Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tea time

I used the tea ball that opened into a beautiful flower for one of the Teas I catered. When you pour the hot water over the ball it will quickly become quite dark, as tea does. So, slowly pour off the darkened water and add more water to the tea ball. You can make it lighter too but it's so pretty to watch! The tea ball was purchased at TEAVANA.
I have another tea coming up this week. But the blossoming tea ball will not be used.This is a Baby Shower tea and it will be held later in the day. Nice!
The menu
Finger Sandwiches:
Cheddar and Chutney
Egg Salad

Chocolate Strawberries, grapes
Scones with clotted cream

Lemon Tea Cake
Applesauce Tea Cake
Mini cupcakes

Friday, March 26, 2010

vacation favorites

When we have gone on Spring Break vacations ( long before the boys were playing in h.s. spring tournaments) we would have one night where dinner was called Franchise Dinner. Mind you, we have 5 sons....
That meant, everyone could pick their favorite franchise, drive thru restaurant to get their dinner. Then we would take all these carry outs, back to the beach of our hotel and picnic. And one year, they were so cranky, we had to eat right on the curb. Fun Memories!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quick! The kids are coming for dinner!

I'm under the weather, and am not used to working all day~ and two of the boys are coming for dinner tomorrow night. I'm freaking because I don't have much time after work tomorrow to come up with something. And the following is not a bad idea and it's all quick! One of them requested my homemade Irish cream- and it's already for tomorrow!
Roasted Chicken
Romaine and Potato Salad
Eggplant Gratin
Lemon Pudding cake

Mushroom Soup Substitute

I found this in a newsletter I subscribe to~ WorldWide Recipes. Canned Mushroom Soup Substitute

2 Tbs (30 ml) butter or olive oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) sliced mushrooms
3 Tbs (45 ml) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A grating of fresh nutmeg

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the flour and stir until the mixture had formed a paste and the flour and the butter are thoroughly incorporated. Add the milk and stir with a whisk or spoon until the paste is completely dissolved. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring frequently. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml).
I am not a mushroom lover so I don't often have mushrooms on hand. But I bet I could find some dried or mushroom powderand that could be used instead of the sliced mushrooms!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Break Dinner Destinations

Every day, last week, I felt like that poor kid in a classroom of 20 who is the only one NOT going away for Spring break; all my paddle buddies are going away; most of the teachers I work with will be gone;all surrounding neighbors seem to be going away...
so today I came up with an idea I'm going to offer those on my personal email thingy and those I see on FB- I'm going to offer DINNER DESTINATIONS! They will be mini dinner packages for 4 that will also include recipes, some ingredients and music CD. And, it will only be offered during Spring Break week to those who are not going away.
Yesterday we had beautiful, warm weather. Today, it's snowing. So Chicago!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My St. Patrick's Day dinner

So I'm thinking about making a cheddar cheese spread, Shepherds Pie and a slaw my Mother always made. It's a German slaw and it's more on the sour side but made with eggs, milk and vinegar and small amount of sugar. And for dessert, we'll have these fab cupcakes I made today. I tested them on 7 people this afternoon- and they really, really liked them! Everything tastes better when someone else makes it! And I think I'll also make a batch of my Irish Cream.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Proper Sauteeing

Being on the Atkins diet, I'm so sick of cleaning my stove every night but it certainly has to be cleaned immediately or else, cleaning it requires getting outside elbow grease- my husband!
I wanted to share the correct way to saute foods.
First, make sure you pan accommodates the food. Wider is more important than higher.
Next, heat your pan and when the pan is hot, add your oil. I like to use a little oil and a little butter. Use only enough fat to lubricate the pan.
Next - Just before your oil begins to smoke ( you don't want it to smoke because then the oil begins to breakdown) you can add your food, distributing it evenly.If you are not sure if the pan is ready, drop a small piece of bread into the pan and see if it starts to sizzle.
Dry food- make sure your food is dry before you add it to the fat. If not dry, it will splatter and you could get burned.
Give it a chance- don't stir or flip just yet- wait till you get a nice color on one side. Then you can do what you need to do be it stir or flip.

Robert Irvine Blogs About His Return to 'Dinner: Impossible'

Robert Irvine Blogs About His Return to 'Dinner: Impossible'

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Irish Cream recipe

I don't know how I found this recipe- it was a last minute effort to use what we had in our pantry/fridge. In the end, my husband went out to buy MORE whiskey, 'just in case' we needed it.
I have to tell you this was absolutely delicious. You have to try it. It's better than what you can buy in the dark brown bottle. We made two batches and stored it in the fridge for about 3 hours. We told our dinner friends to come in and try it. OMG- you should have seen the full glasses my husband poured! In fact, the image ( which was taken the next day) shows what I'm talking about! They went down so smoothly- so easy to have another. And they weren't filling! We all posed for some hysterical pictures afterwards! ( not included)
Homemade Irish Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk (2% works best)
1 can sweetened, condensed milk (14 ounces)
1 2/3 cups Irish whiskey
a pinch of instant coffee granules
1 1/2 tablespoons thick chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk everything together, making sure that mixture is well combined. Pour into bottles; seal and store in the refrigerator.

Shake cream before serving. Makes a little less than 4 cups.

Dining Chicago

Dining Chicago

Vote for Chicago

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Ladies luncheon, near disaster

Ok, so today I catered a ladies luncheon:
Chicken Salad in parmesan cups, shrimp cakes, Raspberry Rave, Scandinavian cucumbers, and Asian Slaw. I made the cups yesterday and decided to heat them up to make them crispier. Well! They were in for about 10 minutes @ 300 and to my surprise this what I saw through my oven window.
Yesterday I timed how long it took me to make a dozen and I knew I was in trouble when I had 50 minutes to remake them and leave for the venue. They turned out good and I guess I just have to keep them @ 140- that would have been the right temp. I am still living, and I'm still learning!

Another 'green' attempt

Last night I tried a new recipe I found on BH&G- not being crazy about many Irish dishes, I loved this one. Love the colors, ingredient combinations so here it is: minty Pork chops with pea puree. Delish
And here is the original picture BH&G posted:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Petrossian's Caviarcubes

The food section today talked about: caviarcubes. These little cubes are shaped into small squares and packed in olive oil. You can get about 18 cubes in a jar which costs $45 at The caviar looks like shiny black dice and has a smooth texture. There's a distinct caviar flavor but there's also a briny bitterness. It's an acquired taste. It's often made with damaged eggs. The article suggests using them as a topping for cocktail canape, oysters or 'baked spuds'.


There's an interest for chefs and cooks to start using n underused species called 'green fish'. Sometimes it's called 'bycatch' because fisherman do not go out specifically looking for them, they just et caught in the process. Some types of green fish are called sheepshead, tripletail, amberjack, wreckfish( that could fit nicely into a themed dinner! ) and scorpion ( could be nice during November!) and even sardines are are getting a makeover. Americans are often open to trying new kinds of fish, they just need the introduction chefs can provide. The consumer still needs to know the reputation of the provider, should do some research and cope with seasonal swings. Some sites good for checking out these fish are:;;
In the Chicago area, I often visit a store just to see what's new- they have so many fish varieties, I'm on my way back to check them out as now, the names might be more familiar. Here is a picture of the fish but my camera couldn't capture the ( at least) 32 varieties

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Toned Down St. Patrick's day party

Last year one of my sons, who works in a restaurant asked why I never made corned beef and cabbage. I had two answers: the house smelled so bad and you boys didn't like it! But years before one of my clients wanted to have a St. Patrick's Day Party and I wanted something more creative. So, I made a menu and she was so happy with it, I eventually catered two more St. Pat parties for her.
I made a potato centerpiece and glued on real eye cutouts of both she and her husband and some of the guests. Another year, I made green tinsel lamp shades for her sconces.
My menu, which was called 'March Celtic Food the American Way' featured the following:
Mini open faced Reuben Pizzas
Sausage and Mashed potatoes Muffies
Corned Beef Sandwiches
Chicken Sandwiches with Chive Butter
Sweet Potato Stuffed Wontons
Irish Potato Salad
Tex-Caesar Salad
Lemon Bars
Puff Pastry fruit tarts
Brownies and truffles

I thought I was clever with the pickle plate I decorated:

I kinda want to be Irish for a Day

If you don't care for all that typical Irish fare, try the following:
Shepherd's Pie
Romaine lettuce with Basil Green Goddess Dressing

Shepherd's Pie~
1 # ground beef
1 c chopped white onion
3 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
1 c beef broth
1 bottle of beer
1 pkg. frozen peas
2-3 chopped carrots
1 T flour
1 - 2 T tomato paste
Ready made mashed potatoes
1/2 shredded cheddar cheese
Brown bacon strips in skillet. Remove and add onions and saute. You can add a little sugar to help the onions caramelize faster. When they are nicely browned add the ground beef and cook through. Then add carrots and frozen peas. Stir and mix for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and tomato paste and stir to incorporate the paste.
Turn up the heat and add the beer which helps to deglaze the pan. Add a little fresh chopped parsley along with salt and pepper and the cooked bacon. Stir to mix all together and get a nice consistency to the beef mixture. Have your pie plate ready because you are ready to add this mixture to the pie plate. With your ready made potatoes ( if you can buy the kind that has roasted garlic in them ~ great otherwise you can add it yourself) spread the potatoes over your filling. Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and add shredded cheddar over top. Return to oven till cheese melts. Yum!!!
Basil Green Goddess Dressing:
1 c fresh parsley
3/4 c plain yogurt
1/3 light mayonnaise
2 T chopped basil
2 T chopped dill
1T chopped mint
1 tsp. red vinegar
Blend it all in a food processor. Can be made 3 days ahead. I have also found that you can use a combo of yogurt and sour cream instead of using the mayonnaise.

Molecular food

I want to make molecular food! Particularly the pretty ways different 'caviar' can be produced- without it actually being fish roe....yum

More Food Trends

These are little more down to earth though they seem like they have been around for awhile. Regardless, these seem to be seen all over various foodie sites:
Sushi, Bacon, Ground Beef, whole grains, cupcakes, coffee,sliders of all kinds, super fruits like blueberries and pomegranates, Artisan foods (Artisan foods are those made with time-tested methods on a small scale, not mass-produced) and oils. Today, companies are touting specialty oils and innovative products, such as virgin olive oil sorbet, olive oil semolina, and extra virgin olive oil gumdrops. If you'd like to get more use out of that golden bottle sitting in your cabinet, explore 7 Ways With Olive
Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Where have I been?

I could say in the clouds- it's so darn foggy outside but I have actually been doing a lot of concentrated work on my next love, film making. I love my Final Cut program but just found out that my imac plan is about to expire. Not that Final Cut is covered but those nice people would always help me with a small problem.There are still many bells and whistles I have yet to discover on my Mac! With food being my current passion, you'd think I'd be busy taking food pics all week. NOOOOOOO. Just working an enormous amount of time on a project I finished last night.
I am working on a luncheon later this week- it's on Friday. Unfortunately, two entrees need to be provided for the seafood eating Catholics in attendance. One of the dishes I'm making is called Raspberry Rave. I have adapted the recipe over time, thank heavens because I no longer the recipe. But I do have a picture:
In addition to chicken salad in parmesan cups, I'm also going to make shrimp cakes and an Asian Salad.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Molton Cakes

This past weekend I tought I'd take some molton cakes to a party. Tricky, tricky! I mean, they are quite easy to make and I have made them several times. I think I became careless the other day. I took a picture of two of them before they went into the oven. I forgot to add butter to the one on the left. You can see the difference in texture. So I thought it would be interesting to see how 'molton' it was when it came out of the oven.
The second picture shows the two of them when they came out of the oven. There is not a third picture showing their centers. Because, I OVERBAKED THEM by 1 minute!

Cod Milt

I came across this item and I had a difficult time reading about it. I thought it was interesting to post but I have limited what I want to say about it. You can read further if you care to hunt for it on the Internet.
Milt can be steamed, fried or broiled. The thought of it is quite nasty. It's fish sperm. It's sacs are likened to pork brains but they are lighter and have a finer texture. The taste is subtle and slightly sweet. It's a Japanese delicacy and is a seasonal item specifically a winter item.