly all palms, but  this may destroy the palm. The commercial variety comes from the peach palm, a plant from the Amazon that now is grown throughout Central and South America. It is sustainable without destroying the palm for future growth.  Supposedly you can find fresh palm hearts in gourmet grocery stores, but I have only seen the canned variety.

The gallery opening was crowded, and the puffs disappeared. So did the gallery. What the reader needs to know is that nearly every person who lives in Santa Fe considers himself/herself to be an artist. The other factor is that there may be more galleries than residents. That is a certain formula to assure that many galleries disappear quickly amidst the competition. That was the fate of our co-operative, and my first show did not survive for this post.


Heart of Palm Puffs


  • 1 can (14 ounces) hearts of palm
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water


  1. Drain the hearts of palm, slice them into ½ inch coins, and marinate them, covered, in the refrigerator, with a little of the liquid from the can, a good sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper
  2. Combine the parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  3. Thaw the puff pastry according to package instructions. Then on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough so that it is about 1/16 inch thick. It should be large enough that you can cut 40 2 inch squares.
  4. Working quickly so that the pastry does not dry out, place a heart of palm disc in the middle of half of the pastry squares. Top with a ¼ teaspoon of parsley and Parmesan cheese mixture.
  5. Dab the edges of the square with the egg yolk mixture, top with another square, and press the edges together with a fork.
  6. Place the puffs on a Silpat-lined baking tray. Brush the tops with the egg white mixture.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of an oven preheated to 400° F.
  8. When golden brown, remove the puffs from the oven, and cool them on a cooling rack.


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes